Archive for the ‘presuppositions’ Category

It is important for Christians to understand and note that, 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.  Imagine this:

You have agreed to participate in a live formal debate.  After weeks of preparation, the big day arrives and you take your place on stage behind your podium as the auditorium begins to fill with people.  You look to your left and see your opponent behind his podium with a confident look upon his face.  The moderator gives the introduction and then it’s time to start.  Your opponent goes first and begins his opening statement.  His position? That air does not exist (an a-airist?).

Now, what would you say in response to such an obviously absurd position?  Sure, you could produce graphs, charts, tables, and endless other pieces of evidence to show that air does indeed exist (which your opponent may or may not find compelling and which he may even be able to explain away and rebut via his counter arguments), or you could take a decidedly different approach:  You could simply expose the glaring inconsistency of his position by pointing out that, if air did not exist, he could not possibly be doing what he is doing.  You could (and should) draw attention to the fact that, without air, he could not possibly be breathing, and, as a consequence, he also could not be talking since there would be no air in his lungs to create the vibrations in his vocal chords and, therefore, no way to produce the sounds used to form his words.  Not to mention the fact that, if air does not exist, there wouldn’t even be anything to convey the sound waves from his mouth to the ears of his hearers anyway!  In short, his entire ability to breathe and speak (much less to argue) depends completely upon the very thing that he is denying—-air!  He is defeating his own position with every breath he takes and with every word he speaks, since any argument he puts forth AGAINST the existence of air actually turns out to be an argument IN FAVOR OF the existence of air!!

Such is the predicament of the professing atheist.  The Bible teaches that the existence of God is so obvious, that no one has an excuse for denying him (and are, in fact, behaving foolishly if they do so–Romans 1:18-22).  In other words, the evidence is all around us, but there are many who do not wish to accept it, and who will even go to great lengths to deny it.  So what do we do?  I submit that, just as in the example above, we should gently and lovingly expose the inconsistencies of such positions in hopes that the unbeliever will come to see the folly of what they are doing and repent.  For instance, suppose someone puts forth a moral argument against God (e.g. claiming that He is evil, that certain acts in the Bible are immoral, etc.).  Now, we could spend a lot of time and energy providing evidence as to why that is not the case (only to likely have our evidence discarded or dismissed due the presuppositional bias of the unbeliever), or we could simply 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.  In fact, the argument itself reveals the internal inconsistency of their 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 objective, universal standard of logic and reasoning in a world without God.  Obviously, if there is no Ultimate Authority, then there can be no absolute standard by which we should think and reason.  Therefore, no thinking or reasoning could ever be said to be ‘incorrect’ or ‘illogical’—just ‘different‘.  This internal inconsistency yet again testifies to the inescapable, self-evident truth of God and that, like the air, one must assume His existence to even begin to argue against it (which makes doing so the very epitome of ‘foolishness’).  To paraphrase Acts 17:28, it truly is IN HIM that we LIVE and MOVE and HAVE OUR BEING!

As Keith, the ex-atheist, so accurately pointed out in #10 of his expose’ here:

https://christianammunition.com/2014/06/25/how-to-be-an-atheist/

The ultimate goal of the atheist is not to remain rational or logical in these types of discussions, but to just keep arguing no matter what—due to the emotional nature of their beef with God.  Such is the tell-tale sign of someone who simply has an ‘ax to grind’ and, as a result, cannot ultimately maintain any meaningful rational standard or logical integrity with regards to their argumentation.  Hence, the folly of the unbeliever is exposed for what it really is–suppression of the Truth.  It has been rightly stated that the professing unbeliever cannot find God for the same reason a criminal cannot find a policeman.

