If atheism were disproven, but without proving God...

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by heymike, Jun 12, 2011.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    They are warranted---because of the fall, their sensus Divinitatus is not working properly. This is part of what giving a person over to their unbelief means.

    And I would say that Russell's problem is grounded in a bad understanding of language and meaning. His analysis is unnecessary.

    The point of Russell's paradox is precisely their existence. You and I maintain that it is irrelevant, though, for entirely different reasons.

    I think you have confused "making sense of" something with understanding it. One may be false in how one makes sense of something.

    If and only if the belief in question was reached by means of formal logic. If it was reached by means of the senses, or some other form of deduction, it is more likely that a de facto critique is needed.

    I'm simply pointing out that the rank and file even of intellectuals will find your criticisms to be either a) a logical puzzle to be solved away (the way that atheists, like William Rowe, treat the ontological argument) b) "quaint" in its reasoning c) uninteresting and irrelevant. My point is that you should probably first explain why they should care.

    That question only works from the outside. Inside the delusion, it's irrelevant.
  2. heymike

    heymike Puritan Board Freshman

    While an unbeliever may not be able to explain why causality is here, my aim would be show how causality and other interferences of the mind disprove atheism. I am not against the transcendental argument, yet it's interesting the argument must assume that an unbeliever accepts causality. If they question it like Hume, I don't think it works.

    On the other hand, Hume is right about questioning causality to an extent. The apparent cause of an action may not in fact be the actual cause. In a unique instance, despite many common occurrences otherwise, another force may act upon the eight ball rather than the cue ball as it appears to hit it. But, and this is where Hume's eloquence hits a wall: if the cue ball moves without an observable cause, the action is most certainly not uncaused!

    Once you turn that corner with Hume, and tell me if I am wrong, the transcendental and cosmological arguments would then be applicable.
  3. heymike

    heymike Puritan Board Freshman

    R.C. Sproul is a classical apologist who I cannot recall ever saying that. Neither I could imagine one saying that. However logic and science are helpful starting points, but to say that they are God-neutral is something else entirely.

    It is almost as if the presuppositionalist fears that because the classical apologist argues from irrefutable metaphysical arguments that they are somehow God-neutral. If you catch my train of thought, you may also find this a little ironic.

    And I certainly agree "that we need to return to the transcendent, triune God made manifest in Jesus Christ as our criterion in both apologetic message and method." That is to the one who did not know what it was to be alone until he died for sinners!
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2011
  4. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Romans says that they are "without exscuse" because they "know God". You are taking one part of that verse and using it to interpret the whole thing because of philosophical predispositions. In a sense you are using philosophy to interpret Scripture.

  5. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    No---it's unnecessary. Occam's Razor here.

    Meaning that the evidence is there for anyone who is willing to see it, but the unbeliever is not willing.

    That's not what he says at all. He says "But . . . but . . . but" and disregards the evidence entirely.

    I'm going to disregard the Nazi example because of Godwin's Law. A believer is not warranted in this case because a) his heart has been illumined by the Holy Spirit b) he knows what Scripture says on this point. He's inconsistent.

    But let's take an unbeliever who has been taught this from birth---I'd say he's warranted because that's all he's ever heard. It's not knowledge because it isn't true, but warrant has to do with sufficient ground for knowledge claims.

    As I said, all inductive reasoning involves formal fallacies. Therefore your belief that you are having a discussion withanother person is fallacious and based on a lack of evidence to the contrary. My belief in the desk in front of me involves my ignoring the little Rene Descartes in my head talling me that I could be a brain in a vat.

    Depends on which beliefs you're attacking---there are times when attacking warrant is helpful. But nine times out of ten, reason isn't the basis for belief X at all.

    And it's precisely where the analogy breaks down. Atheists et al generally function just fine in society---it's Christians who cause problems.
  6. heymike

    heymike Puritan Board Freshman

    I don't appreciate "autonomous reason" being forced into the discussion. And I don't think Hume deserves the credit you give him. Yet it's been awhile since I read him, so maybe you can show me something he said.

    Traditional forms of the cosmological argument could have been better. Then again some of it comes down to how easily misunderstood Aquinas has been. Almost a thousand years later and William Rowe cannot understand the distinction between the possibility of a set proceeding to infinity and the impossibility of one becoming actually infinite!

