Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Incinerating Presuppositionalism: Year Nine

Today is the ninth anniversary of Incinerating Presuppositionalism! Yes, that’s right – on March 26, 2005, I posted my first entry on this blog. So as I do on every birthday my blog has, I am posting the list of entries that I published over the previous year, since the last birthday.

This past year has seen a huge amount of activity. Yes, I’ve been quite busy with my blog, especially over the past six months. Somehow, in spite of my hectic schedule of a full workload, raising my daughter, dodging six-foot long reptiles, etc., I’ve managed to find time to continue arguing for my verdicts and telling the world what I’ve learned.

So without any further ado, here’s this year’s list in continued enumeration:

303. On the Validity of the Senses - April 3, 2013
307. Klouda-ing the Issue - June 21, 2013
308. TAG Defeated in One Fell Swoop - June 26, 2013
311. Presuppositionalist Pseudolosophy - August 21, 2013
312. Hodge’s Hedgings - August 24, 2013
313. STB: Three Years and Counting - August 27, 2013
315. My August Comments to B.C. Hodge - September 29, 2013
316. The Primacy of the Inner over the Outer - October 17, 2013
318. Behold How the Holy Ones Speak - October 24, 2013
319. Reason vs. Faith - October 26, 2013
320. Twerking for Jesus - October 31, 2013
322. The Moral Code of Life - November 6, 2013
324. For Jonathan - November 14, 2013
325. Examining Stefan’s Presuppositionalism - November 16, 2013
344. Jason Lisle on Logic - March 9, 2014
345. On Romans 1:20-21 - March 10, 2014
346. Jason Lisle on Axioms - March 14, 2014
351. A Logical God? - March 24, 2014

As you will see, Year Nine covered a lot of ground! As has been in the past, nothing has changed – I still have lots more in store for IP in the coming weeks, months and years.

So stay tuned, but try to be patient as I’m quite busy these days. At this time, I am relocating to a new condo in central Bangkok, so over the next few weeks I will be quite busy. Then I will need to adjust to new surroundings, which will be crowded with people instead of reptiles and other creeping things. I won’t miss the four-, six- and eight-legged critters (at all!), but living in a very densely populated part of an enormous city will take some getting used to. Well, it’s all part of the adventure of life!

by Dawson Bethrick

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Logical God?

Christian apologists are continually telling us that their god is logical, that its own nature is the standard of logic, and that everything that it does is impeccably logical. Now of course we do not learn this from the bible itself; rather, we hear it from Christians who have taken courses at some bible college or seminary, or from other believers who are simply repeating what they’ve heard such Christians say. As such, it represents an attempt by apologists to acquire “rights” to logic, as if there could be no logic if their god did not exist.

But if the actions ascribed to the Christian god as they are characterized throughout the bible are supposed to be “logical,” I can only suppose that Christians mean something other than what I learned about when I took courses on logic back in my college days.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

I Reject Christianity Because It’s Not True, Part IV

The following is the fourth and final installment in my little mini-series of blog entries examining reactions by James Anderson to “four common objections” to Christianity, which can be found on the Gospel Coalition’s article titled I Reject Christianity Because _______________.

The previous installments in this series can be found here:
In the present entry, I will examine Anderson’s reaction to the fourth common objection raised in the Gospel Coalition’s article.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

I Reject Christianity Because It’s Not True, Part III

This is the third of four installments that I am posting in response to comments made by James Anderson’s reactions in response to “four common objections” to Christianity that can be found in the Gospel Coalition’s article I Reject Christianity Because _______________. (The two previous installments can be found here: Part I and Part II.)

The third common objection to Christianity found in that article has to do with the resurrection of Jesus and is presented in the form of a question:
On what basis do you believe Jesus actually—physically—rose from the dead (besides blind faith, of course)?
Anderson responds:
I have faith that Jesus rose from the dead, but it isn't a blind faith, because there's good reason to believe he did.
At least Anderson does not say “on the basis of assuming that Jesus really did rise physically from the dead.” But what he does offer is not much better than this. Rather, the impression seems to be that Anderson (like so many Christians) accepts the gospel story first and then seeks for some way to rationalize that acceptance by coming up with “reasons” which are typically not at all persuasive, but which people who have already accepted the belief claim in question would already find acceptable.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I Reject Christianity Because It’s Not True, Part II

I continue now with the second installment of my examination of James Anderson’s responses to “four common objections” to Christianity found in the paper I Reject Christianity Because _______________ which was recently posted on the The Gospel Coalition website. (For the initial installment in this series, see Part I.)

