Friday, March 26, 2010

Incinerating Presuppositionalism: Year Five

Join me as I celebrate today, the fifth anniversary of Incinerating Presuppositionalism. That’s right – five whole years of torching the scarecrows and strawmen of Vantillian apologetics. What could be funner?

Still unrefuted, I’m happy to report.

Year Five was mighty productive! Below is the list of the 50 entries which I posted since the fourth anniversary of my blog:

175. Incinerating Presuppositionalism: Year Four – March 26, 2009

176. Was Jesus a Great Moral Teacher? - April 1, 2009

177. Three Questions on the Resurrection - April 4, 2009

178. Q and A on Atheism - April 7, 2009

179. Ultimate Questions - April 28, 2009

180. Non-Cognitivism or Metaphysical Primacy: What’s the Better Strategy? - May 15, 2009

181. The “Necessary Being” Versus “Contingent Being” Argument - May 22, 2009

182. Theistic Misuse of the Concepts of Meaning, Value and Purpose - June 19, 2009

183. Demystifying Universality - June 22, 2009

184. Is the “immaterial” Actually Imaginary? - June 24, 2009

185. Is Existence Merely an Attribute? - June 26, 2009

186. Does Logic Presuppose the Christian God? Part I: Examining the Presuppositionalist Viewpoint - June 29, 2009

187. Does Logic Presuppose the Christian God? Part II: Reasons Why Logic Cannot Presuppose the Christian God, #1: Christianity’s Lack of Objectivity - July 2, 2009

188. Does Logic Presuppose the Christian God? Part II: Reasons Why Logic Cannot Presuppose the Christian God, #2: Christianity’s Lack of Concept Theory - July 4, 2009

189. Does Logic Presuppose the Christian God? Part II: Reasons Why Logic Cannot Presuppose the Christian God, #3: Contradictions in Christ - July 6, 2009

190. Does Logic Presuppose the Christian God? Part II: Reasons Why Logic Cannot Presuppose the Christian God, #4: The Trinity - July 8, 2009

191. The Concept of “Chance”: Right and Wrong Uses - July 10, 2009

192. Chris Bolt on the Conditions of Knowledge - July 24, 2009

193. A Rejoinder to Chris Bolt - July 26, 2009

194. RazorsKiss on the Christian God as the Basis of Knowledge - Part 1: Overview of RK's Epistemology - August 13, 2009

195. RazorsKiss on the Christian God as the Basis of Knowledge - Part 2: RK's Axioms - August 18, 2009

196. RazorsKiss on the Christian God as the Basis of Knowledge – Part 3: RK’s “No Brute Facts” Claim - August 19, 2009

197. RazorsKiss on the Christian God as the Basis of Knowledge – Part 4: RK on Man’s “Warrant” for Using Logic - August 20, 2009

198. RazorsKiss on the Christian God as the Basis of Knowledge – Part 5: Exodus 3:14 - August 21, 2009

199. RazorsKiss on the Christian God as the Basis of Knowledge – Part 6: RK on the Christian’s “Certainty” - August 24, 2009

200. RazorsKiss on the Christian God as the Basis of Knowledge – Part 7: Rival Epistemologies - August 25, 2009

201. RazorsKiss on the Christian God as the Basis of Knowledge – Part 8: The “Impossibility of the Contrary” - August 26, 2009

202. RazorsKiss on the Christian God as the Basis of Knowledge – Part 9: Supernatural Deception - August 28, 2009

203. Response to Madmax - August 31, 2009

204. Chris Bolt’s Questions - September 1, 2009

205. Bolt’s Loose Screws - September 4, 2009

206. Bolt’s Leaking Boat - September 6, 2009

207. Can the Water in My Drinking Glass Turn into Merlot? - September 9, 2009

208. Natural Revelation: Direct Apprehension or Inference? - September 11, 2009

209. Chris Bolt on Hume and Induction - October 7, 2009

210. Bolt on Evidence and the Need to Take a Claim Seriously - October 14, 2009

211. Kreeft on the Design Argument - November 21, 2009

212. The Argument from Predication - December 26, 2009

213. Are Non-Christians Unable to “Account for” Their Counting? - January 9, 2010

214. How Theism Violates the Primacy of Existence - February 5, 2010

215. The Uniformity of Nature - February 12, 2010

216. Humean Causality and Presuppositionalism - March 5, 2010

217. Causality as a Necessary Relationship - March 10, 2010

218. John Robbins and the Foreclosure of His Critique of Objectivism - March 11, 2010

219. Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Irrefutable Evidence that Christianity is True! - March 13, 2010

