Sunday, March 26, 2017

Incinerating Presuppositionalism: Year Twelve

We come now to that time of every year in which I honor the blog entries of the past year with a post listing each one out, beginning with last year’s anniversary posting.

Now, readers of my blog (all two of them!) have probably noticed that my posting activity has been slowing down over the past couple of years.

There are several reasons for this.
First and foremost is the fact that, since moving back to the States from SE Asia in April 2015, I’ve been consumed with other priorities – a very demanding work schedule, my devotion to my family and parenting, renovating my house, etc. These priorities alone leave little time for much of anything, including sleep. I am simply a very busy person leading a wonderful, productive life. And I am very grateful for this!

Second, more and more I feel that I’ve had my say and have for the most part accomplished the goal of this blog: presuppositionalism has been examined and refuted, and while apologists may be out their repeating their slogans and failed arguments, they have not demonstrated (so far as I have seen) that their position can be salvaged from what I and other critics have brought against it. In a sense, you can say that the demons I had set out to battle have been completely evicted from my head. Related to this is the fact that the absence of challenges to my critiques has somewhat dampened my interest in counter-apologetics. Not completely, but significantly enough that, unless new developments rekindle my interest (and I’m certainly open to this), I’m persuaded my energies are better spent elsewhere. Without a viable opposing team, there’s not much incentive to get out on the field and chase the ball.

That leads to yet a third reason for the wane of my activity on my blog, namely the sharp increase of my devotion to my other love, namely composing (over the past couple of years I’ve completed several works for piano and also for small ensembles, including a string quartet and even a jazz suite – never thought I’d ever do something like that!). My interest in philosophy and my interest in music composition are both very strong and very deep, spanning most of my life, and both offer rewarding fulfillment of unparalleled nature. But both require sustained and intense focus. Pursuing the one often disallows pursuing the other, given the constraints of available time and more fundamental priorities.

That said, I do have many unfinished blog entries sitting in my staging folder, and if time should allow and interest enjoys second wind, I may dust them off and prepare them for posting. A number of them are quite expansive and could probably be broken out into a series of several entries each. Also, I have drafted up some notes on the recent Licona-Dillahunty debate which raised a number of issues that I’ve been wanting to address as well (or have addressed and would like to re-address). So I don’t want to say that my activity will cease altogether, and if readers have specific questions that they would like my input on, feel free to post them in the comments (though, I’m making no promises here). But I wanted to give everyone the courtesy of these points in case they found themselves wondering what the hell’s going on here. There’s a lot of fascinating things to read and investigate elsewhere on the web, and I’m in no way trying to compete with any of it. If you’re starving for more IP, there are plenty of postings from previous years – maybe you’ve missed one.

So with that, here is the meager list of blog entries that I have posted on Incinerating Presuppositionalism: Year Twelve

424. The “Mistakes of Apostates” - April 17, 2016

426. ”I’ll pray for you” - June 28, 2016

427. Prayer Wishes and Paranoia - July 29, 2016

429. Does One Need Evidence to Be an Atheist? - September 11, 2016

430. Exchange with a Presuppositionalist - October 23, 2016

431. Here we go again… - November 25, 2016

432. Theism and Thumb-sucking - December 28, 2016

433. Hearing Voices in Your Head - January 29, 2016

434. More on Hearing Voices in His Head - February 26, 2016

Also, I want to thank all readers who have managed to get through a whole post or two, or even just a few paragraphs, of my meager offerings. I really do appreciate your time and interest. Whatever you do, just be sure to think with your own mind.

by Dawson Bethrick


Ydemoc said...

Hey Dawson,

You wrote: "So I don’t want to say that my activity will cease altogether..."

Great to hear that you're leaving the door open (if only slightly) for more entries and/or comment engagement..

Happy anniversary!


samonedo said...

I learned with you Dawson what it means to think with my own mind. Great blog, life changing, uncomparable. I am so glad you did it.

Jason mc said...

Congratulations on keeping this going for 12 years! I've got a ton of value from your writings.

If the blog has run its course, so be it. But count me among those who'd love to see new content in the 13th year. I watched the Licona-Dillahunty debate, definitely interested in reading some insightful commentary on it.

(Recap for the unfamiliar: Licona's two prongs of argument were (1.) empirical evidence for a 'supernatural' dimension--ghosts, near-death experiences, precisely-answered prayer--and that is the grounds for: (2.) using Paul's writings as historical evidence for Jesus's supernatural resurrection. He also puts forward a funny, timely meme: metaphysical naturalism is a 'safe space' for atheists. I wonder if that'll catch on as an apologetic debate tactic, to insinuate that atheists are somehow cowardly in our refusal to accept purported magical explanations.)

I like metaphor of writing as demon-exorcism. I really relate to that, my own experience of writing is very therapeutic. The process helps me get clarity. And I'm really just getting started.

Did you consider collecting your essays into an ebook? That seems a frequent and appropriate graduation for a substantial blog that's hit a milestone. I'd buy a copy.

Here are a few of my favourite IP essays:

- ...and many of the interactions with William Lane Craig's stuff.

Many thanks!


Principle Centered said...

