Antitheism Presupposes Theism (4)


The “Fundamental Flaw”

It was not until I listened to the preposterous eight minute video that FF linked to that I understood where he got his harebrained perspective on the presuppositional argument from, and why he really thought he’d nailed it to the wall. In that video the pseudo-intellectual tells us that,

The fundamental flaw of TAG [the transcendental argument for God’s existence] “is that proponents of this argument fail to make a distinction between the LAWS of logic and what these laws refer to.”

Then the voice on the video plays a short segment from a presentation by Jason Lisle of AiG where this “flaw” is supposedly in evidence. He goes on to use some scurrilous epithets to describe Dr. Lisle, including calling him a liar.

As it happens I own the complete set of these presentations, so I was able to confirm whether or not this segment fairly represented Lisle’s views on logic. Anyone care to bet on the outcome?

That’s right. The real liar was the atheist name-caller. If he had possessed the entire presentation which Lisle gave he would know that just a couple of minutes after the clip he used to demonstrate that Lisle (and all us presuppositionalists remember) equates logic with the things it speaks of, Lisle says that the laws of logic describe concepts, not the things in themselves – ‘Ultimate Proof of Creation‘, at 45.57 minute mark.

In other words, Lisle teaches precisely what the erstwhile debunker claims he doesn’t understand!  We’ll return to this character another time.

Now, perhaps it was because I couldn’t descend to this menial level that I didn’t twig to what, for FF, seemed to be a coup de grace? I guess my saying such things as “Of course concepts are immaterial. They are in and of the mind”, and repeatedly asking him to explain, using his atheism, how these thoughts connect with the world out there, didn’t clue him or his supporters in enough?

In the combox of the second post here I asked him to supply an epistemology by which he knew what he claimed to know. He didn’t give one. I had earlier put to him the following questions:

Why should he [the atheist] trust his senses? How can he know the real world beyond himself? If he is just a part in the inexorable evolutionary machinery of the universe, how can he hold to absolutes, and how does he escape from the clutches of subjectivity?

The very best FF could come up with was this:

“First of all, all of us have to assume the validity of our senses to varying degrees, with the exception of ACTUAL self-attesting truths like the Law of Identity.”

Apart from confusing “self-attesting” (which relates to a verbal & ultimate authority for those who accept it), with “self-evident”, this response assumes the very point under scrutiny. Why is logic self-evident? and why do these laws and concepts access reality?  Further, for the law of identity to work one needs to identify something “out there.”

If one turns to a standard text on logic, about the first thing one will be confronted with is examples of propositions. For instance, Copi and Cohen’s Introduction to Logic (11th edition), gives many examples, ALL of which depend upon concepts relating to the outside world. Although FF denies that logic “works” in the extended world, I shall refrain from throwing away the book!

FF wants to teach me that, “All the formulas, symbols, rules, forms, etc. are man made.”

Well, if he means the characters (A, P, S, X, ^, 1, 2, 3, 4, I, II, III, IV, etc.), who doesn’t know that? But I am interested in the realities which the characters represent. And they are not human inventions. Nor could they be. Even if one accepts the ludicrous idea of the macro-evolutionary “Tree of Life”, there were certain numbers of animals around before man could count them. The presence of a human counter is irrelevant to the existence of the logic which differentiates and the numbers which accrue. We invented the symbolic representations. We most certainly did not invent logic and numbers. They are eternal, being aspects of the mind of God.

“I personally believe that existence is eternal” he opined. He admits to being a “metaphysical naturalist” so that all that exists is the natural realm. Yet he believes in immaterial realities like logic. And since he is adamant that we created the laws of logic, he must believe the material realm created the immaterial realm. But wait. He surely does not believe in the eternity of matter? If he doesn’t, yet insists existence is eternal, that only leaves immaterial existence (which he must explain)! See the contradiction?

Moreover, just think about that concept. If we created the laws of logic, it would mean that we were once illogical! If we were illogical in our thinking before we invented logic, how did we stumble upon logic? In the atheist worldview, as I have already said, the rational comes out of the irrational!

I loved this one:

“You are setting up a false dichotomy…True and false is not a true dichotomy. True and not true, that’s the true dichotomy.”

