Archive for the ‘presuppositional apologetics’ Category

(A series of scripted correspondences from a ‘Heavenly helper’ to a Christian Soldier)

[Letter 9: Preconditions of Intelligibility]

Grettings Soldier,

To further elaborate on how the God of the Bible has made Himself known to all people, I’d like to point out to you another means by which He has done so–via the preconditions of intelligibility. Now, while that sounds like quite a mouthful, preconditions of intelligibility are simply those concepts that are necessarily required to make sense of everything else and which must be taken for granted in order to do so. This includes (but is not limited to) things like truth, knowledge, laws of logic, morality, and the reliability of one’s own senses and reasoning. Each of these must first be assumed in order for someone to begin to understand or reach any valid conclusion about the world around them. Take the laws of logic for instance; as the universal standard of correct thinking and reasoning, they must be assumed from the get go in order to begin to reason correctly about anything at all–including the laws of logic themselves–or to even formulate any logical proof. Also, consider the concept of knowledge; the possibility of knowing things to be true must be taken for granted at the outset before someone could ever know that it is possible for them to know things to be true (this would include knowing that the senses and reasoning they use to observe and form conclusions about the world around them are reliable and are providing them with valid feedback to begin with). These assumptions are inescapable and unavoidable when making any argument, conclusion, or observation whatsoever.

While everyone must assume these things, it has probably never occurred to you to think about the unbeliever’s justification for doing so in light of what they profess to believe about the non-existence of God and the unreliability of the Bible as His Divine Revelation. When you understand that the aforementioned preconditions of intelligibility being assumed by the unbeliever are by their very nature absolute, immaterial, universal concepts—or in simpler terminology, they are unchanging, not made of matter, and apply everywhere and at all times, then a devastating problem arises for the unbeliever’s position, as the question now becomes: how can an allegedly random chance, constantly changing, materialistic universe bring forth immaterial laws and concepts that are completely inconsistent with the very nature of that same universe?  The obvious answer is: IT CAN’T (and the very idea or assumption that it can is, itself, a glaring contradiction which is, therefore, both irrational and false by definition). Now, contrast that position with the Christian one which assumes the existence of an unchanging, immaterial, sovereign God who is omnipotent and omniscient, and it becomes immediately clear how absolute, immaterial, universal laws and truths can be made sense of and reconciled within the Christian worldview as a reflection of those aspects of God’s character and nature. I’ll let this sink in before moving forward. Feel free to ask any additional questions that you’d like about what we’ve covered so far. Here to serve,

Your Heavenly ‘Angent’

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(A series of scripted correspondences from a ‘Heavenly helper’ to a Christian Soldier)

[Letter 10]:

Greetings Soldier,

You do not disappoint! I thought that you might ask for some practical examples of how to put this information into use when dealing with objections and/or arguments against, God, the Bible, or Christianity in general. Well, here you go! Let’s look at some scenarios you likely have or will encounter in your evangelistic endeavors:

First, suppose the unbeliever’s argument against God is presented in the form of a moral objection (e.g. claiming that He is evil, that certain acts in the Bible are immoral, etc.).  Now, you could spend a lot of time and energy providing evidence as to why that is not the case (only to likely have your evidence discarded or dismissed due the presuppositional bias of the unbeliever), or you could (and should) simply challenge their foundational assumption here and ask them how they arrive at absolute, objective standards of behavior in a universe without God in the first place.  After all, if God does not exist, there could be no absolute moral Authority and, therefore, no binding standard of behavior by which anyone (least of all, God) SHOULD conduct themselves.  If moral standards are arbitrarily stipulated, then the unbeliever loses any rational foundation for their complaint against God, since anyone is free to stipulate their own standard of morality in such a universe and no behavior could ever be truly ‘right’ or ‘wrong’–just ‘different’ from someone else’s personal preference.  The very argument itself reveals the internal inconsistency and contradictory nature of the unbeliever’s position and, as a result, makes this objection AGAINST God’s existence a valid proof FOR His existence!

