Wednesday, July 21, 2021
A reader asked that I give my thoughts on Gotquestions.org’s response to the question What is the transcendental argument for the existence of God? So here goes.
The so-called “transcendental argument for the existence of God,” or “TAG” for short, has created quite a sensation among many faithful believers and valiant apologists ever since it took to the debate stage. Both professional debaters and lay apologists have exhibited strong enthusiasm for TAG, many apparently believing that just mentioning it is like showing a crucifix to a vampire. I suspect that, given the hyped-up expectations believers have poured into TAG as a defense of the Christian faith, many believers have been fed a false hope that their faith can once and for all be vindicated and consequently all those nagging doubts about the truth of Christianity’s claims can finally be put to rest. It pays to be careful who you listen to.
Thursday, June 24, 2021
Back in February this year I posted an entry in which I interacted with the first of several “daunting philosophical problems for materialists” culled together by James Anderson in a blog entry of his own titled Materialism and Mysteries. Anderson himself cited statements made by New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman in a blog post of his own about his relationship to materialism, where Ehrman states that he has been “more-or-less a complete materialist for about twenty years.”
In my own entry, I examined what Anderson dubs “the problem of the unity of consciousness,” which consists of a single question (mind you, not an argument): “How could a material object like the brain, extended across space and composed of billions of discrete physical parts, serve as the basis for the unity of our conscious experience?” The way Anderson frames this “problem,” I get the impression that he thinks the elements of each brain are scattered all over the universe.
Friday, May 21, 2021
A reader who contacted me privately asked a number of questions the proper philosophical starting point and related matters. This reader, in spite of all the material I’ve assembled on my blog, apparently persists in thinking that some cognitive structure or mental operation (e.g., beliefs, faith, reasoning, inference, etc.) must be the proper starting point, apparently unaware of the fact that mental operations must always have some independently existing object to which said mental operations must refer and conform, and without which those mental operations would simply have no basis or purpose.
After I made several attempts to explain why the human mind must start with the objects of consciousness rather than with some cognitive structure or mental operation, the reader announced that we had basically reached an impasse and that we were “going to agree to disagree.” However, where exactly the disagreement lies remains a bit of a mystery, at least to me.
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Recently a visitor to my blog stopped by and took some time to submit a comment on my latest entry. The visitor did not give a name, posting under a moniker consisting exclusively of the Greek letter Psi. At first, with my still ailing eyes (cf. here), I thought the visitor was self-identifying as a pitchfork, and perhaps that was the intention (you know what they say about first impressions…). Or perhaps it’s supposed to be a psitchfork? Or perhaps the commenter is a fan of Sye Ten Bruggencate and the Greek letter is now being used as a fraternal symbol for this, or it’s code for allegiance to Pat Robertson, given that the Greek letter also carries the value of 700. Or, perhaps it’s a physics reference. Who knows!
Unfortunately, the commenter removed the comment, for reasons unknown to me. But I still have a copy of the comment, so I thought I’d post some thoughts in reply since the question raised by the commenter (to whom I will refer with the ignominiously gendered pronoun “he” at the risk of sending some readers to a padded safe space) provides a good opportunity to make some points. So now that the complicated stuff is out of the way, I will proceed with doing just that.
Friday, March 26, 2021
It’s that time of year again when we all get to sing a round of “Happy Birthday” for Incinerating Presuppositionalism. At sixteen years of age, this blog is eligible for a drivers license… at least in some states. Just don’t cause an accident!
If my goal is to go a full twenty, I’d say I’m on my way. And for those of you who actually read any of my entries, you have my enduring gratitude! Even more so if you comment! You know who you are. (Yes, I do read your comments.)
