Presuppostionalism "Eventually bogs down?"

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by TomVols, Aug 19, 2019.

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  1. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Method. I see a lot of evasion among some presups when it comes down to the factual issues. Sure, some will talk about "evidences," but usually it is more of a transcendental "Yeah, but you can't even account for knowledge."
     
  2. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Dr. Poythress has some wonderful books on this. I can only speak for myself here, usually I will go straight to the bible on verses they think are wrong and/or contradictory. The last time I spoke with my atheist brother, we spoke about how he claimed that Jesus sinned we went through each "evidence" he had and I showed him based on a biblical worldview the he was wrong. Than after dealing, not to his satisfaction, with them he basically accused me of sophistry and I was able to challenge his assumptions about the bible, and how they were unwarranted. For instance if it's the Word of God it should be a seamless stack of simple facts that should easily makes sense to him. Any complexity meant either the bible is wrong or the Christian is just trying to complicate interpretations to make it look better..
    So to deny that Jesus sinned by some appeal to theological facts or deny that the bible teaches God's responsibility in evil is just trying to get around the plain teaching of scripture.
    Not only did he want his own assumptions to be the ones we used, not the biblical ones, in interpreting the bible but he also didn't want those assumptions challenged at all.
    That is a pressupossitional challenge. I think you've be reffering to presups that want to go straight to our differing assumptions and give the impression we either don't want to deal with the texts or can't. That unfortunately happens. I start with whatever thing they want to. If it's the text than I start with the text, knowing that always those assumptions are going to play a part in our discussion.
    My assumptions must defended just like theirs. Mine are biblical theirs are not. Two different standards in interpreting the evidences.
     
  3. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Dr Poythress, Machen, and myself don't do that. Also who are these people?
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2019
  4. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    But isn’t not being able to account for knowledge a serious problem?
     
  5. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Jacob I read a post a post you gave on a thread about Natoro's book on Van Til. It was spot on, I agreed with everything you wrote there. Is that kind of the essence of your critique, that we Vantillians are great in theory just not in practice when it comes to evidences? I couldn't agree more.
    Hopefully the examples I've given might reveal more of how it's done, albeit brief, and I do highly recommend Dr. Poythress' books on this subject for a more practical approach.
    As far as my examples go I have only so much space and can't into anything other than broad strokes.
     
  6. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I haven't yet met an unbeliever who was bothered by that. And a clever unbeliever can reverse the problem and say that the desire to "account for knowledge" can easily turn into an infinite regress.
     
  7. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    It's debatable to what extent Machen was a presup. I think Bahnsen overcooked the evidence (no pun) on that. And most of those who knew Machen (e.g., Allan Macrae) denied he was presup.

    Poythress is a legend among humans, and a NT scholar, so he will go to the text.
     
  8. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    Unbelievers aren’t bothered my their sin, either. Should we avoid talking about that, too? I’m not trying to be snarky, brother; I’m just having a hard time seeing how your objection is valid. I’ve just never heard of altering our apologetic method based upon whether or not an unregenerate does not (or, as it is more often than not, will not) understand what we are saying.

    How?
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2019
  9. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    The question of accounting for knowledge is a meta epistemological question, not an epistemological per se. Hence no infinite regress, two different language (thought) "games". To account for knowledge involves only the why not the what.
     
  10. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    But he is a Vantillian who uses evidences from a pressupossitional point of view. The Machen is unique. But he does seem to have a pressupossitional bent in his writings and why did he go through so much trouble get him to join the school?
     
  11. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    I've met very few atheist's that really that worried about being formally logical, lay atheists that is. But they demand we are. I have a lot of guilty fun with those people.
     
  12. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    From what I understand it's basically the question of justifiers. If I claim to need a justifier for apiece of knowledge than what about a justifier for the justifier and a justifier for that justifier and on and on infinitum.
    That is a problem if knowledge or justifier is used in exactly the same sense. So a knowledge question is not exactly the same as an accounting of knowledge question, either specifically or generally. The problem only arises by a confusion of the two different kinds of questions. Or categories of questions.
     
  13. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Kurt Godel showed with his incompleteness theorem that meta-epistemological questions can quite easily become metametaepistemological questions, and so on.
     
  14. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Talk about it all you want. It's going to convince (to those few who can even understand it) zero people.
    I could have phrased it differently: the post-Kantian framework is wrong.
    In short, I am not obligated to keep on giving justifications for my beliefs (which in turn will force me to give justifications for my justifications, and on to infinity).

    If I am to know how I know something, I must have both an object of knowledge (p) and a criterion to validate p (we will call q.). I must also have something else: r, the fact that p satisfies q.

    But this raises a problem. One can now ask “How do you know q and r?” What justifies my choosing this as a criterion? I must now satisfy the conditions with q’ and r’. But that isn’t good enough. How do I know q’ and r’? I must now satisfy those new conditions with q” and r”.
     
  15. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    This just isn’t a good objection, though. If we want to be technical, it’s the Spirit that convinces (WSC 31), not us or our arguments, or our methods. So, by this reasoning, all apologetic efforts are pointless and should be avoided.

    That’s why I’m just a little taken aback by someone’s objection to an apologetic method being, “Nobody will understand it.” It’s not a good objection, especially given the natural oppositional disposition of all unbelievers to begin with.

    The fact is, though, is that I’ve had plenty of conversations with people about this where thy understand perfectly. They get angry about it, sure, but that shows just how well they understand the death which their worldview only provides. In fact, I’ve had more conversations along these presuppositional lines where my interlocutor understood than when they didn’t!

