Tuesday, August 27, 2013

STB: Three Years and Counting

Has it really been three whole years since I posted my critique the argument which presuppositional apologist Sye Ten Bruggencate has showcased on his website?

Indeed it has.

Has it really been three whole years without an attempt by Sye Ten Bruggencate, or any other presuppositionalist for that matter, to vindicate his argument?

Indeed it has.

It was on this date, August 27, back in the year of my Ford, 2010, a date which lives in Incinerating Presuppositionalism infamy, when I first published my critique of Sye Ten Bruggencate’s “proof” that the god of Sye’s own version of Christianity exists. I might add that, as a “proof” that any god exists, Sye’s argument fails.

So, why does Sye’s argument fail? What is its fatal flaw?

The answer is that Sye argument’s primary defect is two-fold:
1) First, Sye categorizes things like truth, the laws of logic, universality, math, science, morality, etc., as “immaterial” rather than conceptual in nature - which means that his argument erroneously treats these phenomena as metaphysical phenomena rather than epistemological items, which they are; and  
2) Second, Sye associates his god with “abstract entities,” e.g., the laws of logic, etc., which is a give-away suggesting that his god is really nothing more than something that is psychological in nature, as opposed to an independently existing being.
The first defect arises from the fact that Sye’s worldview has no theory of concepts, and thus has no conceptual account for the nature of truth, the laws of logic, universality, mathematical principles, science, morality, etc. For Sye and other Christians, these are features of a storybook worldview, like elements from a bedtime story, the believers having no objective understanding of their nature.

The second defect arises from the fact that gods are in fact imaginary, so we should not be surprised when defenses of god-belief end up focusing on its similarities to other psychological phenomena. We cannot see the Christian god just as we cannot see the laws of logic; the Christian god is unchanging just as the laws of logic are unchanging; the Christian god is universal just as the laws of logic are universal. Soon the theist groping for some kind of defense for his god-belief by seeking to associate it somehow with things like the laws of logic, will begin thinking that he’s proved something about his god whenever he’s established something about logic. On Sye’s website, for example, the path which his argument takes in validating his god-belief initially focuses (beginning here) on getting his visitors to select from available options about truth, knowledge and logic, with the following options leading deeper into the labyrinth: (1) absolute truth exists, (2) I know something to be true, (3) logic exists, (4) logic does not change, (5) logic is not made of matter, (6) logic is universal. Once these options have been chosen, Sye’s site lands the visitor on the preproof page, which contains the following statement:
To reach this page you have admitted that absolute truth exists, that you can know things to be true, that logic exists, that it is unchanging, that it is not made of matter, and that it is universal. Truth, knowledge, and logic are necessary to prove ANYTHING and cannot be made sense of apart from God. Therefore...
In the first paragraph, Sye characterizes the visitor finding himself at this point as a kind of concession of sorts: “To reach this page you have admitted…” It’s as though Sye thought one were confessing some secret guilt or something. But there’s no reason given for this.

In the second paragraph, Sye introduces, for the first time, his god into the mix. Suddenly he asserts – without any argument whatsoever, that truth, knowledge and logic “cannot be made sense apart from God.” No reason is given to support this, and no indication is given for why one should accept it.

Suppose one made the same selections as those which Sye obviously desires of his visitors, and suddenly he’s met with the claim that truth, knowledge and logic “cannot be made sense apart from Blarko.” What would be the difference here? The only difference would be one of theological interest: the Christian god (intended in Sye’s case) is imagined to have had a son, while Blarko did not have a son. Beyond storybook trivialities such as this, there is no fundamental difference whatsoever. What they both have in common is that one must employ his imagination to contemplate either the Christian god or Blarko, since both are imaginary.

Of course, no one would accept an attempt to “account for” truth, knowledge and logic by appealing to Blarko. But at least some Christians seem to think “accounting for” truth, knowledge and logic by appealing to the Christian god has apologetic value. And yet, neither Sye nor any presuppositionalist has produced rational justification for categorizing truth, knowledge and logic as “immaterial” things, as opposed to conceptual phenomena, even though this is precisely what their apologetic assumes. There is no objective basis for supposing that truth, knowledge and logic are mind-independent entities; these are conceptual in nature, involving mental activity performed on the part of the human thinker to produce them on the basis of objective input from the world around us, formed according to an objective method which is not available on the basis of a worldview which has retreated into the imaginary. By contrast, the Christian god is supposed to be a mind-independent entity, something existing prior to and outside of any human mental activity. That’s what we’re supposed to believe anyhow. And yet, by basing one’s apologetic on supposed similarities between the Christian god and conceptual phenomena such as truth, knowledge and logic, apologists tacitly acknowledge that their god has something fundamentally more in common with psychological phenomena than they want to admit. Where evidential apologists seek to find some basis for their god-belief in features of the universe, presuppositionalists seek to find some basis for their god-belief in features of mental activity, coming ever-closer to acknowledging is actual basis in the imagination.

So will Sye ever be able to vindicate his apologetic?

by Dawson Bethrick


freddies_dead said...

So will Sye ever be able to vindicate his apologetic?

No, but he doesn't care.

It got him air time and he's now raking in the cash peddling his drivel to credulous theists.

It simply doesn't matter that you showed his claims to be blatantly false, as long as he can get an opponent to show even the slightest hint of doubt he'll sit back and crow that his position is unassailable.

Those opponents who show no such weakness will be promptly ignored with sweeping use of Romans 1 as his only excuse.

Unknown said...

Are there Islamic or Mormon presuppositional apologetics? If so are they sought to be used to show aspects of human cognition constitute "evidence" for the Islamic or Mormon gods?

Rageforthemachine said...

One thing I am finding increasingly confusing and irritating about Sye that I actually don't see addressed that often is that the obverse of his position requires Sye to be infallible. Sye is constantly asking "How do you know" and "Are you certain" because he believes lack of certainty is fatal to any claim of knowledge. But by the same respect we can can ask Sye "Is it possible for you to be wrong about ANYTHING you know." Sye believes that God is directly behind every thought he possesses guaranteeing its correctness, but even he still has to concede that he could be mistaken about ordinary things in our everyday perception of the world. Sye either has to maintain that no true Christian has ever been wrong about anything he has ever believed to be true, or admit that God either allows him to have false knowledge or what we call normally call knowledge is not direct revelation form God. If it is possible for Sye to be wrong about one thing and not know he is wrong than it is possible for him to be wrong about everything he knows because he doesn't know he is wrong about it.
Of course this is another aspect of PA that has always confused me too though as it really doesn't seem to be a genuine epistemology because it doesn't seem to have a an actual theory of learning(i.e. how children form concepts about the world, the relationship between empirical learning and God's revelation etc. And of course it actually wouldn't surprise me terribly if presuppers claimed the former ala Frame's famous comment that

"I admit that it is difficult to construe the psychology of such faith. How is it that people come to believe a Word from God which contradicts all their other normal means of knowledge?"

Unknown said...

Hello Rageforthemachine: IMHO, the PA's burdens are to show that the Primacy of Existence isn't self-evident and the Primacy of Consciousness is coherent without resorting to magical thinking.

{insert PA directed snarky chide}

Best/Good - Make it a Great Day.