Archive for the ‘Presuppositionalism’ Category

By the Mouth of Two Witnesses – Presuppositional vs. Evidential Apologetics

June 23, 2010

Describing her experience in Dr. Caner’s Theology 201 class, Klo22 writes that they learned:

In addition, there are two approaches to apologetics. The first is evidential which represents the concept that Jesus died for the whole world. This is what I believe. The other approach is presuppositionalism which exemplifies the concept that Jesus died only for the elect.

(source)

Apparently describing the same class, faith_to_move writes:

We also discussed the various approaches to apologetics. I do not agree with the presuppositional view. This approach is often known as the Limited Atonement approach. Believes that Christ only died for the elect, and that only the elect can understand the evidence. They must first agree on certain presuppositions before the Gospel can be effectively presented.

I would definitely agree more closely with the evidential view: which would be commonly defined as a General Atonement approach. Basically, the evidential view says that Christ died for the world (John 3:16, right) and that each living soul has a God-shaped hole that can only be filled by God. Therefore, each person is created in the image of God (imago Dei) and can be shown using evidence that a personal God loves them.

(source)

These are not accurate representations of the presuppositional and evidential approaches. The evidential approach attempts to argue that the “majority of the evidence favors my view,” (William Lane Craig and many atheists argue this way) whereas the presuppositional approach attempts to show the superiority of the presuppositions associated with Christianity as contrasted with those of opposing views (Greg Bahnsen famously argued this way).

Neither approach has anything directly to do with the atonement or the scope of the atonement. While presuppositional apologetics is dominated by Reformed apologists, there are also Reformed apologists who apply an evidentialist approach, or other approaches, such as the so-called “classical” approach.

The only way to tie presuppositional apologetics to the atonement is to note that the doctrine of the Limited Atonement is the only doctrine that does not lead to self-contradiction. However, I trust that Dr. Caner is not willing to concede that point.

In fact, I did not initially believe that Dr. Caner had really made claims like the ones indicated in the quotations above, because I have seen the entry in The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics, a book that Dr. Caner co-edited. That entry (see here and scroll forward to the sub-section on evidential apologetics) would not lead one to the views expressed above, whether or not that entry is itself totally accurate, and that entry is attributed to Ergun Caner himself.

So, I don’t know what to say. I understand that the book I’ve linked to above is also a textbook for the course. If so, may I encourage folks taking the course to read the textbook rather than relying on the lecture?

-TurretinFan

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Why Should I Believe that?

January 19, 2008

Every apologist is bound to get the question, “Why should I believe that?”

Sometimes the answer is as simple as: “Because the Bible says it,” or “Because it follows logically.”

But not everyone one meets shares one’s common epistemic foundation. Not everyone accepts that logical deduction provides truth. Not everyone believes the Bible. What can we do then?

1. In some cases we can find some other common foundation.

For example, suppose we are addressing someone who accepts only the gospels, and not the other parts of the Bible. In that case, we may be able to prove our doctrine to them out of the gospels. If someone is unwilling to accept the Bible as true, we may be able to prove our point from shared intuition or some other aspect of creation.

2. In some cases we can present our case in a different way.

If a lack of common foundation prohibits strictly logical dialog, we can still discuss the matter using some other mode of discussion. For example, if a person refuses to accept absolute truth, one can appeal to their conscience, to their common sense, etc.

Bottom Line: Some Things are not Arguable

You cannot prove logic’s validity logically. You cannot prove to people that the Gospel is true. You cannot cure congenital blindness, you cannot heal leprosy, and you cannot raise the dead. That’s God’s turf.

You cannot argue anyone to Christ. You can present the truth to them. You can defend the truth against their attacks, but you cannot force someone to believe, whether by sword, by love, by deceit, or by logic. We have to present the truth to people as best we can, and pray to God to open their eyes and hearts and minds to the truth.

May God do so!

