The end of classical apologetics?

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by jwright82, Feb 26, 2012.

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  1. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    But his criticisms are not based on his empiricism, it is actually a very independent section of the work.


    But all that means is that you need a TA to show why we can trust inductive reasoning despite its limitations. Appealing to majority rules never solves the problems but a TA can in theory.
     
  2. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    No it doesn't. Induction is warranted practically. Again, this is like saying I need to do theoretical physics in order to turn on the lights.
     
  3. Loopie

    Loopie Puritan Board Freshman

    I think the point that James is trying to make is that the atheist MUST trust inductive reasoning based on an assumption. As Hume suggested, there is an assumption that there is a uniformity of nature, where similar causes produce similar effects. One example he used is putting your hand in the fire. You assume based on past experience (usually just one event) that when you put your hand in the fire you will be burned. It is simply an argument from induction (one that we would call 'common sense'). Yet the fact is that the atheist ASSUMES that the laws of nature will not change tomorrow, and that similar causes will produce similar effects. He MUST assume this in order to live life practically and not pull his hair out. It is practical to assume that the laws of nature do not change, but he cannot say why. Ultimately, all the atheist can do is declare that laws of nature do not change, and that there is no reason why this is the case.

    Hume also has shown that deductive reasoning depends upon (and is founded upon) inductive reasoning. The problem of induction exists whether the atheist recognizes it or not. Of course an atheist is not going to think that his worldview is wrong, because his will is depraved, and he does not recognize God as the final authority on these matters.

    In the end Philip, you obviously do not need to do theoretical physics to turn on the lights. But then again, atheists don't have to be Christians in order to be nice to other people, or help out their neighbor. Yet when you go to the heart of the matter, and you try to figure out what the foundation is for an atheist's system of morality, he is simply inconsistent. He must either borrow from a theistic worldview, or he must use ambiguous terms in order to avoid difficulties. So even though I believe that atheists can be 'good' people (in a relative sense), they have no consistent reason for doing so. If they do not borrow from a Christian worldview, they end up falling into irrationality, chaos, and relativism. Without presupposing the Triune God of scripture, one cannot come up with any system of objective morality that is consistent with itself and the universe around us.
     
  4. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Loopie is correct. But your choices are fourfold as I see it.
    1. Use inductive or deductive reasoning to establish a firm foundation for induction, which Hume proved is impossible
    2. Establish a common sense basis which again is impossible because we have no idea if the laws of physiscs will change in an instance and majority rule has no bearing on the actual state of affairs
    3. prove that the question is a psuedo question and needs no answer, I do not think that can be done since the problem of why there is a uniformity of nature is hardly an extreme skeptical position
    4. Provide a TA for the assumption we all have

    You don't need theoretical physics to turn on the lights but theoretical physics must be what it is in order for the lights to work at all. Whether I am aware of it or not physics must be physics for the light to work.
     
  5. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Or he could claim that he doesn't yet know the reason.

    Yes they do---you just said it yourself: practicality. It makes sense to be a 'good' person. There are good practical reasons for having standards of morality. The meta-ethical questions that you are proposing are secondary reasons for most.
     
  6. Loopie

    Loopie Puritan Board Freshman

    Philip,

    The atheist would be unable to find a reason, because any 'scientific study' is simply another argument from induction. He cannot find a reason because he must ALWAYS have an assumption about the universe when he seeks to find 'a reason for the reason'. Remember, he believes that the fire will still burn him, and he concludes that the reason for this is that fire always burns. When he tries to figure out why fire always burns, he realizes the only explanation is a uniformity of nature. When he asks himself why nature is uniform, whatever answer he discovers will be based on inductive reasoning from some science experiment. The TRUE and CORRECT answer is that God is the creator of all things, the law-giver, and has decreed the universe to work the way it does.

    As for people having a consistent reason for doing good, they might THINK that they have a consistent reason, but when we look at it, they don't. What are the good practical reasons for having standards of morality? In fact, how do you come up with those standards? Consider the following philosophers:

    Aristotle: Argued that Happiness is the final good. Of course, happiness is defined differently by different people, and so the sadist and masochist will have different opinions on what is 'good'.

    Hume: Argued that morality is based on what is useful. Of course, usefulness is a relative term, because some people (like the Nazis) will consider other people to be useless.

    John Stuart Mill: Argued that what is good is what provides the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. Again, happiness being a relative term, who decides what is 'happiness'?

    Ultimately these philosophers (and others) made either one of two fallacies. One is the Is-Ought fallacy. Simply because something IS a certain way does not mean that it OUGHT to be a certain way. The other is the Ad-Populum fallacy where they declare that society, or the majority vote, determines what is moral.

    There is no way that an atheist can escape making one of these two fallacies other than borrowing from the Christian worldview (at which point the atheist reveals himself as inconsistent).

    As for there being practical reasons for 'doing good', I would argue that when the atheist makes this claim, he is being inconsistent with his own worldview. I mean, if you TRULY believe that there is no life after death, no judgment after death, then WHY are you doing ANYTHING other than that which benefits you? I mean, if Hitler and Mother Theresa go to the same place when they die, there is no real reason to refrain from doing something unless it limits your pleasure in some way.

    I mean, if I was an atheist I could expect only to live to about 80-85 years old. But perhaps some of those last years will be spent in a hospital, so I really don't have that much time to enjoy myself. And in fact, if ALL we have is this life, then I would argue that the goal logically should be to live as long as possible while enjoying one's self as much as possible.

    The only limits to my search for pleasure are placed upon me by society and my own physical body. I would avoid eating too unhealthily because I don't want to end my life prematurely. I would avoid excessive use of drugs because even though they bring me pleasure, they can cause me to die earlier. When it comes to my behavior towards other human beings, I only should do something to help them if there was some ultimate benefit for me. It would be silly to waste precious time in my life making others happy if it is not going to bring pleasure to myself. And even if I find pleasure in the happiness of others, I am still not acting altruistically, since my ultimate goal is still self-pleasure, in whatever form it appears.

    So you see, this is the mentality that atheism as a system logically leads to. Life is short, there is no difference between the wicked and the righteous, so one should seek as much pleasure for one's self (the only limits being imposed by human society).

    Obviously most atheists don't think this way, BECAUSE THEY ARE BEING INCONSISTENT. They are borrowing from a Christian worldview concerning morality while at the same time holding to a worldview whose presuppositions lead only to moral relativism. It is either determined by society, which is a logical fallacy, or it is an argument from nature, another fallacy. If the atheist claims that he believes in objective morality, it is not an objective morality that is logically derived from his atheistic presupposition. He must have borrowed this objective morality from some other system/worldview.

