Presuppositionalism, take 27

In which fifthmonarchyman and William J. Murray, undaunted by prior failures, undertake to defend presuppositionalism properly this time.

134 thoughts on “Presuppositionalism, take 27

  1. Glen:

    I presuppose that this thread will not lead to any breakthroughs.

    And since Glen’s dad could beat up both fifth’s and WJM’s dads, at the same time, with one hand tied behind his back, Glen’s presupposition wins.

  2. Premise 1: Presuppositionalism is simply the idea that people might have undiscovered presuppositions.

    Premise 2: I often discover presuppositions that I did not know I had

    Conclusion: Presuppositionalism is a valid idea

    😉
    peace

  3. From Rich’s linked post:

    Kelly Clark says that PA prefers assertion over argument (p. 256). He elaborates:

    Whenever I read presuppositionalists I almost always think, “Saying it’s so doesn’t make it so.”

    But saying it’s revelation does. Just ask fifth.

  4. fifthmonarchyman:
    Premise 1: Presuppositionalism is simply the idea that people might have undiscovered presuppositions.

    False. Presuppositional is a committmnent to subjectuivism. It’s about shielding the presuppositionalist’s fantasies from scrutiny by calling them presuppositions, while putting anything else to a level of scrutiny that they’d never allow for themselves.

    fifthmonarchyman:
    Premise 2: I often discover presuppositions that I did not know I had

    That’s all right. It would be better if you scrutinized the ones you know you have. Much better if you didn’t commit to presuppositions when they’re so obviously imbecilic like the ones presuppositionalists hold.

    fifthmonarchyman:
    Conclusion: Presuppositionalism is a valid idea

    It’s not proper to draw a conclusion when a premise consists of a false claim.

  5. fifth:

    You need to support that claim

    Why can’t he just presuppose it? Is there something wrong with presuppositionalism, in your view?

  6. Obviously, since I’m not a christian, I’m not defending Presuppositionalist Apologetics. However, everyone (outside of psychopaths and sociopaths) is a presuppositionalist wrt some basic concepts, such as the universal validity and authority of math, logic and morality, whether they admit it or not. It’s inescapable.

  7. fifthmonarchyman:
    Premise 1: Presuppositionalism is simply the idea that people might have undiscovered presuppositions.

    Premise 2: I often discover presuppositions that I did not know I had

    Conclusion: Presuppositionalism is a valid idea

    peace

    You are aware that your argument isn’t valid, right?

    The conclusion might be right, but the argument you have constructed here doesn’t lead to it.

  8. keiths:
    fifth:

    Why can’t he just presuppose it?Is there something wrong with presuppositionalism, in your view?

    He can’t presuppose it unless he admits to being a presuppositionalist. See how that works? If you’re not a presuppositionalist, then you have to support everything – even why logic should be held as valid.

    The principles of logic cannot be supported or proven because there’s nothing to support or prove them without referring to and relying on those selfsame principles.

    Every argument or cogent statement requires some presuppositions. You can’t write a cogent sentence without relying on the LoI to differentiate your words and their meaning. Asking for support or evidence presupposes a valid means of support or evidence. Stating that something is wrong or an error presupposes a universally binding arbiter of wrong or error.

  9. Presupposition: “a thing tacitly assumed beforehand at the beginning of a line of argument or course of action.”

  10. First presupposition out of 27

    The universe had a beginning

    Genesis 1:1

    “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

    Less than 100 years ago the world intelligencia mocked this bible statement…

    But in 1929 it all changed. It was proven that the universe is expanding which confirmed that the universe must’ve had a beginning, just as the bible writer wrote 3500 years ago…

    Never doubt the bible, if your belief is contrary to its statements on science!

  11. William J. Murray:
    Presupposition: “a thing tacitly assumed beforehand at the beginning of a line of argument or course of action.”

    Right. Then let me just presuppose that logic obtains. That I am (at least some times) capable of reasoning correctly, and that there is an external world my senses inform me about.

  12. William J. Murray:
    Obviously, since I’m not a christian, I’m not defending Presuppositionalist Apologetics.

    Sure. However, you’ve learned to play the game. What for, only you might know.

    William J. Murray:
    However, everyone (outside of psychopaths and sociopaths) is a presuppositionalist wrt some basic concepts, such as the universal validity and authority of math, logic and morality, whether they admit it or not. It’s inescapable.

    Nope. For one, I don’t think that math, logic, and morality have universal validity and authority. All of them have validity within their realms of application, and they cannot have authority, since they are our tools for explaining, summarizing and understanding. Your definition of authority might be a bit off.

