Tuesday 8 October 2013

Presuppositionalism is dead in the water

In this week's Atheist Experience TV call-in show, hosted by Russell and Lynnea Glasser, the fundamental presupposition of "presuppositional apologetics" was shown to be utterly without foundation. I agree with Duane Davis — who posted a link to the show on Facebook — that this is "the most elegantly simple take-down of the worldview question I have ever witnessed."


Duane Davis also transcribed the essential part of the exchange (beginning at about 18 minutes in), as follows:
Seth: "I believe if you reason from any other worldview you ultimately will always end up binding yourself and contradicting yourself."

Russell: "Prove it."

Seth: "Well, tell me what your worldview...describe what your worldview..."

Russell: "No, no, no. You said EVERY OTHER POSSIBLE worldview, so that means I shouldn't HAVE to give you a specific worldview because you've categorically ruled them ALL out. That's a pretty neat trick."

Lynnea: "I've got a good world view."

Seth, "Okay, go for it."

Lynnea: "I created the universe by traveling back in time."

Seth: (Incredulously) "YOU created the universe by traveling back in time? That's your worldview?"

Lynnea: "Yes. Can you disprove that?"

Seth: (laughing)"...Um, can you prove that you can travel back in time?"

Lynnea: "I don't need to. I just need to prove that the contrary is not correct" (echoing an earlier statement Seth made).

Russell: "Yeah, and I assume she's right."

Seth: "So the contrary of...the contrary of..."

Lynnea: "You're laughing because you cannot disprove it and you are stalling for time."

Seth: "Okay...uh...so you are saying that your worldview is that you can travel back in time..."

Lynnea: "Yes, I already did it."

Seth: "...and contrary to that is untrue...?"

Lynnea: "Yeah. Can you prove that that did not happen?"

Seth: "Okay, well let's start with the laws of logic. In your worldview can you account for fact that the laws of logic are universal, invariant, transcendent, and apply everywhere?"

Lynnea: "Unless I choose to suspend them." (Call back to Seth's description of miracles.)

Seth: "Well, that's not what I said earlier. What I said specifically was that God could not lie, so there's no way you could..."

Lynnea: "Well, I'm not God. I am myself. So, I can lie."

Seth: "So you CAN lie, then."

Lynnea: "I CAN. I'm not, though."

Seth: "So, you're a finite, lying sinful human being, of course I distrust what you say."

Russell: "She didn't say she was finite and sinful. She just said she can lie if she wants. That actually makes her able to do stuff that God cannot do. So she is (in unison with Lynnea) 'more powerful than God.'"

Seth: (laughing)

Lynnea: "...And I traveled back in time and I made the universe. And I can understand if your limited brain can't accept it."

Seth: "Well, let me take the worldview that I'm going to guess that you actually adhere to..."

Lynnea: "Whoa, hold on. You didn't prove it wrong."

Seth: "...You're an atheistic, evolutionist who believes that essentially all there is is matter and motion and that's it for the universe, right?"

Lynnea: "NO! I just told you what I believe."

Seth: "No...okay, if..if you want me to engage in this seriously, you have to have to tell me what your actual worldview is. Is that your worldview? You basically say that God doesn't exist and ..."

Lynnea: "Why do you think that is not my worldview?"

Seth: "Because I have common sense." (laughing)

Lynnea: "Because you have what?"

Seth: "Common sense."

Lynnea: "What does that have to do with whether it's real? Why are you applying common sense or reason to a thing..I mean...you need to start out with the belief that it's true. You can't reason yourself into it."

Seth: "Well, what I'm saying is that if you if you adopt any non-Christian worldview, eventually, if you reason it out consistently it just collapses..."

Lynnea: "Mine doesn't."

Seth: "An example would be, if somebody says there is no truth, there is no absolute truth I would simply ask, 'okay, is that statement absolutely true?'"

Lynnea: "You're saying every other worldview, but I just GAVE you one that doesn't. And you are ignoring that."

Seth: "Well, I would simply ask then, 'what confidence do I have at all that YOUR claims about that reality the world are authoritative?'"

Lynnea: "Mmm."

Russell and Lynnea: "Yes, that's a really good question."

Lynnea: "And that's how someone who's an atheist, like Russell, would approach the Christian worldview."

Russell: "Yeah, that's how someone like I, who don't think I created the Universe, would approach claims about the Bible. I would say, why would I think the Bible was authoritative to begin with? Why would I share in your unreasoned assumption that the Bible is authoritative unless we could get to some kind of other means of understanding it that way?"

Lynnea: "Even if it WAS 'INTERNALLY CONSISTENT and could not be contradicted.'"

Russell: "Yeah."

Seth: "Okay, I might go after it this way. I mentioned earlier Henri Poincare's book Science and Hypothesis. When he talk about science, he mentions a fact that is obvious but it's one of those things you don't often think about it. As far as science goes, he mentions the fact that all scientists, no matter how knowledgeable they are, always deal with a finite number of facts."

Russell: "That is true."

Seth: "So if you are going to make claims about how the Bible can't possibly be true because then..."

Russell: "I didn't say the Bible couldn't possibly be true. No one here ever said the Bible can't possibly be true. We just said basically what you said. Why would we accept it as authoritative?"

Seth: "Well, because it was written by God." (laughs)

Russell: "And why would I think that?"

Seth: "Again, because if you go after any other worldview, like.."

Russell and Lynnea: "Whoa!!"

Russell: "What about hers?"

Lynnea: "You're so rude. What's wrong with my worldview that you keep trying to ride it out?"

Seth: "Well, how... How would you prove to me that you can travel through time?"

Russell: "Don't need to."

Lynnea: "Don't need to. I already did it. It happened."

Seth: "Well, *I* want proof of it."

Russell: "Well, now you know what our objection is to assuming the Bible is true."
I think we're done here.