    In the end, I would love for you to explain to me how any atheist can have an objective system of morality that is consistent with itself and with the universe around us.
     
  7. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    But it's a second-order question and is only answerable under the assumptions that if one flips the switch, the lights come on. One would still be warranted in flipping on the lights if one believed in Aristotelian physics.

    Ok---where's the problem? Why is this assumption unwarranted? Why should it be brought into question?

    Empathy? Altruism? People have all sorts of interesting motivations for doing good.

    Fine. Our theoretical atheist starts with premises a) human beings should be moral b) this morality cannot be grounded in God, given that God does not exist. When questioned on it, he asks you to show how these two premises are inconsistent with one another---how do they directly contradict one another?

    Myself, I'd go with Lewis's moral argument, but that's me.
     
  8. Loopie

    Loopie Puritan Board Freshman

    Philip,

    The reason why there is a problem is that he is unable to rationally find a reason why he should hold the assumptions that he does. Any attempt to 'prove' things through induction will lead to the problem of induction. Simply because he doesn't view it as a problem doesn't mean it does not exist. I mean, there are plenty of people who think that their worldview is perfectly consistent, but would not be true. It would be much like the alcoholic who is constantly told that he has a problem, but refuses to acknowledge it (it is not a problem to him). That is the nature of sin, and it permeates everything (including one's conclusions on epistemology).

    I would argue that under the atheistic system altruism does not exist. I mean, by the very nature of being a sinner, the atheist is focused on self-glorification and self-service (I hope you would agree with me that this is the nature of sin). Even if no other humans existed other than yourself, you would still naturally be a sinner and would have your universe revolve around yourself.

    For this reason altruism is a facade. If an unbeliever were to act in a way that helps others, it is only because such an act pleases themselves. Their motivation for doing anything is self-seeking, and is not done out of service to God.

    By the way, regardless of a person's motivation for doing 'good', can we really call it that? I mean, something is only truly good if it is done for the purpose of glorifying God. God must be the ultimate end of an action for it to be good. He IS good, and anything that does not come from faith is sin. So IN THIS SENSE of the word 'good', unbelievers never do good.

    Relative good simply refers to the fact that as creatures made in the image of God, men do not act as wickedly as they could. God certainly does restrain the evil of men as part of his common grace. So yes, atheists do 'relatively good' things to other people, but their motivations are never to glorify God, but to glorify themselves. Some people seek pleasure through more direct means (they rape, murder, and steal). Other people seek pleasure through more in-direct means. But either way, the ultimate goal (or end) of the unbeliever is self-glorification.

    In the case of your hypothetical atheist, I would challenge premise A. Why should human beings be moral? In fact, how would we define moral? We would need to know what moral was before we even could say whether human beings should be that way or not.

    I have already shown you how they are inconsistent. If he claims that there is an objective morality (without reference to God), I would like to know how to determine what this morality is. Who is the final authority on right and wrong if it is not God? Mankind? Ok, is it a majority vote, or is it one specific society? The majority vote is a fallacy because we would all agree that simply because the majority believe something is morally right does not make it so (sometimes the majority is wrong).

    Furthermore, if the majority IS right, then it is wrong for any person to challenge the majority. This means that any person who was not in the majority concerning their opinions on morality was wrong, because ONLY the majority can determine what is right.

    The other option for the atheist is to say that since we are all humans, we ought to be treated as humans. Of course, this begs the question: "What does it mean to be treated as a human?" The atheist COULD say that since a person IS alive they OUGHT to stay alive. Well if this is the case, then I suppose no one should ever be put to death for any crime they commit. Besides, there is no inherent reason why humans are unique in this area. We could just as easily make the claim that since cows ARE alive they OUGHT to stay alive. In fact, any living organism could be put into this Is-Ought argument.

    So in the end, the hypothetical atheist is using the term 'moral' in both of his premises. Well, he first needs to explain what he means by moral, because as an external observer I have no clue what he is talking about. The Nazis would consider morality to be VERY different than modern America. Remember, the ancient Greeks considered pederasty to be moral; the Japanese believed in honor-suicide; the Aztecs believed in human sacrifice and cannibalism; the Spartans believed in primitive eugenics; and the Nazis believed in genocide/social darwinism. Which society is right? If a society was wrong, how would you show this?
     
  9. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Hence why they are assumptions.

    I'd dispute this, actually. There are idols outside the self---Kantianism is all about altruism and self-denial.

    By the way, I don't think Christian ethics is altruistic either. We are in it to enjoy God, remember? Why did Jesus endure the cross, according to Hebrews? For the joy that was set before Him.

    Why not? It's pretty blasted obvious that they should.

    But Eric, not having a convincing answer is very different from being inconsistent or self-contradictory. Our hypothetical atheist is challenging you to find a contradiction, not an unanswerable question.
     
  10. Loopie

    Loopie Puritan Board Freshman

    Really? So you think that a person, particularly an unbelieving person, can TRULY do something without ANY self-seeking involved whatsoever? Yes, Kant argued that in order to truly do something altruistically a person would have to find absolutely no pleasure in it. In fact, they would essentially have to grudgingly force themselves to act for the benefit of others in order for their action to have moral worth.

    By the way, if you believe that man is totally depraved, and enslaved to sin, then what WOULD man's ultimate end of his actions be? They would always be self-seeking, whether directly or in-directly. All man's actions are a means to an end, and the end (for the sinful man) is himself (for he has rebelled against God and attempted to usurp his authority).

    So are you saying that we ONLY love God because we get something out of it? Loving God and finding satisfaction in that relationship with God is VERY different then loving God IN ORDER TO find satisfaction. Consider what the Apostle John says:

    1 John 4:15-19 (NASB)
    15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
    16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
    17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.
    18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.
    19 We love, because He first loved us.

    I would honestly say that based on this, Christians are indeed altruistic. The ultimate goal of our actions is the glorification of God, not of ourselves. We do not glorfiy God IN ORDER to please ourselves, but we do indeed find pleasure in glorifying God. It is a question of causality. We do not love God in order for him to love us (this statement would be made by someone who is self-seeking). Instead, we love God BECAUSE he loved us first. We do indeed find pleasure in loving God, but that is not WHY we love him. For this reason Christians, in their glorification of God, are NOT self-seeking.

    Obvious to who? It's only obvious because you believe in God. I am fairly certain that the Nazis would laugh at your statement that it is obvious that humans should be moral (unless of course you were to define morality in a way that they agreed with).