    Why should Van Til's criticisms be reformulated? To give place for classical apologetics?

    Causality is closely linked to non-contradiction... that reality does not contradict itself. Hume or any other person may say otherwise or even think it a possibility, and yet as I have seen, they will not accept that they are contradicting themself in some other area. As if there was something wrong with being inconsistent? One such person was also a fact and value moralist. His reaction was profound when it was said that it is a self-contradiction to treat other people as if they didn't exist when you believe they do.

    It was very far reaching discussion, and yet he could not find it in himself to say otherwise. Which is one reason why I find it superficial to compare classical apologetics with Arminianism.
  7. Ryft

    Ryft Puritan Board Freshman

    Indeed I never try to convince anyone. As Christians we are called to spread the gospel and to disciple people; convincing them is God's job, not ours. Some of us plant while others of us water, but it is God who makes it grow. And no, I do not try to speak in a way that persuades them. I try to speak in a way that is faithful to God. It is his word that has power to convict and convince, not my words. Your question harkens my mind to something the apostle Paul said: "When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come with superior eloquence or wisdom as I proclaimed the testimony of God. For I decided to be concerned about nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and with much trembling. My conversation and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not be based on human wisdom but on the power of God" (1 Cor 2:1-5; cf. WCF 9.3, 9.4, 10.1, 14.1).

    As Horatius Bonar noted, "What arguments can you expect to prevail with a man who refuses the Gospel? Admit that there are other arguments, yet the man is set against them all. There is not one argument that can be used which he does not hate. His will resists and rejects every persuasion and motive. How, then, is this resistance to be overcome, this opposition made to give way? How is the bent of the will to be so altered as to receive that which it rejected? Plainly by his will coming in contact with a Superior one, a will that can remove the resistance ... The will itself must undergo a change before it can choose that which it rejected. And what can change it but the finger of God?"

    I know.

    And they do so despite their atheistic world view, not because of it.

    Yes, you might need to. The atheist does speak English; he simply pretends not to (if we take God's word seriously). We neither respect nor validate his Christ-denying pretensions; we invalidate them by respecting the truth of God revealed in Scripture and proclaiming that boldly. As Presbyterian pastor Grover Gunn put it, "Evidence must be presented in the defining context of the gospel message. We must reject the notion that we can somehow use evidence and logical arguments apart from the gospel context to prepare the skeptic's heart and mind for the gospel message. It is in the context of the preached Word that God works His work of regenerating grace which enables the spiritually blind to see and believe."

    I am not sure he ever did. But then again, I never claimed he did.

    No, what the presuppositionalist fears is the reality that these arguments of the classical apologist firmly establish (1) the existence of an ambiguous deity (2) with no clear relationship to Scripture and (3) that Christianity is more probable than any other view (and if something is only probably true then it is also possibly false). The number one thing that bothers the presuppositionalist is that the classical apologist agrees with the unbeliever that logic, reason, evidence, etc., are intelligible apart from God.
  8. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Then why defend the faith at all? Why reason, if not to let God use your argument to persuade?

    If this is the case, then convincing them should be easy.

    I don't think you understood my example at all. I'm speaking of an atheist who speaks only Swahili. If one is to argue with him, one must speak Swahili as well. You can only speak to someone in a language that they understand. The objective truth of your English propositions is utterly futile if the audience only speaks Swahili.

    Would you say that belief can argue with unbelief at all? Or is preaching all we can do?
  9. Ryft

    Ryft Puritan Board Freshman

    To engage opportunities for proclaiming the truth of God and the gospel of salvation. Ergo, it is precisely for letting God use my argument to persuade; see my reference to 1 Cor 2:1-5, the cited chapters of the Westminster Confession, and the points I cited Bonar and Gunn to make—all of which, for some reason, you chose to not respond to.

    Since convincing them is God's job, I am sure it is very easy (Matt 19:25–26). I wish you had have responded to that point I carefully argued.

    If your example was meant to be taken literally, then I do not understand its relevance to the issue being discussed. If your example was an analogy, then perhaps you could explain what "English" stands in place of, and what "Swahili" stands in place of.

