Archive for the ‘ Apologia ’ Category

Blessed be the Name of the Lord

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.”

I received a call I’d been half-expecting this morning, yet hoping I wouldn’t get. My wife called me, sobbing. They didn’t find a heartbeat this time. Our little girl was diagnosed several weeks ago with hydrops fetalis, a serious disorder where the interior of the body fills with fluid. She was called home sometime in the last day. We don’t know for sure. We don’t need to. What we do know for sure is this; God has a purpose for all things that come to pass. From the least to the greatest, His hand controls it all. I started packing up at work, knowing she would need me home, and knowing I needed to be home. A kindly friend at work took over for me, and I headed back. I’m not ashamed to admit that I sobbed then, too. I love children passionately, and I know I won’t see my daughter this side of heaven.

Yet, I don’t mourn as those who have no hope. I know my Redeemer lives. I trust him with my daughter’s eternal welfare as I trust Him with my wife, with myself, and with my other children. Implicitly. My God is true, He is faithful, He is gracious, He loves us all, and He is the God of HOPE. What hope could I possibly have in the world the atheist professes to believe in? I know, for certain, to the marrow of my bones, and to the depth of my soul, that there is hope, peace, and rest in my Savior. I have a depth of sorrow that I have never experienced before; I’ve never lost a child before, and I pray I never will again. This sorrow is tempered by the understanding that this mortal life is not the end. It is a mere beginning. It is the stage that God has set for His glory, and our good; even, dear brothers and sisters, this tragic event.

I learned, truly, today, how to hate. You always hear or watch the maudlin fist-shaking at God at times like these; it’s become fashionable to doubt, for uncertainty to be a part of “what it is to be human”. Friends, let me make this plain. I learned to hate today. I learned to hate sin. Sin, friends, is the bringer of death. It is the destroyer. Those wages were paid today, and my daughter was the recipient. I hate sin. Death has always been something at arm’s length from me; an abstraction. Something for the old, who have lived their appointed years in full, not something for the child in the womb, or the young. When you hold something as an abstraction, but do not yet grasp the horror that it truly is, you are somewhat insulated from it. I have been to a funeral, seen a corpse laid out at a wake; but this time, sin and death are in my household, and crouching at the door – and I no longer have merely an intellectual, abstract view of it. My wife, at this very moment, is still carrying our poor dead daughter in her womb, awaiting a delivery we will schedule shortly. Death is HERE. The curse has cast it’s baleful eye upon us, and it is terrible indeed to look upon.

Sorrow with us. Sorrow in hope, if you are of His people. Mourn with us, and rejoice in faith together with us that one day we will be reunited. If you are not one of His, and you read this today; please, consider your own time on this earth. Consider the death that awaits us all. Consider that without Him, there is no hope. There is only death, and that eternally. I do not, and I cannot, mourn without hope. I am a child of the King, and the King has taken to Himself what is His. She was under the curse; sick, weak, and crippled by sin’s result. Now, with David, I know that I will go to her, though she will not come to me. The Lord’s mercies are great, and I rest in them. If you are not one of His own; I plead with you to ask the Lord for the hope only He can grant. Salvation from sins, and the only redemption that man can obtain, though the death of Christ. All the world can give ends in death. God alone can grant life, and that eternally. I trust in that promise, and cling to it; therefore I have hope.

Only in the sovereignty, purpose, and faithfulness of God do we have an answer to give at all. Only if God turns even this great evil to good is there hope and a blessing to be found. Only in the bottomless love of the infinite Creator can be found sufficient comfort to mend the hurts we suffer. I cannot cling to doubt and act as if this is sufficient to tether me through life’s buffeting. The only foundation we may possibly have for the peace and comfort truly found in Christ is the soul-anchoring certainty of faith in the immutable God, sealed by the Spirit of Truth into the very depths of me. Doubt is soul-murdering separation for the sake of self. We cannot live that way without destroying that very self.

Hate sin, brothers. The Lord is faithful and just to forgive it; but we must learn to hate it. DEATH! Where is your victory? DEATH! Where is your sting? But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! We do not mourn like those who have no hope. Therefore, we must not answer like those who have no hope, either. This is why Christ must always be sanctified in our hearts. Not just to help our arguments. We cling to Christ, and He alone keeps us and sustains us. Only then can we be always ready to give an answer for the hope within us. It is built on the Rock, and His steadfast love for us. As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives.

Yesterday, I did some commenting on a post by Paul Manata entitled “Do All Men Know that God Exists?“.

In this post, he offers a couple possible responses he would consider Van Tillians to potentially offer, tells us he’s an “attenuated” Van Tillian (which is unsurprising, at best); we interacted in the comments for a bit, (complete with his typical ad hominem) and he returns today with a bit of screed, venting about Van Tillians. His problem, apparently, seems to be my “certainty”. Far be it from me to point out that he acts anything but uncertain, but I’m forced to wonder why he finds certainty to be so problematic.

First, I’m wondering if his “attentuation” of Van Til includes this:

“Man does not need to know exhaustively in order to know truly and certainly. When on the created level of existence man thinks God’s thoughts after him, that is, when man thinks in self-conscious submission to the voluntary revelation of the self-sufficient God, he has therewith the only possible ground of certainty for knowledge for his knowledge.” [1]

If he’d like to assert that this is only talking about an epistemologically certain basis, and not about our knowledge, I’d just like to point out that Van Til says “As God has self-contained being and all other being has created or derivative being, so also God has self-contained and man has derivative knowledge. In contrast with this all forms of non-Christian epistemology speak first of knowledge in general and introduce the distinction between human and divine knowledge afterwards.”[2]

Further; “…this can be maintained only if the very idea of authority as orthodox Christianity conceives of it on the basis of the Creator-creature distinction has first been discarded. If this distinction is maintained there can be no such dialectical relationship between the hidden and the revealed character of God. In that case God cannot, to be sure, ever reveal himself exhaustively. The mind of man is finite and knows only by thinking God’s thoughts after him. But what it knows it then knows truly. It has at its disposal the revelation of God. This revelation does not hide God while it reveals him; it reveals him truly, though not exhaustively.”[3] Van Til doesn’t dodge the question – he hits it head on. Only Scripture provides necessity, perspicuity, sufficiency, and authority.

So, let’s examine his recent offering, along with his initial one, and see whether it’s accurate and applicable; or whether it is “attenuated” as much as his “VanTillianism” is. Given I’m responding, essentially, to two posts + comments, this post won’t be attentuated 😉

Usually, these discussion don’t get anywhere. As Razor Kiss himself said, he’s “certain” he’s right.

Usually, discussions with these nuevo-Vantillians don’t get anywhere. As Paul himself said about me; I’m an “ostensible” “hard-core Van Tillian”, “it doesn’t take much for [me] to be ‘certain’ about matters”, “this discussion will probably be pointless” – after all, I’m “simply not prepared to have the discussion,” “perhaps… in belief-preservation mode,” “totally unresponsive,” I “want to see (presuppositionalism) chained to the basement,” “never bothered to understand” his post, mockingly claims I’m “Dr. Razor Kiss” (misspelling my name, yet again, as he does in the title of his latest post…), “right-wing Van Tillian”, “par for the Van Tillian course” – of course – and after all, I’m just a “Van Tillian epologoist.” But hey – I’m probably just “overreacting”, in my “knee-jerk response.” Not to mention, apparently, I “now admit [I] totally overreacted.” Small world. Here I thought we weren’t to be certain. Far be it from me to point out inconsistency… besides, after all, I can’t be “lecturing” on the history of epistemology when you, of course, can do it instead directly after – can I? But I digress. (Cue muttering about pots, kettles.)

This puts a damper on any positive discussion to be had. In fact, it’s pretty much means-end irrational for me to respond to someone with this attitude.

Yeah. Yet you do. Better make certain that your lack of certainty is kept unsullied that attitude of certainty. Just take potshots instead.

Van Tillian epologists…

I see what you mean. You do write for Triablogue, after all. What would you call that title, incidentally? Attenuated VanTillian epologist?

…make debates hard because they are certain they are right

I would have to agree. Debates with folks who are certain they’re wrong, or uncertain they are right or wrong would be fairly quick affairs.