FF wanted me to look at a dictionary to define “unnecessary” (if I remember right). Shall we look up the definition of “untrue”? But why bother? FF himself assumes that “false = untrue” in the very statement he made. This is how the nonsense goes. It is utterly arbitrary. Continue reading “Antitheism Presupposes Theism (4)”

Antitheism Presupposes Theism (3)


“This is What You Believe Whether You Admit It or Not”

The line above is not a quote, but represents an accurate paraphrase of the atheist [FF – who just showed up one day dissing presuppositional apologetics], whom I have been debating on the TELOS Facebook page and here.  It is because of this attitude that I have called a halt to the proceedings.  It is also the attitude of the individual who FF is relying on to guide him through the VanTillian methodology.  Unfortunately for him this “guide” is completely inept and misunderstands presuppositionism as much as FF does.

In the first part of this series I wrote this:

The assertion of PA is not that unbelievers do not know things. It is that they are unable to account for what they know using their unbelieving outlooks. And if they cannot account for the their arguments from within their own outlook, they should give it up and find one that does account for it. And Christian presuppositionalists claim that the only outlook or worldview which accounts for facts, values, logic, justice, beauty, etc. is the Christian worldview of the Bible.

THAT is what we were supposed to be discussing.  What the presuppositional argument seeks for is a comparison of philosophies of life.  So naturally, PA presses the challenger to articulate their worldview.  In philosophical terms, we need their theory of reality (what constitutes the world), their epistemology (how do they know what they claim to know?), and their ethics (what constitutes the good and why?).  In the case of Biblical Christianity that information is to be drawn from the Bible: it is what we call Christian Theology.

Without the conversation being centered on that ground the TAG argument cannot really begin.  The Christian who is obeying 2 Corinthians 10:5 is not going to surrender his position before the discussion has got off the ground.  And we do not expect the non-Christian to capitulate so easily either.

Although it was clear to me immediately that FF did not know whereof he was speaking, I hoped he would come around by paying attention to what I said.  He continued to plow a furrow miles away from the right field, so the conversation stopped.  From the very outset FF was told he had mischaracterized TAG (the transcendental argument for God’s existence), and was given a true definition and example.  But he and one or two others, is convinced that I am using the charge of misrepresentation as a feint to excuse myself from an embarrassing defeat at his hands.

He was quick – very quick – to react the instant he thought he was being misrepresented.  But was as slow as a tortoise in correcting himself on the many occasions the boot was on the other foot.  If he had paid attention he would have started setting out and discussing his worldview; perhaps with a justification of logic?  But he did not.  And when, at the close of the discussion, he blithely stated that we “created logic” and that “the laws of logic DON’T work in the extended world”, and that “If we die, the laws of logic die with us”, well, I haven’t got the time to mess around with “reasoning” like that.

Yes, I know.  That position on logic alone destroys itself and all rational discourse about the world, but FF doesn’t see it, and I cannot get him to.  He remains ignorant both of his own presuppositions, of Christian theology, and the presuppositional argument which he sallied forth to attack.  Since this ignorance is irresistible (meaning he will not be corrected) the discussion was called off.

The mentality involved here is, from one angle, hard to fathom.  If an atheist who had been teaching his arguments for years at grad level told me I was not understanding him and was caricaturing his reasoning, I would, out of fairness and respect, try harder to reach agreement on what he was saying.  For me to arrogantly claim I understood him and had refuted him (in ten minutes no less!), while my opponent was calmly telling me I had completely missed the thrust of his argument, would be the height of pseudo-intellectual hubris.  FF plays this part, and so I decided that to proceed with him would be pointless and a waste of everybody’s time.

But the issues raised do provide me with a chance at demonstrating presuppositionalism again.  Since FF never really interacted with TAG (despite his conviction otherwise), there is not much in his writing which is very helpful as an attempted rebuttal of it.  But I shall be able to utilize it all the same as a foil for PA.  I shall also examine some other miscues from other atheists who agreed with him (as well as the ridiculous video clip he depends on).  I shall take my time doing this.  Perhaps I shall use another four or five posts.  This will, I hope, help believers for whom this kind of apologetic is new.

Atheists Are Unbiased – Really!

