5 Responses to Stupid Criticisms

Posted: January 1, 2015 in Apologetic Articles
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Some youtube atheist has made a video called “Five Stupid Things about Presuppositional Apologetics”. (Thanks to my friend Taylor Watkins for bringing this to my attention).

I’ll briefly reply to each:

Reason 1: The truth of its first premise cannot be demonstrated.

He’s wrong to say we don’t argue that God is the *only* possible precondition of intelligibility. We argue this in three ways. 1) It’s taught in Scripture. 2) It’s a necessary deduction from theological truths which are also taught in Scripture. And 3) We demonstrate this by challenging unbelievers to prove it wrong – and none of them can. The best atheist philosophers admit that they cannot account for human intelligibility, even though they might hem and haw about it.  (For example, check out Ernest Sosa’s article on “Epistemic Circularity”.  See also Barry Stroud’s article “Skepticism, Externalism, and the Goal of Epistemology”, where he notes that, even on an externalist model of warrant, he would still have intuitive doubts about his knowledge claims.  Many more examples could be provided).

Reason 2: Its proponents remove themselves from the problem of perception.

We (as presuppers) do NOT “excuse ourselves” from the problem of perception. We point out that the unbeliever cannot solve problems with the philosophy of perception, then we show them how our worldview *can* solve the problems. The author of the vid is ignorant of how Christians justify empirical methods. Additionally, does he seriously raise the “God could be lying” argument? If God *was* willing to lie to us, then the author would be right in suggesting that Christians would be in the same epistemological boat as an unbeliever…but then again, he wouldn’t be critiquing Christianity. He’d be critiquing some non-Christian belief-system that teaches that God is able and willing to lie.  For a definitive “savaging” of the “God might be lying” argument, see my article here.

Reason 3: Its proponents claim to know what everyone else knows.

We *do* know what all humans believe about God because God (a valid and relevant authority) has told us. Additionally – given an atheistic view of philosophy, they have to surmount the philosophical problem of “personal identity”. In other words, they’re not even able to consistently claim that they know their own first-person subjective feelings or mental states. (This lead atheist philosophers like David Hume to posit a “bundle theory” of mind, where a series of unrelated, disjointed experiences seem to be “bundled” together in one mind, and that’s what we call “I” or “me”…but we have no reason to think these experiences are at all related.)  How can they say, with any authority, what they do or don’t know?  None of us has any good reason to believe them when they comment on their own mental states.

Reason 4: It shifts the burden of proof.

We shift the burden of proof?

While the author might be right to suggest that some presuppers (who don’t know the method very well yet) have tried to fallaciously “shift” the burden, in reality, we’re not shifting the burden. We’re suggesting that atheists who make positive claims need to shoulder the burden of proof and explain to us why we ought to accept their claim.

If an atheist says: “Jesus never existed” for example, he’s got the burden of proof, not only to show that Jesus never existed, but to show that he can know anything about history whatsoever. Additionally, how can an atheist even account for a “burden of proof” in the first place?! Did a God tell them about this magical burden? No…the sad fact is, they never meet their own “burden of proof” when making assertions about the burden of proof.  And even if we grant them some arbitrary “hypothetical” model of the burden, they can’t even meet *that* (they’ll never be able to demonstrate, for example, that they have rational justification for talking about history, and thus, their claim that “Jesus never existed” can never fulfill the burden of proof).

Reason 5:  Presuppositionalists prefer confusion and trap-laying over honest argumentation.

It’s true that not all presuppositionalists are equally adept or clear or articulate in their presentation of the method, but this guy can’t even critique the most basic presentations…we can all guess how well he’d do against more sophisticated versions.

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