Why Shouldn't Paul Baird Choose Hats?

Paul Baird has given us his opinion in the case of the use of worldviews he does not adhere to.

This is a common complaint ie why argue a worldview that you do not hold ? The answer is the tallest child in the playground argument ie I do not have to be the tallest child in the playground to point out that you are not the tallest child in the playground – I can point out that individual (in this instance it would be a child of equal size).

Paul’s understanding here doesn’t really deal with the problem being brought forward. It may, of course, deal with the problem he thinks is being brought forward, but that is something else altogether. The complaint is in Dustin’s terms, of course, but it may be helpful to put it into the terms that our primary sources use, so that it might be recognizable. I appreciate Dustin’s work of course, but his expression of the problem, to me, seems to be unclear. When we speak of the problem at hand, we are speaking of the ability of a worldview to provide the preconditions of intelligibility. This may be expressed in the context of several different subjects, but chiefly, it must be said that it is only being expressed in terms of entire worldviews. When, for example, we speak of the preconditions for the intelligibility of knowledge, which seems to be the point of contention in the context of Paul’s remarks, we are speaking of epistemology. At this point, we are dealing with the subject of the quote “Choosing Hats” is named after.

Every system of philosophy must tell us whether it thinks true knowledge to be possible. Or if a system of philosophy thinks it impossible for man to have a true knowledge of the whole of reality or even of a part of reality, it must give good reasons for thinking so. From these considerations, it follows that if we develop our reasons for believing that a true knowledge of God and, therefore, also of the world, is possible because actually given in Christ, we have in fact given what goes in philosophy under the name of epistemology. It will then be possible to compare the Christian epistemology with any and with all others. And being thus enabled to compare them all, we are in a position and placed before the responsibility of choosing between them. And this choosing can then, in the nature of the case, no, longer be a matter of artistic preference. We cannot choose epistemologies as we choose hats. Such would be the case if it had been once for all established that the whole thing is but a matter of taste. But that is exactly what has not been established. That is exactly the point in dispute.

As such, it is obvious that this subject needs to be addressed by something more robust than “I do not have to be the tallest child in the playground to point out that you are not the tallest child in the playground.” In fact, it would point to the need for something far stronger than this particular assertion. What are the presuppositional commitments required for the assumption that the examination of epistemological foundations is as simple a matter as the observation of children’s heights? When looking at the subject at the level of presuppositional commitments, we see that it is no such matter at all. You cannot “simply observe” the validity of an epistemological foundation – it must be considered in terms of whether this epistemological foundation can provide the preconditions of intelligibility. Just as it is more than simple observation, it is likewise more than a matter of simple communication to “point out” who the “tallest child” on the playground actually is.

We are dealing with, not observational data collected by the senses, but epistemological foundations. You can’t “just look at” an epistemological foundation without having an epistemological foundation to be looking from. Paul, here, is missing the point in a rather unfortunate way. We are speaking of what makes anything intelligible at all – what must be presupposed in order for the “facts” he wants everyone to consider to be intelligible in the first place. He is making comparisons of that to empiricism, as if it is remotely applicable. It’s rather frustrating to watch Paul beating his head on a brick wall of his own misapprehensions, yet condescendingly dismissing his sore head as the fault of the person on the other side of the wall – on the basis of those same misapprehensions.

When he brings out his “pagan” worldview – he is assuming a commonality in everyone’s assessment of it, of atheism, and of Christianity. If he would care to read through Van Til, or Bahnsen, he would have to address the arguments they make as to why there is no neutrality in those sorts of assessments. What we actually are saying is not what Paul is assuming here. We aren’t assuming that there is some “common ground”, like the playground, where we are all assessing the heights of the respective “children”, or worldviews, in a collegial atmosphere. What we are saying is that the real discussion is over things like 1) Whose playground it is 2) Whether the “children” are children or chimera 3) What “tall” means in the first place 4) How you know what “tall” is supposed to be, anyway. To simply say “well, let’s see what this kid over here says” is to miss the entire point altogether. This is a round-robin affair, Paul. You are not a pagan, Paul. The Pagan child and the Atheist child do not agree with each other, let alone the Christian child. The Pagan and the Atheist agree insofar as their distaste for and disbelief concerning the God of the Christian – but they give wildly variant answers on questions such as “What is this playground?” What is the playground to a pagan? Is it, per Wicca,the manifestation of deity? Is this the same “playground” an atheist has? I can’t see how that is remotely the case. The atheist, as they claim, fails to hold every god-belief. So, for Paul to claim that this “answers” the problem we’re posing requires him to say that he agrees with what the Pagan’s playground is, if he is going to cite the Pagan’s opinion of the matter! Further, and this should be obvious, it necessitates a rather disturbing state of affairs for the atheist – it requires him to state either 1) It is unequivocally not the case that we are on the same playground OR 2) It is unequivocally the case that we are on the same playground, in which case he has to make a positive claim considering WHOSE playground it is. To make an actual positive claim seems to be anathema to an atheist of Paul’s stripe – and it seems that in order to make a claim, he’d also have to make an argument. This mode of operation seems similarly anathema to Paul. It would also require Paul to actually get what we are talking about, which at this point does not seem likely.

Let me reiterate; We are speaking of the nature of playgrounds, tallness, children, and pointing, not about “who is the tallest child on the playground”. We are speaking of the “nature of facts”, not of the “facts themselves”, as if facts are simply “there”, and uninterpreted. When speaking of a worldview, you are speaking of everything the worldview posits – be it metaphysics, epistemology, or physics. What seems sadly absent in Paul’s thinking is the willingness to pay close attention to what we are speaking of. He would rather dismiss it as whatever he thinks it to be, instead of exercising due diligence in understanding it. Since this has been the case up until this point, Paul must decide something for himself. Is he willing to actually look at what we are saying, or will he continue to insist on misrepresenting it? Up until now, he seems to have had serious problems grasping the nature of what he has been presented with. A case in point.

When he brings out Bahnsen’s quote concerning the “self-sufficient knower,” he insists on understanding it as some variant of the cosmological argument. He then proceeds to claim that Paganism fulfills the condition of “self-sufficient knower”. He doesn’t tell us why it does. He just says it does. After redefining what the argument is, for us, he then pronounces that paganism satisfies it! Says who? First, he doesn’t even identify the argument correctly, or it’s proper context. Second, he doesn’t give us any reason to think his worldview fulfills these conditions, or any clear sense of what these conditions are! Let’s examine first what this argument is, and it’s proper context, and then, what is necessary to fulfill that argument’s conditions.

In the cited argument, there is the stipulation that a self-sufficient knower cannot be denied, as the person denying such would, in the nature of the case, be himself a self-sufficient knower. Secondly, it is stipulated that there cannot be a plurality of self-sufficient knowers. You cannot have “two ultimates.” Thirdly, it is stipulated that if the first two are granted as insuperable, then you have three alternatives; solipsistic, skeptical, and revelational epistemology. Paul does not deal with that resultant discussion – and it is very germane to the discussion. It is not germane because it supposedly “develops a cosmological argument” – it is germane because it is an example of an argument from the impossibility of the contrary. In the first case, an argument is given which demonstrates the impossibility of solipsism. In the second case, an argument is given which demonstrates the impossibility of skepticism. Following that, he argues that only a revelational epistemology affirming the God of Scripture – the “self-contained God” Van Til speaks of, satisfies the preconditions for the intelligibility of knowledge. In short, only a self-sufficient knower as God reveals Himself to be can grant us a functional, intelligible epistemology. If Paul would pay more attention to Christianity’s extensive library of theological definition and explanation, and less to his own self-congratulations, he might get somewhere with the conversation, instead of continually demonstrating his need for correction and instruction on what he is claiming to object to.

The Pagan worldview I’ve put forward satisfies all of Bahsen’s and Dustin’s conditions, furthermore Bahsen’s conditions do not rule out the possibility that such a non-Christian worldview could exist, yet Presuppositional Apologetics is based on the assertion that none could exist because of the impossibility of the contrary (to the Christian worldview).

It becomes easier to discern the parlour trick when it’s set out like this and it does perhaps explain why Sye, and his fellow Presuppositionalists, try so hard to focus the exchanges on the areas of the laws of logic and human perception as well as morality rather than, in Chris Bolts words, begin with the question “Where’s the beef ?”

Dustin lists 12 Questions for Mockgodafarians which I’ll answer from the Pagan worldview. Please remember the tallest in the playground argument throughout this. My answers are in purple.

Paul’s problem is that he keeps thinking he has found a “silver bullet” – when his real problem is that he doesn’t know where the beef is at. When he doesn’t investigate these sources, but instead reads them in such a way as it “says what he wants”, he gets something all out of kilter to what is being said. It isn’t contextual, and it doesn’t bear any relationship to what he thinks it says. It is obvious Paul doesn’t own this book. I do. If he had the book, he could look one page over and see an extensive discussion on the particulars and universals of knowledge. He would see exactly what I was speaking of earlier, in terms of entire worldviews, as a universal system of principles, and not merely “the particulars of his knowledge”. Only in a universal system of principles can be found an adequate interpretation of the particulars of knowledge. It is within the entirety of the Christian worldview – in the systematic exposition of Reformed theology – where he can find what it is we are saying. Reinterpreting our statements through his personal experience has done nothing but lead him astray from where the discussion is. If he persists in doing so, he is going to be left as the only one discussing what he is discussing. This is the case, because it bears no resemblance to what we are saying, nor does it accurately reflect what we believe. If he wants to rectify his problematic interpretation of what is being said, all he need do is begin asking questions, rather than making pronouncements about what the subject is. It’s really that simple. The problem is not that we are somehow “hiding” the argument away – it’s that Paul has shown almost no effort whatsoever toward understanding what the argument is, or what it means. It is not especially difficult, were he willing to put in that effort. I hope he does, and begins to ask, rather than to tell us.

A Feminist Examines Presup

The post I’m about to respond to came in on my google alerts today. It was so packed with common objections and misconceptions that I decided to answer.

Evidentialism v. Presuppositionalism
I have noticed a worrying trend among some Christians. It is the turn away from evidentialist apologetics toward presuppositionalist apologetics.

Let’s start our presuppositional examination right here. From the get-go, presup is a “worrying” trend. Second, the author is apparently unaware of the link between Sola Scriptura and Covenantal apologetics. As I have said quite often on this blog, and in our chat channel, Covenantal apologetics is Sola Scriptura in an apologetic context.

Evidentialism holds that belief should rest on evidence.

Presuppositionalism holds that belief rests on presuppositions.

What would have been both accurate and useful would be to explain what we do believe about evidence, and to cite something, anything, from the primary sources concerning what the actual discussion hinges on. Namely, that your presuppositional commitments determine both what is considered to be evidence, and how this evidence is interpreted. This is a common problem with evidentialist and unbelieving critiques. For instance: “Nor can we disagree with [Warfield] when he says that the Christian faith is not a blind faith but is faith based on evidence.” [1] “I see induction and analytical reasoning as part of one process of interpretation. I would therefore engage in historical apologetics. (I do not personally do a great deal of this because my colleagues in the other departments of the Seminary in which I teach are doing it better than I could do it.) Every bit of historical investigation, whether it be in the directly biblical field, archaeology, or in general history, is bound to confirm the truth of the claims of the Christian position. But I would not talk endlessly about facts and more facts without challenging the unbeliever’s philosophy of fact. A really fruitful historical apologetic argues that every fact is and must be such as proves the truth of the Christian position. [2]

Evidentialist apologetics attempts to bring converts by revealing the evidence behind Christianity. Evidentialists say that scientific evidence actually supports Young Earth Creationism, that archeology has proven the truth of the Bible, both new testament and old, and that the evidence for Christ’s historic existence is overwhelming.

I would simply point out that vanishingly few evidentialists argue for YEC at this point in time. Further, they would not argue that it was “proven”, but that there is a greater probability for the truth of the Bible and/or Christ’s historic existence, as a rule. I would humbly submit to you that their “philosophy of fact”, as Van Til would say, has brought them to this point.

Presuppositionalist apologetics attempts to bring coverts by arguing that the only rational, coherent worldview is that which begins by presupposing the divinity of the Bible, the existence of God, and the reality of Christ’s sacrifice. In other words, presuppositionalists say that one must presuppose Christianity, and that trying to convince someone based on evidence is flawed.

We don’t argue for the “divinity” of the Bible. We don’t believe in a quadrinity, a la Fristianity. We don’t argue that the Bible is equal to Christ, as the Word, either. One must presuppose Christianity to be making an intelligible argument, obviously; but it might behoove the author to do a bit more research into what exactly is being said on this point. If the author means “convincing someone based on evidence” as if “evidence” was something everyone agreed upon, as if it was some sort of neutral ground, sure. Obviously, Scripture says that we and world consider each other to be foolish. It’s hardly the case that we should be expected to see eye to eye on what is, or is not, “the facts”. Hence, Van Til’s discussion of “brute fact”, which the author would be well-served to study, in my humble opinion. We don’t “attempt to bring converts” by this method. We, after all, are Reformed. As such, we are divine monergists, not synergists or human monergists, so conversion is quite obviously the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration, according to election. Neither “the facts” nor a transcendental argument will save – God saves, not man. Sure, they won’t hear without a preacher – but as the name “Yeshua” points out, salvation is of the Lord.

Evidentialist apologetics is traditionally associated with evangelicalism and fundamentalism while presuppositionalist apologetics is associated with more reformed traditions. This actually makes a lot of sense given that arminianism emphasizes free will while calvinism emphasizes predestination. It also makes sense given that Cornelius Van Til and Francis Schaeffer, both reformed, are the major luminaries who developed presuppositionalist apologetics. More and more these days this approach is spreading beyond reformed circles and into evangelicalism and fundamentalism in general.

