The Fool Says in His Heart - Presuppositional Apologetics

Introduction


There are many honest theists out there in the world, after all the majority of human beings living on this planet practice some form of religion or hold to some sort of belief in deities. However there are some apologists - and believers who follow after them - who are less than honest with whom discussion is pointless. Often times religious folks are accused of being closed-minded but none can be more closed-minded than those that not only attempt to shift the burden of proof onto the unbelievers but actually have the preset assumption that God exists as the STARTING point.

This is known as a presupposition but in some cases it is stated EXPLICITLY instead of IMPLICITLY. There are many apologists who attempt to shift burden of proof in this way and I hope to address why this dishonest tactic makes any meaningful discussion impossible and makes theists who think this way look like arrogant clowns.

The Fool says in his heart there is no Krampus. Krampus is a demon who punishes bad children on behalf of Santa Claus.
The Fool says in his heart there is no Krampus. Krampus is a demon who punishes bad children on behalf of Santa Claus. | Source

Sye Ten

One of the proponents of presuppositional apologetics is one Sye Ten Bruggencate though the art of this intellectually broken tactic goes back a lot farther. Sye is the runner of a website called proofthatgodexists.org which, as of my searching to date, contains no proof of anything natural or supernatural. It begins by setting up a false dichotomy between the existence of absolute truth and the non-existence of absolute truth. If you choose that absolute truth does not exist you are asked if your choice is absolutely true – cute, a paradox. Hey Sye I can do that too. THIS SENTENCE IS FALSE.

Sye's question about absolute truth, of course, has absolutely no bearing on the existence of deities. His 'proof' goes on for page after page establishing the supposed 'existence' of absolute morals, logic, mathematics, etc and proving that these things are immaterial. God is some ultimate framework holding up these Universal absolutes... the idea being that this REQUIRES a mind (though Sye never gets so far as to make an actual argument regarding these absolutes, he just skips from 'you admit they exist' to 'somehow therefore so does god'). The problem with this is that it assumes that logic, math, and the laws of nature exist OUTSIDE the human mind in the mind of a God. Rather than prove God Sye has revealed his hand as a presuppositional apologist and once that's been done no more meaningful discussion can be had.

The main problem is that Sye is putting the cart before the horse. The mind cannot create logical absolutes, it merely observes or deduces them from reality. The same can be said about natural laws/ the laws of physics. These aren't laws written down by some grand heavenly legislature, these are descriptions of how the Universe is observed to work. When we look at something like the logical Law of Identity, which simply states that A=A, an object is itself ,we can see how this is just an observation of things we can, well, observe. We assume that this is Universal, that it applies everywhere, but do we actually KNOW that?

Why the Universe works the way it works is debatable (and might even be the wrong question ask) but saying that it's because of a God is a fallacious argument from Ignorance. God cannot be proved by the fact that we LACK an answer for something.

The Moral Landscape

The issue is more obvious when we look at morals. Sye asks us a real puzzler on his website, about whether child molestation is ever morally acceptable or if it is absolutely wrong. This ignores the reasons why child molestation is wrong and instead seems to support a "it's wrong because it's wrong" approach. Sye seems to forget that the veracity of a moral claim is often debatable and can be reasoned out. It's fairly obvious to reach a conclusion as to why child molestation is wrong but not all morality is clear cut or absolute. Applying empathy and reason together can determine if something is moral. immoral or exists in a gray area.

In fact all Sye needs to do is read the Bible to learn this. Shellfish are an abomination and shouldn't be consumed according to scripture, yet these rules are applied to the Israelites by God, God does not hand down the Shellfish ruling to the rest of the world, merely to his chosen people. Sye's own God SELECTIVELY gives out specific rules to specific cultures. Working on the Sabbath would get you killed, this was God's DIRECT COMMAND, it literally flowed from the mouth of God into Moses' waiting ears - yet today I work on Saturday nights every week without any fear that my co-workers and neighbors will start casting stones my way. Could it be that not all morals are absolute?