    No, belief cannot argue with unbelief at all. They are diametrically antithetical. What our arguments address is the inherent imago Dei and the truth of God they already know (but suppress). Their nature as imago Dei and that truth of God they know is the common ground we speak to when we defend the faith.
  10. heymike

    heymike Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you for replying David. I understood the quote you provided to mean that the position was typical of classical or evidential apologists. Which is why I said I cannot recall Sproul affirming it nor could I imagine it of any one of them.

    The ontological and cosmological arguments have been used to show the existence of a necessary being that caused the universe. I do not find this to be particularly problematic. However the arguments have not always been clear... and that probably has something to do with why a 1 Cor. 2:2 approach is appealing. But one has to be careful in how they read Paul here with respect to his ministry in Acts.

    Again as far as the classical apologist is concerned, I do not know of any that says logic is independent of God. Now an atheist or some agnostic can have a far superior understanding of logic than you or me as a Christian. But once that logic, and even a child like understanding of it, is shown to disprove the reality or possibility of atheism for them, you will see them become profoundly irrational. That is apart from the work of God in them.

    And in the spirit of agreement, I think Peter's sermon at Pentecost contains a helpful example of an apologetic message. Along with his use of Scripture, Peter used the disciples eyewitness testimony of the resurrection and the miracle that his audience directly witnessed to give support to what he was saying about Jesus.

    "This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing." Acts 2:32-33
  11. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    I was simply pointing out that subjective meaning matters. You can have all the objectively-true English propositions you want, but if you can't speak Swahili, then it won't matter to an atheist who only speaks Swahili. Subjective matters.

    In which case, you should make your argument persuasive.

    At least you admit that you're a fideist . . .

    In which case we are actually arguing with unbelief---or at least with unbelievers (which is the same thing). You're talking out of both sides of your mouth here.
  12. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    I don't see what is unnecessary about it. But I get the impression that you are mistaking how I am discussing the theory of presuppositional apologetics to you, someone educated in philosophy, and how I would actually do apologetics to someone who is an average non-philosophical type person. That is a question of strategy though and not a question of something wrong with the theory. I have done presuppositional apologetics to lay people many times, I make the questions much more shallow. Obviously I would never beat someone over the head by demanding they develop a theory of ethics to make an ethical statment.

    But I can subtly introduce it in a way that makes sense to them and where they are but never goes over their heads. This is the wisdom of doing apologetics that one must learn to do apologetics, as I am sure you know, correctly.

    Well I must point out, for whatever its worth, that this seems to contradict the verse itself as well as our confession and traditional history.

    What in their wordview rules out this response?

    Even though Romans 2:12-16 implies that they "know" the moral law of God? I can know that murder is wrong without knowing that it is from God, in that I have an exscuse in the day of wrath. But to know that God has revealed it to me as wrong implies that I have no exscuse. No exscuse no warrant.

    Yeah I will tell you something about Reformed Epistemologists that does confuse me. They always go to examples of beleifs, largley empirical, to prove their point and frame a discussion around. But how about more complex non-empirical beleifs like morality that there is much more ambuiguity in? I mean Kelly Clark (I think that is his name?) at Calvin college in an introtduction to RE goes to someone telling your wife is cheating on you. Now obviously that is a beleif that the skeptic must prove and to which I have every reason to doubt, but what about the Marxist beleifs of most liberals in America?

    But again my ignorance example. If all that is needed to establish warrant, which I am reading a late sympathetic critic on Plantinga who says this it not all Plantinga is suggesting, is to say "it seems obvious to me" than what good is it? If someone can claim warrant on ignorance alone and posses no other espitemological categories (knowledge, truth, justified true beleif, etc...) than what good is it except in establishing burden of proof in limited cases?

    Do they function in accordance with their presuppositions or in spite of their presuppositions?

    ---------- Post added at 08:44 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:38 PM ----------

    Well I except a VanTillian/Dooyweerdian reading of western history, in which they both argue that it is one big story of autonomous reason. What is wrong with introducing this idea anyway?

    Hume simply pointed problems with how in a way, he of course did not consciesly do this but it is one way to understand him, the western presupposition about the nature of reason. Maybe you can change the prevailing view of Aquinas than. Van Til thought that a presuppositional version of that argument was better, I wouldn't go that far but I do agree with his version of it.