Actually, evidentialism initially comes from Romanism, as has been carried along with the rest of the Romanist doctrine still held to by Arminianism and general Evangelicalism (to include the modern fundamentalist movement). I’d invite the author and her readers to take a gander at classical Thomism, and see what exactly the difference is supposed to be. The Reformation, of course, was a movement to “restore” Christianity. To restore it back to its historical orthodoxy. A walk back through history, and through the development of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, will show the intrinsic link between a practical use of Sola Scriptura and a presuppositional methodology. Van Til’s contribution to “Semper Reformanda” was the Reformation of apologetic methodology to the principle of Sola Scriptura. This understanding is positively vital to understand what is actually being said, and what it comes from. Most objections along these lines are not truly to presuppositional methodology; but to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. To answer these objections, and to accurately make objections in the first place, requires an understanding of this, and the proper relationship to be found there. General evangelicalism is attracted to covenantal apologetics in spite of itself, to be frank. The methodology does not lend itself to an Arminian, Romanist, or Dispensational hermeneutic. There are too many preconditions that are simply missing for it to be consistently and coherently used. As such, there will be a host of problems in execution, principle, understanding, and doctrinal compatibility that kill the method aborning, if you try to adapt it in some way. This is not to say that every group listed above is equally inconsistent, or that every individual is equally inconsistent; however, there is a specific doctrinal basis that it springs from, and without which, it simply does not have the framework in which to operate. Those varying inconsistencies crop up at various and sundry points – but keep in mind, please, that a truly Covenantal apologetic argues on the level of worldviews – and that it argues all of Christianity versus its antithesis; and that part of that expression of Christianity plainly states that there are but two worldviews.

I was raised on evidentialist apologetics (not surprising given that my parents were strong arminians). My parents were fond of telling the story of Josh McDowell, who started out as an atheist attempting to disprove the truth of Christianity and ended up concluding, based on evidence, that Christianity was actually true. I was taught to follow the evidence, and assured that evidence led directly to Christ.

This is actually fairly typical. Note, however, that there is usually a decided de-emphasis on the work of the Spirit in the use and presentation of evidence (not to mention the philosophy of evidence) in this apologetic methodology. Let’s be frank. If the Spirit is mentioned at all, it’s usually in a touchy-feely “invitation” at the end, after God is “proven” by means of “higher probability”. What the Spirit’s work is, as stated in Scripture, is practically never mentioned, and if it is, it bears practically no resemblance to the Scriptural testimony. The emphasis is more likely on the target’s will, and intellect – and practically never on that same person’s moral guilt before the holy God, which both affects and taints everything about that will and intellect. On the contrary, Reformed doctrine requires that the unbeliever be confronted with their sinfulness before God and their inability to reason, will, or act in any righteousness before God whatsoever. This is a confrontation that is just as much evangelical as it is apologetical. They are, after all, two sides of the same coin. The emphasis in evidentialism and evangelical doctrine, rather than on the Triune God’s monergistic work of salvation – in election, atonement, and regeneration – is on the synergistic work of man in reasoning, willing, and acting rightly of themselves, to “meet God” in the middle.

Having been raised on evidentialist apologetics, when I arrived at college and found new evidence I had never heard of as a child, I didn’t simply reject that evidence. Instead, I researched and read and studied and reevaluated my beliefs based on new evidence. I found, for example, that the evidence does not actually indicate that Young Earth Creationism took place (quite the opposite), that archeology has actually contradicted the Bible in many places, and that the Bible actually does contain historical errors and contradictions. This process of reevaluation started a long spiritual journey, and even today I continue to strive to follow evidence, and I work to make sure I take into account any new evidence I encounter.

In other words, having been raised in evidentialism, and the freewheeling doctrinal imprecision of arminian/evangelical churches, the author was never taught to 1) Think Biblically or 2) Think about what “evidence” means, or is predicated on. Since “evidence” is considered to be a neutral ground between believer and unbeliever upon which we have a point of contact, and since she was never taught how to deal with evidences on the level of their presuppositional commitments, she was caught between a rock and a hard place. If you are stuck between fundamentalist evangelicals and fundamentalist secularists, you will be either be grist for the mill, or “bail” in one direction or the other on any given “fact” that is presented. The “fact”, or how it is presented and interpreted, is never really examined. It “just is”, as if it is on the level of the self-existent God. Instead of interpreting “the facts” through Biblical presuppositions, “the facts” are, in reality, being interpreted through secular presuppositions that state that it is flatly impossible that the world could have come into being as the Bible said it did. If we are never taught to “dig beneath” the level of “brute fact”, we are simply fodder for the antithetical worldview, raised against the knowledge of God. “Striving to follow evidence”, then, is mere slavish adherence to secularist presuppositions concerning the nature and meaning of evidence.

The goal of evidentialist apologetics is to convince others of the truth of Christianity by using evidence. It assumes that anyone who honestly looks at the facts will arrive at the truth of Christianity, and that the facts support the truth of Christianity. In the last few years, my parents have been moving toward presuppositionalism. This makes sense, given that the evidentialist approach actually led me away from their beliefs and that Vision Forum is actually openly and proudly presuppositionalist.

The first two sentences are a more or less accurate restatement of evidentialism. The second two are more or less well-poisoning concerning presuppositionalism. Let’s notice two things about the former. First, she is talking about persuasion, not proof. As we’ve already mentioned, there’s a doctrinal divide there. Persuasion, in Reformed doctrine, comes only when the regenerate encounter the truths of Scripture, and believe them as it is given them to do so. This is separate from proof, which also has a fundamental divide in view. For the Christian, apart from the Triune God of Scripture, you can’t prove anything. For the non-Christian, proof is determined by their own presuppositional commitments as to what a valid “proof” consists of. Secondly, it is “assumed” that a) anyone who b) honestly looks at c) the facts will arrive at the truth of Christianity, and that those facts support the truth of Christianity. Let’s look at a) for a moment.
First, there is a lack of any sort of Biblical notion of election, or division between sheep or goats, or the effects of sin, or of the necessity for regeneration. This is a doctrinal issue, at base. Let’s look at b). Arminianism, following Romanism, considers men to be able to choose good, to be intellectually honest, or to act in such a way as to properly respond to the truths of God – of themselves. This is vastly different from the historical orthodoxy the Reformation sought to return to, following Scripture, which teaches that men, in and of themselves, are evil, and they do the work of their master, Satan. They are slaves to sin, and unable to break those chains. Only the regeneration of the Spirit can break those chains, given men a new heart and mind, and give them the faith which which they believe the Gospel. This is a fundamental disconnect, and cannot be overemphasized. As for c), we simply point out that God is truly and exhaustively Sovereign. This is also a fundamental disconnect from the insistence on libertarian free will that stems from Romanist/Arminian/Evangelical doctrine. I’d also point out that it differs not a whit from the insistence of the world on their own self-determination in the realm of the intellect, the will, and their own actions. This is also a doctrinal issue. As Reformed believers, we stress, with much insistence, the Biblical testimony to the exhaustive sovereignty of God over all things whatsoever that come to pass. Given this doctrine, all facts are God’s facts. I’ll repeat this; All facts are God’s facts. If all facts are truly God’s facts; if God ordains both ends and means, and every single relationship thereof, in a truly exhaustive fashion, then there is no room for “the facts” as they are presented to us by the Evangelical/Secularist position. All facts are, given what God has revealed to us in His Word, guaranteed to us by His Spirit, and shown to us in ourselves, and in the creation surrounding us, actually evidence for the truth of Christianity. It is not neutral evidence. It is a hostile witness against a rebellious subject.

Presuppositionalism argues that the evidence we experience in the world is simply facts and pieces of data that must be interpreted through an interpretive framework, or worldview, and that the only way to consistently interpret these facts is through the Christian worldview.

The first part is wrong; the second part is right. Here’s why, and it will be expanded below. It ignores that “all facts are God’s facts”, as we just explained. As she will say below, she assumes exactly the opposite of what we believe, and inserts that in our position. It is not the case that “facts and pieces of data” are “simply” that, and merely need to be “interpreted” – it is actually the case that the only framework through which facts are even intelligible is that which is revealed to us by the ordainer and the creator of all that is to be filtered through that framework, and of the framework itself. Facts are not neutral.

In other words, a person looking at facts and evidence will not necessarily be led to Christ; rather, one must start by assuming the truth of the Bible in order to find Christ. You can see the influence of calvinism here. Presuppositionalist apologetics, then, focuses on pointing out inconsistencies of other worldviews and arguing that Christianity is the only coherent worldview, the only way to explain the existence of reason and logic. In fact, presuppositionalism literally goes so far as to argue that evidence-based apologetics – as opposed to apologetics based on contrasting worldviews – is contra-Biblical.

Actually, we go quite a bit farther. The Shepherd finds His sheep – we don’t “find” Him, because we aren’t the One looking. Yes, Calvinism is in view here, but I’m not sure how much the author really has studied Calvinism as a complete system. The point isn’t that we “assume the truth of the Bible to find Christ” – it’s that the Spirit’s regenerative work, and the gift of faith and repentance are the preconditions for our salvation; that the work of Christ in His atoning work for His people propitiates the just wrath of the Father, and that the electing grace of the Father, who draws men to Christ is the precondition for it all. In short, it’s not anywhere near this simplistic presentation. The Spirit grants us faith – and the new heart and mind to accompany it, so we believe and/or trust the Author of Scripture as we ought. The focus of Covenantal apologetics is two-fold, actually, not singular. It “pushes the antithesis” between Christianity and it’s opposite, to show that a) Christianity, as revealed by the Creator of all things, is the sole possible precondition for the intelligibility of all things; and b) that it’s opposite is impossible. It’s a two-step method, not a one-step method. “The first step is to lay out the Christian worldview in terms of which human experience is intelligible and the objection of the unbeliever can be contextually defeated. The second step is to show that within the unbeliever’s worldview, nothing is intelligible – not even objections to the Christian’s viewpoint.”[3]

Presuppositionalists don’t deal with evidence, because they argue that evidence and facts are neutral and can be used to support any worldview, because they are interpreted through that worldview’s lens. In other words, if someone presupposes a world without God, that’s what they’ll see; if someone presupposes a Christian world, that’s what they’ll see; if someone presupposes a Muslim world, that’s what they’ll see; etc. That is why presuppositionalists spend their time not on the evidence but rather on trying to show that their worldview is only rational, coherent worldview in existence, and that every other worldview is internally contradictory. Evidence doesn’t matter; what one chooses to believe is what matters.

This is catastrophically wrong. It is absolutely opposite to what we believe, in fact. First, I categorically deny that evidence and facts are neutral. In fact, I have specifically stated that they are not. On every single point the Christian and non-Christian are fundamentally at odds. There is no point in our respective worldviews where we have any neutral ground whatsoever. If that isn’t clear enough, I’ll spend as much time as it takes to make it clear. This statement is absolutely, unequivocally false. There are two worldviews, and they take antithetical positions on every fact whatsoever. It is the case that facts are not neutral, and can only be intelligible when the Christian worldview is presupposed. It is not the case that facts are neutral and can be interpreted differently, depending on which worldview you happen to hold. Additionally, please take note of the usage of “worldview” here. I have said, several times, that we believe there are two worldviews. We are not saying that there are three, or any higher number. There are two, and only two. There are many practically inconsistent variations of the non-Christian worldview; just as there are inconsistencies in the Christian worldview of many actual (or putative) Christians. Yet, there are only two worldviews. I’ll leave you to research the principle/practice dichotomy Van Til presents.

We don’t spend our time on “trying to show that their worldview is only rational, coherent worldview in existence, and that every other worldview is internally contradictory” because “evidence doesn’t matter”; we spend time proving that the Christian worldview is the only possible worldview by demonstrating that the contrary worldview is impossible – it does not provide the preconditions for intelligibility. We do this because it is actually the case that the non-Christian worldview does not provide those preconditions. Not because “evidence doesn’t matter” – but because evidence is unintelligible unless our worldview is presupposed. The last sentence is the real problem with the author’s view of presuppositionalism. “What one chooses to believe” is predicated on what you presuppose. What you presuppose is directly consonant with whether you are regenerate, or unregenerate. It is that clear cut. Are you a “slave to sin” or are you “Christ’s slave”?

The problem with these people is that you can’t argue with them. They’re going to believe it because they believe it, and nothing else matters. As an example, Answers in Genesis, a Young Earth Creationist group that runs the Creationist Museum in Kentucky and has recently embraced presuppositional apologetics wholeheartedly, is actually completely open about the fact that it simply rejects evidence that contradicts their interpretation of the Biblical account of creation. It’s not about the evidence. It’s about the presupposition. And no matter what you say, you’re not going to change their minds.

“These people” seems to indicate what the author thinks of those who adhere to this method. Instructive, indeed. Far from not being argued with, I can personally attest to the fact that I am argued with constantly by objections from unbelievers as well as putative believers. Once again, the distinction between persuasion and proof is not being addressed. An argument is a proof. Acceptance of it as true is persuasion. It is not that they “can’t argue with these people” – it is that they a) aren’t persuading us and b) are not being persuaded. As we have already stated, this is both accounted for by the Scriptures, and expected. God changes hearts and minds, not us. As to the attempted well-poisoning concerning AiG – I’d like to present this as evidence. If the author would like to share some substantiation of their statement, I’d love to see it. My suspicion is that it is yet another example of a confusion between a) proof and persuasion or b) the author’s misunderstanding of our position concerning evidence. What the author is doing with the continual drumbeat about “evidence” is simply confusing what we actually have to say concerning evidence. It’s not simply about evidence. We have no intention of being that superficial and unreflective concerning the nature of the discussion. What we are doing, however, is addressing the philosophy of evidence along with the evidence itself. If the author would like to show how she has done anything remotely similar in addressing this subject, I’d love to see it. What the author has done is to demonstrate the importance of what we are actually saying; a sort of demonstration concerning the law of unintended consequences. Unless she addresses the philosophy of evidence along with the evidence, she is simply assuming her own position vis a vis her philosophy of evidence, and demanding that others accept it. If others do not kowtow to her wishes, she dismisses them, and says “you can’t argue with these people”. “These people” would beg to differ, and would invite the author to address the philosophy of fact, or evidence, along with the facts and evidence.

