Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Criticism of Presuppositionalism

During my short mission trip to Utah I met two Christian evangelists that criticized the presuppositional methodology because it "confuses" epistemology with metaphysics. As I pounder this criticism I know that both epistemology and metaphysics are distinct, however, they cannot be seperated for they are interdependent. The question is answered in the ontological Trinity. God knows all things. He is the one that gave meaning to all things, created all things, and sustains all things. Thus one cannot truly know anything without knowing God despite man supressing the truth in unrighteoussness (Romans 1:17-24).


Dusman said...

Hi Ryan,

Nice blog.

I recently ran into this objection from an acquaintance that holds to Classical apologetics. He said, "I agree. If God does not exist, then nothing else would either. But that's an ontological issue. We're dealing with an epistemological issue. How do we arrive at that conclusion? How do we know the Bible is true? Perhaps only the Old Testament is true. Maybe the Koran is true instead. HOW do we know? That's the real issue here. Thanks brother!"

They will usually say "You are confusing the order of being with the order of knowing; i.e., you need to first prove that God exists in order to say that unbelievers are held accountable for something that they claim they don't know."

I usually respond, "So you're saying that they have an excuse then? Romans 1:20 says they don't. It says they are demanding the proof that nobody needs.

Secondly, we don't confuse the two, we admit that we have a common *metaphysical* ground with the unbeliever (i.e., made in image of God) but not a common epistemological ground because of their truth suppression. We show that given their assumptions about reality, then couldn't know anything about reality *in principle* were they consistent with their own presuppositions. But they *do* know things and assume things about the world that could only be true if the Bible were true. Thus, they know God in one sense (i.e., in the sense of being able to make sense out of the world) but in another, they suppress it, deceive themselves through vain philosophy, and attempt to convince themselves that their idolatry is the true interpretation of reality."

I then ask, "So, you're saying that we have to first prove that God exists by giving extrabiblical evidence, etc., right? If so, then isn't that allowing the unbeliever to put God on the witness stand instead of the unbeliever being put on the witness stand?

I then go on to show that ultimate standards are self-validating, i.e., they are the ultimate foundation from which people argue. They are not proved like other things, but must use the standard to prove the standard, a non-fallacious form of circular reasoning. See here for further explanation:

James Stillwell said...

A=A. A thing has borders and boundaries and can be distinguished by what it isn't. God is said to be infinite without borders or boundaries. Therefore god is no-thing.
P1 god is without space and time, nothing is spaceless and timeless.
P2 god is not immaterial, nothing is not material.
P3 god can't be conceptualized, nothing can be conceptualized.
P4 god is without limits, nothing has no limits.
P5 nothing doesn't exist.
P6 god is nothing
Conclusion therefore god does not exist.