    ---------- Post added at 08:54 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:44 PM ----------

    Van Til in my opinion gave us better concerns for classical apologetics whether than essential problems with it. So if someone were say to start with Reformed theology and work out the philosophical consequences of this and develop an apologetic based on this theolgy than that is how it should be reformed. This is what Van Til did, if you can do that and work out a classical aproech than go for it, but if you fall into many the traps that plagued classical apologetics historically than you have done this.

    Causality cannot explain itself, so why do we just assume it? Unless we ar ewilling to in a very strange almost religous way make this unquestionable. So autonomous reason tells us that we do not question these things because if we do than we end up in skepticism so we can't go there. Nietzsche saw how foolish this was and declared to destroy the "idols" of western thinking.

    Now assume that we can both accept the reality of causality and logical laws but adopt an actual explination of why we should assume them other than just a fear of skepticism or claiming that they are given?
  13. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    I would be careful with the interpretation of this verse because "knowledge" entails belief, and the unbeliever, by definition, doesn't believe. Therefore in some sense he doesn't know.

    Nothing---it's just not the response that most atheists would give.

    Most liberals aren't Marxists---this is essential to understand. Most liberals are elitists and there is a world of difference between them. Modern liberalism has co-opted Marxist rhetoric to maintain power. Marxism proper is a very different beast---and if implemented would produce a very different kind of society than the one liberals envision.

    What about it? It seems to me that what you are suggesting is that in order to be warranted in bringing a belief to the table, I have to know all possible criticisms of it. This is plainly absurd.

    Again, let me point out that knowledge here is precisely what we are talking about. My contention is that warrant is the necessary and sufficient condition for a knowledge-claim. If you want to attack that warrant, that's fine, but you have to be careful lest you shoot yourself in the foot---because any criticism you make can then be applied to you.

    As I've said before, justification-language implies a kind of epistemic panel of judges that I am not sure is warranted (pun intended).


    Too complicated, not concrete enough. Exposing ground motives is one thing, but TAs are tricky beasts and (as I maintained) pretty much invite the accusation of possible equivocation (again, the OA gets the same thing---hence why I don't use it).
  14. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Than you are in fact denying the reality of anykind of self-delusion than right?

    Van Til's point was if you want to do evidential apologetics than fine but what historical evidences will you bring up if and when an unbeleiver says this too? None, there is none. The argument at this point is a presuppositional one.

    Well my phrase "Marxist beleifs" might have been misleading but notice that I did not accuse them of being Marxists, only of holding to beleifs that come from Marxism. But you still didn't answer my point. How would RE deal with these sorts of beleifs? It seems to me that they can't. Which is why a different method is needed, one that attacks their very foundations that is what is meant by a TC.

    No you miss my point. Can person in complete ignorance about any subject continue to be warranted in their beleif that said subject is stupid without knowing a single thing about it? If they meet an expert in such a subject and he or she tells them that they are ignorant than that says to me that the person must now go and study the subject in order to reastablish their warrant, this implies that the burden of proof is on them yes but thinking is hard work.

    That is fine but a TA is what is needed to really deal with these ultimate issues. Arguing over facts is fine, doing apologetics from a de facto basis is fine also as long as you understand that you are dealing with an unbeleiver from different presuppositions.

    I must admit that I agree with you about this language as you have used it in the past and present.

    Well you may be on to something here but it doesn't disprove Van Til's analysis of human beings. He was not able to articulate this mixture of truth and falsity in anyone but I think that he had a better point of view to put these things in perspective.

    How can it not be concrete? You are mistaking meanifullness with a sentence being undertood by someone. It can make complete sense to have a conversation over whether jack beats his wife but the whole conversation is more than just false it is meaningless if jack is not married. That is more than concrete. A TA can be very simple in how you apply it.
  15. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Not at all---there is a kind of willful ignorance involved.

    Ideologies are (in my opinion) manifestations of ground motives and attitudes. So if you tear them down, they'll simply reappear in another form. Presuppositionalism, unfortunately, deals way too much with the intellectual.

    But again, be careful lest you shoot yourself in the foot. TC (if valid) is a double-edged sword.

    The problem here is that you think it's an intellectual problem. "That's stupid" isn't a belief at all---it's an end of discussion. It's the position that "this doesn't belong in the realm of what I consider rational discourse."

    Let's suppose that I meet a philosopher who is concerned with the problem of wholes and parts. I can listen to him talk about it all day and I'll still think it irrelevant and a waste of time.

