Check(Mate?) On Presuppositional Morality: How Peter Gets to Murder His Kids And There is Nothing You Can Do About It.

Posted on January 11, 2011. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Atheist Ethics, Religion, TAG-Pressupposational Theology, Trolls |

This post is a continuation of the discussion between Peter, a pressupositonalist,  Jason of Lousy Canuck, and myself.  The sources from which I pull quotations from Peter are available at Lousy Canuck, and on Atheism Presupposes Theism, in posts and comments here and here.  I will attempt to use his own words and the implied logic of them to reveal the absurdity of his argument.  If any one disagrees with the logic of my argument, I will as always be prepared to answer questions.  If you are a presuppositionalist, be aware that I reserve the right to have you clarify your premise and commit to it before I will respond to questions unrelated to the exact words of this post.  I am reasonable, but I will not play games until you commit to the rules.

The Third Move Is Where You Break “The First Rule” Of Presuppositionalism

I have a good friend who is a chess phenom. He says you don’t win a game of chess, you lose a game of chess. He has even told me that you can lose in the first three moves. In presuppositional apologetics, the trick is to make two moves, claim that their opponent has already lost, and refuse to play the rest of the game. The trick works only if you believe that you can lose without playing it out, and only if the presuppositionalist never makes that third move. If he makes it, I can follow any combination of moves he will make from then on to a checkmate.
He can continue to tell those that will listen that I already lost in the first two moves, but he can’t prove it, because it requires that third move.
The third move is to commit to your own premise, the third move is the losing one for any moral presuppositionalist strategy.

If the first rule of Fight Club is “never talk about Fight Club” then the first rule of presuppositional moral apologetics should be:
Never commit to a moral position.

You took a position on a moral Peter. You broke the first rule.

Setting Peter’s Ground Rules

Each of these rules and logical extensions are derived directly from Peter’s arguments.  If at any time I make a logical conclusion that is not a direct result of Peter’s logic, then I will be happy to defend it against criticism.

Postulate #1

A worldview is defined as self-defeating and therefor not logically consistent if it is possible to deny it based on it’s own postulates.

This is derived from the statement:

Premise #1: Jason believes that what he is saying is factual.
Premise #2: Jason believes that people are not morally obligated to accept the facts.
Conclusion: Jason believes that people are not morally obligated to accept what he is saying.

If premise #1 is false, then we can disregard what Jason is saying. If premise #2 is true, then we can disregard what Jason is saying. Either way, we can disregard what you’re saying. That’s a self-defeating position.

Also note that from this postulate we must first prove that Jason is not lying, but may be mistaken,else the conclusion is a non-sequitor.

From Peter’s own interpretation, if someone is able to disregard a truth within the premise of their worldview, then that worldview is a self defeating one.

Is everyone following so far?

Postulate #2

Killing is justified if there is a just reason for doing it.  These reasons include self-defence, just war, and God’s authorization, which can be known by revelation through a reading of The Old and New Testament.

Peter says:

There is a distinction between killing at will and killing when you are justified in doing so. Perhaps what we need to clarify is when killing is justified.


Killing is wrong, but since we live in a fallen and sinful world, there are some exceptions to the rule (self-defense, just war, capital punishment in appropriate situations, etc.) Killing is only appropriate when God authorizes it, otherwise it’s murder.

So we are clear on that….

then he says:

Since the close of the canon of Scripture, God no longer speaks in a direct fashion as He did, for example, to the prophets of the Old Testament.


God reveals Himself in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. He also reveals Himself in creation. Now, you may not agree with that and you may not like that, but that is how God reveals Himself. It’s not magical and it’s not cryptic. If you want to know what God reveals and who He is, then go watch a sunrise, watch the frost form on a window, go see the northern lights, go and read the Bible.

From these statements we can say that God no longer speaks to man, but reveals himself through scripture.  So a passage in scripture can be interpreted as a revelation of God. We also note that we live in a fallen and sinful world.

Peter Kills His Kids, But “That’s O.K.-I’m A Presuppositionalist”, says Peter.

We now live in a world of presuppositional moralists.  Everyone accepts the rules I have just defined.  To itemize them for everyone, they are:

  1. A worldview is defined as self-defeating and therefor not logically consistent if it is possible to deny it based on it’s own postulates.
  2. If someone is able to disregard a truth within the premise of their worldview, then that worldview is a self defeating one.
  3. Killing is justified if there is a just reason for doing it.
  4. These reasons include self-defence, just war, and God’s authorization, which can be known by revelation through a reading of The Old and New Testament.
  5. God no longer speaks to man, but reveals himself through scripture.  So a passage in scripture can be interpreted as a revelation of God.
  6. We live in a fallen and sinful world.

A detective arrives at the scene of the crime, Peter is standing over the dead body of his child.  The officer questions him:

Detective: What happened here?

Peter: My child spoke back to me, so I killed him

Detective:  Alright then, case closed.  We’ll remove the body for you, have a good night, sir!  God bless.