Problems with presuppositionalism include:

The logic is circular: you prove something is true by assuming it is true.

Have you read any counters to this incredibly common objection before? I don’t see any discussion about those rebuttals in this post. There are… many… rebuttals. Example.

Presuppositionalism could be used to “prove” any religion, or even atheism.

Please provide an example. This is another common objection, incidentally.

Just because a worldview is coherent doesn’t mean it’s true.

Who ever told you that was our argument? Again, this is a two-step method, not a one-step.

There are many things about the Christian worldview that are arguably not coherent.

This is a great example of uncritical thinking. Do we consider them to be arguable? If not, why are you begging the question in your own favor?

There are other worldviews that also explain the existence of reason and logic.

Please enlighten us 😉

You can’t actually know something is true if you simply discount evidence entirely.

Utterly false description of our position.

Finding truth involves not making presuppositions, but trying to rid yourself of them.

Start with this one, please. We don’t make presuppositions; they are revealed to us. Second, this is really, really bad.

Presuppositionalism holds that everyone starts out with assumptions, and that starting by assuming the Bible is therefore no different than what anyone else is doing. Actually, most people start out with fairly simply assumptions.

No, it doesn’t. Seriously, if you don’t even know what you’re talking about, why are you writing on the subject? That is not even remotely our position. Do you really think the Bible is no different than what anyone else is doing? Do you think any Christian does? If so, why are they Christian, then? If even a fairly liberal type doesn’t even do that, why on earth are you saying Calvinists do, of all people? I can’t believe that you thought this through especially well.

I, as an example, start out by assuming that I can trust my senses and that the world around me is something I can seek to understand. Lest a presuppositionalist argue that these are atheist or materialist assumptions, I would point out that essentially everyone starts out with these assumptions. In fact, I have never met a Christian who didn’t start out with these same assumptions. Assuming that we can trust our senses and learn about the world around us is completely different from assuming the truth and divinity of the Bible or the existence of God.

“Lest” I do or not – those aren’t materialistic assumptions. Materialistic assumptions don’t exist, as assumptions are definitionally immaterial. However, even from another perspective, they don’t belong in materialism (per se) either, because she has no reason whatsoever to trust her senses, or to assume that she should. See, she’s saying next that “we all do it” – but the real question is “what justifies it?” Starting where she starts is purely arbitrary. Second, who says that this is “completely different”? Asserting assertions assertively is not an argument, or even close to one. Plus, she is an atheist. Hence, atheistic assumptions. Is this really that hard?

I have a friend who is a presuppositionalist. I recently asked her what she would do if archaeology directly contradicted a literal reading the Old Testament (it does). She told me that it would not change anything, because she would simply assume that future archaeological finds would clear up the contradiction and line up with the Old Testament. In other words, actual evidence in the here and now does not matter, not one whit. All that matters is her assumption that the Bible is true.

Notice: Facts are once again “brute”. Her philosophy of fact isn’t even examined. Whatever it “is”, is unquestionably. (Don’t look behind that curtain, Dorothy!) I can say to her, in return, “all that matters is your assumption that the facts are true”.

But I have to ask: If you simply assume your beliefs are true and throw out any use of evidence at all, if there is no possible evidence or experience that could disprove your beliefs, how in the world can you actually know they’re true? It would be like me saying that there is an invisible pink unicorn that lives in my room. You can’t touch it or hear it or detect it with any sort of test. You’re not ever going to come to the unicorn’s existence through evidence, and you shouldn’t try to. Rather, you simply have to assume it’s there. But then, if there is no evidence for it and it can’t be disproven, how in the world do I know it’s there in the first place? I don’t: I just assume it. Wha?

This incessant drumbeat on “throwing out evidence” is key to her ideas concerning our methodology. It’s demonstrably false. If she had read any primary source materials concerning our methodology, this would be painfully obvious. Instead, we are treated to one of the most asinine comparisons we’ve ever heard from atheism. As an aside? Using secularist arguments right after you imply your distance from secularism isn’t that great a strategy.

Interestingly, this emphasis on maintaining a persuppositional worldview is is why Vision Forum and others like it see secular colleges and secular sources of knowledge as dangerous. For them, facts and evidence are not neutral, but are interpreted through an assumed worldview. Therefore, a Christian should never study under a non-Christian, because what he will be learning falsehoods, not truth. One can only learn truth by studying under other likeminded Christians. The insularity this produces is overwhelming.

Interestingly, this emphasis on maintaining an objective view is is why Atheists United, American Atheists, Atheists Alliance International and others like it see religious colleges and religious sources of knowledge as dangerous. For them, facts and evidence are not neutral, but are interpreted through an assumed worldview. Therefore, a secularist should never study under a Christian, because what he will be learning falsehoods, not truth. One can only learn truth by studying under other likeminded secularists. The insularity this produces is overwhelming.

  1. [1] Van Til, A Christian Theory of Knowledge, p. 250
  2. [2] Ibid., p. 293, emphasis original
  3. [3] Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic – Readings & Analysis, pg. 268, Note 22.

Debate: Saturday, Oct 2nd

The debate is as 12pm EDT – you can get directions to the chat channel it’s being held in here. The thesis: “Is the Qur’an the Word of God?”

We're Working On It

A response was offered on facebook to my post, and I’ll respond to those comments to follow

That’s… not a very good defense, is it?

You reject me asking for proof because I don’t know how I exist?

There was quite a bit more to it than that, obviously. That is a valid argument, however.

You are right. I do not know for certain that my senses do not deceive me. I do not know if everything I have ever experienced is merely an illusion, or truly life. However, my senses are all I have to go on, and I will not reject them because of uncertainty. I often find that the most foolish of people are also the most certain, and will never make the mistake of claiming infallibility.

Some interesting comments here.

1) The options are presented as “illusion” or “truly life”, which seems to be a false dichotomy.

I’m not sure what relationship this has to my post, as I did not say anything about illusion at all, nor did I intend any relationship to be drawn from this.

2) There is discussion of sensory data deceiving – that was not part of my discussion at all.

The discussion was related to the justification we have, or do not have, for our knowledge, existence, predication, thinking, or what have you. Sensory data, of course, is interpreted, but I am talking about topics *below* and *foundational to* all discussions of sensory data interpretation. Thus, I’m not sure what this has to do with the subject.

3) There was no discussion of senses being rejected, and nothing concerning “uncertainty” as being the reason for this.

There is no discussion of uncertainty or rejection of the senses in view, so once again, I’m not sure why he is discussing it.

4) The claim is made that “certain” people are the most “foolish”.

By what standard of “foolish” is this asserted? The standard of the world’s wisdom, or of God’s wisdom? If it is from the viewpoint of the world, isn’t that the subject under dispute?

5) The author claims that he never claims infallibility.

I’m glad, as I do not do so either.

However, I have made no philosophical claims of existence. I have merely rejected your spiritual claim of existence, being no reasonably acceptable evidence has been brought forth.

By using the word “I”, one is, in fact, making a philosophical statement of existence. What I am questioning is the justification for doing so. By “merely” rejecting something, you are providing your own replacement for the thing rejected – which is what I am challenging. As the initial assertor, the burden of proof lies with him. My challenge is to his basis for even making the claim “Only a fool believes something without proof. To simplify that for you: only a fool relies on faith.”

“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” — Carl Sagan

By what standards, respectively for:
a) Extraordinary
b) Require
c) Evidence

What epistemic obligation exists to obey this assertions? What duty do I have to accept the above as true? What standard of “extraordinary” is being used, and is it being assumed that I am somehow obliged to accept Sagan’s worldview, and thereby agree? By what standard of “require” am I obliged to accede to his demands? Is he asserting that there is a universal epistemic duty I am beholden to, exemplified by this statement? Which standard of “evidence” applies to what am I being told to provide, and by what standard is it considered such? Shouldn’t we deal with 1) Our disparate claims to epistemic justification 2) Our contradictory worldviews, in which evidence is likely to have different connotation, and 3) Whether or not the worldview asking for evidence has any claim over another person to begin with?

“What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence” — Christopher Hitchens

Once again – by whose standard? I don’t consider Hitchens’ statement to be accurate, let alone binding. Whose standard of evidence are we using? How do we know there is none?

And no, the Bible is not acceptable evidence, just as the Koran is not, nor the Vedas.

So, you insist, a priori, that I agree with you, in order to disagree with you? You do understand that I have directly asserted that the Scripture is my epistemological justification, do you not? Is this clear to you? I said, quite clearly, that the only possible precondition for knowledge, or anything else, for that matter, is the Triune God of Scripture. Yet, you have a priori rejected my claim, while ignoring the argument made on it’s behalf. Further, you have insisted that I abandon my own epistemological basis to even discuss something with you. On the contrary, I have addressed your epistemological basis, and offered an argument to show that self is an insufficient basis for your epistemology. I offered an argument, which demands an answer, not a dismissal. Yet, apparently, you can assert, without evidence – but I can’t dismiss it without evidence? It seems to me that you are the one arguing contrary to Hitchens’ maxim. Further, *by what standard* is the Bible unacceptable evidence? Says you? Well, by your standard (and this is an internal critique here) I can just as easily say “says me, the Bible is sufficient”, and that is an equally valid claim – by your own standard. Now, back to my worldview, I gave several reasons why the Scripture is sufficient. Please deal with those.

My response in the comment thread:

But you are? Your self is? Any particular person is sufficient personal awesomesauce to impose his subjective opinion of anything whatsoever on anyone whatsoever, and his personal opinion is such as is sufficient for being believed? You don’t have a claim to induction, either, as per Hume, so your sense experience is not reliable – which is why I included it. I “merely” reject all of your subjective non-claims, because they are made by a non-being, by your own non-standards. There is no such thing as evidence, there is no such thing as acceptable, as we are disparate beings, with no objective standard to conform our opinions to. There is no ordinary, and there is no extraordinary. There is no grounds by which to reject, or to affirm. You cannot claim infallibility, or fallibility, because everything is subjective.

There are no brute facts. Facts are interpreted a priori, and your interpretative ability, by your own (subjective) standard, is what is being called into question.

In fact, by your own standard – there is no such thing as a fool, because there is no such thing as truth.

His reply:

And we may very well be constructs in the Matrix. However, I generally do not find this to be a reliably found solution. Not having a “claim to induction” does not make my senses unreliable.

Perhaps I should clarify here – I said “sense experience” above – and what I was referring to was the concept that sense experience is contributory to knowledge. The problem of induction is that we have no justification for our expectation that the future will be like the past. Since this is so, we have no justification for assuming that what we experience via the senses is actually a means to acquire knowledge.

There are facts. Facts are what happened. If a blue fish is blue, it is blue. It *probably* reflects electromagnetic wavelengths with around a 450 nm wavelength, if you want to get technical.

Now, how people interpret these facts is where things can go wrong. We could just assume we ARE in fact in the Matrix, and go about our lives. We could just assume we are in the blue fishes mind in the last example, and we are imagining ourselves look at the blue fish.

We could also realize that this isn’t anything we have brought up at all. For some reason, he seems to want to go back to “the Matrix”, or some similarly absurd counter example, when in fact the objection is related to epistemology, not sense-reliability. We are not talking about the relationship of sense to illusion, or sense to deception. We are talking about the relationship of sense to knowledge. Since induction is unjustified in the unbelieving worldview, there is no justification for *using* it – and it is irrational to do that which is unjustified. Not only that, but there is no relationship that *can* be made between past and future!

These aren’t useful speculations, though. These have no evidence (Such as being able to see the blue fish, to weigh it, to make various measurements of it. These are useful abilities, which often make very good evidence for things).

But, no. Don’t twist what I say into something you want it to be. I’m sure you can take whatever you want and make it sound foolish, but doing that doesn’t actually make the original idea foolish.

The problem is, all of the things listed above *have no justification from your own worldview*. That is why I brought it up. You cannot assume a constant system of measurement. You cannot assume that things remain uniform. You cannot assume “use” is something that has tenacity for day to day. All of these things – and basically all of human thinking whatsoever – are utterly destroyed by the lack of a justified induction.

My response in the comments:

Or, the fact that your worldview can’t account for induction, deduction, or even the slightest portion of your everyday experience means that your worldview is what is at issue. Note: I’m not saying induction has no explanation – I’m saying *you* don’t have one. I’m not saying existence has no explanation – I’m saying *you* don’t have one. An argument from silence does not give the preconditions of intelligibility. What you have offered is not an explanation, but seems very much to be wishful thinking, while I, on the other hand, gave a thumbnail sketch of my epistemological basis for all of the above. If your worldview can’t account for that which you say gives you knowledge, what good is it?

I found his next set of comments very illustrative. They are posted to follow.

And now you’ve shown that you don’t actually understand my position. Great job.

No, I do not have an answer. To quote Dawkins, “We’re working on it.”

So, here we are given the quintessential unbelieving answer for this problem: “I don’t know, but we will!” I’m sorry, but isn’t this a bit more of a problem than that, as we’ve already illustrated? I’ve coined this as “the argument from optimism” previously, and it seems so very apropos. The unbelieving worldview has no answer for what knowledge is, how induction is justified, how immaterials such as concepts exist, the source and nature of logical laws, the relation between facts, how the one and the many problem is solved, the mind-body relationship, not to mention the dilemma posed by a subjectivist observer claiming to know objective truths. “We’re working on it”? Well, it’s been 3 or 4 centuries. Let us know how it’s working for you, skeptics.

You are taking an argument from ignorance.
…”Because we don’t know something, it had to be *this thing I want to believe*.”

You have no real evidence. You just seem to have taken a liking to one of the many, many religious texts there have been in history that claims to know.

I’d like to know what, in this long string of assertions, is factual. I’d also like to know what in this string would accord with even his definition of evidence. They are naked assertions, inconvenienced by any real relationship to my position.

I will gladly take my “I don’t know yet.” I will gladly try and figure out how it happened. I will come up with theories on what has happened, and I will test them. I will improve, them, change them when new evidence comes along. I will make them the best I can.

I will gladly let you, when you justify the things that allow you to make conclusions, or prove anything, about anything. Since that is what is being questioned, and we are being told “I don’t know” concerning, on what basis are we to do anything save ask, yet again, whether we are to be given any basis for what you claim to have no answer to justify, but irrationally claim to be utilizing?

You will take your book. You will claim it to be infallible. You will never change your ideas, even in the face of contradicting evidence. You will sink like a stone.

I’ve yet to see the standard by which (whatever it is) is claimed to be evidence, let alone why we should accept it.

*Note: The “I” and “You” are merely representative of our different arguments, not each other*

Noted.

To reiterate, I’m fine with “We’re working on it.” Your thumbnail sketch hold no bearing without evidence.

Your “evidence” is both meaningless and irrational, holding the worldview you do, until demonstrated otherwise. I’d be fine with an answer, instead of “pie in the sky, by and by”. As Greg Bahnsen used to say – “that is the problem with you atheists, you live too much by faith.” I think it applies here. Ironic.

My answer in the comment section:

Evidence by what standard of evidence? Saying “we don’t know, but we know you’re wrong” is… more than bit contradictory? If you have no basis for sense experience’s reliability or intelligibility, how can you then use that to critique… anything?

If you don’t have a basis for induction, why should I give the results of it any validity to critique my worldview? Further, if you don’t have a basis on which to assert that your interpretation of data results in incontrovertible “facts” – why should I accept your assertions? Even further, if you can’t explain the existence of concepts such as the laws of logic, by your own standard, why should I grant you the valid use of them, and not assert that you are borrowing from my worldview to use them, and as such, are using them wrongly?

His reply:

Look, I’ll believe you when you prove it. I didn’t say, “I don’t know, but I know you’re wrong.” I said, “I don’t know, figure it out and show me how.”

That is the sense of our entire conversation. “I don’t need to know that I’m rational to say you’re a fool”. On the contrary, I say you do.

Look at it this way. We’re driving in a truck. We’re both thinking, “I wonder how this truck works?” You provide a “thumbnail sketch” of how you think it works, and I decide that I want to look inside of it before I decide. I have no reason to believe you until I know you are right. I don’t currently know; this doesn’t make you right, and it doesn’t make my curiosity wrong.

See, being right is not a conditional on whether or not you check. If I give the right answer, I’m right whether or not you check. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong whether or not you check. However, once again, only within my worldview, not yours, because your worldview doesn’t provide the preconditions for that conversation to be intelligible, despite the fact that you’re having it. Therefore, having said precondition, whose worldview are you borrowing from, to object to it? As Van Til says, “Antitheism presupposes theism” – and this is the reason he said that.

And yes, I can still think you’re foolish for being pleased with your own answer, even though you don’t rightly know.

By what standard? That’s what inquiring minds needs to know.

My reply in the comments:

I’m making a specific argument here. The proof I am offering is that without the Triune God of Scripture you can’t prove anything. Proof via the impossibility of the contrary. Thus far, your argument has given precisely that. “We’re working on it” singularly fails to impress me as factual, especially coming from Dawkins, who is otherwise so impressed with factuality. His problem, and yours, is that most folks fail to study the epistemology of science, and have failed to do so for an inordinate amount of time. If scientists were still natural philosophers, as they used to be called, perhaps they would pay more attention to the foundations of their claims.

When the emperor has no clothes, I’m going to point it out. Induction – trusting the future to be like the past, has *no basis in your worldview*. Deduction – causal relationships of one to another – has no basis in your worldview. Therefore, sense experience is intrinsically unreliable, and unaccounted for. Until it is, you can’t begin to critique another worldview, let alone advance your own.

His reply:

You see, the only thing I’m assuming is that my senses are accurate. You are assuming that your book is accurate as well. I can very easily write a novel that claims proof of existence. It’s not very hard to do.

So, you are claiming the accuracy of your senses are your epistemological justification? How would that work, as an argument, using the senses, interpreted by the mind, as the justification for being able to think? “My senses are accurate, so I can think”? If you’re talking about empiricism, I think you’re confused as to the level I’m arguing on. This is prior to, and precedes any talk of *what* we consider knowledge.

As to the “write a book to prove existence” – I’m making a serious argument. Please be good enough to offer something substantive, rather than sophmoric. Thanks.

Can you prove it? What undeniable proof– outside of the bible– do you have? Wouldn’t, if it were true, it have so much more evidence? Just the fact that it is a religion’s holy book doesn’t make it valid. Islam has a holy book. Muslims claim that Allah is their reason for existence in the same way you claim your God is.

1) Prove it – by what standard? I don’t assume we have the same standard of proof, and you shouldn’t either. We espouse antithetical worldviews – and as such, will necessarily have different standards. How is your standard of proof – which I’ve already argued you don’t have, in any intelligible sense – applicable to me? This is what I mean when I tell people they are making unargued assertions. Is it clear, by now, that you are asking me to provide that which I’ve already demonstrated you can’t even process, by your own worldview? When I make the case that you *cannot prove anything at all apart from the Triune God of Scripture* – that doesn’t mean you say “so prove it by my standards!” That means *give me a standard at all, and then we’ll talk*. If even induction is unjustified, you have no schema by which proof *can* be considered, let alone considered valid.

2) Undeniable? By what standard? Mine or yours?

3) Outside the Bible? Didn’t I already say that outside of the Biblical worldview, you can’t prove anything? Weren’t you paying attention when I said that? I wasn’t saying it rhetorically – that’s why it came accompanied by an argument. Since the unbelieving worldview cannot justify knowledge, or proof, and the Christian worldview can, the only proofs offered are those *from* the Christian worldview. So I’m not very well going to argue as an unbeliever.

4) Sure, there’s evidence. In fact, every fact whatsoever is evidence for the God of Scripture. But by whose standard? This is an argument that attacks *whether* you can know anything – so asking me to give you stuff you can know *by that impossible standard* isn’t very helpful. I don’t think you’ve grasped the nature of the argument. I’m saying that only BY my standard CAN you know anything – and your claims to the contrary are self-deceptive assertions with no basis in reality.

5) Muslims do not argue as I do. How do I know? Because I debate Muslims, as well. They have no counterpart to this argument whatsoever.

Which one am I to believe? Ooh, I know!

The one that is predominant in the region I was born in!

Well, that may be true for you. I’m from Arizona, not from the Bible Belt. I didn’t grow up Reformed, I didn’t grow up with the same faith I’m in now. I didn’t grow up with this conception, although I did grow up in a Christian home, although not a Christian myself. I had an extended bout with unbelief when I was near your age, and I was saved out of it. The consistent Christian doctrinal standard I espouse was “predominant” in the 17th and 18th centuries – in England. That’s about it. What I believe is the sole provenance of my adherence to Scripture, and the consistent application of it. So, it’s hardly an unthinking and unreasoned position I am holding. It’s not something I just “adopted” one day – but something it took me years of study to come to. Forgive me, but it seems rather brash to assume so many things about someone you don’t know very well. There is a sense in which nominative Christianity is “prevalent” in the United States – the problem is, those who actually believe what the Bible says, as I do, are a significant minority of those claiming the name of Christian. You can count out Roman Catholics (I’m a Protestant in the historic sense – Calvinistic and Reformed) you can count out Unitarians, you can count out Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Eastern Orthodoxy, and the greater part of the mainline denominations, as they do not hold to anything resembling historic Christianity. I’ve taught Church History, and it rather obvious that such is the case.

So, don’t assume. I’m not from around here, so you really don’t have that information accessible.

So, to sum up – my objection to your objection – is that without epistemic justification, you can’t *make* your objection. Since this is the case, by the impossibility of the contrary (ie: since it’s therefore impossible for the contrary to be true) your initial objection fails. To put it technically – for any x – any claim whatseover – y (The Christian Worldview, explicated within the Scripture) is the precondition for it’s intelligibility. Since ~y is demonstrated to be impossible, y is true, via the impossibility of the contrary, for any x.

Plus, on a side note, you’ve shown yourself to be far more reliant on faith, and with a less worthy object, than you could possibly assert I am. I at least have faith in an absolute. You have faith in a maybe someday – but we’re working on it. May I venture to say that atheism teaches us to be satisfied – not with an answer, but with a blind faith that there will be one someday?

My faith rests in the absolute, triune, revelatory, unchanging, eternal, sovereign, omnipotent, good, just, infinite, transcendent, and perfect God – in whom we all live, move, and have our being. Contrasted with “we’re working on it”? I know where I place my trust.

Ephesians 3:14-21 – For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; [and] that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him [be] the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

Facebook Atheism

“Only a fool believes something without proof. To simplify that for you: only a fool relies on faith.”

Interesting assertion.

1 Cor 2:1-5 – And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

1 Cor 2:10-14 – For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

Note: The assertion of the atheist I quoted seems to be that they have something else to rest their knowledge on. They are merely making a negative epistemological claim, with no positive claim to be found, however. In fact, their claim is in accordance with the Scripture above – that our epistemological claim is foolishness to them. The reason this is so, is because it is *spiritually* discerned. On the contrary, we claim that their epistemological claims are foolishness, from the standard of our worldview. This is the antithesis that exists between the wisdom of the world, and the wisdom of God.

Here is where transcendental argument comes in. Their claim to knowledge is unintelligible from their worldview. There is no basis to assume that 1) They exist to know what they claim to know 2) That what they claim to know has any sort of intelligible relationship to anything else they claim to know 3) That their epistemological basis (self) is capable of providing the preconditions of intelligibility.

The claim “I know” (x) has a precondition – (y) the Triune God of Scripture. That is the only means by which “I know” has the preconditions of intelligibility. Only in the revelation of the Triune God in His Scripture is there is an absolute, self-sufficient, self-existent, eternal and immutable (not excluding attributes, but eliding for the sake of space – see here for more on this topic) source who can communicate with us, and gives us those preconditions. Since x is only preconditioned by y, y is true, and ~y is impossible.

Since we have this absolute, objective epistemological foundation, and the unbeliever has no foundation whatsoever to stand on, epistemologically, on what basis does “a fool rely on faith”? Self has no epistemological foundation. Self has no absolute reference. Self can’t justify self, induction, deduction, or intelligibility, for that matter. Yet, we’re told that Descartes “I think, therefore I am” is a starting point? What does “I think” assume? The consequent, “I am”. It’s circular. My existence is only made intelligible by the Triune God of Scripture. The unbeliever’s existence is made intelligible by what, by His standard? Until the unbeliever can offer me a justification for his own claims, and demonstrate that he knows what he’s denying, we can safely say that this assertion is empty rhetoric, countered by an argument with content.

Necessary Trancendental Arguments?

P1) There are no brute facts
P2) We are asserting that only by the Triune God of Scripture can we know anything properly
P3) The only argument which does not assume neutrality is a transcendental argument
C) If we are arguing any fact with an unbeliever, we must argue transcendentally – from the Impossibility of the Contrary, due to the nature of our respective presuppositions
C1) On any fact where the opponent’s view of facts does not accord with the Christian Scripture, our argument must be from the Impossibility of the Contrary

Discuss 🙂

Apologetics and the Arminian

The purpose of this post is to address a response to the above presentation, wherein presuppositional apologetics seems to be misunderstood by the author. The author’s response can be found here, but I will address most of the post, if not all, in the following article.

James White recently argued for presuppositional apologetics and against evidential apologetics. (link) He starts out with an analysis of Colossians 1:16-18, and Colossians 2:2-9, which focus on the Lordship of Christ. James White points out that the gospel is a radical claim, which unbelievers reject.

If you watched the above video (or heard the show), you’d note that Dr. White makes a specific point of not using either term until he’s made his argument. Why does he do so? To demonstrate that presuppositionalism is directly exegeted from the text of Scripture. That’s a minor note, so I’ll move on.

What caught my attention was James White’s denial that unbelievers can have ‘true knowledge’

It’s a rather open thing that Dr. White is a presuppositionalist. I’m confused as to why this would be noteworthy.

“If Jesus is who we claim He was, then He is the standard in all of human knowledge. You may be familiar with the term epistemology – the study of knowledge – how we know what we know. For so many Christians today, philosophy, history, science, epistemology, it’s all over in that realm, and Jesus is over here. That is not Biblical Christianity. Full orbed Biblical Christianity recognizes the absolute Lordship of Christ in every aspect of our lives because Christ is Lord in all of the universe and over everything because he created everything. In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. That is an amazing statement – and if you’re going to defend the faith, you have to defend the whole faith, the Biblical faith – not a cut down, watered down, simplified, minimalized, just a few facts faith – try to trick someone into accepting a skeleton of Christianity, and once you get ’em in, hope you can try to convince them of the rest of it over time. That is a certain form of apologetics, but it’s not a Biblical form of apologetics.”

Also note this, this, this, this – we could go on. Just recently, he went through the Price debate, outlining his presuppositional methodology in engaging Dr. Price.