…they are certain that no one could argue with them unless they presupposed the Van Tillians were right

Well, you know what Bahnsen said. Learn to dodge bullets, or learn to take away the gun. But really, Paul, we both know this is a strawman in the context you intend it. I’m sure you get a lot of rhetorical mileage out of it, but it’s really just dancing down the yellow brick road with you, singing showtunes.

…and they are certain that all who disagree with them are bent on defending and protecting the sinful attitude of intellectual autonomy, so interlocutors are viewed as motivated to argue by love of sin

I think you’ve watched *WAY* too much Red Beetle. As in, so much that you need an intervention. Of course, hes Clarkian – but you haven’t bothered to be accurate so far – why start now? I mean, really Paul. Any Van Tillian worth his salt will go directly to the passages Van Til writes about that express the fact that what is in view is inconsistency, not necessarily “love of” sin. For all I know, it could be ignorance. I’m really not interested anymore by now, as it seems we have to wade through insults by the gallon to get a response from you. Be that as it may, I’m far less interested in your autobiographical depiction of “Van Tillians” than I am with giving an accurate picture of what Van Til actually says. Hence, you know, Van Tillian. Whether or not your impression of Van Tillians is the case, what on earth does that have to do with the principles of the matter? If it is the case, they are guilty of obscurantist arrogance, or as VT calls it, being worse than their principles. It is still autobiographical in nature, and has nothing to do with the merits of the system.

Not only that, Van Tillian epologists

Sure, Paul. Tell you what, I’ll just call you “the attentuated VanTillian epologist” from now on, just to be consistent.

…claim that Van Til’s position was exclusivist and utterly unique

Well, it was exclusivist. Unique? Not so much. He doesn’t argue that, I don’t argue that. Unique as in putting it all together systematically? Only partially. Wouldn’t want to bore his little eyeballs with a lot of text, though. We Van Tillian Epologists (as opposed to Attenuated Van Tillian Epologists) have to keep our reputation for brevity.

…such that any “non-Christian” position cannot be attribute to Van Til’s view.

The best I can say for this is that it’s unintentionally correct.

Thus they argue that TAG is not a deductive argument, it’s an utterly unique argument.

Yes, that’s totally crazy – given both Van Til AND Bahnsen say the same. Just madness! Let’s not bother with logic needing a transcendental foundation, or anything. Let’s just assert assertions assertively until the rhetoric sticks, shall we?

They argue that man is not a dualism, he’s an utterly unique thing

Yes, let’s just simplify it down monumentally to utterly ignore the context of any such claims, not bother to cite where this is supposedly coming from. Let’s just make a naked assertion, and not bother to examine anything about it. Good idea. Let’s.

…they argue that Van Til wasn’t foundationalist, coherentist, internalist, or externalist, he was some utterly unique thing.

The Attentuated Van Tillian Epologist makes the assertions that Van Til was (“apparently”, so as not to be considered one of those certain people, for land’s sake!) an internalist, and let’s just not consider historical conceptions, or even Van Til’s own position. Tension is such an equalizer – and so is lack of source material. Inconvenience is such a bother, after all, and it’s so much more convenient to make bare assertions, or second-hand claims.

Thus Van Til transcends all distinctions, which, while making for a bear of a time to try and understand his view, also conveniently isolates him from any criticism!

Or, maybe, just maybe the Attentuated Van Tillian Epologist isn’t extending the same courtesy in this case that he extends to Plantinga with his (more or less) novel conception of warrant. Oh, and doesn’t bother to cite or respond to Van Til. But let’s not sweat the little things. We shouldn’t be certain about this, after all. Attentuate the differences.

As for the argument in his initial post, what he presents is fairly straightforward; if rather biased, anachronistic, and not particularly compelling.

[1] The two positions to take on justification or warrant are, broadly, either internalist or externalist.

But [1] “as it stands, is vague. Almost all sides could agree with [1] as stated, though they would also disagree with each other as to what [1] means.”

Does that about size it up? I thought so. Don’t get certain about your position, though. I wouldn’t want to have to get ends/means irrational to respond.

But seriously, your consistency and/or precision here aside – why are you saying that it’s an either/or proposition here, even “broadly”? You seem to be saying that this is a dilemma – but it’s only a dilemma if there is not an alternative to your presentation of “internalism/externalism” as the sole options. My response indicated that I don’t accept that to be the case. Further, I said that this would be anachronistic if applied to Van Til, given that he generally predates that debate. Your response of today smacks of sensationalism. Are you really trying to suggest that because modern philosophers apply their own categories to ancient philosophers that their categories are de facto the only available options by which other philosophers can be categorized? Really?

For instance, you say:

“Apparently Van Til held to an “analogical epistemology.” Which means he wasn’t an internalist? How, exactly?

For much the same reason a Thomist isn’t an Arminian. Hold on, chaining presup to the basement. brb.

Okay, that’s taken care of. Moving on.

Another one is that Van Til was on the scene before Gettier and was part of an older school of epistemology. And this means he wasn’t an internalist, how, exactly? Many have noted that the likes of Plato, Descartes, & co. were internalists, and if Van Til was pre-Gettier, then they were (if I’ve done my math right).

Okay, let me say this really slowly, so your “defensive” doesn’t kick in all at once. You did do your math right, by the by. Just giving you some feedback. I’m listening over here. Just because some folks categorize the old school blokes by some modern schema doesn’t make it so. Getting that? For instance, just because I call Pelagius an Arminian doesn’t make him an Arminian. He’s still a Pelagian, in the context of his own statements concerning his doctrine. They differ from those of Arminianism, and have unique features not accounted for by Arminianism. In short, it’s not Arminianism. I don’t care how many cage stage “Attentuated Arminians” say so – it’s just not the case. Further – saying that it is the case, just more loudly and more frequently, does not demonstrate your assertion either. Arguments from “apparently” don’t cut the mustard. General vague citations don’t cut the mustard either. Ignoring the context of the things I cite doesn’t cut the mustard either.

For instance, Sudduth.

“Hence, it is possible that while Van Til’s meta-epistemology is logically consistent with Plantinga’s (indeed both may be versions of modest foundationalism), an incompatibility emerges at the substantive level. For instance, was Van Til an internalist or an externalist? Did he think that knowledge required the satisfaction of a deontological constraint or not? (Or can we say how he *would* come down on these questions if informed about them?).

Note the context. Was Van Til – Did he think – can we say how heif informed – what is Sudduth saying, my Attenuated Van Tillian Epologist friend?

“I suspect that part of the problem in sorting all this out is that Van Til was writing before the widespread popularity of the justified true belief account of knowledge (and post-Gettier variations thereof). 19th and early 20th century theories of knowledge tend toward what Alston has called the *intuitive conception* of knowledge, roughly, that knowledge is either a direct presentation of an object to consciousness and whatever we can deduce from such presentations. This is clearly foundationalist in nature, but such theories do not restrict their attention to propositional knowledge, but also include knowledge by acquintance. Hence, we’re dealing here with a different sort of animal than the staple of most contemporary analytic philosophers.”

Now, as fond as I believe you are of analytic philosophy, I think that you didn’t read this section with sufficient care. You’re saying Sudduth says, merely, that presup has flexible views. You then cited precisely what I did above – and come to an entirely different conclusion than I do. I wonder why this is, my Attenuated Van Trillian Epologist friend? Sudduth doesn’t say he is either one – mentions foundationalism in passing, but brings out that Van Til wasn’t informed about either one. I don’t care what you are arbitrarily calling him, or who else calls who else what – because it makes about as much sense as any other anachronistic category you try to shoehorn a Gill or Turretin into. It’s all hypothetical, using modern terms shoehorned onto historical categories. I’m sorry, but the point is simply that Van Til is being *considered* – by whoever’s categories, not his own – as vaguely internalist or externalist – which are categories foreign to his context. He *isn’t*, in fact. It would be just as feasible to ask whether Athanasius took Owen’s view on double jeopardy – and just as useless. Or as useless as mapping the precisions of modern epistemology onto Paul in Romans 1, maybe? Oh, yeah. On the contrary, Van Til goes to great pains to be extremely systematic in his method of how we are to govern philosophy by theology – including epistemology. Whether you consider this to be persuasive – or even true – or not really isn’t anything more than autobiographical, given your conception of certainty – is it?

