Presuppositional apologetics, in a nutshell

This entirely explains why, in the last post’s comments, Peter of Atheism Presupposes Theism claimed that because there is no objective moral imperative to accept evidenced facts as facts, he could simply disagree with the facts under the subjective nature of the moral framework we understand today and he’d therefore be free to do anything he wanted, including pedophilia.

If you presuppose that there is a God, without evidence, then you are forced to defend a number of ideas that are undercut by actual demonstrable facts about reality. Facts like that morals are a tool of society to keep society stable, and are subjective, demonstrable by the existence of multiple moral codes across multiple societies. Presuppositionalism is, frankly, intellectually bereft. It depends on philosophical legerdemain when evidence exists to the contrary that can be easily and directly observed. You may not be under any objective moral imperative to be intellectually honest in arguing for your case, but you damn well better, lest you be proven a complete idiot in public.

Presuppositional apologetics, in a nutshell
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14 thoughts on “Presuppositional apologetics, in a nutshell

  1. 1

    Hi Jason,
    my name is Katie. George W. from “Misplaced Grace” has been trying to get me to join a debate of which you’ve been a participant. Unfortunately Peter seems to have closed the debate. I did contact him and let him know he should not claim a “false victory,” and I have asked him to contact me via my email within my website. I’m going to try and get him to admit defeat and retreat with me for awhile so we can create a FRESH post and practice better, more “knightly” conduct, in our jousts with you guys…hope he responds.

    I am a Theist…a Christian Theist. I do not “know” that God exists, but I “believe,” which for me means I strongly suspect, that one does.

    In answer to your questions:

    1. What are the rules of Logic. I’ll be honest, I’m going to have to research and get back with you. I would think that Logic should have one rule, and that rule ought to be, “You! surrender your map and FOLLOW ME!”

    2. Am I validated in presupposing God’s existence? No, unfortunately the day of validation has not yet “happened.” But I can say that there is this terrible thing called “Rumor.” There is a mass of rumors going around about this Jewish God and this Christian God…

    I believe that using probability as a basis for drawing my conclusions about this God’s lack of reality or fact of reality shall prove useless for me…or, at the least, very risky. This is because, if a very low probability event is determined by me to be an event which is almost…but not QUITE certainly never to occur…

    …AND then, one day, in the future and quite to my surprise, it ACTUALLY does occur–of what use was my conclusion/determination that the event wouldn’t occur based upon the probability that it was very, very unlikely?? If it is something that does not occur very frequently in and among alllll the events which are at all times happening all around me…then, my use of probability doesn’t seem like the BEST means for making my determinations…

    …especially when THE RUMORS have me suspecting that my conduct will fall under one of two outcomes IF God does exist: 1. I shall surrender to this God. 2. I shall examine him and determine that it would be in my best interest to REJECT this God.

    Using probabilities to determine if a rumor is true about a God which is “SAID” to exist, would prove useless on the rare occasion that this “so called God” were to “make an appearance,” and thus REVOKE his current LOGIC of Faith as a means to finding him, as opposed to Science. His appearance would be the BE ALL and END ALL of “to know,” which is all that the term science basically means. And my clever use of probabilities in determining whether to rule him out as a reality or not, would then prove ridiculous…and utterly useless.

    I need something besides probabilities to rule “The God of Hebrew and Christian Rumor” out, completely. Because what the rumors say about Him and my relationship to Him makes it hard to practice mathematics with any sort of “seriousness,” if you’ve ever read their Holy Books of Rumor??

    Anyway, I’ll be studying up and posting over on George’s site. I’m subscribing to yours (if allowed). I learned so much from you about debate that I didn’t know. Such as, I did not know that one must never begin a debate with a conclusion…but now that you’ve explained it, it makes logical sense…

    I also learned that it is proper to begin one’s quest for truth with a question (and I have plenty of those to test out).

    Thanks…I salute you, and I hope to joust with you sometime in the future (even though I’ll likely lose…still, I love a good joust!)


  2. 2

    Oh, I had forgotten to answer your final question: Would I use the same criterion I use to “validate” (although I technically can’t validate it) God’s existence for claims of alien abductions and the like?