-Turretinfan

>Why I am not an Evidentialist

June 27, 2007

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Why I am not an Evidentialist

Introduction

There are many available epistemologies. One that is popular in many circles is the epistemology of evidentialism. This epistemology is the favored approach by many, and can be summarized as the view that one believes what one believes because that is what the weight of the evidence indicates is true. I am not an evidentialist, and I believe that evidentialism is a fundamentally flawed epistemology.

The Attraction of Evidentialism

Despite the fundamental weaknesses of Evidentialism, Evidentialism has blossomed in popularity. The primary reason for the attraction is that evidentialism typically presents itself as Science.

Those who dare to challenge Science are viewed today as fools or Luddites: locked in the middle ages and flat earth geography. Scientists are regarded as the most intelligent portion of society, busily improving life on earth through the application of the Scientific Method.

If Science says, “X,” that is enough for many people to believe it. Thus, for example, you will hear arguments in public fora that it is absurd to call Homosexuality a deviant practice rooted in mental and spiritual illness, because the science of Psychiatry has not listed homosexuality as a mental disorder in its most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

One will hear that a young child in his mother’s womb is not a person, because the science of biololgy has labelled the child a “fetus.” One will likewise hear that the Great Flood could not have happened as described, because Science says otherwise.

Appeals to Science are becoming an entrenched part of the fabric of public discourse. The use of DNA evidence in court has led people to place even more confidence in the ability of Science to provide truth.

On the coattails of this popularity, evidentialism in its most popular form, Naturalism, arrives. Naturalism claims to be the result of scientific investigation, and holds nothing to be known unless it has been verified scientifically. Their opponents are not arguing with them, they will say, but with the evidence.

Some Christians, perhaps even without thinking, have adopted to one degree or another the same epistemology and suggest that they hold what they hold, because the weight of the evidence supports it. Thus, for example, one will hear of apparently Christian apologists claiming to be able to prove that the balance of evidence proves that there is a God, or that the world is intelligently designed, or that rules of morality are good.

Evidentialism and the Scientific Method

As noted above, evidentialism has gained ground because it purports to be scientific. The usual way that something has been viewed as scientific is by whether it applies the scientific method. The scientific method is normally thought to proceed:

  1. Guess/Hypothesis/Formulation/Theory
  2. Testing/Data/Empirical Analysis
  3. Theorization/Verification/Validation/Canonization or Rejection/Rewriting/Reformulation/Revision/Invalidation

The Scientific Method, thus, begins with uncertainty, and proceeds toward (at least this is the goal) greater certainty. The more testing a hypothesis has undergone, the stronger its verification, until it is eventually validated or even canonized as a scientific principle or law. The Scientific Method is also usually cyclical. A guess can turn into a hypothesis, and then a theory.

Evidentialism tries to imitate this principle. It begins with a hypothesis, and then attempts to validate the hypothesis by testing. Thus, evidentialism seeks to wear the mantle of the scientific method, even when some of its hypthothesis are not scientifically testable in the usual sense of the word.

The Scentific Method, despite its foundation on guesses and hunches, gives its holders an aura of objectivity. The reason why this is so, is that the Scientific Method has been used with great success in the applied sciences: engineering and medicine. People assume that technological success is the result of discovery of truth, and consequently they believe the Scientific Method to be a revealer of objective truth.

Presuppositions in Evidentialism

One reason that Evidentilists pick Evidentialism is a belief that by choosing that epistemology, they are beginning with a blank slate. This is false. There are presuppositions in Evidentialism. One standard presupposition of Science, for example, is Naturalism.

Specifically, science normally presupposes that every cause is the result of a purely natural effect. Usually, scientists do not consider this a very problematic presupposition. Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that it is a presupposition.

There are other presuppositions as well: that the world is orderly, that there is a connection between perception and reality, that experience is transitive, and a host of other presuppositions. These presuppositions are not items that can be either established or rebutted by evidentialism, whether in the form of science or in any other form.