220. Bolt’s Pile of Knapp, Pt. 1 - March 19, 2010

221. Bolt’s Pile of Knapp, Pt. 2 - March 20, 2010

222. Bolt’s Pile of Knapp, Pt. 3 - March 21, 2010

223. Bolt’s Pile of Knapp, Pt. 4 - March 22, 2010

224. Bolt’s Pile of Knapp, Pt. 5 - March 23, 2010

Over the past year, as in previous years, I have interacted with numerous defenders of the Christian faith, the self-anointed spokesmen for the super-spook of a primitive philosophy which can be credited for no greatness whatsoever, and which is responsible for much stagnation and degeneration in the modern west, either directly or indirectly. Many of these folks have formal educations in the field of Christian apologetics. But they can’t hold a candle to me. My work shuts up their mouths, stops their pens, and turns off their keyboards.

Personal highlights over this past year include my series on logic (posts 186-190), my review of RazorsKiss’ debate with Mitch LeBlanc (posts 194-202), several posts on concepts (e.g., posts 182,183, 191, 213), and several posts addressing the presuppositionalist attack on induction (e.g., posts 207, 209, 215-218, 220-224).

Some of these series have already made their way to my website,, which may be a handy source if you’re ever confronted by a presuppositionalist. For instance, if an apologist claims that logic presupposes the Christian god and that one cannot “account for” it without his god’s existence, send him here. If an apologist claims that knowledge “presupposes” the Christian god, send him to my review of RazorsKiss’ debate with Mitch LeBlanc. If he says that the uniformity of nature requires the existence of the Christian god, give him this link which will leave no doubt that presuppositionalists are DOA (i.e., defeated on arrival) on the matter.

I plan to be active over the next year, but as always I am a most busy man. Some months will be more productive than others. But you can continue to expect delicious content here.

So here’s to enjoying another year of Incinerating Presuppositionalism.



Burgess Laughlin said...


Jason said...

Another great year, good work.

Unknown said...

Cool beans.

Robert Morane said...

Congratulations from me too, Dawson!

For a while, I've wanted to thank you for making such a difficult subject so easy to understand! Your ability to make the most difficult concept crystal clear is unrivaled!

I would go so far as to say you're the Asimov or the Sagan of philosophy!

At some point, I'll be expecting a book! ;-)

Paul Baird said...

I wish I'd found your blog before I debated Sye Tenbruggencate on Premier Christian Radio !

Sye is a Bahnsen fan and a prolific poster on internet forums.

My blog is at and Sye is one of the followers.

My notes do not stretch back 5 years so I'll read your stuff with great interest particularly as I've challenged Sye to a rematch on Presuppositional Apologetics.

The original broadcast is at and the broadcast was 31st July 2010. I was woefully underprepared.

The associated threads are at - 1180 posts at the last count

and finally

If Sye does agree to a rematch I have set out some ground rules - these are on my blog. You'd be more than welcome to join me.

Bahnsen Burner said...

Hi Paul,

I’m glad you found your way to my blog. I hope you enjoy reading some of my entries.

I’ve seen Sye Ten B’s website before ( Perhaps one of these days I’ll post a blog exposing his several problems. The major problems begin with his Step 5.

Sye says that he was raised as a Christian and doesn’t remember a time when he did not confess Christ as his savior. My guess is that he’s never questioned the primacy of consciousness which lies at the very basis of his god-belief.

For your interactions with Sye, I’d recommend beginning with the following pieces of mine:

Does Logic Presuppose God?