    In answer to this…I don’t validate, but I “consider the rumors.” Now, I can tell you right now that, you bet, I’d give alien abduction claims the same exact “consideration” or “attention” that I presently give to the Hebrew Holy Rumors and the Christian Holy Rumors…IFF, sufficient rumor had circulated round and about me surrounding such abductions or claims…AND if those rumors claimed to in some manner involve or impact MY LIFE or EXISTENCE at any point along the line, plane or system of my existence. I’d give it the time of day in heartbeat, under those conditions, alone.

    Otherwise, I’d be hard pressed to choose between what to study. Should I study and consider the tea pots orbiting Jupiter…the fairies in my garden…or God’s who claim to have become human or humans who claim to be God and, instead of taking over the whole damned world, as I should expect such a God in human form ought to do, he walks on water, then walks the Via Dolorosa, then suffers himself to be led to the Roman tree of execution to be hung…while claiming the whole while, “I told you guys this was why I came…this was the whole point…don’t you get it…yet?”

    Rumor says stuff about me in the Hebrew and Christian documents. The orbiting tea pots and garden fairies and alien abductions I suppose I shall go and “visit” or “attend” some day when I have “time to waste,” does that make sense?…I need some superfluous time for that stuff.

    Of course all of that could change, if reports began to pour in about those tea pots and fairies and aliens…and those rumors had me somehow targeted or involved…


  3. 3

    I was just trying to find someone to join forces with, he hasn’t responded to me, so that kind of says a lot right there. I don’t mean to speak in riddles, try having to live with “thinking in riddles!” It’s how my mind works. Man, George, I like you a whole lot better when you “like” me. I should have stayed clear of the whole stupid thing.

    Isn’t there any damned thing else we can argue about besides the existence of God??? THAT MATTERS??? Sheeeeesh!

  4. 4

    Just for the record, Kate is a theistic apologist, as she says. She often speaks in riddles that need to be unraveled, as you likely just witnessed. She seems on first impression to be an odd crazy troll, but hear me out. She is one of only two Christians I have met on the internet who never plugs her ears. She listens to what you say. She answers your questions, even when the answer is uncomfortable for her.
    She is, I will admit, well…. odd.
    She’s charming though, once you figure out what she is trying to say.
    I like her.
    Even if she accepts all my arguments and still won’t accept the conclusions.

  5. 5

    See, I read her comments over at Peter’s blog and now I want to disavow her. Rats.
    Now I have to argue against riddles and stupid at the same time. Oh, well….
    You make a bed, I guess….

  6. 6

    People, people, be nice to one another. If you like one another, don’t get all jealous just because someone’s trying to forge an alliance with someone else. Though, honestly, the chivalry stuff (knighting some random stranger on the intertubes? really?) is just a tad too twee for my tastes.

    I’m not sure whose questions you’re answering, Katie, However, if you’d like a quick primer in logic, here you are. This is a “cheat sheet” to how logic works — in no sense is this a demand that you surrender your map and follow me. Logic is a human invention; a tool, like science, intended to help us humans figure things out given our limited reasoning ability. When applied, it can help to make sense of the universe we see around us. If you learn how logic works, you can identify more easily when someone falsely conflates ideas, trying to use unrelated ideas as though they were the same thing (e.g. how Peter conflates certainty about a fact with a moral imperative to accept the fact).

    If you’d like, I can even point you to a resource designed specifically to help atheists, agnostics and freethinkers to identify the specific logical fallacies that certain stripes of theists (especially fundamentalist Christians and presuppositional apologists like Peter) tend to use and misuse against their enemies. It is right here. The reason that calling someone out on a fallacy is such a big points-scorer in debates, is that it shows that the person is attempting to argue something that is not supported by logic.