Now, to respond to your “popularist” argument: Dude, who are you kidding about popular. Are you seriously trying to tell me that “Van Tillianism” is “popular” out there? You don’t specify anyone in particular. You don’t even state “their” supposed claim. You call it “Van Tillianism”. I’m about as run-of-the-mill a VTer as there is. There’s nothing special about me. Your argument doesn’t apply to me. I can’t even think of who it would apply to. You don’t tell us. Its just tossed out there, with no definition as to what you’re talking about, re: Van Tillianism. Later, you try to clarify this, but I can’t exactly be faulted for objecting on the grounds of… Van Til… can I? Apparently, this is the case for you. So, it’s the “popular kids” your argument applies to? Wouldn’t you be one of the popular kids? You, Hays, Frame? Anderson? Don’t most of them agree with you already? It’s not like the airwaves are burning up with Van Til in the first place. However, you’re trying to turn a long-standing doctrine (which you admit is supported by a good many commentators, incidentally; and we could go back and forth- on their basis – on what is meant by the knowledge of God a long time) upside down on the grounds of your preferred philosophical movement’s terms. Van Til and Bahnsen do, in fact, argue for their presented conception of the knowledge of God – and you don’t deal very much with it. The most significant problem for this, however, is that you tell us on one hand not to press modern epistemology onto Romans 1; but on the other hand, make an argument from modern epistemological terms there is some dilemma involved in the conception Van Til presents. You, as an “Attentuated Van Tillian” do precisely what you tell Van Tillians not to do, for precisely the reasons you say not to do them.

Another objection by RK is that it’d be anachronistic to ask whether Van Til held to JTB or was internalist or externalist. He makes the claim that these things are 30 or 40 years old! I’ll just let that simmer.

So, are you saying Sudduth is wrong as I quoted above, or not? 😉 I’ll just let that simmer.

Anyway, it’s not anachronistic.

Yes it is. Same way it’s anachronistic to call John Gill a fundamentalist.

Sure, older epistemologists had other concerns and didn’t situate matters the way analytics would…

Oh, so I’m right. Thanks for admitting it, finally.

This. Is. The. Point. Speculating is all you’re doing, and it’s actually anachronistic to apply terms backwards like you, and apparently your favorite philosophers are doing. Please examine the point I’m making about anachronistic theology, and the parallel it has with this. I actually have an article planned on Van Til’s epistemology, so you’ll just have to wait on it – but it’s NOT like it’s that hard to quote the dude, given how much he wrote on the subject. Seriously. At least try? A little? Show how he is, or is not an internalist. Maybe you’re all into the uncertainty thing, but those of us who would like a yes to be yes or a no to be no are still waiting. Is it the case, or is it not the case that Van Til IS an internalist? If so, please offer an argument.

…but JTB goes back to Plato…

Really? Oh, you mean modern dudes SAY it does, not that it actually was used by Plato.

…and many, many ancient philosophers have been described with such contemporary terms as “internalist,” “externalist,” “infallibilist,” etc.

That’s nice. I’ll just describe, say, Gill as “Christian Reconstructionist”. Therefore, a modern has described some old dude as something. It seems to be the case, therefore, that Gill is a Christian Reconstructionist.

Let’s just make sure we’re not too certain about that. (brb again – rechaining presup to the basement)

Seriously, now. He’s not an “internalist” for the same reason Gill isn’t a “Christian Reconstructionist”, that’s why. Or a Van Tillian. Or a Fundamentalist. Even, if you prefer, an Attentuated Van Tillian – whatever. The terms just don’t apply. He has his own context, his own body of writing which is quite capable of defining what he is all by it’s ‘ittle ‘onesome.

So his claim is simply confusing, and it doesn’t help that he argues for it by saying to go read books on epistemology and the SEP. This simply reveals he hasn’t read those things.

No, that’s most certainly (make sure you fleeeeee) not the case. Actually, buddy – pal – it reveals that you’re making incredibly surface-level objections to a system with quite a bit in print on the subject of epistemology – and you dealt with exactly none of it. To top it off, you’re using analytic terminology to describe someone who is not only a non-analytic philosopher, but who pretty much rejects any non-Christian meaning of any terminology such as that. For instance:

“Men in general do not use or even know our theological terms. But to the extent that they are educated, they have had some training in secular philosophy. They have a no-Christian familiarity with the categories of God, man, and the universe. If we are to speak to them to win them, it is necessary to speak their language…[4]

Interestingly,VT’s footnote on that page says “When they used the term logos, must they be thought of as followers of Philo’s non-Christian thought because they used that term?” Hopefully, the relevance should be apparent, given our Attenuated Van Tillian Epologist’s shock, dismay, and mass confusion at the very idea that Van Til, horror of horrors, may actually consider himself (or, even, his followers, the dreaded right wing Van Tillians! gasp!) as other than within the typical categories of secular philosophy. That this is along with every other Christian, in principle, seems to not cross his plate, but we’ll pass over that for now, and continue.

“…we need to use the language of the philosophers. But most philosophers have no been Christians. At any rate philosophical language has to a great extent been formed under non-Christian influence. Is it not likely then that we shall, if we use the language of the philosophers, also import into the Christian scheme of things the problems of philosophy as these have been formulated by non-Christian people? … The answer is that we shall be obliged, to a large extent to use the language of the philosophers or we shall have no point of contact with them. But we shall have to be on guard to put Christian content into this language that we borrow.”[5]

[2] If one is an internalist about justification or warrant, then one sets the bar of knowledge too high such that not all men could have knowledge of God because not all men have access to the adequacy of the justifying grounds of the belief under question.

Okay, great. Alternatively, we could use Van Til’s own conception of knowledge. You don’t give it, and incidentally, I don’t care what Bahnsen uses or thinks VT uses. What does Van Til say? He’s wrote a big honkin lot on it – didn’t he?

[3] If one is an externalist about justification or warrant, then the “no conscious believed defeater” constraint means that not all men have knowledge of God because some believe that belief in God is defeated for them, and one cannot know what they believe to be defeated.

Or, we reject the analytic terminology. So, where’s the argument, and when do you deal with Van Tillianism, instead of various “attenuations” like yours? In all seriousness – when you use the guy’s name, you have to, have to, have to deal with the guy. If you’re “attentuating”, by the nature of the case, you’re definitionally “other” by virtue of the attenuation. I’m really not concerned with what you define Van Tillianism as, because you’ve already demonstrated that it’s in your interest to “keep the tent big” so that it fits you. For whatever reason, you want the “status” of “Van Tillian” – but you define it both to exclude yourself in one sense, but include yourself in another. By leaving it vague, you leave yourself room to wiggle.

[4] Therefore, either one sets the bar of knowledge too high such that all men do not know that God exists, or the no conscious believed defeater constraint is such that all men do not know that God exists.

Or, you just reject the artificial analytic constructions, and wait for the argument against Van Tillianism.

[5] Therefore, not all men know that God exist.

He cites several sources as support: First, James Anderson:

One evident weakness of Van Til’s epistemological arguments is that he nowhere supplies an analysis of knowledge or displays much awareness of distinctions now commonplace in contemporary epistemology: foundationalism versus coherentism, justification versus warrant, overriding defeaters versus undercutting defeaters, and so on. Van Til should not be judged too harshly for this, since such epistemological niceties were not brought to prominence until near the end of his career.[6]

Second, the NBCD constraint. He says he takes it to be the case that I say yadda yadda. He doesn’t say how he knows, just that he does. Very well. In the section he cites, I’m responding to Dominic Tennant, who says “Then how does he resolve the issue of defeaters for knowledge in unbelievers?”

The response to follow is that you don’t give them more weight than they deserve. That what is really the problem is not, as Paul and DBT state, that they “believe” there is a defeater – but that they are deceiving themselves that they believe this. So, yes, I do tell them they are lying – because the Bible says that they are lying. They 1) Suppress the truth and 2) Exchange it for a lie. Bahnsen’s paper speaks of “the unbeliever’s suppressed belief about God,” and quotes VT who says “It is against the content of faith as belief in God that man has become an unbeliever.” Further, he tells us “what is essential in self-deception is that people hold a false belief.”