The default position of nearly every atheist you will come up against will be that they are neutral.  They just want the facts.  They are patiently waiting to be convinced that Christianity is not a bunch of illogical hokum.  That entirely naive stance is the whole basis for their argument against Christianity, and they will try to stick to it like super-glue.  It is the thickest stump on their argumentative stool.  Knock it away and watch the whole thing fall.  Atheists must tenaciously believe in the phantom of neutrality.  To change the metaphor, it is the curtain behind which their prejudicial opinions and raw emotions conceal themselves.  When you point out to them that no one is without bias they will very often ignore the comment.  That is precisely what FF did.  He is a naturalist (probably a philosophical materialist, although he never got round to declaring himself).  As a naturalist he will only accept naturalistic explanations of things.  Supernaturalism is out.  Hence, the Christian worldview is out: not (please note) at the end of the discussion, but before we even start!  And that’s what being unbiased looks like. 😉

The Christian should expect this, although it takes very little effort to see where his bias lies.  As for me, I owned up to my Christian bias right off the bat.  The transcendental argument (TAG) requires the believer to do just that, and it is only honest to do it.  I am not neutral.  Before I became a Christian I thought I was – but I was not.  I was anti-Christian!  I refused to accept the Bible as God’s Word without even reading it and considering its worldview.  Also, I had my own ideas about what “faith” was (something like believing in what you know isn’t true), and I wasn’t going to allow a person of faith to correct me.  Now, long after I recommended he peruse my Statement of Faith so he would know what I believed, FF blurted out on Facebook that he had no respect for anyone who had a Statement of Faith.  He thought a Christian having such a thing was “intellectually dishonest!”  In his book declaring what one believes is intellectually dishonest.  Ummm….??? Right.

If Atheism is True, How Does One Explain the Existence of Logic, etc?

The atheist wants to start with reason.  BUT – only if he can keep it’s use within his own atheistic worldview!  He must set the rules of the game.  He is unbiased you see!  Now, the Christian certainly wants to reason too.  But will he reason from an atheistic position?  How preposterous!  No, he will reason from a Christian position.  That is his bias.  The atheist must be intellectually honest enough to admit that he too has a bias.  As I pointed out before, being biased in the direction of the truth is a good thing.  But the question now arises, which bias – that of the atheist (in this case) or the Christian – leads to the truth?

For that question to be answered, we must explore the foundational set of presuppositions which lead us to argue the way we do.  We must explore and critique each others worldviews.  The atheist can ask me how I account for logic and its comportment with the world beyond ourselves (i.e. in analysis of things in the world or with discussions with other people)?  I will ask him the same question, and we will see which one makes sense of experience and which one doesn’t. Continue reading “Antitheism Presupposes Theism (3)”

Antitheism Presupposes Theism (2)


FF has responded to my first post in the combox of that post. Here I shall examine his remarks and add some new thoughts of my own. Unfortunately, he has not yet picked up the argument I made, neither has he relented from adopting his own position as normative. Now, I freely admit that if his outlook was normative I would not be arguing as I am. But neither would I be arguing at all, since, at least as far as I can see, all reasoning would be illusory; composed of the deterministic forces of matter and motion. I would have to agree with Sam Harris that there is no such thing as free agency. I believe what I do because that is the way my synapses are firing. FF believes the way he does for the same reason. There seems to be nothing but a futile finger-pointing available to us. Neither his Atheism nor my Christian Theism relate to anything outside our respective brain activity. That FF is debating shows that he believes free agency (here defined as ‘the ability to formulate judgments which transcend the laws of physics and chemistry, which may connect to the extended world, and for which we are responsible’), is not illusory but meaningful. Again, worldviews are at issue here.

Dear Fanghur,

Thank you for your response. I want to apologize for the wait. My schedule allows for limited time for this kind of interaction. Still, here is my reaction to your extended comment. I hope I shall be able to clear away some of the rubble which appears to be in the way of your seeing and evaluating my argument properly.

“No” to Natural Theology and Common Use of Reason

I want to begin by agreeing with you about the classical arguments for God’s existence: the ontological, cosmological (Kalam or otherwise), and teleological arguments. These all rest on a notion of what is called “natural theology,” which assumes a kind of neutral buffer-zone where Christians and non-Christians can meet to discuss their differences. Such a point of view is thoroughly unbiblical, as well as unsatisfying. I argue here that a Christian ought not to use natural theology.  You are right that employing such “proofs” for God cannot end up with the Triune God of the Bible. One cannot use non-biblical philosophies to argue for the Biblical Worldview. It is for this reason I do not use them!