    For the record, the reason logic is still employed today, is because it has proven to be one of the most useful and accurate tools for determining what is real and what isn’t, that we humans have in our arsenal. When you couple logic with a demand for evidence and a thirst for experimentation and replication, you have science. I hold science in such high regard not because of some sort of divinity, but because it has achieved so much in the extremely limited scope of humanity (remember, we climbed down out of trees probably less than 150,000 years ago, and just a few months ago, we figured out how to create and trap antimatter!). We here love science because it is the most powerful tool to learning the truth that we have. And all other “ways of knowing” are not only lacking in comparison, but can be outright incorrect, leading one to believe as truth ideas that lack any sort of correlation with reality.

    Now, if you don’t want to argue about the existence of God, I’d be happy to discuss any other subject in the world with you. My only requirements are that the subject be something other than philosophy (because all philosophy dovetails into your concept of God), that you be willing to change your mind in the face of evidence to the contrary (and I promise I am), and that if you debate on a subject other than the existence of God, you do not attempt to use your understanding of God to inform your debate. That last one is a hard one. Most theists I’ve discussed things with, have this tendency of slipping God into any discussion. If you can abide by that, you and I can get along just fine.

    And for the record, no topic is taboo. If you want to try to make a case that science is not the correct way of winnowing out this universe’s truths, you’re welcome to do it. I don’t come by my love for science dogmatically, so you’re not committing heresy by saying such a thing.

  7. 7

    That doesn’t really leave much to talk about for me. I’ve currently finished writing a thesis paper for Stephen Hawking. It doesn’t have anything to do with philosophy or God (well, from your point of view and out of respect for that point of view, it doesn’t have anything to do with God…if it exists).

    Anyway, it is a model I’ve created. It is a model of Reality. I was so inspired by Hawking’s book, The Grand Design, and so intrigued by M Theory, that my imagination just went to town! We could talk about that on one condition. I am a layperson, so please, unless you plan to lead me to a website, or teach me how to communicate them yourself, don’t ask me to provide mathematical proofs.

    It’s a Multi-System model, and I refrain from calling it a theory, because I have no plan for testing it, and it is rather too simple to be called elegant, as a scientific model or theory is usually expected to be. I have called it “A Metaphysical Model of Reality,” I’ll warn you up front–but promise that it isn’t as “related” to philosophy as it is Mathematics and Quantum Physics.

    There is what I call the “infinitum singularity” which unites all systems, including ours (which I call alpha) to a super-system (I call Omega), any other systems brought up can be named with the remaining letters, and when those run out, we can start using the letters of some other alphabet.

    Sounds weird (and I’m sure you’ve heard the news from George W. how weird I am), but I will say that I would love to describe it and have you either “blow it out of the water” for me…or tell me, “I can’t blow that out of the water, Kate.” Debate would be a great test to run on it.

    Sorry bout the chivalry stuff…it’s a “Christian-Theist-Non-Fundamentalist-Controversial-and-Slightly-Irreverent thing,” I don’t guess you guys would understand. I’ll refrain from referring to that in your presence.

    In the mean time, before I show you my model, I’m going to spend some time “learning my logic,” if you will. I’m off work tomorrow because of inclement weather (something else I like to “talk about), so if I finish my “logic lessons,” I’ll get my model ready to share with you…so you can debate with me about how it could never work!

    Let me know if you’re interested.


  8. 8

    Oh, by the way… if you like science and if you like imagination, you’ll love toying with this model. It’s a grand mixture of science and imagination. The model “looks like” one of those double-napped cones we learned about back in Pre-Calculus when they introduced us to Conic Sections… and the theorized power behind our universe is related to that phenomenon in our introductory physics classes called Resonance.

    It will require a new math language in order to qualify as a “theory” or a “scientific model,” because weird things are happening at the “zero-dimension infinitum singularity.”

    But, anyway, it’d be nice to test it before sending to Hawking, as I’d hate to waste his time if it’s just a bunch of child’s play that would never collaborate well with current models and predictions in the areas of quantum mechanics, and particularly String or M Theory.

  9. 9

    Hey! Is that the same logic primer I linked to for “he who shall not be named, lest his attempted erasure from the internets be reversed?” I was looking for that not too long ago and didn’t want to dig through my archives for it especially as I wasn’t sure I posted it to my own blog. Not that that matters, as it appears to be just right for my purposes.