So, yes, they are, in fact, lying. To God, to themselves, and to me. You can “take this to be radical in the extreme” all you want – but that’s autobiographical. “Not even claims of self-deception go this far, for they allow that people believe the propositions they are self-deceived about.” I’m sorry, what is it you call deception again? Is this really problematic? If so, why would “deception” being called “lying” be somehow an issue? cf: “When self-deception is intentional, then, I propose that it is a self-covering intention.” So, why aren’t they lying? What are they exchange it for? A bowl of truth and goodness? Jacob, apparently, was telling his father the truth about who he was when he went in for that birthright, by golly. Is that it? Seriously?

But RK is committed to claiming that unbelievers don’t even believe that God’s existence has been defeated for them.

Quote me. Oh, yeah, that’s right. You’re wrong. They believe it – and LIE. Because it is a self-deceptive belief. A false belief. They know God – they suppress that knowledge – and exchange it for a lie – and say they are unbelievers.

Lastly, he later says he can call the unbeliever a liar because revelation has told RK that the unbeliever actually knows God at all times. Really now? Isn’t that precisely what we’re debating? I assume the infallibility of the Bible too, and I don’t think the exegesis gives us that conclusion. Of course, any Christian worth his salt would say that IF the Bible did reveal that all men had propositional knowledge of the God that exists, and this knowledge was diachronic, and so held at all times (sleeping?), and so indefeasible, then we’d agree all men have it and that it could never be defeasible. But this is what we’re debating, and so this is an egregious beg of the question. I thought we were supposed to build our philosophy and apologetics as much as we can from exegesis, not the other way around!

I’m sorry, when did I say that there were many “possible” interpretations of this passage? I don’t recall doing so. I don’t recall saying, or implying, that any supposed philosophical position was the reason for my exegesis, either. In any case, as you seem to be the one with the certainty issue here, might I direct you to my confession – which unlike the WCF, actually specifically says that the Scripture provides certainty. “The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience.” As, of course, it is the case that it does so – whatever your lack of certainty uncertainly provides you, in this case – I know that this is the case. I am certain that this is true. It’s not my problem that you aren’t certain of the text’s meaning. That seems to be, as far as I can tell, your problem. I further know, for certain, that the Spirit guides us into all truth. Whether or not you’re certain of this is, again, not my problem.

He goes on with an extended diatribe mocking what I’m supposedly saying, in various technical terms (which I didn’t use), he says that he has provided “exegetical” grounds for rebutting my claim that all men know God. Where? A list of people who disagree? His claim that there is “textual ambiguity”? That commentators disagree? Where does he actually deal with the text itself, other than casting doubts on some other position? I did a lot more dealing with the text itself than he does.

“RK made much of the claim that we needed to have common ground with the unbeliever, and so why isn’t the fact of the imago dei coupled with their warranted true beliefs enough for this? We can preserve common ground, and we can avoid the problematic implications of the austere Van Tillian reading of the apostle Paul. Doesn’t this view have all or most of the benefits of what Van Til was after? This seems more sensible, especially given the philosophical arguments as well as the troublesome issues of exegeting the text in such a specific way? The strong position of RK is underdetermined by the text, and Van Tillians would do well to realize that many of their bold and ambitious claims are actually undetermined by revelation and are also subject to philosophical problems. ”

What does Paul mean here by “imago dei”, since, given he “attentuates” his Van Tillianism? If he was a Van Tillian, I’d have a tons of references for what he’d be saying, but since, as he has shown, he really means “drop part of this Van Tillian stuff” by “attentuate” – this not only might, but necessarily, affects how he’s dealing with the rest of the “facts” he encounters. So, since he doesn’t elaborate, I don’t know.

It’s funny – the vaaaaast majority of his argument is directly philosophical. He barely touches on theology at all, let alone exegete the text he’s dealing with. The problem, Paul, is that only one of us is really laying his cards out on the table. I’m well aware that you have an axe to grind. You’ve been sharpening it for us in public for several years now. Neither one of us is neutral, here. So acting like you’re just shocked about these crazy right-wingers just doesn’t play. The only reason you’re getting a response like this, Mr. Manata, is because you responded to me the way you did. I intentionally tried to be respectful, but all I got was a backhanded apology, with a few more shots thrown in. Not exactly what I was looking to receive, but sadly, not unexpected, given your track record. Not the content – which is fairly typical of the folks “moving away” from Van Til – but the attitude. Good gravy, dude, I’ve had far nicer responses from atheists! If you’re good and insistent on thinking everything I say is going to be filtered through the canon of analytic philosophy, it just ain’t gonna happen. I’m not a philosopher by training, nor do I claim to be. However, I do think you need to really, really take a step back and think about the sort of claims you make about philosophical topics. I don’t see any reason to be as bombastic as you have been about internalism, et al. It’s fairly obvious that only by importing modern terminology back into a foreign context can you call Van Til an “internalist” – since that debate took place later on. If that’s all you have to do the superior act with, spare us all the trouble of lecturing – especially given that you, good sir, are the one who made the claim that he was an internalist.

Really, folks, the issue I’m having with his post(s) is simple. As much as he tries to spin it away from the subject, the issue is actually very simple. Is man’s knowledge of God the basis for all other knowledge, or not? Given his position, I don’t think that this is the case. If they can have warranted true belief withouta priori knowledge that God exists, we’ve given the field away. Their knowledge that God exists (if they get there) is based on reason, not on revelation. Those who claim God doesn’t exist, by what he has told us, do not know God exists. They are morally culpable for believing this, however, falsely – but they cannot be said to know God exists, as they do not believe God exists. This is what I find problematic, and insurmountable, in this schema. To quote: “It is the knowledge that the unbeliever would have, absent any unreasonable defeaters.” Okay, and since the point is being made that they do not believe God exists, it has just been denied, per their schema, that they know God exists. While this is part of what makes it inexcusable – this denial or suppression of the truth – does this not strike us as entirely unreasonable to actually assert that the unbeliever does not know, however unreasonably, that God exists? Further, is it not problematic to bring in such a concept as “would have known” when such is not in view? Maybe it’s just pushing my possibility buttons – but I highly doubt it. Recall that at the beginning of the initial post, the statement is made that “Almost all sides could agree with UKT as stated” – UKT being defined as “All men have knowledge of God.” Does it seem clear to anyone that what is really meant by this is “all men would have, in the absence of unreasonable defeaters, known that God exists”? I don’t think the conclusion begin offered agrees with UKT, as stated. In fact, it denies it, at least in some cases. All men do not have knowledge of God on this view – but merely in the absence of unreasonable defeaters. Since, obviously, and as even Paul admits this, any defeater for this would be unreasonable, we have limited the scope of those who have knowledge down by a sizable amount.

So, as we can see – this position is far from strong, and doesn’t even meet the UTK thesis. It eschews certainty – at least in Mr. Manata’s conception of it – and as far as I can tell, leaves the unbeliever’s basis for knowledge out in the weeds somewhere. Just basically, having said all this? He’s demonstrated exactly why VT is saying we present things as a unit. Where this has brought him is to telling someone in his comments that we should offer a cumulative case apologetic – albeit including TAs of various sorts, if not TAG.

As I said in my initial comment – the issues he’s having are theological – and those theological issues are affecting him everywhere else. Whether it’s because he let his philosophy overrule his theology at some point, or if his conception on some point of theology wasn’t sufficiently robust, I don’t know. It would take even more time, and more e-ink history than he’s spilled on his current blog incarnation. Just in case anyone was wondering – no, I’m not upset. Snarky? Yes. A tad annoyed at how much ad hom he’s willing to dish? Yes. Upset, not really. This little exchange has been waiting in the wings for a while, because he comes up in (at least my) conversation in “right-wing” Van Tillian circles. In fact, I probably upset a couple apple carts by getting into this discussion at all – but it was an excellent opportunity to pick his brain a bit.