A response from a typical beaker-filler or spectrum-analyzer is often to blow off this issue, as though it were not an epistemic weakness: “So you’re saying that experience might not be transistive?” Such replies are simply belligerant, they do not defend the choice of presuppoisitons – nor (more importantly) recognize that the entire Scientific, Naturalistic, and Evidentialist epistemology is piggy-backed on a presuppositional epistemology.

Result of Adherence to Strict Evidentialism – No Beginning

The result of adherence to strict Evidentialism, denying whatever cannot be proved by appeal to sensory experience and other evidence, is to deny the fundamental presuppositions of Evidentialism. Evidentialism cannot prove (or even test) that experience is transisitive, that the world is orderly, or that the natural is all that there is.

In short, Evidentialism is self-contradictory. Because Evidentialism, strictly taken, is self-contradictory, it is an improper and invalid epistemology from the very beginning. Evidentialism cannot stand on its own to ensure that it has started from the right place, and consequently the Evidentialist can never have any knowledge that has the confidence of a foundation.

Result of Adherence to Strict Evidentialism – No Certainty

The results of Evidentialism are always tenuous; its adherence have no certainty that what is a law today will be a law tomorrow. Newton’s laws are a prime example of this phenomena. Until Einstein, Newton’s laws enjoyed widespread general acceptance in the scientific community. Now, Newton’s laws are viewed as a helpful approximation under certain conditions. There is no reason to fill this account with more examples, though certainly more could be given.

The historical fact is that Science’s body of knowledge has always been in flux, and that not even the greatest scientist is unable to be corrected. Aristotle’s Physics was a widely accepted work for many centuries, but later Science rejected it, and you will find it rare than any college class (in Physics) will spend more than an hour on the entire body of Aristotle’s work.

With such a track record, an Evidentialist might have a hunch that he could could verify by testing that the body of Scientific knowledge at the beginning of each decade for the last hundred years has been different from the body of Scientific knowledge at the end of each such decade. Upon that ground, an Evidentialist may conclude that there are numerous unknown items that are Science today, but will be labelled “error” in the scientific community tomorrow.

Result of Adherence to Strict Evidentialism – No End

Not only can Evidentialism not assure its adherence that it has started from the right place or that it is in the right place now, it cannot assure its adherents that it is converging to the right answer. Because Evidentialism cannot see the end in sight, Evidentialism cannot assure its followers that they are converging to the truth. Evidentialism may currently be converging toward something, but there is no way for the Evidentialist to be sure that this something is the truth.

What Guess has not been Made?

This is the nagging question in evidentialism. Until Einstein, no one had presented his own hunch about the way the universe is supposed to operate. Einsteinian descriptions of the world are very useful, but are they correct? Is there a better guess about the universe that has not been investigated? This is the nagging question that distracts from the beauty of any “truth” of Evidentialism.

Evidentialism tries to silence this nagging question as unfounded speculation. Evidentialism teaches its advocates that the prevailing wisdom should simply be accepted. At the same time, and conflictingly, Evendentialism rewards skeptics who can come up with guesses that test better than the guesses in the prevailing position.

Fundamentally Dishonest

The claims of Evidentialism are fundamentally dishonest: the beginning of Evidentialism must be borrowed from a presuppositional (or similar) framework; it promises truth but delivers constantly changing guesswork; and it promises improvement without any reason for supposing that can provide improvement.

Open to Skepticism

In addition to narrow skepticism regarding particular scientific theories, Evidentialism is open to attack by general skepticism. If there are two ways of interpreting evidence, it is impossible for Evidentialism to decide between them.

Evidentialism tries to resolve this problem by resort to Occham’s razor. Occham’s razor states that the simpler explanation should be accepted over the more complex explanation. There is, however, no Evdiential reason to adopt Occham’s razor. Instead, the mechanism is yet another stop-gap presupposition.

Evidentialism also tries to resolve the problem (sometimes in combination with the razor above) that the more probable of the explanations should be accepted. There is a real problem, however, with this approach. It is often (if not always) difficult to assign a priori probabilities. Accordingly, the resort to probabilitic arguments frequently ends up with mere emotive arguments or, worse, arguments that make up the probabilities from thin air.

