VanTillian apologetics begs the question?

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by knight4christ8, Mar 13, 2005.

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  1. knight4christ8

    knight4christ8 Puritan Board Freshman

    Insightful, but unfortunately you do exactly what you accused the atheist of. Van Tillian apologetics are filled with arguments that beg the question. Assume the Christian God to prove the Christian God, right? :um: Maybe that is a little too basic for a summary of the position, but it caught my attn. when you accused him of this.
  2. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    If memory serves me, I think Paul has answered this charge a couple of times in his 4500 other posts...;)
  3. knight4christ8

    knight4christ8 Puritan Board Freshman

    [quote/]If memory serves me, I think Paul has answered this charge a couple of times in his 4500 other posts...;) [/quote]

    Even Bahnsen himself was not able to answer this charge. There is no way to get around it. BTW, this 4500 post thing is getting really old. It's turning into a logical fallacy. If he has done it before, he should have his answer refined enough that you could understand it well enough to reiterate for me, rather than doing what you did. Especially since you seem to be speaking for him.

    As humans we are seperate beings from God. God created us, but how are we to understand all of his communication? . . . it is all through a direct communication that we hear and understand. We recieve communication because we use reason. Without reason we cannot recieve this communication. Ask an animal why they exist, or does God exist. This is not their concern. Only humans seek to answer these questions. Why? Because reason, as the laws of thought, drive us to explain the world around us. You cannot say that God exists apart from appealing to reason. You can say that reason exists apart from appealing to God. NO human can question reason because it is what allows one to question. These are the only grounds which Christians can argue from honestly . . . and disprove every other worldview by revealing and shining light on where other worlviews fail to use reason consistently. If you argue from the existence of God you are beginning from a dishonest point of reference. Romans 1 can be understood rightly apart from any presupposition of God. In fact, in accordance with John 1 it points to reason being the light which is in all men as they enter the world. Rom. says that God's divine attributes and eternal nature is known by what has been made. There is NO appeal to an innate knowledge here, but as the passage goes on into less basic terms, you fail to understand what he is saying b/c you fail to remember the clarity of his basis set out earlier in the chapter.
    I pray that you will earnestly consider my words without trying to rebuttle immediately. I respect open ears and questioning. I will earnestly listen to anything that you say as long as you do the same for me. Thank you.

    [Edited on 3/15/2005 by fredtgreco]
  4. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    One can beg the question if he has an epistemological framework to back it up. Bahnsen did indeed answer this in his 12 part series on Michael Martin under the Microscope.

    Frame (or Bahnsen) said:
    All arguments are circular, but not all circles are valid.
  5. knight4christ8

    knight4christ8 Puritan Board Freshman

    Frame or Bahnsen were wrong when they said:
    "All arguments are circular, but not all circles are valid."

    I showed clearly in my text above, which I hope you cared enough to read, that there is one argument that is not circular . . . the mark of a God-provided basis from which to know Him and evangelize the nations.

    Try to argue for the law of identity or the law of non-contradiction. You can't. These are what allow the exact processes of questioning that you are trying to use when questioning them. There is no circular argument involved when you begin with the proper framework.

    I will say it again . . . from man's finite standpoint in time and space:
    He cannot say that God exists apart from appealing to reason. He can say that reason exists apart from appealing to God.

    Begging the question is dishonest and disrespectful to mankind if you are given the means by which you can argue foundationally from an undeniable premise. No man can deny that reason stands in him at a basic level . . . even to use language he must assume the laws of thought: law of identity, law of non-contradiction, and law of the excluded middle. (i.e. "The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.").