  1. [1]Christian Apologetics, 77
  2. [2]Ibid., 32
  3. [3]Defense of the Faith, 4th Ed, 151
  4. [4]DotF, 45
  5. [5]Ibid., 46
  6. [6]If Knowledge, then God, Anderson,

Immorality and Brute Facts

My last post examined the bare assertions made by our erstwhile evolving atheist, Jason Burgoyne. In this post, we will examine the comment that he feels sufficiently answers the issues I raised with his eisegetical treatment of 2 Samuel 12, and his previous (now-removed, with the excuse that he failed to “check his source” sufficiently) post wherein he posts a fabricated substitution for a verse in the book of Numbers, as Staks Rosch suggests in this blog.

Unfortunately, the comment amounts to a rambling, emotive, and invective laden screed, devoid of logical argumentation of any sort whatsoever. A friend of mine calls this approach “the three As – asserting assertions assertively.”

He was offered an internal critique of his own position. Instead of answering the critique, he simply repeats the same naked assertions so often leveled by unbelievers. The lack of introspection evidenced in his response, and the amount of personal investment shown is also a clear sign of emotive, irrational argumentation – so-called.

Here is the justification offered for his superficial treatment, and question-begging. My comments will be interspersed throughout.

It was only meant to be a short look into the atrocities in the book that is meant to inform our morality (In the eyes of Christians).

What sense does “atrocity” make when you have no moral foundation save subjective, arbitrary fiat? What sense does it make for a naturalist, evolutionist, atheist to be speaking about subjects such as “morality”? Morality is an immaterial – has no evidence for it’s existence, per the mantra so often chanted by the materialist hordes.

To be speaking of “morality” is to be spouting gibberish, per their worldview. However, not only are we speaking of “morality”, but “atrocity”. What physical scale may we measure the morality of acts by? What empirical measure do we follow to arrive at the dividing line between “immoral” and “atrocious”?

Further, what ever gave you the idea that the Bible is meant merely to “inform” our morality?

It is pretty clear who the rapists would be (the neighbors who would lie with the wives in public)

You know, the neighbors. The word is רֵעַ – a close relative, a friend, someone intimate with you. In just a few chapters, Absalom, David’s son, fulfills this prophecy. If our friend here had done as I had suggested, he would know this. Further, he would know that the phrase “in broad daylight” (in the better translations) is, literally, in sight of the sun. Openly. The immediate context – ie: the very next verse – tells us how we are to understand this. David sinned secretly, but the usurper will sin *openly*. I always find is fascinating when unbelievers approach these issues as if we have no idea about them. This is probably one of the best-known scenes in all of Scripture. There are volumes upon volumes in print concerning just this one passage, and everything surrounding it. God is not saying “there will be a public orgy”. Such a thing makes absolutely no sense in the context of Israel. He’s saying that as he has taken another man’s wife from him, so another man will take his wives from him. Except, while David did so in secret – the other will do so openly.

and the immorality of striking down a CHILD with sickness is evident and needs no further examination.

Why? How does your worldview provide the preconditions for 1) any sort of conception of morality at all 2) a conception of morality which is non-subjective 3) a conception of morality which carries the “ought” along with it?

Second, by whose standard of “evidence”? I haven’t seen you give any evidence to *be* evident. You’ve merely proclaimed, by fiat, that such is the case. Why should anyone care that your opinion happens to be such?

Thirdly, who on earth ever told you facts were “brute” or “uninterpreted”? The central question in any debate is the meaning of the facts. You are simply assuming your own pet meaning for anything you encounter – but unlike me, you’re not laying your cards on the table. Simply calling names like “immoral” without justification for doing so is less that useless – it’s senseless.

The verse following clearly states that GOD strick him with illness and that he dies 7 days later YOu attempt to defend this immoral and terrible verse with a mocking look at how short it is, but no amount of explanation can undo the evil of killing a child who i innocent for the crime of another

Typing in all caps denotes yelling, thus giving the impression that you are being emotive in your assertions here – I decline to grace them with the term “arguments”. By your standard, every person who dies makes God a murderer. Such a standard is not only ludicrous, but egregiously arbitrary. Second, you use terms like “terrible” – on what grounds do you apply this to the actions of God? Third, you use “immoral”, yet again. You have yet to offer anything non-arbitrary as a supposed foundation for these seemingly odd assertions.

“Morality is a subjective conversation that best decides on how to enact the “My rights begin where yours end” tenet.” – From this post. Okay, so if morality is subjective – where do you get off telling anyone else what is and is not moral, please? Subjective morality is solely self-referential, by definition. Second, on what possible basis can this immaterial concept make any sense whatsoever in a naturalistic worldview? The very notion is absurd, when you are sufficiently self-reflective concerning the inconsistency between the various parts of your worldview.

Finally – I will note this only in passing – I sure hope our erstwhile atheist is against the murder of unborn children in the womb, for consistency’s sake in the immediate sense. Ultimately, however, he still has no reason to be.

Second, I have thanked you for pointing out my error in not checking my source for the original post, but you continue to delight in your childish victory after I apologized and posted a retraction.

Not in the slightest, and your insistence on seeing it as such begins to look like simple projection. Your “source” is entitled “create your own Bible verse”. I’m still finding it amazingly difficult to believe you could be that clueless. That boggles my imagination.

The point remained the same, and your defense of the actions that I referenced was weak and immoral.

The point remained the *same*? Gang rape as “penance” for sin? Penance is a Roman Catholic invention. There is no such thing in the Old Testament. The sacrifices atone for sins – a symbol pointing forward to the atonement of Christ to come, in which they have faith in as Old Testament believers. Further, repeated gang rape? Really? How is that even *remotely* similar to your second objection? In that case, it’s one man and a bunch of women. If you actually knew the context, that is.

Further, saying my “defense” was “weak and immoral” is completely unsubstantiated. You don’t even TRY to prove your assertions. You just, dare I say it, dogmatically spit your preconceptions back when challenged – instead of making any sort of rational case. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say there was indoctrination involved. You yourself say your morals are subjective. Yet *constantly* you assign your subjective “oughts” to the objects you are writing to. That is the opposite of subjective, Jason.

The fact that you choose to defend the murder of a child as “not heavily examined enough” is terrible and an insight into your own morality. The fact that you can hear, “a child was murdered” and you need to hear the whys and how comes before you can determine if it was a moral act is very telling of you.

So, because I don’t bow to King Jason’s subjective feeeeelings, I’m being a nasty ‘ol rotten scoundrel. Gee, thanks. Here I was thinking I’d get an actual argument, finally. Okay, no, not really. I’m still expecting naked assertions and emotive, unsubstantiated nonsense. That’s all I get, as we can see. Does Jason even attempt to make an argument, or does he, throughout this response, resort solely to autobiography? Given that he simply assumes “murder” – simply assumes “rape” – with neither being present in the text itself, I think it’s safe to say that we have mere rhetoric (and rather heavy-handed and wooden, I might add) being substituted for reasoned argumentation. Yes, Jason, it’s customary to consider things for greater than 1.4 seconds before reaching one’s conclusion on a matter. It’s actually customary to study what is being presented, instead of inserting one’s own preconceptions willy-nilly. Yes, it’s customary to consider that words actually mean something, instead of assigning whatever meanings we prefer them to have, regardless of the author’s intent, the context of the text, and the easily-found references made to the surrounding story, of which it is part. Yes, Jason, when reaching a conclusion foreign to practically every reader of this text in history, it would, actually, be beneficial to offer an actual argument to substantiated your novel claim; reaching, as you seem to have, a conclusion missed by millennia of Biblical scholars, in a very well-known text, which you have proceeded to butcher with the ham-fisted rapacity of a Vandal intent on Roman spoils.

Your interest is not accuracy sir, it is in trolling. I attempted MANY times to engage you in conversation on this, and you choose instead not to reference my questions on twitter but to attempt further attacks on me here.

