Sunday, October 07, 2012

The Impossibility of the Contrary

An acquaintance of mine, who is a naturalistic materialist, made a couple of comments about his view of the world recently. He wrote,
Religion is a broad subject that includes creation myths, codes of morality, etc etc etc. Science doesn't do all that -- it is the narrow pursuit of objective truth. (My use of the t-word is your cue to pounce.) We close, asymptotically, on the best explanation for observed facts. Howie -- you believe what you like. I'll stick with my imperfect, humanistic scientific method as a tool for explaining physical reality. If you want to talk philosophy, we can do that too, but I insist that we include more than biblical quotes. There are many competing creation myths.

Now his definition of "objective truth" is probably synonymous with "observed facts". However, what most naturalistic materialists miss about presuppositional apologetics is that the Christian is challenging exactly that [or ought to be challenging that]. It is impossible to not start with some metaphysical premise while claiming to be merely naturalistic.

Please notice that he wanted me to accept his presuppositions by insisting that I go outside of God's revelation. So I would like to offer Greg Bahnsen's view when he explains that Christians need to be ready to demonstrate the "impossibility of the contrary". Keep in mind that this is the trick the non-Christian uses. He often marginalizes the Christian into accepting his false presuppositions in order to look "neutral", but in truth, there is no such thing.

In Bahnsen's  Always Ready, page 72, he stated:

Eventually all argumentation terminates in some logically primitive starting point, a view or premise held as unquestionable.

So how is the Christian to view this? Are we to just be "reasonable" and accept their demands? The next paragraph Bahnsen wrote:

But now a problem obviously arises. If argument chains must eventually terminate, and if the believer and unbeliever have conflicting starting points how can apologetic debate ever be resolved. Since there are different primitive authorities in the realm of thought, does apologetics reduce to a blind, voluntaristic "will to believe"? Is the decision for or against the faith a mere matter of personal taste eventually? Well, the answer would have to be yes if the apologist contented himself merely with arguments and evidences for elected, isolated facts. But the answer is no if the Christian carries his argument beyond "the facts and nothing but the facts" to the level of self-evidencing presuppositions--the ultimate assumptions which select and interpret the facts.

At this level of conflict with the unbeliever the Christian must ask, what actually is the unquestionable and self-evidencing presupposition? Between believer and unbeliever, who actually has the most certain starting point for reasoning and experience? What is that presuppositional starting point? Here the Christian apologist, defending his ultimate presuppositions, must be prepared to argue the impossibility of the contrary--that is, to argue that the philosophic perspective of the unbeliever destroys meaning, intelligence, and the very possibility of knowledge, while the Christian faith provides the only framework and conditions for intelligible experience and rational certainty. The apologist must contend that the true starting point of thought cannot be other than God and His revealed Word, for no reasoning is possible apart from that ultimate authority. Here and only here does one find the genuinely unquestionable starting point.

Now obviously the criticism that will be leveled here against the presuppositionalist is that non-Christians clearly reason and discover things all the time. However, that is not what is being argued by Bahnsen. It is simply an issue of consistency and the immoral view that men may be neutral in evaluating evidence.

To put it another way, man's problem is moral. He will take the evidence of the creation around him and twist his knowledge of the created order in order to suppress his knowledge of God.

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