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Saturday, January 06, 2007

A Sound Proof For God's Existence

So often we hear that the existence of God cannot be proven, which simply is not true. That is not to say that we come to know God through cleverly devised proofs. Nothing could be further from the truth. We know God by nature and we must justify this knowledge by Scripture, the Christian's ultimate authority.

All reasoning has a terminus point; for the Christian it is Scripture. For the unbeliever it is usually the universal laws of logic, which problematically do not comport with any worldview that denies the existence of God and our being made in his image as rational, logical creatures.

Since the premises in the following argument are true and the form of the argument is valid, the conclusion is reliable and true.

P1. If God has revealed himself, then God exists
P2. God has revealed himself
C. Therefore, God exists

So Christian, please never say again that one cannot prove the existence of God.

The issue is not about proof. Proving God's existence is simple, as was just shown. The issue is over the justification of premises and what people will accept as authoritative. For instance, if one believes that his senses can justify premises, then one might choose to prove that there are crackers in the pantry in the following manner:

P1. If I see crackers in the pantry, then there are crackers in the pantry
P2. I see crackers in the pantry
C. Therefore, there are crackers in the pantry

The deductive argument for there being crackers in the pantry was implicit in Dr. Bahnsen's debate with Gorden Stein. The point I'd like to make is that only a skeptic would deny such a proof can be sound because only a skeptic would deny that one's senses can be reliable. Just the same, if a skeptic did not accept the truth of the premises, the proof would not become invalidated or proven false. In the like manner, only an unbeliever - who is suppressing in unrighteousness the obvious truth of God's revelation - would deny that God has revealed himself and, therefore, God exists. Just as it is true that the skeptic's disfunctional worldview cannot invalidate what is actually true - it is no less true that the fallen worldview cannot invalidate the absolute authority of Scripture. Truth is not a matter of consensus after all. To think so is to confuse proof with persuasion, a fundamental error in apologetics.

Don't get me wrong; I would not employ such a proof for God's existence in a debate with a professing atheist. My only point in putting forth such a proof is to show that the issue is not about proof but rather about the willingness to yield to the self-attesting, authoritative Christ of Scripture and the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit who testifies that God is speaking in Scripture.

Not to despair, we are not reduced to fideism, which is to say we are not reduced to saying that God has revealed himself and that settles the matter. Although it is true that God has revealed himself to all men everywhere, the Christian is to defend the faith and not just assert what he knows to be true.

We should defend the faith by arguing that God is the necesssary precondition for intelligible experience.

Prove A: The Christian God exists.
Step 1 ~A: (Assume the opposite of what we are trying to prove): The Christian God does not exist.
Step 2 (~A--> B): If God does not exist, then there is no intelligible experience since God is the precondition of intelligibility
Step 3 (~B): There is intelligible experience (Contradiction!)
Step 4 (~ ~A):
It is not the case that God does not exist (Modus Tollens on 2 and 3)
Step 5 (A): --> God does exist (Law of negation.)
Q.E.D.

The above demonstration of the transcendetal argument for the existence of God (TAG) is sound in that the form is valid and the premises are true. We must keep in mind that the truth of any valid conclusion is not predicated upon the consensus of the truth of the premises. Accordingly, since unbelievers refuse to admit to the truth claims of the Bible and, therefore, step 2 of the proof, the only thing the Christian can do is (i) reduce the opposing worldview to absurdity by exposing its arbitrariness and inconsistency and (ii) show how the God of Scripture provides a necessary precondition for knowledge, reality and ethics. In a word, the apologist is to demonstrate that God's special revelation, Scripture, offers the only justification for intelligible experience.

TAG is to be offered as a challenge to the unbeliever and, therefore, a starting point for discussion. The apologist is then to demonstrate by the life experiences enjoyed by the professing atheist how intelligible experience presupposes God's revelation of himself. For instance, the apologist might wish to demonstrate how only the Christian worldview supplies the necessary precondition for the justification of trusting one's senses in order, for instance, to begin to justify the knowledge of crackers being in the pantry. In doing so the apologist gives "evidence" of the reliability of the proof, but such evidence cannot "prove" that the proof is sound anymore than evidence can prove God's existence. Again, the unbeliever denies step-2 of the proof. Accordingly, all the apologist is left to do is show that logic, reality and ethics presuppose that which only the Christian worldview can afford - a common creator who has provides a fruitful connection between the minds of men and the created order, making intelligible experience possible.

In sum, the proof of God's existence is sound in and of itself because it employs a valid form and true premises. Consequently, the argument succeeds in proving the existence of God, but in a much more powerful way than the first deductive argument at the top of the page, which although is sound, does not deal with the preconditions of intelligible experience and, therefore, is not very interesting other than it serves as a good example (to the Christian in particular) that God's existence can be proved.

Finally, the Christian would do well not only to offer a proof for God's existence in a transcendental fashion but also to expose the various forms of the one unbelieving worldview for their arbitrariness and inconsistencies. Note well, however, that to reduce an opposing worldview to absurdity is not to prove the Christian worldview. It's a far cry from it in fact. Our apologetic is not inductive. We must also appreciate that all the competitors to the Christian worldview are simply variations of the single-unbelieving worldview, which posits that intelligible experience can be justified apart from revelation. Consequently, there are not an infinite number of worldviews as some have claimed but rather only two. I know this from Scripture, which is a reliable appeal for truth; Scripture allows us to know some things without having to know all things! Scripture is the only appeal for those who wish to justify their knowledge of anything.

At the end of the day, "Jesus loves me this I know, 'cause the Bible tells me so." That's not my defense of the Christian worldview, but it's certainly a defensible fact. In other words, we don't "reason" ourselves to God, but our belief in God is indeed reasonable. In fact, it's not just reasonable; it's justifiable and true, which is to say it constitutes as knowledge. Belief in God is the only reasonable position to hold if for no other reason, it is unreasonable to argue against God's existence because to do so one must first presuppose those tools of argumentation that are only defenisble given God's existence.

Ron

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71 comments:

Milhous said...