Responses to Skepticism are Self-Destructive

Whatever approach Evidentialism takes in responding to Skepticism is self-destructive. An appeal to a presupposition that favors simple explanations betrays the non-evidential underlying epistemology; an appeal to probability betrays both uncertainty and weakness at arriving at the alleged probability.

In short, Evidentialism cannot stand on its own two feet against the Skeptics.

Objections

One objector might object that I myself use evidentialist techniques! I’m not afraid to apply the Scientific method to everyday life, when my car breaks down, my faucet drips, or my dog gets ill. That’s certainly an objection with a touch of truth. I do use the scientific method in such circumstances.

I do so, however, recognizing that it is piggy-backed on my dogmatic presuppositionalism. I know why I can trust my senses and the scientific method: because God has revealed Himself to be an orderly God and the world to be a place run by law.

Another objector may complain, “If you can’t trust your senses, you can’t trust the Bible!” This frequent objection is misplaced. I can trust my senses – I know that I can because the Bible tells me so. God has revealed the truth of His Word to me, and consequently I know that I can trust it. From that, I can deduce that I can also trust my senses, to a degree.

Another objector will argued that if I can use evidentialist techniques, I am not in a position to forbid Evidentialists from doing so. My response is that Evidentialists do not have an epistemic basis for their use of the techniques; they cannot know anything certaintly, and consequently cannot know whether they know anything at all.

Yet another objector might assert that that the Bible uses an evidentialist epistemology. Such an objector would point to the reliance of certain authors in Scripture to tangible evidence. Nevertheless, as the Apostle Peter explained, all the writers of Scripture spoke according to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. They spoke the words of God. And the most frequent appeal by all the prophets and apostles is that they are speaking the Word of the LORD, the Gospel. Their appeal is to the authority of God, and their epistemology is dogmatic and revelation-based.

One last objector may state that he considers himself an Evidentialist, but that he grounds his reason for believing “evidence” in “transcendentals.” This is not true Evidentialism, but a slightly modified form of Evidentialism that I will deal with, God Willing, under the separate head of Van-Tillianism / Transcendentalism.

-Turretinfan

The Scriptural Epistemology of Dogmatism

June 12, 2007
The Scriptural Epistemology of Dogmatism
A response to quasi-rationalism


The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7, and Proverbs 9:10). This simple, thrice-repeated truth is the foundation of Scriptural Dogmatism. Throughout Scripture we seem the same epistemology of dogmatism. You can find the phrase “Thus saith the Lord” in over 400 verses in the Old Testament in the Authorized Version. Even in the garden, the question was “hath God said?”

Our epistemology is, consequently, dogmatic and revelational, not quasi-rational. We know the truth because it has been revealed to us by God, and that revelation from God is not open to debate.

When people mocked the resurrection of the dead, and others wanted to debate the issue, what did Paul do? Paul departed from among them (Acts 17:33).

There are legitimate debates, and there debates that can be taken on for the purpose of preaching the gospel. When a Reformed apologist debates a Muslim on the reality of the crucifixion, for example, the Reformed apologist is not leaving the question open. The Bible says Jesus Christ was crucified, and that settles it. Perhaps the Muslim will respond that the Koran says that Jesus (whom I suppose no consistent Muslim would acknowledge as Christ) was not crucified.

Why accept the dogmatic view of Christianity over that of Islam? Why believe the Bible rather than the Koran? Why is God God and not the “allah” of the Koran?

The response is that no one will believe the word of God, nor trust in the Son of God, without God revealing Himself to that person. As Jesus said: “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” (John 6:44)

It seems that the followers of Van Til stumble at this point in their epistemology stumble. They appear to be unsatisfied with the following epistemology, “I know the truth, because God has revealed it to me.”

They appear to want to be able to “prove” God’s existence and attributes to an unbeliever. They (at least usually) recognize the futility of appealing to evidence, but appear to believe that they can appeal to reason and the implanted awareness of God that exists in the minds of unbelievers. This is why their position has been referred to above as quasi-rationalism.