    I never mentioned having a convincing answer, and I don't think it matters just how 'convinced' the atheist is (no matter how convinced he is that he is right, he is still wrong). I said that ANY attempt on his part to come up with an objective moral system will be fallacious. It will be illogical and be reduced to absurdity. In fact, it would be IMPOSSIBLE for him to come up with an objective morality. If he tries to appeal to the majority, he needs to pick a society as his final authority. But societies change over time. Furthermore, he has deal with the issue that the majority is not always right. If he wishes to appeal to nature, he has to bridge the gap between IS and OUGHT. Ultimately his system will lead to moral relativism, and he will have to conclude that there is no such thing as morality (it is just an arbitrary human construct that changes between time, culture, and location).

    Generally, atheists AVOID having to conclude in moral relativism by doing a number of things:

    1) They exchange one relative/ambiguous term for another (happiness, hurt, harm, bad, good, usefulness, practical, common sense)
    2) They divert the argument, change direction in order to avoid the path that their worldview leads them down
    3) They borrow from a worldview that does not lead to moral relativism (Christianity)

    But the one thing they cannot do is remain consistent with their atheistic worldview and end up with a system of objective morality. If they did do this, it would prove that God is unnecessary for there to be morality (because obviously they found an objective system of morality without any reference to God).
     
  11. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Absolutely. It's a sad way to go about things, in my estimation.

    Either himself or something else---anything other than God.

    We find pleasure in loving God because He loves us.

    The atheist.

    Godwin's Law. Time out.

    What if he doesn't find the meta-ethical question interesting?

    No it wouldn't. You're talking like an evidentialist here. Coherent metaphysical systems are not necessarily true. Again, Leibniz: absolutely consistent and absolutely laughably absurd.

    I don't see why coming up with a consistent moral atheism would prove that God is unnecessary---it would most likely involve absurd conclusions, as in Kantianism. It would prove logically consistent but practically unsatisfying. There is a difference.
     
  12. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    If one could do something without seeking the good of self there would be no "motive" for what a person does. Further, the concept of reward and punishment would have no basis in human experience if this were possible.
     
  13. Loopie

    Loopie Puritan Board Freshman

    How would you go about showing that a person can indeed act for the ultimate end of something other than themselves? Consider that when children are raised they have to be taught to be not-selfish. Left to their own devices, without any parenting or teaching whatsoever, they will end up being a VERY self-centered adult. Again, if we believe that man is sinful in the womb, such a sinfulness would be self-centered, not centered on anything else. I honestly believe that this is the nature of sin (man attempts to take upon himself what is rightfully God's).

    Well, if we consider that sin and depravity affects man from the moment he is created, then it would obviously be himself if it was not God. Again, there is no evidence to suggest that a person actually does anything without having self-interest.

    Exactly, so you see that the ultimate end is God's glorification. If anyone asks you WHY you love God, it is because he loved you first. Self-pleasure is not the reason why you love God. Yet when an unbeliever appears to be purely altruistic (taking out the next door neighbor's garbage or something like that), there is still a reason behind why the person does so. They do it because they think it is 'right' to do so. And they do what is 'right' because it is pleasing for them to do so. I know of a number of people who love to boast in their 'good works', and are very satisfied with how good of a person they are (they honestly think that is why God will welcome them into heaven). They are great philanthropists, and they do many good works, but it is never truly done without self-interest. They always do the 'right' thing because it pleases them to do so. Again, this is not to be confused with finding pleasure in serving God as a believer. A Christian can find pleasure in loving the Lord but the pleasure itself is not the reason why he loves the Lord.

    And it is obvious to the alcoholic that he doesn't have a problem. He is still wrong.

    LOL. Good point. That's fine, insert any group of people (or just one person) who are viewed as extremely immoral. Again, there are plenty of moral relativists out there who would disagree that it is obvious that man should be moral. If anything, some would argue that anarchy would be a better system (survival of the fittest). Why are they wrong?

    It doesn't matter what he finds interesting. The alcoholic doesn't always find AA meetings interesting, but he still has a problem, and he is still wrong.

    Well, I haven't read Leibniz, and know very little about him. I am sure that one could figure out where he is inconsistent. By the way, I have mentioned several times that a system needs to be consistent with itself AND with the universe around us. As we have discussed before, creation testifies to the glory of God. You may indeed find a system that is consistent with itself, but that is no guarantee that it is consistent with what we see from God's creation.

    Well, I think you would agree that God is necessary for creation to exist. I am simply saying that God is necessary for objective morality to exist. You have still not at all dealt with my arguments concerning logical fallacies for the atheist, and how his worldview, followed to its logical conclusion, leads to moral relativism. I mean, can you even show me how an atheist would come up with an objective system of morality without referencing God as the giver of moral law?

    By the way, I said that if the atheist came up with an OBJECTIVE AND CONSISTENT moral system, that it would make God unnecessary for morality to exist. Certainly an atheist could come up with some arbitrary system that was consistent with itself (such as something similar to social darwinism/survival of the fittest), but it would still not be objective, because there is no way for him to show that HIS system is correct and his neighbor's system is incorrect. In the end it would simply be 'might makes right' (the classic Ad Baculum fallacy, or appeal to force).
     
  14. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    You show them that seeking the good of others brings greater joy and that giving is more blessed than receiving.

    Leibniz' monadology is absolutely consistent and can account for every phenomenon that we see. It's even theological (best of all possible worlds). It's also rather silly and there's no reason to think it true.

    So how's this different from reason? Reason works on the head, not the heart. We may touch a man's heart, but we can only hit him on the head (apologies to G.K. Chesterton for the analogy). Reason is simply a different kind of force as the hope is to "force" someone to see things our way.

    No, but neither can his neighbour. Objectivity is a myth, anyway, since the unbeliever and his neighbour are both subjects. I don't believe in objective truth, I believe in transcendent truth.
     
  15. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Oh the warrant is non-debatable, you are right about that. But that is how a TA works.
     
  16. Loopie

    Loopie Puritan Board Freshman

    I did not ask how you would show THEM how to not act selfishly. I asked if you could show ME how a naturally sinful person does indeed act for an ultimate end other than themselves. By the way, when you do tell someone that seeking the good of others brings greater joy you are appealing to a selfishness in the person. If you do X for someone else, you will receive Y, so therefore, do X. I would say to you that this is true for non-believers (they are molded by positive and negative reinforcement). But for believers, the reason why we believe in the Lord is because HE called us to faith and repentance. Whereas an unbeliever does 'good' things for ultimately selfish reasons, the believer loves God NOT in order to gain pleasure, but because God called them to love him. There is no doubt that I find pleasure in serving the Lord, but when someone asks me WHY I serve God, I don't say it is because I find pleasure in it, but that it is because God called me to faith and repentance (pleasure and joy are simply results of one's relationship with the Lord, not the cause of, or motive behind, one's relationship with the Lord).