    What Presuppositionalism utilizes is a false diagnosis that people (e.g. Stein) have to assume the existence of God before they can be moral creatures. Rather, it is the fact that reason stands in them condemning them at that level, because they, and all men left to themselves, fail to use reason consistently with the less basic (i.e. Does God exist?), but still use reason at an autonomous level.
  6. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    If I may, I'd like to interject. I'm not really sure follow your reasoning. But I would like to say that some representations of Presuppositionalism are not very good ones at all, and that perhaps you are arguing against that instead of a proper presuppositionalistic presentation. For example, if Bahnsen justifies his circular reasoning, but discounts anyone else's, then that is no more than pride, for he has logically undermined his own position. He has placed the degree of rightness on his person, and not on the reason. Everyone's circularity is right in his own eyes, so that cannot be the criterion for soundness. I don't think Bahnsen meant to do that, though it is followed by many exclusive subscribers to his views. To be fair, I would say he used unfortunate language in saying some of the things I have read from him.

    He is right that some arguments are valid, and that they seem to be reducible to a circular beginning. However, I disagree with the assessment that they are reduced to a circular beginning of necessity. He disparages any kind of proof as a beginning, and thus places all arguments into the realm of circularity, of proposing (inducting) conceptual beginnings or paradigms. This, then, must include his own. All he is saying is that at least his is consistent all the way through, even though he himself may be wrong on some or many things.

    This is fine for him, but it is not fine for me. I believe that there are prerequisites to presuppositions, and that we could not reason or have presuppositions without the environment of the creation within which we live. We have the proof laid out before us to make basic presuppositions from. They are unchangeable facts; brute facts if you will (and not if you will not). We live in the world as it is, and as God has ordained it, and not in just a nebulous world of thought and ideas. In basic, its a real world out there that we have thoughts about. We agree on the fact that only under the acknowledgement of God does it all make sense.
  7. knight4christ8

    knight4christ8 Puritan Board Freshman


    I find no disagreement with you, except . . . the fact that there is absolute truth. I know that I am probably misunderstanding you, but it is not fine for Bahnsen if it is a dishonest confrontation of man's sin. The only thing that we can have, apart from creation, is the unquestionable image of God standing as reason in us. Rom. 1 tells us plainly, before it gets to the less basic, that we understand God's eternal power and divine nature from what has been made. What knowledge of God could be more basic than the fact that He is eternal? Nothing. This observation plainly refutes any dishonest notion that we have a knowledge of God deep down inside us that we are suppressing. All knowledge is gained through working dominion (this includes accepting Scripture). A being is known by its act necessarily, and in no way apart from it. In this same way God is known by the creation and the giving of Scripture, but in no way apart from that (i.e. knowledge of God innately in us).
  8. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    I wasn't disagreeing with you, though I think we differ somewhat on our ideas of knowledge. What I was trying to say is that followers of Bahnsen do a lot to make us think that Bahnsen said so-and-so, but he really didn't say that at all. The problem lies in the kind of language he used.

    I could give examples, but that's not my point. What I was trying to say is that we should not attribute to Bahnsen those things that are, in reality, misrepresentations or overstatements of what Bahnsen really said. I can't believe that I'm defending him, but its not really him that I'm defending as much as trying to stay honest to the subject. What I meant was that just as some of his followers have overstated the case using his examples so perhaps you are overstating the case the other direction, in reaction perhaps not to Bahnsen but to his followers.

    Where I differ with you is that you and I are also part of that basic fact, both in our body and in our mind. That is, our physical outer world and mental inner world are both part of the creation, both of which speak firstly of God's power and divinity. So the fact THAT you can think is already a proof of God's existence, so to speak. It is this basic concept that presuppositionalism builds on. And I would agree with that; but I don't agree with the idea that reasoning begins on our presuppositions, same as you. They are basic, but you need things to have presuppositions about; and God exists outside our presuppositions, not because of them. But then we start splitting hairs over the faculty of reason and basis of reason itself, which admittedly are two different things, but needs to be thought through carefully as a whole first. So I don't make an issue here over that. I find it better to work in the area of mutual concepts, and try to keep to these commonalities. Its not that they are all wrong, it just that they aren't always careful about their ideas. Some do chase their tails, but that is their shortcoming, and not necessarily a shortcoming of Presuppositioinalism itself. I think it is, but then I may be wrong; I just don't want to confuse the truth of it with the representations given of it.