But let’s stop the critique here, for a moment. There a few a readers out there who are of a Van-Tillian mindset. Let’s just ask them:

What is wrong with an epistemology that begins with presuppositions.

God has revealed to me that He is, that He is True, and that He has revealed Himself in Scripture.

Consequently I know that God is, that what God says is true, and that Scripture is an embodiment of that truth.

Based on Scripture, I know the validity and limits of the natural sciences, social sciences, and the like. I have a standard of absolute truth. I may think that Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon, but I KNOW that Christ has gone to prepare a place for me in His presence for all eternity. I think that the official just botched his first-down assessment, but I know that Solomon was the son of David. I think that all the dinosaurs are dead, but I know that all things were created by God in the space of six days and very good.

If all the world’s scientists were on one side disputing the Resurrection of Christ, the reversal of the sun in Hezekiah’s day, the calling down of fire from heaven by the prophet, the Great Flood, and/or the Creation, and I’ll I had on the other side was the Word of God, I would believe God rather than all the most learned men in the world.

Now, tell me, Van-Tillian, what is wrong with that dogmatism? Why instead of starting from the point raised above, does Van Til assert that He believes in God because if He did not, all would be chaos? Why do the followers of Van Til appear to believe that we can argue people into accepting that the God who created all things and rules all things by His right arm exists and has the attributes that He has?

Is there any answer? Is there any alternative for Dogmatism? Is quasi-rationalism Scripturally valid?

-Turretinfan

Epistemelogical Impacts of Presuppositions

May 24, 2007
Epistemelogical Impacts of Presuppositions

In the previous post (link here), I explored how people can be blind to their own presuppositions and blinded by their presuppositions.

Nevertheless, there is an additional effect that presuppositions can have. This effect is illustrated by some recent comments I received in the course of the same dialogue I mention above.

Here’s the windup:

Let me repeat my statement … in the form of a challenge. For, if nothing short of a full and public confession by govt insiders would make TF sceptical about the govt’s conspiracy theory, then there is no point in trading little factoids.

As a preliminary note, what the author of the quotation means by “govt’s conspiract theory” is the view that radical Muslims smashed hijacked planes into both the twin towers, and that the towers fell down and took out the neighborhood.

The author of the comments seems to believe that I presuppose that the Muslim hijacking story is true. I do not. I have considered the evidence, and it is the posistion that is better supported by the evidence. I was initially skeptical regarding some things. I made the mistake of watching all the conspiracy theorist materials first. I wasted a lot of time thinking that the criticisms presented had some kind of merit.

Now, I’m persuaded that the vast bulk of the evidence supports the “official story” as most skeptics seem to prefer to phrase it. I’m not a big fan of using the term “conspiracy theory” in a non-standard way, because it muddies the waters.

In any event, the point to notice is that the commenter is right about one thing: if one holds a presupposition so tightly that no facts could shake it, then there is no point in presenting the evidence.

The challenge presented was:

So, TurretinFan, please outline an example of the kind of evidence that would change you into being a sceptic of the govt story.

At this point it is not so much the kind of evidence that is important, but the amount of good evidence. There is such an enormous weight of evidence supporting the official story that it would be hard to contradict it with only a little data. As to kinds, I find scientific and engineering data to be more persuasive than testimony by random individuals.

The trick would be finding evidence that cannot reasonably be explained consistent with the official story. This is what many of the conspiracy theorists have attempted to do. Among the most interesting of the allegedly inconsistent evidence is a newspaper report that claims that a passport of one of the hijackers was recovered from the street.

One major problem with that datum and at least most of the others that have been set forth is that they do not fit as part of a consistent whole.

The Quid Pro Quo was:

In return, I will do the same in reverse– I will give a brief outline of the kind of evidence that would remove my scepticism. Why don’t we stay with Bldg 7 on this.

