Arguing Presuppositionally

Debates about God and Christian theology get very complex;this is all the more reason for the lay-apologist to utilize presuppositionalmethodology.

While debating atheists last night, I heard (not for thefirst time) an attempted internal deconstruction of Christian theology. Oneatheist argued that if God was immutable as most Christian theologians believe(meaning, if God is eternally unchanging) then it would be impossible for Himto have created anything.

This is undesirable for the Christian because it(supposedly) puts us on the horns of a dilemma; either we must give up thedoctrine of Immutability, or we could do (as the atheist wants) and admit that“creation” has existed eternally (thus vindicating his materialist worldview,which requires the material universe, in some state or other, to be eternallyexistent).

The non-presuppositionalist would try to answer thistheological argument head on (indeed, a few of the Christians present for thisdiscussion tried doing just that). They’ll turn to Google and find the latestand greatest discourse in the philosophy of religion department, and rigorouslyseek out some complex philosophical quip that will allow them to reconcile thedoctrine of immutability, with the doctrine of creation ex nihilo.

Whatever they find, be it William Lane Craig’s argumentsabout the nature of Time, or Castaneda’s complex discussion of indexicalreferences, they will ultimately get bogged down in a very difficultphilosophical debate which results, in the end, with the atheist makingChristian theology look as if it is completely unreasonable.

As presuppositionalists however, we aren’t kind enough toallow the atheist this luxury.

Instead, I ended the debate. I caused the atheists to backout (though they did it with wailing, gnashing of teeth, and chest-beatingbravado), by arguing presuppositionally.

“I’ll gladly discuss this problem in Christian theology withyou”, I say, “but before we do, we must first come to some sort ofagreement on which conceptual scheme we’ll be presupposing in order to have theconversation to begin with.”

In other words, I argue that the *only* way to even have adiscussion about Christian theology, is if we first grant the truth ofChristian theology (even if only hypothetically, for the sake of argument).

In this way, the Atheists, who wish to utilize logicalargumentation, must either accept Christianity at the outset (for the sake ofhaving the discussion) or give a non-Christian account of “logicalargumentation”.  In either case, before we take their criticismsseriously, they must provide us a rational reason to do so.

Think about it this way:  the atheist is making thefollowing claim…

“immutability is inconsistent with creation”.

Before we take this claim seriously, we must first assumethe legitimacy of logical laws.  If logical laws were not legitimate (ifthey say nothing true about the world), then why would it matter if “x” isinconsistent with “y”?  It wouldn’t).

The atheist assumes the Christian will naively grant him theauthority to make use of such things (as logic) in order to make hiscriticism.  But outside the context of a Christian conceptual scheme, I’mnot sure how we would be justified in utilizing things like laws of logic tobegin with.  In fact, that’s exactly the claim of thePresuppositionalist:  without Christianity, you can’t even reason (1).

This is the superior argumentative method; not only does ithonor God (because we never forsake Him during the debate), it doesn’t give theatheists the opportunity to lob complex philosophical questions at us, oneafter the other. If we let them do that to us, they will, eventually, throwsomething at us we’re not ready (off the top of our heads) to refute, and theystrut around as if they defeated Christianity.

Arguing presuppositionally, however, ends their debatebefore it even begins.


(1):  To illustrate this, imagine the followingscenario:

Suppose you are arguing with a man who believes that theuniverse is completely illogical.  He believes every one of hisexperiences are capricious, spontaneous, uncaused, and irrational.

Imagine then, if this man tried to offer logical argumentsfor some claim or other.

We would be well within our rights to say:  “pardon mesir, but given the truth of your worldview, you wouldn’t be able to makelogical arguments, as you believe logic is impossible”.

In order for him to even have an argument, he would have togive up the truth of his worldview, and accept a worldview which makes senseout of things like “argumentation” to begin with.

In the same way, Christian presuppositionalists demand thatthe atheist, before using logic, prove that he has a worldview capable ofallowing for things like logic to begin with.

This is only reasonable.  If we are to take anassertion seriously, it must be justified.