I really appreciate and learn from your posts. Thanks for your work and effort.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Thank you Milhous. That's encouraging. Can you tell me a little about yourself? I allow comments to be published by those without blogs, which leaves me at a disadvantage with respect to learning about those who like to comment on what I write. Please tell me if you will, how you came across this site, etc.

Yours in Christ,

Anonymous said...

Excellent. TAG in a nutshell. After reading a little Van Til, I've always wanted to find a way to do this.

Keep up the good work.

David Birch said...

Hullo!
I'm David Birch, age 75, a committed Christian living in Vancouver, BC. I enjoy interdenominational Christian fellowship although I am personally Mennonite. I am neither Calvinist nor Arminian but I believe that while God certainly does predestinate for salvation those whom He sovereignly chooses, this in no way lessens or abrogates man's free will to choose to repent and turn to Christ for salvation. Both are taught in Scripture and their coexistence is beyond man's ability to fully understand but God's ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts than our thoughts. So I simply accept His word.

Keith (Xanga name is razzendahcuben) suggested that I read your blog. He speaks very highly of you and of your ability to grasp Christian apologetics.

Reading your current post I came across this puzzling statement which seems to me to contain an inadvertent contradiction. You say:

"Just as it is true that the skeptic's disfunctional worldview cannot invalidate what is actually true - it is no less true that the fallen worldview invalidates the absolute authority of Scripture."

Surely you meant to say in the final clause, "it is no less true that the fallen worldview (in no way) invalidates the absolute authority of Scripture."

What do you think? Or am I somehow misunderstanding a deeper meaning?

Thank you.

David

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Hello brother David,

Thank you for visiting my blog. I'll try to interact with your comments below; I'll place your words in italics and "quotes."

"God certainly does predestinate for salvation those whom He sovereignly chooses, this in no way lessens or abrogates man's free will to choose to repent and turn to Christ for salvation."

Man is certainly responsible, but nowhere does the Bible teach that man has free will. Man has the liberty to choose to reject or follow God but his will is a slave to sin until the Holy Spirit sovereignly converts the will, causing it to embrace Christ as he is presented in the gospel. All men choose according to their strongest inclination at the moment of choice; consequuently, man is not "free" to choose with equal ease between alternatives. Indeed, if his choice is to be rational, it must necessarily proceed from an intention. Given such necessity of choice, the will cannot be free by definition. "Free will" is a technical term that suggests man can choose contrary to how he will and that God can know future choices that are not determined or caused.

"Keith (Xanga name is razzendahcuben) suggested that I read your blog...."

Keith is a dear young man who in my estimation has the makings of an incredible apologist for the Christian faith. In fact, he already is one.

"Reading your current post I came across this puzzling statement which seems to me to contain an inadvertent contradiction. You say:

'Just as it is true that the skeptic's disfunctional worldview cannot invalidate what is actually true - it is no less true that the fallen worldview invalidates the absolute authority of Scripture.'

Surely you meant to say in the final clause, ; “it is no less true that the fallen worldview (in no way) invalidates the absolute authority of Scripture."

What do you think? Or am I somehow misunderstanding a deeper meaning?


I’d like to say that I write things like that on purpose to see if people are reading me carefully… :) Thanks for catching that mistake; I’ll go change it now!

Blessings,

Ron

Anthony Coletti said...

"P1. If God has revealed himself, then God exists
P2. God has revealed himself
C. Therefore, God exists"

Clearly this is question begging. P2 presumes the conclusion you are trying to prove. Presuming God exists to prove God exists proves nothing.

Read Brian Bosses blog on Van Tilian apologetics. http://www.christianlogic.com/brianbosse/archives/2007/03/van_tillian_pre_13.html

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Anthony,

The premises are true and the form is valid therefore the argument is sound. If you deny that, then either you deny the authority of the Bible or else you deny a valid form of argumentation.

The point that particular argument should demonstrate to the Christian is that proof is child's play and that, therefore, the issue is not that God can't be proven. The issue is that the atheist refuses to acknowledge the obvious authority of Scripture. With that said, I would not continue to point to the proof you referenced - though it is a sound argument just the same. I instead point to the transcendenatal argument, which too is sound due to its form and truth values. TAG, unlike the sound argument you referenced, allows for substantial talking points with the professing atheist. It puts forth extraordinary claims in the form of a sound deductive argument regarding the preconditions for intelligible experience.

Now of course the atheist will take issue with step-2 of the transcendental argument, but that doesn't make the argument less sound. When he disagrees with the authority I base step two upon, all I can do is reduce to absurdity his own variation of the one unbelieving worldview. But as you should know, reductios of opposing worldviews are not proofs of the Christian worldview - hence the need for a proof such as TAG.

What is accomplished by putting forth TAG and reducing the variation of the one unbelieving worldview to absurdity is a two-step apologetic that (a) proves God's existence by showing that His revelation is the necessary precondition for the justification of knowledge, reality and ethics and (b) demonstrates that the opposing worldview cannnot make sense of those three disciplines that pertain to intelligible experience.

Ron

Anonymous said...

Ron,

It is irrelevant that the premises are true. The argument is circular because the conclusion is assumed by the premises. For the argument to be a non-fallacious proof, the conclusion must not be assumed.

The proof amounts to saying "A implies B, therefore A implies B".

TAG essentially does the same thing. It makes assertions and calls it a proof. That is intellectual dishonestly.

Anthony Coletti

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Anthony,

You've been repeating yourself for years. What you don't seem to grasp is that in first order predicate logic the conclusion is always assumed in the premise. Moreover, all reasoning must have a point of termination. Circular reasoning is, therefore, uavoidable when dealing with ultimate truth claims.

Ron

Frank Walton said...

wow, thank you for this post!

Anonymous said...

I'm not looking for an epic battle, but how do you know God is the necessary precondition for intelligible experience? Are you just assuming God is, or have you proven that? (If you have, then I will consider that an official miracle) I eagerly await your answer.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Good and fair question (Jane?).

I believe that God is the precondition for intelligible experience. It is true that He is; and I am justified in my belief of the truth. My knowledge and justification for this knowledge of this truth comes directly from God's Word, which professing atheists and agnostics reject.