The second objection posed to Anderson is the problem of evil:
In his Pulitzer Prize-winning play J.B., Archibald MacLeish nails it when his character Nickles declares: "If God is God, he is not good; if God is good, he is not God." How can you believe in a God who would allow so much senseless evil and suffering in the world?
In response to this, Anderson writes:
Nickles gets it exactly backwards. God is by nature good; if God isn't good, he isn't really God. Or to be more precise: if there's no good God, there's no God at all.
Of course, it would be quite easy to imagine an evil god just as Anderson wants to imagine an all-good god that is on cozy terms with evil. And of course, the evil god would probably want us to think that it’s all-good, and it would likely call itself all-good. And if it rules by fear (cf. Prov. 1:7 et al.), it would want its believers to resist questioning this on pain of that fear.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I Reject Christianity Because It’s Not True, Part I

Over on The Gospel Coalition site, in a posting titled I Reject Christianity Because _______________, highly-pedigreed champion of Christian apologetics James Anderson recently offered some responses to what are styled as “four popular objections” against Christianity, apparently in an effort to head critics of the Christian worldview off at the pass. This posting comes in the shadows of a book which he recently published called What’s Your Worldview: An Interactive Approach to Life’s Big Questions, which I have not read (and probably won’t). (The book’s Amazon page can be found here; there are loads of reviews praising the book, but it appears that most if not all of them are coming from folks who are already deeply committed to the Christian confessional investment.)

Unfortunately, as seems to be trending with much of what I’ve seen from Anderson lately, his counterpoints to these objections strike me as quite superficial, as though perhaps he were “dumbing down” his apologetic routine in order to reach a wider audience. It’s like watching Bjork transform herself into Britney Spears – going from something that’s at least somewhat original and fresh to a stale lifelessness packaged for mass consumption by the bubble-gummers. In the past Anderson appeared to be striving to achieve at least somewhat scholarly standards. But his recent offerings of pop pieces suggest that he’s opting for a different route in his apologetic approach. It may be that he’s trying to balance two different roles, but typically once one starts to compromise his standards, everything follows suit.

Now when I saw the title of the article – “I Reject Christianity Because _______________” – and even before I read it, my initial response to this was quite simple: I reject Christianity because it’s not true. And this is consistent for me: as an adult thinker, I do not knowingly accept claims or positions that are not true.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Jason Lisle on Axioms

The topic of axioms was raised in Jason Lisle’s comment exchange with Tony and other visitors over on Lisle’s blog It’s not “Human Reason vs. God’s Word”!. Coming to this discussion from the perspective of a worldview which provides no “epistemologically self-conscious” understanding of axioms, Lisle is clearly unprepared to interact with this area of inquiry with any credibility. Instead of raising important issues that need to be addressed or even showing a willingness to learn from his interlocutors, Lisle can be seen flailing his arms around groping for anything that might stick in the heat of debate. Clearly his only ambition is to protect his god-belief. What does he want to protect it from? That’s obvious, he wants to protect it from reason.

Before getting started, I want to point readers to several posts on the topic of axioms that are available for readers to peruse on my blog:
I have also written about the validity of the senses, another topic that comes up in these exchanges, in the following:
I will not address everything stated in the comments of Lisle’s blog (there are 1,180 comments!), but will instead focus primarily on some of Lisle’s questions and statements about axioms that can be found on page 3 of his comments pages.

