Destroying the Presuppositional Argument

I hope this blog gets out to as many people as possible.
As I type this RIGHT NOW, 10 minutes ago I had a heated talk with christian ministry Way of the Master ex-employee Tony Miano and his young student buddy Steve. Tony was holding a wooden cross, and both were standing in the middle of my campus near the Library. I decided to engage (this was less than an hour ago).

Sorry if this turns into a long read, but the best way for me to remember all the details is if I start from the beginning and move onwards, making sure all the details spill out of my head in order, so here it goes….

First I engaged Steve, asked him how his day was going, and we engaged in nice small talk. But I am sure we both knew we would inevitably talk about Christianity (otherwise why would we be here?), so I brought it up talking about prophesies being accurate. After a while, we got to how the gospel author knew about more earthquakes and famines coming in the end times…because to me that was basically nothing more than saying “DUH” — these are naturally occurring phenomenons that have happened countlessly in the past and will definitely happen in the future until the Earth is no more. Steve’s response was “god wrote it so it is a prophecy.”

So I asked my personal favorite theist-destroying question: how do you KNOW God wrote that prophecy????

Steve’s very first response was “it says so in the Bible.” To which I followed with, “if there is a being pretending to be God, doesn’t it seem the first thing it would do is make sure the beloved sacred book SAYS his name is God?”

Steve went blank, to which he followed with “I know God is the real God because his spirit testified to my spirit.” Oh come on man!!! I asked him how does he KNOW that thing is “god’s spirit” and not “The Great Unga Bunga’s spirit?” He did not really answer that question, he rehearsed his evangelical training and said “I know it is God, because he wrote His laws onto my heart, and everyone’s heart.” AGAIN DUDE… “how do you know that is not the work of a time-traveling cosmic pixie that transcended into your heart, reworked your biological systems to feel guilt in your heart whenever you lie or steal and whatever?”

He basically repeated the previous statement “his spirit testified to mine” … I asked how does he know that is ‘God’s spirit’? How does he know that? He repeated the same thing, it is revealed to him inside himself. And I asked how does he know that thing that revealed itself is actually what it claims to be? I gave an example of the Wizard of Oz, and how all the characters believed the big Head of Oz was real when it said “I AM Oz”…but it turned out to be a old man hiding behind the curtain pulling the strings and faking being Oz.

And this is how it ended: Steve gave up.

Steve literally told me this conversation has become “worthless,” gave me a gospel tract and walked away from me.

I began to walk away too. I was half-way to the Library… but no, I decided to turn around and engage him again. When I got to him, I said “how is this conversation worthless? A moment ago, you said you knew that god is real. All I asked was for proof and verification. What is so worthless with that?” That is a valid question. Besides, this is surrounding a debate that has been going on through the ages, how can you just dust it off as being worthless? It made absolutely no sense to me.

And we went in the exact same circle again as I just typed above…I asked him to verify how he knows that ‘god’ and not something else revealed itself to him. Steve pointed to the Word of God, and how he prayed to God and how God revealed himself to him. “Does God talk to you when you pray or try to communicate with him?” No, he reveals himself through his Word and through Creation “Again, how do you know that the Great Unga Bunga created everything, and then fooled a bunch of humans by claiming his name is Yahweh and made these humans right a fictional biography and lifestyle manual?”

And then Steve blew me off yet again and walked away. I was hoping he would not do that a second time, but I knew it would be pointless to go for round 3 because Steve threw in the towel twice already. So I headed off…but once I was half-way to the Library I circled around and walked towards him, but I did not engage him. I walked to Tony, who just finished a conversation himself.

So I told Tony what Steve just did, and he asked me “in your worldview, why is it that he did wrong?”

And ladies and gentlemen, I knew exactly where Tony was going to take this conversation and I knew how to counter this. But to be fair, I was going to answer his question if he agreed to answer mine. He agreed. So I gave my OWN personal explanation why cutting off a intellectual or spiritual conversation is rude; I went on how we are social animals (biologically, that is what we are) and this works best through cooperation. Steve’s actions seems the opposite of cooperation and demonstrates close mindedness, which flies in the face of being a social member of humanity.

Tony then tried to rehearse his WOTM material that in “my” godless worldview there is no right and wrong. He went on about how in an atheistic evolutionary worldview there is no right and wrong AND THAT YOU CANNOT KNOW ANYTHING. According to the Presuppositional Argument, only revelation can bring true knowledge. Man can be mistaken or ignorant, but revelation from an omniscient being is absolute knowledge. So, the Christian argues that only “the Christian” can know things for sure.

