Thursday, March 26, 2015

Incinerating Presuppositionalism: Year Ten

Yes, folks, my blog Incinerating Presuppositionalism is turning TEN YEARS OLD today! That’s right, ten years ago today I posted the first entry on this blog, and I’m pleased to report that it’s been going strong ever since.

Swashbuckling away at Christianity’s defenses, exposing their fallacies and untruths, bringing to light their gimmicks and refuting their arguments… all this has been a most delightful undertaking for me these past years. It has brought me a most unique pleasure that must be experienced firsthand in order to be fully understood, and enjoyed. It is a gift that I give to myself first and foremost.

The past year has been very busy for me, given a very demanding work schedule, but I have managed to be productive even on my beloved blog. Not only have I reached the tenth anniversary mark for my blog, but also my 400th blog entry. This may not seem like a lot for ten years, but bear in mind that my blog does not have a “staff” of writers churning out trite posts about where to buy the best scones or how the weather affected the turnout at last Tuesday’s game. Rather, it’s just me writing here, and as any reader knows my blog entries are often many pages long and full of ample doses of research. It really is a labor of love.

This is not to detract from those readers and visitors who post comments. Really, the comments are what make it really interesting here at IP, and there is a loyal core who have been at the forefront of the commenting activity. So to you all (you know who you are), I tip my hat in gratitude! I’m sorry every time you have to wait for me to get around to publishing your comments, but those who have been reading my blog for the past couple years know why I was reluctantly pressed to turning on the moderating procedure, something I still don’t really care for myself.

So what happened this past year? Well, quite a bit now that I look back on it all. Over the past year I’ve interacted with a few apologists for the first time, some presuppositionalist in their bent, others more traditional. And this year I did finally get around to examining arguments by William Lane Craig. Some readers have emailed me here and there over the years asking for my take on WLC’s arguments and debates. Hopefully I have satisfied such curiosity.

To my own surprise, this year saw fifty new blog entries. Here they are:

351. Incinerating Presuppositionalism: Year Nine - March 26, 2014
 
356. Fumbling at the First Down - May 6, 2014
359. Dawson’s Razor - June 1, 2014
364. Dave’s McPresuppositions, Part V - June 12, 2014
365. A Response to Christian James - June 17, 2014
367. STB: Four Years and Counting - August 27, 2014
369. Deriving “Ought” from Dirt - October 4, 2014
378. Jason Petersen’s “Epistemology” -October 21 , 2014
382. Glossary of Terms - December 10, 2014
385. Petersen vs. the Universe - January 10, 2015
386. Lennox’s 10, Part I - January 31, 2015
387. Lennox’s 10, Part II - February 12, 2015
388. Lennox’s 10, Part III - February 13, 2015
389. Lennox’s 10, Part IV - February 21, 2015
390. Lennox’s 10, Part V - February 28, 2015
400. The Ending of the Gospel of Mark - March 24, 2015

As for moving forward, I have a lot of new ideas and planned blog entries, but I am going through a transition as well. I moved to Thailand back in May of 2011, and my work here is now finished. Soon I will be relocating back to the United States to start my next chapter in life. And while this has been a great growing experience, I do not know how long it will take me to resettle my life and devote my energies to writing for my blog. Given the many demands on my time, I’m a slow worker. But keep your eyes peeled. Maybe I’ll surprise you!

In the meantime, keep pursuing your values and hone your reasoning skills.

by Dawson Bethrick

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7 Comments:

Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

Congratulations on 10 years! And thanks again for all the tremendous essays.

Ydemoc

March 26, 2015 3:20 PM  
Blogger David Barwick said...

I stumbled onto this blog over two years ago. At the time, I was searching for a discussion of presuppositionalism. I knew it was a gimmick, but I didn’t know how to deal with it. I didn’t even know what epistemology meant. What I found here was so much more than an exposure of presuppositionalism.

When I lost my faith in Christianity, I found myself without a worldview (although I didn’t know to call it a worldview). I eventually turned to philosophy, and began to examine the well-knowns: Kierkegaard, William James, Hume, Kant, etc. What I found in their work was a necessity to do the same thing that had caused me to leave my religion -- presuppose certain ideas that were unargued or weren’t evidently true. Hume’s and Kant’s apparent desire to destroy man’s ability to think was shocking. I wanted a philosophy that would help me understand the world, not diminish further my understanding of it, nor destroy my understanding completely!

Before becoming acquainted with your work, my only exposure to Objectivism was an attempt to read Atlas Shrugged at the urging of my then-girlfriend. She called herself an Objectivist, but, in retrospect, she had no understanding of Objectivism. Her only awareness of Objectivist teaching was rational selfishness, which she apparently took to give her free reign to pursue other relationships behind my back. Selfishness, sure, but she forgot the rational part. So many people, including politicians and philosophers, seem to equate egoism with hedonism that is has become nearly automatic in our culture to do so. It is little wonder that one so infrequently finds Ayn Rand’s philosophy accurately represented.

(continued...)

March 27, 2015 9:00 AM  
Blogger David Barwick said...