Monday, March 10, 2014

On Romans 1:20-21

In a comment on his blog DR. GREG BAHNSEN: ATHEISTS ARE UNABLE TO ANSWER THE TOUGH QUESTIONS OF PHILOSOPHY, Christian apologist Charles Jackson claims that “God says that all know Him” and cites Romans 1:21, which states: “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

By saying that “God” says this, Jackson is mischaracterizing the record that we have in Romans 1. The Epistle to the Romans was written by one or more human beings. (It is commonly assumed that it was written by the apostle Paul, but how can we really know this today?) Thus it is not true that “God says that all know Him,” rather it is the case that the guy who wrote Romans 1:21 is the one making the claim that we all know this god.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Jason Lisle on Logic

One of the visitors commenting on my blog Is Jason Lisle Epistemologically Self-Conscious? provided a link to a section of comments on Jason Lisle’s blog entry titled It’s not “Human Reason vs. God’s Word”!. In the discussion found there Lisle gave an uninformed reaction to the recognition that the validity of the senses is axiomatic, which is what the visitor on my blog wanted to highlight.

I took a look at some of the other comments found on that page and saw an exchange between a commenter named Tony and Lisle on the topic of logic. I have some thoughts of my own on what Lisle has stated there.

Answering Jason Lisle on the Reliability of the Senses

On page two of the comments section of his blog entry Are You Epistemologically Self-Conscious? Christian apologist Jason Lisle has challenged non-Christian visitors to his blog to explain how they know that the senses are reliable. This is a theme which appears in the main entry itself, where Lisle wrote:
Some people might suppose that our sensory organs are reliable because they have survival value. But this does not follow logically. Chlorophyll has survival value in plants; but this does not imply that chlorophyll reliably informs the plant about the outside world.
In response to this, commenter Zilch asked (September 18, 2013):
I don’t know anyone, naturalist or theist, who supposes that our sensory organs have survival value because they provide us with energy from sunlight- do you?
Replying to Zilch, Jason Lisle embedded the following insertion:
You seem to have misunderstood. The question is: "How do we know that our senses are basically reliable[?]"
Apologists for Christianity raise this question in their exchanges with non-Christians quite frequently, and I have previously addressed the matter on my blog: see my entry On the Validity of the Senses in which I answer Dan Marvin’s attempts to make apologetic use of this matter. In that blog, I address the predictable example of a stick dunked in a glass of water appearing to be bent as an attack on the senses, which is actually a testament to their reliability. Doubting the validity of the senses goes back to ancient skeptics such as Pyrrho, who advocated that since we cannot know anything, we should retreat into “noncommittal silence, with respect to all things” (W.L. Reese, Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion, sv. ‘Pyrrho’, p. 622).

Friday, March 07, 2014

Vince’s Three Unpublished Comments to Rick Warden’s Blog

On February 26, 2014, I received three messages in my inbox from someone named Vince. The messages were not directed to me. In fact, the author probably has no idea that these messages were delivered to my inbox. The three messages were comments which were submitted to Rick Warden’s blog entry Three Refutations of Objectivism, which is inexcusably filled with mischaracterizations, distortions, context-dropping and other fallacious maneuvers on Warden’s part. These messages represent Vince’s continuation of a comment exchange he was having with Rick Warden. (To see the earlier comments in the exchange between Vince and Rick Warden, click on the above link and scroll down to the comments section.)

But here’s the thing: although these messages were delivered to my inbox, Rick Warden has to date not approved them and allowed them to appear on his blog. And for reasons unknown to me, even Rick Warden has not allowed these messages to appear on his blog, they still nonetheless were passed to my inbox. Since I had previously submitted comments of my own to this blog entry and had clicked the “Notify me” box when submitting my first comment, all subsequent comments submitted to this blog entry would be forwarded to my email inbox. But I always figured that only when comments are approved and posted to the blog proper would they then be allowed to be distributed to any commenters who had clicked the “Notify me” box. Perhaps I’m wrong? Or perhaps there’s a glitch in Blogspot’s comments feed? I have no idea.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Is Jason Lisle Epistemologically Self-Conscious?

Last September, astrophysicist and Christian apologist Jason Lisle posted an entry on his blog titled Are You Epistemologically Self-Conscious? In it he seeks to defend the claim that “Christian epistemology makes knowledge possible.”

Let us take a look at what he says there and see just how “epistemologically self-conscious” Jason Lisle himself is.