This, of course, all leads back into the Euthyphro Dilemma. Is something moral because God commands it or is it already moral and THEREFORE God commands it. If it's the first choice than anything can be moral and moral absolutes cannot exist if it is the latter choice than moral absolutes exist outside of God's control – thus Sye cannot use morals to prove his God.

Furthermore God has no reason to declare that murder is wrong. Human beings on the other hand have every reason to declare that murder is wrong because we are the ones suffering when someone is murdered. We are the ones interacting with each other, we are the ones with emotion, empathy and a sense of justice and God has these qualities because he is built on our anthropocentric world-view. Think about it for a moment, what reason could a being of infinite power have to declare that murder is forbidden but that slavery is okay? Would God's moral guidance seem just to us mortals? Is it moral for God to impose a system of absolute morals on creature's that he supposedly has given free will? Why would a God's morality even be relevant to us? And most importantly who is God interacting with to come up with these rules? There are no equals to the Christian God, no others like him to have social interaction with, and the basis of most morals seems to be social interaction. No matter where you turn the idea of absolute morals supported or imposed by a deity makes no sense whatsoever.

The Presupposition

According to the fourteenth Pslam “The Fool says in his heart there is no God”. This verse has formed the scriptural foundation for apologists who presuppose the existence of God from the beginning of a discussion. Not only does this violate basic burden of proof but it also immediately implies that everyone who has some doubt about the existence of God is actually being dishonest when they express that doubt. Sye, and others like him, will often be so arrogant as to claim that everyone KNOWS that their specific God exists and if everyone knows than those that don't believe in God are actually LYING.

Even worse those theists who struggle with the question of whether their God is real or not are also lying, since they already KNOW. This presupposition makes the very act of doubting or disbelief impossible.

Essentially the issue with this is that it can be used to prove literally ANYTHING imaginable. If I say that Bigfoot exists and that everyone already KNOWS for a fact that he does and disbelievers are just dishonest or in denial than I have essentially admitted that I have no good reason to believe in Bigfoot. It's like walking into a debate and saying the words, “I'm right, therefore I win!” with a big self-satisfied grin and walking right back out again believing you've won. From Sye's website (with emphasis added):

“The Bible teaches us that there are 2 types of people in this world, those who profess the truth of God's existence and those who suppress the truth of God's existence. The options of 'seeking' God, or not believing in God are unavailable. The Bible never attempts to prove the existence of God as it declares that the existence of God is so obvious that we are without excuse for not believing in Him.”

The intellectual equivalent of presuppositional apologetics
The intellectual equivalent of presuppositional apologetics

You haven't won, you've just made an ass of yourself and your entire belief system. You've just done the intellectual equivalent of internet trolling. How can we have a meaningful dialogue if you will not admit that you might be wrong? If I am willing to be proven wrong shouldn't you also be? And if you hope to prove an atheist wrong it might help to have a little more evidence than 'God's real cause he is, a derp tee derp'. This is why Sye's website contains arguments (pathetic as they are), because the presupposition that God exists is not an argument in and of itself, it's a discussion ending admission that the theist has absolutely nothing to present as evidence.

Conclusion


There can be few things more arrogant than starting with the assumption that not only is your position absolutely correct but that your opponent already knows this. In declaring your victory without proving your case you inherently show the weakness of your position and unintentionally make a mockery of the very thing you are trying to demonstrate. You alienate not only the unbeliever you are presumably attempting to convert but you also alienate believers who aren't total asshats like you are.

Theists please do your beliefs a favor, don't be a presuppositionalist.

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Comments 15 comments

WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 4 years ago from Space Coast

Dang, bro. You are a one trick pony. Diversify.


Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull 4 years ago from back in the lab again Author

You know WD I do have hubs about subjects other than religion. Simply because it's my MAIN topic doesn't mean it's my ONLY topic. Perhaps you should do a little more reading before you claim to know all my writing =P


Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 4 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

I suppose you had something to say here, but, I didn't understand a thing being discussed.


Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull 4 years ago from back in the lab again Author

@Dave Matthews

In order to understand some of it you have to visit Sye's website, proofthatgodexists.org as much of this hub is a direct rebuttal to the content there.