Hi, Dawson. I'm relatively new to your blog

I really appreciate the work you've put into dealing so extensively with presup in particular and religious arguments in general. I stumbled across a couple entries from your blog a few years ago that I thought were exceptional, but since - at the time - my priority was researching the conflict between religious claims and scientific discoveries, I did not explore your blog further.

In the past few months, however, I have been reading through, taking notes on, and re-reading a number of your entries. I have come across quite a number of presup claims that I am convinced you have sufficiently rebutted (stuff I always felt had "something" wrong with it that I couldn't articulate until reading your entires).

There are a couple things I couldn't seem to find you addressing as directly as some of the other presup assertions and diversions. I'm hoping you could address them now or that you (or someone else) could point me to an entry that does.

The first is Sye Ten Bruggencate's line of questioning that goes something like:
Sye: Do you agree that there are insane people who's senses and reasoning are not valid?
Sye's oppoenent: Yes
Sye: Then how do you know you're not one of those people?

The second, I think, is similar. It has to do with hallucinations and dreams. I like the response you gave in an entry about imagination being voluntary. But since hallucinations and dreams are not, how would you deal with those topics when someone proposes them as presuppers do?

Thanks in advance!


Dawson thanks for all your writings, I still frequent this blog weekly to see if anything is churning and I've read allot of Katholon as well. A YouTuber named bitbutter introduced me to this blog. Your blog changed my life. What you have done here is so incredibly valuable and yet so obscure, to the point that it's baffling and I demand you write a book!!! ; ) Seriously though feel so incredibly lucky to have found your writings. This blog has helped me so much in many aspects of my life. I'm almost certain some Objectivist orgs like The Objective Standard would help with syndication or give you speaking opportunities. Have you ever thought about that? I hope you continue to write although I agree with what you stated above. Thanks for everything man!!!

Bahnsen Burner said...

Thanks everyone for the kind words! I really, really appreciate your feedback. It's nice to know that there are at least a few folks out there who have gotten some value from my labors. I'm sincerely humbled!

As for a book, many have expressed interest in this over the years. Even my wife often says "Dawson, you need to write a book!" My response is fairly deflating: "Honey, you know I don't have time for that!" But maybe I'd sell five or six. And I could put one prominently on my bookshelf.

But seriously, I've entertained the notion many times, but then again, a book does not offer the interaction that a blog does, and I worry that I'd just be repeating much of what I've already put out to the world for free.

Principle Centered, thanks for the questions about Sye's tactics. I'll see if I can scrape together some thoughts on the ones you cited, but I'm sure anyone here could interact with them just as effectively as I could. That said, I do have some archives of exchanges between myself and Sye dating back to Fall 2011 (when I was living in exile due to the historic Bangkok flood - seems like yesterday!). I don't think I've posted these (anyone recall?) on my webpage, but they're fun to read. I'll see if I can upload them and send a link out. These exchanges were on a blog hosted by Alex Botten called "An Atheist Viewpoint," and it's open only to invited readers now.

Okay, I have to get some coffee - I'm in total sleep-deficit mode today!

Thanks again!

Bahnsen Burner said...

Okay, I did it. I got my coffee, AND I uploaded the three archive files that I mentioned above. They can be found on my main writings page (here) - see the three links nestled right below the jump point to my Critique of Sye Ten Bruggencate's". If that's too much bother, here are the direct links themselves:




Mind you, these are PDF files. But I just tested them - they open fine!

Now for a second cup...


Unknown said...


I found your blog in 2014 and am very sad to hear that you are wrapping up. I am also very happy that you are too.

When I found your blog I was in a stage of my life where I knew next to everything I had been taught growing up was wrong, misguided or plain evil but had no definable means to prove the feeling. Your blog and its content as well as all the resources you cite, helped provide me with those means. You know, I printed off each and every blog entry here and in the archive and put them in 4" three-ring binders. Yes, binders; plural.

I say all this, to make my larger point, which is that I read through all your work, the work of Harris, Peikoff, Rand, and many others and I read and reread this material until I truly absorbed it. For almost two straight years it occupied my every movement. I would bring your binders with me on my train to work, I would place these works promeninately on my desk at work. Objectivist philosophy was always within reach during this time as I retrained my whole mental process. I even brought it with me to night classes and read it during the lectures (I still did quite well in the courses regardless and now pursue a new career with a prominent property development company). I was after all, combating 30+ years of brainwashing. Then gradually, it all tapered off. I searched, I found, I was satisfied. I let long stretches go where I would read no Objectivist material. I think I went an entire year or more without looking at your blog once. Not because I was slipping back into subjectivism, but because I was satisfied, content and convinced. I know why you are letting this chapter of your life come to a close. It is not because you are empty; but because you are "full".

Congratulations. Well done.

Anonymous said...

Greetings and honorable acknowledgements for the readers.

Many Thanks for your blog Dawson. I too have benefited immensely by reading your posts. All religious apologetics and attempts at proselytization reduce to presuppositional question begging for nonsense. This nutshell summary understanding freed me from bondage to early childhood indoctrination that tortured me throughout adult life until I was able to grasp the essentials of Objectivism.

There are many entries I've not read; as time and opportunity permit perhaps I'll be able to catch up.

Best Hopes for Your Continued Success.