Archive for May, 2011

Presuppositional Apologetics: More Q & A With Someone Who Has Lots Of Q, But Lost All His A….

Posted on May 28, 2011. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Religion, TAG-Pressupposational Theology |

He Keeps Losing His A’s….Maybe He’s an “A-Hole”

I have been having a presuppositional debate discussion talking to  with Dan for the past two weeks or so, where he has continued to take the only tack that a presuppositionalist can take.  He has lots of questions, he has no answers.  TAG (Transcendental Argument for God) theology continues to be a combination of really good and really irrelevant questions  designed to question the basis of the atheist worldview.  It doesn’t positively argue anything, it just assumes that if a Christian can confuse someone with a competing worldview, that this makes Christianity true by default.  Those who play the presuppositional game will rarely answer your questions.  That is not part of the trick.  Answering questions would reveal how bereft their own worldview is, so the focus must always be on the competing worldview.

Dan’s last comment, where he dutifully dodged answering any questions about his worldview, proves this point:

I have too many questions that you NEED to answer to move on. Your refusal to answer such questions places the discussion in a stale moment and stalls the entire point I wish to direct the conversation to.

Truer words have rarely been spoken by Dan.  He does NEED me to continue to feed his script.  He DOES want to direct this conversation somewhere my questions would complicate.  If I refuse, I rob him of the fodder he needs to continue the semantic game that is TAG apologetics, but afford him the opportunity to imply that I lack the ability to answer.  The problem is that all these questions are new.  He never asked them before.  So my “refusal” is based on not answering questions never asked.  This post is designed to answer these new questions, and hopefully impel Dan to defend his own statements and beliefs.  That will never happen (see above), but one can hope….

Dan:

To say that source of all logic is the brain, begs the question of who’s brain? You see, in a sense-data environment, like you’re worldview claim of the brain, things are merely subjective. If we saw a table we would be both arguing the color size and shape of it because of our perspective. You would be screaming that its oval from your angle and I would be saying that its a circle since I am above it. We would exhaust our words discussing the color because of the way the light is shining on it (subjective). You would call it dark brown and I would be calling it light brown, etc. Same with time you could say the day is very very long and I would say, since I took a nap, it flew by very fast. Its all perspectives and subjectiveness. To say that logic originates only in the brain is nonsense! Sure, you could assume that since I had my eyes closed and was sleeping that time did not exist at all, or sped up to accommodate, or direct, the feeling of shortness. You could assume that cat that you were looking at suddenly leaped to another point of the room instantly since you looked away for a moment. But is that itself reasonable? You are claiming a sense-data ONLY world. But that alone is unscientific and illogical. There are things OUTSIDE of the senses (sense-data) that helps us understand our environment. Intuition and instincts to just name a few, as well as other things.

Dan continues the argument that logic exists independent of a logical being.  This continues to blur the lines between reality, facts, laws, and convention.  I have never said that logic is a convention, (more…)

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Presuppositionalism: Solving a Headache With A Lobotomy

Posted on May 16, 2011. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Religion, Science, TAG-Pressupposational Theology |

Could the argument from incredulity get any more objectively silly? If you answered “No.” to this question, you and I need to talk.

See, you have been living in a world where theists are only marginally insane, you have not been introduced to the fruits of having to create a plasticine reality to justify a confused mythology,  you have never heard of presuppositional apologetics, let’s call it presup., for short.

Don’t worry.  I’m here to help.  Get that pot of coffee brewing, take a load off.  You are about to visit the fringes of sanity; if you come out the other side intact, then I’ve done what I set out to do.  Presup remains a tricky argument to counter because it is packed with loaded questions, misplaced definitions, bait and switch, and technical jargon.  It stands on your ignorance, and it falls on close inspection.

What the F#@% Are Presuppositionalists Even Talking About?

Yeah, I know.  Some troll just came into a good thread conversation and dropped a steaming pile of nonsense on your lap.  I bet it went something like this:

You: Can you believe some people believe the earth is only 6000 years old? SRSLY!

Your Friend:  Dude! I so know what you’re talking about!  YEC’s…..for the LOL’s, right?

S#!+ For Brains: Excuse me, my good fellows.  How do you know the earth isn’t 6000 years old?

Y: OMFG! SRSLY? It’s called evidence, homey!  Have you heard of it?

YF: Totally.  Case closed. Sucks to be you!  I know because the evidence says so.

SFB: No. You see, you don’t know.  You don’t know anything.  You cannot have knowledge of anything in your worldview.  If you do, it is surely circular!  In order for anything to make sense, you need to presuppose the existence of God.  You are a theist and don’t know it!

Y:  WTF.  That s#!+ makes no sense.  You are ridiculous.

