Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Quote of the Day by Douglas Wilson

Recently, Douglas Wilson was on Iron Sharpens Iron discussing his book/movie with atheist Christopher Hitchens. I thought his discription of Presuppositionalism verses Evidentialism was humourous.
There are two main schools of thought among Christians on presenting apologetic defenses of the faith. One is called Evidentialism and the other is Presuppositionalism. Evidentialism basically takes the unbeliever by the hand and says, "Let's assume common ground together in reason or science or historical studies, that sort of thing. And then sharing as we step into the shared world that we both have let me reason with you to the Bible or to the resurrection of Christ. I want to come along side you and lets reason to a Christian conclusion.

The Presuppositionalist begins with the ...doesn't try to reason to the Scripture. He rather reasons from the Scriptures. He assumes the truth of Scripture and reasons from that, and then requires the atheist or the unbeliever that he is debating with to do the same with his premises. So it is kind of like a demolition derby. Everybody gets into their presuppositions and drives around the ring.

5 comments:

Cory said...

Wilson is definitely a presuppositionalist...it's what makes, in my humble opinion, Collision such a fun, interesting movie to watch.

Howard Fisher said...

Yes he is. Van Tillian too. In my discussion with David in the previous post, I am obviously not doing a very good job. Hopefully later I might get a chance to clarify. It might be tonight.

David B. Ellis said...

One of the interesting issues, for me, regarding presuppositionalism, is the question:

What constitutes a valid or reasonable presupposition?

Surely not just anything can be reasonably presupposed. Why is it reasonable to presuppose the Bible but not the scripture of any other religion?

Yes, I know the typical answer: that only the Biblical/Christian presupposition can maintain consistency.



Which brings us to the essential failing of presuppositionalism:

It is, in fact, rather easy to be consistent. Consistency is a very low standard that almost any careful thinker, of whatever religion or ideology (or nutball conspiracy theory, for that matter), can manage to maintain---even when defending something almost any reasonable person would conclude is utterly ludicrous.

Howard Fisher said...

"Surely not just anything can be reasonably presupposed. Why is it reasonable to presuppose the Bible but not the scripture of any other religion?"

Thanks David for your comments. I do think you missed my point, but that was probably due to my poor ability to communicate it. You kept asking for a logical link between my saying God is necessary to morality. You keep repeating that I haven't done this.

However, what I haven't done is made the argument that the Christian God is necessary to make a naturalistic view of morality work. For by definition, your system doesn't need God since it is based on other presuppositions. So of course I would not bother trying to make that link for by definition it would be absurd. This is where I think you missed part of the presuppositional argument.

So basically, when you talk about morality, I see you hoisting up a flag (which represents morality) and waving it firmly in mid air. Of course you will argue for your flag pole. Then I will ask what is your flag pole mounted in? Looks like mid air to me. Of course you will argue something that resembles the earth. To which
I will ask....I think you might get the point. The "why game" makes you system inconsistent. You have your ultimate authorities, whether you admit it or not, but I see no justification for them. You use words, but you have no justification for them, ect ect ect.

So in the end, I see your worldview as breeding whatever someone comes up with and "persuades" others to follow. Man is very creative.

And btw, I remember listening to a Christian apologist years ago talk about how he had to read Feuerbach. He discovered that he had a system against Christianity that could not be beat. He search high and low for an answer and could not find one. He found his answer in another German philosopher, whose name I do not remember, but was called something like "The Philosopger of Pessimism". It was there that this man challenged and refuted Feuerbach's starting premise. So a non-Christian had already dismantled Feuerbach. It is just that he is not taught and Feuerbach is. But that is where I first learned of challenging the premise. It was there that when I would play the "why game" with Christians, I learned to turn it on myself. But due to my own depravity, I did not see any system as passing the why game. And so I ate, drank and made merry (as Paul says) for tomorrow I was going to die.

It has been by God's grace that I see the "why game" has an answer. It is in the resurrection of Christ that God demonstrates He must solve man's ultimate dilemma.

Again, thanks for your comments. You certainly asked the challenging questions, and I am certain I failed to articulate my responses properly or persuasively. Of course, being up every night with a puking kid doesn't help either. :-)

God Bless

David B. Ellis said...


He found his answer in another German philosopher, whose name I do not remember, but was called something like "The Philosopher of Pessimism".


Arthur Schopenhauer is probably the philosopher you have in mind. I've never been much impressed with him myself.

As to the rest:


So basically, when you talk about morality, I see you hoisting up a flag (which represents morality) and waving it firmly in mid air. Of course you will argue for your flag pole. Then I will ask what is your flag pole mounted in? Looks like mid air to me.


Analogies sound nice but they're no substitute for arguments. Both sides of essentially any debate could use almost exactly the same analogy to imply the defender of the contrary position's views were unfounded. It's little more than hot air to fill the silence when you can't think of anything of substance to say.


And btw, I remember listening to a Christian apologist years ago talk about how he had to read Feuerbach. He discovered that he had a system against Christianity that could not be beat.


This whole section about Feuerbach vs Schopenhauer is awfully vague. I don't see how it adds anything to the discussion without more specifics than you seem to recall.

Hope the kid feels better soon.