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Posted on May 6, 2013 in arguments, critical thinking, epistemology, logical fallacies, philosophy, responding to arguments | 58 comments

Refuting presuppositional apologetics

One of the more sophisticated (although flawed) arguments I had encountered during my protest of the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania “Circle the Square with Prayer” event commemorating the National Day of Prayer was an attempt to argue that God exists because God is the foundation for inductive reasoning and can be the only explanation justifying inductive reasoning.

This line of argumentation, taken from presuppositional Christian apologetics, seems attractive and perhaps difficult to refute, but is not as ironclad as theists may believe. Some basic understanding of epistemology and argumentation will equip atheists to refute this line of reasoning and throw presuppositional apologetics into the dustbin of failed Christian arguments.

Students of epistemology ought to know what is referred to as the problem of induction – popularized by philosopher David Hume. Hume noted a fundamental problem within the belief that the future will generally resemble the past – this line of reasoning is circular. After observing — for instance — ice melting at a particular temperature, although we seem justified in believing that ice will melt when exposed to a particular temperature in the future, we argue in a circle – believing that ice will melt…because ice will melt.

Theists and atheists, regardless of the problem of induction, believe the future will generally resemble the past. It seems to be the case that — regardless of the problem of induction or any belief (or lack thereof) in gods — theists and atheists are forced into believing induction is a reliable — although perhaps logically unjustified — means to attaining and justifying truth. Without induction, or with belief that the future will not generally resemble the past, humans would live life in a destructive, reckless, and extremely confused manner.

May people touch hot stoves with doubt concerning whether high temperature would burn flesh?

Would people not rely on public transportation which, on weekdays, arrives at regular intervals?

Shall the husband of an abusive wife return home with agnosticism concerning her abusive nature?

Should people not believe cashiers will return change when given sums of money larger than cost of purchases?

Ought people not believe lightswitches will cause bulbs to brighten?

Our past mundane experiences — many of which uncontroversially inform our expectations — are generally reliable means to truth. Regardless of what undergirds our belief in induction, the problem of induction is both a problem for a theist and an atheist.

Does an appeal to God allow theists to ‘escape’ or ‘solve’ the problem of induction? Does a lack of justification pertaining to induction provide a theist with a justifiable leap to assert God merely because the atheist (or the theist) lacks an answer? Appealing to God simply because  this is the only viable option (for the theist) is not an appropriate step to take. How ought one bridge the gap, anyway, from ‘I don’t know’ to ‘God is responsible?’

Whyshould Christians privilege their particular god as the justification for induction? Why not suppose the source of induction is Allah, Zeus, Amon-Ra, a time traveler, sufficiently advanced technology, or entities from another planet? Why is the Christian god a better explanation for the source of induction than the Muslim god or a Greek god?

The Christian, in asserting the Christian god as an explanation for induction, unfairly privileges his/her particular god without any justification or explanation — at least from presuppositial apologetics — about how the properties of god are known. How does the Christian know that a particular god — one which is active in human affairs, sent his son to die on a cross, and is concerned about the actions of humans — is responsible for or the explanation for induction?

Presuppositional apologetics is yet another failed attempt to demonstrate the Christian god exists. The Christian, drawing upon a philosophical problem, unjustifiably states that — because atheists lack non-circular explanations — the Christian god in particular is responsible or otherwise the justification for induction without explaining how they know God’s nature – at least within the context of presuppositional apologetics. The Christian god is privileged over other gods when, for all we know, other explanations of gods or beings may account for induction.

As always, feel free to leave your comments below – especially if you find presuppositional apologetics alluring and/or advocate for presuppositional apologetics.

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  • Clare45

    That is why when beginning an argument with apologist Christians, I first get them to define exactly what they mean by God. If they then go on to describe the paternalistic, interfering in human life, holy trinity type of God, you have got them on the inductive reasoning argument, as this only works for a vague type of deism.

    • Yes, they need to demonstrate how the other properties and specific claims — sending a son to die on a cross, resurrection from dead, attributed, etc — come about. When I raise this point, I hear that this is a start for an argument and looking to the Bible fills in the blanks. William Lane Craig, for instance, although he doesn’t use presupossitional arguments (at least not often) will appeal to a collection of arguments – a case, he says, that is made by 3-4 arguments.