Yes, sir, it is in accuracy. Twitter is not a medium suited to conversation requiring any sort of precision or care. Given your lack of either quality in your handling of the Biblical text, I can see why you prefer to discourse there on topics requiring disciplined study and effort to speak to cogently. Since you seem to lack even the bare minimum of ability to examine the text at a depth greater than an eighth of an inch, I’ve undertaken to show you where, precisely, your ignorance of the subject leads you. First, the ignorance necessary to mistake your first attempt for something in Numbers, let alone Numbers 35, let alone an accurate English translation, is our first clue. The second clue is the lack of familiarity with this text in general. This is the biggest, most public fall of a Biblical character in the text of Scripture. It is the Old Testament pinnacle of the expression of God’s mercy as well as His justice, being exercised in tandem, as they should. Your twin accusations are neither present in the text, nor are they remotely sensical. Your reading of this passage is absolute, and utter brainrot – and that’s putting it mildly. It has taken this much time, and this many words to address, because you have screwed up your attempt *by the numbers* – pun intended.

Infantile at best.

Given what you consider a good objection, I’ll take that as a compliment.

I see now that your goal was NOT to attempt to keep the posts accurate and to ensure that sources are cited, but to attack anyone with any ammunition that you can get because your faith was insulted.

Actually, it was just to respond to one of the worst sequences of Biblical “criticisms” I’ve ever encountered. I do dislike it when people ignorantly make claims they both cannot and will not back up, however – which has been precisely what you have done.

Sad and infantile.

For pity’s sake, at least be original with your ad hominem. Be creative – make me work for my expected insult. It’s not as if I don’t hear this half a dozen times a week from every sort of garden variety atheist “intellectual.” Seriously – if you’re going to take the line that we’re irrational, reasonless drones, at least bother to use something a tween couldn’t equal in the cafeteria.

I gave the bible fairness for 30 years, now I simply can’t excuse its evils any longer.

Well, it’s quite apparent you aren’t fair to it now. Are you sure you were back in the day? I don’t see why you couldn’t excuse any evil, though, really. You’re a subjectivist. Just change the standard when it’s convenient to do so.

I am sad that you can see morality in the death of a child and the rape of women, and see only immorality in the mistaken posting of an erroneous verse.

I’m still wondering why you’re asserting either is even found in this text. Or why you think we should care, being little Mr. Subjectivist. Is truth supposed to be objective now?

The fact that you find your offense in that, and not in the terrible acts depicted in the bible that I revealed, is telling of the indoctrination and dogmatic view that keeps you from the ability to think critically about such things.

I find the fact that your reading comprehension is so abysmal, and your studies so superficial, compelling reasons to reject any claims you have to offer, and find your ignorance of the Biblical text indicative of your dearth of experience with critical thinking. Further, your own stated worldview gives you no reason to even forward your objections in the first place. I find it telling that you can parrot all your little catchphrases about “immorality”, “indoctrination”, and “dogmatism” with a straight face. The sheer effrontery of such accusations in the face of your utter lack of epistemological, moral, and logical justification for any of your claims is staggering.

This is my last post with you, as you have revealed yourself to be too dogmatic to converse, and too proud of yourself to accept thanks when given.


I hate to burst your bubble, man, but a steady string of assertions, made with no attempt at support or argumentation, simply on personal authority, is definitional dogmatism – and exactly what you’ve presented here. Perhaps where you hang out, they call that “arguing your point” – but around people who actually do debates, that’s called a “logical fallacy”. ie: “Proof by assertion” – “Repeated assertion fallacy”, ad nauseum, Ipse-dixit, etc.

If you thought this post was about you – you’re only partly right. It’s partly about the lack of serious contemplation evidenced in your objections, and responses to challenges to them – but primarily, it’s an object lesson for anyone reading this. If you’re going to make a claim – please, please, please, have something – *anything* to substantiate it. Please give any sort of argument – whatsoever. Please bother to study what you’re objecting to. Please invest at least a modicum of effort into the due diligence required to offer an intelligible response. Thank you.

Atheist Hermeneutics

The first instance of atheist hermeneutics can be found to follow.

As anyone who has picked their Bible up recently can tell you, this doesn’t even resemble Numbers 35. In fact, Numbers 35 instantly recalls “cities of refuge” (Num 35:6) to the Biblically literate. Since this is a stock phrase to this day, it’s always stuck in my mind – as I’m sure it has in many of yours. Secondly – the “verse” quoted is so antithetical to Biblical doctrine, as taught elsewhere, that it is amazingly obvious that our forger has no sort of accurate conception of what is taught in the Old Testament. Since this is so, it would follow that they also have no accurate conception of what is taught in the new – as Christ, in His own words, came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. (Matt 5:17) This has significance, also, in the trial of Christ, where it is mentioned that a man cannot be put to death without more than one witness. This also is found in Numbers 35 (vs 30). These are two common referents for this chapter.

I introduce it this way due to a common theme we often see in atheistic writing. “Reading the Bible cover to cover is the surest path to atheism” – or some derivative phraseology. In my experience, the “reading” done by atheists is most often cursory, acontextual, arbitrary, and guilty of more wooden literalism than any fundamentalist I could name. Further, these readings are guilty, in every case I have ever examined, of “eisegesis.” Eisegesis is the importation of your own views, ideas, or the like to the text, and reading in your *own* context, instead of the context the text presents to you. The correct way to consider the Scriptures is via “exegesis” – the “drawing out” of the meaning of the text – by use of the languages, context, background, references given in the text itself, or those made to it.

In the case shown above, there is no exegesis whatsoever – as there is no text to exegete. There is simply gross insertion, utterly foreign to the text itself. In fact, there is simply no other reference to this supposed text to be found, anywhere, save in the blog post, since deleted with a “noted and corrected, Thanks!” This is the worst conceivable form of eisegesis imaginable, due to the fact that it simply inserts their own text AND context, wholesale.

The successor to that (thankfully) abortive attempt to “educate” us on what the Bible “really” says is better only in that at least it attempts to deal with an actual text of Scripture. As we will note, it fares only marginally better as an attempt at exegesis. The (new, replaced) link is below.

Now, he insists (on twitter) he got it from some blogger, and just didn’t check his source. However, as you can do for yourself, do a search on the “verse” he provided – entire, by phrase, any way you like. I just wanted to see if he’d admit it… but here’s the source I found for what he posted, apart from the initial hit on his site.


Okay – so… not only is this a source that *specifically says* it’s a “create your own” bible verse – but the post in which it is promoted seems to think that those “religious people” will fall for it. So, either we have something posted on facebook, found by someone purporting to tell us “what the Bible says,” and… the atheist “falls for it” – or we have an atheist trying to “pull a fast one,” trying to defend his poor attempt – or we have the originator of Alex’s verse. However… if you read Mr. Burgoyne’s tweets, he is trying to give the impression that he *thought* this was a real verse. From the *comments* of a post that says “Create your own Bible verse?” Without even reading the passage? Interesting view regarding accuracy.

The Bible REALLY says that – Part 1

Jason Burgoyne offers us the following passage (cited in the NAB – a Romanist translation, but linked to the TNIV, a liberal “Protestant” version)

Thus says the Lord: ‘I will bring evil upon you (David) out of your own house. I will take your wives while you live to see it, and will give them to your neighbor. He shall lie with your wives in broad daylight. You have done this deed in secret, but I will bring it about in the presence of all Israel, and with the sun looking down.’ Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan answered David: “The Lord on his part has forgiven your sin: you shall not die. But since you have utterly spurned the Lord by this deed, the child born to you must surely die.”

His attempt to object here is extremely short, but we’ll examine it nonetheless.

So the punishment for David killing a man and taking his wife? To have his innocent wives raped, and to kill his innocent child.

Notice – there is not even an attempt to deal with Psalm 51 and David’s confession and cry to the Lord. There is no attempt to substantiate the accusation of “rape” – no identification of who it was that was doing this “raping”, nor is there any attempt to go to where this is fulfilled. In the first case, David attests that it is against God, primarily, that he has sinned. Nathan tells David, in this same passage, why it is that David’s punishment is to be what it is. He has given the enemies of the Lord occasion to blaspheme. Note, also, that there is no attempt to deal with the hope David expresses later on in this chapter, concerning his son, nor is there any attempt to deal with Bathsheba’s next son – a boy named Solomon. The nature and character of God, as is sadly common with atheists, is not addressed at all, save in a highly cursory fashion. His foundation – the position from which these objections are made – is likewise not offered, or argued for. it is merely assumed.

