Classical Reformed Apologetics

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by A.Joseph, May 8, 2019.

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  1. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    116. Like the banana!, read 116.
  2. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    That's not entirely accurate. Basic beliefs have prima facie warrant status. I don't have to keep providing evidence for them. However, BBs can be open to severe defeaters. They aren't irrefutable.
    That is a basic transcendental argument. I'm not seeing the value, though, in how it bears on whether my beliefs have warrant or justification or even how the mind forms beliefs.
  3. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Is that not basic beliefs as Plantinga defined them, albeit critically?

    Warrent, justification, and forming beliefs are important. For instance is my TA not warranted, justified? Is it reflective of my mind forming proper beliefs?
  4. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Ok the value of TA is having one option to force someone logically in a corner as an apologetical method. Warrent may work too. I've used it but only in defense. I don't know how it can be used offensively like a TA? Thats the value. Defense and offense, I don't watch football but I think both are key to success?
  5. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    Generally speaking TAG is a deductive argument, but it is unlike all other deductive arguments. What sets TAG apart from garden variety deduction is that with the latter we begin with some truths (or inferences) and reason to others – but unlike transcendental arguments that to which we reason is not presupposed as a necessary precondition for the intelligible experience of the original fact of experience (or its denial). For instance, “If causality then God” merely means that causality is a sufficient condition for God and that God is a necessary condition for causality. Which is to say: if causality exists then it is logically necessary that God exists. However, such a premise does not delve into the question of how God and causality relate to each other. It does not tell us whether God exists because of causality or whether causality exists because of God. Causality presupposes God says more than causality is a sufficient condition for God and that God is a necessary condition for causality. If causality presupposes God then God must be logically prior to causality.

    The transcendental argument for the existence of God is an argument that has as its conclusion God exists. It also has a particular bent, like this:

    Prove A: The Christian God exists.
    Step 1 ~A: (Assume the opposite of what we are trying to prove): The Christian God does not exist.
    Step 2 (~A--> B): If God does not exist, then there is no intelligible experience since God is the precondition of intelligibility
    Step 3 (~B): There is intelligible experience (Contradiction)
    Step 4 (~ ~A): It is not the case that God does not exist (Modus Tollens on 2 and 3)
    Step 5 (A): --> God does exist (Law of negation.)

    Whereas professing atheists are willing to concede the validity of the above argument Christians should happily concede that the argument is not only not fallacious (i.e. valid) but also sound. In other words, although professing atheists and Christians alike agree that the above argument has a valid form – i.e. the conclusion follows from the premises – Christians should agree that since the premises are all true and the form is valid the conclusion is true. But unfortunately Christians don't always grasp this point.

    Christians often say that TAG does not achieve its goal because not every worldview is refuted in the argument. Such a claim simply demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the scope of TAG. The above argument is aimed to prove that God exists, which it does. To deny that it does is to reject logic and / or biblical truths. Again, the argument above has a specific conclusion, God exists. The conclusion of the argument is not that if God does not exist, then there could be no intelligible experience. In other words, the above transcendental argument does not aim to prove that God is the precondition for intelligible experience, though that is a premise used in the argument which is why the argument is transcendental. That is where Christians who oppose TAG get tripped up. They don’t appreciate what is being argued.

    So what about step 2 of the argument? We can defend the premise of step 2 deductively by appealing to the absolute authority of Scripture. Of course the unbeliever rejects that authority; nonetheless that the unbeliever is dysfunctional does not mean that an appeal to Scripture is fallacious! After all, if a skeptic rejects logic should we then argue apart from logic? Since when does the dullness of an opponent dictate which tools of argumentation may be used? Of course, given the unbeliever’s suppression of the truth the Christian does well to defend step 2 inductively by performing internal critiques of opposing worldviews, which of course can only corroborate the veracity of step 2. It would be fallacious, however, to conclude because of such condescension toward the unbeliever that the conclusion of TAG (God exists) and the justification for its step 2 (God is the precondition of intelligibility) rest upon inductive inference. By the use of induction the Christian is merely acknowledging that the unbeliever refuses to bend the knee to the self-attesting Word from which step 2 can be deduced by sound argumentation. Since unbelievers will not accept the truth claims of the Bible and, therefore, a deductive defense of step 2 the only thing the Christian can do is refute the hypothetical competitors, but that hardly implies that step 2 cannot be proved by deduction.