  • qbsmd

    I once listened to a debate between an atheist and a Christian using presuppositional arguments. I remember the following exchange:
    Atheist: Your logic is circular.
    Christian: No, it’s presuppositionalism.
    Atheist: I just argued you in a circle. It’s circular logic.
    Christian: Nuh-uh. You just don’t understand presuppositionalism.

    From further reading, it appears that this method really is just the name theologians give to circular logic or question begging. Since no one understands the original meaning of begging the question anymore, maybe we should just refer to it as the presuppositional fallacy.

  • SmilodonsRetreat

    I think of it more like science (which I tend to do a lot). Let me give some related examples. One day, I had the oven open to pull out some brownies. I had just set the pan down when my cat came tearing around the corner and jumped onto the oven door. She wasn’t injured, but she never once came in the kitchen again. She inferred too much. She thought that the kitchen or the existence of the oven burned her feet, not that the door was hot because I had just used the oven.

    I few months ago, I put something else in to bake, set the timer and walked away. The timer went off and when I checked, found that the batter was still liquid. It wasn’t even warm. I didn’t decide that the laws of physics were broken. Instead, I inferred (correctly) that the oven was broken. One part replaced and we were back in business.

    My experience, over the last 4 decades or so, has given me sufficient evidence to show that, unless something is broken, when I turn the oven on, it will get hot.

    I also have sufficient knowledge and ability to determine when the oven is hot and when it isn’t. Instead of just assuming based on a single incident.

    Just like evolution isn’t an inference from a single data point, the lack of god in our lives isn’t based on a single data point. Maybe it is an inference, but it’s an inference with a lot of supporting evidence (no reliable prayer, incorrect holy books, contradictions everywhere, lack of belief in believers, etc. etc.).

    We don’t BELIEVE that the ice will melt because it will melt. We KNOW that ice melts for a specific reason (increase in kinetic energy of the atoms). We KNOW when it will melt (any temperature above X at pressure Y will cause ice to melt (or sublime). We KNOW these things, and can control these things, and they always happen.

    I think that’s an important difference.

  • Two quick points.

    What’s the argument, exactly? After reading this blog post, I don’t know how any kind of theism could justify induction. Have you simply avoided the argument in your “refutation”?

    As far as privileging one deity over others, I think a number of believers would accept that their individual arguments are incomplete – that they have to piecemeal their specific deity over the course of several arguments.

    • There are many forms of presuppostional arguments. In this case — mentioned in the first paragraph — the theist argues the atheist has no foundation for justification of inductive reasoning while the theist has a foundation – God. The only way to make sense of inductive reasoning, the theist argues, is to appeal to God as a foundation for inductive reasoning.

      • I got that… It’s just… what about the concept of God makes inductive reasoning valid? o.O
        Do you have any idea?

        • Well, see, he’s God, see? And he’s righteous and good and all that, so obviously he’d make inductive reasoning work. I don’t really have to justify it, it’s just my personal presupposition, like you have your presuppositions. I think mine are better, and that’s that. You have no foundation for yours, whereas I do for mine: God. And that makes more sense because, see, he’s God, see? And….

          You get the picture.

          • Jonathyn Zapf

            Luckily, the interwebz are slightly more informative. Apparently, there’s Bahnsen’s argument that induction’s foundation requires God’s desire that we learn from experience. I don’t really know where to start…

            • Really, is reading Bahnsen any more informative than my little demonstration of their circular logic? ;-)

              • PONCHO

                I don’t suppose you’d know, as it appears it isn’t important to you to actually READ those with whom you so sarcastically disagree. Bahnsen’s whole point is, ALL reasoning is circular. It MUST be. But we can account for that, and not in the childish way you attribute to Bahnsen. Atheists use inductive reasoning with abandon, but to do so is invalid if your worldview is unable to account for the uniformity of nature or the expectation of the future being like the past. You are not making a devastating point when you say the presuppositional approach is circular, and a supreme intellect that controls outcomes does explain the possibility of causation in a way you cannot. Here’s the problem: if the God I posit does exist (infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth), then you could only know what he wants you to know, not just about him, but about anything. And there would be no test you could subject him to in order to verify his existence, least of all empirical tests designed to measure aspects of material things, unless he chose to make himself detectable through those means. He, and any truth about the universe he has created, could be known only through his self-revelation, if he chose to reveal himself at all. Most atheists treat God as a material thing, that can’t exist if not proven scientifically, and as a flawed and finite thing, that can be judged and found lacking according to some “higher” standard of morality that exists only in the mind of the unbeliever. If God is who he says he is, there is no higher standard, and no right or wrong apart from him, so God cannot be judged as “immoral”. If there is no God, however, there is no way to know if the external world exists or is merely a dream or projection of your mind. Maybe you are projecting order on the chaos around you, and science itself is illusion. You can’t disprove this possibility. Thus there is no way of TRULY “knowing”, or of knowing whether you know. Hume saw this, and reached a point of frustration when he realized that reason cannot prove induction, and that you ultimately can’t “know” anything empirically, not even personal identity through time (that you are the same person that you see in your baby pictures). Without God, you can’t know anything. Thus God exists.

