Eli Enters the Shooting Gallery

Posted: June 6, 2022 in General Presup Issues

Eli Ayala, host of the Revealed Apologetics youtube channel, super-hero dropped into the Clubhouse debate scene and “got after it” as the saying goes. Clubhouse is a wonky, glitchy, voice app that mostly hosts atheists and Christians who battle it out with each other in the respective rooms. There’s no denying Eli is needed. He’s done a lot of high-quality, consistent, work with his podcast – enough to qualify him, at least in my opinion, as a leading presuppositionalist “influencer” on a level with Sye T.B., Eric Hovind, Jeff Durbin, et al. Unfortunately for the presup community, internet presup, as it stands, is dominated by guys with horrible attitudes. They spew profanity, throw out insults, and are terribly dishonest. Someone of Eli’s caliber, with his Christian demeanor and open, gentlemanly, approach, is desperately needed. If for no other reason than to show everyone – atheists and Christians alike – how presuppositionalism ought to be practiced.

But Eli unknowingly dropped into the shooting gallery. A gaggle of government-schooled, frothing-at-the-mouth anti-Christians who aren’t able to suppress their enmity towards Christ with even a semblance of intellectual reasonableness. They have a few godless heroes they hoist on their shoulders. These “big men” are heralded as great debaters who can single-handedly destroy any Christian in debate. Eli represented himself well. His humble approach is spot-on and needs to be studied. Nevertheless, I think he got a little off-track.

I don’t have the time or space to do a time-stamp-by-time-stamp analysis, but the following are a few points about the exchange:

1 – If you’re a Presuppositionalist who’s encountered this “shooting gallery” of unbelievers and you’ve come away discouraged and feeling isolated, remember: you are not alone!

Speaking as someone who’s been the victim of a number of these “shooting galleries”, I know how frustrating and demoralizing it can be. These unbelievers are not as intelligent as they think they are. Their arguments (such as they are) are not difficult. More often than not, they’re not even attacking our actual position. None of them – no one in that video with Eli – has ever presented anything that ought to bother a presuppositionalist.

Fortunately, Eli has a big enough library and a large enough group of well-educated friends, he doesn’t have to worry about finding answers or working out better ways to present himself. Not every presupper is in this position however. So, if you’re new to presup and you get into one of these shooting gallery situations and you come away not sure of the answer to this or that question, I have an open invitation here at this blog. Please don’t hesitate to contact me. I will make time for you. There is no question they ask that we can’t answer, especially with a little patience, a little humility, and some elbow grease. But most importantly: you are not alone!

2 – NEVER STOP PRESUPPOSING!

I also participate on Clubhouse, and when I host “Presuppositional Fridays”, I end our session by reminding everyone to “never stop presupposing!” It’s a mantra I’ve developed over many years of doing presuppositionalism. It’s so easy for younger people to forget our apologetic program-approach and get side-tracked into trying to philosophically justify their presuppositionalism. I think Eli got bamboozled into this error in the video.

Consider a typical presentation of TAG:

P1: If there is intelligibility, then Christianity is true.
P2: there is intelligibility.
C: Christianity is true.

P1 here is the so-called “transcendental premise” and does all the heavy lifting in the argument. The unbeliever, accordingly, will immediately ask: “why should I believe premise 1?” Or, as was perniciously and dishonestly demanded in Eli’s shooting-gallery: “what’s the inference for 1?”

But here, instead of arguing that 1 is true, we ought to remind people that we are what is sometimes referred to in the sophisticated literature as: “presuppositionalists.” P1 is a part of our worldview. And we “presuppose” that it’s true.