Regarding justification for this true belief, I'll quote the Westminster Divines. Please take special note of the two sections that I placed in bold type.

"The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.

V. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture. And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it does abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts."

My knowledge of the truth does not become invalidated simply because others supress the clear and unambiguous testimony of God's word and conviction of the Holy Spirit. In the like manner, one's knowledge of anything - if it is true knowledge - cannnot become invalidated by someone else who might reject the truth of the premises or the valid form of argument that demonstrates such knowledge.

Chrisitanity, however, does not reduce to fideism. In other words, the defense of the Christian worldview is not reduced to "God says so and that settles the matter." Given antithetical presuppositions, all the Christian can do with the unbeliever is perform an internal critique of his worldview, showing that it cannot account for ethics, reality and knowledge; and then ask the unbeliever to assume for argument's sake the Bible as true in order to evaluate whether it provides conditions for intelligible experience. What else can one do with one who rejects the authority of God's word? In the like manner, what can the Christian do if another rejects the abstract laws of logic. The Christian is left to show the inconsistency and arbitrariness of such an illogical worldview, while demonstrating that logic provides a precondition for the discussion at hand. Logic, like God's revelation, is a transcendental. Logic being a characteristic of God.

The Christian's hope is that the unbeliever will quit supressing the truth and be granted by God the Spirit of repentance and receive the truth as he weighs his own worldview against the Christian worldview.

As I noted in the blog entry. Proof is child's play. The question is whether one will submit the truth that comes from God's say so. If one refuses to do so, then they must go through life embracing contradictions and arbitrary first principles. At the end of the day, proof does not always bring about persuasion.

Ron

Anonymous said...

Frank, thank you.

Ron

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Ron Stated: "So often we hear that the existence of God cannot be proven, which simply is not true."

Skeptic Replies: Then prove it -- not to yourself and your fellow believers, but to the non-believers.

Ron Replies: I have proven it with a valid form and true premises. You reject a premise or premises, which does make the proof unsound. You are confusing proof with persuasion. It is not within my power to cause you to submit to the truth you suppress in unrighteousness.

Skeptic States: but the existence of your blog suggests that you would like to convince the non-believers.

Ron Replies: The existence of my blog suggests many things but not that I would like to convince the unbeliever. I am a Calvinist which suggests that I believe that only God can cause the rebellious man to admit to what he knows regarding the existence of God.

Skeptic States: We know nature by nature. We know gods by faith alone.

Ron States: Presumably you mean that we only know nature by nature. Propositions are not “nature.” Accordingly, given your axiom you cannot know your proposition. Therefore, your worldview is internally inconsistent.

Skeptic States: Religious texts justify nothing except the belief of the believer. In the factual sense, they are merely collections of stories written by men, and are proof of that fact alone. Their authority is bestowed upon them by the believer, not by the author -- however divine he may have been.

Ron States: By what authority do you know this to be true?

Skeptic Asks: Please provide an example of logic failing to agree with such a worldview.

Ron Replies: For instance, chance acting upon matter over time cannot produce abstract entities, let alone universal laws of logic that are invariant and binding. Naturalism cannot account for predication. You presuppose absolute laws of logic, truth and ethics (because you are made in the image of God) yet your creed denies that such are anything else than conventional.

Ron Stated: "Since the premises in the following argument are true and the form of the argument is valid, the conclusion is reliable and true.

P1. If God has revealed himself, then God exists
P2. God has revealed himself
C. Therefore, God exists"

Skeptic Replied: Except that the second premise is not a truth, but a belief. No proof exists of such an event. Even if you believe it to have occurred, and are willing to accept arguments based on that belief, it would still only be true for that person to whom it occurred.

Ron Replies: There are many proofs for p2, yet you will reject them all because of your sin. Accordingly, all I am left to do is show you the arbitrariness and inconsistencies of your world view. You cannot justify logic, reality or ethics given your presuppositions. Accordingly, your worldview is not justifiable for it does not provide the preconditions for intelligible experience.

Skeptic States: Isn't the skeptic's worldview as true for him as yours is for you?

Ron Replies: Of course not. The skeptic’s worldview is incoherent. There is not absolute truth for the skeptic; yet his bald assertion of his worldview contradicts the premise of his worldview. That there is no truth is a self-refuting proposition.

Skeptic States: Ethics are arrived at by concensus; they differ in every culture. They presuppose only that they are widely accepted, which they most often are, or else they would most likely change.

Ron States: If ethics are conventional, then there is no binding reason to abide by them; yet you are internally inconsistent because you believe that men must abide by them or be punished don’t you, or does might make right for you? In either case, on what authority do you defend your arbitrariness?

Skeptic States: Thanks for the post, I had fun responding to it.

Ron Replies: Skeptic, you are simply hardening your heart against God’s claim on your life. You know God exists and your reliance upon His logic, His reality and His ethical absolutes convicts you that you suppressing His sovereign authority over you. My advice to you is to repent of your sin and receive Christ while there is still time. May God give you no rest for your soul until you rest in Christ alone for your salvation.

Ron

Keith said...

Bahnsen couldn't have said it better himself, Ron! Well done. I am truly delighted, also, to see a call to repentance. How sad that so many apologists are content in leveling opponent's arguments merely for their own intellectual pleasure rather than for the sake of the unbeliever's soul.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Thanks Keith. Skeptic was unhappy that I didn't address all his remarks. I left off some like these two:

1. "There is nothing inconsistent about the non-believer's worldview, as long as he remains a non-believer. And it is no more arbitrary than that of the believer; in fact it is less so, because it tends to be based on at least some level of logic and reason, as opposed to faith."

2. "All you can know for certain about any religious text is that it was written by fallible men who made bold but unsubstantiated claims. What these texts should teach us all is that some bold claims will be accepted as truth by many followers, while others will be dismissed and forgotten. Marketing executives: take note!"

What's an apologist to do?

Ron

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Hi Ron,

1st-time commenter. I chanced upon your blog about a week or two ago from Triablogue.

I have some more in-depth questions regarding this particular post, but I will have to pose them to you later.