                • Tony Jiang

                  “Without God, you can’t know anything. Thus God exists”

                  question begging.

                  ” If God is who he says he is, there is no higher standard, and no right or wrong apart from him”

                  this is subjective morality

                  “Thus there is no way of TRULY “knowing”, or of knowing whether you know.
                  Hume saw this, and reached a point of frustration when he realized that
                  reason cannot prove induction, and that you ultimately can’t “know”
                  anything empirically, not even personal identity through time (that you
                  are the same person that you see in your baby pictures).”
                  your justfication of induction commits the fallacy of the stolen concept

                  • PONCHO

                    Wow. Seven months. This illustrates well the bankruptcy of atheism, that it took 7 months for anyone, ANYONE, to formulate a response to my comment, and it was one in which you are once again proving my point by assuming things that cannot be explained by atheism in your feeble attempt to refute the Christian God. You couldn’t recognize question-begging without assuming the laws of logic, which only make sense if God exists. Your claim that God being the highest standard is not subjective, unless you assume God to be essentially the same as a man. This is what atheists always must do: instead of rising to God’s standard, they try to drag him down to ours, which apart from Him is necessarily subjective and relativistic.

                    • Tony Jiang

                      wrong, it is irrelevant if god is the same of man or not, his standard is subjective, your highest standard is subjective wether you like it or not because subjective means dependent on a person-God is a person

                    • PONCHO

                      Sorry Tony, God’s standard, by definition, is not subjective, as all others are subject to Him. His standard requires obedience and carries consequences for disobedience. Yours does not, nor does mine. “Subjective” suggests that which is based only on one’s personal feelings or opinion and which doesn’t correspond to external realities. That is true of your standard, mine, every other person’s, but not God’s. External reality is a reflection of God’s standard. Deviation from that standard is not merely different, it is wrong. His is the standard against which all others are measured. That is the very definition of objective. You rightly say that God is a person (3 persons, actually), but you wrongly infer that he is merely a person, in the same sense that you or I are persons. One day you will be judged by God’s standard. Nobody will ever be judged by yours.

                    • Tony Jiang

                      WRONG god’s standard is extremely subjective, if it was objective then it would remain true even if god didnt exist, and since according to you this standard would not exist if god didnt exist it is by definition subjective

                    • PONCHO

                      Again, Tony, you are making the mistake of thinking God is “just another” person. From a human perspective, His standard is objective, because all humans are subject to it. He is not. If there is a king in a kingdom, and he makes an edict that murder is illegal, it is not a subjective law just because a person made it (your narrow definition of “dependent on a person” does not capture the sense of the word in common parlance). It is objective as far as anyone living in the kingdom is concerned. Subjective means the people could say, “Well, king, that’s YOUR opinion. MINE is that murder is fine. Your law is true for you, mine is true for me.” THAT would be a subjective law. And that doesn’t free him from the inevitable beheading he will get when he murders someone. I think you’ll be hard pressed to find a lot of philosophers who agree with your definition of “objective” as a standard that even God would be subject to. Without God, there would be no standard, so there is no such thing as an objective standard of the calibur you are talking about. You would then have to posit an even more transcendent lawgiver than God. Your incoherent responses are starting to border on the not-worth-answering.

