Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Presuppositionalism and Induction: The Humean Condition

In my previous post, I raised the concern over the very real specter of the problem of induction falling prey to the fallacy of the stolen concept. The problem of induction is not postured as a single blade of grass one innocuously passes over unknowingly as he goes about his business, but rather as a massive jungle blocking one’s path entirely.

But that’s what gives away the game. The problem of induction offers the conclusion that our generalizations are unreliable, and yet we are to accept that conclusion as reliably applicable to all generalizing. It is as though one stated, “All generalizations are unreliable, and my generalizations prove that!” And yet, theists who deploy the problem of induction as an apologetic device apparently do not see how it falls on its own sword.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Presuppositionalism and Induction: Exhuming Hume

When apologists raise the problem of induction in their encounters with non-Christians, they apparently expect non-Christians to be freshly familiar with both David Hume and also his argument undermining the reliability of induction. Or at least, to be familiar with the conclusion of an argument which brings the reliability of induction into serious doubt. Either that, or they’re raising the problem of induction in the hopes that their non-Christian sparring partners are not at all versed on matters relating to Hume’s skeptical argument and thus will be easily ensnared by the apologist’s waiting trap.

The former expectation does not seem very realistic. Albeit anecdotally, in my experience, most people I’ve surveyed over the years (many of them very intelligent and well educated individuals) have little or no familiarity with David Hume, let alone with any particular argument he championed. Even among those who took an introductory philosophy course back in junior college, few seem to remember much of anything about Hume.

The latter expectation, or rather hope, strikes me as rather devious and scheming. The problem of induction neatly lends itself as a ready gateway to a god-of-the-gaps style apologetic.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Presuppositionalism and Induction: Apologists Courting Hume

As I mentioned in my previous entry, presuppositionalists routinely take Hume’s skeptical conclusion on the reliability of induction for granted, acting as though Hume’s position must be “answered” on Hume’s own terms. 

 Let’s survey a few poignant examples of this. 

Monday, September 28, 2020

Presuppositionalism and Induction

Presuppositionalists who raise the problem of induction as a debating point in their encounters with non-theists, typically point to the uniformity of nature as the key issue to unlocking and solving the problem. After all, say the presuppositionalists, if nature were not uniform, then we’d have no basis for supposing that the future will resemble the past, which would throw induction under the bus.

In fact, the uniformity of nature is only one of several key issues, and, I’d argue, not the critical one. Even if nature is uniform, this alone would not explain how we know it’s uniform, nor would it explain what the human mind does when drawing inductive generalizations. Indeed, the Objectivist view is that nature is uniform regardless of what anyone thinks, believes, knows, prefers, hopes, etc. It’s something we discover, but this is only the beginning, not the end of explaining induction. After all, if nature is uniform, it’s not uniform only in my experience, but also in my cat’s experience. However, my cat will never draw the general conclusion that touching hot stovetops will result in a painful burn. But I can. Surely there’s more to the issue than merely “here’s why the assumption that nature is uniform is justified.”

Thursday, August 27, 2020

My Refutation of STB: Ten Years On

Here at Incinerating Presuppositionalism, I like to recognize special anniversaries, milestones and achievements which mark the highlights of my blog. That’s not easy because, in my humble opinion, there are a lot of candidates for this kind of celebration. As frequent visitors likely already know, every year on the anniversary of this blog (first post dated March 26, 2005), I post an anniversary entry listing out all the posts I have published since the previous anniversary. Back in March of this year I posted the fifteenth such anniversary entry. 

Today I would like to mark the anniversary of an entry which rivals only a handful of others for most view counts on my blog – yes, the interest here persists after all these years! – namely an entry which I posted on this date in 2010. That is my Critique of Sye Ten Bruggencate’s Feels more like eight and a half years ago, but in fact it’s been a full decade now. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

WSIBC Jump Page

This past May I posted the final installment in a series of posts interacting with various portions of James Anderson’s apologetics book Why Should I Believe Christianity? (WSIBC). 

This series covers a wide spectrum of issues, devices and strategies used by presuppositionalists to hijack legitimate philosophical issues in an effort to retrofit them in service of Christian mysticism. 

By exposing the fallacious nature of these devices and strategies, my interactions shall stand as a resource for thinkers who may be interested in familiarizing themselves with an alternative viewpoint to those proffered in Anderson’s book. 

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Reader Email Backlog

Hello Everyone,

Since the COVID thing started, we’ve experienced a massive spike in demand. So the plant is working overtime, and so am I! That means that time available for me to devote to IP is pretty much non-existent. Hence I won’t be able to post a normal entry this month - I’ve just been way too busy! I did have a couple entries planned, but I had to back-burner them for the time being.

Similarly for all the email I’ve received over the last couple months from readers. I’ve simply not been able to keep up, but I do wildly appreciate all the feedback, suggestions and questions. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get back to everyone, so please don’t think I’m simply ignoring you.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

WSIBC: Presup Enters Rehab

Christian apologist James Anderson closes out the fourth chapter of his book Why Should I Believe Christianity? (WSIBC) with a section titled “Does God Really Need To be Proven?” – a provocative question indeed given that he devoted the chapter up to this point to laying out his six cases for theism. And it almost seems to be a trick question of sorts, given the way it is phrased: even if one believes that there’s a god, how could one suppose it has any needs at all, let alone a “need to be proven”? I thought one of the advantage of being a god was that it has no needs to begin with. Thus it seems the section is starting out with a hint as to how Anderson is going to answer his own question by the way he heads it.