As such, we only need an argument for P1 if someone doesn’t think P1 follows from Christianity – as many do not (hence, we go into Van Til’s theological arguments, building on Divine Simplicity and the Creator/Creature distinction to show that all the facts of the world can only be accounted for by presupposing the truth of the Christian worldview). This usually has to be debated with Catholics or Reformed “classicalists” or maybe some odd cultist who doesn’t think P1 logically follows from Reformed theology. But this isn’t something an unbeliever usually ought to care about. “What’s the argument for P1?” “We presuppose it’s true, bruh…”

All the unbeliever can do at this point is simply say “then I have no reason to accept 1″…

Ok, but notice what happened there? What does or doesn’t count as a good reason to accept a premise is worldview dependent, so he’s reflexively (and probably ignorantly) operating on his own worldview to evaluate the Christian’s argument…which leads him right into the presupper’s hands.

Recall in the video when Jack arrogantly swaggers in suggesting that “we’re only interested in inferences…everyone here thinks that only inferences can justify a proposition…” Eli should have asked: “did a god tell you that only inferences can justify a proposition???”

In any case – never forget that we’re presuppositionalists. We don’t use fancy, sophisticated, philosophical reasoning to justify our position, rather, we simply and beautifully have faith in Christ and His word (and the worldview derived from it). We are “Yes, Father…” apologists…

And sorry, there’s no “deductive” inference of “Yes, Father…” apologetics. It’s not in Frame or Bahnsen because they’ve never needed to produce it. It’s not germane to arguments with an unbeliever.

(It may, however, as stated above, be helpful to have for our arguments against classical apologists and theologians. So yes, it’s frustrating that we’ve never had it laid out for us with analytic clarity as of yet from any professional Van Tillian. Nevertheless, good work is being done here, see Shawn Langley’s recent PhD dissertation Comparing Van Til to Plantinga: “God is His Own Interpreter”. Langley presents what is, in my opinion, the best analytic statement of Van Til’s epistemology to date – hat tip to B. Bekefi for telling me about it).

3 – Demonstrating Detroyer’s High Bars…

The last part of the video revolves around Detroyer attacking a straw-man.

Disproving one worldview doesn’t make Christianity true. Ok. No presupper says otherwise. But does it not count, even a little, towards demonstrating our claims?

I wonder if Detroyer thinks that flipping on a light-switch (and, subsequently seeing a light bulb turn on) is a way to demonstrate the truth of our theory of electromagnetism? In *that* context, he’d probably readily agree that such a thing counts as a demonstration (if not a logical proof).

Consider the following from Rosenberg’s Contemporary intro to the Philosophy of Science:

“It may seem a simple matter to state the logical relationship between the
evidence that scientists amass and the hypotheses the evidence tests. But
philosophers of science have discovered that testing hypotheses is by no
means an easily understood matter.” pg 117

He goes on to hem and haw about meta-inductive skepticism then concludes with the intuition of every government-school kid: that inductive inferences are basically irrational, but they’re the best we have. (So, says Rosenberg, we ought to examine “falsification” criteria instead – but if Detroyer takes the “falsification” route, then he’d have to play into Eli’s hands by attempting to falsify P1 by presenting a successful counter-example…should be easy, but they never try to do so).

Eli could have teased this out from Detroyer, getting him to admit that this sort of inductive skepticism leads to a savage lowering of the epistemic bar. “See, I have this problem and so do you, Eli!”

…at which point, Eli could just swoop in with the *real* answer to the question: “what justifies the Christian’s belief that all non-Christian worldviews are false?” … Why, friend, an omniscient person told me they’re all false. Not because of some fancy philosophical argument, rather: an appeal to relevant authority.

Now, we’re free from the meta-inductive skepticism that plagues Rosenberg *and* Detroyer.

Simple as…

I hope Eli hangs out on Clubhouse a lot more and that his influence begins to spread there. And maybe the Spirit will soften hearts to help them be receptive to the message…

Comments
  1. SLIMJIM says:

    Good post. I appreciate Eli. Nevertheless I think we should realize we all have weaknesses and strengths; will share this post in our next presup Round up since I just saw this and missed it today (6/8)

    Like

  2. James says:

    Good post. Years ago I would have been in but these types of debates are something I avoid at all costs. I just don’t have it in me to deal with internet atheists anymore.

    Like

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