                    • Tony Jiang

                      “You would then have to posit an even more transcendent lawgiver than God.” some things just are wrong, they are brute facts for example it JUST IS wrong to rape

                    • Tony Jiang

                      “your incoherent responses are starting to border on the not-worth-answering” mmm this is what justin was thinking of your responses i bet, thats why no one has bother to talk to you except me, i enjoy reaching and interacting with the bottom of the barrel

                      “From a human perspective, His standard is objective, because all humans are subject to it. He is not”
                      actually no from a human prespective it is subjective, power, or perfection no matter how much of it will no make a subjective rule into an objective one, if god is not subject to this law than by definition it is subjective you might claim god’s morality is a “higher” one but its not objective

                    • PONCHO

                      You can’t HAVE objective truth without God! The atheist is unable to justify objective, universal morality on his worldview, and must resort to some form of relativism, or be inconsistent with his own worldview. Justin knows this, and it is no doubt part of why he doesn’t respond. You should take a page from his book and know when you are beaten. The consistent atheist admits that nothing is inherently wrong, but contradicts this by living and talking like there is ultimate good and evil.

                    • Tony Jiang

                      if justin knows this then he should have just deleted your comments and banned you, you CANNOT have objective truth with god, it s obvious that he just doesnt car and sees you as a joke

                    • waffleater

                      “know when your beaten” seriously????? what is wrong with you look at how arrogant and obnxious you are with your comments its no wonder not many people want to respond to you, you are the only one that has been beaten, as for most of this page you have just been ranting to yourself

                    • waffleater

                      the more likely reason is that he sees you as an insect that’s too small to respond to

                    • PONCHO

                      WOW. I can’t believe you went there. And someone actually voted your comment up! “Just wrong”? Sorry, but NO SUCH THING for the atheist. If you are going to claim that, you have to be able to explain WHY it is “just wrong”. And you equate your unproven, unfounded assumption that some things are “just wrong” with “brute facts”?!!? I guess you just saying something makes it a fact. The serial rapist, by the way, disagrees with you that rape is “just wrong”. To him it is right as rain. This is where the atheist stumbles. To be a consistent atheist, you must cast off all pretendings of ultimate morality and say, “Well, ultimately, there is no inherent right or wrong, just right-for-me and right-for-you”. But then he comes across something he doesn’t like, such as rape, and he REALLY wants to condemn it, but he has just said nothing is right or wrong. Then most atheists cease being consistent. I know one who had to tell me that “No, technically, someone raping, killing, and eating my infant baby girl is not ‘wrong’.” That’s what we call the old reductio ad absurdum. No sane person could maintain that view, but he had to to try to stay consistent with his atheistic premises. See, you all borrow from my worldview when you want to condemn something. Atheism is not consistent with a system of ultimate morality. You should just stop embarrassing the other nice atheists on here and have the wisdom to stop responding to my posts. Just a suggestion. BTW, I like how you had to resort to praying to Justin that he would put me in my place (see above), since you obviously recognize that you don’t have the answers.

                    • Tony Jiang

                      “The serial rapist, by the way, disagrees with you that rape is “just wrong”. To him it is right as rain.”
                      no he doesnt try raping him and see what happens, lets see if he agrees if rape is “Just wrong” after he gets raped

                      “See, you all borrow from my worldview when you want to condemn something” Levticus chapter 25- Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You
                      may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and
                      members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your
                      property. 46 You
                      can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make
                      them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites
                      ruthlessly. yeah you arent gonna try and condemn slavery are you? there is no reason for a christian to try and condemn slavery as they have NO JUSTIFCATION for it

                      “You should just stop embarrassing the other nice atheists on here and
                      have the wisdom to stop responding to my posts. Just a suggestion.” again,no one wanted to respond due to your bombasticness and the fact that you are on the bottom of the barrel, the only one i am embarassing is YOU

                    • PONCHO

                      Yeah, ok…nice ad hom, btw. Then at best the rapist in our example is a moral relativist like you. He justifies it when he does it and condemns it when done to him. Situational ethics. Makes perfect sense to the atheist. And no, I won’t be drawn in by your slavery bait, you know nothing about the science of biblical translation or interpretation, yet somehow you think you are an authority on the Old Testament. Atheists care NOTHING for the integrity of the text, for interpreting in context, etc. Basically, they don’t CARE what the Bible really says or means, it is their biggest straw man: take a passage out of context, use it to mock Christians, feel victorious. Incidentally, how is it that every atheist thinks he is a biblical scholar? I’m guessing you didn’t translate from the Hebrew yourself. I could be wrong, but given the abundance of misspellings in your posts, I’m thinking, not a biblical scholar. I don’t see what your problem is anyway: for the atheist, slavery isn’t wrong either! Nothing is! And no amount of appealing to “brute facts” will establish a consistent system of ethics for atheism, which is inherently arbitrary and inconsistent. I’m done. You can have the last word. It can only help my case.