I could not know right or wrong…I could not know anything with certainty….Dear reader, I had no intention to counter any of this. In fact, I was going to let that be the case for the time being.

Okay, so I can’t know anything with certainty. So I asked Tony can he? He said yes, with God – who can provide him with certain knowledge. There we go, I had him right were I wanted him. I asked him a simple question (the exactly what I asked Steve): how do you KNOW that God is the real God and not something else?

(((Bear in mind, this is coming from the guy, Tony, who claims that HE CAN KNOW certain things. FYI, my worldview on this matter at hand is “I don’t know”… so I am not selling anything here, but Tony here claims he DOES know, so I asked him how does he know? He say’s he can, let him demonstrate it.)))

After I asked the question, he repeated Steve’s phrase “God’s spirit testified to my spirit.” I asked him, how does he know that is God’s spirit and not something else?

After several rounds of asking him how does he know that, can he provide any objectivity to know that what he is describing as god or his spirit is really his and not, let’s say, The Great Unga Bunga?

After a few more circling, Tony knew right away his Presuppositional Argument was broken, so he kept dodging the questions and started saying “you know God is real, you are just rejecting him.”

I pointed out that him going on and on that God had testified to him through his spirit, to which I countered with the same line of reasoning Tony just provided, some other guy can use those exact words and reasoning to say that Allah is real or aliens, or even the Great Unga Bunga.

“I already told you how I know. God revealed himself to me and through his Word.”

After that I said,
“So how can you know that thing revealed to you is the real God? Can I take your spirit out of you and ask it myself? Can I ask your spirit who did it talk to and how, and where did the other guy come from? How does your spirit know that the other guy is even who it identifies itself to be?”

I asked him how does he know my name is really my name. Tony said he doesn’t know. Then I asked him, how does he know that something else out there is only using God as an alias and a double background?

And this is where the story gets interesting ladies and gentlemen. Tony said the following,
“I am not going to put God into your blasphemous court.”

“What!? This court I am in is just called reality. All I am asking you is to provide objective proof that your god is the real god.”

“I don’t have to prove anything to you.”

“THERE YOU GO. A moment ago, you said that you “knew” God is real, and that only in your worldview you can know things for sure. But you wont share or validate that your source of knowledge is even legitimate. If you cannot even know who you are getting your ‘revelations’ from to receive absolute knowledge, how do you know you are not just fooling yourself.”

“See, you are just rejecting God because you love your sin and you want to live in your blasphemous lifestyle.”

“I am only rejecting that which cannot be proven or shown to be real. That’s what any rational person would do.”

“God is real and you know he is real.”

“Once again, how do you know that God is really God or not something else?”

After Tony said a few more words, he walked two feet away from me, saying he “wanted to talk to people who wanted to hear the gospel.” Typical

In the last moments before I thanked him for the talk and shook his hand and walk away, the last bits of the conversation was:

“You are just rejecting God with your blasphemous questions.” *he walking away*

I called back at him as he walked away: “What! I am like William Shatner just asking for proof. When he met God face to face and asked ‘what does God need with a starship’ and BOOM we all learned instantly that God he was talking to was actually a faker. This is exactly the problem I have been trying to address here!”

Silence from Tony, he just stared at me for 5-10 seconds with a small smile on his face. Then he ignored me completely and tried to get the attention of students passing by.

THE END

There you go everyone. THIS is basically the Achilles Heel of the Presuppositional Argument. The Presuppositional Argument is a IMO a pathetic apologetic word game to make them seem like they are the only ones who can know anything and all non-theists can’t know jack. The Argument is designed to attack worldviews and the beauty of it is that it does not need evidence.

If you (reader) ever encounter any theist saying that only they can know things for certain, just question them how do you they know that. DO NOT worry about answering their points trying to shoot at your worldview to make you look like you cannot know anything and can’t trust your reason. Even if that they are right that you cannot know anything, the theist cannot know anything either. They may pretend they do, like Steve and Tony, but as these two demonstrated…they are merely pretending to know, giving themselves a invisible made-up justification to gain a monopoly on the truth.

Theists like Tony and Steve only PRETEND to know that their favorite God is the real God. When asked how do they know that their god is the real god and not a trickster or something else, they dodge and run away because they are forbidden to ask themselves those kinds of questions that endanger their fragile faith.