    Finally, it has been noted by some and popularized by Don Collet in the Westminster Theological Journal that the only way a transcendental argument may be formalized is thusly (TAG*):

    C presupposes G if and only if both 1 & 2:
    1. If C then God exists
    2. If ~C then God exists

    Given such a construct, we are no longer negating the metaphysicality of causality but rather the truth value of the predication of the metaphysicality of causality. In other words: ~causality (which is chaos) does not presuppose God so for the construct to make sense it must pertain only to prediction about causality. In other words, since non-causality is an impossible entity that defies creation, providence and intelligibility, such a formulation of TAG (TAG*) limits itself to predication only. Does the apologist really want to do that? Do we want to give up arguing that God is the precondition for the intelligible experience of actual causality? I think not. TAG* (as opposed to TAG) is indeed powerful but it does not pertain to anything other than predication; whereas TAG may pertain to predication and the reality that the predication contemplates.
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  6. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Loved everything you said except TAG is not a sort of deductive argumet. It has a unique logical form. Otherwise loved it. Don Collet, as you quoted, points this out.
  7. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    I said it is a deductive argument.
  8. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    Couple things about induction / deduction and TAG...

    TAG has a distinctly inductive aspect to it because with TAG the Christian investigates what must be true in order for some experience to be intelligible. Such explorations are inductive in emphasis. Notwithstanding, the manner of the investigation is not "open ended" because the premises within TAG do not merely support the conclusion, they ensure it. That point is missed by those who think TAG is inductive. The aspect of "closure", where the premises ensure the conclusion, is unique to deduction, not induction.

    Moreover, the conclusion from TAG is not a mere hypothesis, but rather a sound conclusion derived through a deductive process that justifies its premises authoritatively. TAG falls short of being fully inductive because there is no asserting the consequent with TAG, as there is with all scientific inference, the playground for induction. Nonetheless, TAG has an inductive aspect to it because of the exploratory nature of TAG.

    Regarding TAG and deductions:

    TAG is deductive, but it is unlike all other deductive arguments. What sets TAG apart is that with the latter we begin with some truths (or inferences) and reason to others - but that to which we reason is not presupposed as a necessary precondition for the intelligible experience of the original fact of experience.

    As Bahnsen often quipped, "The proof of God's existence is that without Him one could not prove anything." That is nothing other than "Proof presupposes God" (or "If Proof, then God" since God is a necessary precondition for proof).

    (Given the inductive and deductive aspects of TAG, we shouldn't find it at all strange that Van Til said that in what he called the "Christian method" of apologetics, we find "elements of both induction and of deduction in it, if these terms are understood in a Christian sense.”)


    C presupposes G if and only if both 1 & 2:
    1. If C then God exists
    2. If ~C then God exists

    What Collett provides are major premises for modus ponens and (modus tollens), which of course are deductive arguments. Whether we assert either antecedent or deny either consequent in the minor premise, the deductive conclusion is God exists.

    Whether we predicate: If Causality, then God (or) If ~Causality, then God the same conclusion, God, obtains. In other words, God is the necessary precondition for all predication. Or to put it in Bahnsen’s terms, whether we affirm or deny the original belief, the transcendental analysis nevertheless reaches the very same conclusion given both premises. {NOTE WELL: We are not negating the metaphysicality of causality but rather the truth value of the predication of the metaphysicality of causality. In other words: ~causality (which is chaos) does not presuppose God(!), but indeed the belief or assertion of ~causality does. In other words, the concept of non-causality presupposes God.}
  9. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    That's makes more sense.
  10. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    Let me try this again....

    So I was watching James White on Presuppositional Apologetics...if one were to debate somebody, or seek to preserve Biblical truth, this form of biblical interpretation (of all things) is essential.

    But, if you were to witness to a non believer would you not seek to meet them where they are at, just in the beginning?

    If our language and context is strictly biblical but we don’t attempt to make it existentially applicable to all things about us, (an almost tangible reality) could we lose the person? Based on their level of understanding or lack thereof ?

    So I guess this brings me to clarify that with this approach we would still seek to incorporate applications in our current day, correct? I was just wondering if anyone could share the difficulties of witnessing to an uninformed nonbeliever using a presuppositional approach?

    If we are going to counter Karl Barth’s notions of scripture we would absolutely need to be presuppositional, but if we are confronting an average Joe with little insight into Christian Faith could we be too scriptural from the onset?

