In the thirteenth chapter of Always Ready Dr. Greg Bahnsen states
“The Christian cannot forever be defensively constructing atomistic answers to the endless variety of unbelieving criticisms; he must take the offensive and show the unbeliever that he has no intelligible place to stand, no consistent epistemology, no justification for meaningful discourse, predication, or argumentation.”
I have often wondered why it is that in most debates I watch between a Christian and a non-Christian that the Christian spends very little time on the offensive side of the battle. This affinity to a defensive posture was also made clear to me in a post at Choosing Hats. In this post an explanation of the shortcomings of the Cosmological Argument caused some commotion among Christians in wondering why a Christian would “attack an argument for God’s existence” as well as its use in evangelism. Author Brian Knapp is correct when he states:
“For that matter, there is nothing in the premises of the argument that necessarily leads to the conclusion that the cause, whatever it is, is even singular. It could be two beings, working as a team – call them “Thing 1″ and “Thing 2″ for convenience sake. “
Which illustrates a point that I think Dr. Bahnsen is speaking of in the first part of the former quote. The Cosmological Argument, in the forms I have seen, prove very little. In fact, that is the very problem with the formulations I have seen. This argument leads to a terrible defensive posture as shown in this video of Dr. William Lane Craig posted by one of the objectors to Mr. Knapp’s post.
As you can see, Dr. Craig’s opponent is doing a simple reductio ad absurdum on the cosmological argument and Dr. Craig’s response is disappointing. It illustrates the problem Dr. Bahnsen laid out in the last part of the first quote. Dr. Craig lays out an atomistic argument, that is, one that addresses only certain pieces of the real issue at hand and tries to build them up one “atom” at a time. It leads Dr. Craig down the path of endless unbelieving criticisms and did not challenge the unbeliever in his position at all. In the end it was endless silly assertions.
So instead of this building an argument up atom by atom, Dr. Bahnsen is proposing that the believer take to the artillery and shoot at the very foundations of the unbelievers thought process, his or her epistemology and consistent use of it, the very assumptions that an unbeliever makes to make experience intelligible. Let us call them presuppositions.
I am not saying that we do not need to answer the questions of unbelievers, on the contrary, we must do so as we are commanded in 1 Peter 3:15. What I am saying and I believe Dr. Bahnsen does as well, is that Christians should not relegate themselves to an apologetic methodology that leads to retreat and ultimately defeat in trying to build up defenses block by block while the enemy shells a weak argument from within the confines of ones abode.