I just wanted to let you know that I used your first example in my comment to an atheist blogpost that's gaining some traction in the blogosphere. I might have made a tactical error, but I thought the long drawn-out presupp approach (which I love) might not be as effective.

Here: How to actually talk to atheists (if you're a Christian)

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Hi Ron,

Long absence from my previous comment.

Anyways, here's my observations. (Which will appear to be judgmentally speculative.) Most of the unbelievers that I encounter are not sophisticated enough intellectually to track and follow a TAG argument. They will likely become very confused by specific terms in the claim, not to mention the claim itself: "God is the necesssary precondition for intelligible experience."

That's my assumption anyways. So I have a slight affinity for your first argument which is much simpler for the unbeliever to follow. I.e.,

P1. If God has revealed himself, then God exists
P2. God has revealed himself
C. Therefore, God exists

Since I haven't lost them because of the simplicity of the argument's structure, I can then proceed to an evidence-based argument for Christ's resurrection or pursue Lewis's trilemma.

I say this as a pragmatic presuppositionalist. I much, much prefer a presupp approach, provided that I'm engaging someone who can follow the thread of the argument. But most people can't.

So I'm thinking the evidentialist approach might work a little better. What do you think?

Also, check out the "How to talk to an Atheist, if you must" link above.

There's someone at the end of the thread who's engaging the evidentialist argument.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Traditional evidentialist arguments should NOT be used for several reasons.

1. They presuppose that there are brute facts & that man is ethically neutral and, therefore, able to interpret the "facts" apart from some religious pre-commitment.

2. They presuppose inductive inference is possible apart from the God whom they reject by way of axiom not evidence.

3. They presuppose that man is justified in holding to at least some theory of knowledge, ethics and reality apart from presupposing special revelation.

4. They imply that all man needs is more evidence and that man is not already supressing the truth of God that has already been revealed to all men everywhere.

In a word, evidentialism denies the epistemic Lordship of Christ and the truth of Scripture regarding man's condition and obstinate refusal to admit what he already knows to be true about God.

Any professing atheist can destroy CS. Lewis or any non-presuppositional approach, whether traditional (e.g. cosmological, teleological etc.) or evidential.

Ron

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

p.s. the three step proof you put forth of mine was not intended to be used w/ an atheist other than to show that the issue is not proof but rather ultimate authority. You might of missed the point of that argument.

Yours,

Ron

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Ron: "Any professing atheist can destroy CS. Lewis or any non-presuppositional approach, whether traditional (e.g. cosmological, teleological etc.) or evidential."

I was not aware of that. Wow!

Yet let's do consider that there have been some unbelievers who indeed have become Christians through a non-presupp approach. So then the question becomes: "Aren't there different classes of unbelievers? And if there are, then perhaps different apologetic-evangelistic approaches might profitably be varied and deployed for God's Kingdom, no?

Or what about the idea of keeping the presupp approach in your back pocket for the really hard cases? Begin with a non-presupp approach and see if that's sufficient. If not, then get out the big guns and bring in the presupp approach.

What do you think?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

You might of missed the point of that argument.

I probably did.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

That men have been converted by improper means is not a justification for such means.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"That men have been converted by improper means is not a justification for such means."

Why are non-presupp apologetic approaches to be categorized as "improper"?

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Brother,

Do you mean why are they improper over and above the four reasons I put forth above? I would suggest that you might wish to internalize those reasons before moving on.

Evidentialism makes God out to be a liar. Besides what I alread wrote, we have a more sure word of knowledge whereas evidentialism argues that Jesus might have been raised from the dead. But even if he was, on what authority should one turn his life over to him? The moral of the story is, when you begin outside of Scripture, don't expect God's word to bail you out.

Try googling "Bahnsen-impropriety-resurrection-evidentially" and read what I trust will be there.

Blessings,

Ron

Puritan Lad said...

Ron,

Just to clarify, are you opposed to using evidence in an apologetic encounter, ie. archaeological evidence that may support an Biblical account? Can we not use such evidence while remaining committed to the absolute authority of Scripture?

In other words, what one accepts as evidence does depend on one's metaphysical presuppositions. But sound evidence is still sound is it not?

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Evidentialism fails and is an immoral apologetic. http://reformedapologist.blogspot.com/2008/07/evidence-apologetics-resurrection.html

Having said that, yes, all of nature evidences God. Accordingly, we may, as you suggest, interpret nature by Scripture's authority. Jesus evidenced himself to Thomas but apart from His words of interpretation, we would have no idea what the evidence proved! :)

Ron

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Dear Ron,

It's been a long time since I commented on this thread. Even though I myself favor presuppositionalism, I am open to employing other historic apologetic methods (if need be) to help someone into a salvific relationship with Jesus Christ. You are the first apologist I have ever encountered who is a staunch "Presuppositionalism Only! All other means are immoral!"

So let me then cite two other presuppositionalists who don't go quite as far as you do, and then you tell me your critiques as we continue our discussion of meta-apologetics.

(1) From Paul Manata's comment of 12/31/08 at 4:04pm from his post A Dilemma for VanTillians?:

"You don't need to execute a "presuppositional dialogue." Unfortunately some Van Tillians have made themselves useless by responding to honest questions about something with something like: "Oh yeah, well you can't make sense of brushing your teeth because of the problem of induction."

Frame wisely notes that apologetics is person releative. If you have some cookie cutter method that you will use on all people whoever, then you're going to turn people off. You'll end up steering the discussion to "preconditions" because that's all you know how to do. Then, as almost all presuppositionalists know, you'll quickly lose an audience. Then you'll go and brag to your friends in your presupp ghetto about how you "rocked!" this guy because you (think you) showed that he couldn't provide the preconditions necessary for drinking water. He got turned off, but hey, "You shut his mouth." Proof isn't persuasion, after all.

Go to work, school, whatever. Love your neighbor. At times, you'll be called upon to give an answer for the hope you have. Different questions require different answers. If the debate develops, then you may eventually get into presuppositions.

God gave the church many good thinkers. And we can plunder the Egyptians by studying non-Christians. Study them all. If God's existence is so obvious, a lot of arguments should work.'