Now, let’s suppose the argument comes in the form of a ‘logical’ complaint against God (e.g. the Bible is illogical, Christianity is nonsense, etc.).  Again, much time and energy could be spent providing ample, solid evidence to the contrary, only to likely be told “well that doesn’t prove anything.”  Instead of putting God on trial before the unbeliever, the more effective (and Biblical) approach would be to expose the self-defeating nature of such an argument by simply asking how there can exist any meaningful, objective, universal standard of logic and reasoning in a world without God.  Obviously, if there is no true Ultimate Authority, then there can be no absolute standard by which human beings should conduct their thinking and reasoning.  Therefore, no thinking or reasoning could ever truly be said to be ‘incorrect’ or ‘illogical’—just ‘different’ from the thinking and reasoning of someone else.  This internal inconsistency in the unbeliever’s position yet again testifies to the inescapable, self-evident truth of God’s existence and Authority. It also adequately demonstrates that, like the air, one must assume His existence to even begin to argue against it (which makes that position the very epitome of ‘foolishness’). That is why when the Bible refers to those who deny the existence of God as ‘fools’ (Psalms 14:1), it is not merely engaging in name calling.  This is the proper term for someone who willfully refuses to acknowledge that which has been so plainly and openly revealed. Here to serve,

Your Heavenly ‘Angent’

(A series of scripted correspondences from a ‘Heavenly helper’ to a Christian Soldier)

[Letter 11]:

Greetings Soldier,

Your recent enquiries reveal a deep thirst for knowledge and an eagerness to put what you have learned thus far into action. Needless to say, the Heavenly Hierarchy is pleased with this! Regarding your question about whether unbelievers (whom we know to be living in willful denial of God’s revealed truth) are necessarily lying when they profess to believe the things they say they do: the answer is ‘no’—they are not necessarily lying but are often ‘self-deceived’. Remember, satan does have the ability to blind the minds of those who deny God in order to keep the Gospel from reaching their hearts. One of the ways he accomplishes this task is by means of cultivating and promoting an attitude of ‘willful ignorance‘ (merely one form of self-deception) on the part of the unbeliever with regards to things concerning God, Christ, and the Bible.  It has been rightly stated that one will not receive into their heart as true that which their mind rejects as false. Therefore, it is the concerned Christian’s urgent duty to engage in pulling down such ‘intellectual strongholds’ through the bold presentation and declaration of the truth in order that the unbeliever might be freed from the captivity of satanic deception and granted repentance unto salvation by God the Father, through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Understood in this light, Christ’s declaration in John 8:32–‘you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free’–is received with a new and fresh appreciation in the mind and heart of the Christian.

In response to your second question: ‘yes’ I do advocate trying out these arguments online. There you will find no shortage of anti-Christian blogs, posts, and websites where you may engage the unbeliever, expose the error of their worldview, and enlighten them with Biblical truth. Be forewarned, though, that unbelievers do not take kindly to having the basis of their worldview challenged and exposed in this way and you will almost certainly encounter hostility like you never have before. In truth, this is really a positive, since it is a sign that the arguments have struck a nerve and are provoking some discomfort in the unbeliever’s state of mind. Besides, any reaction is always preferred over apathy (since apathy is but one sure sign of intellectual and spiritual ‘deadness’). So long as there is passion and/or zeal present (even misguided passion and/or zeal), then there is hope of a genuine conversion; after all, who can forget the grand transformation that took place when a certain misguided zealot named Saul was converted into that radical new creature in Christ—the Apostle Paul! If you are interested in beginning a conversation on the Dialogue.org site you mentioned, then I suggest you simply state your position plainly as to how Christianity provides the foundation for preconditions of intelligibility and then challenge the unbelievers there with a few direct questions about how those things are reconciled within their worldview. The purpose of this is twofold: it will provide the unbeliever with an opportunity to tell you about their worldview so that an internal critique of it can be performed, while providing you with the opportunity to plainly demonstrate to them how and why Christianity alone provides a rational, internally consistent, foundation for the preconditions of intelligibility required to hold a discussion in the first place (knowledge truth, logic, etc.). For example, you could begin with something like this:

*’Isn’t Dialogue.org great?! We have a place where anyone can come and argue any point about virtually any topic! However, an astute debater will find that the very concept of ‘debate’ assumes the existence of logic, truth, and knowledge. Since laws of logic are abstract, universal, invariants and truth and knowledge are certain by definition, each of these concepts can be (and are) made sense of in the Christian worldview (since they reflect the absolute, immaterial nature of a Sovereign God who has revealed Himself to mankind such that we can be certain of who He is).One should ultimately ask, though, how any non-Christian can rationally account for any of these concepts apart from the God of the Bible. Well?’