    Well, I honestly think the 'best possible worlds' concept is unbiblical. It essentially is molinism (a concept defended by William Lane Craig). So again, Leibniz would not be consistent with the world that we see, because he would have show HOW this is the best possible world (with 'best' being a very ambiguous and relative term).

    Well, your apologetic method can be an appeal to either the head, or the heart, or both. If I was talking to someone who just recently lost a loved one, I would approach more from the heart than the head. But either way, it is God who saves, and no amount of words (or appeals) can bring a person to salvation unless God regenerate them. By the way, when I am using an apologetic argument that focuses on reason, I am not attempting to 'force' my opponent to see things my way. I am giving an account for the hope that I have, and for the faith that I have. I not only present the Christian worldview, but I show him that his position is inconsistent with itself and the world around us. Obviously I know that I can never 'force' a person to believe. That is not my place. Whether he believes or not is dependent upon God's saving grace. This is true REGARDLESS of the type of apologetic method you are using, whether you are appealing to the heart or the head.

    By the way, the difference between 'reason' and force is that when you appeal to force 'physically' you are appealing to YOUR standard and YOUR belief above all others (you are threating to hurt or kill the person if they do not submit to you). It certainly is not objective. Yet logical fallacies and consistent reasoning are not principles that are based on one man's opinion, they are principles that can be universally applied to all men (and there is no threat of injury or death). This is because God is a logical God, the source of all logic, truth, and reason (as well as morality). So the analogy that you made is not quite accurate.

    When I say 'objective morality' I would consider it to be referring to a belief that something is good and always good (such as God). An objective morality is in truth a transcendental morality, as God is the source of morality. I consider objective truth the same way. Objective truth would refer to the belief that there IS absolute truth, and that truth is not relative. Of course, this truth is founded upon God and only God, and is certainly transcendental in nature. So we are talking about the same things. If you don't want to use the term 'objective' that is fine, but remember that most common conversations with people will involve that term, rather than 'transcendental truth'. Even then, transcendental truth is very much a part of the transcendental argument. Without God, there would be no absolute truth or absolute morality. Everything would be relative.
     
  17. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Let's take the example of a radical Marxist. He has read the works of Marx and believes in the philosophy of Marxism and believes that it will help his fellow man, so he joins a socialist party to help create a society. Let's even suppose that our Marxist comes from a wealthy family, so he knows that he will lose a lot from the socialist revolution. I don't see a good reason to question the sincerity of his desires. He is sincerely wrong and following a false god, but it is a cause outside himself nonetheless.

    Is it? So you are saying that God's creation (time and space) is not the best that He could possibly create? I realize what your objection is, but in a certain sense, Leibniz is right and coherent with Scripture.

    I said "transcendent" not "transcendental." Actually, I've found that the term "objective" will often become a barrier because it is thought of in a scientific sense.
     
  18. Loopie

    Loopie Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes but you see Philip that the Marxist is joining the socialist party because he believes it is the 'right' thing to do. The reason WHY he does what he views to be 'the right thing' is because he enjoys it and finds pleasure in it. In his own mind he feels good to be part of something he believes in, however selfless it might seem. It is just like we talked about earlier regarding secondary causes; there are secondary motives as well for a person's actions. Consider two different men. Both men are hungry. One man steals food from a convenience store to satisfy his hunger. Another man gets a job, makes some money, and pays for his food from a convenience store to satisfy his hunger. Both men acted out of self-interest (ultimately), but the first man DIRECTLY served his self-interest while the other man INDIRECTLY served his self-interest.

    Would you agree with William Lane Craig when he says that God 'has to play with the hand he has been dealt'? Molinism (which is what leads to the 'best possible worlds' scenario) essentially makes God out to be the cosmic calculator that runs all the numbers before making a decision. Is that the type of God that you believe exists? Is that how scripture portrays God (as looking down the tunnel of time and then choosing to create). Or would you agree with me that God's knowledge of future events is based upon his eternal decree to create?

    As for God's creation being the 'best' that he could possibly create, it really depends on how you define 'best'. If you say that 'best' means that God perfectly glorifies himself by demonstrating his divine attributes, including his justice and mercy, then I would absolutely agree that this is the 'best' possible world. But then again, the phrase 'best possible world' is very loaded. It seems to suggest that other worlds were a possibility (as if God is somehow subject to chance, possibility, and probability). This universe is exactly how God decreed it to be, and in fact I would say that there was no possible way that it would have been created differently (because God is not subject to chance, which is what the term 'possiblity' implies). There was a never a time when God was not sure what he would create, since his decree to create was eternal.

    Well, when most people talk about morality, they usually refer to either moral objectivity or moral subjectivity (relativism). I have never heard the term transcendent truth used before in common conversation. I understand your concern for clarity, but most people I have had discussions with would consider objective morality to refer to a morality where something is good and always good, and not subject to change based on time, culture, location, etc.

    By the way, a transcendent truth (if I am not mistaken) is simply a truth that defines reality but is not affected by time or space (is unchanging). Well, those truths can only exist if God exists (if God did not exist, they would not exist), so those truths are indeed part of the transcendental argument. The transcendental argument declares that God is a pre-condition necessary for knowledge, existence, and morality. The transcendent truths are also truth claims that are a pre-condition required for us to make sense of the reality that we see. They are truths that are dependant upon God existing. In that sense they are very much transcendental.
     
  19. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Eric, exactly how do you know this? And even so, if this is self-centredness, may God make me more so! May God help me to enjoy glorifying Him more!

    Am I seriously hearing you advocate Kantianism here? As if a life of pleasureless altruism is somehow morally better than a life where one enjoys helping others?

    Absolutely not. God could have created the world however He wanted to. However, given that God had infinite options and chose to create the world as it is, this is the best of all possible worlds.

    Possibility refers to the fact that it is the case that God could have created the world otherwise. When we talk about possible world theory, we are asking the question, "could God have created the world such that X was true?"

    You're confusing logical possibility with physical possibility.

    Generally, the people I have spoken with think of objectivity is scientific terms---coming to the discussion with no presuppositions and no biases.

    I'm not sure how much sense it makes to talk about a transcendental truth given that transcendental refers to an argument that relies on transcending something. When I talk about a transcendent truth, I simply mean a truth that transcends opinions and is true for all. You're conflating your terms.
     