    It's still a meaningful sentence even if Jack isn't married. We understand the terms, don't we? It's not nonsense, it just has no referent.
  16. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    I mean you must admit that you are outside confessional and traditional reformed understanding of this verse?

    No It can be used for very simple beleifs as well. But again I must press you on the fact that RE cannot use it's own ideas to dismantle such beleifs or ideaologies.

    I really don't know why you think the TA or TC can only be used by the beleiver. I am not saying that nor is Van Til. The question is can they use it in a way that completly makes sense out of reality such that when they stand before God they will have absolute exscuses for not beleiving in him. Or can they use it in such a way to make sense out of creation as something other than creation, which would result in the last statment I made.

    Alright so what is the difference between saying that something is stupid or saying that it is irrational? And again can someone in complete ignorance have warrant for saying that something is "outside rational discourse", or irrational, if they meet someone who has sufficient knowledge in such an area to know if it is irrational or not? At this point they now must educate themself in this area to reastablish their warrant or they are engaged in pure irrational thinking and should not be taken seriously by any rational person.

    But you do not have the sufficient evidence because of your ignorance to really have warrant in this case or warrant is an irelevant idea. You can walk away from such a talk, if I understand you right, saying "wow he just proved that aliens exist", when he in fact never mentioned them at all. But If you are right than actual facts do not matter because it is all up to what someone thinks. Now Van Til would agree up to a point but he would insist on seeing if these ideas actually explain reality or not. Now again I am not dismissing you or Plantinga outright, only trying to put ya'll in perspective with regard to presuppositionalism.

    No you are using it in a different way. The sentence "opsjfnvkj hfdhgfkjdf ksjfhfn" doesn't make sense in your sense because we do not understand it. The discussion of Jack beating his wife is pointless, hence meaningless, if Jack is not married. You can make coherent sentences and arguments about Jack and his wife for a week if you wish but you wasted an entire week if Jack is not married. Hence the logical form of:

    If x is true (Jack is married) than y (jack beats his wife) is either true or false
    If x is false than y is neither true nor false
  17. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Not at all. I just am trying to point out the very real tension here.

    Why does it have to? Systems of belief are built based on attitudes, so the only way to tear them down (really) is to chage the attitudes.

    No---but when God speaks, no argument is needed.

    Well they do. Hence unbelief.

    In this context, one has to do with an opinion that the question at hand is not worth asking or dealing with. Irrationality would deal with whether a person is acting in a manner in accordance with reason.

    Naturally. I'm not familiar with the details of Leibniz' monadology, but meeting a Leibniz scholar would probably not change my opinion of its irrelevancy.

    Not at all---I would probably be thinking more along the lines of "how pedantic---now, about lunch."

    No, I'm saying that the facts are always interpreted through the lens of what someone thinks.

    Just because something is pointless does not make it meaningless. The debate over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin is pointless (pun intended) but still meaningful.

    That's the referential theory of meaning, which is flawed in the extreme---hence why I reject it. If x is false, then y is false because its predicate describes a non-actualized state of affairs. It's not nonsense, though.
  18. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    What tension? Historic reformed thought on this matter seems to point out that people actually know God, not just that there is sufficient evidence available. Only recent reformed folk trying to reconcile an unreformed classical apologetics say that.

    Agreed but saying that only proves my point. Their attitudes put them rationally at odds with reality because it is and always will be creation period, so that it will never be be understood correctly as creation but their attitude drives them to understand it as non-creation.

    If they are without exscuse than they know the truth but as Bahnsen has pointed out they are in self-denial.

    But as K. Scott Oliphant has pointed out unbeleif is essentially irrationality.

    I think we are both right here with a twist. You would agree that despite the person's warrant their opinion has actually no bearing on whether or not said subject, say monadology to use your example, is stupid or not. So the person is under no immediate obligation to deal with monadology in their everyday life. Up until now we agree. But it is when this person walks up to a group of philosophy students and overhears them discussing it and ignorantly points that it is stupid, that he or she has committed themselves to a discourse of metaphysics in which they must now support their argument or walk away embarrassed and now lacking warrant for their original beleif. That is why the philosophy students may ask why monadology is stupid and the person ignorantly claiming this must now give reasons for their beleif or be unwarranted.

