Monday, August 12, 2013

A DISPLAY OF PRESUPPOSITIONAL APOLOGETICS- Jersey Flight


[This is a book review of Truth, Knowledge and the Reason for God: The Defense of Rational Assurance of Christianity by Mike A. Robinson.]

I intend to shatter this script; though one would be hard pressed to prove that this script is worthy of response? In most cases it's simply better to leave fanatics alone.

Proof of Robinson's fanaticism:
"It is impossible for the Christian world view to be wrong." Pg.70
"It is impossible for God not to exist." Ibid.
(And again, just to be sure we get his point)
"It is impossible for God not to exist." Pg.71

If we take these assertions seriously, then it doesn't matter what one can prove, Robinson has already made up his mind, long before any discourse, that "nothing" can refute what he believes, no matter how authentic, no matter how violent the contradiction Robinson will still assert that his position is true! That is to say, even if one legitimately refuted Robinson-- Robinson would still claim that the refutation was illegitimate, because of course, for his system, refutation is declared to be "impossible." Consider Robinson's response if the same claim was made by a Muslim or an Atheist? Would he validate the form of the argument?

Please note: Robinson's position is not a position of probability, but he actually claims infallible certainly:

"I agree with Van til's admission [which is no surprise seeing Robinson merely rehashes Van til's arguments]: The argument for the existence of God and for the truth of Christianity is objectively valid. We should not tone down the validity of this argument to the probability level. The argument may be poorly stated, and may never adequately stated. But in itself the argument is absolutely sound." Introduction Pg.xiv

"...I know that God certainly exists..." Pg.70 [Which should read, "I know that my specific concept of God certainly exists."]

"There must be a certain, immutable, and infallible authority; that authority is God Almighty." [By which of course, Robinson means a specific concept of tri-personality.] Pg.86

I have a general rule, whenever a religious person says that there is no possible way their system could be false... well, this is my cue to leave the conversation. Nevertheless, because I tire of fanatics like Robinson, and because, for some strange reason, people actually believe what he says (authoritarianism), I will take a moment to smash Mr. Robinson and his assertions to pieces.

Mr. Robinson says his arguments were merely "influenced" by Lewis, Van til, Bahnsen, Craig and Polanyi (see Acknowledgments section), more like he "hijacked" these people and then called his emphasis originality (the same pattern can be seen in the writings of the fanatic Vincent Cheung). If Robinson's arguments were only "influenced" by the likes of Van til and Bahnsen, then how do his arguments actually differ from the likes of Van til and Bahnsen?

Analysis:

"Many spend the majority of their adult life carefully husbanding their thoughts, shielding their worldview and ultimate precommitments from critical analysis. Many atheists base their philosophy on wishful thinking as they seek to put away theism's moral absolutes." Introduction Pg.5

Never mind Robinson's authoritarian assertion: that his specific brand of theism (interpretation) automatically achieves the status of being absolute, the very essence of the identity of reality. Is it the case that Robinson is guilty of his own charge? Is he shielding the commitments of his worldview from "critical analysis"; is his worldview a form of "wishful thinking"?

Let us begin at the foundation; does Robinson start with a specific concept of scripture, or does he start with a specific concept of God? Indeed, is it even possible for Robinson to start with a specific concept of God without deducing that concept from scripture? ...does Robinson's concept of God inform Robinson's concept of scripture; or does Robinson's concept of scripture inform his concept of God?[1] I argue that he can't have it both ways-- however, this is his problem not mine!

Nevertheless his answer: "There are numerous SCRIPTURES that reveal to man that God is three persons in one God." Pg.90

*************

Please note: EVERY TIME Robinson uses the word "God," "Scripture," or "Christian theism/worldview," he means a very specific thing... Indeed, Mr. Robinson would like to use the terms generally, but the specific nature of his discourse will not permit it.

When Robinson says, "it is impossible for God not to exist," he actually means: 'it is impossible for a specific concept of Trinity-- for God as tri-personality, not to exist!'

"God is a self-complete and self-contained unity. There is but one God. God is an absolute personality. There are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Within the being of God, diversity is no more fundamental that unity. God is a tri-unity. The persons of the one God are mutually eternal and exhaustive of one another. The Holy Spirit and the Son are ontologically equal with God the Father." Ibid. pg.92

Suppose Mr. Robinson would like to argue the rational nature of these assertions... we need only ask, did he deduce these statements from nature or did he deduce them from a specific construction and harmonization of scripture? Surely any novice can see that these are "theological statements" as opposed to statements conduced on the basis of reason? Hence, the criticism stands: In order for Robinson's worldview to be true, his specific interpretation and harmonization of scripture must be true. Indeed, there must actually be such a thing as written revelation; his specific idea of God must actually exist! Never mind the fact that he uses the terms "self-complete and self-contained unity," without any explication as to what these terms mean... surely these are not simple concepts? [I believe most readers will miss the force of this argument.][2]