You also have to understand what I mean by presuppositional apologetics, these are folks who begin with the assumption that God exists and go from there. Folks like Sye deny the very idea that an atheist or an agnostic can exist and claim that ALL human beings inherently KNOW that God exists.


WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 4 years ago from Space Coast

Sorry, I am going by what you have put up since I used to be following you. I was hoping to see more variety from someone with so much talent. It is a turn off.


WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 4 years ago from Space Coast

I am over all of this atheistic crap. The first time I heard it, I dropped my rattle outside of my crib. It is more redundant than the christian fundamentalist stuff. It is safe to say that there is a limited audience for this tripe.

What's the point? Goad someone into the same old tired back and forth? Rally the like minded? Covert Christians to your way of thinking? Convince yourself?


Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 4 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

God does exist. That is my faith and my truth. I presume nothing.


EinderDarkwolf profile image

EinderDarkwolf 4 years ago from Tempe, A.Z.

Very well written, and you bring up a very valid point on the subject. Starting from the point of "I know God exists, you prove me wrong" and "Your lying if you say you know God doesn't exist" or "Your lying if you don't know if God exists" seems to be the starting point of most. Instead of working to prove their beliefs, or even show their beliefs as valid to others, they criticize them for not having the same belief. Definitely well written. Voted up, plus oned, shared, and stumbled! lol


WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 4 years ago from Space Coast

See what I mean, same ol' same ol'. If there was an original thought around here, it would die of loneliness.

C-ya!


Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull 4 years ago from back in the lab again Author

@WD

Do you have anything of substance to add or are you just going to complain? No one is forcing you to be here.

@Dave Matthews

I'm aware that you and many others believe that God exists. Presuppositionalists take it one step further, they assume that God is real by default and claim that anyone who disagrees has to prove THEM wrong. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the way BURDEN OF PROOF works in a discussion or debate. The one making a positive CLAIM must provide the evidence for said claim.

Like I said in my hub the presuppositionalist position is essentially summed up as 'God exists because God exists", to them God's existence is an assumption made without any reason or support and anyone claiming to disbelieve or doubt God's existence is either lying or in denial.


Paladin_ profile image

Paladin_ 4 years ago from Michigan, USA

Very well said, Titen, and another excellent hub! I always look forward to reading your work.

As for the "one trick pony" nonsense, I say that if you're passionate and knowledgeable about a topic, you should explore it as comprehensively as you can. Don't let anyone taunt you out of continuing the good work you've been doing here. Keep 'em coming!


Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull 4 years ago from back in the lab again Author

@ Paladin_

Thanks for the kind words Paladin. I do try to diversify my writing but what can I say, I think the topic of atheism and theism are important and that discussion on those topics is intellectually stimulating.

Thanks again!


WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 4 years ago from Space Coast

What can I add that hasn't been said over and over and over ad nauseum? Like I said, C-Ya! Have a nice life.


Carneades-Georgia 4 years ago

Titen, I fathom all of your commentary. I concur with Paladin. See y'all at certain other hubs!

Titen, Lord Russell's celestial teapot argument enters the scene: his tea pot,contrary to advanced theologians and others, gainsays presuppositionalism, Plantinga's warrant and fideism. He describes the pot just as well as theists describe their Being Itself/ Sky Pappy such that the latter is vacuous. Those advanced theologians look at the silly notion but not at its reasoning[ They don't reason much any better than fundamentalists anyway!]!


artblack01 profile image

artblack01 4 years ago from New Mexico

Titen, what a great hub, as much as those that complain about us atheists making the arguments that God doesn't exist and why we don't believe and saying it's the same old same old should be aware that we are also responding to people not just here but in our life that we have to deal with. We are stating, not only what we don't believe and why we don't believe but we are also saying that if you intend to change our minds you'd have to do it on our terms not yours.

WD Curry, perhaps rather than trolling about how you think what someone has said is the same old boring stuff and you are sick of it why don't you either suggest a topic, ask a question or move on. I mean this is obviously an issue for him and many others so why don't you get over it. We are here to entertain and or inform but we are not here to entertain and or inform ONLY YOU.

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