After this encounter, I can say that Tony and Steve are immature cowards incapable of a intellectual discussion. I am not the one running away. I am not the one afraid to ask questions. I am not the one pretending to myself that I know things that I cannot know or demonstrate.

They have no imagination. They live their lives thinking that their magical friend is the only explanation to explain away all their questions (where does everything come from, what is right or wrong, where do these feelings come from, why do these things happen, and so on and so on). A single answer “God did it” is the most simple and easiest answer to hold on to for dear life. But for crying out loud, get an imagination!!! Once you realize that you can come up with MILLIONS of alternative explanations to answer your questions, you realize that the one (Yahweh) you choose out of million is ultimately just you are pretending you’re right and therefore fooling yourself.

A theist who says they “know” god is real and they “know” the true God revealed itself to them is blinded by a absolute conviction of a belief they cannot know. They do not know if the “spirit” or whatever they feel is a alien quantum beam, a cosmic space-transcending leprechaun, or a pixie pouring invisible dust over their heads. If they did know they were reached out to by the real Creator, they would be able to DEMONSTRATE it…but they can’t. Which means it is all in their heads. So such backlashes like “you know God is real” is a big fat desparate lie.

please also read my other blog if you have the chance

Thank you

13 comments

  • So where did this happen? At what school?

  • I got Sye Ten Bruggencate on exactly the same point in an podcast I did with him a couple of years ago – someone else made a video to go with the podcast (the original audio can be downloaded at https://archive.org/download/fundamentallyflawedarchive/Fundamentally%20Flawed%20Extra_%20Alex%20vs%20Sye.mp3)

    Here's the Youtube version, set to play the last five minutes or so http://youtu.be/yZYFrMF1L4E?t=1h1m29s

    • Ah yes, I remember this 🙂
      I saw this podcast several months ago. Im glad you finally got a straght answer out of Sye, the Posterboy for the Presusuppositional Argument.

      I love it where Sye admits that he will accept the word of a being (on faith) that it is telling the truth without verifying if it is true….Some people may have a word for that, but one word that comes to ming is SUCKER.

      As you Alex pointed out, Sye could be recieving "revelation" from a trickster, perhaps Satan. This summarizes what my "Wizard of Oz" argument is all about, how can they know the identity and truthfulness of some unseeable hidden untestable being?

    • Nicely put. Stephen Law clobbered Sye with his version a couple years ago: "how can you prove you didn't get hit on the head with a rock which addled your brains?" Same point, and just as unanswerable on presupposationalism, except with "I buleeve!"

  • They have no imagination

    I disagree: 'Man becomes superstitious not because he has no imagination but because he is not aware that he has any'

  • Pingback: Following Up on the Presuppositonal Argument | The Godless Wolf

  • Rocket Kirchner

    Wolf – you stating that these people in this story are making up this as fiction , imagination etc .
    that in and of itself is not only a presupposition on your part but lacks reason and objectivity . why do i say that ? because you don’t live in their head .
    one cannot interpret another’s personal experience , or lack thereof . neither can they judge your motive .

    both you and the Theists are trying to interpret deep inner stuff in each other . you both think you are right and this ends in a breakdown of dialogue .

    a dialogue consists of coming together to learn from each other . it’s not a pissing contest .

    • TheGodlessWolf

      //you stating that these people in this story are making up this as fiction, imagination//

      False, I am stating that the people in this story lack the imagination to think critically. They may believe that what they “experience” is real, but they lack the imagination to entertain the thought “how do I know this?” That is why I asked again and again and again “How do you know that the God you speak of is not a trickster?” To this date, they have no answer.

      I ask this question to see if any single one of them ever “looked behind the curtain” to verify any of their claims. But they can’t, no human possesses an ability to break the physical laws, breaking a wormhole in space-time to break the dimensions we are trapped in to “peek” if there is some entity called God sending these people visions and revelations.

      You’re right I don’t live in their head, but I DO KNOW a few key things that justify skepticism:

      1) I know sensory stimuli in the brain caused by outside forces forces can be observed by others and recorded by instruments. For example, “warmth” can be sensed by the human brain and be consistently felt by others to, as well as measurable with a thermometer. However, since “spiritual experiences” and “spiritual revelations” cannot be as clearly corroborated, it is less parsimonious to infer that that they are triggered by an actual interaction with a God than to infer that they are something the brain is doing on it’s own. The simplest explanation is often the correct one.