    Again I have read that for Plantinga time and evidences is essential to this whole thing. So my evidences up to a point and time may be warranted but once it is revealed that I am ignorant of said subject, whether or not I notice it or not, I lose any warrant I had for said beleif. So I may have a very meaningful conversation with an atheist about murder being wrong, but when they willfully engage me in an apologetical conversation than they are committed in some way to answering these tougher questions. Just like a Phd. student is committed to deal with certian issues on a scholarly level, whether they want to or not.

    Now you may correctly point out that the average person, even if they engage me in an apologetical conversation, can't answer these questions. But as the presuppositional apologets Joe Boot has pointed out apologetics is a craft to be practiced and developed. So how I would engage a questioning nice atheist and I how would engage a mean atheist are going to be different.

    Yes but that person can be in self-denial though, I can try to find Bahnsen's Phd. on self-denial, it is quite interesting (and a wonderful example of TA).

    We are using the term meaningless in two different ways. You mean does the sentence make sense to somebody, that is not what I mean by the term. What I mean is something more along the lines of without truth-value, hence the slight problem with Russell's analysis (even if said analysis is good). Also it is without any value. I can talk all day long in meaningful (your definition) ways about Jack beating or not beating his wife without them meaningfully having any value. The statment "Jack does not beat his wife" implies that he has a wife, hence the old referential problem. But Do I make any ontological committments by raising the old problem in a discussion of meaningfullness?

    I would say no, because I am not refering to beings at all but to the meaningfullness of sentences. I am not sure that meaningfullness as an ontological category is on par at all with existance or being. It is not meaningful at all to ask whether or not Jack beats his wife if he is not married, this implies no ontological status to "Jack's wife" at all. As I understand it that is the age old question of universals that Russell and Quine nicley freed us from.
  19. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    The tension between the various senses of the word "knowledge." Do you mean that the unbeliever actually believes? Or do you mean knowledge of another sort?

    So, practically speaking, what trouble are they going to have living it out?

    For a given value of irrationality. Define what you mean by rational here.

    But that's not how it works. He comes up to a group of students discussing monadology, hears all sides of the argument, and says, "It's pointless and idiotic." He then walks away. It's not unsupported at all because it's not the kind of opinion that requires an argument, necessarily, to be rationally-held.

    If a proposition makes sense, then it has truth-value. Again, you're committing the referential fallacy, assuming that truth-value depends upon all terms having referents. This is simply false: the proposition "Jack beats his wife" is false because Jack has no wife. There's no lack of truth-value, simply a need for clarification of reasoning. The sentence "Jack has no wife and therefore is incapable of beating her" is also a contrary of "Jack beats his wife."

    Sure it is: it's just that the predicate doesn't describe anything---and it's only because the predicate is intelligible, and hence meaningful, that I can say this. A meaningless proposition would be unintelligible altogether, and hence incapable of any sort of analysis.
  20. Ryft

    Ryft Puritan Board Freshman

    You did not answer my question. Were you using these terms literally or analogously? If the former, what was your point? If the latter, what were they standing in for?

    1. Why, if God is doing the persuading? ("It is precisely for letting God use my argument to persuade.")

    2. You did not address my supporting citations (Scripture, Westminster Confession, Bonar, and Gunn). Please do.

    Non-sequitur. Furthermore, I am nothing of the sort.

    The two are not the same thing at all. A believer can argue with an unbeliever as they have common ground (their nature as imago Dei and the truth of God they both know) which the believer must speak to when defending the faith. But belief cannot argue with unbelief as they are antithetical (no common ground).

    Who says? The unbeliever? God says otherwise. The unbeliever by definition is deluded, if Scripture establishes our definitions—manifest by his pretending to be an unbeliever as he suppresses the truth he knows by his ungodly and wicked ways, but he knows because the God who has made it plain in him says he does.
  21. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    My point was this: your argument must make sense subjectively not just objectively, or else it's just an exercise in self-congratulation. You must speak the language of your audience.

    Because otherwise, you might as well not do apologetics at all.

    Yes they are. An unbeliever disbelieves and therefore when you argue with him, you are arguing with unbelief.

    Define "knowledge" from Scripture, then.
  22. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    I mean precisley what Paul says they know that God is there and that they owe him their obediance. Just like an abused women will offer all sorts of reasons to herself to believe that her relationship is a good one, despite knowing better. In this same way you might say psychologicaly this is what is going in the unbeleiver.