                    • Tony Jiang

                      “He justifies it when he does it and condemns it when done to him. Situational ethics”

                      you really didnt get the arguement didnt you? it proves that rape is wrong is a brute fact, because if it was opinion rapists wont care if they were being raped. which means raping is wrong just IS, i have proven true objective morality and you just want to deny it with a bad rationlization

                      and no i didnt take levticus 25:44-46 outta context you just dont want to admit that the bible teaches such a thing

                      ” I don’t see what your problem is anyway: for the atheist, slavery isn’t wrong either! Nothing is! And no amount of appealing to “brute facts” will establish a consistent system of ethics for atheism, which is inherently arbitrary and inconsistent”.
                      what is wrong with you i just refuted you many times over! i shoud you how rape is just inherently wrong- if rape is okat for different people than the rapist would have no problem getting raped him/herself but they dont like it when that happens to them, so therofore raping is just IS wrong

                    • Tony Jiang

                      “Then at best the rapist in our example is a moral relativist like you.”
                      wrong again, it is an example of objective morality, because the rapist also realizes that raping just is wrong because he would not have condemed it if he didnt realize it, he agrees with me

                    • Tony Jiang

                      how am i a moral relatvist? you are the one who believes morality is relative to god! morality is for the christian inherently arbitrary and inconsistent

                    • Tony Jiang

                      wrong to be consistant christian you have no objective morality you must praise genocide,slavery,rape,and torture as “holy” and “rightous” and yet you refuse to live up to your worldview! Christianity is not consistent with a system of ultimate morality, its just subjective cruelty

                    • Setsurinvich

                      the only one here incoherent is you. I am not spitting out these walls of text

                    • Setsurinvich

                      its good to see you finally using your discqus account again Poncho. I hope that you would finally learn your less after all these years and that you are now an adult who can actually have civil conversations instead of blasting out incoherent blobs of ad hominems and delusional comments like these

                    • waffleater

                      if that was true Poncho then there would be NO SUCH THING as objectivity!

                    • Tony Jiang

                      also i think no one else responded because they thought you were a big joke

                    • PONCHO

                      Yup. That’s why.

                    • Tony Jiang

                      this comment is especially ironic considering how you think my posts are not worht anwsering

                • waffleater

                  “If there is no God, however, there is no way to know if the external world exists or is merely a dream or projection of your mind. Maybe you are projecting order on the chaos around you, and science itself is illusion. ” no even if god exist you cannot know if the the external world exists or is merely a dream or projection of your mind, christianity and mental illness are not mutally excusive

                  “ALL reasoning is circular. It MUST be”
                  WRONG all reasoning ends in a LINE not a circle, this is why circular reasoning is known as a FALLACY, and no goddidit is not a good argument, and you dont even understand what the uniformity of nature really is or that its not needed for science

  • Jaime Delgado

    Presuppositional Apologetics is hardly “sophisticated.” It is an utter non-starter, as it is completely a priori. At best — and to get to this point you have to grant it a lot of its absurd premises — it is an argument for the existence of a god(s). Nowhere in its premises does it logically lead to an argument in support of the existence of the Christian god, the very god it was invented to defend. There are actually very easy and simple arguments against it. If you wish, check out a blog post I wrote several years ago (when I used to blog) about it:

  • Pingback: ‘People would not be willing to die for a lie!’ | Justin Vacula's Blog()


    Reading through the comments, I see several straw men, and very little understanding of what presuppositionalists actually believe and teach. The basic argument is that only the Christian worldview is able to make sense of induction, laws of logic, science, mathematics, morality, etc. The reason it couldn’t just as easily be another god/force/alien is because of internal problems (inconsistencies, arbitrariness, etc.) with each of those other worldviews. This will only be seen upon individual examination of each worldview. The proof of God’s existence lies in the fact that without his self-revelation, it would be impossible to prove anything. Yes, we both presuppose things in order to argue. The difference is, my worldview allows me to posit that God revealed truth and created and maintains a uniform, predictable universe. The atheist has no justification for the uniformity, but assumes it because he can’t reason without it (as I also can’t). I think it is harder to see with induction, easier with laws of logic, and especially morality, where there is no basis for abstract, universal, objective, and immaterial entities like laws (that are not properties of matter) in an atheistic universe. What is a law? How can it be universal, much less binding? I have an answer beyond it simply being the collective opinion of a majority.