YF: What the F#@% does that even mean?  Of course I know S#!+, like, I so know you are a douchebag.

SFB: Ahh! Can you prove that you know anything?

This is where it starts.  You just got served with a steaming pile of presup nonsense.  This is the “knowledge” variation.  There is also the “morality” variation, the “existence” variation, and the list goes on.  First, I guess we should dispense with the definitions.  In this post, I’m just using the first two.  The third definition for Moral Presup will be the subject of it’s own post, though I have argued against it in the past.

Argument From Incredulity:  The assertion that a premise is true or false based on insufficient knowledge, willful ignorance, or misunderstanding of probability.

An argument from incredulity was the good old standby of theologians for years.  Eventually though, people started figuring out that we could use the tools of reason to answer those nagging questions in our universe.  Below is a cursory list of incredulous assertions (theistic and otherwise), followed by their reasoned explanations:

  • The earth is suspended on a firmament→ Yeah. Turns out the earth is held in space as a result of it’s gravitational relationship to the sun.  Who knew?
  • The moon is a source of light→ Again. Seems logical, but turns out it is just a giant reflector of the large gaseous sphere we call the sun
  • Illness is caused by evil spirits→Really?  People thought that? Yep.  And unless you define “evil spirit” as being a microscopic organism, you are probably wrong.
  • Humans sperm is a humunculus→ That’s right.  Turns out your sperm is just a boring nucleus of chromosomes that require a diploid bond to take any real form.  Sorry to burst your bubble.  Thankfully, this allows us to sidestep the uncomfortable conversation with our girlfriends about whether sperm is the dietary equivalent of “Soylent Green”.
  • Rainbows are God’s “shout out” to the LGBT community→No matter how cool that sounds (and I still want to believe it), turns out light refracts off of water molecules in the atmosphere.  Science ruins all the fun.

So science seems to have ruined everything.  Slowly and methodically, it seems that superstition gets squeezed out of the world we live in.

How does one manage to “win back” our world for hocus pocus, superstition, and anthropomorphic Godheads?  Enter Presuppositionalism.  This takes the old argument from incredulity:

We don’t know how this happens→.·. God

and changes it to this:

We can’t know how anything happens without God→.·. God

Bam! That will learn ya.

So,

Presuppositionalism:  God is the source of knowledge, reason, and logic. Claiming otherwise is circular reasoning, because you need to use logic and reason to verify logic and reason.  There must therefor be something that transcends logic and reason.  That something is……wait for it…….wait…for…it……GOD! Boo Ya.  If we claim to know anything, we first must presuppose the existence of God.  Whether we deny it or not.

The Moral Presup Argument:  There can be no objective morality without something that makes things objectively good or objectively bad.  Guess what that something is?  No. Really, Guess….Without G-O-D, actions are just a matter of preference.  If God doesn’t exist, people can’t say there is anything wrong with murdering people, or molesting children.  If you don’t think child molestation is the bee’s knees, you instantly presuppose God.

Yeah, I know, that sounds absolutely retarded.  And it is.  But, and this is a big but, how do you show that it is, in point of fact, retarded?  Well, let’s just rejoin your conversation from earlier…..

You:  How do I prove I know anything?  Well I use reason to test what I know against evidence.

S#!+ For Brains:  How do you know that your reason is reasonable?  If you test logic and reason with logic and reason, then you create a viscous circle.  You need to account for reason in a non circular way, and that requires God.

Your Friend:  That is Ten Drumsticks short of an Ice Cream Truck! WTF?

SFB:  So you can’t account for reason then?  Thanks for coming out, Jesus loves you, your going to Hell, and God Bless!

Holy mother of an imaginary zombie superhero!  What just happened?

Well, I’ll tell you.  Here is your logical chain:

  1. Humans possess logic and reason
  2. In order to prove this, we need to use logic and reason
  3. Circular reasoning is a logical fallacy
  4. Therefor we must presuppose something without logic or reason in order to account for logic or reason
  5. That something is God, and by God I mean the God of the Bible, YHWH, God of Abraham, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

So the presuppositional argument is that we cannot reason God’s existence, there is no rational proof for God; we must accept the entire premise on faith in order to avoid “circular reasoning”.  They can’t explain why we must presuppose any God, or that God in particular, just that we have to presuppose something, and then they insist that there is only one possibility to presuppose.

You see, in order to reason which supposition we ought to presuppose in order to avoid our circular reasoning, we would also have to use logic and reason.  So really, you can’t just assume a Christian God, because if you assumed Him, then you would have to deny that the Bible is evidence of God’s existence.  If you claimed the bible is proof of His existence, you would have to use logic or reason, and that would be off limits- else you yourself commit the fallacy of circular reasoning.  Essentially what I am saying is that Presuppositionalists commit circular reasoning every single day.  They just think that by adding an extra step, that you won’t catch on.