This should elicit enough response from the other side to keep you busy for a while and provide you with plenty of hands on practice in evaluating non-Christian worldviews for the presence of arbitrariness, inconsistency, and the preconditions of intelligibility. Have fun,

Your Heavenly ‘Angent’

*To see this approach utilized at a real online debate site, check out: http://www.debate.org/forums/Religion/topic/55783/

(A series of scripted correspondences from a ‘Heavenly helper’ to a Christian Soldier)

[Letter 12]:

Greetings Soldier,

I see the discussion has now turned to the laws of logic. I am happy to help guide you in how to formulate your responses to the latest responses you have received. First of all, it is crucial to understand that laws of logic, by nature, exist as abstract, invariant, universal laws for correct reasoning. That is, they are not made of matter, they never change, and they apply in all places and at all times. As such, they pose quite a problem for the unbeliever, since none of these characteristics agree with their version of the universe, which is allegedly wholly materialistic, changing, and different from place to place. Consider the logical law of non-contradiction for instance; it states that contradictions in reasoning (and in reality) are absolutely fallacious and cannot ever be true. However, how does the unbeliever justify such a claim in their worldview since they don’t have absolute knowledge of the universe, nor have they observed the future to know what cannot EVER be.

Whereas, the Christian appeals to Divine Revelation from God as their basis for knowing some things to be absolutely true (such as laws of logic, for instance) since an omniscient, omnipotent God could (and does) reveal things to human beings so that they can be known with certainty to be true—the unbeliever (due to their pre-commitment to a naturalistic, empiricist worldview) must rely solely on their limited observations and experiences of the universe as the foundation for each of the things they claim to believe. This means that the Christian can reconcile the existence of abstract, invariant, universal laws within their worldview, but the unbeliever cannot and must accept such concepts solely upon blind faith. Naturally, any such position that rests upon blind faith alone, while also undermining the very existence of logic, is the epitome of an illogical (and false) position. Here to serve,

Your Heavenly ‘Angent’

(A series of scripted correspondences from a ‘Heavenly helper’ to a Christian Soldier)

[Letter 13:  A Word of Encouragement]

Greetings Soldier,

Don’t worry about feeling overwhelmed right now, as these concepts can take some time to wrap your brain around. Remember, though, always doggedly stick to your guns and keep challenging and exposing the internal inconsistencies of the unbelievers’ worldview, as they would like nothing more than for you to stop this line of argumentation and engage them on ‘neutral’ ground. However, ‘neutral’ ground does not exist with regards to this issue, as one either submits to God as their Ultimate Authority and the foundation of their thinking and reasoning, or they do not. I remind you of the very words of Jesus in Matthew [12:30] and Luke [11:23] when He stated that someone is either for Him or they are against Him, but certainly never ‘in between’. After all, when one even argues that there is neutral ground to be held here, they are necessarily disagreeing with the words of Jesus in the Bible and are, therefore, adopting a non-neutral position in relation to Biblical Authority and the truth of Christianity. Do not fall for this tactic! The unbeliever is NOT neutral in their presuppositions about God and the Bible and you SHOULD NOT be either. In the paraphrased words of Peter [1 Peter 3:15], ‘sanctify Christ in your heart and be prepared to give an answer to everyone that asks you of the reason of the hope that is within you with meekness and fear’. The foundation provided by God and His Word is indeed a sure one, and nothing overcomes and exposes that which is false like absolute Truth from THE absolute Authority. Stand upon that firm foundation, and you will always prevail. Here to serve,

Your Heavenly ‘Angent’

(A series of scripted correspondences from a ‘Heavenly helper’ to a Christian Soldier)

[Letter 14]:

Greetings Soldier,

I see that some of the ‘intellectual’ unbelievers have presented arguments for how they can know things to be true in their worldview. Let’s walk through some of these, as they are an invaluable resource for your training in mastering the ‘Bible First’ (presuppositional) method of defending the faith. The gist of the argument from the unbelievers so far is that they are able to know things for certain because they use their senses and reasoning to make observations and formulate rational conclusions about the world around them through ‘trial and error’. Can you spot the inconsistency here? Indeed, human senses and reasoning are wonderful gifts from God and provide the means of exploring and learning about God’s creation and would, therefore, be expected to be basically reliable and trustworthy according to the Christian worldview. However, what basis does any non-Christian have for trusting their senses and reasoning according to their professed worldview? No doubt, they would say that their observations and experiences have told them that their senses and reasoning are basically reliable over time, but this will not suffice. After all, it is via one’s reasoning that their sensory input and experiences are interpreted, which means that they are basically arguing that they ‘sense and reason that their senses and reasoning are reliable’. Of course, this is viciously circular and renders that position an irrational one–and necessarily false. If one does not know for certain that their senses and reasoning are trustworthy to begin with, then obviously they cannot know anything at all. I recommend pointing this out as soon as possible (and for their own good). Remember, the truth only hurts when it should. Here to serve,

Your Heavenly ‘Angent’