Presupositionalism: Shackles for your reason

I listened to a Thinking Atheist podcast last week. The title of the podcast was “Proof that God Exist,” which is the title for the website of the Christian apologist who was the guest speaker, Sye ten Bruggencate. The guy is a presupositionalist  who fully expects unbelievers to not understand his arguments because unbelievers have rejected God and do not accept the authority of Christ over their reasoning. Yes, Sye, you can keep your mental handcuffs to yourself. And he says he could prove that everyone really believes in God, even atheists, because God (though Paul) said so in Romans. It’s just that atheists are suppressing the truth though their wickedness or something like that. And people accuse atheists of being arrogant? What utter bullcrap. I’m amazed how Seth and his other guest stayed so polite to this guy. They must have been fully prepared for what this guy was about to spew.

There was another interesting thing the apologist said, and that is that God is not really all loving, but he is all good. And that this god does not intend for everyone to go to heaven, because he is sovereign. This is consistent with the idea Romans Chapter 9 that is was perfectly just for God to have loved Jacob but hated Esau before they had even been born or done anything. (This passage was the source of much doubt for me when I was studying this book for Bible Quizzing. Jesus loves all the children of the world? Perhaps not so much.) And  according to Sye,  the original sin, Eve’s sin, was not eating an apple (or whatever kind of fruit would contain knowledge of good and evil) but was rather her desire to be autonomous and make her own choices rather than just blindly obeying god. So, desiring to make our one’s own choices in live is evil. The ultimate in “anti-choice” theology.

Another big whopper he said was that a real Christian cannot reason out of Christianity because they have surrendered their reason to God. Like what he clearly has done. Don’t think outside the box, don’t question the box, just believe and obey. Therefore, there are no true ex-Christians. Voilá.

If you would like to listen to the podcast itself, you can access it on the web here::// It is also available via iTunes. I recommend the other podcasts by The Thinking Atheist as well. It is one of my favorites podcasts ever.

8 thoughts on “Presupositionalism: Shackles for your reason

  1. Yes there are some really arrogant Christians running around out there. Though I would say that arrogance is anti Christian. If Jesus taught anything, it was that we are not to be arrogant. A Christian who is arrogant is going against some of the basic principles of true Christianity. Arrogance is also a character flaw as it alienates anyone who does not share your position. An arrogant person believes that they are correct and everyone else is deluded. Most Christians I run into have that flaw as do most Atheists I run into. It seems that the most vocal among both of these groups are also the most arrogant. Examples: Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Richard Dawkins, etc…..

    • I think this guy’s statements are so shocking to me because I’m really not used to anyone just coming right out and say we should stick our reason in a box. It’s one thing to be very confident in your views when you have reason and evidence to back yourself up, but to say you just has certain precepts that were passed down from an authority figure that must never be questioned? And that all knowledge and discovery must be judged in light of those presuppositions?

      There is a fine line, perhaps even a blurred line, between confidence and arrogance for sure. It’s really easy to judge someone who is very confident and assertive about their views of arrogance when we disagree with them.

    • Mikel said:
      But Sye’s error goes even further than that because an absolute morality does not point inevitably towards an all-powerful authority figure, nor does it mean that morality must be based in authority and strict rules.”

      Harvey’s response:
      And there is the presupposition you referred to.

      And on the subject of arrogance. There is no definitive evidence proving either the existence of God or the non-existence of God. Both ideas are built on individual belief. Therefore, to insist that your position, whichever you hold, is absolute truth is, in my opinion, arrogance. The fellow in this pod cast was not only arrogant, but completely mistaken about the principals of Christianity,

      So, I believe there is a God. You do not believe there is a God. We are both confident that we are correct or we would not hold the belief. But neither of us can be absolutely certain we are correct. So if we make that fact our presupposition we can argue our positions without being arrogant and without offending each other.

      I have far more arguments with Christians (fundamentalist) than I do with Atheists. I get a bit upset when people call themselves Christian and then do and say things that are so anti Christian it isn’t funny. Almost every objection I hear about Christians are a direct result of some horribly incorrect actions based on some equally incorrect beliefs by some vocal idiot claiming to represent Christians. Don’t get me started.

    • Correct, everyone has beliefs. I’m not really concerned about anyone believing in something they call God or not. That is something everyone needs to reason out for themselves. What I won’t do is consider personal beliefs of a religious nature to be any more worthy of respect than any other form of belief. I am not going to refrain or apologize for saying I don’t believe in God and telling my reasons nor will I apologize for that. You may be amazed how much some people in Louisville were offended by a billboard that merely said “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.”

      Besides religious belief has rarely, and probably only very recently, been considered only a matter of personal belief. It has been mostly a communal thing, both bringing people together and tearing them apart from one another. And it has been a matter of authority in organized religions, such as the Catholic church with its hierarchy and with the Southern Baptist Convention which disfellowships churches that do not toe the doctrinal line, and even the Church of the Nazarene which is my family tradition. If matters of religious belief were only matters of individual belief it should not be such a big deal when a child reveals to her mother that she does not personally believe in the family’s God. And the religious views of candidates for president should not matter either. But it is very clear to me that they do.

      So I am not concerned about people’s personal beliefs, but religion involves much more than the private beliefs of individuals. It is the assertions of claims of religions that also impact those of us that do not believe in them that concern me most of all. The things people believe as a matter of religion impact the society that we all must live in, so they can’t be held beyond criticism.

      Now, to present those criticisms in a way that is not going to interpreted as arrogant by some people is a very fine line to walk…especially to anyone who thinks that to say “I don’t need God” is the height of arrogance. We are sorta damned if we do, and damned if we don’t ya know. 🙂

  2. I listened to that podcast as well and I was equally shocked; crazy. Did you go to the website? What a self-serving load of crap. It reflects the narrow-mindedness of zealots that not all the options would be available in responding to the questions there – it leaves the participants truly hand-cuffed to the limited options that fail to consider anything else.

    • I haven’t yet visited the website, since scripted question/answer sessions like that usually annoy the hell out of me. A favorite trick of apologists is to frame questions in such a way that get you stuck in a semantic trap. For instance, in the podcast do you remember where Sye was asserting to a caller that if he believed child molestation was absolutely wrong that it meant that he had to believe in absolute morality and therefore in God? Bullcrap of course…to say that there is no situation in which child molestation would be right does not mean that you must believe in an absolute morality. It becomes much more obvious if the question is “It is ever morally right to kill a human?” Then you can get into lots of interesting discussion about the death penalty, and self-defense, and abortion and other similar issues. When the question is asked that way, the absoluteness of morality comes much more into question. But Sye’s error goes even further than that because an absolute morality does not point inevitably towards an all-powerful authority figure, nor does it mean that morality must be based in authority and strict rules.

    • Yes, yes and yes:) That “Child-molestation” question the caller brought up was ON his website – so yah, you pretty much nailed it. The guy is a creep, dishonest and drinking all of the Kool-Aid.

    • Oh, and regarding the other situations that might call absolute morality into question – I kept thinking of the video dealing with that in the circumstances surrounding New Orleans and Katrina – hospital had to decide who to kill (by lethal doses of morphine) rather than abandoned them. It happened.. and really illustrates the illussion of ‘absolute’ morality .

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