      2) We do know for a fact that the brain can and does create “spiritual experiences” naturally, and this can be caused by numerous ways (ecstatic seizures; autoscopic seizures; fugue states; trauma; 4-H syndrome; severe anoxia of near death; G-forces and carbon dioxide inhalation; psychedelic drugs; speaking in tongues; and many environmental stressors). For instance, decades worth of numberous investigations have shown that deep temporal lobe stimulation in the area around the amygdala and hippocampus of the limbic system produces feelings of intense meaningfulness, of depersonalization, of a connection with God, of cosmic connectedness, of out-of-body experiences, a feeling of not being in this world, déjà vu (a feeling that something has been experienced before), jamais vu (a feeling something is happening for the first time even though it has been experienced before), fear, and hallucinations.

      Since the amygdala has wide connections to all parts of the brain, it serves as a master association area for emotionally charged memories—the fears, the pleasures, wonderful tastes and smells, the sexual pleasures and other sweet things, the evil things, the spiritual experience, the dreams, the nightmares and all other experiences that make life meaningful. Stimulation of the amygdala and hippocampus is capable of bringing all these feelings and emotions from the realm of the forgotten to the realm of the here and now. These features also make this area uniquely suitable for the production of visual and auditory spiritual and religious feelings.

      In addition, the superior temporal gyrus, the hippocampus, and the surrounding ectorhinal cortex have been shown to be the site of a sense of the self in space. Aberrant functioning of this area can result in the out-of-body sensations, depersonalization and derealization so common in spiritual and mystical experiences. These spiritual experiences are seen as similar to those of ordinary experiences except that they are tagged by the limbic system as of profound importance, meaningful, immensely joyous and of providing a sense of being connected to something greater than ourselves.

      The temporal lobe emotional memory system is often unable to distinguish between real, external events and non-real, internally generated non-real experiences. Thus, when these internally generated spiritual experiences occur they may be perceived as totally real. This is the essence of faith over reason.
      _________________________
      But not all religious believers have experienced a “spiritual experience” in their life, but they still believe regardless. They assert whole heatedly that God is the answer. So the question “how do you know God is not a trickster” is to test the epistemology of the believer. How did they arrive to that conclusion, and how can they verify that God is in fact the answer?

      So I may not live in their head or know their intent, only they do. So, when asked the trickster question, they reveal to the rest of us what is going on in their head, how their epistemology operates. And their answers to the trickster question reveal all we need to know: bling faith. They believe in God because they want to believe in God. That simple. Belief to them is more important than whether something is true or not. And that is the whole point this blog post is trying to illustrate.

      You may think this might be a dialogue ender, the truth is it is a bullshit ender. The Presuppositionalist Argument utilized by Christian apologists is essentially word-games designed to trap you into presuming God must be the start of everything, even reason itself. So if you try to reason out of it, you need God in order to do that. But if you ask the right questions to the Christian Apologist to justify why everything must start with God and how can they verify that their God particular is real, that demolishes the Presuppositionalist Argument on the spot.

      • Rocket Kirchner

        Wolf – this debate is basically the Cartesian Cogito vs Aquinas Essentialsm . Ironic as it is Descarte starts with that very question of being tricked and by the end of his meditations he becomes a believer . high marks for his critical thinking .

        in regards to the Neuro angle – the movie the 13th floor and Nick Bostrums silmulated universe theory – we may all be living in a huge computer as digital simulaton .

        in which case whoever runs the damn thing IS God . which would really be a brain twister . .. and funny .

        my trade off dialogue with those who assert that my personal revelation of Christ that i had 43 years ago was merely synapsis and neurons firing is this : i will consider that possibility IF – they will consider that there is a form of Epistomoloy known as revelation that is possible .

        it’s all about possibility’s .
        all the best , Rocket

        • TheGodlessWolf

          Indeed Descartes asked that question in his Meditations to counter the skeptics… and his entire justification for trusting his thoughts rested entirely on the Begging the Question Fallacy. He only assumes a benevolent being created his thoughts to be trustworthy and rational, therefore he concludes he can trust his thoughts.

          1) Well, the problem staring us in the face is that Descartes is asserting there is a God without first proving there is one. To make sense of his mind, he makes a “special plea” for there to be a God. So Descartes is committing the fallacy of Special Pleading as well as Begging the Question.