How is this a moral story, and how is any book that contains it supposed to be informative of our (or our children’s) morality?

How is his objection moral? How is any objection, or any putative contrary position supposed to be informative of our, or our children’s morality? For instance – how does a purposeless, meaningless bag of protoplasm, supposedly evolved from “lower” (so-called) life, supposedly meaningful, in any non-arbitrary way, in the first place? On what grounds does he assume there is any semblance of universality of experience which concepts like “morality” can be considered intelligible? What, in his worldview, makes this “morality” he is appealing to in what appears to be a non-subjective fashion, even an intelligible concept in any sense whatsoever? The incredible nature of this lack of self-reflection evidenced by atheist objectors never ceases to amaze me. Not because I don’t expect it, but because it’s so heavily addressed by the pages of Scripture, and they so accurately depict it.

Unbelievers so often throw out words like “moral” or “morality” as if they were some sort of invariant universal. On what grounds do they do so? I offered to debate Mr. Burgoyne on the subject of morality previously, and have not received a reply as of yet. I’ve yet to see a coherent answer for why he seems to object on “moral” grounds, when it seems to me that his worldview offers no consistent basis for a non-arbitrary, non-subjective conception of “morality” in the first place.

It was clearly a book written by iron age sheep herders based on their own skewed “morality”.

Clearly, Mr. Burgoyne’s post was written by an individualistic North American whose “moral” opinions are skewed by temporal prejudice, a notion of class superiority, and ultimately based on his utterly subjective, completely arbitrary conception of his own notions as universally applicable.


Now, let’s be frank. Do the sort of assertions he has offered hold any sort of persuasive appeal, let alone stand up to any rigorous logical objection? Do they come from his own worldview? Are his objections even intelligible, given his atheism? I don’t see how they could be. As easily as they can be turned around on him, they can be dismissed.

He first offered a wholesale forgery, then followed that up with a four sentence “indictment”, borrowed whole cloth from a worldview which actually *possesses* an objective moral code – in order to *object* to that same moral code. I find such lackadaisical treatment of the subject to be par for the course, sadly. Here is what we want, my unbelieving friends. We would like an objection which even attempts to move beyond the superficial, shows even the slightest grasp of context, Biblical theology, or the text itself. We would LOVE for you to actually engage even the barest *fraction* of the mountains of literature surrounding each and every verse of Scripture, or show even the slightest interest in reading it as you’d like to be read yourself. In short, we would love to interact with an intelligent, knowledgeable objector. It is incredibly tiring to deal with the same tired, endlessly dealt-with objections that show not the slightest inkling of interest in fairness, and fairly reek of ignorance. Please, if all you care to do is congratulate yourself on your brilliance, while showing not the slightest knowledge of the field you are claiming knowledge in – do yourself a favor – at least do the cursory study in the field in which you are “educating” us in.

“Not to know the King James Bible is to be, in some small way, barbarian.” – Richard Dawkins

Debate Announcement

On Februrary 5th, I will be debating Roman Catholic Dan Marcum (a Skype debate) on the proposition “Sola Scriptura is an essential Christian doctrine, and necessary for instruction in faith and practice“. My goal is to argue this proposition presuppositionally. I’m planning on a couple of podcasts in the near future to give the audience some preparation, and to ensure my opponent knows where I’m standing, going into the debate, so stay tuned.

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?”

On Old Earth Presuppositions

I was struck, this morning, by Jamin’s article, also reposted to AOMin. Let me explain. I’m in agreement with Jamin 99% of the time – I even contributed to his book – “The Portable Presuppositionalist”. However, there are some statements in this article that I’d like to address. He has been dialoguing via email to Fred Butler, of Hip and Thigh, and decided to share his recent response as a blog post. In this article, he has the following statement:

We can calculate some numbers back to Adam, and that’s pretty cool. But that in no way results in “inerrancy and old earth creationism can never mix.” Again, must we really take the lead of Morris, Hovind, Ham, Chaffey, and others on the old-earth debate just because they had some good things to say instead of thinking more critically and realizing that the age of the earth just is not a hill worth dying on?

When I examined the article a bit closer, I noticed a few issues.

In his response concerning the uniqueness of the Genesis account, I read this:

A. The primary (e.g. most explicit and obvious) internal structure of the book is the Toledoth formula – “these are the generations of” …, which is mentioned 11 times from 2:4 to the end of the book. This heading not only “indicates a historical impulse” (Introduction to OT, 54), but it encapsulates the whole book into one category…except Gen 1, which is the only chapter in the book not to have this introduction. … Gen. 1 is unique in that respect.

B. The only citation of Gen 1 in the NT is of man being made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27 in Matt 19 and Mark 10), a strongly theological point; there is no reference to chronology of Gen 1 in any of the NT, and (as far as I remember) any of the OT. Instead, Genesis 1 has some other literary features and “Hebrew parallelism”:

Maybe I’m missing something… but wouldn’t it be a bit tough to have the Toledoth formula in the chapter where the progenitors of those generations are created? It reminds me (forgive me!) of the argument that is often presented in regards to the period of enscripturation of the NT. It is, by it’s nature, an exception – which leads me to the next point.

Maybe, again, I’m missing something – but isn’t there another formula in Genesis 1 that is inherently chronological? “And there was evening, and there was morning–the first day.” That would seem to me the formula that binds this together, and makes it a chronological account, all at once.

But it is to say that if we have a question specifically about chronology, Gen. 2 would probably be the first place we should go, and if we have a general question about theology and the origins of all things – from birds to water – we should probably go to Gen. 1.
So, those are a couple of “the ways” I was referring to, and this is why I am hesitant to say “I’m a literal 24-hr 6-day young earth creationist” even though much of what I believe falls into that camp.

As pointed out above, I think that we’re forgetting something very important here. Morning, evening, day. The context for “day” is clearly presented, by “morning and evening”. So I’m not hesitant to subscribe to my confession at all in the matter of 6-day creationism.

The genealogies provide a reliable chronological line that ruins any assertions of an old man, for the people are the concern of the genealogies, not the earth. Granted, there is a link between people and events in history and areas of the earth, etc., but, again, the primary purpose of genealogies are to show who lived when and from what persons they came. And, you seemed to have missed what I said about time itself being created during the creation account, and how there are countless assumptions about the time-space continuum that we bring to the table when making arguments about time and creation.

Well, for the first point, obviously I agree. That’s really not the point of an OEC, however – a TE, yes, but not an OEC. As for the second – of course people are the focus of genealogies – but the chapter in question is what is the *foundation for* those genealogies. Which really points out the central reason I’m writing this. My concern is for two things. First, whether or not we are examining this with Biblical presuppositions. Second, whether or not we are *truly defending Christianity as a system*, or “as a unit” – NOT in “block house” fashion. My concern is that we are *overlooking* the presuppositions that OEC brings to Scripture, as well as *failing to see* the presuppositions *in* Scripture at this very point. As to the time issue – I think the above also solves that issue. We’re talking days. Evening, morning. Day. God created time, obviously, but finitude requires it – so, as creation begins, time, at that instant, begins.

The next section is where the rubber hits the road for me.

But I challenge you and other Christians to think more clearly about what is more significant; the war we wage is not the age of the earth because there’s no clear, direct line being crossed. Not only is the science under debate, but the Christians of the OT and NT would be rather baffled about how the age of the universe is so central to defending the faith. But, they would, however, give birth to a royal conniption if someone told them “man came from animals and they’re still made in God’s image.”

I would disagree on several points here. First, we’re being given a choice – the age of the earth, or man came from animals, and they’re still made in God’s image. Second, we are told there is no clear line being crossed. Third, I haven’t mentioned a word about science yet, in my response. Fourth, this is a modern debate in this particular context.

First: Is it our goal, as Covenantal Apologists, to argue on this level? Don’t we have to look at the *presuppositions underlying the assertion*? Here’s the deal – and this is where I want the reader to pay attention, if they’ve been on cruise control thus far. The underlying presupposition of *both* Theistic Evolution and Old Earth Creationism is that autonomous man is the primary authority on matters of empirical/natural science. There is no reason that I can see to assert an old earth, whatsoever, apart from naturalistic assumptions. The same assumptions, I’d assert, that are *more consistently* applied by the TE advocate, and even more consistently by a secular naturalist. The assertion is human autonomy, and it regulates the pages of Scripture.