    I mean, we would need some application just to make key biblical concepts understandable, no?
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
  11. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    Here’s another issue. How can a denomination like the opc not hold to literal day creation (or allow for different trains of thought) and engage in presuppositional apologetics? 6 days are 6 days, correct? Doesn’t get much clearer than that ... but Machen would not be presuppositional if inerrancy and infallibility would allow for days to be something other than what we know days to be... no?
  12. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    I'm not quite sure how the two are related. Young earth creationism certainly did not originate with Van Til. If your concern is that old earthers knowingly presuppose, rather, the secular scientific consensus and attempt to twist the Scriptures into consistency, that's not just inconsistent with presuppositionalism--it's inconsistent with orthodox Christianity. We ought to charitably assume, however, that those in the OPC are actually convinced of the exegetical argument that the Genesis record does not teach a clear chronology. Then, still presupposing the truth of Scripture, they can hold to an Old Earth simply because they believe that the Bible is silent on the matter.
  13. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    I think we have to say presuppositional & orthodoxy are hand in hand.... and old earth defies the clear meaning of days, Adam as first man, and his creation, no? Let’s be clear - that’s why I do hold to presuppositional and orthodoxy and I think Machen erred on this point... I’m opc regardless. If we are going to be strict presuppositional we have to be firm on orthodoxy, no? Not seeing how chronology does not clearly defy old earth, do you?
  14. Apologist4Him

    Apologist4Him Puritan Board Freshman

    If I may, feel free to criticize, but the belief in possibility of knowledge outside of the Christian system of belief, is a belief in autonomous knowledge. That is external "facts" outside of and independent of the creature interpreted by the creature on the authority of creature apart from the authority of the Creator, all while the faculties used to interpret are given and designed by the Creator. In the example of the chair, an object created by the creature, only possible because the Creator designed the creature with the faculties and creative desire likened to the Creator himself. With the example of color, the eye is designed by the Creator to see colors, but we also know some people are color blind and other creatures do not see in color. So in all things our dependency is on our Creator in whom we move and have our being and is the ultimate authority of all interpretation and knowledge including knowledge acquired through sense perception.
  15. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    None of the above had anything to do with my position. I made the following claim:

    1. One can have a belief without having to meet criteria for that belief.

    If one wants to add stuff about "that's possible only in a Christian worldview," fine. It doesn't affect my position either way. I do think (1) entails the following:

    1* If one demands that every belief meet certain criteria for justification, then what is the justification for that demand?

    1' Therefore, what is the justification of the justification?

    1'' What is the justification of the justification of the justification.
  16. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    Admittedly I have not followed this whole thread carefully so perhaps some things are being taken for granted here based on earlier discussion, but I see no reason to believe presuppositional and orthodoxy are hand and hand. Presuppositionalism did not exist when either the catholic creeds or the Reformational creeds were written, and thus cannot be the standard of orthodoxy.

    But that's beside the matter. The difference between an orthodox (i.e. confessional) old earth advocate and a young earth advocate is in their exegetical approach to the creation narrative, rather than their apologetic philosophy. If one believes that a Klinean Framework Hypothesis, for instance, accurately captures the inspired meaning of Scripture then they may hold the possibility of an old earth together with a firm belief in inerrancy/infallibility and presuppositionalism. I say that as a young-earther who is suspicious that many old earth proponents do put the cart before the horse, so-to-speak, and allow their exegesis to be driven by a concern for cultural relevance. Nevertheless, there is no reason, conceptually, that this must be the case with old-earthers and I would extend the utmost charity to those in good standing in orthodox churches like the OPC.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
  17. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    Nobody said that we don't need God in order to know things. What I was saying is that it's possible to know things without knowing the reference those things have to God.
  18. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree with you on the exegetical point. We need to give that judgment of charity.

    Regarding this,

    “I'm not quite sure how the two are related. Young earth creationism certainly did not originate with Van Til.” ​

    clearly young earth didn’t originate with CVT. Neither did it begin with fundamentalism, yet we’d expect fundamentalists to adhere to young earth. In the like manner, yet for different reasons perhaps, one might expect the OPC to adhere to young earth. That’s how I took A.Joseph. It’s not so much a matter of where a belief originates but rather whether it’s consonant with, if not even a sufficient condition for other distinctives.
  19. Apologist4Him

    Apologist4Him Puritan Board Freshman

    Sorry I did not respond to you, my response had to do with what I responded to.

    Sure, one can have true belief and false belief with or without justification. But this is oversimplification, not all beliefs are on the same level or of equal importance or have equal impact on other beliefs. The answers to the questions does God exist and the particulars about him, are circular in nature and connected with all other beliefs.

    I'd rather state it as, it's only possible because the Christian worldview is true. Which accounts for non-Christian worldviews which suppress the truth.

    I am unclear as to exactly what you mean by "meet certain criteria", what types of criteria? Reason, experience, facts? These can support belief, but unregenerate man supposes these to be independent of the Creator and himself to be an autonomous creature. Can the justification through the assumption of autonomy be anything but subjective? That man is inconsistent and borrows from the one true worldview is apparent, because no man is a consistently a pure subjectivist.

    or the belief of the belief or reason of the reason or facts of the facts?

    The self-revealing self-authenticating Christ of Scripture is the true justifier for all knowledge, all of which belong to the omniscience of God from all eternity. Our justification proper begins with the fear of the Lord.
  20. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    I think first you should refine this:

    “One can have a belief without having to meet criteria for that belief.”