As to the denial that unbelievers can have “true knowledge” – this is merely Biblical. Pro 1:7 – “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” – If you don’t have the beginning, how can you have the result? Pro 2:6 – “For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” – Do unbelievers have true wisdom? From whence do they hear it? Isa 47:10 – “”You felt secure in your wickedness and said, ‘No one sees me,’ Your wisdom and your knowledge, they have deluded you; For you have said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me.'” Can “I think, therefore I am” be harmonized with this? Phil. 1:9 – “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment” “Real knowledge” is ‘epignosis’ – a precise, correct knowledge. What does that imply? There there is a false knowledge, correct? Not to mention Col 2, which Dr. White discussed, in detail. If all treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ – how does an unbeliever find them? Note also this verse – Col 3:10. “and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” – also uses epignosis. Remember who Paul is writing to. Gnostics, who claim to possess a secret knowledge. What is Paul’s response? ALL knowledge is *Christ’s.* Note also this verse: I Timothy 6:20 – “O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge” There is a true and false knowledge. So, when unbelievers “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” are they knowing correctly? Are they not suppressing “true knowledge” – in favor of “knowledge so-called”?

and his objection to the approach of starting from common ground between believers and unbelievers to show the reasonableness of believing in the God of the Bible and other Christian doctrines.

Honestly? There’s a very simple answer to this. The only common ground you have is God’s ground. The image of God in you both. “What partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” We are to act, and *think* differently from the world. If your philosophy is indistinguishable from the world, and doesn’t have at it’s heart the Scriptures of the Triune God… you’re in trouble. Big trouble.

We don’t make the Gospel “more palatable” to sinners – it’s *supposed* to be offense and foolishness to unbelievers. So is our apologetic – because we are defending *the Gospel*. It should be offensive to them, strike at the heart of their unlawful thinking, undercut the fortresses they erect against the knowledge of God, and tear them down – how? “in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left.”

God makes *foolish* the wisdom of the world. His word is His voice, speaking to men – and we are to speak it boldly on His behalf. We have *no other message*, folks. If you don’t argue FROM Scripture, FROM the God who IS there, you gave up the field to start with – and you did NOT, having done all, stand. If you pretend that we’re all neutral, and we just have to present the right evidence to convince them… you’ve already failed. Unbelievers *are not reasonable*. They *suppress* the truth in unrighteousness. They have become futile in their speculations.

Since this is so, and since they *do not think as a Christian does*, they WILL reject any evidence they deem to be unsuitable – by their OWN standard. We have a different standard, and we must argue by HIS standard, not ours.

There is no neutral ground. The picture in Eph. 6 is of a soldier holding the line *he was assigned to hold*. You do NOT advance to no-man’s land and parlay. You hold the line. You don’t advance without orders, and you don’t retreat. Advancing to “common ground” is simply to isolate yourself, and invite defeat in detail. When you are in line, you are covered by the shield of the man to your right, and cover the man to your left. You *stand*. “Common ground” is only defection or an invitation to surround you.

Presuppostionalism, as I understand it, has two distinct schools of thought; the Gordon Clark camp and the Cornelius Van Til camp. Clarinan (sic) presuppositionalism is not my cup of tea, but it’s fairly innocuous. My main complaint against Clark’s presuppositionalism is that he presupposes the truth of sola scripture,

Well, here’s the deal. The author doesn’t seem to understand the nature of Clarkian “presuppositionalism”, nor it’s actual differences from Van Tillian. Allow me to quote from a book I’ve quoted a good bit from recently.

“With all due respect for these three men, (inserted: Clark, Schaeffer, Carnell) their sincerity, Christian commitment, and hard work, we must press on to see why their apologetical systems are not fully satisfactory. Although many fine points of presuppositional character can be found scattered throughout their writings, we regretfully note that their positions as a whole are inconsistent with these points. This inconsistency might might make it appear that criticisms offered below could be rebutted by retreating to the better parts of the writer under scrutiny; however, after trying to harmonize the conflicting assertions and to read them in a sympathetic spirit, I am simply unable to reconcile the major differences or eliminate the tension among them.”
~Dr. Greg Bahnsen, Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended, Part 2, Introduction, pg 135

In this recent post, wherein I quote from a nearby section of the same book, we see that Clark does not, in fact, “presuppose sola scriptura” – how can he, when he doesn’t even presuppose the Word of God AS the Word of God? This is the fundamental, bedrock principle OF presuppositional apologetics. Here is another example, in case one doesn’t convince my readers. Directly following a discussion of Clark’s comments on statements from R.G. Collingwood, Bahnsen states “In all this Clark has not made the truth of Scripture an absolute and necessary presupposition, a genuine transcendental of meaningfulness for all science, history, etc. Indeed, by contrast, one could easily be led to believe that logic per se is his transcendental rather than Scripture. Instead of the attempt to be independent of God’s Word, ‘the denial of the law of non-contradiction, or even the failure to establish it as a universal truth, was the downfall of secular philosophy.'” (Quoting Clark, The Axiom of Revelation, 64) (pg 144, PA: S&D)

Bahnsen continues in the next section, entitled “Possibility vs. Necessity.”

“God should be taken by the Christian as the source and standard of all material, as well as logical possibility; He is the one who determines all things (even the operation of the human mind and its limits). But for Clark the possibilities of human imagination and the bare possibilities dictated by formal logic have precedence to God (at least in Clark’s writings). God too seems to be drawn into an environment of ‘possibility’ (i.e., made subject to the conditions thereof); of course, then, this must also be the case for God’s Word. Instead of demanding that Barth, for example, must recognize the subordination of all thinking to God’s Word because it is our absolute, transcendental presupposition that makes intelligibility, thinking, evaluating, and meaning possible, Clark wants Barth, in considering such a subordination, not to “bluntly rule out this possibility.”

A more skeptical view of the amount of truth obtainable by experimentation, with the help of operationalism, might bring the idea of subordinationism back again within the limits of possibility. The Scripture is a better source than experimentation is for the norms of ethics and politics; perhaps there is some way to bring physics and zoology under this authority. (Clark, Karl Barth’s Theological Method, 68)

Because Clark, thus, does not take the truth of God’s Word as an absolutely essential presupposition to which all thought must (not merely possibly) be subordinated, it is not surprising that he should write, “From a logical standpoint it is equal whether one’s assumptions are philosophical or theological, Christian or not.” (Clark, Religion, Reason, and Revelation, 8) This is not the case! Cristianity and unbelief are not on an equal footing, for unbelief has no fotting whatsoever. And even logical possibility cannot be a common background to Christian and pagan systems of thought, for Christianity alone makes logic possible. With this quote, whatever absolute character Clark’s presupposition of God’s Word may have had is completely dissolved.” (PA:S&D, 145-146)

Bahnsen, as you may know, was the “heir apparent” to Van Til. He is the definitive exegete of, and successor to, Van Til. As you can see, it is the Van Tillian school that believes that Scripture Alone is presupposed. This may not be considered ideal by the author to which we are responding, but this is certainly the case. Clark, like most modern day apologists, has conceded the absolute truth of the Word of God to a “possibility” – we do not, and cannot.

whereas I think the evidence for the truth of scripture and problems of other sources (Pope’s, Councils, the Koran…) is very strong.

Let me just ask a single, simple question. By what standard? This is the real topic of any debate with anyone. What is your standard? To a Romanist, it is the magesterium, which mediates Scripture by it’s authority. For a Muslim, it is the Quran, which likewise mediates Scripture by it’s authority. For Clark, it is logic that mediates the truth of Scripture. As Bahnsen says shortly thereafter, “By not viewing the truth of Scripture as a presupposition that is absolutely necessary, Clark reduces the status of the Bible to a hypothesis.”

While everyone has some presuppositions, I generally try to minimize what I presuppose and if something can be demonstrated, there’s no need to presuppose it. On the other hand, Van Til’s version of presuppositionalism is marked with antinomy and skepticism.

I agree that everyone presupposes something – I would like to know what the author would define as “some”, however. I likewise minimize what I presuppose – to what God has revealed in His Word! I would also like to know how, precisely, Van Tillian presuppositionalism is “marked by antinomy and skepticism”. I would agree that we Van Tillians are highly skeptical of any “falsely called knowledge” that results from any thinking not in accordance with the Word of God. If that’s what he means, I’m happy to plead “guilty”.

While James White didn’t declare himself to be in either Gordon Clark’s or Van Til’s camp, and generally didn’t get into much detail about presuppositionalism, but his denial that unbelievers can have ‘true knowledge’ and his objection to common ground between believers and unbelievers seems to show more influence from Van Til than Clark, since Van Til famously denied the same things.

I know for a fact that Dr. White is Van Tillian in method, just so you know. Note that neither Van Til nor Bahnsen denied common ground *completely* – but common ground as *popularly conceived.* Our common ground is in the fact that all men are created in the image of God – and it is to that Imago Dei that we appeal, as Paul did in Acts 17. As to knowledge, remember that we don’t deny that unbelievers can have *any* knowledge – they can know the truth, but they *suppress* it, and believe, instead, a lie. However, even when you believe something that is objectively true – but for subjective reasons – you do not believe the *truth*, as it is, for the reasons you *should* believe it – and therefore do not truly know it. There’s more to it, including another post where he responds to a page James Anderson linked him, but that’ll do for now.

I have a couple more issues I’d like to address. In the comments of the above post, A.M. Mallett says the following:

…it is my opinion that presuppositional apologetics is the leaven that fuels the advancement of Calvinism’s carnal flavor. It’s premise is founded on the ability to dissuade the merits of other belief systems rather than relying on the scriptural evidences of God’s power and truth. The LORD did not instruct us to go out and argue against the merits and beliefs of other systems. He tells us instead “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isa 55:11 AV). He tells us again “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (1Co 1:18-21 AV)
I do not believe presuppositionalism has any ground in scripture.

First off, the presuppositions of the comment’s author are abundantly clear. “Calvinism’s carnal flavor”. I’d like to hear how, exactly, his man-centered system of theology has a basis to critique a system with “Sola Deo Gloria” at it’s heart. His caricature of presuppositionalism is also manifest. While the author may, as he states, have this opinion – it is an eminently foolish opinion to hold. First, he seems to be saying that all we do is tear down the systems of others. While this is incorrect; we are arguing FROM Scripture, and positively arguing the intrinsic truth of the Scripture in response to our opponents as well, it is also incorrect to say tearing down the idolatrous systems of others is NOT commanded in Scripture. How would he explain 2 Cor 10:3-5, if this is the case? Further, note the verses he quotes. How DOES God destroy the foolish wisdom of the world? Through the defense of the faith by His people. Just as God uses means to spread the Gospel, so He uses means to destroy the wisdom of the world. Notice it is His WORD that does not return void. Since our task is to destroy the world’s wisdom by the use of the Scriptures, is that not the very essence of not returning void? I also note that the passage he quotes actually militates against his desire to use evidences as neutral facts. *Anything we say that is grounded in the Word* is foolishness to unbelievers. Unless you are conformed to this world, the world *will* scoff at it. If you are conformed, they may very well accept it – but have you not read 1 Cor 1:17? “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.” NOT in cleverness of speech, my friend. If your apologetic is not consistent with the Gospel, it is no apologetic. As for it having “no ground in Scripture” – I suggest you take a gander at Acts 17, Romans, Colossians, Ephesians, and Galatians. Also see Jesus’ words to the Saducees; “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God.” What is Paul’s answer to the Athenians? “What you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you”. You don’t know – so I’m going to tell you. Then, he tells them – right out of the Scripture. So, let me repeat – you, sir, are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, nor the power of God.

One more thing to add – recently Christopher Weaver left a comment on this post where he stated the following: “the nonbasic source of knowledge that is scripture”. I’d just like to point out that Scripture, to a presuppositionalist, is THE basis of knowledge, period. This is the fundamental problem with non-Scriptural apologetics, as a rule. They don’t believe Sola Scriptura applies to all of life – just in compartmentalized areas. I bring this up because I left a comment to his initial objection (which boils down to “there can be a counter-factual to the counter-factual which you already denied, so you’re wrong” (aka: I assume counter-factuals)). When you assume what Scripture denies, you also denied Sola Scriptura (not that I have any evidence to believe that he holds to that position in any meaningful fashion in the first place).

Consistency and Truth

Recently, Hussein Wario was challenged to call into the Dividing Line to answer for his recent accusations, some of which were in conversation with me. The transcript of that call on June 10th (which I did myself) is included here.

James: We received a call a number of weeks ago from Hussein Wario, who himself is a former Muslim, who from my understanding converted when he was in 8th grade, or something like that and is living in the United States now, and we had a discussion about some things; as I recall it had to do with using a restroom as a place for Muslim prayers.

Well, since then Mr. Wario has had a lot to say in regards to some of my statements, so he’s been kind enough to call in today. Let’s make sure that we’ve got a good connection here and let’s talk with Hussein. Can you hear me?

Hussein: Yes, I can hear you.

James: Good, excellent, thank you for calling in. I know you don’t have a lot of time. (…) I’ll get right to some of the things you’ve said here. After the June 6th Dividing Line, actually there was no June 6th Dividing Line, but on June 6th you made the statement on the web that you can prove that (I) “made at least 20% contradictions…

Hussein: (laughs)

James: …in (my) recent DL webcast – does that make him less Christian?” Now, even my worst opponents grant me a little better than 80% accuracy could you explain what you were referring to there?

Hussein: Well first of all, like I said before, I’m not going to be here to talk about either of the Caner brothers, that is irrelevant. As a Reformed Christian, I’m very concerned about how you run your ministry, and how far you go with it. I was going to first write a blog entry on that 20% I am talking about, but I
haven’t come to that.