    In basis I agree with you on the outward exhibits placed before our mind, which speak eloquently of God's power and deity. And the Belgic Confession, art. II says the very same thing explicitly. It is basic to our confession and our faith.
  9. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    Gregory, can you prove your point without assuming it first?

    [Edited on 3-18-2005 by puritansailor]
  10. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    I suppose I should point out where I'm trying to lead you with the last question. You said:
    But the reformed tradition has clearly taught an innate knowledge within us of God. (I'll refer you to Berkhof for now). We are part of that creation which declares the glory of God in fact the crown of that creation, and made in His image. Mankind clearly does suppress the truth he knows in unrighteousness. That is the whole point of Romans 1. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding you. Also, where does Bahnsen argue there is no such thing as absolute truth? Presuppositional apologetics does not argue there are no absolutes. In fact quite the opposite. The whole point they try to make is that mankind cannot avoid absolute truth. It is ingrained in his nature to reason logical and morally, though corrupted by the Fall. But as a man, and a thinker, he has to start somewhere. The act of reasoning must presuppose things in order to make sense. This doesn't mean there's no absolute truth, only that man must presume these absolutes in order to make sense of anything to himself.
  11. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    :up: Patrick.

    It's been hard for me to watch this thread and resist the temptation to get involved at the moment because of my schoolwork. But in brief, there are a couple points I want to make:

    One of them Patrick has already made, which is that all arguments are in fact ultimately circular when you get down to their foundation.

    The second point is that Bahnsen does not do what he accuses the atheist of doing, since his fundamental critique of the atheist is not that their argument is circular (which he admits of his own as well), but that their circle is meaningless, self-refuting and unable to provide or account for the necessary preconditions to change that--whereas the Christian circle, which simply points to God as the starting point, is the only circle that can provide and account for those elements. A quotation from Bahnsen from his debate with Stein makes the point better than I ever could. Quoting Stein, he says (emphasis mine):

    Just as the atheist with an ultimate commitment to logic and reason is forced to acknowledge that commitment as being a circular one, so we cannot escape the same acknowledgement for that which is our ultimate commitment, which is biblically God Himself. And that is why any biblical defense of the faith must have God as the starting point - but well-meaning Christians will always squirm at that notion until they are willing to admit that our commitment is circular just as much as that of the atheist, which Classicism and Evidentialism deny as systems attempting to defend the faith beginning from a "neutral" position, which is simply not possible.
  12. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    In the very next chapter, Paul writes, "For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them" (Rom. 2:14-15).

    That certainly sounds like an innate knowledge of God that is being suppressed to me.
  13. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Hi guys:
    Here's where I have a problem with this. I see these two things above as contrary the way the Presuppositionalist conveys them, but not from an empiricist point of view. And as such, does not understand the critique Gregory made. Maybe you could explain it for me.

    What seems to me to be going on is that it puts man outside the circle of knowledge, and allows him to make inducted "leap-in-the-dark" propositions, but that's all. So the "innate" knowledge that you speak of is a wholly different thing than what Gregory is speaking of, as I see it. The atheist presupposes there is no God, and the theist presupposes there is a God; but from where I stand, the Christian "knows" there is a God, and he knows this with certainty. After all, a Christian is one who has a relationship with God, and that is not a "leap-in-the-dark" action. He does not have a relationship with a product of his presuppositions, but with a real God that exists prior to his presuppositions. So its not a presupposition with him.

    As a point of argument, I think its a pretty good and solid argument to make. But its not the only one. I would think that its an argument that shows the atheist that he too is inside that circle of knowledge, if only he would acknowledge it. He is living a lie, even to his own system, much less to the truth. So we have a point of contact with him that is more basic than presuppositions, though it includes them: we live in the same created world, and there just is no such thing as evidence that it is not created by God. We have to get not just his presuppositions in line, but we have to get him to see the facts for what they really are so that he can begin to make real and true presuppositions.