    Anyway, my trust in their applicability, and my understanding of their limitations, is not a presupposition. I was shown how we come about to either, and how their applicability depends on how they were derived and our goals.

  13. William J. Murray: He can’t presuppose it unless he admits to being a presuppositionalist..

    Sorry, but you’ve got this wrong. Having presuppositions is not the same as being a presuppositionalist. I don’t hold to a doctrine about presuppositions.

    William J. Murray: If you’re not a presuppositionalist, then you have to support everything – even why logic should be held as valid.

    Nonsense.

    William J. Murray: The principles of logic cannot be supported or proven because there’s nothing to support or prove them without referring to and relying on those selfsame principles.

    Which makes the request for support on logic’s validity absurd. Which also means that logic obtains regardless of anybody’s presuppositions. Which makes logic inescapable, and thus not a presupposition.

  14. Entropy: Which also means that logic obtains regardless of anybody’s presuppositions. Which makes logic inescapable, and thus not a presupposition.

    Correct. If reasoning is inescapable for everyone, then reasoning is neutral between competing worldviews, which is precisely what presuppositional apologetics denies.

    (I use “reasoning” rather than “logic” here only because I reserve the word “logic” for types of modern symbolic logic, unless I’m talking about a historical figure who uses the word in a broader sense.)

  15. A comment of ALurker’s that deserves to be reposted here:

    Why the hell would anyone “presuppose” (a synonym for “assume”, as far as I can tell) a freaking GOD? I’d start with something we might all be able to agree on and support with some empirical evidence like “There appears to be an objective reality that we all perceive through our senses more or less similarly.” Skipping to the conclusion you were raised to believe in before you were able to able to think critically strikes me as self-serving, at best.

  16. Entropy:

    Which also means that logic obtains regardless of anybody’s presuppositions. Which makes logic inescapable, and thus not a presupposition.

    The way I think of it is that in order to use logic, we don’t actually have to presuppose its correctness. We can simply take it as provisional, just as we do with empirical truths. If we come across reasons to question it, then we will.

    We cannot be absolutely certain of anything, including the validity of logic.

  17. KN,

    If reasoning is inescapable for everyone, then reasoning is neutral between competing worldviews, which is precisely what presuppositional apologetics denies.

    I disagree with this. If presuppositionalists were truly able to show that reasoning would be impossible without God, then our ability to reason would indeed entail God’s existence. The fact that reasoning is shared among folks with different worldviews, some of them atheistic, wouldn’t negate that.

    There is nothing incoherent about a world in which God exists, reason depends on God, and some people reason their way to the (mistaken, in this world) view that God doesn’t exist.

    The problem is that presuppositionalists can’t demonstrate the truth of their premise: that reasoning would be impossible in the absence of God.

  18. ALurker,

    Since you’re new to the bizarro world of presuppositionalism, be sure to get fifth talking about how our ability to reason points not just to God, but specifically to the Christian God.

  19. Kantian Naturalist,

    Surely you recognize that nobody talking presuppositionalism here has arrived at it by philosophical investigation. The enemies of the secular state are constantly applying philosophicalistic patinas to their views, hoping to gain political advantage within the secular state. Although they oppose postmodernism, they’re pushing it in public discourse. The ends justify the means in culture war: the enemies of the secular state will stop at nothing to erode the distinction of religious and secular views, and to cultivate the notion that the state has no basis for discriminating against religious expression in public institutions.

  20. Following Rich’s link, I find the following “argument” from John Frame, who if I recall correctly is one of fifth’s heroes:

    Frame formulates the PA’s argument in the form of a syllogism.

    Premise 1: Whatever the Bible says is true.
    Premise 2: The Bible says it is the Word of God.
    Conclusion: Therefore, the Bible is the Word of God.

    For Christians, the argument expresses an important truth: As our supreme standard, Scripture is self-attesting. There is nothing higher than God’s Word by which God’s Word may be validated (pp. 356-57).

    Fifth, do you actually buy that circular shit, or do even you have certain standards?

    It’s valid, but its soundness depends on Premise 1, which is obviously false and in any case is hanging in mid-air, unjustified. How did Frame arrive at it? Is it one of Frame’s presuppositions?

    The argument is so retarded that I’m tempted to buy the Kindle book just to find out.

  21. I now find myself eating a bowl of popcorn. Rich is obviously a shill for the popcorn industry.

    Curse you, Hughes!

  22. keiths: Fifth, do you actually buy that circular shit, or do even you have certain standards?

    His standards are inconsistent. When it comes to his bullshit, he calls the circularity “virtuous circularity,” when it comes to anything else, it’s called “vicious circularity.” His standards are also known as special pleading. He compounds his fallacies with other fallacies.

