Sunday, April 26, 2020

Has presuppositionalism evolved?

Has presuppositionalism evolved? By presuppositionalism I mean the Van Tilian tradition, not the Clarkian tradition–which is a different animal.

Van Til championed the transcendental argument. And think that's due in large part do his eccentric view of divine incomprehensibility (which builds paradox into his definition of divine incomprehensibility). If God is incomprehensible in Van Til's sense, then you can't argue directly for his existence. Rather, you argue that God's existence is a necessary condition for everything else. Van Til's view is similar in that respect to transcendental Thomism. 

So Van Til's argument was essentially an epistemological argument for God's existence. Transcendental arguments are epistemological arguments, to refute skepticism.

However, in the hands of Greg Welty and James Anderson, the argument has shifted to modal metaphysics. So there's been some evolution and reorientation in the argument. 

It may be the case that Kant's argument is more epistemological, in part because he doesn't have a robust theology to ground it. Kant might even be a closet atheist. And he's skeptical regarding our knowledge of the external world. So he can't say much of anything to back it up in terms of bedrock ontology. 

Although Van Til's version is partly epistemological, he tries to ground it in the metaphysics of Reformed theism. Greg Welty and James Anderson develop that neglected potential in more detail. This is also because there's been a lot of work done on modal metaphysics which wasn't on the horizon in Van Til's time. In addition, Welty was never a champion of theological paradox. And that's conspicuously missing from Bahnsen as well. 

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