Demystifying Universality

If you debate Sye again, you may ask him how one can reliably distinguish between what he calls “God” and what he may merely be *imagining* (see here). He says that “unbelievers” suppress the “evidence” for his god’s alleged existence. But one could say this about anything that is imaginary. Non-Blarkists suppress the evidence for Blarko’s existence. Evidence of Blarko’s existence is all around us, but the reason why you don’t believe is because you suppress that evidence, you don’t want to believe. To paraphrase Sye himself, if you want objective proof of Blarko: since the very concept of proof is dependent on Blarko, the proof that Blarko exists is that without Blarko, you couldn’t prove anything. See, presuppositional apologetics is so easy a Christian can do it!

The fact that Christians must cite the bible (cf. Romans 1:18) when accusing non-believers of “suppress[ing] the truth in unrighteousness” rather than provide concrete evidence to support such a charge, is enough to raise suspicions. If this were true, why rely on something the apostle Paul wrote some 1900 or so years ago? Why doesn’t the apologist point to evidence in the here and now which supports such a claim? Apologists say that there’s evidence all around, but change the subject. What possibly could this “evidence” be? Romans 1:20 tells us that “the invisible things of [God] from the creation of the world are clearly seen.” But if those things are “clearly seen,” then clearly they can’t be “invisible.” So we have a contradiction, or at the very least a profound confusion, going on here. And what is the nature of the evidence that is “clearly seen” about us? Is it not material, finite, natural and corruptible in nature? And yet, we are to believe that this is evidence for something that is supposed to be immaterial, infinite, supernatural and incorruptible in nature? How exactly does that work? Apologists have been unable to explain this to me.

If you want to engage presuppositionalists, listen closely to what they say. You may be surprised to learn that they haven’t examined what they say very closely themselves.


Paul Baird said...

Hi again,

well Sye has just agreed that I can post a set of Presuppositional Apologetic interrogatories which would then form the basis for any further radio debates that I may have with him.

I have a few ideas of my own such as how does the absolutes required of PA conflict with the YEC view (PA must surely be endorsing Uniformitarianism) and how can he tell the difference between revelation and hallucination (you've already noted that), and if PA proves the existance of God by virtue of the impossibility of all other worldviews then where is the list of these worldviews and the arguments against each one to prove the case ? Sye has 11 on his website and I've already asked for his arguments against those.

I know that you have lots of info on your site but would you be able to put 10-20 questions down in an interrogatory format so I can forward them onto Sye ?

Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello Paul,

I hope you’re still getting updates from this comments page.

I have posted a critique of Sye’s “proof that god exists” website on my blog. See here:

A Critique of Sye Ten Bruggencate’s

Unfortunately, I’ve not had time to prepare a list of questions as you had requested. But I think the initial question which Sye should address is how we can reliably distinguish between what he calls “God” and what he may merely be *imagining*. In your comment, it seems that you think that this was a challenge for Sye to explain how he can “tell the difference between revelation and hallucination.” But that’s not really my angle. It’s one thing to hallucinate, and this usually requires some mind-altering influence, such as a drug, sleep-deprivation, starvation, inordinate stress, etc. But a mind does not need any of these in order to *imagine* something. Sye could feasibly claim that he’s not hallucinating when he worships his god, but this would not rule out his *imagination* as the primary means of interfacing with what he calls “god.” So I think this is a question which he and any other theistic apologist needs to address. I’ve seen a few attempts to answer it, but they were quite uncompelling and unimpressive.

Anyway, take a look at my interaction with Sye’s “proof,” and let me know if you have any further questions. I’d be happy to consider them.


Paul Baird said...

Hi Dawson, well I think we've just beaten Sye.

Normally he posts and posts and posts, but after the last series of exchanges on Premier Christian Radios Unbelieveable forum he's left the building with our line of argument unrefuted.

the link is here - go to page 25 and work forwards.

Syes claim to certainty is gone.

Bahnsen Burner said...

Thanks for the update, Paul. I read from page 25, as you suggested.

I see much discussion here about certainty and how one can acquire it in his own position. I understand certainty to be an idea supported by evidence and held without any doubt or reservation. In terms of confidence, it is full, uncompromised and unimpeachable confidence in an idea. As Peikoff puts it, “all the evidence supports X and there is no evidence to support any alternative . . . “ Of course, the axioms (existence, identity and consciousness) fulfill this criterion entirely. (E.g., what “evidence” is there to support the view that there is no existence? Any proposed evidence would have to exist to be taken seriously.)

