Debating an Atheist - Responses

This article is a direct followup to out debating an atheist article where we respond to objections we received from atheists.

Read more here

Presuppositionalist apologists are incredibly frustrating to talk to, regarding their religion. Sye Ten Bruggencate is a shining example of how annoying their methods of debating are.

I would find it frustrating as well to see my worldview crumble and my idols destroyed, to be honest.

Why would an argument that already accepts it's circular and fallacious nature need to be debunked?

Circular does not mean fallacious. All reasoning will eventually be circular.

Consider the atheist we’re talking to. He accepts the general reliability of his reasoning, he accepts the uniformity of nature and he accepts the general reliability of his senses. How does the atheist go about justifying these three mentioned examples?

On the grounds of his worldview, the atheist cannot justify the general reliability of his reasoning without appealing to his reasoning, the uniformity of nature without appealing to the uniformity of nature, the general reliability of his senses without appealing to his senses.

The atheist, therefore, cannot escape circular reasoning as well. The difference being, of course, the atheist succumbs to a vicious circle.

We can, therefore, return the atheist’s attack back in him: Why would we need to debunk a worldview that already debunks itself?

But this isn’t the only problem this particular atheist faces. Consider that the atheist believes that circular reasoning is fallacious. According to what standard does the atheist make this judgement? Remember that the atheist worldview has no justification for the laws of logic, therefore the atheist’s claim that we are committing a logical fallacy is worth nothing.

Debate animation

How would you argue against someone saying that a different god gave them the same revelations that you claim to have gotten from the Christian god?

By doing an internal critique. We will use Islam to demonstrate this. Can the Islamic worldview provide a suitable foundation for the preconditions of intelligibility? Let’s focus on the laws of logic for this example.

According to the Christian worldview, the laws of logic are a reflection of the way God thinks. When we are arguing logically, we are thinking God’s thoughts after Him. Is this possible for the Muslim to say?

No. According to Islamic theology, Allah is so transcendent that he cannot relate to humanity in any way. Therefore we cannot think Allah’s thoughts after him. This means that Islam fails to account for the preconditions of intelligibility — specifically the laws of logic as discussed.

In general, when doing an internal critique of the non-Christian worldview, we look for two things:

  1. Arbitrariness

  2. Inconsistency

The non-Christian worldview fails to provide a foundation for the preconditions of intelligibility. No other god will suffice, as no other gods exist other than the Triune God as revealed in Scripture.

Is the author legitimately saying that "The reliability of memory and reliability of our senses" is validated because of what the Bible reveals to us? Does the author know that reading and understanding the Bible is an activity that uses our senses and memory? Because that's not a very square argument. It's more round in shape.

The justification for the use of senses and memory is found outside the senses and memories themselves.

Sure the proximate starting point is the use of a person's senses and reasoning, however, the ultimate starting point is found in God. He is the one who justifies the use of our senses and reasoning.

It's a matter of where you build the foundation of your worldview, if you build it on yourself (or anything other than God for that matter), you will end up in a vicious circle or some form of absurdity. Starting with the God of Scripture, although it remains circular, it is what is called a virtuous circle.

Remember every worldview when called to justify itself will be circular - you cannot justify an ultimate standard using some other standard. The ultimate standard would need to justify itself, otherwise, you end up in an infinite regress.

Dr. Scott Oliphint explains this by using the example of maps. Our proximate starting point is our current location and we want to reach a specified destination. If we don’t have a map that can provide us with a bird’s eye view of where we’re going, knowing our current location doesn’t help us — there are an infinite number of roads and directions we can follow with no guarantee of whether we’d ever reach our desired location. When we have a map, however, we can use our knowledge of our current location to identify our position on the map, and hence navigate the roads accurately to our desired location.

Therefore, starting with our senses as the proximate starting point, we use our map (revelation from God) to get a bird’s eye view (justification) for the use our senses, which allow us to non-arbitrarily assume the general reliability of our senses.

I can't know anything except that since I do that proves god exists. And not just any god, your god. Why your god? Because it says so in your book. It's a really poor argument.

By impossibility of the contrary. It is the case because the Bible says so yes, and the Bible is the Word of God. But it can be demonstrated by the impossibility of the contrary.

Pro-tip for Christians: Don't be silly like the author of this article. Presuppositionalism is a great way to drive people away from your religion and anything you say will be (rightly) viewed as stupid.

The goal of apologetics isn’t to win souls. We cannot convince anyone to believe in something the Bible reveals they already believe in. 

Unbelievers don’t have a facts problem, they have an authority problem (Romans 1, Luke 6). Unbelievers refuse to submit to the Lord of Glory even though they know He exists. It is therefore up to the Holy Spirit to bring repentance.

The role of the apologist is therefore not to provide more facts but to leave the unbeliever without excuse.

Does objective truth exist? This question is the same as this one - If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?


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