  20. Loopie

    Loopie Puritan Board Freshman

    Philip, I think you are completely missing the point that I am making. What I am simply showing you is that WITHOUT being saved by the grace of God, man is naturally selfish and self-centered. This is not morally 'good' or 'righteous behavior'. Yet when we become saved, regenerate, we ARE ABLE to TRULY do 'good' works, because they are done for the glorification of God out of faith. THAT is true altruism. I NEVER ONCE held to Kantianism, and in fact in an early post clearly rejected it as silly. What I believe is true is that NO ONE does good unless they act out of faith in God. While all other actions that a sinful man commits are for self-glorification, the righteous man seeks to glorify God.

    So in the end, I am not sure why you would want God to make you more self-centered. Clearly that would be asking God to make you more sinful. Acting in a way that glorifies self is NOT how one glorifies God. All I ask is that you carefully read what I say before jumping to a conclusion that somehow I advocated Kantianism, or that I believe self-centeredness glorifies God. I have never said anything to advocate these positions.

    But no other worlds were possible. God's 'choice' to create the world as it is was an eternally made choice. I honestly do not believe that there was a time where God had still not decided on what kind of world to create. There was only ever one world that would have been created, the world that God had decreed in eternity past to create.

    This just leads into one of those so-called 'conundrums' where we ask ourselves: "Could God have created a square circle?" or "Could God have created a world without evil?" Yet we must remember that God's omnipotence means that he is always able to accomplish his will. Whatever God wills WILL come to pass (but he doesn't WILL all possible things to occur). So to address your statement that God COULD have created a world where X was true, that is only true if that was God's will. If God had an eternal will, an eternal decree to create the world as it is, then there was no possibility that another world could have been created. Again, when you use the term 'possible' you are implying a sense of uncertainty, which I do not think can be implied in the case of God's eternal decree. Something might be 'uncertain' or 'possible' from our limited human perspective, but we have to try to break away from that perspective when considering God's divine attributes (particularly with regard to his eternal nature).

    Well, I suppose it depends on what different types of people we talk to. Obviously there is no one who is truly unbiased and without presuppositions. Everyone has them. The question is, whose presuppositions can most consistently account for the reality that we see while being consistent with itself? None but the Christian worldview.

    Ok, so when you mean 'a truth that transcends opinions and is true for all' you are obviously talking about absolute truth. Well, such truths would not exist without God, and so it all points back to the transcendental argument. Without God, your transcendent truths do not exist, and all is relative.
     
  21. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    And here's what I'm saying, Eric: genuine altruism can also be idolatrous and sinful. One may have the best of intentions and not in a self-serving manner, and still go to hell.

    Eric, you're making a claim here about the secret will of God. Don't presume to know what God did or didn't decree apart from what is revealed and especially do not limit the freedom of God in creation. God was free to create whatever kind of world He chose.

    God cannot create a square circle. Neither can God create a rock too big for Him to lift. God cannot create that which is self-contradictory. Both of these concepts are self-referentially incoherent.

    Yes, God could have created a world without evil---but clearly it glorified Him more to create a world where good came of evil and God became man.

    Eric, you're conflating things. Metaphysical possibility is a mere function of logic. God is free to create the world howsoever He wills.

    Don't put the weight here on the argument. Make the argument and show how it is logically impossible that transcendent truth cannot exist without the transcendent God of Scripture. But don't make the claim that this form of argument (transcendental) is what accounts for things: God is what makes things possible, not the argument.

    Here's my point: God is still God even if there is no smackdown conclusive argument. My faith does not stand or fall on such arguments and neither should yours. Arguments are always a tool and they always are the product of faith seeking understanding.
     
  22. Loopie

    Loopie Puritan Board Freshman

    But due to the nature of sin and its affect on man, we know that altruism does not really exist apart from those who are Christ's sheep. The sinner's ultimate goal is self-glorification, which is the creature rebelling against the creator. I think that this is fairly clear from what scripture teaches. For this reason a non-regenerate person ALWAYS has a motive for doing something that is self-seeking.

    I absolutely agree that God is free. The problem is that the phrase 'best possible worlds' leads one to imagine an amount of uncertainty on the part of God. You are absolutely right that I, and no one else should claim to know the secret will of God, but I think we would go too far if we were to embrace molinism.

    I absolutely agree. It was part of God's plan for demonstrating his divine attributes and bringing glory to himself that the world exist as it does today. I was simply highlighting the relationship between God's ability to do something and his WILL to do something. The two should be viewed in relation to one another.

    Absolutely, God is the only truly free being. I am merely pointing out the weaknesses of the phrase 'best possible worlds'. You generally never hear that phrase used from Christians unless there is a reference to molinism and 'middle knowledge'. I have never heard of a Reformed Theologian using that phrase (I very well could be mistaken).

    Philip, I think you assume a bit too much concerning the motives behind those who use the transcendental argument. Never once have I said that the transcendental argument itself is what accounts for things (or makes them possible). The transcendental argument, as I have come to understand it, makes the case that unless we presuppose the Tri-une God of scripture, we cannot account for anything. The argument itself does not account for things, but it is God. This has been Van Til's argument, and I am not sure why you would think that we believe the argument itself accounts for anything. Clearly it is ALL of God.

    Throughout this entire conversation I have been trying to show the merit of the transcendental argument, and how we MUST have God in order to account for anything. I apologize if I have not been as clear as I could be, but I think that perhaps you have misunderstood the position of those who use the transcendental argument. As you said, it is simply a tool. My faith does not come from reason, or from emotion, but from the grace of God. It is God who saves. And just like I have mentioned several times, no amount of appeals to the heart or the mind will lead an unbeliever to Christ. Only by God's grace will they be made regenerate. The usefulness of the transcendental argument is that it is a tool that allows us to see just how much everything depends upon God. History, science, creation, knowledge, morality, etc. ALL point back to the creator. In fact, these things (and reality in general) cannot make sense without God. When the unbeliever attempts to remove God from the picture, he ends up wallowing in darkness and absurdity. My use of the transcendental argument is simply to call unbelievers to repentance, so that they might realize their sinful state and their utter dependance upon God's mercy. I use it to point them to scripture, and to show them that the only way that man can truly live is to live by the word of God. Without God, and without his word, nothing makes sense. Glory be to God.
     
  23. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    This is because it's a philosophical term and has fallen out of favour since Voltaire's Candide, which mocked the concept. Again, possibility here has nothing to do with uncertainty---it has to do with ability.

