Presuppositionalists are in the habit of relying on such patterns, not only because their worldview requires men to renounce their minds and prostrate themselves before authoritarian mystics and witch doctors whose say-so is supposed to serve as the end-all, be-all of knowledge, but also because it is so effective on many non-Christians who have themselves already accepted skepticism’s core premises.
On those few occasions when presuppositionalists are confronted with firm, sustained and uncompromising endorsements of reason, they can typically be found replying with a “yeah, but” sequence of utterances and quickly proceeding to deploy skeptical tactics intended to undermine reason and one’s confidence in his own ability to use it. Apologists recoil at reason as though it were Kryptonite to their inflatable superman. The bible does not lay out an epistemology of reason, and it’s obvious to anyone who reads it that believers are expected to swallow everything it says uncritically on its own say-so, regardless of the fact that its claims are unsupported by evidence and contrary to reason. That’s the express opposite of reason. In the “good old days” of the Dark Ages, Christians could be more open and forthright about their worldview’s pronounced antagonism against reason. Martin Luther, one of the Reformation’s most outspoken exponents, was notorious for his explicit rejection of reason. Luther recognized the threat that the Renaissance posed to the religious worldview, and in response to this threat he dug his heels in and put even greater outspoken emphasis on Christianity’s aversion to reason. This was no accident.
Since Luther’s time, the Renaissance culminated in the Enlightenment and the Age of Reason, with the Declaration of Independence and the founding of the United States as its shining achievements. Consequently, Christians in the west have had to develop ways to conceal Christianity’s hostility towards reason, including the guise of pretending to be on cozy terms with reason when in fact it is entirely the opposite. I suspect this is shifting some as apologists rely more and more on skepticism’s premises, thanks to the corruption that spews out of the philosophy departments, and consequently find that candid opposition to reason is not quite so stigmatized as it once was.
This is where Dave McPhillips enters, against the backdrop of a growing willingness among apologists to openly declare war against reason. Only Dave still finds it necessary to pay lip service to reason through the teeth of a “yeah, but” parlance that’s quickly ready to come out of the closet and drop the façade, gleefully disclosing its enmity against reason.
This is the pattern that remains constant throughout Dave’s running commentary. It can be observed in previous installments in this series, which can be accessed here:
You must first presuppose certain things about reality before you devise or apply a method to discover reality.
Also, Dave’s statement ignores the fact that we are in direct contact with reality by means of perception as well as by means of conceptual knowledge, so long as we are forming our concepts according to the objective theory of concepts. We perceive things before we do any conceptualizing, and we do in fact conceptualize based on the objects we directly perceive. Dave’s worldview does not explain this process (the bible presents no theory of concepts), so he has no defense against the claim that we begin with “presuppositions” rather than with direct perceptual awareness of objects. The problem is that, since his worldview does not provide him with an informed understanding of how the conceptual relates to the perceptual, he’s been made vulnerable systematically for just the kind of insidious assault on the human mind that he recycles here.
Moreover, we do not need to “devise” a method to “discover” reality. Since perception is automatic, no devising is needed to put us in perceptual contact with reality. What we need is a method of identifying and integrating what we perceive, but the nature of our consciousness already provides us with the tools by which we can do this quite easily, namely the process of abstraction. Again, one will not learn how this works by reading the bible.
You cannot start with epistemology and move to ontology without having certain ontological presuppositions.
I had written:
Facts exist in nature. We discover and identify them by means of reason.
I disagree with your definition of facts. Facts are truth claims based on our experience of nature.
Now notice that Dave does not cite the bible as his source of a definition for the concept ‘fact’. Thus we might ask: does the bible provide a definition of the concept ‘fact’? What if anything does the bible have to say about facts? Blank out.
We have no certainty that a “fact” of nature will exist tomorrow unless we assume uniformity.
But on what basis do you assume uniformity? This is what I keep trying to ask.
Even though I explained this already, I’m guessing that Dave has not given this much thought for it’s clear that he has not grasped it (otherwise, why would he be asking this again?). To exist is to be something specific. This fact is perceptually self-evident, and the axioms make these recognitions explicit. Thus, in essence, the recognition that nature is uniform is axiomatic. Dave’s worldview cannot allow for this, for his worldview suffers from the chronic yet insatiable apologetic need to characterize uniformity as a product of conscious activity: his god wishes that nature be a certain way, and reality conforms to its wishing. That’s “wishing makes it so” – that’s subjectivism.
Dave had written:
Anyone can reason, however your reasoning must be measured against a standard in order to determine weather [sic] you are reasoning properly or coherently.
Yes, that standard is the primacy of existence. Your entire worldview denies the primacy of existence, and yet you assume the primacy of existence whenever you assert that your worldview is true (unless of course you say that Christian is true simply because you want it to be or believe it to be true, which perhaps you do).
No. the standard is not the “primacy of existence” the standard for validating ones reasoning is the laws of logic.
As for the laws of logic, they only tell a portion of the story. Logic provides the form according to which the hierarchy of knowledge is constructed. Logic will tell us when we’ve made an error in inference.
Consider for example the following example:
P1: Kyle’s chemistry students love disco.
P2. Tony is one of Kyle’s chemistry students.
C: Therefore, Tony does not love disco.
But are the premises true?
Logic by itself will not tell us this. Logic cannot serve as a substitute for factual investigation. We need facts to inform the content of our knowledge, and the primacy of existence tells us essentially this: that knowledge is knowledge of existence, not of something other than existence; existence must supply the content of our knowledge, not wishing, preferences, prayer, imagination, revelation, etc. So while logic provides the formal template for relating some bit of knowledge with another, it does not supply the content of knowledge. This we have to get from reality by means of investigation, whether systematic or otherwise. Hence we need reason proper.
Also, the primacy of existence teaches a thinker to bear certain fundamental distinctions in mind throughout his acquisition and validation of knowledge, such as the distinction between the objects we perceive and/or consider and the conscious activity by which we perceive and/or consider those objects; the facts we discover and our wishing and emotions; what is real and what is imaginary, etc. Thus the primacy of existence sets the fundamental boundaries of genuine knowledge of the world, and in this very sense it is the supreme standard.
Such laws must be universal, absolute and invariant.
Concepts are formed by omitting specific measurements. Concepts apply invariantly and absolutely because time and place are omitted measurements. The concept ‘chair’ for example includes all chairs regardless of their individual distinguishing characteristics, regardless of when they exist, regardless of where they exist. This is only made possible by the process of abstraction, specifically the operation known as measurement-omission. For a detailed analysis of this, see Ayn Rand's Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology.
One will not learn about the process of abstraction from the bible any more than he’ll learn about the laws of logic from the bible. Christians must seek outside their bibles to learn about logic and concepts, for their worldview provides no knowledge on these matters. Unfortunately, because of their worldview’s failure to provide any knowledge regarding the nature of logic and the nature of concepts, many Christians adopt the ignorance-riddled notion that they come from their god, which would mean that logic and conceptual reference as such find their basis in the primacy of consciousness metaphysics – i.e., essentially in the view that wishing makes it so. But this is simply false and completely needless.
To be continued…
by Dawson Bethrick