Don't be a specialist. Be an MMA apologist. Some guys are good at stand up, so take 'em down and ground and pound them. Some are good grapplers, so develop your sprawl and your striking."

(2) From Dr. Richard A. Jones in his post Evolution and Epistemology:

"However, while engaged in evangelistic or faith-defense chats, it’s more than likely that you won’t plunge right in with the PA concept. Take your time going there. You might start instead with your own testimony. You can ask about their spiritual beliefs, or who Christ, as a proven historical figure, is to them. Use such topics as death and meaning. Or speak of heaven and hell. Do they think they’re going to one place or the other? Etc. But, whatever your preliminary paths on the way to PA are (if it’s needed), you’re always aware you won’t be setting aside, “temporarily for argument’s sake,” your presupposed base. That is, you won’t allow the “neutral” possibility that God or biblical revelation are not or might not be true. In the first place, as we’ve said, you couldn’t even if you wanted to because of the impossibility of the contrary. Second, because the goal of all this is for your friend to reach the same understanding you’re committed to. And you don’t want to waste too much time getting there either. In our “too busy” culture you may run out of time.

Many believe that PA is the best method for evangelism and defense of the faith. But at the same time they would not imply that other methods such as evidentialism, experience or even subjective feelings couldn’t be involved in reaching a belief conviction. All have their time and place as directed by the Holy Spirit. But in hard-core resistance cases, PA will often be the best. (But you never know.)"

Peace and Blessings.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

I'm certainly not the ONLY apologist who finds evidentialism and Thomistic apologetics immoral. Bahnsen said so much. Notwithstanding, his or my say-so doesn't make it so.

Evidentialism denies Christianity because as an apologetic it presupposes that (a) all man needs is more evidence; (b) man can interpet the evidence aright apart from Scripture; (c) man, unaided by Scripture, can have a philosophy of fact that is intelligible and (d), and worst of all, it implies at best that Jesus *might* live.

Thomistic approaches deny Christ because they are fallacious and consequently bear false witness. The conclusions go beyond the scope of the premises. Also, such an approach suggests that causality, purpose and being are intelligible apart from a scriptural justification.

If you care to talk about this, I'll discuss. I don't think we'll get very far in this forum.

Ron

Keith said...

Truth Unites... and Divides:

Your trouble is that you think evidentialism is simply "using evidences." But this is like saying that being feminine makes one a feminist. This is evidentialism:

"Person S is justified in believing that P at time t if only if person S has sufficient evidence for P."

Now, if revelation counts as the only type of evidence then we have no problems. But most evidentialists would respond with a resounding NO! to that one. Most evidentialists think that scientific evidence, historical evidence, or even "lifestyle evidence" (e.g., one's testimony) is the proper evidence.

And, of course, presuppers do use evidence. I use it. The point is what we're trying to accomplish. Are we trying to justify Christianity with our scientific evidence? If that's the case then we're in trouble because 1) science can't do this and 2) we're making ourselves the authority and not God.

Presuppers would say, contra traditional evidentialist apologists, that we don't need to go outside of revelation to prove revelation. We can trust God's word because... it's God's word. But if the traditional evidentialist is right, then God's word isn't enough. Man needs to confirm Christianity. Michael Butler wisely noted that the evidentialist has to assume that man is the ultimate authority in trying to prove that God is the utlimate authority. Its double-mindedness, and that's sin.

Your quote from Manata is dead-on, and I've always emphasized the person-relativeness of apologetics when I teach Sunday school classes on presupp. apologetics. Resorting to obscure epistemological arguments at every turn is stupid---who would deny that? So don't get carried away with caricatures of presuppositionalism.

Personally, I try to make an effort to get to know people. I want to see where they're at. Maybe they just need someone to love them and show them kindness and caring. Or if they have sincere questions about the Bible then I'll answer those. For example, if they ask me for evidence for the global flood I'll say, "Look all over the earth: billions of dead things buried in rock layers laid down by water all over the earth." If buy it, then they probably do fear the Lord and are willing to interpret the evidence within a biblical paradigm. If they don't buy it then we might need to challenge their paradigm. That's where presuppositional arguments come in useful.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

When was Presuppositional Apologetics first developed?

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

"When was Presuppositional Apologetics first developed?"

Bible times. And the first evidentialist was Eve when she took the word of the Lord, placed it on par with the word of Satan, and then made herself the arbitrartor of truth.

Cheers,

Ron

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

That's pretty funny.

But when you claim that Presuppositional Apologetics was developed during Bible times, can you provide an example of presupp apologetics from Scripture?

For example, would you consider apostle Paul's apologetic at Mars Hill an example of Presuppositional Apologetics? Why or why not?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Me: "Even though I myself favor presuppositionalism, I am open to employing other historic apologetic methods (if need be) to help someone into a salvific relationship with Jesus Christ. You are the first apologist I have ever encountered who is a staunch 'Presuppositionalism Only! All other means are immoral!'"

Dear Ron,

I just found this blog post and it affirms what I've been trying to persuade you of. It's titled: "On the “Appropriate” Apologetic Method".

Please read it and share your thoughts.

Here are some excerpts:

"I’ve recently been reading over some essays penned by a presuppositionalist who argued that presuppositionalism is the only valid apologetic method. Now, as a presuppositionalist myself, I believe this statement is true in a very limited sense. That is, I believe that those who would use evidentialist approaches to apologetics also rely on presuppositions that they just don’t express. As a result, you cannot escape the fact that at the ultimate level you will need to deal with presuppositions.

However, that is not what this individual meant (note: this is a person I know locally and what I read is not posted anywhere online, so I’m not going to use his name). What he meant was that those who would use an approach different from the presuppositional approach were, in fact, sinning by doing so.

This view saddens me, much like the hypercalvinist view does.

I would point out, however, that the Bible does use evidential arguments from time to time too. For instance, when Scripture says in Psalm 19:1 that the heavens declare the glory of God, David is referring to how God’s glory is manifested in nature. It is evidenced by nature itself. And Paul echoes that in Romans 1 as well, saying that God’s attributes are seen in what has been made.