The Parable of Presuppositional Logic

Imagine that a chair stands on the ground in front of you.  Your legs are tired, you wish to rest.  You go to sit down, when someone interjects:

You can’t sit on that chair,” the man says, “it will surely fall to pieces under your weight!”

“It looks perfectly sturdy,” you say,”it appears to be made of oak, with four sturdy legs.

You think that now” says the man, “but I know chairs, and this one is no good.  If you allow me, I will fix it so that you may sit.”

Very well.”

Then the man pulls out a cushion.  He plopps it down on the chair.  “There!” he says, “Now it is perfectly safe.

What are you talking about?“, you say, dumbfounded.  “All you did was put a cushion on it.  That makes it no more safe, or sturdy.

Maybe.  Maybe not.”  says the man.  “Yet if you really think about it, I surely made it more comfortable.

Thus ends the parable of presupposition. Presup can’t change the nature of anything.  It doesn’t add structure to anything.  It just takes something that works perfectly well and makes your use of it less of a pain in the ass.  You feel like you are sitting on a cloud, and so long as you don’t look down, you can keep imagining it was so.

Does The Cushion Make The Chair More Sturdy?

So where does this leave us?  What did we learn today?  Hopefully we all agree now that presuppositionalism is just bait and switch.  It is adding a step for no good reason. You still disagree?

Tell me then.  What is the difference between these two propositions:

Athiest Reasoning

  1. Humans have reason and logic
  2. Reason and logic are the culmination of activities in our brain as a means to interpret, interact, and express the reality in which we exist
  3. the source of reason and logic, then, is in our brain, but dependent on the input of reality
  4. If I wish to prove reason and logic, I must appeal to the source of reason and logic.  This is circular reasoning, but not viciously circular.

Presuppositionalist Reasoning

  1. Humans have reason and logic
  2. The source of reason and logic is God, as is the source of reality.
  3. If I wish to prove reason and logic, I merely need to appeal to God.
  4. If God is the source of reason and logic, then I must appeal to the source of reason and logic to prove reason and logic.
  5. I also must appeal to reason and logic to prove that the source of reason and logic exists.  Oh, and appeal to reason and logic to argue that the bible was authored by the source of reason and logic.  This is not at all viciously circular, or begging the question.

So they have made the chair more comfortable by changing the definitions and assuming their premise by fiat.  So long as you focus on the cushion and not the chair, you can keep believing you don’t need four legs and solid ground.  The chair is more comfortable because it hides your need to examine what lies beneath.

Welcome to presuppositionalism.

To end this post, I will pull two quotes from the previous post that started this discussion.  I think that Jason basically sums up this whole post in a single comment:

Dan The Atheist Debunker:You cannot use a term “suppose” three time only to conclude an “actual” afterwords. Your logic and critical thinking skills are certainly lacking. Please try again. Thanks for the smile though. I will cherish it.

Jason:“You cannot use a term “suppose” three time only to conclude an “actual” afterwords.”

Says the guy whose entire argument boils down to “Suppose the Bible is true. Therefore, God actually exists.”

Presuppositionalism:  The best way to avoid begging the question is to start by begging the question.

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Let’s Keep the Big Picture, please

Posted on May 14, 2011. Filed under: Apologetics, Religion |

Apparently, I ruffled a few feathers with the opening sentence of my last post. Good – at least it gets the dialogue going, but I learned a few things in the process. As I have stated before, I am more interested in discovering why people believe what they believe as opposed to simply arguing about random rants. It has been said that some people determine truth based on what they feel is true as opposed to what they have reasoned to be true and I couldn’t agree with this more. There is a difference between fact and opinion, however, and even when someone reaches a conclusion based on opinion it can be very distant from any definition of truth.

Sometimes it takes a series of questions to get someone to open up and share their views and expose their beliefs for examination and I encourage this type of discussion. Conclusions from faulty logic and presuppositions are easily revealed and flushed out. This saves everyone involved a lot of wasted time arguing about generally insignificant topics instead of focusing on the big picture.

The fact is that everyone who subscribes to any religious belief fits somewhere within a definable structure. It’s easier to pan back a bit to reveal a timeline of various belief systems.

Religious Timeline

Now it may be easy to proclaim “Me likes truth”, but it becomes clear that this statement becomes vacuous when discovering the source of that belief is a self-authenticating text impervious to critical examination.  Like it or not, your religion was created somewhere and modified by someone. Your “truth” is relative to you, but not to the rest of us. Good luck defending it.