Notice that this is not really “the reverse.” It takes far less to create skepticism than to remove it, particularly when the skepticism is based on a presupposition. To put it another way, removing skepticism takes a lot more than removing confidence. One can raise a doubt easily, but placing things beyond a reasonable doubt is more difficult.

When one has adopted a presupposition, one has a foundation for knowledge. That foundation can be built upon, and the house of knowledge on top can be torn down or modified as necessary. Going after a foundation is much more difficult than going after the house. That’s one reason why, in the American legal system there is supposed to be a presupposition of innocence.

In this case, there is enough evidence to convict the fanatical Muslims involved, but not enough evidence to convict the government. For me, it is really that simple.

If you start with an unbiased mind and analyze the official story critically, you will find that (at least on most points) it stands up to the various criticisms presented. If you consider any of the alternative hypotheses, you will immediately find an enormous number of inconsistences that do not stand up to the criticisms presented.

WTC7 may be an exception, but not all of the evidence has been released to the public yet. Although there is reason to confirm the official story, and though there are many gaping holes in the conspiracy theories, it would be nice to see the bulk of the evidence presnted before coming to a final conclusion.

So, answering the commenters challenge, I’m open to any kind of evidence, and it is not some much the kind but the quality, quantity, and consistency of the evidence that will persuade me that the facts are different than the official report.

Hopefully, everyone who is unbiased on the issue can say the same. If, however, one’s epistemology is based on a presupposition of governmental guilt, one’s skeptiicsm will not be easily removed.

May God give us (including the present author) wisdom both to refrain from presupposing what we ought not, and also to presuppose what we should.

-Turretinfan

Presuppositional Blindness

May 24, 2007
Presuppositional Blindness

I was recently interacting with a person who stated: “I do not know what the real story of 9-11 is, but I am confident that the official story is bogus. I would be happy to debate the issue, but I am confident that nobody will take up my offer since it would only dignify a “nut-ball” position.”

As an aside, I immediately took up his offer. It’s an easily winnable debate. How do I know?

I was, like many, initially skeptical that the official reports were generally correct. I watched the “squibs” of dust on the Loose Change video, and reviewed the many analyses of the various data. I read many skeptical reports, and saw the far left and the Libertarian and Anarchist right responses to the official report.

Then, I dug deeper. I spoke with a civil engineer who had the same initial reaction of “How on earth could a building fall down like that,” but who was persuaded by the explanation provided. I spoke with a person who actually saw the plane fly into the side of the Pentagon. I reviewed the detractors’ articles, and then reviewed the source materials.

You know what I found? Most of the detractors (not all, certainly) were willing to distort the evidence, truncate quotations, change quotations, assert scientific falsehood, and maintain not just unproven but disproven hypotheses.

In speaking with the person whom I’ve quoted above, one favorite tactic was to take a quotation from Mr. Silverstein (a leaseholder of the WTC complex), alter the quotation and then take it out of context! I was absolutely flabbergasted, because this man is someone who is ordinarily not just rational and cogent, but intelligent and respectable. I’ve enjoyed, over the years, listening to what this man has explained and reading the articles he has written. I have immense respect for this man.

I could not figure out why he would treat the evidence with such open disregard. After all, his distortions were easily identifiable. The quotation was taken from a documentary that aired on PBS in September 2002, and at least one person legally recorded the quotation and its immediate context and posted it to the Net. All I had to do was provide a link, and Mr. Silverstein could be heard, and – for part of the quotation – seen saying what he actually said.

Then, later in the discussion, a third party asked one of the frequently asked questions that one sees, because of the many deceptive web sites that claim that there are unanswered questions. The person’s question related to the mechanics of the collapse, an issue that was dealt with in great depth by the NIST report on the topic, and dealt with in summary form on various web sites.

I had commented that the only way to discard the scientific arguments is essentially to have a severe prejudice against the government.

One part of the commenter’s response was striking: “‘Severe prejudice’ might better read ‘prudent presupposition,’ given the history of our government and most others.”

Leaving aside the prudence of the presupposition, I think the commenter hit the nail on the head.