“The relation between science and Scripture is not one of synthesis between two tentative theories; rather, it must be one of subordination. If science is not subordinate of Scripture, then Scripture must be subordinate to science and science itself will be autonomous. If science is independent of revelation, then nature must be assumed to be self-sufficient and containing in itself the principles for its own interpretation. Thus God is either identified with nature (the error of pantheism) or is shoved out of the picture altogether (the practical result of deism). Either God is God, or science deifies itself.”

~Greg Bahnsen

While Van Til notes, of course, that unbelievers are “in principle” autonomous, while believers “in principle” think God’s thoughts after Him; in practice, we are inconsistent. What we’re seeing here is either more or less “in practice” denial of the principles of believers – in favor of the practical adoption of autonomous principles. In this area – and remember, we defend Christianity as a unit – they have atomized their position, and are standing on enemy ground in their examination of Scripture. Since this is the case – be it severe, in the case of the unbelieving evolutionist, great, in the case of a theistic evolutionist, or small, in the case of an Old-Earther, the principle is the same. The extent of consistency to be found is the difference we see here.

Second, the line is clear, and has been crossed. The line, however, is not the age of the earth, it is the dividing line between man’s theology and God’s. In one case, we are affirming that the earth is relatively young, because we have the history of that relatively young earth in our hands, in the Scriptures. In the second, we have naturalistic principles being used as the “colored glasses” through which we see the world. We have God as center, and we have man as center – I would respectfully submit that the central issue is one of presupposition – and that brings OEC into a light other than that presented in this article.

Third, the problem is the naturalistic assumptions which underpin the desire of the OEC advocates to *adhere to this stance in the first place*. The desire is, as Bahnsen pointed out earlier, to “synthesize” science and Scripture. What ends up happening, however, is that Scripture is *subordinated to* science. This is, as I’ve pointed out, the *same presuppositional issue* found in TE. The difference is in their level of consistency.

Fourth, would Jamin make this same argument concerning the ECFs not addressing later controversies? Since this is a modern argument, we won’t find it addressed in history in the context we are in today. Every generation has it’s own apologetic context in which it has to give an answer – and, as I’ve argued, the central issue is *the* central issue of our apologetic and the theology from which it springs – who God is, and what He has revealed about Himself and His creation. Is our view on this subject God-centered or man-centered? A subject similar was addressed by Augustine, as has been argued ad nauseum elsewhere thus won’t be detailed here, but it was not the same context at all.

And that is, indeed, the true line that is being crossed with theistic evolution, and as such, it is where our attention should be directed. The BioLogos forum needs to be held accountable not for their standard evolutionary view of the age of the earth, but for their anti-Christian view of God’s images. Even though some more popular apologists, thinkers, and Christians are finally waking up to the sheer absurdity of this primary thesis of BioLogos, I am still surprised more Christians aren’t as upset and aren’t more proactive in trying to set up a moderated debate with someone from the BioLogos Forum over this issue.

Here’s where I’d like to point out that the line being set is a bit arbitrary. I agree that the problem is not the age of the earth – but once again, I think this article has mistaken the correct focus of the debate. It is not on the age of the earth – but on the presuppositions underlying our position on the age of the earth. The image of God in man is our point of contact with the believer, yes? Well, since when are we saying it’s satisfactory to give into the presupposition that naturalism can be the interpretive grid by which we exegete Scripture? The extent of consistency to that position is less than the TE would go, true – but is it not the same presupposition? When we say that man’s autonomy, presuppositionally, is the root – we can, to some extent, “prioritize” – but I don’t see the root issue as anything other than the same root issue of Arminianism, evidentialism, or other topics we’re more than happy to address, and spend a great deal of time in so doing. Van Til, as I’m sure Jamin knows, spent an extensive amount of time tracing down autonomy as the root for a great number of issues – and this fits that pattern like a glove.

Here’s a great illustration from Van Til. If they are, as I claim, embracing autonomy on this point – “…the… apologist would not be in a position to wipe out any of the signs that point in the wrong direction. An… apologist meeting the natural man as both stop at one of the service stations is in a strange predicament. Since he is a Christian, he should really speak to the natural man about the fact that he is following the wrong signs. But since he himself holds to a measure of autonomy for man, and since this undermines his own belief in creation, he can at best say to his friend that is it doubtful which signs are right. Then as far as his “neutral” apologetic method is concerned, … in the interest of getting his friend to go in the right direction, admits that the signs that point in the wrong direction are right. He himself goes in the wrong direction for some distance too with the natural man. He fully agrees with the natural man when together they start on their wrong course, and he still fully agrees on the way to the city of destruction. Then suddenly he puts on the brakes and turns around, expecting his friend will do the same. Thus in the whole business he has dishonored his God (a) by practically admitting that his revelation is not plain and (b) by himself running away from God in his interpretation of natural revelation and in his subjection of supernatural revelation to the illegitimate requirements of the natural man.” (Defense of the Faith, pg 135)

Just to note something interesting – and a bit providential – just moments before the link to this posted in #pros, I was reading an article on Justin Taylor’s blog touting Tim Keller’s “Reason for God” DVD. Nic had posted a comment related to whether or not something Dr. Keller said in that trailer was a violation of the myth of neutrality. We were discussing that issue, and I was posting a comment to Dr. Keller right then. Like you, I would be glad to see a debate with BioLogos – but I’d also like to see a more presuppositional tack – and heat – applied to the OEC position, as well. He replied, incidentally, and my response was to ask him whether his naturalistic presuppositions were capable of providing him a consistent position from which to defend.

While I understand your approach to priority, I disagree with the emphasis. I’m concerned with the presuppositions they are bringing to the table by embracing OEC; since, as I’ve argued, they are the *same* presuppositions the naturalist, be they secular or theistic, bring to the table. As you and I both know, inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument – my intent here was to point out that the same root issue is beneath OEC that is under Arminianism, Roman Catholicism, Evidentialism, and a host of other man-centered movements and positions – autonomy. Thank you for your patience in looking through my response.


Addendum: I’ve had one criticism thus far, and they say about my post, “it reads like a criticism of Hubner over Old Earth creationism”. While it is, in a sense, it’s a criticism of his position concerning challenging said OEC position. The criticism is of OEC, yes – but to point out how it’s presuppositions are the same as TEs, just not taken as consistently – and that, in order to point out that it should be critiqued on the same basis as TE. Whatever view the critique’s author holds (and he doesn’t say, other than to tell us that this doesn’t apply to him), he is left with the same dilemma as always. He can say that man is old – which Jamin specifically rebuts: “The genealogies provide a reliable chronological line that ruins any assertions of an old man, for the people are the concern of the genealogies, not the earth.” Or, he can appeal to “days” not being “days” (which seems to be his tack, given this quote: “the age of mankind and the age of the earth are not the same thing”). In that case, I refer him to the confession he claims to subscribe to, which specifically states that “In the beginning it pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for the manifestation of the glory of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, to create or make the world, and all things therein, whether visible or invisible,in the space of six days, and all very good.” I don’t see how he escapes the dilemma of subverting Scripture’s statement that creation was in 6 days, save by the presupposition of naturalistic presuppositions. He says that is not what he has – and says that he does subordinate science to Scripture – but how do you do such a thing when Scripture *says otherwise*? In any case, I note that he accedes to my argument, as stated, and as directed. “For those Old Earth creationists who do this (and I think that the majority of them do; e.g., Hugh Ross from Reasons to Believe), the criticism Whipps raises is spot on.”

“Naturally in the system of theology and in apologetics the doctrine of God is of fundamental importance. We must first ask what kind of a God Christianity believes in before we can really ask with intelligence whether such a God exists. The what precedes the that; the connotation precedes the denotation; at least the latter cannot be discussed intelligently without at once considering the former.”

~Cornelius Van Til, Defense of The Faith, pg 30

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*


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.

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