I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.        ~C.S Lewis

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

[Letter 2]:

Greetings Soldier,

I see that you took to heart the information in our last correspondence. I commend you for your courage in challenging your uncle’s philosophy and attempting to enlighten him as to the difference between blind and justified faith. Although his attitude was less than receptive, this is a great start for future discussions with him. Remember, the idea is not necessarily to have him admit defeat of his arguments all at once, but to begin to get him to think critically and honestly about his own position of atheism. For instance, consider where his faith really lies when it is all said and done—-it is in the unobserved (and unobservable) ‘phenomenon’ of evolution. Not only has he never seen one kind or species of animal becoming another kind or species over millions/billions of years, he has to assume at the present that those things which allegedly ‘evolved’ into what we see now originally came from nothing, which somehow turned into something, which then somehow blew up and became everything.

A great victory is won whenever the unbeliever is made to consider the ultimate consequences of their professed beliefs, as the God-sanctioned rational aspect of their nature will not allow them to be at peace once made aware that they are holding to such irreconcilable, contradictory thoughts about the world and reality in general. The subsequent struggle that arises within them is most certainly in our favor and, more often than not, signifies the beginnings of spiritual life awakening within the unbeliever (remember, darkness is never so restless as when the light is present). May the Lord use you and your words as the means to accomplish that blessed result. Here to serve,

Your Heavenly ‘Angent’

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

[Letter 6]:

Greetings Soldier,

You do not have to apologize for the feeling of disappointment you are feeling now. After all, a sense of frustration is only natural when good evidence is given to support your case, but then dismissed out of hand due to the hostile bias of the one examining the evidence. It is very important to understand what is going on here with your brother and it is time that you were granted insight into the nature of ‘presuppositions’ and the effect they have on one’s reasoning and conclusions about the world around them. You see, everyone has a worldview—a view of the world founded upon certain tightly held beliefs that are assumed to be true and through which they interpret all of their observations and experiences (including any and all evidence presented to them for consideration). Because of this, it is impossible to convince someone of something they do not wish to be convinced of since they will interpret any evidence via the lens of those tightly held, most foundational assumptions that are already present. Confused yet? Perhaps this illustration might help:

Once upon a time, a young man believed he was dead. For months, his friends and family tried desperately to convince him that this was not the case, but to no avail. Finally, at their wits end, they decided to take him to see the family doctor in hopes that he could offer some sort of medical counsel to help the young man come to his senses. After two unproductive hours of talking with the young man and reasoning with him using the latest medical journals, charts, and photos, the good doctor had an idea! “Son, do dead men bleed?” He asked. The young man thought for a moment and then responded, “well, if a person is dead, there is no heartbeat to pump the blood and, therefore, no blood pressure to force the blood out of the body, so, no, dead men do not bleed.” Upon hearing this, the doctor took a needle and pricked the young man’s index finger. As the blood began to ooze from the small wound, the young man grabbed his finger and cried with great excitement, “well, what do you know! Dead men DO bleed after all!

See the point (pardon the pun)? The young man in the story had a predetermined belief which he was unwilling to surrender, despite being shown ample proof that it was false. The overwhelming evidence given to him did not change his mind, but, rather, his mind changed the interpretation of the evidence to make it agree with what he already assumed to be true (his ‘presuppositional bias’). Perhaps this makes it easier now to understand how and why many of the people who actually witnessed Jesus’ most notable miracles were the same ones who demanded His crucifixion. Why do you suppose they were not convinced of His Divinity by the marvelous feats of the dead being raised and the blinded eyes receiving sight in their presence? It was simply because they did not WANT to be. In fact, this is nothing new, as many today would simply rather be their own god instead of bowing the knee to God and surrendering to His authority. It has been rightly stated that the atheist cannot find God for the same reason a criminal can’t find a policeman—-they simply aren’t looking. The unbeliever chooses to live in willful denial of what they know to be true about God’s existence in order to avoid accountability to Him. You will do well to keep this in mind in your evangelism endeavors. At your service,

Your Heavenly ‘Angent’

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

[Letter 7]:

Greetings Soldier,

I’m glad that you are beginning to grasp these concepts and wholeheartedly agree with you that the aforementioned topic of worldviews–and the presuppositions upon which they are founded–warrants further commentary. Indeed, volumes could be (and have been) penned about this topic and its effect upon the human psyche and behavior. Simply put, it is a matter of two opposing foundational belief systems that are as different as night and day and/or black and white (and which are as diametrically opposed as the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of satan from which they each originate).