  23. keiths: The way I think of it is that in order to use logic, we don’t actually have to presuppose its correctness. We can simply take it as provisional, just as we do with empirical truths. If we come across reasons to question it, then we will.

    Of course we don’t have to presuppose its correctness. Its correctness depends on the issues we’re dealing with. In classic argumentation it’s boolean logic where conclusions arise from binary true/false systems. The nature of the systems makes the axioms obvious: a statement can only be true or false but not both (excluded middle). a statement cannot be true and false at the same time and in the same way (non-contradiction).

    This is very similar to the laws of thought, which also entails self-evident axioms: whatever is is (identity), nothing can both be and not be (non-contradiction), and everything must either be or not be (excluded middle). That also entails a binary model (to be or not to be, that is the question), and the axioms sprung from the very system. Anything else is inconceivable. Can you conceive of an absurd reality? One where I am me, and Zeus, and Mohamed, and Trump, and the Sun, and the stars, and Harry Potter, and none of them at the same time and in the same way? A reality where me, you, the Sun, all the gods, exist and don’t exist, at the same time and in the same way?

    Then again, absolute uncertainty is an oxymoron.

  24. keiths: The problem is that presuppositionalists can’t demonstrate the truth of their premise: that reasoning would be impossible in the absence of God.

    If they could demonstrate it, then it wouldn’t be a presupposition!

  25. keiths:
    I now find myself eating a bowl of popcorn.Rich is obviously a shill for the popcorn industry.

    Curse you, Hughes!

    Alright mate, been a while. Good holidays etc?

    Let’s try and get a beverage on the books when I’m on the west coast this year.

  26. keiths:
    ALurker,

    Since you’re new to the bizarro world of presuppositionalism, be sure to get fifth talking about how our ability to reason points not just to God, but specifically to the Christian God.

    Let me guess — revelation? Or does he just assume his conclusion like he does with everything else?

  27. ALurker: Let me guess — revelation? Or does he just assume his conclusion like he does with everything else?

    They assume their conclusion, but they don’t want you to quickly point that out, so they hide their assuming behind a nonsensical post-rationalization (should be called post-nonsensicalization), just to make sure that you get too perplexed to notice, or to point to, what they actually did.

  28. keiths: The way I think of it is that in order to use logic, we don’t actually have to presuppose its correctness. We can simply take it as provisional, just as we do with empirical truths. If we come across reasons to question it, then we will.

    We cannot be absolutely certain of anything, including the validity of logic.

    “Logic” is the kind of thinking that we found to actually work well. Mentally, there’s no qualitative distinction between logical thinking and illogical thinking. In a way, we could just be talking about “good thinking” and “bad thinking,” since we call logic the “good thinking” and illogic the “bad thinking” (well, usually, although illogical thinking is part of presuppositionalism), even if I know that “bad thinking” can involve more than mere illogic.

    We learn logic. We train minds to think “logically.” It isn’t one thing, there is a variety of strict logical relationships and sensible rules of thumb that we tend to call “logic.” Some “fallacies,” like presuppositions, involve more empiric matters, others are due to a relationship, but a relationship that has been mistaken for (or assumed to be) a different sort, and some simply violate the rules of logic that have been worked out.

    “Logic” isn’t a thing, it’s just high quality thinking that has been worked out over the course of history and over a person’s life–although it’s not the totality of good thinking altogether. It’s what has remained after other provisional ways of thinking have proven to be inadequate. We’ve chosen to call certain kinds of manipulation of data “logical” and other kinds “illogical,” as a means of stating our judgement of what manipulations are reliable and what are not.

    Logic isn’t what we’ve discovered, it’s what we picked out as reliable thinking. Of course it was provisional, but because it works we think of it as indispensable.

    Glen Davidson

  29. keiths: I disagree with this. If presuppositionalists were truly able to show that reasoning would be impossible without God,

    If their claim was about our ability to reason, then they would have a huge burden of proof, how do you prove that something is impossible without a magical being? How do you exclude every other possible explanation, even the ones that haven’t been even thought about? It’s a universal negative! So, they’d have to start by proving that their magical being exists.

    Not only that, we can explain our ability to reason via natural processes, which presents an easy solution. Also, that would be an evidence-based argument, which is what they want to avoid in the first place (because they always lose them). So, instead, they go for something much more fundamental, and where most people are ill-informed. They go for the axioms and present them to you as if they were arguable, rather than, ahem, axiomatic. They’d have the very same burden of proof but they know that, given the ill-informed nature of the subject, and the tendency of non-presuppositionalists to be intellectually honest, and to try and make sense of non-sensical questions (again, because of the intellectual honesty).