    Anyways, I think Gregory makes a good point. Maybe we could think it through more carefully together. I think he could probably explain it better than I could.

    [Edited on 3-18-2005 by JohnV]
  14. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    It is a presuppostion when he tries to explain it and defend it to others including himself. It's part of conscious thinking. Sure, the Christian knows with certainty that God exits. But, he still makes presuppositions in his thoughts about God, true presuppositions based on absolute truth, in order to comprehend it rationally. It is some of these same presuppositions that the atheist adopts innately in which he can still make sense of the world, though still suppressing the truth in other ways, living a lie as you say. He adopts false presuppositions in his thought to justify his unbeleif.
  15. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    The Presuppositional Challenge:

    I want to divert the challenge from the thread on Paul´s blog to the Apologetics forum. JohnV, forgive me if I do not address some of your concerns. This is mainly with Knight4Christ. Knight, I am not going to address overtly the areas I think we agree in; time limits me, you see.

    You wrote:
    Where did this reason come from? Did it come from God and therefore must be interpreted within a framework that is determined by His Lordship? Is reason independent from God? These are just preliminary questions.

    Are they brute facts that exist apart from God?

    The rest of your posts seems to imply that the laws of logic are not transcendental, which I think, you did not adequately address the nature of transcendentals; but rather, that the laws of Logic are self-evident. This can be problematic for your position but since you didn´t outright state it I won´t mention it too much right now.

    Chris and Patrick dealt with your opposition to arguing from the existence of God so I won´t.

    I don´t think you entirely understand Bahnsen´s argument in general. Note that he never says that unbelievers don´t reason; rather, they cannot account for reason. Unbelievers can do math; they cannot account for universal truths or the uniformity of science.

    He can say that but he can´t live that way. He will assume that the laws of logic are valid for reality; he doesn´t know why. His worldview is schizophrenic. When forced to justify his presuppositions he can only say, "œWell, it works" or "œThe laws of logic just exist and that´s that." Fine, God exists and the Bible is true and that´s that."

    I am not going to apologize for his worldview´s inability to account for the deepest concerns of life. My job is to destroy his worldview; not give it a resting place.

    Precisely. To make sense out of reality he must assume my worldview. Bear in mind, again that I never said that unbelievers do not reason but that they cannot account for it.

    Now for the nitty-gritty (I had some help from Paul).

    Just to let you know, Douglas Walton, one of the top experts on logic, fallacies, and circular arguments (and he's not a Christian/Van Tilian) writes: "Circularity: A sequence of reasoning is circular if one of the premises depends on, or is even equivalent to, the conclusion. Circularity is not always fallacious, but can be a defect in an argument where the conclusion is doubtful and the premises are supposed to be a less doubtful basis for proving the conclusion." (Oxford Companion To Philosophy, p. 135). So, here we have an expert in the field, who doesn't know about Van Til, or that knight would be arguing against my position, telling us that not all circular arguments are fallacious. So it's not as obvious as knight would have us believe. Now, in a sophmoric sense it is but this isn't interesting.

    Now, the Bible tells us that in Christ are hid *all* the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Also, the *beginning*of knowledge is the fear of Jehovah. Also, that "In Thy [God's] light we see light." And that He is the Lord over everything (including our reasoning). Since God is the ULTIMATE authority there is nothing more ultimate than Him that we can appeal to in order to prove his existence. So, it is foolish to assume that there is something more ultimate that we can appeal to in order to prove that God is ultimate! Since it is impossible to be neutral then one either presupposes God or one does not-"he who is not for me is against me." So, while I commit the schoolboy error of begging the question, others can commit the sin of being against Christ.

    Finally, we are not inconsistant, as knight suggests. Furthermore, there is a difference between vicious circular arguments and non-vicious ones. I argue for the latter. And, Knight confuses temporal with epistemological presuppositions. So, I'd suggest that he do some study before he 'refutes' us and the top logicians with a wave of the hand.