——–
(For the reader’s context, this is what he tweeted just prior to the comment to DSpratlin about 20% contradictions, and the mention of a blog entry to @hereiblog)
@erguncaner saga almost over. Muslims critics have taken to their heels. Can his Christian critics handle their misstatements? Stay tuned… Sunday, June 06, 2010 10:48:22 PM via web
@hereiblog @erguncaner saga almost over. Time to analyze his critics and see if they can explain their “misstatements.” Can you handle it? Sunday, June 06, 2010 10:45:00 PM via web in reply to hereiblog
@JeremiahBailey @erguncaner saga almost over. Time to analyze critics and see if they can explain their misstatements. Can they handle it? Sunday, June 06, 2010 10:44:22 PM via web in reply to JeremiahBailey
@Shinar_Squirrel @erguncaner saga almost over. Time to analyze critics and see if they can explain their misstatements. Can they handle it? Sunday, June 06, 2010 10:43:53 PM via web in reply to Shinar_Squirrel
@pregador27 @erguncaner saga almost over. Time to analyze his critics and see if they can explain their misstatements. Can they handle it? Sunday, June 06, 2010 10:42:22 PM via web in reply to pregador27

Now, note this – he tends to “hype” his posts repeatedly. What is this called, when the statements are in fact untrue? Libel.

Back to the transcript.
————

Hussein: The reason I am calling is just because there are a few concerns that I have. It’s only (probably that?) 1, 2, 3, 4 of them, and I’ve only been listening to the Dividing Line for probably.. for less than 2 months. And I’ve already found like 4 things in here that raise questions about, you know, your integrity, or it could be just about how you do things, especially with people that you don’t agree with, so maybe we could just go to that, because I just want…

—-
Note: Hussein has said previously: “Christians bickering in public needs to stop.” He has also said: “Dr. White is the only apologist I know who openly criticizes people he disagrees with by name.” Now you can add yourself to that list, Mr. Wario. Further, remember this? “I believe in restoration of a fallen Christian and not gossip them in public.” yet, you took the majority of this show – his show – to slanderously revile this man personally. As I said in a previous post – “I find it amazing that he attacks Dr. White himself throughout this piece, the comments, and via twitter – while trying to say that we can never publicly respond to public comments. Further, he is making public rebukes to me – while saying that we shouldn’t publicly rebuke people”
——–

James: So you’re not going to answer any of the accusations you’ve made, then?

Hussein: Hey! This is 4 out of how many dividing lines you have done, or how many interviews you have given. This will be enough to… equal to 20% of what you have done. And it’s like, less than two months.

——–
Let’s examine this one. Let’s remember that there are two Dividing Lines a week. 4 weeks in a month. 2 months. 2x4x2. There’s 16. That’s about 25%, give or take – if he made only one statement per show, of course. However, add an interview. Only one. It’s now 23.5%. Add another interview. 22.22%. Further, this doesn’t count videos, blog entries, or any of the other things that Dr. White engages in. Now, add in, say, 2 videos in the same time. Then you’re at 20%. At my count, he has done 15 videos in the last 2 months. So, we’re at what percentage now? Counting 2 interviews, 16 Dividing Lines, 15 videos – and 4 errors – we’re at 12%. How many blog entries did he author in that time? Let’s say, a dozen, even though I highly doubt it’s that few. Now we’re down to 8.8% – and that is just counting by a simple formula. Even granting that Dr. White made 4 factual errors – how does this even approach 20% of what he has said? How is it even remotely close? There’s a deeper problem with this, however. How many statements are made on each Dividing Line? A few dozen? A hundred? A couple hundred? That’s the real issue here. Let’s say that he makes 2 dozen statements on a Dividing Line. That’s 384 statements in 2 months, by that conservative estimate. Let’s use the same average for a blog entry, and a video. So, 45 (for the sake of argument) pieces of media produced. 2 dozen statements apiece. That gives us a .0037% error rate.

However, when we’re talking about Ergun Caner, he *makes up almost his entire history*. Do you see the problem? How many statements is that to get wrong in one lecture/sermon/speech, in every speech he gives which includes his history? An even bigger problem is, as you will see, that he fails to substantiate a *single error* – while dodging all of his *own* claims! I’m not going to give a particular percentage, because it really doesn’t matter. The arbitrary usage of statistics is demonstrated to be useless, in any case. The problem is not statistical, it is ethical. Ethical by the terms of Scripture, not opinion. The systemic falsehoods are the issue. Hussein is comparing systemic, widespread falsehoods to what are apparently isolated statements – and I have a suspicion that he gave his examples of those in this particular call. If this is so, he is left with nothing whatsoever to demonstrate this. It is apples and oranges – and Dr. White was very right to insist that he answer for his accusations by directly making them and defending them.
————

James: Okay, so the entire list of things that I had here, you don’t want to talk about them, you want to talk about your points, is that the case?

————–
Here is what Dr. White is referring to: In response to the 20% claim, Dr. White sent this: @HusseinWario Why don’t you call the DL and attempt to back up your accusations? Your attempt to parallel me to EC’s overt lies offensive.

His reply was as follows: @DrOakley1689 If you let me talk, I will call the Diving Line. Would you please go back to doing what you do best? In the end, you lose.

Back to Dr. White: @HusseinWario Of course I will let you talk, if you will provide a logical, rational defense of your new accusations. (Note this – it’s important)
Again: @HusseinWario “In the end, you lose.” If being consistent at personal cost means losing, then may we all start losing together.

This was on the morning of the 7th. On the evening of the 9th, he posted these:
@RazorsKiss I have never sensed Reformed Christians this passionate and enthusiastic, lampooning @erguncaner must be their new priority. Wednesday, June 09, 2010 9:22:46 PM via web in reply to RazorsKiss
@LaneChaplin I have never sensed Reformed Christians this passionate and enthusiastic, lampooning @erguncaner must be their new priority. Wednesday, June 09, 2010 9:22:31 PM via web in reply to LaneChaplin
@internetbible I have never sensed Reformed Christians this passionate and enthusiastic, lampooning @erguncaner must be their new priority. Wednesday, June 09, 2010 9:21:58 PM via web in reply to internetbible
@Tomjunlee I have never sensed Reformed Christians these passionate and enthusiastic, lampooning @erguncaner must be their new priority. Wednesday, June 09, 2010 9:21:00 PM via web in reply to Tomjunlee
@Jerry_Kirby I have never sensed Reformed Christians these passionate and enthusiastic, lampooning @erguncaner must be their top priority. Wednesday, June 09, 2010 9:20:41 PM via web in reply to Jerry_Kirby
@reformata I have never sensed Reformed Christians these passionate and enthusiastic, lampooning @erguncaner must be their new priority. Wednesday, June 09, 2010 9:20:22 PM via web in reply to reformata
@stepcraig I have never sensed Reformed Christians these passionate and enthusiastic, lampooning @erguncaner must be their new priority. Wednesday, June 09, 2010 9:19:52 PM via web in reply to stepcraig
@CapitalistObsvr I have never sensed Reformed Christians these passionate and enthusiastic lampooning @erguncaner must be their new priority Wednesday, June 09, 2010 9:19:36 PM via web in reply to CapitalistObsvr
@ThApologeticHub I have never sensed Reformed Christians these passionate and enthusiastic lampooning @erguncaner must be their new priority Wednesday, June 09, 2010 9:19:10 PM via web in reply to ThApologeticHub
@sjcamp I have never sensed Reformed Christians these passionate and enthusiastic, lampooning @erguncaner must be their top priority. Wednesday, June 09, 2010 9:18:25 PM via web in reply to sjcamp
@thecrosschurch I have never sensed Reformed Christians these passionate and enthusiastic lampooning @erguncaner must be their top priority Wednesday, June 09, 2010 9:18:15 PM via web in reply to thecrosschurch
@faithfulnews I have never sensed Reformed Christians these passionate and enthusiastic, lampooning @erguncaner must be their top priority. Wednesday, June 09, 2010 9:17:55 PM via web in reply to faithfulnews
@jfontes0217 I have never sensed Reformed Christians these passionate and enthusiastic, lampooning @erguncaner must be their top priority.

As for me, I replied with the following: @HusseinWario You’ve never seen me deal with the proper place of all of God’s attributes in apologetics before then 😉 Caner’s a side issue

I received this reply: @RazorsKiss You need to start putting your energy into reaching Muslims. They are never satisfied. Enough has been said about @erguncaner

Now, honestly; since when does Hussein dictate what ministry I engage in? What does his opinion of what I should be doing have to do with what I should be doing? Muslims are not the only group in the world to which we minister, nor are they the only ones that we should minister to. Just because they are the ones he ministers to does not mean that everyone should be like him, or have the same ministry. I told him as much. @HusseinWario I address Muslims occasionally. I address a wide variety of groups. Therein lies balance. I think it would do you good too.

Later, when he tweeted Dr. White again, with more accusations, he was once again challenged to call the Dividing Line (he didn’t call in on the 8th). @HusseinWario I challenge you to call the DL today. Your fallacious reasoning evaporates when you are forced to answer direct questions.

—–

Hussein: No, no no, when I made that statement, I was going to do a blog entry on you. I talked to other Christians, and they told me there is no place for it. Other Reformed Christians have told me. This is not about… I’m not going after you, okay? I just don’t like it the way you just go about talking about other
Christians. You have been (unintelligible) some of them…

James: Who?

Hussein: You wrote something about me.

James: Who?

Hussein: You did write about me.

James: You’ve been raising a lot of questions, and I have had to point out that some of your arguing is… not rational.

Hussein: But well, you put me in the same line as Ahmed Deedat, you know?

James: No I didn’t.

Hussein: C’mon, you did say that I remind you of Ahmed Deedat. That’s really bad

James: No, I never said that. Where did I say I remind you of Ahmed Deedat.

Hussein: Oh my. Your blog entry didn’t do that?

——
Note: He did not even try to argue his point. Not even an argument advanced for why this was so. he just stated it. When challenged, he simply repeated it. I can understand why someone might say it looked that way, but he didn’t even make an argument to demonstrate that such was the case. What are we supposed to think, since he won’t even argue his point?

On the other hand, Dr. White has documented, just about every time that we go through a Muslim speaker’s presentation, that the shallow argumentation they provide is in many respects a cultural thing. You are encouraged to examine the archives of that program where he more fully explains that phenomenon.
——

James: No, it didn’t. In fact sir, this morning you said that I shouldn’t have made parody videos about Ergun Caner. I’ve never made a parody video, so sometimes I’m not certain if you’re completely aware of what you’re looking at.

—–
Dr. White, as did I, believed that he was referring to the viral “Dr. Ergun Caner” videos that have been making their rounds lately. There have been comments in multiple places throughout the blogs that confusedly think that Dr. White is making those. This is apparently not what Hussein is referring to, however.
—–

Hussein: Oh, you know what? Some of the Arabic stuff you have done now muslims are after it.

James: Uh, yeah. (laughs) If you can be after a Christian, who’s not a former Muslim, missing one phrase in quoting from memory…

Hussein: Uh-huh

James: …Surah Al-Fatihah, and think that that’s relevant to everything (Hussein interjects something I can’t make out) else we’ve said… that’s a good example of what I’m talking about here. But wait a minute, where have I ever made a parody video of Ergun Caner, can you tell me that.

Hussein: Okay, you know what? You are… all I can just say is this. The way you are making fun of the Arabic, they way you have this Arabic tutor, that is like totally out of line. Like how much have you pointed out about these brothers. It’s almost like you’re not giving grace.

—–
I believe he is saying that the video with the tutor is a parody video. This gives us a clue, I think: Muslims are laughing at Christians on Facebook because of @DROAKLEY1689 videos. Visit @erguncaner fan page on #fb Comedy central dissing!
It’s a parody because people laugh at it? William Shatner is therefore a first rate satirist – of himself 😉
——-

James: Okay, okay, Hussein… we responded to his claims, we played them…

Hussein: But who are you to… But who are you.

——-
Once again, he assumes this is personal. “Who are you to…” Does everything have to be an appeal to authority? Even so, he is a minister of the Gospel, responding to one who puts the Gospel to open shame. He is an apologist to Muslims as well as to other groups, responding to one whose falsehoods *were already mocked* by unbelievers. We are not only to exhort and teach, but to reprove and rebuke. You will see further where Hussein affirms this is personal. In the past he has said “This issue would not have gained any traction had Dr. James White and Dr. Ergun Caner been in good terms.”
———

James: …and many people commented on the fact that we were very fair and in fact inserted all sorts of other discussions about other things. In fact, I bent over backwards to say maybe you could possibly look at it this way – it still isn’t Arabic, but I bent over backwards. I just… I cannot even begin to comprehend why it is we have all this data that demonstrates that Ergun Caner has lied about his past and lied about what he is, and if anyone points that out, somehow they’re wrong, rather than the person who has stood behind a pulpit and connected this stuff with the presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I don’t understand that. I don’t understand your way of thinking Hussein. I really don’t.

Hussein: I don’t understand you either. Here you are, a Christian, and a caller calls you. On April 22nd. He called you up, and you discussed this on the Dividing Line.

James: Uh-huh!

Hussein: and you praised Kennedy, okay. John Kennedy.

James: Praised John Kennedy?

Hussein: You did praise him, you said the guy is the expert on…

James: Oh, you mean he’d done his.. he’d demonstrated that he’d actually read some stuff, yeah, I did say that he’d clearly read some stuff.

Hussein: You said he has written over a thousand articles.

James: That’s not praising, that’s just giving factual background! (laughs)

Hussein: Okay, okay, that’s fine, that’s fine! But, once the article came out, and didn’t meet your satisfaction. As a minister of the Gospel, you kinda went ahead and started (couldn’t make it out) some kind of (couldn’t make it out) you know what I mean?