    Meet the criteria? If one has a belief, whether false or true, he has by the nature of the case met the criteria for belief. When one has knowledge, same thing. He has met the criteria for knowledge. Belief and knowledge presuppose having met “the criteria.” Otherwise, how would either obtain?

    The question is not whether unbelievers know things. They do (which also mean they believe things). The question is whether knowledge comports with the unbeliever’s presuppositions.
  21. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    Pleasure to read this.
  22. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    I agree that there's a particular consonance or at least resonance between YEC and fundamentalism, namely, fundamentalism's biblicism, anti-intellectualism, and eschatological counter-culturalism. I just don't see it with presuppositionalism. Indeed, most of the theistic evolutionists I know are neo-Calvinist presuppositionalists. Van Til himself, though opposing Darwinianism, was agnostic on the age of the earth.
  23. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    The point I was making is, it’s not a matter of doctrinal origin. So, I was addressing the quandary you seemed to be having with respect to Joseph.

    With him, I too think pressups should be young earth, as a general rule. My guess is, most of the OPC guys who are old earth aren’t card carrying Reformed epistemologists in the Van Tillian sense. Exceptions don’t undermine such a sense of things. Yes, we can find middle ground with the exegetical point. I am just suspicious, frankly.
  24. Apologist4Him

    Apologist4Him Puritan Board Freshman

    Six years ago on my blog I was asked the question; "was Van Til a 6-day Creationist?" I posted the following in response:

    "Good question and thanks for the link. Before researching, my answer is yes, my reasoning is as follows:

    1.) he was a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church from 1936 until his death.

    2.) “Officers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church take a vow to “sincerely receive and adopt” these confessional documents “as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures.” – OPC Confession standards

    3.) from the Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter IV

    Of Creation

    I. “It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.

    II. After God had made all other creatures, He created man, male and female,[4] with reasonable and immortal souls,[5] endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after His own image; having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfil it; and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject unto change. Beside this law written in their hearts, they received a command, not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; which while they kept, they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures.”​

    4. Now that I have researched, if you have access to his book “The Defense of the Faith” turn to Chapter 9 “Argument by Presupposition” from the subsection “Creation out of Nothing”

    On the question of creation I believe that it pleased God “for the manifestation of the glory of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein, whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days and all very good.” This doctrine of creation fits in with the doctrine of the ontological trinity. If God is fully self-contained then there was no sort of half existence and no sort of non-being that had any power over against him. There was therefore no impersonal law of logic that told God what he could do and there was no sort of stuff that had as much even as refractory power over against God when he decided to create the world.

    I have not merely held but have also frequently defended this doctrine. I have defended it not merely against those who openly reject it or assert it to be impossible on the basis of logic as was the case with Parmenides. I have defended it against those who assumed the existence of some sort of limiting power next to God. I have in particular defended it against all forms of modern dialecticism, whether Hegelian or Barthian.” – Van Til, C.
  25. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    I understand, and for the sake of charity both to you and the opc position on the matter I will agree this is not a breaking point. But the concerns for cultural relevance has taken the church & scriptural compatibility to much crazier places than old earth
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
  26. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    Exactly, so with regards to the OPCs official stance on the age of the earth, with special consideration & adherence to Machen I’m sure, I still kinda cry foul .... with a minor ‘f’ .... lol
  27. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Starting with Plato, and with all forms of internalism that hold that knowledge = justified, true belief, the criteria would be whatever confers justification on a belief. Of course, that would depend on the type of belief in question.

    My point was that not every belief is going to need justification, or at least not in a strict sense, and so, therefore, won't need to meet certain critiera.
  28. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Your right but that's not the issue. If all your wanting is an admission that "certain beliefs" don't need, in a strict sense, further justification than fine there you go. What that admission has to do with anything other than immediate beliefs, I don't know. I don't see how that admission deals with ultimate beliefs or the most central beliefs in our web of beliefs? The issue is, as Frame puts it, the metaphysics of knowledge. Ultimately is knowledge possible in any other worldview? And is there a method of Apologetics capable of capitalizing on the truth that only the Christian worldview is true and therefore capable of providing such a metaphysics of knowledge, in an ultimate sense.
    I get the feeling that you have some "enemy" in sight that may or may not be real. I think if all you want is an admission that certain beliefs don't need justification than fine you got it. That has nothing with every single form of pressupossitonalism.
  29. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    I'm not sure James White is the best example of pressupossitonalism out there but ok. The way I use it is meeting them where they are and going from there. It is conversational in nature, which means taking into account their level of sophistication. And always done with love.
  30. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    It does if the "certain belief" in question is an "ultimate belief."
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