This admission effectively dismantles your whole comment (though you may not see it). This is because your response assumes I am in agreement with your use of reason, which is what I deny. On the contrary I hold that you are using a gift of God in rebellion to God.  It is that denial and its basis which must be engaged. You still seem to assume you are on neutral territory. I tried to deal with that notion last time. You are assuming your worldview is able to account for the logic you are using. I contend both that neutrality is impossible, which is why I have admitted my own bias, but that you cannot justify logic in the first place, nevermind using it the way you do. You will understand at least from this that, if I am right, I have, in effect, issued you a call to repentance.  In saying this I want you to know that I only stand where I do by grace, not by anything in me.

Restatement of TAG

The argument I have given you is a transcendental argument. One which inquires after the necessary conditions for something to be what it is. You said on FB that this presuppositional argument (or TAG) was “plainly fallacious.” But you have not really touched upon it in your response. This argument is that unless the God of the Bible is presupposed we are not able to make sense of anything in our experience. On the positive side, once we do accept the God who has revealed Himself supremely in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have the foundation necessary for a coherent philosophy of life. For this reason you will see that it would be nonsensical of me to have the same starting point as you: for my whole assertion is that your starting point actually cannot “start.”

Now, even calling TAG “fallacious” implies that you stand outside of a worldview whose claim is that your use of logic cannot be justified from within your atheistic philosophy.  I realize, of course, that you wholly reject this assertion (if you didn’t you would be a Christian 😉 ), but that is the position I am arguing for.  All you have to do is to rebut the argument by supplying the preconditions for the intelligibility of logic (or justice, science, order, and the rest) from your naturalistic worldview.  The TAG argument of Van Til and others is that the proof of the Christian position is that unless you presuppose it you cannot make sense of anything. That is, to use Van Til’s phrasing, the truth of the Christian worldview is established by what he called “the impossibility of the contrary.” He stated,

“Christianity alone does not crucify reason itself…the best, the only, the absolutely certain proof of the truth of Christianity is that unless its truth is presupposed there is no proof of anything.” – quoted in Greg L. Bahnsen, Always Ready, 61.

Certainly there is more to say than that, and Van Til’s books are not easy reading, but that is the assertion. What he means here is not just challenging the unbeliever to make sense of the world, but positively making sense of it via the biblical revelation. That amounts to “certain proof.”  By contrast, from what you say, your philosophy of life floats on a Sea of Skepticism.  You would make sense of miracles only when you believe a worldview which explains them. And what I say about miracles, holds true for rationality itself.

So far, the only thing I can make out is that you believe logic is eternal and absolute on the one hand, and that humans “created it” (by which I think you mean “identified & categorized it”) on the other.

Revelational Epistemology

The presuppositional apologetic stands upon a revelatory theory of knowledge. Giving some instances (which I am not here pulling out as proofs per se): if we are really created in God’s rational image, in distinction to the animals, we would expect to be rationalizing and theorizing agents, able to express ourselves verbally, mathematically, pictorially, and architecturally in the world out there. The filling out of this sort of thing is the job of Theology, which I try to do through TELOS.  But what would you put in place of these instances? Continue reading “Antitheism Presupposes Theism (2)”

A Good Article on the Problem of a Voluntaristic God

Here is a very good piece relating to the error which can happen if we try to defend God’s Sovereignty without due regard to the philosophical implications.  Although the writer doesn’t speak of it, his objection to Francis Chan & Preston Sprinkle’s position in their Erasing Hell, that “God can do anything He wants” is an example of what is often called “Divine Command Theory” – an explanation of the relationship between God’s will and ethics one often comes across in Calvinist theodices (defenses of God in relation to evil).  While I would disagree with the author’s view that God’s essence is “fundamentally unknowable by human beings” (Scripture does not support a radical approach to our knowledge of God), he makes his point well.

The article is posted at The Jesus Creed and is a bit of a hard read.  It’s by David Opderbeck and is called “God can do anything he wants!”

The Biblical God: The Precondition of Intelligibility

This post, while being very relevant to the context of my previous post and the one coming fast on its heels, is a “stand-alone.” I apologize for the formatting.