    I agree with @jwright82 that this is a category error. The very nature of a presuppositions is that they cannot be justified the way all other things known are. Otherwise words have no meaning.
     
  16. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    There has been a slight shift in terms. I don't see the transcendental argument as a Spirit-laden argument, so I don't believe the analogy applies.
    It is not a category error. If you are asking someone to justify their knowledge, this is precisely the format of the discussion. See Chisholm, The Problem of the Criterion. Also see Ronald Nash essay on same topic.

    In any case, show that it is a category error. Show why p and q don't need r, and all their subsequent primes.
     
  17. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    I’m not sure what this means.

    I don’t think I’m asking someone to justify their knowledge—i.e., what they know. I’m asking them to show me how they know what they know. When an unbeliever says they know something, I’m not necessarily disputing that they in fact know it (unless what they say they know is false, of course). What I am disputing is how they know what they know given the worldview they profess to embrace, which, if consistently applied, would eradicate the possibility of knowledge. Those are different things. All this is is attempting to show the blessedness of the Christian worldview.

    Please, brother, don’t confuse me with the caricature of a presuppositionalist you commonly put forth, the one who constantly retorts, “Well, how do you know that?” I’m not that guy.
     
  18. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    All he showed was that any formal system rich enough to capture a system like math is either consistent or complete never both at the same time. His theorems referred to basic axioms. I don't think they were referring the infinitum problem you're referring to of meta_meta _meta problems. But even if your right it would only prove my point about the problem arising from category mistakes. They do apply to all formal systems, epistemological ones too (this a problem for classical Foundationalism).
     
  19. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    How can you know that knowing q and r is the same as a method for knowing q and r? Your language justifiers of justifiers only makes sense if justify means the same than you have a problem, if they mean different things problem solved. Also is there ever an end to the chain of reasons? Or are we doomed to either an infinite series of justifiers or the warrant system your advocating for?, no third option?
    I think points are well with evidences, an unfair burden of proof to which we are asked to keep giving evidences.
     
  20. Henry Hall

    Henry Hall Puritan Board Freshman

    Who said not to answer the question?
     
  21. Henry Hall

    Henry Hall Puritan Board Freshman

    By the inability to account for knowledge?
    You haven't met the unbeliever's I've met.
     
  22. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Not sure what that has to with a category error. If p is statement of knowledge, I know such and such, than q is a metaepistemological statement about how or why I know p, or account for p. The r I can only assume is the point that overlaps the two, hence a proper analogy. If p and q are two different categories of statements and r is meant to bridge the gap, than what is r?
     
  23. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    R is not an analogy. It is not an overlap. It is the fact that P measures up to Q.
     
  24. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Nobody said that, but when these issues come up, I don't see presups really going to the nitty gritty texts of the Bible. I see master's level seminars on the preconditions of intelligibility.
     
  25. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    It's what Chisholm and Moreland and Willard called "particularism." I don't have to worry about having to keep justifying my foundations or worried about the preconditions of intelligibility. It's what phenomenology ultimately got right: when I know a fact, I know the fact as it is presented to me (though this might take us too far afield on phenomology).
     
  26. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    It means if I say that I don't think we should use Kantian-laden arguments with unbelievers who have no clue about this stuff means that I am similarly saying that we shouldn't tell them about sin.

    Preaching the gospel is one thing. It's not on the same level on whether I ought to use "preconditions of intelligibility" arguments.
    Fair enough. Which major presup debater is the only one squaring off against unbelievers today, and what type of arguments does he use? I would love to be proven wrong. His name rhymes with Tuggencate.

    The truth is presups never really had their successor to Bahnsen. Michael Butler failed to launch. Poythress and Frame do not do debates (Frame even dislikes the idea of debates--he was my apologetics prof, for what it's worth).

    I hate to say it, but Doug Wilson is the closest thing to Bahnsen's successor.

    Jeff Durbin doesn't really count, since most of his street evangelism is aimed at Mormons and abortionists (and God bless him for that).
     
  27. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    I don't see what this has to do with metaepistemological questions verses epistemological questions. Are they same kinds of questions? Enough of a similarity to avoid a category mistake by treating them as the same thing? If that's not what your doing than clarify the difference, I don't want to misunderstand you. But you're avoiding, answering that question.
     
  28. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    I think you are confusing internet "trolls" with guys like Poythress who has done the nitty gritty. There are others as well.
     
  29. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    I've given you examples of how to do it on the street to people, so segregating one sect of presups off and take that as the gold standard isn't close to being right. Plus how does arguing with them have anything to do with Van Til's method in the general sense? If I as a Vantillian don't do that why do I care what they do? Also you said, or implied at least, presups don't go to the bible but Poythress has written several books on that topic. The collection of essays "Revelation and Reason: New Essays in Reformed Apologetics" the whole first section is nothing but exegesis. Kline, whatever you think of him, dedicated at least one book to him.
     
  30. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    I’m not Sye Ten.

    Why is it that only “major” debaters count? Do not the conversations I’ve had count? Why can’t I be my own apologist? How is it fair that you get to brush over me and others here with Sye-Ten-colored paint?

    You’re not being fair here.

    Why doesn’t he count? He is debating unbelievers using strong presuppositional arguments, all done with love and respect. Is it because Durbin thus invalidates the typical caricature you so often present of presuppositionalists?

    By what authority do you get to decide who does and who does not “count”?
     
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