What I found here at IP is an application and defense of Objectivism that is often more accessible than the Objectivist literature I have read. That is not to say that it is easy! It took the better part of a year before I began to integrate many of the teachings of Objectivism. Eventually I purchased and read ITOE, and I was in awe of a philosopher who defended man’s ability to think and who grounded reason in self-evident, undeniable truths. I was surprised to find that there was an answer to Rationalism and Skepticism -- and that, really, the answer should have been obvious to generations of thinkers.

Your work here has made a HUGE difference in my life. It directed me from the brink of philosophical despair to a path of non-contradictory joy. I used to think that philosophy was pointless (and now I see that much of what passes for philosophy is). Now I know from experience that a proper philosophy can enlighten one’s understanding of the world, improve one’s ability to reason, and provide a worldview that can be applied consistently (and which doesn’t beg the question as a starting point). I still have much to learn, but I have found a proper path.

All of this is mostly thanks to you and your seemingly tireless efforts here. So I hope that you will appreciate this long-winded and sincere thank you. Please do keep up the inspiring work.

David Barwick

March 27, 2015 9:00 AM  
Blogger 95BSharpshooter said...

A lot of interesting articles guaranteed t give you a headache.

BTW, what is "your work" that is now done in Thailand?

My work used to be cleaning up Old West towns...:-)

March 27, 2015 8:58 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello David,

Thanks for your kind remarks. I’m always happy to hear when readers find something I’ve written to be positively helpful.

Much of what you wrote in your comment is very thought-provoking, but since I have little time now, I will need to restrict myself to commenting on the following.

Regarding your former girlfriend, you wrote: “She called herself an Objectivist, but, in retrospect, she had no understanding of Objectivism. Her only awareness of Objectivist teaching was rational selfishness, which she apparently took to give her free reign to pursue other relationships behind my back. Selfishness, sure, but she forgot the rational part. So many people, including politicians and philosophers, seem to equate egoism with hedonism that is has become nearly automatic in our culture to do so. It is little wonder that one so infrequently finds Ayn Rand’s philosophy accurately represented.”

I think what people in our culture today (thanks to their wonderful state-sponsored education) tend to do, is take the very concept of values completely for granted (and virtue too). When they make moral pronouncements, they automatically factor any consideration of values out of their calculus and proceed to draw conclusions as though human life did not require any values to begin with, as if the ideal human existence could exist in some kind of vacuum.

With the concept of values safely out of mind, they pretend that actions can be judged without reference to values. And this allows people to evade the impact of their own actions on their own lives and character. So (I’m speculating here), your girlfriend thought it was perfectly fine (i.e., perfectly moral) to have you as her lover while chasing other intimate relationships without disclosing this to you. She apparently did not take into consideration what impact such actions might have on her own values, and not only her relationship with you, but her own psychological integrity. Now, maybe she did not value her relationship with you, or she did not know that she should value it. But the internal psychological conflicts of such behavior are undeniable, and inviting those conflicts into one’s life over pursuing non-contradictory joy will never be either rational or ultimately selfish.

Again, many take values completely for granted, and such mentalities (I don’t know if this is the case with your girlfriend, of course), are often uncritically drawn to the notion of an almighty state which provides and guarantees those values which we need (how often do we hear that “healthcare is a right”?).

The divorce of values from morality is one of the most dangerous deceptions ever dished up to the human race. But only if such subterfuge is successful can one run around and claim that “selfishness is evil.” If selfishness is so evil, why should anyone care? After all, caring about the effects of “selfishness” (so-conceived as one party unjustly exploiting another) would itself need to stem from selfish concern for one’s own welfare. If we’re all supposed to be “unselfish,” then we should not resist being exploited by others.

The whole thing is so self-contradictory that it amazes me that more folks don’t see it. But again, I think it’s because they’re accustomed to ignoring the role of values in morality altogether. And that goes back not only to our education system, but also to our upbringing. Which parents out there stress the importance of value when they teach their kids about “right and wrong”? The bible wants you to be willing to surrender your values at the drop of a hat. This is corrosive acid on human civilization.

Anyway, my $0.02 on this Saturday evening.

Regards,
Dawson

March 28, 2015 5:57 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Sharpshooter,

You wrote: “A lot of interesting articles guaranteed t give you a headache.”

Yes, you’re right! Don’t try to read it all in one sitting. Whether one finds anything I’ve written valuable or not, such an effort could only result in pain.

You asked: “BTW, what is "your work" that is now done in Thailand?”

Hmm… I’m sworn to secrecy on this. But it could involve any number of things, from giving lecture to refurbishing doilies. It is Thailand after all!

You mentioned: “My work used to be cleaning up Old West towns...:-)”

I like a lot of Old West towns, but I prefer them in their unclean state. But there are a lot of “new west” towns that really need a major scouring. So please, don’t retire your pistol yet!!

Regards,
Dawson

March 28, 2015 5:57 AM  
Blogger Cross Crusher said...

Congratulations on ten years, Dawson!

I wish I'd become aware of your writings much earlier than just a few months ago.

Best regards, and here's to more articles to hopefully come!

April 18, 2015 10:00 AM  

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