    Part of the trouble here, though, is that you're preaching to the choir. In an actual apologetic context, you would need to be able to demonstrate this conclusively---which I don't think is possible. The problem with the argument is not simply that it's Christianity vs. atheism or whatever other view the particular person you are engaging with has, but that it sets up Christianity against all other views such that in order to demonstrate that Christianity is the truth, one has to not only prove that Christianity is coherent (it's impossible, by the way, to conclusively establish coherence) but one has to deconstruct all other possible views. Otherwise it's an inconclusive argument.
     
  24. Loopie

    Loopie Puritan Board Freshman

    But the problem is that when the phrase 'best possible worlds' is used, it can only lead down the road to molinism. I mean, consider for a moment that when you say 'possible worlds', it implies that there were other worlds that were 'possible'. In fact, it would imply that there was a point in time when God looked at all the different possible worlds that he could create, calculated which one would be 'best', and then made his decision based on this knowledge. It implies that God passively takes in knowledge (when he looks down the tunnel of time), and that this knowledge was not based on his eternal decree. That is why Reformed Theologians shy away from the phrase 'best possible worlds', because it leads to confusion and misunderstanding.

    It certainly did not seem like I was preaching to the choir, since your opposition to the transcendental argument was very intense (from my point of view). When you say the phrase 'demonstrate conclusively' I assume that you mean that we must demonstrate this conclusively to the unbeliever. I mentioned in previous posts how no amount of appeals or arguments by themselves will convince an unbeliever to repent and believe. As a sinner, the unbeliever is UNWILLING to acknowledge his position as untenable (regardless of the evidence). Keep in mind that this is true REGARDLESS of the argument or appeal that you make. No amount of evidence by itself will demonstrate conclusively to the unbeliever that the bible is the word of God and that Jesus rose from the dead.

    So in the end, if you say that the transcendental argument cannot demonstrate the truth of God conclusively to the unbeliever, I would agree with you (because NO argument can do that). Only God, by his grace, can convince the unbeliever that the position of unbelief is an untenable one. Of course, this does not in any way reduce the usefulness and merit of the transcendental argument. The transcendental argument is in fact a argument for the truth, because the truth is that God is a necessary being for creation, logic, morality, etc. Just because an unbeliever is unwilling (and unable) to acknowledge that, does not mean that the argument is useless (the unbeliever will refuse ANY argument that you make). The argument (like other arguments) is simply a tool used for apologetics. But I do think that it is the best tool. An arminian can make arguments in defense of the faith, and God might use that apologetic method in that moment as a means to bestow saving Grace upon the unbeliever. Does this mean that we SHOULD use arminian arguments? Not at all. God can certainly draw a straight line with a crooked stick, but we should not be in the habit of making crooked sticks. For this reason we must use an apologetic that is as biblical as possible, and I believe that the transcendental argument is exactly that (the best tool in the shed).
     
  25. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    No it doesn't. Molinism depends on a certain view of human freedom and involves a certain view of indeterminacy. Leibniz' "best of all possible worlds" theodicy does not hold this view.

    No it doesn't. It could also imply that God decreed from before time began the world that would be best out of all the ones that He could have created. Do not presume to say that God was somehow bound to create this world or that God was bound to elect any particular person. You are suggesting that there is necessity in God apart from His nature.

    No, reformed theologians don't talk this way because this isn't a theological category. It's a philosophical one. Possible worlds are a thought-experiment.

    No. I mean in general. The burden of proof you have set here is such that you must prove that God is the only logically possible explanation for the various phenomena that you have suggested. It's not enough to posit God as a nice explanation---you must conclusively demonstrate that He is the only possible explanation. The method you've chosen, by the way, is possibly the hardest, since you're trying to prove that there is no gold in China.

    As long as you fail to provide this, the argument is inconclusive from a logical standpoint. As long as there is a single possible view that you have not addressed, the argument is incomplete.

    I'd say it's the clumsiest and most cumbersome. Rhetorically, it ends up being mostly composed of assertions. The only reason why the Bahnsen/Stein debate went the way it did was because Stein didn't understand the kind of argument that Bahnsen was giving or that all he really had to do was challenge Bahnsen's assertions.
     
  26. Loopie

    Loopie Puritan Board Freshman

    But Leibniz did not use the term 'best' to refer to God's glorification of himself. It seems that his focus was more on good and evil rather than God glorifying himself or not. If we view 'best possible worlds' as referring to the actual world itself, and whether it is as 'good' as it could be, I would say that would be incorrect. If we view 'best possible world' as referring to God's decision to 'best' glorify himself, then I would say that is correct. The question is: In which sense did Leibniz use the phrase?

    Of course I would not say that God was 'bound' or 'forced' to do anything. God is absolutely free in that he is never influenced, forced, or pressured into doing anything. By the way, since when did the concept of Election come into this conversation? I think you are jumping to a conclusion that was not even part of this discussion (I know I never brought it up). God is a necessary being, but he himself is free. The reason I think Leibniz would be incorrect about his theodicy is because he does not seem to be referring to God glorifying himself (which is what makes this world 'best'). He is talking about the world itself, and whether it is 'good' or 'bad'. For this reason he would be wrong (even Plantinga criticized his theodicy).

    What do you mean in general? When you are attempting to demonstrate something conclusively, you are demonstrating it TO SOMEONE. So either you are demonstrating it to God (which would be unnecessary and silly), yourself (which is also silly, because you already believe it), or to someone else (which makes sense if they don't believe it). For this reason it seems that when you say 'demonstrate conclusively' you are saying that we are demonstrating it to someone else. You cannot demonstrate something without reference to someone (the term 'demonstrate' implies this).

    The difficulty with demonstrating that God is the only possible explanation does not lie in the method itself, it lies in the fact that you are trying to demonstrate this to a person enslaved to sin, who is UNWILLING to believe what you say. That is the difficulty (and it is true for any apologetic method). You yourself obviously believe that God is the only explanation for the world that we see. You believe this because you believe that scripture is the word of God when God called you to repentance and faith. Now that you are no longer a slave to sin, no longer living in darkness, you see the truth of reality (that it does not make sense without God).

    So I do not see how my method is the hardest. It is simply a statement of the truth. God is necessary. Period, end of story. The usefulness of the method is that from ANY discussion you can point the unbeliever back to God and scripture. Are you talking about history? Well, you can show how history was ordained and controlled by God, and that nothing makes sense apart from his divine plan. Are you talking about existence? Well, you can show that life/creation would not be possible without God, and that scripture declares him to be the creator of all things. Are you talking about knowledge? Well, you can show that truth/knowledge is meaningless and relative without God. As scripture declares, God is the God of truth. Are you talking about morality? Well, you can show that without God there is no such thing as absolute morality. All morality is relative without a law-giver. Yet God IS that law-giver, and scripture declares his law.