    So the atheists assume that the questions are honest, rather than checking for their absurdity. Because the questions are circularly self-refuting, attempting to answer them ends in circularity, even in their claimed “solution,” which we notice but they work hard not to acknowledge themselves to keep you arguing in circles. Circles that arise, again, because of the absurdity of the questions. They’re asking you to justify the system of justification, which means applying the system to itself. They’re asking you to get into a circle. If you point out that they have a circle in their claimed solution, they just claim that their circle is virtuous. So, they built a system where they’re right because they say so, and you’re wrong because they say so. It’s just bullshit.

    In the end, they engage in this kind of shit because they know they have no evidence. They know that if they’re honest they’ll lose anyway. So, what to do? Trick those evil atheists! Mount ridiculous and absurd claims one over the other. Pretend to have answers by making even more absurd claims! The absurdity is also built in to make you work hard to get out of the bullshit. Each time you try to get out of the bullshit, they’ll add a huge pile on top of you to get you even more perplexed about and continue working hard, leaving them doing nothing but enjoy the show, inputting nonsense as needed to get you running in circles and circles and circles of nonsense.

    The absurdity is often so obvious that you can’t help yourself thinking that you can make them notice this time. That you’ve got them now! And there you go, engaging with people whose only goal is to confuse. It’s not possible to get them to understand. They think they’re right, and they could not care less how their means to showing that they’re right contradict what they claim to believe. Honesty is secondary, at best, to appearing to win an argument, at least in their imaginations.

    We’re left perplexed at the idiocy while they chant victory.

  30. Glen,

    Logic isn’t what we’ve discovered, it’s what we picked out as reliable thinking. Of course it was provisional, but because it works we think of it as indispensable.

    Yes, and the longer it works, the more confidence we gain in it. But we’re wise to remember that it is still provisional.

    The classic cautionary tale is the state of physics prior to special relativity. The separateness of time and space seemed self-evident, but it turned out to be an illusion.

  31. Entropy:

    The absurdity is often so obvious that you can’t help yourself thinking that you can make them notice this time. That you’ve got them now! And there you go, engaging with people whose only goal is to confuse.

    I don’t expect any of us to get through to a guy like fifth. He’s long since drunk the Kool-Aid. He’s built a life, and an ego, around his beliefs, and he was indoctrinated before he had a chance to develop the sort of cognitive immune system that skeptics routinely deploy.

    For me, the fun is in poking holes in their arguments, whether they acknowledge it or not, and in marveling at their attempts at rationalizing the most ridiculous beliefs and the most atrocious reasoning.

    So it’s primarily for fun, but there’s also the possibility that some undecided onlooker (who is still open to reason and evidence) benefits from seeing these guys getting their asses handed to them.

  32. keiths: For me, the fun is in poking holes in their arguments, whether they acknowledge it or not, and in marveling at their attempts at rationalizing the most ridiculous beliefs and the most atrocious reasoning.

    Agreed. Once you’ve understood what they’re about, you know they’re unreachable. We can only have fun and laugh at them, watching them immerse themselves in their own bullshit.

  33. keiths: The separateness of time and space seemed self-evident, but it turned out to be an illusion.

    I’m not sure that’s strictly a matter of logic, though. It seemed reasonable, of course, but so did the idea that the heavens operated physically differently from earth

    I suppose I think more so of QM as calling assumptions of logic into question (not novel, I realize), with the “logical operation” of the “classical” universe being a kind of emergent condition based on large numbers of probabilities converging to produce reliable, practically non-probabilistic, results.

    Glen Davidson

  34. 2 presupposition out of 27

    The the earth has a spherical shape

    Iz 40: 22

    “It is he that sits on the “circle” of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers

    The word circle is the hebrew word khun which can be translated as sphere or ball.

    In Indo-European languages, there are similar-sounding words that definitely refer to a spherical object, examples being kugel (Middle High German), kula (Polish), kugla (Serbo-Croatian) and gugā (their Proto-Indo-European root)

    How did the bible writer know the shape of the earth 2800 years in advance of scientific discovery?

    Never doubt the bible, if your belief is contrary to its statements on science!

  35. It wasn’t until the 19th Century that we figured out that propositional logic “works” better if we regard the implication p \rightarrow q (“p implies q”) as equivalent to \neg p \vee q (“not-p or q”). Aristotle thought otherwise.

    The axiom of choice is controversial in the foundation of mathematics.

    Higher-order logic is shot through with paradox. That’s a big problem, as a practical matter, in artificial intelligence.