          2) The second problem with the Christian apologist is that they need to first prove their mind was created by a benevolent spirit, and then prove that said spirit is not a trickster putting on a false act of being benevolent. (Just like all the theists I ask, they never can answer the question if they have ever “looked behind the curtain” (I call this the Wizard of Oz Argument) to verify if there is an entity and if said entity is the identical entity they believe in. I’ve written more extensively on the Wizard of Oz Argument here: http://trollingwithlogic.com/godless-wolf/2012/05/29/following-are-two-thoughts-i-oncehad/)

          3) And then the Christian apologist needs to address the next problem: if the human mind needs a maker, then what created the mind of the maker? If nothing created said celestial mind, then why not save a step and settle with that minds don’t need to be created? If you answer that a mind had to come from another mind, then it’s turtles all the way down.

          //i will consider that possibility IF – they will consider that there is a form of Epistomoloy known as revelation that is possible//

          Take a look at the Wizard of Oz Argument. It’s entirely focused on the question “How do you know that the God you speak of is not a trickster?” — the question I asked the Christian apologists mentioned in this blog post, as well as every Christian I’ve engaged with in public ***is considering the possibility that revelation is possible.****

          The question “How do you know that the God you speak of is not a trickster?” is always asked in response to a person who claims that they received knowledge from God directly via revelation or through his Scriptures. Ergo, the question presumes that 1) there is a message 2) messages imply a messenger… but it is also highlighting that messages can be deceiving, ergo the use of the word “trickster.” So the Wizard of Oz Argument does what you ask: it considers the possibility.

          Yet, even after the assumption of possibility is granted, all that is left is the presentation of proof. Proof that the “revelation” came from the very entity that is credited for sending the revelation, and proof that said entity is what it claims to be instead of an imposter … and this is where theists have failed the task to date. Failed to provide proof for either points.

          Even if I -for the sake of argument- grant that “revelation” and the “supernatural” is possible, the Bible itself gives me all the more reason to be skeptical of every single revelation and aspect of the supernatural.
          *2 Corinthians 11:14 tells us that an a demon can appear as an angel of light (wow, look at that, a trickster pretending to be something else).
          *Galatians 1:8 tells us that even angels of heaven can preach a false gospel.

          So regardless if you meet an angel who sends you a message, you can’t trust them even if they are genuine angels and not demonic tricksters.

          Even if you get a direct message from the Big Kahuna, 2 Thessalonians 2:11 reveals that even God can send a powerful delusion on people to make them believe falsehoods. So even if a person received a direct message from God, how can one know if they (with their feeble mortal minds) were deceived by the most powerful entity in all existence?

          So according to the Bible itself, if you receive a “revelation” from Heaven, be it an angel or even God, you can’t trust it. The angel can be a trickster, or a liar. Even God can be a liar. And given the mountains of falsehoods found throughout the gospels, I’d say that case is closed that God (assuming there is a God and it wrote the gospels) is a big fat liar.

          • Rocket Kirchner

            Wolf – in regards to point 3 – turtles all the way down ..infinite regress ..so that endless question begging ….is well endless . sum zero game .

            Christian Apologist miss the point . they are seeking to prove something unprovable . why is it unprovable ? because the minute it is proven it removes Christ as the object of faith and makes the gospel respectable . And since you know your Bible and that there is at least an historic Paul – Paul’s whole point to the Corinthians is that it is a scandel , foolishness ( greek – translation – madness ). So i view this as a socio thing — they are trying to have their cake and eat it too. Be a Christian practioner and be respectable also? contradiction.

            as to the trickser argument …WE.DONT.KNOW . that is the point . but seeing that we all have a finite mind and that Kant’s critique of pure reason comes about as close as it gets to setting the stage for the argument for objective uncertainty , its basically each man on his own and we should not take Subjectivism lightly nor confuse it with Berkely ‘s Solipsism .

            in Faber’s Tome ”Modern Atheism : God in Exile , ( which gives its history a fair shake ) … he starts with Decarte and not the Ancients like the Atomists . Funny thing though , and you know as well as i do , Spinoza’s Monism has pretty much ruled the day since ..which is not what Decarte had in mind .

            let me give you a heads up on how i approach the Bible . being a songwriter and life long professional musician i dont approach it like these bible bangers on this blog . to me i approach it like songs. some dark ..noir . some light … its just whatever inspires me . some of it rips my head off . There is no need to defend inspiration . it just is . i also approach it as it is – literature . like i would approach Shakespeare , Homer , Dante , Milton , The Greek Tragedys , etc…. the Koran …. all great stuff in my inner art world .

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