  10. 10

    Hey, been studying “The Rules of Logic,” kind of reminds me of Grammar School, back when our teachers made us “diagram” all of our sentences (I always sucked at that!)

    Question for you.

    In the movie “Crimson Tide” there was a mutiny. I don’t know if you remember it… 1995 film starring Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington? Anyway, Denzel (Hunter) was a “by the book” man. Hackman (Captain Ramsey) was a “decisive,” “in the moment” man.

    Anyway, are there any cases whereby man must come by his “conclusions” by some other means than by the logic you have sent to me? Capt. Ramsey and Hunter (the Ex-0) drew antithetical conclusions, these conclusions were capable of resulting “conduct,” which would not only impact the lives of the men on board The Alabama Submarine, but would impact the lives of every person living on our planet.

    The only converging “evidence” was the truncated message…remember? They had received a message prior to this which was a naval “command.” This command was for the Alabama to fire nuclear missiles onto the Russian mainland.

    Then, while the men are moving down the “def-con” preparation procedures for complying with this order to launch these missiles, this OTHER MESSAGE comes in…which is truncated. Hunter concludes that the message ought to dictate the abortion of the previous “command” to launch the missiles. Capt. Ramsey, however, concluded that until he receives “evidence” that this truncated message was a command to abort launch, it is his duty to “comply with orders,” and so, launch the missiles.

    Ramsey COMPLETELY DISMISSES the “truncated message.” The conduct this conclusion would have resulted in, had he gained the upper hand, was the launching of nuclear missiles by a U.S. Submarine onto the mainland of Russia (though, we who have seen it know that no codes had been compromised by Russians, and therefore, Russia indeed WAS NOT launching a nuclear attack on the U.S.).

    Hunter BASES HIS CONCLUSION ON “the truncated message,” which is the conclusion that the previous “orders” to launch the missiles BE DISMISSED, instead! The conduct resulting from Hunter’s conclusion was the mutinous struggle he had to go through, in order to “take over the sub,” abort the mission, get the “radio fixed and repaired,” etc. In the end, the result of Hunter’s conclusion was the saving of the entire world from nuclear disaster.

    Neither man sketched out a “Payoff Matrix,” but their minds just worked without their having to run any algorithms upon it in order for that to happen.

    Is this movie a case where the normal “Rules of Logic” cannot be formally applied? Or, can we apply any of what you sent me… ON BOTH MEN?

    Remember, EITHER MAN could have been in the “right,” concerning their conclusions. If Washington had been wrong, then the U.S. would have been left utterly defenseless, while it was in great need for defense (while depending entirely upon the USS Alabama!).

    If we were to draw up a “Payoff Matrix” on this, could we even rate our outcomes from worst to best case scenario? Remember, they did not know if that truncated message was a retraction of the previous order…or if it was not!

    If no rules of logic fit this, then what “form of logic” are we employing when we make decisions based on “possibilities,” as opposed to “hard, factual, clear, concise evidential fact?”

    Pretend you were the Ex-O. Would you have agreed with the Captain…or with Washington (Hunter)?


  11. 11

    Katie, there’s a fair amount of evidence that humans are pretty good at making snap judgments, sometimes better at it than reasoning things out. That’s not too surprising, given that logic is a relatively recent tool and that we haven’t really come up with a good rigorous model for weighting all the facts and factors at our fingertips based on our values. Logical analysis also has a difficult time weighing things that might or might not be true and for which we have incomplete or inconclusive evidence. We seem to do both of these better if we’re not given a ton of time to worry things over.

    However, we still make better judgments if the facts to which we’re assigning value are actual facts. Then our decisions work in the real world. The same goes for weighing inconclusive evidence. If we make a habit of evaluating evidence deliberately when we do have the time, we’ve trained our brains to handle that process better when required to make snap decisions.

    So while the ability to make snap decisions from incomplete evidence does shed some interesting light on how our brains work, it doesn’t negate logic’s role in allowing us to navigate our world accurately.