    • Tony Jiang

      i love your question begging PONCHO and the only way anything can be binding in your universe is might makes right, the only reason god can declare himself to be “good” and “perfect” is because of his power, those terms are uttlery meaningless if your god exists

    • Mikael

      There is hope for you yet Poncho, if you can see the inconsistencies and arbitrariness of other religions. Now you just need spot them in Christianity. I’d be willing to bet the reason you refuse to look at and accept the cracks in Christian theology is because this is the one you were brought up in or first indoctrinated by. How convenient that by pure chance you where born in the right part of world who’s particular brand of old age mythology happened to be the “true” one.


    In my experience, every atheist assumes certain moral absolutes, even if they try to be consistent with their worldview and say that there are no moral absolutes. For example, they don’t want children indoctrinated with religion in school. Not just that THEY don’t want to be indoctrinated, or just don’t want THEIR children indoctrinated, but they don’t think ANYONE should be indoctrinated. Some will say whatever gives the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people the most of the time. What if we had a government that had a Christian majority, and there was also an overwhelming Christian majority in the population? The greatest happiness for them would be Christian indoctrination. But the one last atheist on earth would still think that was “wrong” and try to stop it or change it. What if they promised not to force it on the atheist or his family. Not good enough, most atheists would say. They have a sense that it is just wrong to force religious belief on anybody, ever. That is no longer opinion, that is assuming a universal ethic outside of and above everyone: “forced indoctrination is wrong”. If atheists didn’t believe in moral absolutes, nothing that happens would bother them as long as it didn’t affect them directly. They live as though there are universal (binding on all, allow for no exceptions), abstract (immaterial), objective laws of morality even if they deny there could be. And there is no basis for such entities in an atheistic, purely empirical universe. What atheists really mean when they say they believe in a version of the golden rule is, whatever the majority wants, as long as it also doesn’t conflict with what I want. BTW, it is arbitrary to choose the golden rule or any other proposed standard of ethics in an atheistic universe. The question is, who says? Why the golden rule? That makes sense to you. It doesn’t make sense to the child molester. His greatest happiness is in violating children. Not a big deal if we’re just animals. Who are you to say he shouldn’t? There is no basis for “should/should not” in the atheist worldview. Who are you to force your non-molestation moral on him? You may say it is better for society and ensures your own peace if he doesn’t molest. So what? Who are you to force your “better for society” moral on him? And he won’t have peace unless he molests. Do you want him to be able to force his moral on you the same way you would on him? You’re in real trouble if you are relying on the hope that a majority will always believe as you do. If the only ethic is the one forced on the minority by the majority, you shouldn’t be troubled. After all, there is no “wrong”, so why should you cling to your preferred beliefs so strongly? Why not just live and let (the aggressively proselytizing Christian and the rabid child molester/puppy eater) live, as long as they promise not to evangelize/molest/eat you? A TRULY consistent atheist would never try to force any kind of social change that the majority doesn’t want. Isn’t it just bullying if you try to change society to conform to your personal preferences? How narcissistic and base, to try to change the world to make sure it doesn’t threaten what you want in your tiny sphere of existence.

    • Setsurinvich

      very few people want to read giant walls of text, could that be another reason why no one wants to respond to you? Especially on a random internet blog?


    Justin, above, said the following: “The Christian, in asserting the Christian God as an explanation for induction, unfairly privileges his/her particular god without any justification or explanation – at least from presuppositional apologetics – about how the properties of god are known. How does the Christian know that a particular god – one which is active in human affairs, sent his son to die on a cross, and is concerned about the actions of humans – is responsible for or the explanation for induction?” Simple. Because this God revealed himself and revealed truths about the universe – that it is uniform, predictable, etc. Not only is that the only way such a god could be known, it is the only way anything could be known in any true sense. So it is not “without any justification or explanation” that the Christian claims his god is the one who did this, it is upon the highest possible authority, the one by whom all other claims to authority are to be judged. That is why the Christian is the only one who is not being arbitrary by making this kind of a claim. Many other religions deny a personal god that can reveal himself in this way, and thus god is ultimately unknowable by the standards of their own claims. Islam is commonly cited as an example of another worldview with a personal god who revealed himself, but Muhammad claimed the Quran was harmonious with the Old Testament and the Gospels. This created an insurmountable problem for him since the Bible says subsequent revelation must be judged by existing Scripture, and the Quran contradicts the Bible in numerous places (some quite embarrassing for the Muslim apologist).

