Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Joshua's Long Day Revisited and Other Commentary

Since this is getting long, I'm moving it up here to a separate entry for Mr. Morgan and Pastor Segers to interact. Y'all can thank me later. Yeah, Dustin, I know, the check's in the mail, blah, blah, blah. :)

Daniel Morgan writes:

the Christian theist has sufficient epistemological warrant to believe in the uniformity of natural and logical law because the Biblical worldview provides the necessary preconditions for such (cf. Gen. 8:22)

Um, but this verse says, "while the earth remains..." and you have some verses which say that the earth will never pass away, and some say that the earth will be melted down to the elements. Which is it? When will it happen? How many times will it happen?

Also, this verse is wrong -- we have in Joshua the earth's rotation stopping for an entire day, supposedly, so in that sense, "time" sure didn't continue uniformly, now did it?

I have heard it repeated over and over that: i) the Christian worldview 'better accounts' for logic/morality/science/X, or ii) that the atheist 'cannot account' for the same

I have yet to see a detailed explanation as to why this is, in light of what I presented above, and Martin's TANG...and you don't present it to me here, all you do is quote from other people who had beliefs about God in an ancient text.

Your author above says, Another approach from a Christian standpoint, is to say, “There can be no certainty regarding anything without Christianity.” because he thinks the other approach employs "secular standards" of epistemology. Where this bifurcates from reality is that there are no "Christian" and "secular" standards of reality or knowledge. There are only man-made and mad-derived ones, which I would label neither "secular" nor "Christian", but all human. Your claim that yours are divine is a claim made by humans, based on a demonstrably human set of documents, codified and canonized in a very human process, and subject to very human interpretation.

What your author (and all presups) attempt to do is be "card sharps" -- they want to presuppose themselves as based on the truth, and so when you challenge their premises and presuppositions, you challenge "God's truth", and thus you are always wrong. Of course, Muslims can take this same approach, and tell Christians that they cannot say that Allah or the Qu'ran is wrong, since they are "arbitrary, subjective, human, etc.," and that they are "borrowing from the Muslim worldview".

It is a cheap parlor trick, and that is why most Christians don't employ presuppositionalism, outside the web and blogosphere and a few disciples of Van Till.

I loved his quote, "Unbelievers can count, but they can’t account for their accounting." Hilarious. Somehow, someway, Christianity can "account" for numbers and the existence of mathematical constructs, because God exists. Why does this immediately solve the problem? We aren't sure, but God is the answer for that too.

You presuppose God, and the Bible, in order to use God, and the Bible, to argue against everything else. Simply put, that is WHY no philosophers in academe even touch presuppositional arguments -- they recognize the futility and absurdity of the "preconditions".

Exbeliever has mounted an impressive refutation of these transcendental arguments, and clearly indicated the vacuity of theists in supporting the premise that God is a necessary precondition of knowledge/morality/logic/X. I challenge you to engage him there, as he has a forum set up for that very purpose.

You may also enjoy his conversational parody between an atheist/physicalist and a presuppositionalist.

7/25/2006 7:09 AM


Dustin Segars replies...

Mr. Morgan

You stated,

"Um, but this verse says, "while the earth remains..." and you have some verses which say that the earth will never pass away,"

Where does the Bible say that the "earth will never pass away"? It does say "heaven and earth WILL pass away . . ." (Matt. 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33)

You went on to ask,

"and some say that the earth will be melted down to the elements. Which is it? When will it happen? How many times will it happen?"


2 Peter 3:12 states that the elemental things of this world will be "melted/melted down” at the creation of the New Heavens and the New Earth which will occur at the return of Christ. This is when the earth will no longer "remain” in the state it is currently in and the general uniformity of nature as we know it will cease to be. Remember that Gen. 8:22 says, "While the earth remains . . ." You go on to state,

"Also, this verse is wrong -- we have in Joshua the earth's rotation stopping for an entire day, supposedly, so in that sense, "time" sure didn't continue uniformly, now did it?"


The Bible doesn't say that TIME stopped. Just because the sun failed to go down doesn't make the passage of time for people experiencing the event mutually exclusive. The uniformity of nature is guaranteed IN GENERAL in Gen. 8:22 (i.e., the expectant cycle of the seasons, etc.) and doesn't automatically exclude the occurrence of miraculous events such as the parting of the Red Sea, resurrections, healings, etc. It is important to note here that other natural and logical laws on earth didn't fail to operate in a uniform fashion (i.e., gravity, physiology) while the sun "stood still." The Christian worldview necessarily accounts for and expects miraculous events as recorded in the historical narratives of Scripture while maintaining the overall uniformity of nature in the midst of said events. You go on to state,

"I have heard it repeated over and over that: i) the Christian worldview 'better accounts' for logic/morality/science/X, or ii) that the atheist 'cannot account' for the same

I have yet to see a detailed explanation as to why this is, in light of what I presented above, and Martin's TANG...and you don't present it to me here, all you do is quote from other people who had beliefs about God in an ancient text."