Of course, the non-existent has no needs, but man’s mind does have needs. Nothing will ensure that a “worldview” will in fact address and satisfy those needs, but it is the task of philosophy to identify and understand those needs and point to rational solutions. 

Monday, May 18, 2020

WSIBC: "God and Science"

I shall now take up the sixth and final case which James Anderson presents in the fourth chapter of his book Why Should I Believe Christianity? (WSIBC), which is found under the subheading “God and Science.” As this would have the reader suppose, here Anderson attempts to secure the conclusion that science as such implies, or rather “presupposes,” the existence of what Christians throughout history have called “God.” If it could be shown that science were not possible unless the god of Abraham and Moses were real, that would be rather noteworthy, or earthshaking as believers would prefer.

If readers have been following along, one might expect at this point to find more god-talk than science in Anderson’s string of paragraphs. That would be due at least in part to the fact that the previous five cases have not survived scrutiny well at all, which is regrettable given that Anderson’s book enjoys a spot on Steve Hays’ list of Required reading for atheists. Incidentally, Hays’ list also includes William Lane Craig, Edward Feser and Craig Keener, and even plugs the ontological argument as well as Anderson’s own “Argument for God from Logic.”

But I digress. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

WSIBC: "God and Mind"

We come now to Anderson’s fifth case, “God and Mind,” presented in the fourth chapter of his book Why Should I Believe Christianity? (WSIBC). Here Anderson claims that the mere existence of human minds is evidence for the existence of a supernatural being which Christianity lovingly calls “God.” The basic strategy here has a familiar ring to it: take something we all can reasonably be expected to “take for granted,” probe it with a few open-ended questions to which the reader is supposed to shrug his shoulders and confess “Gee, I donno!” and then skewer an alternative point of view opposed to the Christian worldview. Christianity is thereby vindicated by default, pretty much by declaring what it asserts.

This basic approach, subject to wide variation, is characteristic of the strategy of assimilation that is the hallmark of the religious mind. This involves a predatory appropriation of this-worldly phenomena in an effort to recast them as projections sourced in alleged otherworldly forces, thereby presumably vindicating belief in the supernatural. And yet, the strands of inference from this world to a world essentially contradicting it are, to put it mildly, as fleeting and opaque as a forgotten dream. 

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Incinerating Presuppositionalism: Year Fifteen

We reach yet another milestone as this blog turns Fifteen! That’s like a hundred years in blogdom. It’s as though I were fifteen years younger when I started my blog… Indeed, I was! See how that works?

So I’d say it’s something to be proud of, and I am proud of it! It’s been a real labor of love for a significant portion of my life, and it’s something I hope to continue doing. Of course, as always, time is a factor, and so many things are competing for my attention.

I’m also thankful for all who have read my scribblings and have contributed comments over the years as well. I really do appreciate that. Not only did you read something from my hand, you also took the time to post some thoughts in reaction, and that only adds to the excitement.

Here are the blog entries for the past year, starting with the previous anniversary post:

459. Incinerating Presuppositionalism: Year Fourteen - March 26, 2019

460. Wilson’s Fixation on Fizzing - April 28, 2019

461. More on Wilson’s Fizzing about Fizzing - May 27, 2019

462. Does Objectivism Deny the Reality of Change? - June 26, 2019

463. The Agony of Agnosticism, or: Why Not Mature Thoughtfulness? - July 28, 2019

464. Pardon My Skepticism… - August 14, 2019

465. Shrugging off Mysticism - September 26, 2019

466. Hallomeanie! - October 31, 2019

467. ”He is found in our hearts” - November 8, 2019

468. Initial Questions for Anderson’s “Why Should I Believe Christianity” - November 22, 2019

469. Preliminary Worldview Considerations before Anderson’s WSIBC - November 27, 2019

470. WSIBC: “Competing Worldviews” - December 1, 2019

471. WSIBC: Divine Voices and Failed Arguments - December 27, 2019

472. WSIBC: “God and Existence” – Part 1: “The Question” - January 22, 2020

473. WSIBC: “God and Existence” – Part 2: Contingency Desperation - February 2, 2020

474. WSIBC: “God and Values” - February 17, 2020

475. WSIBC: “God and Morality” - March 8, 2020

476. WSIBC: “God and Reason” - March 15, 2020

Now I’ve never made much of an effort in the past to track page views or visits data on my blog. In that way, I’m not much of marketer of my site. It’s never been very important to me. But as I was reviewing other traffic data (apparently someone in Turkmenistan likes to visit my blog… who knew?), I did notice that my post Wilson’s Fixation on Fizzing from this past year has had a huge number of page views. So I looked back and found that this entry is likely already in the top five of most-visited posts since the inception of Incinerating Presuppositionalism in 2005. Amazingly, it’s not too far off from two of the most-viewed entries on my blog, which is A Critique of Sye Ten Bruggencate’s (published in August 2010) and A Proof that the Christian God Does Not Exist (published in July 2011). Apparently there are readers out there interested in how to interact with Doug Wilson’s caricature. Hopefully they’ve found my remarks helpful – after all, at this time there are only two comments posted to that entry.