    • “…this God revealed himself and revealed truths about the universe – that it is uniform, predictable, etc.”

      How do you know this?

      “Not only is that the only way such a god could be known, it is the only way anything could be known in any true sense.”

      Why is God or belief in God necessary to know certain truths, for instance, such as “1+2=2?” Is knowledge or justified true belief impossible if God did not exist?

      • PONCHO

        Thanks for responding. I know this, because it has been revealed. Yes, yes, that is the whole point, I assume it a priori, I presuppose it. As you presuppose certain things. But your presuppositons are arbitrary, and don’t supply the preconditions necessary to explain the universe as we experience it. The presupposition of the God who has revealed himself in the Bible is the necessary precondition to uniformity of nature or causality. We could not have this discussion if God did not exist. Second question. Answer: Yes. knowledge or justified true belief are impossible if God does not exist. Reason: The existence of God with the aforementioned transcendent characteristics is the precondition for intelligible thought or discussion. What are laws of mathematics? Can you accidentally step on one? What is a number? Not a numeral, mind you, but a number, such as “threeness”? These are not material things, and therefore shouldn’t exist in your universe. They are abstract, universal, objective, immaterial entities that allow for no exceptions. They are not properties of matter, and therefore cannot be “discovered” through science. They are not mere conventions of the human mind, else they would not be universally applicable. I could decide to live by different math, say, 2-2=4. I could then spend as much money as I wanted and it would keep increasing. Awesome! (BTW, did you mean ‘1+1=2’? Or are you using imaginary numbers?) So, balancing the checkbook wouldn’t work unless God exists. How do explain entities like these?

  • Steve Detweiler

    I’ve never had much respect for Hume’s philosophies. His problem with induction is probably one of the worst. Every scientific advancement and mathematical theorem is based in the idea that the past will repeat itself. The problem with Hume is he doesn’t see all the variables. Yes, the bus coming every morning at 8:15 isn’t a guarantee that it will also arrive tomorrow at 8:15. But, why? Because there are so many variables to account for. Perhaps the bus gets a flat. Perhaps the bus driver gets ill and they can’t replace him on time. There are potentially millions of factors in any given situation. But, if we had perfect knowledge of all the variables associated with a situation, we would have perfect knowledge of the outcome. Anyone that believes determinism to be true should agree.

    I don’t know how this relates to your argument, but I feel Hume is one philosopher that gets way more credit than he deserves.

  • Tony Jiang

    eh justin i think you should have delt more with that poncho character he seems even more bombastic than i am!

    • PONCHO


  • Robert Bumbalough

    Not much time. Theist Poncho fails to understand the distinctions between objective and subjective.

    “Objectivity is both a metaphysical and an epistemological concept. It pertains to the relationship of consciousness to existence. Metaphysically, it is the recognition of the fact that reality exists independent of any perceiver’s consciousness. Epistemologically, it is the recognition of the fact that a perceiver’s (man’s) consciousness must acquire knowledge of reality by certain means (reason) in accordance with certain rules (logic). This means that although reality is immutable and, in any given context, only one answer is true, the truth is not automatically available to a human consciousness and can be obtained only by a certain mental process which is required of every man who seeks knowledge—that there is no substitute for this process, no escape from the responsibility for it, no shortcuts, no special revelations to privileged observers—and that there can be no such thing as a final “authority” in matters pertaining to human knowledge. Metaphysically, the only authority is reality; epistemologically—one’s own mind. The first is the ultimate arbiter of the second.” ~ Ayn Rand

    “Subjectivism is the belief that reality is not a firm absolute, but a fluid, plastic, indeterminate realm which can be altered, in whole or in part, by the consciousness of the perceiver—i.e., by his feelings, wishes or whims. It is the doctrine which holds that man—an entity of a specific nature, dealing with a universe of a specific nature—can, somehow, live, act and achieve his goals apart from and/or in contradiction to the facts of reality, i.e., apart from and/or in contradiction to his own nature and the nature of the universe. (This is the “mixed,” moderate or middle-of-the-road version of subjectivism. Pure or “extreme” subjectivism does not recognize the concept of identity, i.e., the fact that man or the universe or anything possesses a specific nature.)”