One final note. God draws His elect through both methods. There are countless saved by evidential arguments, and there are likewise countless saved by presuppositional arguments (although probably not as many in the latter group). It is not a sin to use an evidential argument. But it is a sin to think that it would be a sin to use an evidential argument."

Pax.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

How do you know that the Heavens declare the glory of God apart from Scripture? Accordingly, to defend that premise with any absolute authority other than Scripture is sin. To do anything less is to make something other than God's word your ultimate authority, which is again sin.

Philosophically, you have yet to show how it is possible to justify the truth of the premises used in an evidentialist or Thomistic approach. Is it that you don't think that your defense of the faith needs to be justified by some source greater than yourself? Moreover, how does one get from an assertion that is not justified from Scripture (such as that the Heavens declare God's glory) to the conclusion of the Ontological Trinity of Scripture? What you're not grasping is that although men know God by nature, any appeal to that truth is not an apologetic nor justifiable apart from Scripture. That premise must be justified somehow, mustn't it?

Ron

Keith said...

"Truth Unites... And Divides" still thinks that evidentialism is simply "using evidences."

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

.. or that there are brute particulars.

James Earl said...

I don't make it my business to tread on the toes of anyone intending to better themselves or others but the supposedly sound arguments set out are preposterous.

Circular arguments are, by definition, complete (but by no means necessarily true) statements and NOT sound arguments. The very fact that they are circular means they do not argue anything.

With regard to your exchange with Anthony, the conclusion should never be 'assumed' in the predicate but rather from it.

Finally, to premise your entire argument on the (in your words) "obvious" but objectively unverifiable authority of scripture is laughable. To pretend that this article (purporting to explain a logical defence of God) is valid should be considered an abhorrent disregard for logic.

With the greatest apologies reserved in case I have misinterpreted your position Ron, you seem to me to be well educated and possessing of great intelligence but devoid of any open-minded reasoning skills.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

…the supposedly sound arguments set out are preposterous.

If they are preposterous, then you should be able to argue against the truth of the premises or validity of the form. I trust you would have if you could.

Circular arguments are, by definition, complete (but by no means necessarily true) statements and NOT sound arguments. The very fact that they are circular means they do not argue anything.

That is a very confused series of assertions. What would make any argument necessarily true? If there’s an answer to that question, then apply it to my argument.

With regard to your exchange with Anthony, the conclusion should never be 'assumed' in the predicate but rather from it.

Your problem is with first order predicate logic, and not with me. The conclusion is implied in the premise.

Finally, to premise your entire argument on the (in your words) "obvious" but objectively unverifiable authority of scripture is laughable. To pretend that this article (purporting to explain a logical defence of God) is valid should be considered an abhorrent disregard for logic.

If you care to argue something, maybe I’ll try to deal with it.

With the greatest apologies reserved in case I have misinterpreted your position Ron, you seem to me to be well educated and possessing of great intelligence but devoid of any open-minded reasoning skills.

Let me see if I have this right. I seem well educated and even as one possessing great intelligence; I just lack the open mindedness necessary to harness those reasoning skills.

James Earl said...

I will address you're comments in the same order they were posted in order to avoid confusion.

1. P2 "God has revealed himself". Are you really offering, in a supposedly well informed and reasonable debate, the idea that God has revealed himself as an objective truth? Arguing that beyond any reasonable doubt, God has given irrefutable evidence of his existence. I can only imagine you might cite 'miracles' or the scripture. I believe we have all discussed both of these topics enough times to say that they cannot possibly be considered verified.

2. “Circular arguments are, by definition, complete (but by no means necessarily true) statements and NOT sound arguments. The very fact that they are circular means they do not argue anything.” Let me rephrase this. If an argument is circular, it only supports itself and therefore cannot be applied as an argument. It is always fallacious. You are wrong to suggest that all truths are circular. Sound arguments are, by definition, linear.

3. There is a very important difference between assumption and implication. Yes, a conclusion may be implied but never assumed by a predicate.
Prove A: The Christian God exists.
Step 1 ~A: (Assume the opposite of what we are trying to prove): The Christian God does not exist.
Step 2 (~A--> B): If God does not exist, then there is no intelligible experience since God is the precondition of intelligibility
Step 3 (~B): There is intelligible experience (Contradiction!)
Step 4 (~ ~A): It is not the case that God does not exist (Modus Tollens on 2 and 3)
Step 5 (A): --> God does exist (Law of negation.)
Q.E.D.

Step 2 clearly assumes the existence of God. Therefore this argument is unsound.

4. My argument is that there is no reason to place such reliance on scripture. Apart from anything else, the Bible is a series of accounts. At least the qu'uran is (supposedly) directly quoted from God's words. With scripture as dependent on humans as the bible is, rather than reject archeological discoveries and the like, you may be better advised to annex all the 'evidence' you can find. The article relies entirely on the authority of the bible. authority which cannot be established by logic but only via faith. If you choose to adopt this stance then the article is still redundant as you would be accepting that God is not evidenced through logic but rather faith, practically a synonym for 'logic jump'.

5. You have that precisely right. You offer arguments which are either carefully concocted to deceive (reaffirming your intelligence) or blighted by a disregard for a genuine application of logic.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

I will address you're comments in the same order they were posted in order to avoid confusion.

1. P2 "God has revealed himself". Are you really offering, in a supposedly well informed and reasonable debate, the idea that God has revealed himself as an objective truth?


How do you justify such proximates as “*well* informed” and “*reasonable* debate” apart from absolutes pertaining to “informed” and “debate”, and where do such absolutes find their existence, in matter in motion? To argue against my position you must first presuppose that which only my position can justify.

I can only imagine you might cite 'miracles' or the scripture. I believe we have all discussed both of these topics enough times to say that they cannot possibly be considered verified.

No notion of miracle has been asserted, which is to say I have not argued anything based upon the miraculous.

“Circular arguments are, by definition, complete (but by no means necessarily true) statements and NOT sound arguments. The very fact that they are circular means they do not argue anything.” Let me rephrase this. If an argument is circular, it only supports itself and therefore cannot be applied as an argument. It is always fallacious.