Why did that just happen?

Peter killed his child for speaking back to him, an objective moral command as revealed by God in Leviticus 20:9.

He was, by his own definition, justified in doing so as  it was revealed to him in the bible, as such authorized by God(From 4&5).  The detective has no right to question his assertion, because it is a truth, and denying it would make a presuppositionalist worldview self-defeating(From 1).  Ah, but what if Peter was lying?  Surely the detective has no right to assume the truth of his testimony?  Sure he does.  If Peter’s testimony were a lie, by definition he would have to know the truth and rejected it.  That would make presuppositionalism self defeating, because if you are faced with a truth, you are unable to deny it, or else your worldview is self-defeating(Again, from 1).  Since we are presuppositionalists, we know that the Christian worldview is correct, therefor he cannot lie.  But wait.  We live in a sinful and fallen world(6).  He must be able to lie.  Well, no.  If man were able to sin, they could ignore their Objective Moral requirement to not believe a truth, and that would make their whole worldview self defeating(1).  So either way, the presuppositionalist must retract the first premise of this argument, or claim that sin is impossible, or admit that there is no grounds for even contemplating Peter’s culpability in a presuppositionalist world.  Christianity therefor not only comports with child killing, it outright requires it.  Then it requires that everyone shrug it off as a moral obligation.


Quote of the day:  If killing, to a Christian, is murder with a just reason, then I suppose the parallel is murder is to lying as killing is to presuppositional apologetics.

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12 Responses to “Check(Mate?) On Presuppositional Morality: How Peter Gets to Murder His Kids And There is Nothing You Can Do About It.”

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Enjoying the ongoing conversation. Definitely Headier than the one with troll David at Le Café.

Keep up the good work.

Well played. However, as you bet that he would double down, I will bet that Peter can find a competing Bible quote that refutes any of the postulates here. The Bible was built in 350AD specifically out of a bunch of parts of stories so that you can find something in them to support any worldview. His entire worldview is self-defeating, by our or his standards, but he will buttress it with other aspects of his own worldview as he sees fit. Maybe something like, “with God, illogic is logical because all things are possible.”

As you might expect, I want him to respond. I am betting that any response he will give will break the First Rule….. again. His best move is to do what I do when I play chess with my buddy:wait for him to go to the bathroom, tip the board over, and say “I guess we’ll never know”.

I suspect you’ll never know, since he’s basically not allowed any comments at all over at his place since posting his last “reply” to you (though as I said at my place, it could be that Blogspot was going bananas). And now he’ll make another victory lap. Now that he’s retreated back to his place, and he has stifled dissent, obviously his god must be pleased with him and he’ll get cookies and ice cream in the afterlife.

I fired a quick request for further response from him, and it was posted to his blog within seconds. Either he’s blocked you two specifically, or you were just having some issues with Blogger.
I can’t figure out if I’d prefer to blame Peter or Google…

I dunno. I don’t think I care enough to keep checking his place and pumping up his traffic. Let him claim victory, unless he ever removes the links to the actual battleground. It will prove otherwise.

George, I think you put it best with your analogy with the three-move checkmate in chess. The only way for a presuppositionalist to “win”, is to begin playing, but refuse to finish the game. They must assert that their God exists, and then decline to continue the conversation until the opposition acknowledges their assertion as true. Since an acknowledgement isn’t likely to happen, we saw exactly what we witnessed at Jason’s place: Peter merely made his assertion that God must exist, repeatedly claimed that due to Jason’ atheism, Peter had no moral justification to answer any further questions, then retreated home to claim victory when it became painfully obvious he had no inclination (or capability) of defending his own position.

It’s a circular logic that claims superiority over all worldviews by accusing all other viewpoints of being based on circular reasoning. I bet Karl Rove is a presuppositionalist.

No wonder I dislike the fucker so much.

Here is Peter’s response in full. It appears on his site. I want to extend him the courtesy of having his voice heard, because I believe in being honest.

Greg is nothing if not entertaining. He thinks he has me on the horns of a real dilemma, namely, that either I accept it’s ok to apply capital punishment to a child who curses his parent (Lev. 20:9), or if I don’t, I accept that my Christian worldview is inconsistent and self-defeating.

I’m a shakin’ in my boots.

While atheists may find it odd that capital punishment is applied to a much lesser number of sins in the New Testament after the coming and work of Jesus Christ as compared to the Old Testament, they should actually find it odd, given the Christian worldview, that capital punishment is not applied to any and every sin, whether in the New or Old Testaments. God warned Adam concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that from it “you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17). God says in Ezekiel 18:20, “The soul who sins shall die.” The point is this: death is the penalty for every sin. Most people take the fact that they’re alive for granted, but it should actually be amazing that after Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they did not die that day. God had every right to destroy the world but did not. Instead He enacted His plan of salvation. He allowed mankind continue the project of culture and civilization, although He put mankind and creation under the curse (see Gen. 3), and mankind became depraved as a result of his original sin. Mankind was still allowed to live a short life on this earth, relatively speaking. And why? To give people the opportunity to repent of their sins and call upon God for salvation; to allow for the people He would save and redeem to be born; to ensure that His Son would one day be born and accomplish the work of salvation that was set out for him to do.

