Tuesday, November 26, 2013

THE STUPIDITY OF PRESUPPOSITIONALISM-- Jersey Flight


"It is the Christian's contention that all non-Christian worldviews are beset with internal contradictions, as well as with beliefs which do not render logic, science or ethics intelligible. On the other hand, the Christian worldview (taken from God's self-revelation in Scripture) demands our intellectual commitment because it does provide the preconditions of intelligibility for man's reasoning, experience, and dignity." [i]

Then clearly Christianity is at no point, and in no way, beset with internal contradictions?  And of course, it is only the assertions of Christianity which render logic, science and ethics intelligible.

Which Christianity we are not told?

And how exactly does this vague Christianity provide the preconditions for intelligibility? The Christian assumes that statements in the Bible are authoritative. (And of course, this is a far more rational way than actually trying to provide preconditions). Why do philosophy when you can simply rely on assertions?

It is a bit misleading to say that the Christian merely assumes that statements of the Bible are authoritative, when in fact, he boldly asserts the supremacy of his interpretation of the Bible as being authoritative. [The Christian is always giving us an interpretation of the Bible he is never giving us the universal teaching of the Bible.]

According to presuppositional standards, in order for a philosophy to be true, it must meet a strict set of criteria in relation to logic, science and ethics. However, this criteria is not in itself authoritative. This is an old maneuver: demand the highest level of certainty in relation to a claim, and every claim which fails to meet this standard "must be false." Hence, Christianity is true in that the opposition cannot meet the standards of certainty. Behold the argument from silence!

But what happens if we level this same criticism against Christianity? Can the Protestant Canon be established with absolute certainty? If not, how can it provide the preconditions of intelligibility? Presuppositionalism, along with every other mock attempt to justify Christianity, relies on the same fallacy, that of special pleading.

The very odd thing regarding Presuppositionalism is that it levels a violent critique against rational and empirical systems, only to fall back on something which is worse---- justification on the basis of prejudicial assertion. (Not to mention it relies on the very precepts it seeks to reject). 

Clearly the Christian Presuppositionalist would not accept the declarations of the Koran as a suitable foundation for knowledge. Once again--- special pleading!

"In various forms, the fundamental argument advanced by the Christian apologist is that the Christian worldview is true because of the impossibility of the contrary. When the perspective of God's revelation is rejected, then the unbeliever is left in foolish ignorance because his philosophy does not provide the preconditions of knowledge and meaningful experience. To put it another way: the proof that Christianity is true is that if it were not, we would not be able to prove anything." Ibid.

But here the Muslim could simply parrot the means of justification:

 "In various forms, the fundamental argument advanced by the Muslim apologist is that the Muslim worldview is true because of the impossibility of the contrary. When the perspective of Allah's revelation is rejected, then the unbeliever is left in foolish ignorance because his philosophy does not provide the preconditions of knowledge and meaningful experience. To put it another way: the proof that Islam is true is that if it were not, we would not be able to prove anything."

We are not so much interested in the claim of what fails as we are in what succeeds. So how does Christianity do what no other philosophy has been able to do? Are the preconditions of intelligibility really established by emphasizing a specific interpretation of the text? It would seem theology is more important than philosophy. 

The stupidity of presuppositionalism, is not criticism per se, but its failure to realize the unphilosophical nature of its own claims [means of justification]. To see its own maneuver in the syllogism of another is to see the maneuver for what it really is (prejudicial authoritarian assertion), hence it denies the legitimacy of this maneuver to everyone except itself... reserves the right of this maneuver to itself as being the only possible context in which this maneuver can be correct.  

What this means is that prejudicial-self-assertion is a poor foundation for the preconditions of knowledge.       

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[i] The Heart of the Matter, Greg Bahnsen, The Biblical Worldview (VII:1; Jan.,1991)