    Paraconsistent logic is a development of the past 30 or so years (deriving from earlier work in multivalent logic). There is no “one right approach” to handling it.

    Inductive inference is at least as important to us as deductive inference. The “problem of induction” is understood today as the problem of judging which inductive inferences are better than others. We’re constantly making such judgments, and everyone agrees that some are better than others, but we don’t have a widely agreed-upon axiomatic basis for induction (analogous to an axiomatic basis for deduction).

    The notion that logic and mathematics are matters of presupposition is nothing but ignorance.

  36. I never got along with the presuppositionalists in theological circles:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presuppositional_apologetics

    Presuppositionalism is a school of Christian apologetics that believes the Christian faith is the only basis for rational thought. It presupposes that the Bible is divine revelation and attempts to expose flaws in other worldviews. It claims that apart from presuppositions, one could not make sense of any human experience, and there can be no set of neutral assumptions from which to reason with a non-Christian.[1] Presuppositionalists claim that a Christian cannot consistently declare their belief in the necessary existence of the God of the Bible and simultaneously argue on the basis of a different set of assumptions that God may not exist and Biblical revelation may not be true.[2][not in citation given] Two schools of presuppositionalism exist, based on the different teachings of Cornelius Van Til and Gordon Haddon Clark. Presuppositionalism contrasts with classical apologetics and evidential apologetics.

    Presuppositionalists compare their presupposition against other ultimate standards such as reason, empirical experience, and subjective feeling, claiming presupposition in this context is:

    a belief that takes precedence over another and therefore serves as a criterion for another. An ultimate presupposition is a belief over which no other takes precedence. For a Christian, the content of Scripture must serve as his ultimate presupposition… This doctrine is merely the outworking of the lordship of God in the area of human thought. It merely applies the doctrine of scriptural infallibility to the realm of knowing.[3]

    Critics of presuppositional apologetics claim that it is logically invalid because it begs the question of the truth of Christianity and the non-truth of other worldviews.

    I’ve argued, as far as practical and personal epistemology, the only certainty is pain:

    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/the-only-certainty-is-pain/

  37. keiths:

    The separateness of time and space seemed self-evident, but it turned out to be an illusion.

    Glen:

    I’m not sure that’s strictly a matter of logic, though.

    I’m not saying that it was a matter of logic; I’m saying that it seemed self-evident to people in much the same way that logic seems self-evident. My point is that even seemingly self-evident truths are actually provisional.

    The need for presuppositions is way overstated by people like William.

  38. 3 presupposition out of 27
    The universe is expanding…continuously…

    Is 40: 22

    “He (God) stretches out the heavens like thin cloth and spreads them out like a tent to live in.”

    If Einstein and other scientists would have been smart enough, they would have found out that the universe is not static without spending a penny…All they had to do is look into the bible…

    If God stretches out the ‘heavens” continuously, as the Hebrew grammar suggests, then it is clear that the universe or the heavens are expanding..
    Why spend billions of dollars on experiments?

    How did the bible writer know that the heavens or the universe are stretching 2800 years in advance of scientific discovery?

    Never doubt the bible, if your belief is contrary to its statements on science!

  39. keiths: Why can’t he just presuppose it?

    He can, but if he it would nice for him to own up to it as a presupposition.

    That is really all presuppositionalism is about IMO, laying our cards on the table and taking the time to understand just what it is we presuppose.

    If he really presuposes that “Presuppositionalism is a committmnent to subjectuivism.”

    Then IMO it’s good for him and for us to know that that is what he is doing.

    peace

  40. keiths: Fifth, do you actually buy that circular shit, or do even you have certain standards?

    I certainly “buy” the idea that revelation is self validating.

    I would not call it circular in the case of the Bible because the validation involves the entirety of the revelation and not just the physical words printed on a page.

    That means that when I say that the Bible is self-attesting I mean that God reveals to me that the Bible is true when I read it.

    It’s the same as if I was to say that a message I receive in a voice mail from my wife is self-attesting because I recognize her voice in the recording.

    peace

  41. J-Mac,

    Tents to live in are not continuously “stretched.” You stop “stretching” as soon as you’ve got the tent ready, and the “stretching” has a limit. You’re reading the expansion of the universe into the bible. The crap you’re engaging on is called eisegesis, and it’s the same kind of self-delusion that people fall into when reading their horoscopes.

  42. fifth,

    I certainly “buy” the idea that revelation is self validating.

    That’s not what I asked. My question was about Frame’s argument:

    Fifth, do you actually buy that circular shit, or do even you have certain standards?

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