    How is it clumsy and cumbersome? Assertions? Well of course we assert that the Triune God of scripture is necessary for the world to make sense. Just because the unbeliever can't grasp it is not the fault of the assertion, but is a result of the enslaved will of the unbeliever. As for the Bahnsen/Stein debate, I was not even thinking about this, and am not sure why you brought it up (I know that it was discussed a while ago, but I thought it was no longer part of the discussion).

    I think ultimately you seem to have an opposition to the transcendental argument perhaps because you have seen people misuse or abuse it. Perhaps they (or yourself) have not fully understood it, but it was my hope to provide an explanation of its purpose and usefulness. It is simply a method by which we bring everything back to God and the Bible. Shouldn't that be how apologetics works?
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2012
  27. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Sorry, but I'm not sure how the two are in conflict? I don't agree with the theodicy, by the way, but it's for an entirely different reason. I'm just arguing that the best of all possible worlds theodicy is a live option.

    Hold on, here. Just because you already believe something doesn't make coming up with an argument for it for yourself silly at all. Where did you get that notion?

    Eric, this is my point: any atheist with any training in philosophy at all will understand that the burden of proof on you is absurdly high with a TA. Simply as an argument it has this problem.

    You're missing my point entirely: a TA doesn't work as an argument. Unless you are using the ontological argument, there is no way of conclusively showing that God is logically necessary without deconstructing all other possible views of the matter (impossible).

    I'm talking about proofs that are actually absolutely conclusive.

    Because it tries to prove that there is no gold in China. The only way to conclusively prove that there is no gold in China is to go over every square inch of China making sure that there isn't an atom of gold.

    Simply asserting it isn't a proof. You've given no reason for the unbeliever to accept it. An assertion isn't an argument.

    No, I don't like it because it promises everything and delivers nothing unless you already accept the premise that God exists. In a logical sense, all it proves is that you have a nice theory. The only thing that an unbeliever will respond with is "well that's interesting."
     
  28. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    I don't think that's what Philip is getting at. He's speaking about the transcendental argument as a logical argument. From logic, we learn there are certain rules that must be satisfied in order for an argument to be successful or complete. In order for the transcendental argument to be successful, complete according to logical rules, one must deconstruct every single possible other worldview and establish the coherency of the Christian worldview. Why? The transcendental argument claims that Christianity is the only possible explanation. Since one is proving this indirectly, one must show no other worldview can do this before one is left with only Christianity, and even then one would need to demonstrate that Christianity provides that explanation. Because Christianity makes exclusive truth claims, it indeed would be quicker to prove the truth of Christianity than the falsity of everything else.

    Nevertheless, as a method of arguing rather than an argument itself, obliterating an opponent's worldviews and showing how Christianity does account for something can work. While an unbeliever may jump from worldview to worldview, the unbeliever is as finite as the one arguing and has his or her own biases and prejudices, and so psychologically speaking (perhaps there's a better word I could use here), that unbeliever could only jump around so much (or perhaps, because of the unbeliever's hostility to Christianity, will move a little and then stick with some other worldview); the unbeliever could only have so many "live" options, to borrow terminology from William James. That is how I understood Van Til anyway (with respect to this issue; I'm aware of the method of showing an unbeliever that what they claim presupposes a belief in God and so that they borrow from a Christian worldview): he was providing a method of arguing rather than an argument itself, the method being based on the fact that the argument itself is true from a Christian perspective (supporters of Van Til, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong), though one would have to accept Christianity in order to see the argument as true.



    Think of it like this. Say you had a cupcake on a table and left it for a while. You came back and found it was gone. You have a possible theory for why it has disappeared, but you wish to prove it is the correct theory by showing it is the only possible theory (which means, of course, your "possible theory" must actually explain the facts and you'll need to show this). In order to show it is the only possible theory, you decide to eliminate all the other options (e.g., aliens took it). There are so many possible options that it is impossible to show your one theory is correct--logically speaking--by being the one remaining possibility. Nevertheless, psychologically, you are finite and only have a finite number of "live" options, so it is possible psychologically (again, I'm not sure this is the right word to use) to convince yourself that your theory is correct by eliminating the other "live" possibilities (of course, in this example, I am assuming your original theory is correct).
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2012
  29. Loopie

    Loopie Puritan Board Freshman

    Well, Plantinga argued the Leibniz' concept was wrong because a person could always conceive of a world with one more moral person. Again, it does not seem that Leibniz considered 'best' to refer to that world which best glorifies God. He was referring to 'best' as in the state of the world as it is. Those who believe that there will be a New Heavens and a New Earth understand that what we have right now is not the best possible world (in the sense that Leibniz understood it to be).

    Well you can certainly grow in faith and assurance. I mean as I learn more about the world I continuously see God's glory, and come to better appreciate the grace that he has bestowed upon me. Yet I do not go out there with the intention that I need to demonstrate to myself conclusively something that I already believe. Reinforcing one's believe is very different than demonstrating conclusively in the sense that you presented the term. It still is quite clear though that we don't really demonstrate things in general without reference to a person.

    Any atheist with any training in philosophy will more than likely be a skeptic, and will not be able to account for existence, knowledge, and morality. He cannot show why humans should behave a certain way without reference to a law-giver. Plain and simple. The ontological argument itself depends on the assumption that God exists (it also will never lead one necessarily to conclude that it is the Christian God, or that scripture is God's word, it just leads to some general 'God'). It is reasoning from the creature back to God, while not addressing the underlying presuppositions.

    Actually the burden of proof is on the atheist. The atheist must find a system that is both consistent with itself and with the world around us. Yet despite his best efforts, he will never be able to make full and complete sense out of reality without God. He is searching in the dark for an answer that is anything but God (because he is in rebellion against God). The Christian who uses the transcendental argument simply points this out. It would seem that the 'no gold in China' analogy does not fit very well. If we were to try to make it analogous to the TA, we would have to make a few adjustments. For instance, let us say that the unbeliever asserts that there is no gold in China (he is the one making the negative assertion that 'there is no God'). The believer argues that there is gold in China (God exists). The unbeliever says there is no proof that gold exists, but the believer argues that the unbeliever cannot make sense of reality without gold existing (there is evidence everywhere, but the unbeliever refuses to acknowledge it). In the analogy, the unbeliever can only make sense of the world that he sees if gold exists in China. No matter how hard the unbeliever tries, he cannot find a way to consistently explain reality apart from gold existing in China. He searches for a way to escape the reality that there is gold in China, but he cannot do so and remain consistent.