Now we drop the thesis against the rocks: In order for scripture to occupy the place of authority, which Mr. Robinson would like to claim it has, it MUST NOT appeal to anything outside itself for justification, presuppose a commitment to something more primitive, i.e. inductive science or human reason. To quote Kant (from whom Van til extracted the theory of transcendental reasoning) "...Whatever be the content of our conception of an object, it is necessary to go beyond it, if we wish to predicate existence of the object..." [Great Books of the Western World, second edition Vol.1 pg.443]

And yet, how does Mr. Robinson account for the existence of a specific text, from a multitude of options, if not by the selection of human reason through the method of inductive science? [I have already refuted Dr. Frame on this point; I don't find it necessary to repeat myself to a plagiarizer like Robinson-- see my exchange with Dr. Frame, pay special attention to my emphasis on the last twelve versus of the Gospel of Mark: http://theskepticthinker.com/flight-frame-debate.html.

To recap, we said: Robinson's specific authority MUST NOT presuppose a commitment to something more primitive, or in Robinson's own words:

"All men have their own controlling presuppositions; no one is truly detached but is empowered by a priory biases and engrained assumptions." Introduction Pg.xxv

"All men approach the pursuit of truth or science with rational precommitments and personal biases. The wise man recognizes this and the honest man admits it. I have a rational precommitment to the Christian worldview..." Ibid.

Is Mr. Robinson a wise man by his own definition? Will he admit that his commitment to the authority of scripture presupposes an even more primitive commitment to the authority of science and human reason? Again, how can Robinson account for scripture without the aid of these two things? Did God (by which Robinson means the Trinity) provide a pre-deciphered text of scripture, or have men decided, on the basis of inductive science/human reason, what should and should not be placed in the text? When Robinson argues any point from the basis, of what he chooses to call scripture, is he not first assuming the authority of human reason? How can this not be the case if there is NO SUCH THING as scripture, but only a series of documents from which men have arbitrarily chosen to extract something they call scripture?

As if to say: "Yes, we have thousands of documents, but from this pile we have only extracted the truth! Never mind what we rejected, for we did so on expedient grounds, by the fact that they didn't correspond with our creed!" [Theology as the determining factor of authenticity].

The argument here is too great for Robinson's theism to overcome. Allow me to explain what I mean: It is Robinson's contention that the non-believer presupposes the Christian worldview (that is, Robinson's specific interpretation of the Christian worldview) simply because Robinson's concept of, Christian worldview, provides a narrative by which certain concepts might be explained. Now, I ask every intelligent reader: does the fact that the Muslim religion provides a narrative by which to interpret existence automatically make the Muslim narrative true? Well then, why should it be any different in the case of Robinson? Notice his special pleading:

"The false gods of other religions cannot lend an epistemic hand to anyone. They do not exist for they are made in the image of man. The only God who is both transcendent and immanent is the true and living God of the Bible. The Mormon Gods, the Hindu Gods, and the Islamic God do not have necessary existence." Pg. 67

And because Robinson claims that the trinity can provide an explanation by which to interpret reality, therefore the trinitarian God is necessary? Surely Mr. Robinson must be fooling us; this reason is too pathetic, too authoritarian to be anything other than a joke? And yet, by god the man is actually serious!

[At this point I don't blame the intelligent reader for bowing out with a laugh, if he or she hasn't already done so. Indeed, why even bother to expose such an insane position? For my part I have no other answer but that I care for my fellow man.]

"Some conveyers of error attempt to refute Christian theism by introducing a god that is said to be similar to the God of the Bible. Allah, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or the theoretical god of Fristianity. Fristianity as a mere theoretical notion, is projected to be indistinguishable from Christianity in every manner except its god is projected as a quandrinity rather than a Trinity. Nonetheless the Christian worldview affirms that the Trinity is necessary pre-essential for knowledge and intelligibility." Pg. 93-94

And Mr. Robinson's hijacked-argument for this so-called necessity is that it ALONE provides the foundation for knowledge! Perhaps he could tell us how it does this?

"The biblical God is the a priori truth necessity for self-knowledge and the intelligibility of the world. Without God, man is lost in the epistemic hole of finite subjective opinion. Only through Yahweh (One God in three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit), His revelation, and the worldview that extends from God's truth can a man have an objective basis for reality. God is the absolute and transcendental necessity for the intelligibility of all human apprehension. He is the pre-essential for the grounding and understanding of knowledge." Pg.2

Allow me to smash this logic to pieces:

Is it true that Mr. Robinsons interpreted Christianity, declared as truth, provides the ONLY explanation for knowledge-- or is it rather true that it provides the ONLY ACCEPTABLE explanation for Mr. Robinson? Is his construction, interpretation of reality, necessary to existence; if so in what way? How is it, specifically, that the trinity is necessary in order to establish the law of contradiction? Doesn't atheism, science, biology provide an explanation for logic, albeit natural and contingent? But aren't all things based on human predication conditioned by the universality of that predication?