    I hope this clears a few things, and thanks, Paul;)
  16. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I completely agree with the sentence of yours that I highlighted above, that man does not know God because of His presuppositions - rather, as you said, God is the source of his presuppositions, such as the laws of logic, the uniformity of nature, the reliability of the senses, and the co-existance and nature of universals and particulars; and I am saying that God exists prior to those presuppositions. And indeed, presuppositionalism does not point to those presuppositions as the epistemological starting point, but points to God Himself as the sole starting point in the realm of knowledge and as the transcendental in which all those presuppositions are rooted. But as Patrick explained, those presuppositions are still the means by which He enables our human minds to conceive, process and understand the true knowledge we have about Him and everything else - and we see the job of the apologist as being to show that He is indeed the only possible root and source of it all.

    I essentially agree, and so do all other presuppositionalists I have read from or conversed with, in that we have an abundance of common ground with the unbeliever because we are both in our very natures created in God's image, and we both live in His created world. At the same time, that *common* ground is not *neutral* ground with regard to the question we are debating with the unbeliever (the truth of Christianity), since as you said, there is no such thing as evidence for their position. And that is because of the abundant point of contact we have with them in both the created order and in man's universal, innate knowledge of God and His law - and it is that very point of contact that we are labeling our "presuppositions," and ultimately the unbeliever's as well, the difference being that he does not acknowledge them as his presuppositions, but attempts to suppress them by deceiving himself into presupposing falsehoods, such as, say, Gordon Stein's presupposition that there is no room for supernatural explanation in the realm of science. And it is our goal in apologetics to show the unbeliever the folly of his stated presuppositions, and show him that the reason he is able to experience and understand everything that he does is because those stated presuppositions are actually self-deception, and that he is actually assuming our Christian presuppositions in all that he does and thinks.

    I think that is one of the most common misunderstandings of the Van Tillian apologetic, in that it is easy to misunderstand the presuppositionalist as claiming that people must have a fully-developed, rationally and intellectually conscious realization of God before (in a chronological sense) they can understand anything. But that is not what we mean by saying that a knowledge of God's principles must "precede" any true knowledge of anything else, but we rather mean that all true knowledge makes sense only because it intrinsically exists within the foundational framework of God's truth.

    Speaking of secular philosophers and logicians whose work can help in understanding some of the concepts related to presuppositional apologetics and its actual claims, the work of Immanuel Kant has a lot of parallels. For one thing, he was the first philosopher to formalize transcendental reasoning in his arguments, which is simply reasoning that proceeds to prove statement B specifically by showing that B is a necessary precondition for A being the case, and then showing that A is the case. In presuppositional apologetics, B is the fact that the biblical worldview is true, and A is the existence of logical rationality and meaningful experience itself.

    The reason this is on my mind right now is that I'm studying Kant in my current philosophy course, and the parallels are interesting, especially his response to Hume's claim that our only conception of space comes from experience, which Kant countered by arguing that an innate knowledge of space existing in our minds prior to any experience of space is in fact a precondition for any such experience eventually giving us any greater conception of it at all.

    So to bring this back around to its original point, even from the philosophical developments of the world of secular academia, there is more to transcendental reasoning and presuppositional thought than often first meets the eye.
  17. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Whew!, that's a lot of stuff at once. I'd like to take it bit by bit, if I may. But first I'd like to see Knight make a response. Today I'm going to be quite busy anyways. The weekends are usually slow (notice that I make a Christian presupposition here, in saying "weekends", because Saturday is the one end, and Sunday is the other end of the week. :D) So I'll have time to make some comments, I would think, before too many more posts come in.

    And maybe, Chris, you might like to move this part of the thread to its own listing, and into the proper category of topics. Just a thought.
  18. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I can certainly relate to that, especially lately.