Case in point: the Christian begins with two basic assumptions which form the foundation of their worldview. First, they assume that God exists and secondly they assume that His Word (the Bible) is true. It is through the ‘lens’ of these two assumptions that the Christian then begins to reason, form their conclusions, and interpret their observations about the universe in which we live. In contrast, the unbeliever assumes that God does not exist and that the Bible is not His inspired, infallible Word and then proceeds to reason and interpret the world around them from THAT position. This is why Christians and unbelievers can examine the exact same piece of evidence and then reach two totally different conclusions about it; it’s because they have two completely different starting points from which their evaluation of any evidence is conducted and from which their conclusions about the validity of that (and all) evidence as a valid proof is determined. Whatever does not correspond with the primary presuppositions of their respective worldviews will be rejected while that which agrees with those presuppositions will be accepted.

Therefore, the real issue is not one of evidence at all, but of those foundational assumptions (presuppositions) through which people interpret the evidence in the first place and whether or not they are logically sound and rationally defensible. It goes without saying that if something cannot pass this test, it should be rejected as false (since that would make it illogical and irrational by definition). Let’s examine both sets of presuppositions to see which passes the test. First, we’ll look at the Christian’s presuppositions:

God Exists: This presupposition is justifiable/provable after the fact, in that God has revealed Himself to all mankind both directly and indirectly via natural and special revelation. Again, natural revelation is God’s revelation of Himself by natural means (through His Creation), while special revelation pertains to God’s revealing of Himself via supernatural means (the Bible, His Spirit, and His Son, Jesus Christ). Through these avenues, God has made it possible for mankind to be certain of who He is and what He expects with regards to their behavior, reasoning, and salvation.

The Bible is true: This assumption is also provable after the fact, by the impossibility of the contrary. That is, the contrary position (i.e. The Bible is not true) ends in absurdity and irrationality, which makes it false. Consider what the Bible says about this in Romans 1:21-22:

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.

According to Scripture, when someone rejects or fails to acknowledge God and the truth of the Bible as the foundation of their thinking and reasoning, we can expect their thoughts to become ‘vain’ and ‘foolish’ (illogical). Let’s see if that’s what we get when we examine the unbelievers’ presuppositions that God does not exist and the Bible is not true: First, it should be pointed out that, when someone makes these assumptions, they are forced, by default, into the position of embracing evolution as the means and mechanism by which life as we know it exists on earth today (as opposed to the Biblical account of creation as found in Genesis). As such, there are several other assumptions (some of which I have mentioned already) that they also have to accept as a consequence of this position. Namely:

~In the beginning there was nothing.

~Nothing somehow turned into something.

~The something which came from nothing somehow blew up and became everything.

~Life somehow arose from that non-living matter.

~Randomness somehow became ordered (i.e. non-random).

~Intelligence somehow came from non-intelligent matter.

~Morality somehow evolved from amoral (non-moral) matter.

~Absolute (unchanging), immaterial (not made of matter), universal (applying everywhere and at all times) laws such as laws of logic, math, science, and morality somehow came from a strictly material, constantly changing, random chance universe.

The problem with these assumptions is, they are all unjustified and unjustifiable. Each of them is contrary to sound reasoning and good science, as they are not consistent with reality nor are they based upon ANY observable data or evidence gathered through actual repeatable testing and experimentation. Rather, they stem from a flawed belief system about the unobserved past and, as such, are based upon nothing more than blind faith. It should be pointed out that believing something and acting upon that belief with no logical reason for doing so is but one form of irrationality. This makes those who hold to anti-Christian positions a lot like the young man in the ‘Dead men do bleed’ illustration; that is, they hold to their position in spite of any logically sound reasons, not because of them. Without exception, this is the sad end result when one abandons the absolute Truth of God and His Word in favor of ANY competing non-Christian worldview (including those which advocate the existence of a generic or specific ‘deity’ (or deities) other than the God of the Bible). The following quote from Christian Author Ken Ham sums this up nicely. He says:

“It’s not a matter of whether one is biased or not. It is really a question of which bias is the best bias with which to be biased.”