So, religious followers out there, I ask you these simple questions:
1.   What religion do you believe, how long have you followed it and how did you come to that conclusion?
2.   Is there anything that could be presented to you that would cause you to change your belief? (and please explain why or why not)

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But It’s Not About Me

Posted on May 11, 2011. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Religion, You're Not Helping |

Many theists are annoyed by the fact they believe in something they cannot logically defend. When discussing religion with an adherent, you can usually break down the argument to where reason ends and faith begins. Unfortunately, from time to time you run across a believer who tries to shift the entire discussion about what I believe or don’t believe. Instead of actually trying to defend what they believe, they waste your time trying to attack a position that was never introduced in the first place. That’s like questioning the reporter. It’s not about me.

Even if you define the term “atheist” in its narrowest sense of asserting the non-existence of a deity, it still has nothing to do with defending the believer’s position. It’s merely a distraction to shift any burden of defending their claim. I wonder if two theists with conflicting ideologies would suffer the same fate. There seems to be more tolerance from adherents towards people with any faith rather than dealing with someone with no faith.

So, it all comes back to my original question of asking “why do you believe what you believe?” Your answer should be about your position, not mine. It’s not about me.

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Meet My New Guest Poster!

Posted on May 11, 2011. Filed under: Internet Etiquette, Personal |

When I started this blog, I posted about once every two days.   Lately, that has reduced to once a week or less.  I could get off my lazy ass and write more posts.  Really I could.

In keeping with my creative procrastination though, I have decided to allow friend-of-the-blog-who-doesn’t-have-his-own-blog, zqtx, the opportunity to be a semi-regular guest poster around here.

His style is more in-your-face than mine, more emotionally driven, and less deliberate.  I’m looking forward to having a bit of that attitude around here.

Zqtx will publish his first post today.  I hope everyone takes a moment to welcome him on board, engage his ideas, and keep the conversation going.

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Results from the Canadian Election

Posted on May 3, 2011. Filed under: Canadian Politics, Politics |

It is almost midnight as I start writing this post.

The election in Canada is almost over.  The votes are cast, the ballots are counted, and we have a Conservative majority Government.  There are quite a few surprises to report.  Not many people would have guessed a Conservative majority.  Not many people would have guessed that the NDP would form the official opposition.  The separatist movement in Quebec is decimated.  The juggernaut of Canadian politics for the last 120 years, the beloved Liberal Party, has been marginalized to 34 seats, just a hair above 10% of the total seats in the House of Commons.  Two federal party leaders, Gilles Duceppe of the BQ and Micheal Ignatieff of the Liberals, failed to win their own seat in the House.   Lastly, and perhaps the most surprising to me, is that Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party, has one the first ever seat for that party in Canadian history.

After tomorrow, the landscape of Canadian politics will be forever different.  Will we finally see the true colours of the former Reform Party now that the Conservatives need not walk on eggshells?  Has the NDP finally pulled itself out of the wilderness and become a relevant force in Canadian politics?  Will politics in Quebec ever be the same?  Those questions are for tomorrow.

I am, as I am sure you are all aware, more than a little disappointed about a Conservative Majority.  This is not the direction I would choose for my country, and the next four years may be the most dangerous years in Canadian politics.   I can only hope that a vocal NDP opposition will work to temper some of the policies that our next Conservative government will fight for.

But tonight is a night to toast some victories.  The separatist Bloc Quebecois is standing at three seats right now.  The separatist spectre has been, for the time being at least, sent packing.  I hope desperately that the NDP can do the work necessary to earn the trust and respect of a province that has felt slighted and ignored virtually since confederation.  We can all be happy at the prospect of a more unified Canada.

I am happy also that the New Democratic Party has earned legitimacy in Canadian politics.  Long have I wished for a viable Left Wing alternative, a party that had a clear center-left agenda that could counter the complacency of the Liberals and the condescension of the Conservatives.  This is a victory for progressive Canadians.

I can’t help but be exited at the prospect of a Green Party MP in Ottawa.  I hope that this step helps to remind our elected officials that the environment is not a fringe issue in Canada.  I hope that this gain helps to bring the Green Party away from some of their more ridiculous and pseudo-scientific policy positions as they realize that their party has been given an opportunity at relevance.  I hope Elizabeth May never says in her victory speech that “The ark was built by amateurs, the Titanic by professionals.”  Crap.  She actually said that? Damn.  Jason will never let me live that one down!

Oh, and for all my talk about how my Liberal MP was a sure bet to win my riding, right now he is trailing by about 100 votes with one poll not reporting.  I’m apparently in one of the tightest races in the whole country.  Maybe I should have voted Liberal after all.

But I don’t regret the vote I cast.  Not one bit.

It’s 12:40 PM and the vote stands at 166 Conservatives, 104 NDP, 34 Liberals, 3 Bloc, and 1 Green.

Who’d of thunk it?

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