    I don't have the ability to do that with this particular forum. Patrick?
  19. knight4christ8

    knight4christ8 Puritan Board Freshman

    I will try to respond ASAP, but have to study for an exam now. Know first and foremost that I respect Bahnsen and I wasn't saying that he disbelieved in absolute truth . . . that is clearly the entire goal of his apologetic. I was just trying to point out that there is one, and only one, properly honest apologetic according to biblical standards.

    Briefly, every time I hear that word I think of the nightmare of Strong Bad, lol. Anyways, I would like to point out that the WCF is what I will refer to in order to establish my apologetic as orthodox. Otherwise I could use Hodge, Edwards, Dabney, etc. to try to prove my point that reason is the basis for all knowledge, but appealing to individuals wastes a lot more time than cutting to the chase summed up in the confessions. Just to point John in the direction that I will go . . . the confession points out two seperate basises for the authority of Scripture. It is self-attesting Objectively, not needing man's testimony for its establishment as the W of God, and it is self-attesting Subjectively, through the use of arguements. The latter nature of Scripture does not concern whether the W of G is the W of God, but rather man's proper reception and defense of Scripture, that being through arguments. As a subject apart from God, all men must make a judgment of discernment about the W of God as referred to in Deut. 18. This judgment is on the basis that we have reason in order to discern. Reason is presupposed by Scripture and General Revelation. When we look at GR, which I affirm does include our ability to think, we should see clearly that there is a God, but this is not as immediate as our process of thought. We must think before we can make judgments or form concepts about the character of God.
  20. Ex Nihilo

    Ex Nihilo Puritan Board Senior

    What validates reason? How do we know it is reliable?
  21. knight4christ8

    knight4christ8 Puritan Board Freshman

    I have responded to Evie via U2U so that we can stay on track. Be sure that you have read my short, perhaps inadequate response above. way too much random questioning going on here to post a good response now. I will come back, hopefully this evening, to respond to horse and blue as best as I can.
  22. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Actually, I think her question relates very much to your claims, is thus very relevant to the discussion. It is actually what I was likewise thinking when I read your last post.
  23. Ex Nihilo

    Ex Nihilo Puritan Board Senior

    Indeed, Knight. I meant it to directly bring up some points that haven't fully been explored in the thread so far and perhaps set you up for some more questioning from Chris or Jacob. Would you mind posting your response on the board? I thought it was very good and would like to see what the guys make of it. :bigsmile:

    (BTW, thanks, Chris.)
  24. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    If I may continue their line of thinking:
    In your earlier posts you had waxed long on reason all the while assuming that reason was valid. You did not like Bahnsen's massac, approach to Stein, but you never really said why that is wrong. Chris quoted Bahnsen so I won't. If I may plunder the Egyptians for a while.

    Kant was correct in saying that reason must be presupposed, it being a transcendental. Geisler and Co. would say that reason was "self-evident." The problem there is that he is begging the question more viciously than Bahnsen ever thought of doing. Saying something is self-evident assumes that everyone is seeing it the same way, or seeing it at all for that matter. And that is the problem of this thread--assumptions. Presups say that reason, science and morality are assumed to be true and can then appeal to an objective standard which is the self-contained God in scripture.
  25. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Did you read Rene Descartes' First Principles? (I try not to do this, because I want to keep the discussions within what we do know and have read, and not try to give off a notion of having read more than others, because I haven't. ) Just in case you have, that's all.

    Reason cannot but be validated, for even to doubt it is to affirm it. It requires a subject/object relationship, and that's usually the thing in question here, whether or not it is real. Or, one could ask how we know that our inducted principles are valid: where is the proof? But after all the doubts are on the table, we have to ask, logically, where these doubts come from. After all, they beg the question of validity themselves. In other words, we're at a draw at the very worst of it: how also do we know our uncertainty is valid?

    To question reason at all requires the very same reason as a basis. In other words, it uses the same basis to question it as it questions. The invalidity of reason is impossble.

    Now, that's a creation-oriented response. What I mean is that in this God-created world things make sense within the system itself, not apart from God, but that the creation is a complete creation. And so we are able to make such a response. That is the way the creation is, regardless of whether one believes in God or not. After all, God is not in the least lessened from His sovereignty and might by any one person's unbelief.