As I always do on my blog’s birthday, I list out the entries I posted over the previous year. Then this entry itself goes up in the sidebar section named Blog Chronology. This navigation section used to be really helpful for me – for I had always had it in my mind when I had posted a certain entry I was looking for, and this made it easy to find. But nowadays, I have to stop and think “Was that in Year Seven, or Year Nine? Hmmm…. Let me see….” And then I fumble around until I realize it was in Year Four! My blog is more faithful than my own memory sometimes. But I still think these anniversary pages serve a good purpose, so here goes:
477. Incinerating Presuppositionalism: Year Fifteen - March 26, 2020
478. WSIBC: “God and Mind” - April 22, 2020
479. WSIBC: “God and Science” - May 18, 2020
480. WSIBC: Presup Enters Rehab - May 26, 2020
481. Reader Email Backlog - June 28, 2020
482. WSIBC Jump Page - July 28, 2020
483. My Refutation of STB: Ten Years On - August 27, 2020
484. Presuppositionalism and Induction - September 28, 2020
485. Presuppositionalism and Induction: Apologists Courting Hume - October 25, 2020
486. Presuppositionalism and Induction: Exhuming Hume - November 28, 2020
487. Presuppositionalism and Induction: The Humean Condition - December 30, 2020
488. Presuppositionalism and Induction: Thoughts on the Uniformity of Nature - January 28, 2021
489. Anderson versus Materialism - February 25, 2021
In November 2019 – back in Year Fifteen, I had posted the initial entry of my multi-post series examining James Anderson’s book “Why Should I Believe Christianity?” I did not complete this within the period covered in Year Fifteen, nor was that really my intention. But I did complete it in Year Sixteen – I even posted a jump page for this series, probably the longest on my entire blog. So readers can go there and access every installment, if they so choose. I am pleased with this work and provide it as evidence to support my contention that, if apologists think they can vindicate the Christian worldview, they need to take a different path. Judging by the view count of several of the installments, I’m guessing that some readers may think similarly.
In the latter months of Year Sixteen, I began a loose series discussing various aspects of induction and how this amazing cognitive ability relates to presuppositional apologetics. Apologists following Greg Bahnsen and his fellow-travelers have taken Bahnsen’s assertions about induction at face value in a most unself-conscious manner. I admit that I find it gratifying to point this out. Even more intellectually fulfilling is pointing to the conceptual basis of induction as the source answering Hume’s canard. I’ve often noted that Objectivism has the answers apologists wish they could call their own, but cannot, given their allegiance to the primacy of consciousness metaphysics. Since induction is a special interest of mine, I may revisit related issues and continue that series at some point.
My work has involved me in numerous engaging projects over the past several months, some which are more complicated than first supposed, and some with looming deadlines. So while I intend to keep some activity going here on IP, I’m afraid I cannot promise twelve entries per day. Most recently I interacted with the first of several objections which James Anderson has raised against materialism. I have received some positive feedback on that and am encouraged to explore more of Anderson’s objections in future posts. Let’s see what that might raise to surface!
So here’s to another year of Incinerating Presuppositionalism!
by Dawson Bethrick
Thursday, February 25, 2021
In a recent post on his blog, Christian apologist James Anderson takes NT scholar Bart Ehrman to task for his (the latter’s) overt confession of materialism. Really, Erhman’s post announcing his materialist views serves as a good opportunity for Anderson to articulate challenges against materialism; tarnishing Erhman’s worldview as an indirect way of undermining his views regarding a historical Jesus may be a meager but happy bonus. For the present purposes, Erhman is just a bystander. The main event here is Anderson’s critique of materialism.
The springboard for Anderson’s attack on materialism is Erhman’s statement that “This materialist view creates enormous conceptual problems that I wrestle with all the time.” Admissions of internal troubles is like baiting sharks with the smell of blood. Curiously, however, this notion of “enormous conceptual problems” shows up in several places in Anderson’s blog entry, which makes me wonder on behalf of both Anderson and Erhman: If either party is wrestling with problems of a conceptual nature, what exactly is their respective worldview’s theory of concepts?
Thursday, January 28, 2021
It is very common for presuppositionalists, when making the problem of induction a debating point, to center the issue on the uniformity of nature and demand that non-Christians explain their assumption that nature is uniform in a way that does not imply theism. Induction, it is said, presupposes the uniformity of nature, and if one cannot justify his presupposition that nature is in fact uniform, then he has no justification for his inductive inferences.
In this way, the use of the problem of induction in debate gets stuck in a short-sighted rut, focusing all energy on a discussion of the uniformity of nature and how we can justify the uniformity that is observed in nature, an observation which in itself owes much to our powers of inductive reasoning. In essence, this is a set-up, and once one accepts this approach, his fallacies line up for the picking.