Fallacious? Hmmm, I thought that validity of an argument depends upon the conclusion being necessitated by the premises. Whether a valid argument is sound would depend upon the truth of the premises, but for some reason you have yet to take a swipe at the truth of the premises.

You are wrong to suggest that all truths are circular.

I never made such a general assertion, though I do believe that the justification of ultimate truth claims must be circular by necessity. Can you justify an ultimate truth claim linearly? If so, wouldn’t you have to deny that your ultimate claim is ultimate?! Do you know the difference between an axiom and a theorem after all?

Sound arguments are, by definition, linear.

So modus ponens and modus tollens, though valid in form, can never be sound?!

3. There is a very important difference between assumption and implication. Yes, a conclusion may be implied but never assumed by a predicate.
Prove A: The Christian God exists.
Step 1 ~A: (Assume the opposite of what we are trying to prove): The Christian God does not exist.
Step 2 (~A--> B): If God does not exist, then there is no intelligible experience since God is the precondition of intelligibility
Step 3 (~B): There is intelligible experience (Contradiction!)
Step 4 (~ ~A): It is not the case that God does not exist (Modus Tollens on 2 and 3)
Step 5 (A): --> God does exist (Law of negation.)
Q.E.D.

Step 2 clearly assumes the existence of God. Therefore this argument is unsound.


Nope. The only thing that can make the argument unsound is a false premise given that the form, as you’ll have to admit, is valid. Are you willing to argue that step-2 is false? If so, then argue to that end by disproving the truth values, but please don’t assert that the argument is unsound when you must agree that the argument is valid.

4. My argument is that there is no reason to place such reliance on scripture.

That’s not your argument at all. That’s merely your assertion! If you had an argument – i.e. premises that necessitate a conclusion, you would have voiced it by now, which is precisely why your response to this response won’t be published.

Apart from anything else, the Bible is a series of accounts. At least the qu'uran is (supposedly) directly quoted from God's words.

The Koran cannot be the book it is claimed to be because the God of the Koran is transcendent only and not personal, making it impossible for him to communicate himself in the alleged revelation of the Koran.

With scripture as dependent on humans as the bible is, rather than reject archeological discoveries and the like, you may be better advised to annex all the 'evidence' you can find. The article relies entirely on the authority of the bible. authority which cannot be established by logic but only via faith.

Faith? What is faith? Do I believe the bible is true by faith? Whatever you think faith, it doesn’t really matter. I have justification of maximal warrant (the Spirit’s attestation) that God has spoken through the profits and in these last days by His Son. My belief in the truth is, therefore, justified and the truth itself is justified as well. Consequently, I KNOW the Bible is true - and that knowledge presupposes belief, warrant and truth. Now if you want to call that faith, then fine but I certainly don’t. Now obviously that assertion of mine about what I know is not my argument for what I know. My argument is in the blog post above, which for some reason you have yet to interact with.

So long.

Ron

Sybil in Nova Scotia said...

Wouldn't your hypotesis hold true for the existance of a "non" Christian God also?

Reformed Apologist said...

No. :)

Jonathan said...

I am very disappointed that you would use your power as administrator to claim the last word in the truly fascinating discussion with James Earl.

He did make a swipe at your premises, namely P2 and step 2. The thing is (and this is what you hold against him) that he doesn't provide a logical argument. But he doesn't have to. At least, not yet. You are making the strong claims by saying that God must exist. You back these up with debateable premises. What James Earl does, is disagree with the truth of these premises. He can do that without justification, for they too are strong claims that you need to justify. If you do not, he is allowed to simply say that he disagrees. You have to find some common ground, some premise that the unbeliever will agree with, and from there build toward the conclusion that God exists. You can also try to present him with premises that he must agree with, but you would have to argue why he must agree (in a way to which he, of course agrees).
It does not suffice to merely say that the truth of your statements derives from the scripture, for it is possible to deny its authority. If you argue that the authority of the scripture derives from the fact that it is the word of God, you are bound to resort to a problematic argument of a form similar to this example:

To be proven: the Bible contains only truth.
P1)The Bible contains only the word of God.
P2)God's word is always true.
C) The Bible contains only truth

This is in itself not problematic, but P1 is debateable.

To be proven: The Bible contains only the word of God.
A suggestion to prove this
P1) x claims that the Bible contains only the word of God
P2) x is right in the matter of the Bible containing only the word of God.

The problem is: what to substitute for x? Whatever you say will be the eventual source of the Bible's authority. A known source for the statement that the Bible contains the word of God, is of course the Bible itself, rendering the argument circular. Filling in God for x, would raise the question: how do you know, apart from through the Bible? Filling in anything else would present some authority other than the Bible or God.
Obviously, I have taken the liberty of suggesting how I would try and fail to tackle this question. If you see a better approach, please enlighten me. I would not turn you into a straw man for the sake of my retoric.

Kind regards.

Reformed Apologist said...

He did make a swipe at your premises, namely P2 and step 2. The thing is (and this is what you hold against him) that he doesn't provide a logical argument. But he doesn't have to.

He doesn’t have to provide a logical argument? Should we allow for illogical arguments? How about no arguments (that are neither logical nor illogical)? You certainly have interesting rules of engagement.

You are making the strong claims by saying that God must exist. You back these up with debateable premises.

The “debateable” premise is that God is a necessary precondition for intelligible experience. Your friend has yet to show how intelligible experience is possible apart from God, whereas professing atheists will often admit that God “could” provide that condition.

What James Earl does, is disagree with the truth of these premises. He can do that without justification…

My job as an apologist is pretty much done when one is willing to stand up to the microphone and say that he need not argue logically and that justification for premises in a debate is not required.

You have to find some common ground, some premise that the unbeliever will agree with, and from there build toward the conclusion that God exists.

The common ground is the existence of intelligible experience, which you don’t think needs to be justified or defended.

The rest of your post is too fragmented and far afield; to explain why that is the case would probably be missed and ignored no less than everything I wrote that precedes this response.

Carmel Ka said...

Hello and warm greetings,
the atheist arguments about creation and God I met at the phylosopfical ground come like that:
1. Necessary being cannot be eternally material or mechanistic since
there is no possibility of an infinity of mechanical operations.