As for Sye’s theism, I would just like a brief, but serious and cogent, explanation from him on how I can be certain that what he calls “God” is in fact not something he's merely imagining. Sye’s position fails the above criterion of certainty entirely: I find no evidence to support his god-belief claims, and seemingly limitless evidence to contradict them.

Of course, anyone can claim that his position is certified by means of “revelation.” It’s the cheapest thing going – that’s why the primitives were so impressed with it. Uncritical minds have no desire to ensure that their beliefs are rational; they weren’t even aware of such a standard when they accepted their primitive beliefs. If the issue of reason and rationality does come up, they take the exact opposite approach: they insist that reason and rationality must conform to their beliefs. This is a formula, not for certainty, but for reinforcing a delusion.

Sye continually insists that his opponents explain how they can be certain of anything, all the while insisting that they cannot be certain at all (even in "God"?). Yet when he is asked to explain how he is certain of his beliefs, he simply says “revelation,” as if this explained anything. It doesn’t. In fact, it tells us that he has no genuine explanation.

Presumably Sye believes that human beings receive revelatory transmissions, not by means of a tinfoil hat, but through what is called the “sensus divinitatus” (a Calvinist notion – presuppositionalists tend to be under the spell of Calvin to one degree or another). But even some believers admit that they can corrupt the divine message once it's been delivered. For instance, in the comments of this blog, I asked presupper Chris Bolt the following question:

“can it be the case that the your god communicates with believers through the 'sensus divinitatus,' and believers still get it wrong?"

Chris responded: “Yes, this is the case.”

I asked this because I uncovered several discrepancies among what presuppers claim about logic (see my comments in the same blog).

Apparently we’re supposed to believe that believers do acquire their certainty via revelation, but when one admits that believers can still get the content of said revelation wrong, he’s not gotten any of it wrong (and we’re supposed to accept this on his say so).

I don’t find any of it at all persuasive.


Bahnsen Burner said...


I’ve reviewed some more of the team’s exchanges with Sye. It’s clear that he’s very concerned with certainty. Christians typically exhibit a fickle attitude about certainty. They insist that their position is certain, but bristle when others convey a sense of certainty in their views, as if it were an offense of some sort. I suspect that this concern has its roots in a deepseated envy: the Christian wishes he were certain in his own person, and is desperately looking for it; also, since he has no basis for certainty in himself, he’s anxious to topple anyone else’s sense of certainty. After all, it was by means of uncertainty that he fell victim to Christianity’s vicious devices in the first place.

But here’s what’s curious: Sye explicitly claims to have knowledge via revelation. By continuing to ask how others can have certainty in anything, however, Sye suggests that he does not know, otherwise, why would he ask such a question?

When Barry Leder affirms his own views with certainty, Sye responds:

“Okay, you believe in certainty, now could you tell us HOW you are certain of ANYTHING? How, for example, are you certain that your reasong about thie thing you are certain about is valid, and how you are certain that the laws of logic necesarily apply to the thing you are certain about?”

(See here.)

Sye comes across as a man desperate to find a cure for some ailment that afflicts him, like a man with a terminal disease who’s put all hope in finding the fountain of youth.

But he’s already claimed to have found the fountain of youth in his precious “revelation.” This “revelation” gives him automatic knowledge which is supposed to be beyond all question and doubt. And yet he’s continually going to fallible rejects for answers. What possible value could their input have for Sye? Couple this with his consistent track record of evading questions, and the evidence he gives does not bode well for his credibility at all.

If certainty is essentially holding an idea or view without doubt or reservation, I fail to see what’s so mysterious or difficult about it. If we can establish a position and recognize that there’s no rational basis for doubting its truth, we’ve achieved certainty. There’s nothing mystical or otherworldly about this. It is what reason equips us to do. That’s why anyone who claims knowledge by revelation has a real problem with certainty: it’s not rational.

At any rate, Sye’s unchecked habits of condescension, sarcasm and evasion directly undermine any claim to certainty in any “revelation” he says he’s received from some supernatural source. Essentially, the only answer to him should be: if you ever decide to put forward a serious case for your position (his website has already been refuted), we’d be happy to take a look at it. Until then, he’s simply a time-waster.