Sunday 11 September 2011

Presuppositional apologetics — why bother?

Some of my readers may have endured what has become known as The Fourth Debate, in which the three Pauls of the Skepticule Extra podcast were subjected to the presuppositional apologetic argument of Eric Hovind and Sye Ten Bruggencate. We released it, unedited, as an episode of the Skepticule Record, which is that part of Skepticule intended to archive live events.

I believe I can safely assert that the three Pauls are in agreement that The Fourth Debate was the final word on Presuppositional Apologetics as far as they, personally, are concerned. PA has been shown, increasingly and repetitively, not to work. It doesn't convince atheists, and it doesn't convince those theists (the majority) who claim to have evidence for the existence of God. It appears that PA is only considered valid by those who already hold to it. As an apologetic method, therefore, it's a dismal failure.

For some people, however, this isn't enough. Chris Bolt of the Choosing Hats blog and podcast (though "podcast" is used loosely here, as I can't find an RSS feed that encloses the media files, and have had to download them manually)* has been commenting on the aforementioned episode of the Skepticule Record in obsessive and tedious detail. There are currently four editions of "Praxis Presup" covering The Fourth Debate — numbers 12, 13, 14 and 15. Two-and-a-half hours of commentary (including clips of the "debate" itself) is a lot, and might perhaps be worth it for a "debate" that ran for an hour and nine minutes, but Chris Bolt's commentary in these four editions of Praxis Presup covers only the first half-hour of our podcast. Apparently there's more commentary to come, but based on what's been released so far, I've no incentive to listen further. (An added disincentive is the appalling sound quality of Praxis Presup. I hope Chris Bolt's listeners don't think the podcast we released is of comparable sound quality to the clips he played.)

All of which leaves me with a nagging question: for whom is Praxis Presup intended? Certainly not atheists, who — if they bother to listen — will only be confirmed in their conviction that PA is nonsense. Evidential theists won't be convinced, as PA claims their approach is invalid. The only people who will agree with Chris Bolt's analysis will be presuppositionalists themselves — and why do they need this, if they are already convinced by PA?

It's a mystery.

*It's been brought to my attention (thanks Fergus!) that there is indeed a working podcast feed for Praxis Presup: