Following Up on the Presuppositonal Argument
From my personal experience, it seems the christian evangelical apologetics on the streets have been steering away from some of the old arguments and ending up just being of the three: argument from design, argument from ignorance, and the presuppositional argument.
After using these arguments, christians seemed baffled that I don’t suddenly accept their message. To them, the tautology that the universe exists and looks orderly must mean for some whatever reason it must have been sketched out by some magic man (singular for some odd reason).
What nonbelievers like myself must keep reminding these soapbox shouters is that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” What is their extraordinary evidence….it all falls down to a single ancient book (some of which admit it has flaws).
As my blog post “God, Tron and the Wizard of Oz” makes it clear, there is no way to know who or what the supposed “creator” is, assuming there even is one.
Using my Wizard of Oz Argument on these guys, as discussed in my encounter in “Destroying the Presuppositional Argument” it works like a charm! They admit they cannot KNOW that their god is the real god because they cannot demonstrate it. Remember, extraodrinary claims require extraordinary evidence…but when they cannot even prove the basic identity of their preferred deity, they fall apart so fast.
All you have to ask them: how do you know that?
Sure they can ask the atheist and/or infidel that same question “how do you know that?” on many things, and that is okay. But remember, it is the theist who is making the positive claim that something exists, so the burden of proof is on them. Same thing if a person believes the core of Jupiter is full of dancing green monkeys, the proof is on him/her to provide, otherwise we have no reason to accept the belief about what is in the core of Jupiter. And as any rational adult should know, believing in something bizarre without evidence is completely nuts and that person should be criticized.
After walking me through the supposed author of their beloved sacred book, or when they use the presuppositional argument to determine where knowledge comes from, all one has to do is ask “how do you know that?” I can guarantee that they will eventually admit or use the words “it is what I believe.” Well, there you go. Beliefs do not mean anything. I can believe I am the King of Persia. I can believe I am surrounded right now my naked cheerleaders. I can believe there is a huge diamond buried in my backyard the size of my refrigerator.
But merely having a belief, and even if that said belief makes you feel good or gives you a sense of purpose, does not mean they exist in reality. I am obviously not of any royalty, nor am I surrounded by phantoms or having anything buried in my backyard.
So, I am just going to walk through the most common things I hear when I ask a theist the Wizard of Oz Argument, or “how do you know that your god is the real god and not a trickster deity?” most commonly, they will right away state that “well, I don’t know that, you right. I believe there’s a god.”
Because the Bible says so
First of all, big deal!!!!
Bear in mind, assuming there is at least one creator, and this creator can say whatever it wants about itself, how is it soooooo hard for these theists to imagine that this thing inspired a bunch of old superstitious men to record this being’s false resume in a book?
When I grwe up as a Christian, I constantly heard all the time that the Greek gods were just made up by man, whereas Hindus who believe in many gods were actually worshipping false idols or where being deceived by demons. That is the same thing evangelicals told me about Mormons, that Satan can appear as an Angel of Light…and so Satan turned himself into this bright figure and fooled Joseph Smith.
Okay……..so if this can happen to other people, how do Christians know this did not happen to Paul and Peter and such?
The bible says god is this or that. it says god cannot lie….but hold on just a minute. Isn’t that exactly what a trickster/liar would say!
I have felt God’s spirit/presence/(whatever) on my spirit / in my heart, so I know he is real
All I got out of that was….you felt something.
It does not get anymore detailed than that. A person maybe felt a ghost, not a god. Maybe the person’s brain was stressed, going into hyperdrive, something you consumed mixed with your brain chemicals, maybe your hippocampus and/or amygdala in your brain was stimulated (which have been scientifically proven to produce incredible experiences), etc etc.
Point is, all that we know is that you had an experience (if it was even legit).
Honestly ask yourself, how would you know the difference between feeling “god” and being zapped by time-transcending universal cosmic pixies? Or maybe aliens? Or maybe the spirits of your ancestors? There are many many different scenarios to chose from.
Its kinda like going to Baskin Robbins 31 flavors. We know there are 31 different flavors (not just because the store name says so), because we can taste each of them, test their contents, watch them being made from the basic plants to ice cream (and make them ourselves if we want), we can have a blind test with millions of people, etc etc etc.
So when people boost to me that they felt the “spirit of god” or whatever to me, I always think ‘how do you know that is what you felt?’ and ‘how would you know that is what it was once you felt it?’
Just as you can tell the difference between chocolate and cotton candy ice cream, because you have experienced a whole variety of ice creams….ask yourself, have you experienced everything from alien zapping, phantom possessions, temporal lobe epilepsy, ecstatic seizures, universal cosmic pixies, telepathic mutants, psychic Martians, hypnotic space manta rays, soul-infecting thetans, the Purple Man, genies and djinn’s, and so on and so on (seriously, if one used their imagination and even combine some of the ideas, this list can go on for miles).
Sure you may dismiss 99% of these examples as “ridiculous” because there is no evidence for it…..then congratulations you know what it is like to be a skeptical atheist.
Regardless, the person saying they had an experience may still assert that since they felt something, it must be a god. Well, I have no reason to go further than assume you experienced a simple Temporal Lobe Epilepsy or something similar that is completely natural. There is no reason to try to explain a common natural phenomenon by adding a magical or extraordinary component to it. Humanity should get that by now. That is how we went from believing things like lightning was caused by a magical god to it’s just natural electrical charges.
Creation proves there is a Creator. Based on that, the creator must me all-powerful and knows everything. From him we can obtain true knowledge. So where do you get your final authority?
I never understood how theists can go from “creation” to a singular creator. I am reminded on old historical debates between people of different faiths, such as William of Rubruck trying to convert a Bar Sauma, a Mongol.
William of Rubruck: “We firmly believe in our hearts and profess with our lips that God exists and that there is but one God and that He is one with a perfect unity. What do you believe?”
Sauma: “Fools say that there is but one God, but wise men say that there are many. In our country are there not mighty lords, and here is not the mighty chief lord Mangu Chan? So it is with the gods; in the different regions there are different gods.”
William: “That is a bad illustration or simile you put forward, arguing from men to God; for, according to this, any powerful man could be called a god in his own territory.”
If I was at that religious debate, I would swing back at William and ask him how does he know that it is a bad simile? He just admitted he only believes there is one god, so there is no way for him to actually know that it is a bad simile to entertain the idea that there could be multiple gods.
Moving on, there have been many philosophical debates that I think settle the fact that there cannot be a all-knowing creator, especially if the believer also accepts free will.
Usually it is Sye Ten Bruggencate that uses terms like “where do you get your final authority from?” and similar linguistic arguments…but all he really does is dance around with words.
HOWEVER if you swing it back to him and ask how does he know if his authority/source is reliable and not some trickster?
Look at the question he was asked: “You will accept the word of a being that appears to you and tells you that it is telling you the truth, without checking: Yes or No?”
In other words: if some supernatural spooky that manifests before you and tells you whatever it wants, will you believe it without verifying its accuracy?
AND SYE ANSWERS YES
So, if an Angel of Light appears to you and tells you that humans are actually aliens from the planet Block-Block, Sye will believe it without question.
No doubt my Christian readers will say “no way, I wouldn’t believe in anything that would state something so ridiculous” or the sort. UGH HELLO!!!!!!!!!! Doesn’t your own Bible say that humans could live over 900 years, the Earth is immobile and flat, and women were made from a rib.
In my mind, those who use the Presuppositional Argument have only one goal: make their target audience feel cornered, stumped and then stupid. They want their audience to feel stupid, to hide the fact that these apologists already believe something stupid.