    From a standpoint of a Christian in relationship with God, reason is validated because God speaks to us in reasonable terms, and in no other. In other words, He reasoned first. As creatures made in His image, we respond in the same way, for that is how God made us and the world we live in. It is not chaotic, but orderly; and so in our persons we reason. Again, it is impossible to have reason as invalid.

    Or, yet again, one could return the question by asking what would replace it? Or one could ask why (what reason) one would ask this question? Or there are any number of such responses (Who shall I say is asking? etc.) one could make. But the crux of it is that the question itself is completely unanswerable if it comes from a skeptical unbeliever. Its not that reason is invalid, but that he refuses to validate his reasoning properly.

    This is my short answer. I hope it helps. But we have some fine fellows on this Board who are quite able to add some expertice to this.

    [Edited on 3-19-2005 by JohnV]
  26. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Well-thought out answer, John. I semi-understand. I would go further and say that reason is intelligible because it reflects the character of God, all men having the imago Dei in them.
  27. Ex Nihilo

    Ex Nihilo Puritan Board Senior

    I can agree with that. :)

    But as I said in the U2U to Knight, the argument that arguing against the laws of logic proves them to be true because we have to use them to argue against them is just presuming their own truth. If the law of the excluded middle isn't true, and A and be both A and not A at the same time, the law can be truth for me when I'm using it and not true for the thing I'm arguing against (the law itself). We know intuitively this is false, but we are still appealing (just more subconsciously) to the laws of logic to prove it. If the laws of logic aren't true, there's not reason to see any inherent contradiction between using them and refuting them... since contradiction isn't necessarily inherently wrong.

    I absolutely agree that the laws of logic are correct, but 1) we have to presuppose this, because any argument for it (and the argument "you can't argue against it" is an argument for it) appeals to logic, which means you are proving logic with logic... and that's every bit as circular as anything presupps do, but without recognizing it... and 2) only a Christian worldview can account for this.
  28. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    ANother problem I see is that we are assuming that we are properly interpreting, or rather, properly using our reasoning.

    Limits of Logic:

    The law of non-contradiction (LNC) is heavily qualified itself: A cannot be non-A in the same time and in the same respect. As John Frame says, "...limitations indicate taht logic can only examine consistency and implication only in relatively changeless situations, taht is, when relevant meanings and referents of terms remain the same over the course of hte anlalysis. BUt as we know, the world is changing all the time. Therefore, logical analysis often can only approximate; it can deal adequately only with those aspects of reality that do not change--a rather small subste of our experiences" (Frame, 258-259).

    Law of Excluded Middle: What about the situations that defy this:

    A heavy mist? is it rain or is it non-rain? The answer lies only in extreme qualifications.

    Frame, John. Doctrine of the Knowledge of God.

    [Edited on 3--19-05 by Draught Horse]
  29. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    It is indeed true that logic and reason are necessary preconditions for any meaningful thought and experience to occur - even so, it is crucial to realize that logic and reason alone are not enough in themselves to account for meaningful thought and experience, for that requires other things as well, such as the reliability of the senses and the uniformity of nature, which are both necessary for us to be able to trust that reasoning and logical thoughts are even what they seem to be in our minds, and that the neurons in our brains minds will interpret the same logical concepts in the same way day after day. So in order to make logic and reason meaningful at all, there are other necessary assumptions that must be made - but once that is realized, it becomes clear that one must necessarily presuppose an entire worldview in order to account for thought and experience at their most basic levels. The Christian can do this, for we point to God as the foundational epistemological starting point, and He account for the laws of logic, the uniformity of nature, the reliability of our senses, etc. But the skeptic has no such starting point, and pointing to reason or the laws of logic as their starting point will not do, as I showed above;

    And they cannot point to more than one starting point, such as the laws of logic and the reliability of the senses and the uniformity of nature and this and that, because in attempting to view multiple things as the starting point or the ultimate authority, a relationship between those things is assumed (because the whole reason multiple things are being assumed is because they are all required to account for different parts of one thing--intelligible experience--in their respective, interrelated ways), and thus it must be asked just what it is that holds them together, or relates them to each other, and the answer to that question will thus be more *ultimate* and *primary* than any of those multiple things, showing that they are not actually the starting points after all.