I linked Butler's argument against Dr. Martin's TANG because I was interested in saving time (I am very busy with a family, a ministry, and a secular job) and I also see no point in reinventing the wheel, especially when Butler can explain his refutation of TANG with much greater clarity than I can. I figured you’d rather read after a man who has greater skill and clarity with philosophical writing than myself. You state,

"Your author above says, Another approach from a Christian standpoint, is to say, “There can be no certainty regarding anything without Christianity.” because he thinks the other approach employs "secular standards" of epistemology. Where this bifurcates from reality is that there are no "Christian" and "secular" standards of reality or knowledge."


With all due respect, I believe you missed the point of that section of my article. The standards of testing are “secular” in the sense that when the naturalist posits that Christianity must pass those standard tests and measures in order to be considered valid, then Christianity becomes the mere appendix to the system or worldview rather than the heart of it. So, when the Christian apologist concedes this to the naturalist, they are compromising their faith in a sense by saying that those very standards are sufficient in and of themselves for determining the truthfulness of Christianity and thus, they become guilty of arguing in an autonomous fashion that is ultimately dishonoring to the Lord Jesus Christ. You go on to state,

"What your author (and all presups) attempt to do is be "card sharps" -- they want to presuppose themselves as based on the truth, and so when you challenge their premises and presuppositions, you challenge "God's truth", and thus you are always wrong. Of course, Muslims can take this same approach, and tell Christians that they cannot say that Allah or the Qu'ran is wrong, since they are "arbitrary, subjective, human, etc.," and that they are "borrowing from the Muslim worldview"."


That would be a nice trick for the Muslim indeed, especially if he could demonstrate that his worldview is not internally contradictory from the get-go. Mr. Morgan, for you to say that any theistic religion can make such a claim demonstrates that you understand not the claims of the TAG, which has a very broad scope. Again, so as to not reinvent the wheel, Mike Butler answers your argument,"In Islam, Muslims teach that Allah is absolutely transcendent and unknowable to human minds. However, the Koran repeatedly speaks of Allah. But if Allah is truly unknowable then how could it say anything about him? Indeed how can it refer to Allah as "him" rather than "it?" If Islam were consistent it would say nothing about Allah. But if it had nothing to say about Allah, it would be an entirely vacuous religion.

There are other problems with Islam. For example, the Koran teaches that Jesus is a prophet. According to Islamic theology, prophets cannot lie. The problem with this is that a contradiction is generated from these two propositions. Jesus claimed to be the Son of God while the Koran declares that nobody is begotten of God. Thus if Jesus is the Son of God then the Koran is in error since it said there is nobody begotten of God. And if Jesus is not the Son of God the Koran is still in error since it called Jesus a prophet.

More can be said of Islam (and Judaism), but this is sufficient to make my point. Only Christian theism can account for science (or logic, or ethics) since only Christian theism is internally consistent." http://members.ozemail.com.au/~seccomn/phil/martinrefute.htm

"You presuppose God, and the Bible, in order to use God, and the Bible, to argue against everything else. Simply put, that is WHY no philosophers in academe even touch presuppositional arguments -- they recognize the futility and absurdity of the "preconditions"."


You mean philosophers and scholars like Frame, Bahnsen, Strawson, Van Til, Welty, Mourad, Butler, etc. don't exist? Mr. Morgan, you clearly are unaware of the scholarship in this area. Nevertheless, thank you for willingness to interact on these issues.

13 comments:

  1. the uniformity of nature is not absolute. No atheist scientist thinks it is. When a young atheist argues for the UoN they usually act as if it is absolute. So, they imply that if something happens which is unusual (Joshua's long day), then it violates the UoN. This is false.

    Michael Martin claims: "Frame has argued correctly that science does not presuppose the absolute uniformity of nature, but I do not suppose that it does." -Taken From Martin's first reply.

    Therefore, Joshua's long day, or any miracle, is not a violation of the UoN, even according to atheist sceintist and philosophers.