And why is capital punishment applied to far fewer situations (such as a child cursing his parent) in the New Testament as compared to the Old Testament? It has to do with the “day of salvation” or “year of the Lord’s favour” prophesied by Isaiah and reiterated by Jesus Christ in Luke 4:16-21. This time (figurative day or year) is a further and expanded time and opportunity God provided and still provides for people to repent of their sins and seek salvation because of Jesus Christ. It’s an act of grace and mercy. It is one of the most crucial reasons as to why capital punishment is applied to far fewer situations in the New Testament and beyond. A good example of this occurs in John 8:1-11, where a woman caught in the act of adultery (and thus liable to capital punishment) was brought to Jesus by the Pharisees and scribes. They asked Jesus concerning the very same thing that Greg is asking me about a child cursing his parents: “In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such a woman. Now what do you say?” (Interestingly, the following verse says, “They were using the question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him”). Jesus said, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Notice that Jesus did not say that the law of Moses was invalid. Rather, he shed light on the motivation behind what the Pharisees (and Greg) were trying to do, and to show them what their standing before God really is, namely, that everyone deserves death for their sin.

Now, I have been patient and forbearing in giving a response to Greg about the Christian worldview and the teaching of the Bible. It’s time for me to turn my sights on him.

Greg, as an atheist, cannot account for how God or myself might be wrong. For him, morality is subjective, that is, it’s a matter of personal opinion. Of course, if that’s true then there really is no such thing as right and wrong – it’s just one person’s opinion vs. another. And if morality is not objective, as it is in the Christian worldview, then rationality is not even possible since no one is obligated to reason according to the truth or communicative truthfully. There’s no obligation to do that unless it’s your personal opinion – but even then we know that people can be wrong. But how do you know if someone’s wrong if no one is obligated to be right?

Should a person have a worldview that’s coherent and consistent, as Greg says I should (and I agree)? If morality is subjective then no one’s under obligation to do that. But in the Christian worldview, people are obligated to be coherent and consistent. That’s why I argue that Greg’s argument against me proves Christianity, since he is presupposing that I must be consistent and coherent, which is a Christian position. But it’s a position that atheists cannot account for since, in their worldview, no one has any objective moral obligations. Greg has to presuppose the truth of Christianity in order to attack it, and thus he unwittingly proves Christianity.

And what of the laws of logic? Greg may want to charge me with being irrational or illogical. But according to what standard or standards does he make that judgement? According to the laws of logic? Do people have an objective moral obligation to abide by the laws of logic? Or is that just a matter of personal opinion? If you’re an atheist, how do you account for the laws of logic? Are they immaterial or material? If they’re immaterial, how do you make sense of that if you’re an empiricist or materialist? Are the laws of logic abstract? Are they just electro-chemical processes that happen in the brain? Do any two people have the exact same brain? Are they just a matter of convention? If so, why am I morally obligated to follow the convention? If they’re a matter of convention, then why can’t anyone adopt whatever convention they feel like? And if they’re not a matter of convention, then how does the atheist prove this? If rationality is measured against the laws of logic, then shouldn’t they be objective, immutable and universal? But if the laws of logic can change, whether over time or from one place to another, then why should anyone reason according to the laws of logic? How does the atheist prove that the laws of logic were the same many years ago as they are today? How does he know they’ll be the same in the future? And if he doesn’t know whether the laws of logic are constant, then why even bother reasoning according to them?

These questions about the laws of logic are not a side show. If Greg wishes to employ the laws of logic against me or the Christian position, then he better have a pretty good answer concerning them, or else he should stop using them. But in the atheist worldview, are you really morally obligated to do that, one way or the other? What is rationality if it’s not based on universal and invariant laws?

If Peter is right, that we are morally obliged to accept a truth if it is presented to us, why does he insist on using the name Greg when referring to me, when the title of the same post this comment came from clearly shows he knows (but can’t spell) my real name?
He implies that he knows one of these names to be truthful, so why can he deny it? Is he conceding to our point, that you are not morally obliged to the facts, that you can deny them? How is his mistake, based on his fallibility, sinful nature and free will, any different from the proposition that you are not required to accept a truth? You have every right not to accept the truth. Your opinion doesn’t change the fact that it is true. There are real world consequences for being wrong, how is that any different than the theist position? Just a few questions, I’ll address the meat of this comment in a fresh post.

[…] says the following in response to my post Check(mate?) On Presuppositional Morality: Why Peter Can Murder His Kids And There’s Nothing Y… His comments can be found here, as well as a copy and paste on my post in the comment […]

[…] 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 […]

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