If nothing else, hopefully it has become clear that everyone has certain tightly held foundational beliefs that form the framework for their worldview (even though they may not always be aware of those beliefs). However, not all worldviews (or their corresponding framework of beliefs) can be true. In fact, only one IS true—the Christian one. I trust you will find this newfound knowledge refreshing and an asset to you in your witnessing endeavors. At your service,

Your Heavenly ‘Angent’

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

[Letter 8]:

Greetings Soldier,

Yes, it really is a lot to take in and learn. However, you will find that the ‘Bible first’ approach to dealing with objections to the Christian faith is the God honoring way of resolving the dispute once and for all. While the old ‘evidence first’ approach accomplishes little more than allowing each side to present their interpretation of the evidence they are disputing–ultimately resulting in a ‘stalemate’—and shamefully allowing the unbeliever to replace God as judge in the process, the ‘Bible first’ approach challenges the very foundation and authority of the unbeliever’s worldview along with the assumptions that it is based upon to show that Christianity is necessarily true by the impossibility of the contrary (rather than only possibly or probably true IF the evidence happens to be correct) and asserts God’s Ultimate Authority over the believer instead of vice versa. Now, I will not pretend as if this approach will not take much intentional, deliberate effort on your part to put into practice and to ultimately master, but I can promise you that the results will be well worth the challenge. Believe it or not, but you will actually come to see objections against the Christian faith as arguments for the Christian faith once this paradigm shift in your understanding of God and His Word as Ultimate Authority is made.

While all sincere Christians would no doubt say that God and His Word are their Ultimate Authority, the problem is, they often do not behave that way when it comes to defending the Faith, choosing to inadvertently grant to the unbeliever certain assumptions about the world and reality that they are not the least bit entitled to, given their professed beliefs. Consider for a moment how you might respond in the following scenario:

You have agreed to participate in a live formal debate.  After weeks of preparation, the big day arrives and you take your place on stage behind your podium as the auditorium begins to fill with people.  You look to your left and see your opponent behind his podium with a confident look upon his face.  The moderator gives the introduction and then it’s time to start.  Your opponent goes first and begins his opening statement.  His position? That air does not exist (an a-airist?).

Now, what would you say in response to such an obviously absurd position?  Sure, you could produce graphs, charts, tables, and endless other pieces of evidence to show that air does indeed exist (which your opponent may or may not find compelling and which he may even be able to explain away and rebut via his counter arguments), or you could take a decidedly different approach:  You could simply expose the glaring inconsistency of his position by pointing out that, if air did not exist, he could not possibly be doing what he is doing.  You could (and should) draw attention to the fact that, without air, he could not possibly be breathing, and, as a consequence, he also could not be talking since there would be no air in his lungs to create the vibrations in his vocal chords and, therefore, no way to produce the sounds used to form his words.  Not to mention the fact that, if air does not exist, there wouldn’t even be anything to convey the sound waves from his mouth to the ears of his hearers anyway!  In short, his entire ability to breathe and speak (much less to argue) depends completely upon the very thing that he is denying—-air!  He is defeating his own position with every breath he takes and with every word he speaks, since any argument he puts forth AGAINST the existence of air actually turns out to be an argument IN FAVOR OF the existence of air!!

Such is the predicament of the unbeliever.  The Bible teaches that the existence of God is so obvious, that no one has an excuse for denying him (and are, in fact, behaving foolishly if they do so).  In other words, the evidence is all around us, but there are many who do not wish to accept it, and who will even go to great lengths to deny it.  So what should you do?  I submit that, just as in the example above, you should gently and lovingly expose the inconsistencies of such positions in hopes that the unbeliever will come to see the folly of what they are doing and repent.  It is important for Christians to understand and note that, 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 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’