The denial of 9/11 is, for many people, presuppositional. No amount of evidence will dissuade them from their tenacious denial of the facts that a group of Muslim terrorists killed thousands of people and damaged or destroyed several large buildings. There are confessions of the terrorists. There is both documentary and image evidence of the terrorists preparing for the attack and boarding the planes. There are a myriad of witnesses who actually saw the planes hit their targets. And so on, and so forth.

One of the other commenters on this same thread wrote (regarding me): “TF — I get the feeling that nothing short of a full and public confession by the responsible parties would convince you.” I was amazed. In fact, we do have a fairly full and reasonably public confession by the responsible party (Al Qaeda). Yet, even THAT is not enough to convince the 9/11 conspiracy theorists.

That’s when I realized why the conspiracy theorists rarely agree to debate the topic, normally avoid structured debates when they do debate the topic, and inevitably lose the debates when they do debate the topic in any structured way: their position is based on presupposition.

Presuppositions are important and useful, as long as they are correct. I am a presuppositionalist, and my presuppositions are correct. I presuppose that God exists, that He revealed Himself in His Word, and that He is True to His Word. From those presuppositions I derive my doctrine and worldview. If someone wants to debate the existence of God, I can demolish their arguments against God’s existence, but I cannot positively prove my presuppositions. I can explain the usual arguments for the existence of God, including the intuitive “first cause” and “source of meaning” arguments. Nevertheless, these will only be persuasive if the person already shares my presuppositions, or if God opens their eyes to the truth.

The same is somewhat the case here as well. While the presuppositions against the U.S. government may not be as fundamental as religious presuppositions, these men have real presuppositions that should be identified and stated. The masking of these presuppositions is a great evil.

Dr. James White, a Reformed Baptist elder, likes to say that the person who denies that he has traditions is the greatest slave to them. It’s a bit glib, but it is generally accurate. People who do not recognize what their presuppitions are, are to a large extent blind. The result is that they can deceive themselves, and deceive those around them. They can leave gaping holes in their arguments without even recognize that the hole exists.

This is why you see comments like this one: “I do not know what the real story of 9-11 is, but I am confident that the official story is bogus.” Someone does not recognize, or is unwilling to state, his own presupposition that if something really bad happens, wickedness on the part of the government (or a puppeteer behind the government) is behind it. Even though this person recognizes that there is no coherent alternative to the official story, and even though this person cannot disprove the official story, this person is absolutely convinced that the official story cannot be true.

As such, to a limited extent, this otherwise cogent, intelligent, rational, God-fearing man is blind. He cannot see the evidence because he has already decided the issue as a matter or presupposition. He himself made the comparison between his failure to accept the evidence presented in the extensive and detailed government reports and the failure of unbelieving Jews to accept the evidence of the New Testament. I think it may be too harsh a comparison against him, because I – presuppositionally – have some hope that a regenerate man (like himself) could be fully reasonable on such matters.

But I’ll tell you what doesn’t help: posts like this one that call 9/11 conspiracy theorists “nut-balls,” and that ridicule them. I know many intelligent, reasonable people who spin out conspiracy theories. Mocking them is not a serious response, and saying that the ridiculous deserves ridicule is not a kind and merciful remark. It does not show love.

I am happy to discuss the evidence with 9/11 conspiracy theorists, but I think the bigger point that they need to recognize is that they believe what they believe not because of the evidence, but because of their presuppositions.

And its not just a lesson for 9/11 conspiracy theorists but for others as well. If you presuppose that Joseph Smith or Mohammed was a prophet of God, or that Vatican II was a council of the godly you will reach certain conclusions regarding doctrine that are not driven by the Word, but by presupposition. If presuppose that man’s destiny is not fixed in stone, you will arrive at a different conclusion from reading Scripture than if you discard that presupposition.

If you cannot identify your own presuppositions, you are – at least to some degree – blind, no matter how wise you are in general. May God enable all of us, this author included, to more clearly see our presuppositions, and to more clearly identify those presuppositions to those with whom we interact.

-Turretinfan


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