    The UoN is a generalization about the *usual* way things operate. It's really tiring to have to constantly correct atheists, like Daniel Morgan, about the basics of their *own* position.

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  2. "You mean philosophers and scholars like Frame, Bahnsen, Strawson, Van Til, Welty, Mourad, Butler, etc. don't exist?"

    And you forgot James Anderson.

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  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  4. "You presuppose God, and the Bible, in order to use God, and the Bible, to argue against everything else. Simply put, that is WHY no philosophers in academe even touch presuppositional arguments -- they recognize the futility and absurdity of the "preconditions"."

    You presuppose thje falsity of the Christian worldview in order to argue against the Christain worldview. This is why no presuppositionalist takes you seriously. Indeed, since you do, NO PHILOSOPHER should take you seriously.

    Arbitrainess is a fickle friend, my friend.

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  5. Awww, don't you just want to pinch Danny's cheeks sometimes? He's soooo cute!

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  6. "'You mean philosophers and scholars like Frame, Bahnsen, Strawson, Van Til, Welty, Mourad, Butler, etc. don't exist?'

    "And you forgot James Anderson."


    Not to mention additional secular philosophers like Eckart Forster, Eva Schaper, and Robert Stern.

    Oh, and Immanuel Kant.

    And the list could go on.

    Morgan obviously hasn't even attempted to familiarize himself with the literature concerning that which he's talking about.

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  7. First, I did not claim absolute uniformity of nature. What I claimed is that there is no support for theists to suppose that nature would be uniform, since your God is able to manipulate physics at will, and change the identity of objects in the universe at will, such that it could descend into utter randomness and irrationality.

    My point should be well-taken: in your universe, using the term "law" in reference to physics is a joke.
    From my worldview, even though these laws may not be completely and thoroughly understood, such that all behaviors could be qualitatively ruled out in advance (eg the UoN perfectly defined and defended), there is a small range of physical description under which each law would fall, and out of which science would classify an "aberration" (eg floating axeheads, talking donkeys, talking snakes...)

    From the Skeptic's Annotated Bible:
    Deuteronomy 4:40
    That thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for ever.

    Psalm 37:29
    The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.

    Psalm 78:69
    The earth which he hath established for ever.

    Psalm 104:5
    Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.

    Ecclessiastes 1:4
    One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.


    You mean philosophers and scholars like Frame, Bahnsen, Strawson, Van Til, Welty, Mourad, Butler, etc. don't exist? Mr. Morgan, you clearly are unaware of the scholarship in this area. Nevertheless, thank you for willingness to interact on these issues.
    Allow me to clarify -- I am not implying that transcendental philosophy is not valid. What I AM claiming is that in discussions involving meta-ethics or epistemology, I have never encountered anything resembling the TAG that you guys typically present:
    1) The Christian God is a precondition of logic/morality/X
    2) Logic/morality/X exists
    3) Therefore the Christian God exists

    ...specifically where the Christian God is a precondition for logic or morality...with any support whatsoever for that premise. Now, do I claim to have read extensively in this area? Of course not. I am aware of Van Till and of Bahnsen and of Anderson, but if someone, anyone, would kindly point me to a place where they support the first premise, I would love to go read up on it so that I can engage this argument more effectively. Although the argument is technically valid, I cannot accept its first premise any more than if you substitute "Allah" for the "Christian God", or any other deity.

    I am going to bow out of this conversation at the moment, pending further support of the first premise. I have presented a challenge to support WHY the Christian's God can better account for uniformity in nature (not necessarily absolute uniformity) than the lack thereof. I have been responded to with Scripture, and have presented rebutting Scripture.

    I have been following the lack of support for the first premise for some time now at exbeliever's place. Admittedly, I'm not a "serious philosopher", anonymouse, so why don't you take on this challenge yourself, with exbeliever, who may warrant your time and attention? Let's see if you can support the first premise of the TAG, or if exbeliever will just end up wanting to pinch your cheeks?

    If you're interested in supporting the first premise of the TAG, there is a forum for you to do so, in which, so far, not a single presup, coming in with the intent to do so, has been able to support the argument.

    Please do not mistake me for making an argument here that by my own ignorance of any support for the first premise, that it does not exist, or that it could not exist. I am honestly interested in seeing this argument supported, and have university library access, so if you could point me to specific sections of books or peer-reviewed articles, by any of the authors you listed, who support the first premise of the TAG above, (or one along similar lines) that would be great.