I am still working my way through James Anderson’s book Why Should I Believe Christianity? and I hope to have another installment up in that series early next month. I’ve been really enjoying that!

Times are very strange now, as everyone knows. Stay safe and keep your head straight! We will get through this.

by Dawson Bethrick

Sunday, March 15, 2020

WSIBC: "God and Reason"

We come now to the fourth section of the fourth chapter of James Anderson’s book Why Should I Believe Christianity? which is subtitled “God and Reason.” Here he presents his case for the view that reason is best explained by Christian theism.

Anderson opens this section as follows:
Critics of religion often pride themselves on their rationality, and they like to cast the debate in terms of reason versus faith. Atheists stand on reason, we’re told, while religious folks have to fall back on faith. Richard Dawkins, for example, pejoratively refers to religious believers as ‘faith-heads’ while presiding over the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. (p. 115)
It’s true that disagreements between religionists and rational thinkers often touch on the conflict between reason and faith, and this is a serious issue. I see it as a good thing that Anderson at least acknowledges that it is an issue. However, I found that the word ‘faith’ appears only three times in this entire section, and those three instances are confined to just this first paragraph. The statement here reads as though Anderson disagrees with the view that reason and faith are in conflict with each other, but he does not actually expand on this in the proceeding section. I’d think that, if he suspects that critics of religion are mistaken in concluding that faith and reason are at odds with each other, this section would be a great place to put that supposed myth to rest once and for all. Unfortunately, that’s not what happens here. Rather he drops the topic of faith just as in “God and Existence” he dropped Heidegger’s “The Question.” Seems to be a pattern here. 

Sunday, March 08, 2020

WSIBC: "God and Morality"

In the section titled “God and Morality” of the fourth chapter of Why Should I Believe Christianity? (WSIBC), James Anderson offers what he calls “an extension of the previous [argument]” (WSIBC, p. 110), namely the case he calls “God and Values” (which I have examined here). Since I understand values to be a moral category, I could see why one would think there’s some overlap here. You think?

Anderson holds that “the most important value judgments we make in life are moral judgments,” adding that “we make decisions based on moral values, and we make moral judgments about other people’s decisions and actions” (pp. 110-111). 

Monday, February 17, 2020

WSIBC: "God and Values"

I continue now with my examination of James Anderson’s apologetic book Why Should I Believe Christianity? (WSIBC), exploring the second case for theism that he presents in the fourth chapter of his book.

As I noted in an earlier installment in this series, Anderson presents six cases for the existence of a supernatural being we’re supposed to call “God”. I have already refuted the first of his cases (in two installments: here and here).

In the present entry I will examine his second case, “God and Values.” Unfortunately, this case suffers from some fatal defects, and nothing he presents in his second case overcomes the damning liabilities I uncovered in his first case. 

Sunday, February 02, 2020

WSIBC: “God and Existence” – Part 2: Contingency Desperation

In my previous entry I began exploring the first of six cases which Christian apologist James Anderson presents in defense of theism in the fourth chapter of his book Why Should I Believe Christianity? (WSIBC). We see in that entry that Anderson opens his first case by repeating “the Question” which Martin Heidegger raised in the 1950s, namely “Why does anything exist at all?” (p. 102). In that entry I cited reasons for dismissing this question as irrational (most importantly, because it invites the fallacy of the stolen concept).

I ended my initial exploration of Anderson’s case by leaving open the possibility that, even if one acknowledges the fallaciousness of “the Question,” Anderson’s case may still have merits. So in this entry I will continue my examination of Anderson’s first case to see if in fact it provides any good reasons for believing that a god exists.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

WSIBC: “God and Existence” – Part 1: “The Question”

In chapter 4 of his book Why Should I Believe Christianity? (WSIBC), author James Anderson presents his reasons for believing that a god exists. Over the next few installments in my examination of Anderson’s book, I will focus on each of the sections of this chapter. Anderson heads the six sections of chapter 4, subtitled “God is There,” which runs from pages 93 to 138, with the following headings:
“God and Existence”(pp. 102-106)  
“God and Values” (pp. 106-110)  
“God and Morality” (pp. 110-115)  
“God and Reason” (pp. 115-119)  
“God and Mind” (pp. 119-125)  
“God and Science” (pp. 126-135)
Anderson closes out the chapter with a discussion regarding whether or not arguments are needed in the first place for believing that a god exists – and given that the vast majority of believers accept their theism on psycho-emotional grounds as opposed to rational grounds, there should be no surprise when Anderson concludes that arguments in fact are not needed (now he tells us!). A number of issues come to the surface in that section, so that will have to wait for a later entry on this blog. For now, I want to explore the first case which Anderson outlines in his book’s fourth chapter. After reviewing the six preceding sections of the chapter, one might suppose that he should have just skipped them entirely.