James: You mean when I pointed out that it did not exactly deal with all the issues, somehow there’s a contradiction there?

Hussein: Well! I can say that there can be a problem, because like, here you are, you speculated, saying that Liberty University must be like the main advertiser of Christianity Today.

James: That’s true.

Hussein: Maybe they didn’t get to the bottom of the matter.

James: That’s a possibility.

Hussein: Yeah, but I cannot accept that from a Christian Minister to say that is a possibility!

James: Why? Why would a minister be so naive not to recognize that Christianity Today is a profit-driven organization?

Hussein: Ay, yi yi yi yi. You are a minister of the Gospel.

James: Yeah, I am. That doesn’t mean I’m naive.

Hussein: But why would you even make that kind of a statement?

James: Because it’s a factual statement. Follow the money, Hussein. Follow the money. It’s just a factual statement.

Hussein: Oh my word.

James: Ministers do not become naive, sir.

Hussein: No, no, but here you are talking publicly about something you don’t even know, such as how much Liberty university advertises on Christianity Today, and you are talking as if…

—–
What I find amazing here is the willingness to consider Dr. White to be “out to make a name for himself” – but he is defending a corporate entity from the possibility of defending their bottom line. What?
—–

James: So I raise the possibility that the reason that it didn’t go into the depth the way it did was because… something a lot of other people had noticed, and you somehow think that’s wrong. Okay, fine. I will leave that to the audience to determine whether that is simply being naive, or if it’s something wrong, as you said. But your reasoning, in your argumentation. For example, you have argued that you have debunked TurretinFan’s Hadith listing. I’d like to ask you, since you’re a former Muslim, could you tell me, please, could you explain to me, Hadith 2982?

Hussein: You know what, if it is mentioned in the body of the writing, whatever it is about, Hadith 28, or whatever it is you said

James: 2982, can you tell me what it says.

Hussein: I cannot tell you offhand, I have to look for it, okay?

James: How would you find it?

Hussein: Hold on just a second. I just have to look through my Hadith books. Your Hadith 957, it didn’t take me that long to find it.

James: Hussein, Hussein – you and I both know that there’s no way you can find Hadith 2982. Because there’s a piece of information missing. You and I both know that.

———
Note: Search “Hadith 2982“. You get al Bukhari here. You also get this. (Muslim, I believe) You also get this from AOMin. (Jami At-Tirmidhi) You also have two here, both 2982, Muslim and Ahmad. Yusuf Ali can be found here.

Now, which one am I supposed to be referencing? This is what Dr. White is talking about.
——–

Hussein: Yeah, but Dr. White you’re not justified here, for you can just say that’s just one way to quote the Hadith. In fact, even a Muslim did not make that an issue. (I couldn’t make this out)

James: Hussein, Hussein – you could not find Hadith 2982, could you?

Hussein: Anyway.

James: Could you?

Hussein: No, I have to look in the books!

James: You still couldn’t find it because it’s not giving you enough information to know what it is I’m referring to. You know that.

Hussein: James White cannot find it if he doesn’t have the Hadith books, okay?

James: I have the Hadith books sir, but you know, and I know, that there are different collections…

Hussein: So what are you saying here, I’m lying?

James: …of Hadith books; and therefore, you need to know what the collection is, don’t you?

Hussein: Hey, if it’s mentioned in the body I can find… you just, the whole time you were talking about it

James: No sir, you could not!

(talked over each other for a second)

Hussein: Anyway

James: Sir, there is more than one Hadith 2982…

Hussein: Anyway

James: …because there are different collections

Hussein: Anyway, anyway, anyway

James: See what you’re doing here, see what you’re doing here. See, you have not debunked the problem there.

Hussein: Hey, I have debunked the problem!

James: Okay, then answer the question – quote to me, quote to me Hadith 2982. If you can’t do it, then you are not answering my question honestly.

Hussein: I am a former Muslim, I’m supposed to be memorizing Bible verses, okay? You can’t be asking me on air…

James: I’m not asking you to quote it, I’m simply pointing out to you, Hussein…

—–
Just two notes here. When Dr. White asks him to quote it the first time, he is expecting him to look it up and quote it. That is the sense of “quote” meant there. In case anyone is wondering, I asked him. In the second case, he’s saying it in the sense of “quote from memory” – it was unclear, it’s live, and mistakes happen. Obviously he didn’t expect Hussein to “quote from memory”, which was what he intended in the “not asking you to quote it”. He was making the point above – *which* Hadith 2982?

Secondly, note the “anyway” whenever he doesn’t want to answer the question. I was not the only one to notice this. The entire chat channel was commenting on it only a few seconds after the third time he said it.
—–

Hussein: Anyway

James: …You could not find a reference…

Hussein: Anyway, Dr. White, you know what…

James: See, there ya go folks, there ya go, there is the illustration…

Hussein: Yeah, it is! It’s is always James White. He’s never wrong!

—–
Where does this come from? Did he respond to the argument? No. What has he been doing for a solid few minutes? “Anyway”. But James is never wrong?
—–

James: …one side has the facts…

Hussein: You are never wrong.

James: …in the argument, and the other side is just not going to answer the question

Hussein: Yeah, but you are never wrong! The Muslims are telling you, you have messed up a chapter from the Qur’an.

—–
Red herring.
—–

James: No sir, no sir I did not!

Hussein: No, but you are, hey! Your.. tutor..

James: Issam…

Hussein: Hold on…

James: …in quoting from memory as a Christian…

Hussein: …will you let me finish please?…

James: as an illustration of how this flows through the Syrian culture, missed one phrase…

Hussein: No, no!

James: and this is relevant?

Hussein: I’m not making that an issue! What I’m making an issue is, and the Muslims have a problem with you is, the way that chapter appears, you should have corrected your tutor, and you did not correct him, and you’re not willing to take into…

James: You know what, I will gladly let the listening audience compare…

Hussein: (loud interjection, can’t make it out)

James: what you just brought up with the fact that I have demonstrated that you.. that quoting Hadith 2982, or 957, is the same as saying Bible 3:16, it’s gibberish, you know it, and I know it..

—–
Personally, I would compare it to saying “commentary 5,18”. Which commentary? Is that a chapter? Page? It doesn’t matter, because you have no idea which commentary to use!
—–

Hussein: You know what, James White… hey

James: and the people listening know that, Hussein

Hussein: Dr. White, I know this is all about you. That’s why you have a problem.

—–
This is not the first time he’s made this sort of statement, nor is it the first time he’s been corrected. For instance: “I am convinced that he cares less about the Caner Brothers’ repentance but score some popularity from this saga.” Is that not criticizing a Christian in public? As well as: “All Christian leaders I have talked with who also work directly with Muslims agree with me that Dr. White has some major issues.” and “Dr. White is all about himself.” and “That was when I realized that Dr. White has an underlying problem, perhaps beyond these accusations of Dr. Caner being a liar.” and “I am utterly ashamed of Dr. White. In my opinion, he is a disgrace to the Reformed faith—sola scriptura—because of his meddling in this matter and his disregard of the scripture. He is tacitly helping Muslims with their war against Muslim converts to Christianity.” and “Oh my! I am glad to know I am not the only one. He is nuts.” Now, by this point, I hope you see the pattern of ad hominem argumentation. His responses are “to the man”, not to the argument.

Just a quick additional note to possibly help Hussein recognize what the problem here is.

Argument ad hominem is “to the person”. It is directed at who a person is, or to a person’s character, not to the statements or arguments of the person. For instance: Here is Dr. White addressing Ahmed Deedat: “Ahmed Deedat is a great example of this. So often his arguments were so shallow, so poor, so disjointed, and yet you will find men shouting Allahu akhbar! in response.” Is that ad hominem, or ad argumentum? Ad argumentum, of course. Compare that to “He is nuts.”

When I bring up fallacious argumentation, I am doing so in order to point out inconsistency. When one argues from one standard and applies it to someone else, yet do not apply those same standards to yourself, you are demonstrating that this is not what you yourself ascribe to functionally. It is inconsistency, and the sign of a failed argument. If Hussein wishes his arguments to be considered irrational, he should argue rationally.
——-

James: It’s all about me.

Hussein: Dr. White is never wrong. Yeah! Just like you are after these brothers, and it is all about making a name for yourself.

James: Oh, oh yeah, that’s, that’s what it’s all about. That’s why I somehow forced Ergun Caner to falsely claim to have debated Shabir Ally?

Hussein: oh my word, look at this, I mean you say they brag about this, that’s why no one is taking you seriously. You just say to them, they are the ones that are bragging about this, but you are the one who actually does it…

James: Yeah, that’s true.

Hussein: I mean, what does that say?

James: What does that say? It says that the next time I debate Shabir Ally, I’ll be able to look him in the eye and say I have sought to be consistent as a Christian in answering Islam, and in exposing those who are dishonest in what they say about Islam, and how they go about the ministry. That’s something that’s absolutely necessary to do.

Hussein: Yeah, but is debate really the only way to reach out to these people?

James: Where… again, how does that flow from what I just said?

—–
I’d like the reader to note that Dr. White has engaged in evangelism to Mormons for over 25 years. He has had very few debates with LDS representatives. His passion for evangelism to all kinds of men is very well-attested, and numerous examples of that passion for the Gospel can be found in his videos, articles, and yes, even his debates.
—–

Hussein: No, no!

James: Where did I just say that the only way to reach out to these people is by a debate? Where did I say that?

Hussein: You are talking about integrity in the way to debating muslims, but for me I just don’t get it I see a lot of you into all this, and sometimes you even…

James: Well sir, I’m sorry, but you’re wrong about that.

Hussein: (Loud interjection, can’t make it out)

James: You don’t know my heart… you don’t know my heart…

Hussein: I don’t know your heart, but you don’t…

James: But you’re simply…

Hussein: …know Caner’s heart either!

James: …wrong, that’s not the case. I would love to have avoided this entire mess, but there’s something called integrity, sir, there’s something called standing up for what’s right…

Hussein: Which only James White has.

James: and when someone stands before an audience and makes up his entire…

Hussein: Which only James White has. That’s what bothers me.

James: No, thankfully there are others who likewise have recognized that there is a real problem here.

—–
This is amazing. Dr. White has linked to very many people throughout the course of this – and some have also worked along similar lines and have not been linked to. TurretinFan, Gene Clyatt, Jason Smathers, Walt Chantry, and many, many others have also weighed in on this affair. To simply assert that Dr. White thinks he is the only one to possess integrity is absurd. Now, if you were to ask “which well-known apologists have shown integrity in this affair”, the list would be significantly smaller.
—–

Hussein: But who are others out there, Muslim scholars, who are Christians, I mean Islamic scholars, who are speaking out against it, against James White, and his followers

—–
Hussein faults Christians: “Dr. White is tacitly helping Muslims with their war against Muslim converts to Christianity.” Also, he has said: “Muslims look for opportunities to discredit ex-Muslims and even some Christians. He has given them a foothold and that should not widen the rift between Christians.”

Now, he is using Muslim argumentation? How is that consistent with his own position? How is this not “widening the rift between Christians”, by his own standard? How is he not “tacitly helping Muslims” here? How is he not taking advantage of “opportunities to discredit … *even some Christians*?”

This is inconsistent. Let me demonstrate. After this show, he sends this message to the originator of the accusations concerning Dr. White’s tutor. @YahyaSnow Who argues with @droakley1689, self-home-schooled student of Islam? You know very well, Yahya. What does he do, after all that talk about accepting things from Muslims? Note this: @HusseinWario…thanks for pointing my blog post out to white… It is in response to this: @DrOakley1689 You are in big trouble with Muslims over your debunking of @erguncaner Arabic http://tinyurl.com/22um3gp

Let me remind him of his own statement, and see if he is consistent with it. “Muslims are on a mission, please let us not aid and abet to their tactics that attempt to discredit the Caner Brothers, other Christians of Muslim background, Dr. James White, et al. We should give our brothers the benefit of the doubt before going global with what Muslims bring to our attention.”
—–

James: Islamic scholars who are what? I don’t have followers, first of all, sir, so I really don’t appreciate that kind of language.

Hussein: Okay, fine, fine, I take it back.

—–
I prefer friend, myself. If you’re going to be pejorative, however, at least use “loyal minion!”
—–

James: But the fact of the matter is, most people don’t even know about what’s going on with Ergun Caner. The news is gonna get out, if the right things are not done, and repentance and confession does not take place, but, I think even that’s too late now as far as the information getting out. The fact of the matter is, for you to accuse me of wanting to use this to get my name out there, is so amazingly absurd, and I can just simply tell you, it’s ridiculous.

Hussein: It looks like that to you, but it looks that way to me, okay?

—–
That’s a very postmodern comment. Not only that, but he just insinuated that Dr. White is lying about his intentions. Note earlier that he was offended by his (mistaken) impression that Dr. White was calling him a liar – but now he has no compunctions about doing the same.
—–

James: Well, I think for some reason you seem to be incredibly biased about this issue. Why is it? Do you have any evidence that Ergun Caner lived in Turkey, and was trained as a jihadist?

Hussein: Hey, you have no idea what happens in a madrassa, okay?

James: Do you…

Hussein: Hey, I cannot…

James: …have any evidence…

Hussein: I cannot say that he lived in Turkey, okay?

James: You can’t say that.

Hussein: Court papers say that he went to madrassa.

James: Okay, let me ask you a simple question. How do you explain, Hussein, that the same time that Ergun Caner is standing in front of audiences and television cameras, and telling them he lived in Turkey until 1978 or 1979, he’s telling AP reporters, and Turkish reporters, that he moved to the United States in 1969? How do you explain that?