  12. 12

    I happen to agree very strongly with everything Stephanie said. The ability for humans to make snap judgments does not say anything about the application or applicability of logic to a particular situation. Given enough time, knowing the “payoff matrix” would lead to billions of lives lost even if the fragmented order did not rescind the nuke order, I would err on the side of caution, even knowing that America might have just been nuked. Until I got independent confirmation, I would not launch my nuclear weapons on Russia. The fact remains, if I was right to pause, billions of lives would have been saved. If I was wrong to pause, billions of lives would have been saved, but for “the bad guys”. Either way, I put enough of a priority on human life that I wouldn’t do it unless orders were clear, confirmed, and probably double-checked for accuracy first.

    Making assessments based on risk alone is often not enough, though. One also has to look at probabilities. We have to make educated guesses about probabilities, since we often can’t know all the contingent variables in advance to make a true calculation, so our assumptions based on probabilities are entirely based on our human biases. I personally consider walking around with a lead umbrella in case it starts raining hydrochloric acid suddenly and without warning to be rather silly, because the likelihood of that is so terribly low. Nor would I reinforce my house’s roof in case a sperm whale suddenly materialize above it.

    Likewise (if you’ll pardon the religious sidebar), I cannot assume that because there are rumors about a Christian god that will judge me, I should cower before that potentiality only by some unhealthy respect for very low probabilities. Being educated as I am in the postulates of a number of cultures about their specific deities, I can honestly say that Vishnu, Thor, Wotan, Mithras, and Russel’s Teapot are exactly as likely as the Christian and/or Jewish and/or Muslim god YHWH — they were very likely invented from whole cloth for the purposes of manipulating a public into doing something-or-other (possibly beneficial to society, possibly beneficial to a certain ruling class) and are all equally supported by the dearth of evidence.

    All that said. I would be glad to look at your hypothesized model of the universe, however I have to note very strongly that not only am I not an astrophysicist, I am unlikely to be able to poke holes in any hypothesis that is by definition unfalsifiable without the use of heavy math or astrophysics. If your hypothesis is worthy of consideration, if it fits with existing math, I’m sure Hawking or other theoretical physicists might be given pause. But don’t be surprised if you’re dismissed as a crank — because I’m sure Hawking is forced to sift through hundreds of emails an hour claiming some special insight into the world and how it’s all actually a gigantic, super-intricate game of The Sims in some universe one “level” up.

    But that shouldn’t stop you from developing it. Even if it does not fit with the mathematical models of this universe, there is always a place for it in science fiction. It might even live on in books, to the point where someone might take it seriously enough to actually figure out that, through some stroke of luck or insight or brilliance, you happened to be right about it. I mean, hell, Asimov invented the geosynchronous orbiting satellite for one of his novels, and look how dependent on it we are today!

  13. 13

    You had said: “Making assessments based on risk alone is often not enough, though. One also has to look at probabilities.”

    Look, probability works for events which are repetitive in nature. It isn’t likely that a very rare, one time event is going to occur…at all, it’s almost so improbable as to be an impossibility. But, on the day that it occurs, it will not matter what my probability-based conclusions were.

    I just know, and this was part of my point, that when humans come to conclusions about things…I don’t think it matters whether its “impromptu,” or “snap decisions,” or “well thought out” and “deeply reflected” conclusions…they all demand LOGIC, and the result of our LOGICAL conclusions is always CONDUCT (e.g. launching nuclear missiles, or leading a mutiny and locking a Captain in a State Room while one takes over a submarine).

    The other point I was trying to make is that, like our eyes, the human brain is able to perform its events, whether we know the ‘p’s and ‘q’s or not!! This amazes me! I’m 42 and I have been “thinking” for all these years apart from my knowledge of the modern “Rules of Logic.” This astounds me…almost scares me!!

    I have investigated the main world religions, and here is what I noticed. 1. They don’t spread rumors in any way that comes even close to comparing to the way the Hebrew and Christian faith does. They don’t seem to have “much to say,” they aren’t “excited about anything,” they don’t “pursue me,” claiming I’ve sinned, or that I’ve been absolved of my sin, or that they, too, have a thing called “The LOGOS OF GOD,” or that they are IN ANY WAY interested in me or my existence. Whereas, the Hebrew/Christian faith is brimming full to overflowing with all sorts of “rumors” for me to investigate.