Does the fact, that Mr. Robinson DOESN'T LIKE atheism's explanation of the universe, prove that atheism's explanation of the universe is false? Further, just because Robinson claims he can provide a narrative by which to account for logic-- does this make his narrative or explanation true; does this mean he is really making universal statements? Again, consider Islam, Mormonism or Judaism, consider any opposite authoritarian claim.

[Just because the Koran utilizes the law of contradiction does not mean that the law of contradiction is contingent upon the Koran.]

Why can't Judaism make the same argument in the opposite direction? Again, what is it specifically about the trinity (as so construed by Robinson) that is necessary to his interpretation of reality? Why MUST the law of contradiction be universal in the way Robinson demands it be universal? Even further, is the trinity necessary to explain a worldview Robinson already has, or does the trinity give Mr. Robinson his worldview?

As if to say: "The world must be orderly, I posit that, and only my specific concept of deity allows it to be orderly in the way I find acceptable."

Rubbish! I am most interested to see a Presuppositionalist remain true to his original thesis. The case is simple: either he starts with the trinity (or some concept of scripture), or his concept of trinity/ concept of scripture, is contingent on something else? Here is the damming transcendental position against all forms of theistic transcendentalism: Concepts of god, unless otherwise natural and thereby void of specifics, must be deduced from concepts of revelation; and it is these specific concepts of revelation which inform the position of theism. Hence, to collapse any form of transcendental theism is merely to expose the reality of its starting point or axiom. That is, to prove that it is actually based on naturalistic pre-commitments/antithetical presuppositions. Hence, when Mr. Robinson speaks of God he speaks of the authority of scripture, but when he speaks of scripture, he speaks of the authority of something else upon which scripture itself must be based. Without the process of SELF-SELECTION by autonomous human reason there is no such thing as scripture.[3] Indeed, scripture is that which has been selected and chosen by man-- its authority is merely an "attributed authority." Proof of this is simple: what happens if we decide to reject any decree of scripture? Absolutely nothing!!!! Why? because Robinson's God, as he was so quick to claim about others, is merely a "husbanded" form of wishful thinking, a mere projection/theoretical construct!

For those who think I have failed to engage the position, which has here been hijacked by Mr. Robinson, please see my exchange with Dr. Frame [http://theskepticthinker.com/flight-frame-debate.html]. It is also worth noting, for the sake of Mr. Robinson's mindless followers, that I challenged Mr. Robinson to a debate without response. My demands were that he had to provide free copies of the debate-- I would, of course, do the same. I feel perfectly reasonable calling him a bully and a coward.

I have only touched the surface of this authoritarian-counterfeits rhetoric... were he to exchange words with me in discourse he would find himself smitten, how did he say it... "before he could even get his argument off the ground." I am the hot knife he is the soft butter.

Final Note:

If Robinson's worldview, which he sifted from others, were true, it should at no point presuppose something more primitive, but should in fact, be the transcendental starting point of all other suppositions.[4] However, this is NOT the case! The specific brand of Presuppositionalism asserted by Robinson is contingent upon non-revelatory axioms, which MUST be utilized and relied on in order to account for his specific brand of theism. Hence, Robinson's worldview, so far from being the foundational of all knowledge, is actually contingent on the very reason he seeks to reject: inductive science and autonomous human reason.

As I have so often asked: who is really presupposing whose worldview?


By his example of insecure-authoritarianism, if Mr. Robinson teaches us anything, he teaches us that the identity of absolute truth is not as easy as self-assertion.



Notes-------------------------------------------

[1] Either way he is still guilty of his own declaration-- "shielding his worldview from critical analysis."

[2] Suppose Robinson were to provide an explanation, on the basis of scripture, as to the meaning of such terms, would this automatically make his explanation true? Further, would it not bind him to an epistemology of document? My dear friends, follow the logic of this reason, and note well the foundation of the document itself! To inform the concepts of "self-complete" and "self-contained" on the basis of natural reason is to betray Robinson's original line of reason; to inform the concepts of "self-complete" and "self-contained," in relation to a specific conception of god, on the basis of revelation, is to surrender the authority of that revelation to the authority upon which that revelation is based. That is, revelation does not look to revelation in the processes of becoming that which it is said to be, but is said to be revelation on the basis of something else: inductive science and human reason. Please note: this argument is the end of all presuppositional apologetics!

[3] "...all information we receive about God, through nature, Scripture, or whatever source, comes to us through our eyes, ears, minds, and brains- through ourselves. Sometimes we dream fondly of a "purely objective" knowledge of God- a knowledge of God freed from the limitations of our senses, minds, experiences, preparation, and so forth. But nothing of this sort is possible..."
John Frame, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God pg.65, P&R Publishing 1987

[4] To those who deny that this is actually the case, try asking yourselves this question: is my Christianity the starting point of all reason and logic? What would happen if my Christianity did presuppose something more primitive? What if my most vital assumptions presuppose the necessity of something else other than Christianity? Does the Bible, in fact, presuppose itself-- or must one utilize principles more primitive than the Bible in order to account for the Bible? People who believe authoritarians like Robinson are duped because they never challenge the authority of his premise.