When the Christian sets forth his outlook he will stress the kind of God to whom he is committed, the nature of the world in relation to God, and the nature of man as God’s creature.  The Christian God is totally self-sufficient, and in Him there is an equal ultimacy of unity and diversity (being Triune).  Everything outside of Him derives its existence, character, meaning, and purpose in light of Him and His sovereign counsel. – Greg L. Bahnsen, Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended, 16.


Logic/Reason…..precondition ……. God who is immaterial perfect rationality

Morality…………..precondition ……..God who is righteous

Truth……………….precondition ……..God who is unchanging Truth

Uniformity……….precondition ……..God who upholds regularity (providence)

Order………………..precondition ……..God who imprints His order on creation

Subject-Object….precondition ……..God creates us (body/soul), the world for us

Love………………….precondition ……..God who is Love and demonstrates it

Beauty………………precondition ……..God who is artistic & gives us aesthetic abilities

Language…………..precondition ……..God who speaks

Good………………….precondition ……..God who is perfectly Good

Evil…………………….precondition ……..God who permits declension from Himself

False Beliefs………..precondition ……..God who (for now) allows rebellion

Personality………….precondition ……..God who is Personal

Relationship………..precondition ……..God who is social

One & Many…………precondition ……..God who is both One and Many (Trinitarian)

Science………………..precondition ……..God who gives skills & conditions for analysis

History………………..precondition ……..God who created & guides with a telos in view

Number……………….precondition ……..God who is Triune and infinite

Ecology………………..precondition ……..God who gives us oversight of His creation

Salvation………………precondition ……..God who reconciles humanity in His Son

Worship………………..precondition ……..God who evokes praise in the saints

Hope……………………..precondition ……..God who raises Christ from the dead

Meaning………………..precondition ……..God who made us in His image


Glory to God alone!

B. B. Warfield and the “Common-Sense” Conception of Theology


Non-biblical philosophies have a way of creeping into even the best Christian writing.  Given the reality of the Fall this is perhaps unavoidable.  Still, Christians should regard it as their duty to their Lord not to be reliant upon any unscriptural underpinnings in their theology.  The Apostle Paul, who knew the philosophers (Acts 17), sees it as one of his obligations to remind believers how they ought to think (e.g. Rom. 12:1-2; Col. 2:8).  Ones ultimate criterion of thought, the most basic appeals to facticity, affect the outworking of ones worldview.  This is to be seen more clearly in some scholars than in others.  Those I have in mind in this piece are men who take a view of the Bible which runs counter to what the Bible itself permits, and whose scriptural vision is duly impaired.

Scripture always and everywhere presents itself as the Word of God.  This is either assumed, as in the opening verses of the Book of Genesis, or it is stated explicitly (e.g. 2 Tim. 3:16).  The Lord Jesus Himself is quite matter-of-fact in the way He assumes the Holy Scriptures to require no other human response but that of belief (e.g. Jn. 5:39-47).  The Bible is self-attesting (Isa. 66:2b).

When once a person has become a Christian he has entered upon a true relationship with the Author of the Word which, by supernatural working, he has believed and by which he has been given light with which to search it and think about it.  He has not acquired saving knowledge by anything within himself.  He has not come to know the Author of life and the Creator of time and space unless he has come to know Him through His Word, and the true significance of the Word.  Saving knowledge opens our eyes to all other knowledge – or at least it should.  Thus, Scripture is seen as the touchstone of all veridical truth.  We begin our knowing anew in light of God’s Word (Psa. 36:9).

Of course, to operate this way one must be like Jesus and the Apostles and accept the outside-Word from God without placing it through the wringer of empiricism.  Faith, for sure, is what brings the testimony of the Spirit with it to give certainty.  But whether faith is present or not does not alter the provenance of the Bible, and thus its ultimate authority or its right to provide the first principles of knowledge.  If “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Psa. 24:1), then a biblical perspective, not just on sin and salvation, but on every other subject under the sun is demanded.  If this is not done the rights of theology will be circumscribed by the creature to the detriment of a proper Christian worldview. Continue reading “B. B. Warfield and the “Common-Sense” Conception of Theology”

The Bible as Revelation (1)

N.B. Some of this material has appeared in a previous post.


