Our ally on the other side of the Atlantic, Paul Baird of Patient and Persistant, took on countryman Christian Sye Tenbruggencate (I’m sure you know him — he made this site!) on Premier Christian Radio a few months ago, and has returned for another joust. Having had a chance to take on Tenbruggencate once in the past, it’s obvious that this time around Paul is much better prepared for the line of nonsensical argumentation Tenbruggencate evidently specializes in. One imagines that evidence is the best way to determine whether something is true or not, but evidently (heh, evidence!), the presuppositionalist must first accept that attempting to prove God exists, undercuts God directly. It’s almost like one has to take seriously the Douglas Adams passage: “I refuse to prove that I exist, says God, for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.”
Part of the way I argue against presuppositionalism, is thus. When the presuppositionalist suggests that the very existence of evidence proves God, one cannot assume that evidence itself is evidence for anything, but for one specific thing. The existence of evidence is a happenstance, resultant from the cause-and-effect of this universe, and evidence is actually evidence that all events are causally related to their antecedent events. To put it simply: Stuff happens. Evidence of this stuff happening, proves it happened, because the stuff that happened caused the evidence. It’s all cause and effect.
Logic is an abstraction of this reality. It is created by humans to interpret reality and make decisions in the best possible way; however, it’s not the only way someone can make those decisions or abstract that reality. The “existence” of logic, though it does not exist without humans, does not prove a higher power any more than the existence of a muffin proves a specific personal deity from whom all muffins spring (and who would smite you for believing in the local baker, or in your own abilities in muffin-creation). I argue however that laws of physics may not actually be “invariant” as posited. We don’t know enough of this universe to know the things we believe to be constants, are actually constants. We have some evidence that they’re not constant, in fact. So one cannot assume, a priori, that anything is “hard-coded” into the universe, much less “fine-tuned”. The very word “absolute” is a definitional quagmire upon which every presuppositionalist hangs his entire argument, because they generally mean “uniform throughout the universe” and “invariant” and “imposed by an outside force”. It’s that last chunk of it that implies God — by saying ANYTHING is absolute, they hear as “imposed by something” and “therefore God”.
There is a real truth to the universe. There is a real way the universe came into being, there is a real way the universe has become populated with matter, and there is a real way that humans have come into being. It happened exactly one way, though that way may be different in different parts, in toto, it happened only one way. That there is this truth, does not mean that “truth itself” necessitates a “truth-giver” deity. That’s nonsensical, no matter how often Tenbruggencate suggests that the counterarguments are nonsense. When something is “wrong”, that means it does not conform to reality. That there is a reality, does not presuppose anything but that there is a reality.
Do listen, if you have an hour and twenty to spare. I mean, if you really want to watch someone entrenched in their dogmatic position chasing their tail, and an intelligent rational actor watching and frowning.
Frankly, I don’t blame Paul for taking a break from arguing against circular logic after this particular debate. And I only wish Paul had much more time to flesh out his arguments than I felt he had, especially that presuppositionalism is not a proof for the specific Christian dogma, where all Sye had to offer was “scripture sez so, so we have to presuppose it”. It honestly felt as though Sye got the bigger platform by far on both debates, but I’m glad Paul got the better of him in a very specific way: he had to claim that there is nothing wrong with circular reasoning.
I fully expect Sye Tenbruggencate to convert to napkinism as soon as humanly possible.