    So since one cannot have more than one truly *ultimate* starting point, and the laws of logic themselves do not adequately account for meaningful thought and experience, the unbeliever is still in the same pickle of being unable to account for those things without presupposing God in their assumptions.

    Indeed, which is why unbelievers can still actually think and experience things by common grace - but their alleged system and their stated presuppositions cannot account for that logic and experience, and it is precisely because they do indeed make use of those things that their presuppositions are shown to be insufficient.
  30. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    from JohnV, me:D
    From a standpoint of a Christian in relationship with God, reason is validated because God speaks to us in reasonable terms, and in no other. In other words, He reasoned first. As creatures made in His image, we respond in the same way, for that is how God made us and the world we live in. It is not chaotic, but orderly; and so in our persons we reason. Again, it is impossible to have reason as invalid.[/quote]

    I can agree with that. :)

    But as I said in the U2U to Knight, the argument that arguing against the laws of logic proves them to be true because we have to use them to argue against them is just presuming their own truth. If the law of the excluded middle isn't true, and A and be both A and not A at the same time, the law can be truth for me when I'm using it and not true for the thing I'm arguing against (the law itself). We know intuitively this is false, but we are still appealing (just more subconsciously) to the laws of logic to prove it. If the laws of logic aren't true, there's not reason to see any inherent contradiction between using them and refuting them... since contradiction isn't necessarily inherently wrong. [/quote]
    Well, Evie, you only asked about verifying logic, or reason to be precise. Others have included logic in this, and rightly so, for logic is part of reason. But there is much more that one could ask the validity for, for a language that is only terms, propositions and syllogism is a dead language. There is much more to man than reason. What about love, justice, science, or fellowship, just to name a few? Language itself is made of much more than propostitions, such as metaphor, picture, and connotation. It isn't just a discipline, it is also an art.

    But to get back to your observation, I only would restate that it is impossible to doubt reason without standing squarely on it to do so. If A can be non-A at the same time, then what you wrote is both perfect sense and jibberish at the same time. And I don't have a clue what you said. So your objection has not fallen on deaf ears, but on ears that cannot discern what you communicated. Unless, of course, it is only possible that A cannot be non-A at the same time, in the same way (thanks, Jacob).
    Well, Chris answers this one. The one who does not presuppose the laws of logic does so by presupposing the laws of logic. He cannot avoid it. Whether he likes it or not, he is a creature of God's created world, and he himself is created of God; moreover he bears God's image (thanks again, Jacob). He really can't presuppose anything else. The question is not what his presuppositions are, but what he claims they are.

    We don't need to attack him, and leave him hurt and bleeding because he carries an antagonistic belief, for he already is hurt and bleeding. What he needs is the medicine of the gospel. His unbelief has not done one bit of damage to truth, but only to himself. We don't need to destroy his arguments for the sake of truth, but for his sake. He's only fooling himself if he thinks he can cast aspersions on the truth on God, His Word, and His work. He can't change the truth. He just can't, no matter how powerful he is. If Christ is king, then we need not fear that His kingdom is in jeapardy at all.

    But the monolith that this skeptic represents, that needs to be attacked and brought down for the sake of those of our brothers who may fall prey to it. It is certain that they are safe in Jesus, but it may also be that Jesus has vouchsafed them through the faithful service of his disciples in standing firm in the truth.

    Again, you only ask this in the area of reason. There is much more to man, and we need to stand on guard in all arenas of life. Here too, but also in the service of justice, love, and mercy; but also in the service of language, science, etc., and in fellowship. There is an orthodoxy to all of these.
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