2.We have no reason to suppose material reality exists since all we know
is qualia and awareness. Qualia does not tell us that material exists.


3.The simplest theory of the nature of qualia is that it is necessary
being's awareness of its own activity, or 'energy level', or variation.
To posit other possibilities is less parsimonious since we already have a
proven being that can have these qualities (necessary being).


4.Necessary being is immaterial (from 1) and can have all necessary
qualities to explain reality so it is more parsimonious to suggest that
all there is is immaterial 'being' than to propose that unsupported
'material' exists as well as proven necessary being, or to propose that
material needs to be created by necessary being.


5. Mechanism is therefore supported as an inherent aspect of the nature of
immaterial being even though it could not be an eternal aspect.

6. Mechanism began to exist (from 1 and 5).

7.In order to explain causality we need variation. Since there is only
necessary being supported (from 2 and 4) this variation is supported as
being of necessary being. 

8. Therefore since it is supported
that causality is entailed by variation , variation began, and
therefore the beginning is supported to be a simple awareness with a
single qualia type. Any variation would mean causality since there is no
other explanation for causality that is supported other than variation
in necessary being since necessary being is supported as all there is.

9.Since there is only necessary being supported and causality began, it
must have begun a-causally since necessary being would have no variation
until the advent of causality, and so necessary being would therefore
be very simple until the advent of causality (from 8).

10. Therefore it is not supported for the beginning to be the Christian God.

You can propose other possibilities that there may be another property of
necessary being apart from the variations that are related to causality,
but that makes things more complicated and this added complication is
not called for since a-causal advent of variation is a logical and
simple proposition. 


You can talk of the possibility of brute fact intelligent will but that wouldn't entail capacity to do the
logically impossible (ie violate the law of identity). The creation of
mechanism is not possible for God as defined ( in the beginning there
was only God) because God does not have anything about his nature that
could be used to create mechanism. He therefore lacks explanatory power.

So God theory is not only uncalled for and elaborate, it is
contradictory because omnipotence doesn't entail capacity to do the
logically impossible. So rather than bringing all this elaborate
contradictory theory, I suggest we stick with the simple non
contradictory suggestion that the beginning of causality was an aspect
of the a-causal advent of variation in the immaterial conscious being.

Reformed Apologist said...

Incoherent and self-refuting. Obviously so.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if this guy who denies the existence of material entities gets tired of typing such nonsense on his material keyboard. But as if that was not bad enough, the entire proof takes on an invalid form from start to finish. His "therefores" never follow from what precedes them. Then there's all the informal fallacies...

Anonymous said...

What is your view on Brute Facts?(Some say laws of logic are just brute facts. Some go as far to say that intelligibility is just a brute fact). So, is TAG somewhat dependant on PSR?

Anonymous said...

Couldn't one just say that these are brute facts( like laws of logic)? Is TAG dependant on PSR?

Anonymous said...

Does TAG rely on The PSR? It seems if brute facts can be the case(like many claim the laws of logic are) doesn't that undercut TAG?

Anonymous said...

Is TAG dependant on the PSR? It seems that brute facts would undercut it. Like some argue laws of logic are brute facts and we must hold to them because we can't rationally deny them. So, as Christians do we claim that there are no brute facts?

Reformed Apologist said...

God knows all facts, therefore, no brute facts.

Anonymous said...

Well, I agree. But would you say brute facts are irrational?

Reformed Apologist said...

Yes, or should we believe some facts cannot be explained by God? Are there universals that just exist on their own? Mustn't all events relate in the Lord's mind in order for there to be meaning?

Anonymous said...

Well, I agree with what you're saying. But that seems to be only a good response to me because I hold to Christianity. But would a brute fact being claimed by a non theist be acceptable?

Reformed Apologist said...

How is predication possible within the framework of atheism? Explain the intelligibility of universals and particulars according to any stripe of unbelief. What are brute particulars after all?

Anonymous said...

Well, I couldn't and no one (as I know of ) has answered the problem of the one and many. I'm just dealing with an atheist who takes the preconditions of intelligibility as brute facts or axioms.

Reformed Apologist said...

No one? Hasn't God revealed he has?

Anonymous said...

Your challenge was to do it along secular lines "atheism". So, what I said was correct. Unless you think secular philosophy has done it ;). Which I think we agree that it has not.

Reformed Apologist said...

Not sure that was my "challenge" but given months between your responses I reserve the right to treat each as a brute particular with no context. :) :) :)

Anonymous said...

How would you answer the problem with hard Solipsism? Is it because God has revealed himself telling us he has created? Or solipsism cannot account for the preconditions of intelligibility? Or does Christianity only give us reason to reject it?

Anonymous said...

"Step 4 (~ ~A): It is not the case that God does not exist (Modus Tollens on 2 and 3)
Step 5 (A): --> God does exist (Law of negation"

You seem to have a tautology. Premise 4 contains the truth of 5 . Which then 4 should've been your conclusion.It seems question begging.

Reformed Apologist said...

If S is true we couldn't know it. God reveals in GR he created. He confirms it in SR.

Reformed Apologist said...

No tautology at all, just elementary deductive logic. You've truncated the steps.

Anonymous said...

Would it be wrong to say the other 2 thoughts? Because it seems like Both other routes are consistent with that. S doesn't seem to account for intelligibility nor do the unbeliever have a basis to reject it.

The only response the someone advocating S would say is that even those revelations are apart of your own mind.

Reformed Apologist said...

I'm happy to help you think through this on the phone. Post a number...I won't publish it. Then I'll call you.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

Anonymous,

There is nothing invalid in the proof. The conclusion follows directly from the premises. That's the beauty of symbolic logic! I hope you take R.A. up on his offer.

John Doe said...

Do you have a Skype?

John Doe said...

P.2 (~A--> B)
You are saying it says (-A. -B). it doesn't. if no god, then no intelligibilty. you have god in the negatvie (-A) so why wouldn't not intelligible (-B) be in the negative?

Reformed Apologist said...

B = no intelligible experience
~B = denial of no intelligible experience