Hussein: Hey, that Turkish reporter guy? I’m having it translated for me by a Turkish lawyer, okay? I don’t think that was a direct interview.

James: How about AP then?

Hussein: What I can say is this, Ergun Caner can answer his questions

James: So you’re not going to answer the question.

Hussein: Why am I going to answer for him? The problem I have is, you dismiss him, that he’s a fake, ex-devout muslim. And you don’t have any evidence to prove that.

—–
Note the diversion here. He has an answer for the first – or a potential answer, at least, but has no answer for the second. He was willing to answer the first, but now not willing to answer his questions? Inconsistency.
—–

James: I have tons of…

Hussein: You don’t have any!

James: …evidence, you just ignore it.

Hussein: You do not know this guy, you did not know this guy, okay?

James: So if the only evidence you can have is that I had to know him back then.

Hussein: no, no, no, Dr. White

James: Then you can’t know anything about history.

—–
For those who weren’t there, this was a principal argument in the Robert Price debate. Robert Price argued that we simply cannot know anything for certain from the Biblical accounts – or from anything in history. In fact, we couldn’t know anything unless we had multiple video attestations of an event!

If we have systematic doubt about historical events, even though we have documentation of them provided – we cannot know anything about history. Here Hussein is making a similar case to Robert Price. Despite the fact that we have documentation of where he was, when, we cannot know. This is what we speak of when we address “balance” in apologetics. If you are zeroed in on a certain topic, to the exclusion of all others, you tend to develop tunnel vision, and lose your balance as an overall apologist. Dr. White very, very often cautions his listeners not to only address one group of people. His consistency as an apologist, by the grace of God, lies in the fact that he not only engages with Muslims, but with Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Atheists, and a large variety of other groups. I attempt to vary my personal engagements as well.
—–

Hussein: This is where we have a problem. He went to madrassa. I gave an example of a 3-year-old, I have a link, on my blog, who was asked questions on tv, about some aspects of Islam, okay? Prophet Muhammad say, when a kid is 7 year old they have to be instructed, when they are ten (I can’t follow it, I know some is Arabic) and all that, they have to be, you know, (can’t make it out). He talk about that, Prophet Muhammad. The court documents clearly say they went to madrassa, I don’t know how long they went, do I go about and say they were never devout, I don’t even know, because you don’t know what transpires in madrassa. Other than what your muslim friends tell you. They have an ulterior motive, they tell you what you want to hear, or make the agenda – so because of that, maybe you need to make some apologies to these brothers for some of the things you have said which are not true.

—–
What does his having gone to madrassa for some unknown period of time have to do with whether or not he lived in Turkey, or was trained as a Jihadist? In fact, “to do that which was done on 9/11”, to use his own words? Nothing whatsoever. Just because one fact is verifiable, we ignore all of the other falsehoods? What sense does that make? Is that a sound argument? No, it is not. It’s called a “red herring.” An irrelevant fact thrown into the conversation to distract from the real issue under discussion. Further, is he seriously trying to tell us that it is typical for American Muslims in the 1970s to have been trained in terrorism? Even more pertinently, He’s only 4 years older than I am. This means that by his standard *he cannot know either*, as he was not in the US at that time. His own argument fails by his own standards!
—–

James: Okay, well, Hussein, thank you very much. I think that, even though we didn’t get into all of the questions and things I wanted to ask you, I think we’ve made the point pretty clearly.

Hussein: Thank you so much.

James: By the way, one other thing. I’m sorry. You did take a few shots at my church in your tweets.

————-
(Again, some context. Hussein asked me, of all people, about Dr. White’s church. Starting here, where he makes generalizations about Reformed churches: @LaneChaplin I am Reformed and know very well how our churches stink at evangelism. Time to put our passion and enthusiasm to godly use 🙂
I respond here: @HusseinWario Then you need to 1) Find a better church 2) Reevaluate where you get your evangelism definition. You can’t fault DrWhite there He replies here: @RazorsKiss What better church? Reformed churches are dying. How many people have become members of PRBC who had no church background? Also: @RazorsKiss Talk is cheap. Time for Dr. White to focus on his pastoral duties. Enough said about @erguncaner

Dying? Really? I’m left at this point wondering what churches he interacts with. Further, how am I supposed to know PRBC membership histories? I don’t even go there! Even if I did, what does that matter? So I replied: @HusseinWario That’s a very broad brush. I’m a reformed baptist – we’re always small. Talk is also cheap when you want unity w/o holiness.

He then asks a few more questions: @RazorsKiss Do you have a consistory at your Reformed Baptist church? Thursday, June 10, 2010 12:41:49 PM via web in reply to RazorsKiss My reply: @HusseinWario Nope. @HusseinWario We have a body of elders, however. Hussein replies: @RazorsKiss Do they call elders, pastors? My reply: @HusseinWario The teaching elder is most often called “pastor,” but they are all pastors. He then says: @RazorsKiss I was in Sedona last Sept-Oct. Almost came to Phoenix. Will look your church up next time. My reply: @HusseinWario I don’t go to PRBC, but both my church and PRBC have multiple elders. PRBC currently has two, we have 3.

For some reason, he also believes that all Reformed churches have consistories, engage in public announcements of repentance in a church service, and apparently that they all stink at evangelism. Perhaps his church does this, but not all do. If he ascribes to a R. Scott Clark viewpoint concerning what is or is not Reformed, in which case his comments would be accurate, he’s left explaining why he has labeled other churches as “Reformed” in the past.

Back to the transcript.

——-

(James:)…Can you explain on what basis, given that you say that I can’t say anything about the Caner situation since I wasn’t there. Have you ever been to my church?

Hussein: No, I’ve never been to your church.

James: Oh, okay. Alright.

Hussein: I asked Josh about your church – he told me a little bit about it….

James: Josh?

—–
Josh 2982 😉
—–

Hussein: …One of the guys on twitter, he doesn’t even… I don’t know his last name, but he goes by RazorsKiss – it seems like all of the Reformed people out there, they go by pseudonyms, and some of them don’t even reveal who they are…

——
Now, interestingly, I gave him a link to my bio quite a while ago – which gives more info than most people are comfortable with ME sharing. So that hardly applies to me. I’m surprised that he doesn’t know my last name, as well, since I provided him a link to that information. He just didn’t take me up on reading the link I offered. I just use an online “handle”. If he’s talking about TurretinFan (which would hardly be “most” Reformed people), I would direct him to this post: Pseudonymity and the Calvinists.
——-

Hussein: …Anyway, the problem I have with you, in my church, our pastor, he has a consistory, the consistory of the church, they kinda like keep an eye on what the pastor does and stuff, and the pastor has a lot of work to do? And it seems like you’re a minister, a pastor, an elder?

James: I’m one of the elders, that’s right.

Hussein: You have a lot of time on your hands to blog about other people. Had you been a member of my church, which is a Reformed church, they probably would have told you to stop doing that.

—–
While the reader may note, of course, that Hussein apparently has plenty of time to blog and tweet about other people himself. This irony escapes him, it seems.
—–

James: So, Hussein, you know I’m doing two debates next week with Muslims? You think I’m going to be prepared for those?

Hussein: Ahhh, I dunno, you’re probably going to be debating about the same issues you debate about all the time.

—–
Well, there you have it. Since debates are about the same issues he debates all the time, he probably doesn’t need much preparation time. As I’m sure my readers know, debates take a significant amount of preparation. Chiefly, because every opponent’s argumentation is different; secondly, because every opponent has said different things which must be responded to; thirdly, because every topic is slightly different, even if it is the same “debate topic”. I’ve listened to or watched a large portion of Dr. White’s debates by this point – and at least a hundred other debates that others have engaged in. I can assure Hussein – his assertion is not even remotely the case.
—–

James: So, when I debated Robert Price, which required hundreds of hours of preparation, did I show up unprepared?

Hussein: I don’t know, I’ll find out.

—–
I was at that debate. Robert Price is a man with a truly encyclopedic knowledge. There were literally dozens of directions he could have gone. To prepare myself to listen to this debate properly, I listened to 2 of Price’s prior debates, and several of his lectures. When Hussein makes these sorts of claims, he demonstrates that he isn’t very cognizant of what it is Dr. White does, or who the people are that he has debated. His assertions that Dr. White is “wasting time” in addressing a professed Christian debater who *does not debate* are resting upon a significantly shaky foundation, as you can see. He doesn’t know the subject he is addressing well enough to be making these sorts of claims. Dr. White has explained why he is addressing this subject, in great detail, on his blog.
——

James: You don’t know.

Hussein: But hey, you’re a smart guy. Maybe you should put your energy where you need to put it, okay?

—–
Such an amazing assertion. Hussein is telling Dr. White, a 25 year ministry veteran, where he should or should not spend his time – and it isn’t here. Not only that, but saying so on his show, to his audience. The hubris in this statement is incalculable. Not only that, but he was just saying recently that Ergun Caner wasn’t accountable to James White (not that Dr. White has ever insisted he was) – but now James White is accountable to Hussein Wario? Interesting.
—–

There were pleasantries exchanged, the phone call ended, and then Dr. White addressed a few of the issues directly after, and with the next caller. I transcribed this in order to do one thing. Demonstrate to Mr. Wario that contrary to his assertion that “My arguments can be weak (formulation) but the facts are straight.” – he has not only presented weak (and in fact fallacious) argumentation, but his “straight facts” are red herrings. There is not merely a minor problem, but a major problem! This sort of argumentation is not something to be overlooked, as long as “your facts are straight”.

Facts are not neutral, and they are not brute objects with no context, and no interpretation needed. All things must be seen in the light of Scripture, it’s call to holiness, and it’s call to wisdom that is from above. When we argue with either unbelievers, or believers, our argumentation and statements need to be transformed by the renewing of our mind – not in accordance with the world. We are not to assume ill of our brethren for no cause – and when we are confronted with sin, we must repent. When we confront our brothers, it must be in righteous judgment, not an unrighteous judgment.

I know this can be an emotional issue. I’m completely aware of this. However, what shall rule us? Shall our emotional state, or shall our renewed mind reign us in, through self-control over our members? The tongue is a raging fire, ladies and gentlemen. That small organ can drive us to shipwreck i nthe blink of an eye.

Do you want to know how we should think? Scripture tells us. “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” (Rom 12:3) Note a few things there. From faith comes understanding and sound judgment. This means that there is not only a command to judge soundly, but that it is possible to judge unsoundly. This also means that only by faith can we understand; as Augustine says, “I believe, in order that I may understand.” This is a key component in thinking God’s thoughts after Him, instead of following our vain imaginations. We are also not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. The key to our thinking is not self, but Christ. As Col 2 tells us, we are to attain “to all the wealth [fn] that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument.” Wisdom and knowledge is hidden in Christ. All wisdom and knowledge. We cannot think autonomously, from the foundation of self, and call our thinking Christian. If you are speaking, you must speak the truth in love. If you are defending the faith, it must be with both gentleness, and reverence. If you are seeking the truth, seek it through God’s word. Our brother James, and many of his friends are seeking to remove a reproach made upon the Gospel through dishonesty. Instead of joining with him, attending to the evidence which he and many others have amassed, in loving rebuke and reproof, with a public call to repentance, as Scripture demands, men are attacking the ones who have brought it to light. Listen to John 3. “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” Luke 11:35 reminds us: “Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness.” Romans 13:12 challenges us: “The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”

Eph 4 tells us: “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.” Do not be deceived! Instead, “if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus,
that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.” Notice that? The truth is holy. We are to speak truth, as we are all members of one another. The old self is corrupted by the lusts of deceit. Be renewed! Lay aside falsehood! Deceit is what brings disunity, brethren.

We are to put on the full armor of God, which protects us from the evil one. Stand firm! Gird your loins with TRUTH. You must do this before any of the armor will fit. I’m sure you can see the obvious application. Until we do so, none or armor will work, fit, or sit properly. We may as well be unarmored! The breastplate is of righteousness – we must be in the truth before we are acting righteously. Our feet are protected by the gospel of peace – and peace is never brought on the wings of a lie. The shield of faith will not cover us if we believe in a lie, not the truth! Faith has an object, and that object is THE Truth! Please, think about what you say, how you say it, and whether you are saying it in accord with Scripture. Be mindful of your words, knowing that you will be accountable for every idle word. Be mindful of your calling, of the high and precious Truth which we long to share – and always be mindful of opportunities to defend and confirm the faith. With truth and love, in gentleness and reverence.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. I humbly submit to my brothers who defend Dr. Caner’s history despite the lies he has been shown to have told – are you really speaking in truth? Are you really giving an answer in reverent fear of the Holy Lord? Remember whom you serve. Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.

Bahnsen and Bare Possibility

Historically, when David Hume and Immanuel Kant exposed the invalidity of the theistic proofs, apologists generally balked at returning to revelation as the basis for their certainty of God’s existence. They elected, rather, to maintain status in the the blinded eyes of the “worldly wise” by attempting to prove Christianity’s credibility by means of arguments that hopefully pointed toward the probability of God’s existence and Scripture’s truth. They settled for a mere presumption (plus pragmatic assurance) in favor of a few salvaged items (i.e., “fundamentals”) from the Christian system. Refusing to presuppose the sovereign God revealed in the Bible as the source of all material or logical possibility, and hence failing effectively to challenge or internally criticize the very feasibility of knowledge, logic, factuality, interpretation, or predication as based on the boasted autonomy of “free-thinkers”, apologists found their defenses razed by those who (likewise) postulated that bare possibility was a principle more ultimate than God. … By appealing to probability, apologists saw Christianity relegated to the museum of of mere religious hypotheses (i.e.. “possibilities”) rather than embraced as the actual truth of God.

~Greg Bahnsen (Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended; ch 1, pg 5)

Enough said. Don’t you think?

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