    None, they will live on borrowed capital and God's common grace. This point is of use to the apologist only.

    Knowing that God is there and yet denying it is an irrational beleif to hold basede on self-deception.

    Your right but lets add something here that I meant to say. He tries to convince them through debate that he is right. He is throughly embarrassed for his ignorance and than walks away, does he still have warrant?

    A sentnece is meaningful, in one definition of meaningful, if it can be shown to be true or false. This was Strawson's critique of Russell because Russell was guilty of the referential fallacy. This led Strawson to work out the logic of a presupposition to correct this mistake in Russell. The name "Jack's wife" is an empty name and hence no judgments can be made about it. Strawson said that we can transfer attributes and information to this ficticious name and than make limited judgements about it.

    Your monopolizing on one definition of meaningless, there is it seems more than one.
  23. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    But the analogy breaks down. The unbeliever seems to be deceived such that they aren't even aware of the deception. I think it's also useful to point out that the word knowledge is used in Scripture in various different ways.

    Yes, but demonstrating it is the trick. Saying this in theory is very easy.

    If he thinks it truly idiotic, he won't attempt to debate. Idiocy is not worth arguing with. Again, if you exclude position X from rational discourse, that means the issue isn't even on the table.

    I'll grant this for now (Wittgenstein has huge problems with it, though). "Jack beats his wife" can be shown to be false as soon as it is shown that Jack has no wife. It's only if we understand the term that we can determine that X doesn't stand for any existent thing. The ontological status of Jack's wife has no bearing on the meaningfulness of the proposition.

    I'm using the word as it is used in ordinary parlance.
  24. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    You say "seems" as if they way things appear in experience now have the monopoly in how we understand scripture rather than scripture telling us how we should understand things.

    You absolutly got me there. It is very hard but Bahnsen wrote his Phd. on self-deception, which I cannot find again on the internet but I have been looking for you.

    But my question was if he decides to debate and is shown to be simply ignorant than does he still have warrant?

    Also I have been trying to figure this out for weeks now but it seems that your reliance on warrant in your mind means two things that I can't figure out. These are not arguments against your position only humble questions on my part because I want to understand where you are coming from. We may disagree but we are still brothers in Christ and I owe that to you to understand your position as you understand it yourself.
    1. That warrant has ramifications for apologetics
    2. That the idea of warrant means that Van Til is wrong on at least some things

    For 1 I guess I can see but if the person is warranted when they are not debating than why would this matter to me in a debate? That is, why should I care about whether or not they were warranted in their beleifs before they entered into an apologetical discussion with me, where we are considering actual knowledge and not simply knowledge claims?

    For 2 it seems to me that you and I are both valid in our aproech except we are starting from two different ends? And what does warrant have to do with a presuppositional argument in the context of a debate? I am fine with warrant but I don't see how it invalidates Van Til's aproech?

    In the sense that you are using it sure you are correct. It is ironic that it was a later Wittgensteinian that developed it from supposedly his aproech. I just disagree with Russell's analysis and prefer this one. I guess they could both be valid and analyze things from two different perspectives.

    I'll grant this you are in a college and I am not. So my limited exsposure to the philosophical world comes from what I can read from my books and what I can get online. But here is one place to get the definition: Meaningless statement - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
  25. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    I'm trying to reconcile the phenomena with Scriptural teaching.

    No, because by debating it he has falsified his opinion by allowing the subject to be discussed.

    It makes us much more cautious when it comes to presuppositions because metaphysical considerations don't make a belief warranted or unwarranted. The beliefs are a given and therefore metaphysical systems are tested against them.

    Just for the record, my position is that most accounts of meaning are confused. I more or less agree with Wittgenstein that meaning is use.
  26. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    There is nothing wrong that. When I find that disertation I will send it your way, it is very anaytical so it should be right up your alley.

    Fair enough, that always confused me in our debated but I understand and agree now.

    I think that I can agree with most of this, I don't think it invalidates a presuppositional aproech. You are right that most people walking around have warrant for their beleifs without any recourse to metaphysics or presuppositions, except that I would say that presuppositions determine in some way how we use our functions (or at least color their use in some way).

    I agree with Wittgenstein on that too and your opinion is very interesting, I will have to ponder that.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page