    2. Their God’s (if they have an object which can be described as such) don’t match reality. A God must be ANIMUS, or ALIVE, if it is going to GIVE LIFE. These other God’s are extremely lifeless…and if they aren’t, then they aren’t very interested in me, because I haven’t heard about them doing GAWDAWFUL stuff like, sending floods and plagues and driving out nations and, well, you know… experiencing the humbling fact of having traveled through a birth canal…traveling the earth as a mere speck of a human, with no place to lay his head…dying on a cross…supposedly, according to rumor, descending into some weird place called Hell, and then rising from the dead on the third day: and having witnesses to this, who a great number of which were illiterate…but finally figured out they’d better scratch this all down on papyrus…around 70-100AD, before they were martyred for this God-Man??

    Being as UN-lettered as I am, in the postulates of only a select few cultures, authors, and humble travelings, I can honestly say that Zeus, Dionysus, Baal, and Ashtoreth are ALMOST as likely to become an event upon this dear, humble planet, as Jesus Christ, Himself. This is because the probability of Christ returning happens to be nearly impossible, when you place it among all occurring events upon this planet…as the second return of Jesus Christ to the planet Earth is so very rare, that it shall only occur once. Making it statistically silly of me to base my conclusions about the God-Man and his so called return– upon trends and upon probability.

    Now, if Zeus, Dionysus, Baal, Ashtoreth and ALLLL the others (made of wood,stone,and the likes I have heard) had left behind 12 followers who had humbly managed to pen, though unlettered and what not…to pen something which passed Stephen Hawking’s test for models in one particular aspect, at least…that being that it was a SPECTACULARLY ELEGANT MODEL (simple, but not TOO simple), of which scholars, yes, even 2,000 years after the crude penning, CAN’T QUITE GET TO THE BOTTOM…if those other gods had only followed suit with this drama-King of a Hebrew/Christian God, then perhaps I’d be an atheist, for one reason. I’d have to shut down and go home, cuz that’d just be—too damn much GOD for me to process, man.

    Not buying into Matt, Mark, Luke, John…three fisher-guys and a Doctor (who is rumored to have written stuff down for old Saint Peter who is rumored to have been illiterate??) …I’m not buying into these guys “coming up with” the “let’s control the mob of people” religion! As for “beneficial to people,” well– I see four men who were literally IN SHOCK throughout the gospels, and then in the epistles they acted like altogether different men! When Christ was with them, they were a trembling, bumbling crew. After Pentecost, they were suddenly wise, able to debate, and brave clear to their deaths! So, something sure got their attention. Could it be that something beneficial ACTUALLY HAPPENED to these guys?? Rumor says: yes, and that I’m somehow involved. I’d better check into it (statistics aside).

    My hypothesized model is not merely of our humble little universe. It is a model which demonstrates how the M theory is sucking mathematicians into quantum dimensions because ALL matter is converging on one single zero dimension point…which then, extends outward infinitely away from us… I’m not an astrophysicist myself, so we’re in good company (luckily, it doesn’t take an astrophysicist).

    The math is quite “light-weight,” actually, as it does not yet exist… I hope someone will step up and write the new language…soon.

    I’m glad you mentioned science fiction. You a fan? I’m working on a sci fi book for children right now… it’ll have to be read aloud to them, of course. But, yeah, that whole multi-system universe thing definitely comes into play. I figure, it would be WAY more useful to our world to hear it read in a story! In fact, if this weird model isn’t too far off base, then I’d actually prefer the kids to have it, as opposed to us grown-ups. We’re toooo damned sophisticated in the 21st century to really appreciate stuff like that! But, sophistication has its good sides too, I suppose.

    Funny you should mention Asimov. This model of mine actually grew out of my desire to make my “sci fi” book as near to realistic as I possibly could…so much so, I fear I’ve startled myself!! And if it proves to be false, hell… I think Hawking would at least give me a hardy salute for the hours and years it took me “trying my hand” at it, anyway:-)

    You are awesome to chat with. You stimulate my imagination and my intellect!

    Have a good one.


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