Many moons ago evangelicals could be relied upon to hold a generally agreed-upon opinion on the revelatory character of Scripture.There were some who tried to formulate the “Scripture Principle” using evidentialist apologetics (Warfield, Sproul, Pinnock), and others who laid stress upon the Divine initiative in revelation by employing ‘presuppositionalist’ approaches (Turretin, Kuyper, Van Til), but, for all that, the Bible was thought to contain God’s verbal disclosure in propositional form.

Sadly, this is no longer true.Since Karl Barth there has been an incessant attempt to treat propositionalism as naïve and rationalistic.The alternatives put forth as replacements have all advertised themselves as more dynamic then the older view.And they have joined chorus in their efforts to disabuse the church of its “static” view of the Bible.

Certainly, it is true (as I have pointed out) that 19th century theologians sometimes portrayed the Bible as a repository of retrievable proof-texts to fit any question.But even then it has been demonstrated that such men as Charles Hodge can be construed more charitably than has often been the case in the books and articles of their opponents.I believe the issue of whether the Bible comes to us as propositional revelation is crucial for Christians and ought to be settled in the affirmative.Here, then, are some of my thoughts on the matter: Continue reading “The Bible as Revelation (1)”

Five Examples of Placing Man at the Center (3)

Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)

Another thinker whose world and life view has influenced millions of people is Soren Kierkegaard, “the father of Existentialism.”

In contrast to Kant, whose life was marked by pedestrian regularities, Kierkegaard led a rather tortured existence.[1] He was greatly disturbed that the Enlightenment, instead of liberating man, ended up stealing his soul, and, as Kierkegaard thought, obliterating man’s individuality.[2]

His response to this was to teach the complete freedom of the individual’s will as it progresses through the stages of life to eventually realize its need of God.[3] But his God was really only a figment of his biblically informed imagination. For Kierkegaard, truth, like living, was more subjective than objective. He did not repudiate objectivity, but he inveighed against the sort of detached assent to reality which he saw in men like Hegel. This led him to assert that what one must do “is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die.” This is no more than is repeated today by the majority of college students. Continue reading “Five Examples of Placing Man at the Center (3)”

Five Examples of Placing Man at the Center (2)

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)

A paradigm shift began with Immanuel Kant[1], who influenced most of the Western world to believe that our minds are the organizers and rationalizers of a reality which is unknowable “as it is.” The mind of man becomes the final adjudicator in the interpretation of the Universe. In Kant’s system, it cannot be any other way. Further, the empiricist in him put everything not open to the senses behind a cognitive wall in a realm he called the Noumenal. This noumenal realm is the place that “things as they are” (the external world) inhabit prior to being categorized and interpreted by our minds. And the only way our minds can obtain the data of the external world is through sense-experience. As Kant himself said, “All conceptions, therefore, and with them all principles, however high the degree of their a priori possibility, relate to empirical intuitions, that is, to data towards a possible experience.”[2] So sense-data are necessary for any “fact” to be presented to the mind, but once perceived that data is given form or structure by the mind.[3] Continue reading “Five Examples of Placing Man at the Center (2)”

Five Examples of Placing Man at the Center (1)

The last post on “The Frame of Knowledge” asserted that the revelatory viewpoint of Christian-theism provides the only acceptable “frame” in which reason and experience can be understood for what they are – i.e. gifts of the true God. I further tried to show that Christians, therefore, ought to begin and end their thinking from within this frame. I closed out with the observation that unless Christians rethink their approach to epistemology in more biblical, which is to say revelatory terms, they will aid and abet the non-Christian world in their never-ending attempts to “shove God in to the margins” of life.

The only way to fight back against this is for the Church to once again let the voice of the LORD be heard as it should. Christians must begin all predication by sanctifying “the Lord God in [their] hearts” (2 Pet. 3:15), and they must further insist that nothing that can be called knowledge can really be known outside of the supernaturalistic “frame of knowledge” provided in the Bible. They must forever abandon the two-storey truth model and instead interpret every fact biblically and theologically. Their epistemological foundations must comport with their theological conclusions. This must be done while mounting a resolute and sustained offensive on all non-Christian alternatives. Theology should always be on the front foot![i]

Continue reading “Five Examples of Placing Man at the Center (1)”