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  8. Travis,

    I find it interesting that you are "cheeky" enough to insult me for ignorance of the academic support of the presuppositionalist TAG, when I stumbled into this little tidbit on your blog:
    Ehud said:
    I'm in your amen corner regarding the pitiable state of atheological(so-called) scholarship but we also bear some culpability for our clumsy &/or innefectual communication of such principles as represented in the TAG. By comparison, the Materialist worldview has been much more competently marketed. If Price's appraisal is any indication, the TAG is an alien in the halls of Academia & a fortiori of that, unheard of by the American people. That must change.
    Good on you for extroverting a habitually introverted conversation.
    [emphasis mine]
    To which you replied:
    That's an excellent point, Ehud. I'm reminded of something James Anderson said at the close of his old Van Til email list:

    "I have come to realise that probably the greatest challenge for Van Tilians is not to take their apologetic "to the streets" (something that has already been accomplished, thanks to the popularizing work of Bahnsen, Frame, et al) but to export it from the seminary to the academy [...] taking the Van Tilian blade out of the Calvinist cabinet and sharpening it against the grindstone of 21st-century analytical philosophy."


    Now, admittedly, this was written on May 16th of this year, so perhaps the many papers I'm ignorant of have been published since that time...? [snicker]

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  9. "And you forgot James Anderson."

    I think Dustin was wise to avoid devaluing that particular currency. :)

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  10. Daniel:

    TAG stands for "The Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God."

    It isn't very well represented in academia.

    But you didn't merely claim that TAG wasn't well-represented in academia. You claimed that: "no philosophers in academe even touch presuppositional arguments" and that "they recognize the futility and absurdity of the "preconditions".""

    So what you claimed that no philosopher will touch is much broader than just TAG. While TAG isn't well-known in academia, arguments claiming that we must hold certain presuppositions about the nature of reality, arguing from the preconditions of intelligibility and such, are not. Such arguments have been around a long, long time, and have existed in basically the form the Van Tillian uses since Kant.

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  11. Daniel wrote:
    ---
    I have been following the lack of support for the first premise for some time now at exbeliever's place.
    ---

    Perhaps the "lack of support" has something to do with the fact that exbeliever deletes people's posts when they do not present the presuppositional argument the way that he wants to see it.

    Anyway, if you want to see some support for the first premise, I've got a couple of articles I did a few years back:

    Logic Proves the Existence of God

    Logic Proves the Existence of God: Part II.

    (I even included the HTML for you so you can't complain!) :-)

    The first of these was written a while back (about 6 years ago), so I would modify the language a bit if I re-did it today (e.g., instead of saying the first rule of logic is non-contradiction, I'd now say it's the law of identity), but the basic gist of it is still the same. The second one was written more recently (about three years ago) and looks at it from a slightly different angle.

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  12. Calvindude,

    I'll try to reply in a post at my blog. I will notify you when I have done so. I would say that in skimming through the first article, much of what comes before this is rather verbose:
    . What makes logic binding is that which is over it. In other words, if there is something that makes logic valid, then logic is valid because of that something. In order for logic to exist, there must be something over it that, by nature, will give rise to logic. For example, we live under logic and that gives rise to our living under the laws of logic. That which is over logic must give rise to the laws that govern logic.
    God governs logic. As such, looking at logic, we discover things about God. The first law of logic is the Law of Non-Contradiction. Therefore, we can conclude that the One over logic does not contradict Himself either. This fits in with the Biblical idea that God cannot lie. But rather than being a circular argument here at this point, we are merely making it possible for logic to exist in the first place. Something that is beyond logic cannot be bound by logic; but that something will also exist in such a manner as to make logic valid.
    [emphasis mine]

    Of course, this is where the question of contingency comes in. And this is the premise that all of the verbiage beforehand doesn't support one iota. We have no reason to suppose that logic is more than a concept, like the concept "color", which supervenes on the physical (the existence of objects, their identities, their properties, and so forth). We are given no reason to suppose that logic was "created" or "governed" any more than that color has been or is. And we are given no reason to suppose that just as God could (supposedly) make color appear and disappear at will, so God could make/unmake logic, should God preside over it as its Creator/Governor, and be truly omnipotent. After all, what "governs" God's mind? This is of course a silly question. But, these are just first impressions.

    I will reply with more care later on.

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  13. Daniel wrote:
    ---
    I will reply with more care later on.
    ---

    I look forward to it.

    Like I said, I would re-write much of the first article if I did it again now. Also, in terms of which one I think is more compelling, I would say the second article is. Unfortunately, the second article presupposes you've read the first one!

    But I look forward to your response, as it will give me an excuse to revise and update my articles there :-D

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