    But the unbeliever does not accept God based on reasoning of the mind. He will only accept God when God spiritually removes the heart of stone and replaces it with the heart of flesh. There is no argument in the world that will cause the unbeliever to accept God (apart from God's saving grace). I agree that an assertion isn't an argument, but all arguments are based upon assertions/presuppositions. No matter how many words you speak to the unbeliever, in his mind he will conclude that he has no good reason to accept God. It is simply willful rebellion.

    I don't see how it promises everything and delivers nothing. It is an argument, not a promise. It is God who promises and delivers, but the unbeliever will not accept that. In fact, what the transcendental argument points out is that the unbeliever continuously tries to find something else (other than God) to deliver promises. Yet everything that the unbeliever puts his hope in delivers nothing, for only God can deliver the truth.

    ---------- Post added at 12:58 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:45 PM ----------

    Philip,

    I think that we are at an impasse regarding our discussion on the topic. To use an air force term I think it is best to call 'terminate' due to the fact that we do not seem to be progressing in our discussion (no more learning is being accomplished). I think perhaps we should call it a day and perhaps discuss the issue privately or in a future discussion board. I really do appreciate your zeal, and I have enjoyed our discussion immensely. Anyways, please PM me if you wish to discuss anything further, but for now let us agree to disagree.

    ---------- Post added at 01:15 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:58 PM ----------

    Raymond,

    Yes but Christianity's truth claims are based upon God and his revelation. There is no way to prove the truth of Christianity to an unbeliever 'quickly' because both the unbeliever and the Christian begin from very different points. Their worldviews are based upon different presuppositions. The unbeliever makes man the final authority on matters of truth and morality, while the believer rightly acknowledges God as the final authority. The unbeliever has to show how he can make sense of reality consistently. All you have to do is simply show him that every time he thinks he has made sense of the world, that he really hasn't. It is because he searches in darkness for something that is not there.

    If an unbeliever jumps from worldview to worldview he has just shown himself to be inconsistent. He is simply highlighting his rebellious nature and that he is attempting to escape God. It doesn't matter to me how many times the unbeliever jumps around. If he continues to reject God he only ends up demonstrating his fallen nature and that the wrath of God is upon him. If he accepts God it is because God chose to bestow saving grace upon him. Again, no one argument will win over an unbeliever. The classical arguments for the existence of God will never logically lead an unbeliever to conclude that it must be the Christian God, and that the Bible must be His word (these two things must be presupposed).

    Yes but the person you are trying to prove something to is not unbiased, but is in complete rebellion against God. If you were both on the same playing field (neutrality) then you certainly could simply prove the truthful position. But since you both play by two different sets of rules (presuppositions), you must show that his rules are inconsistent. Remember, I didn't become a Christian by convincing myself that God was a necessary being. I became a Christian by the grace of God, and now that I see the truth of reality I have come to realize just how necessary God is. Of course the unbeliever will not believe you, but then again, no matter how much 'positive' evidence you present to him, he will not be convinced (because he holds entirely different presuppositions). In the case of the cupcake, ALL evidence points to the very theory that you are trying to defend. Your friend believes that you have ZERO evidence to defend your theory. Your next step is to show him that his presuppositions (and his sinful nature) prevent him from seeing things clearly. You ask him to try and explain reality consistently, and every time he tries to explain it you show him how he fails. Whether he comes to realize his enslaved state or not is up to God.
     
  30. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    Well, considering that the only reason I posted was in order to hopefully clarify what was going on so that the discussion could continue, I guess I'm done now too! I will only note that each example you have given in response to me is again a method of arguing not an argument. It is the latter that I was speaking about and only with respect to the transcendental argument anyway. It is also important to distinguish between the reason for using an argument or method of arguing and the argument or method of arguing. For example, you state

    "All you have to do is simply show him that every time he thinks he has made sense of the world, that he really hasn't."

    "But since you both play by two different sets of rules (presuppositions), you must show that his rules are inconsistent."

    "Your next step is to show him that his presuppositions (and his sinful nature) prevent him from seeing things clearly. You ask him to try and explain reality consistently, and every time he tries to explain it you show him how he fails. Whether he comes to realize his enslaved state or not is up to God."

    All of these are merely methods of arguing. They include arguments, yes, but they do not include a transcendental argument that was argued for indirectly. To prove a transcendental argument indirectly (or perhaps more accurately, proving Christianity as a worldview indirectly) requires the things mentioned earlier in the thread. To use a method in which one shows that the unbeliever requires God with respect to some worldviews--in the manner you have stated--does not prove a transcendental argument, which again, requires certain rules in order to be proved. Instead it provides evidence for the transcendental argument's truth. I explained in my post a possible reason why this method of arguing may work in practice, and indeed, I don't have a problem with this method of arguing.



    "There is no way to prove the truth of Christianity to an unbeliever 'quickly' because both the unbeliever and the Christian begin from very different points. Their worldviews are based upon different presuppositions. The unbeliever makes man the final authority on matters of truth and morality, while the believer rightly acknowledges God as the final authority."

    "[The unbeliever] is simply highlighting his rebellious nature and that he is attempting to escape God. It doesn't matter to me how many times the unbeliever jumps around. If he continues to reject God he only ends up demonstrating his fallen nature and that the wrath of God is upon him."

    "The classical arguments for the existence of God will never logically lead an unbeliever to conclude that it must be the Christian God, and that the Bible must be His word (these two things must be presupposed)."

    "Yes but the person you are trying to prove something to is not unbiased, but is in complete rebellion against God. If you were both on the same playing field (neutrality) then you certainly could simply prove the truthful position. But since you both play by two different sets of rules (presuppositions), you must show that his rules are inconsistent."

    "Of course the unbeliever will not believe you, but then again, no matter how much 'positive' evidence you present to him, he will not be convinced (because he holds entirely different presuppositions)."

    These are the reasons for your method of arguing (the method being: deconstructing their view with respect to something and showing that Christianity explains that something). They are not an argument for Christianity but rather an argument for using the method of arguing that you are using. Indeed, they go a little further in that they also give the attitude with which you argue with an unbeliever (lets not forget that we're not just talking about atheists; the transcendental argument for Christianity is about the Christian God). But none of these are arguments for Christianity.


    Such was what I was trying to get across in my earlier post.
     
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