    “In metaphysics, “subjectivism” is the view that reality (the “object”) is dependent on human consciousness (the “subject”). In epistemology, as a result, subjectivists hold that a man need not concern himself with the facts of reality; instead, to arrive at knowledge or truth, he need merely turn his attention inward, consulting the appropriate contents of consciousness, the ones with the power to make reality conform to their dictates. According to the most widespread form of subjectivism, the elements which possess this power are feelings.

    In essence, subjectivism is the doctrine that feelings are the creator of facts, and therefore men’s primary tool of cognition. If men feel it, declares the subjectivist, that makes it so.

    The alternative to subjectivism is the advocacy of objectivity—an attitude which rests on the view that reality exists independent of human consciousness; that the role of the subject is not to create the object, but to perceive it; and that knowledge of reality can be acquired only by directing one’s attention outward to the facts.” ~ Ayn Rand

    Since the Christian God is entirely and artifact of the believer’s imagination, they play a make believe game that their feelings, wishes, whims, desires, temper tantrums and so forth make reality.

    Reply to facebook group

    • Tony Jiang

      well i guess you should have put in under one of his posts Robert.. Poncho might have learned something but you are right here though, this guy cant tell the difference between what is subjective and objective

  • Max Bauer

    The Christian presupposition is true, because of the impossibility of the contrary… Yes it is a circular argument, but the justification comes from almighty God, not the reasoning of man.

    • Tony Jiang

      then your argument is fallacuious and absurd

  • Tanner Bryce Yarboro

    You are incorrect on your assumption that the presuppositional method Proposes that God is the foundation of i I inductive reasoning. What has been known historically as inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning both are equally opposed to presuppositional apologetics. Inductive reasoning as referred to as the scientific method is gathering facts without any reference to axioms. The underlying assumption of this method is conspicuously anti theistic. Deductive reason as defined by the Greeks was to begin investigation with certain axioms as truth or ultimacy. If the axiom presupposed in deductive reason is retricrestrto the universe thisthalso is also contrary to tests christian thesis.

    The difference being one position wants to study facts without God; while the other studies facts in the light of God’s revelation.

    IllIll postposlater emore later

  • Tanner Bryce Yarboro

    both Judaism and Islam recognize the divine inspiration of the Torah and most of the Old Testament. (In witnessing to Muslims, Christians need to realize that the Koran honors the writings of Moses, David, etc. as previous revelation.) Therefore, on that common basis, the three religions can objectively judge which theological perspective is divinely authorized. Yet later poetions of the koran abrogated earlier content. The koran claims to be consistent and confirmation of the Bible. Yet denies teachings auch as the deity od Christ and the crucifixion atonement, thus being contradictory. So, appealing to the God of Christianity isnt an arbitrary claim.

    In reaponse to Gods nature it is known through natural and special revelation which gives meaning and intelligently to absolute moral standards. Philosophers have often agreed that in reference to reasoning in a circular fashion is not fallacious in regards to ultimate reference points or authorities. If we were to argue for the validity of the laws of logic would we not have to employ the laws of logic? Thus your statement is irreversible.

    The problem with atheism isn’t it reason in a circular fashion; but rather it cannot account for the laws of logic in a intelligent or meaningful fashion. Aethiest may practice logic with contradiction, but in doing so they presuppose the God of Christianity. You may count, but give me in intelligent account for your ability to do so in an atheistic worldview that is characterized by random, sporadic change.

  • David Wilson

    For the Cristian, step one is to establish theism is true, from there proving that the Christian god is the right God is step 2 (and a completely different argument). Simply saying the Christian God isn’t the only possible God by no means refutes the argument, it just adds further questions that the theist must answer.

    • waffleater

      so you behave stupidly all day long?

  • magihall

    Does anyone know of any books critiquing presuppositional apologetics from an atheist point of view? I’ve been searching Amazon and everywhere else but haven’t come up with anything.