Presuppositionalists in the Dock

This is an excellent analysis of the deficient objections against reformed apologetics and the answers to those objections


Internet gadfly, Jacob Brunton, believes presuppositional apologetics is maddening idiocy and any sound-minded believer who thinks presuppositionally and utilizes the methodology is a fool. He has taken to both Facebook and Twitter to rail against presuppers like myself.

Before we begin with a response to his missives, let’s remind ourselves of the main presup distinctives.

– Presuppositionalism desires to reform apologetic methodology. An apologetic approach that honors the sovereignty of God in salvation and the self-attesting nature of Scripture. It also focuses in upon the antithesis between believing and unbelieving thinking and philosophical worldviews. It then structures the Christian engagement with unbelievers according to a biblical framework. Classicists, like Jacob, will say they hold to the sovereignty of God in salvation, but they typically reject the self-attesting nature of Scripture and operate from the notion that proofs and evidence can be self-authenticating, as well as reasonably considered by unbelievers.


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Stay In Your Lane!

In a recent online discussion, I was asked the question “What difference is there between a Christian brain and an atheist brain?

Some background would probably be in order to fully understand the source of the questions. The claim was made by someone, who has rejected God, that the universe is a vast, cold, sparse place. I pushed back a little with a paraphrase of a quote from Richard Dawkins: if the universe is amoral, purposeless, blind, pitiless and indifferent – what is the source of morality, purpose, sight, pity and love?

The discussion continued to include a quote from CS Lewis which exposed the absurdity of naturalism

Another claim was made that humans are the source of morality, purpose, sight, pity and love. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t get my group of interlocutors to understand that humanity’s ability to discern truth was the focus of Lewis’s quote – IF NATURALISM IS TRUE as all of them were claiming. So, if naturalism were true, and humans were the source, they could not trust their discernment of this knowledge, and they persisted with the conjecture that since there is morality, purpose, sight, pity and love today that nature must have done it (via humans) although no evidence or demonstrations were forthcoming…just wild assertions. Leaving alone the fact that they still just assumed the universe formerly had no morality, purpose, sight, pity and love but with the accidental emergence of humans, suddenly morality, purpose, sight, pity and love unexpectedly sprang into existence.

And then the question from the beginning of the article: “What difference is there between a Christian brain and an atheist brain?”

While incredibly friendly and incredibly tall, the Tall Friendly Atheist Dad does not understand the process of worldview analysis. Eli Ayala from Revealed Apologetics does a great job explaining the process in this debate although Eli’s interlocutor never does get it either. To properly critique another person’s worldview, you must assume their worldview to point out the internal contradictions. In this case there are two internal contradictions for those who reject God:

  • The universe is amoral, purposeless, blind, pitiless, & indifferent BUT part of the universe inexplicably exhibits morality, purpose, sight, pity and love
  • If the human brain is simply a product of chemical forces acting on accidentally accumulated particles, there’s no reason to trust thoughts, BUT thoughts are trusted

So, when the Tall Friendly Atheist Dad asks his question, we must ask that question from the Christian presupposition to see if there are contradictions, and then we must ask the question from the naturalist presupposition to see if naturalist presuppositions can rationally support the question. The following table is with Christian presuppositions:

Christian Brain(Professing) Atheist Brain
Knowledge of God is innate (Romans 1). Because God has revealed some of His knowledge, the Christian has a pathway to certaintyKnowledge of God is innate (Romans 1). While the atheist can know things (even though they reject the Source), they cannot justify knowledge
Brains created by God for his glory (Gen 1:27, Ps 100:1). Brains would be expected to generally function as intended. Brains created by God for his glory (Gen 1:27, Ps 100:1). Those who suppress the knowledge of God seek their own glory & are subject to futile thinking
Brains, while designed for knowledge of God & discovering the universe, have been affected by the fall & are in a suboptimal state until the restoration (Isa 11)Brains that suppress God’s truth are subject to futile and darkened thinking. If damaged, one could recognize it as broken since no objective standard exists by which to compare
Brains that begin with the fear of the Lord have a foundation for wisdom and knowledgeBrains that reject God have no sufficient justification for knowledge

You can see from the above table, that there is no internal contradiction for those who presuppose God. Rational thought is viable, and those who reject God will have no pathway to justified true beliefs. The following table takes into account the assumptions of the professing atheist and/or naturalist in attempting to answer the question from above:

Christian BrainNaturalist Brain
Over time particles coalesced & came alive. As selection pressures increased & complexity of neurons increased, brains formed. Brains developed the ability to reason, love, & comprehend Over time particles coalesced & came alive. As selection pressures increased & complexity of neurons increased, brains formed. Brains developed the ability to reason, love, & comprehend
Chemical reactions in the brain determined the belief that there is a God Chemical reactions in the brain determined the belief that there is no God
At BEST, only provisional knowledge possible since some future discovery could overturn current foundation of knowledge At BEST, only provisional knowledge possible since some future discovery could overturn current foundation of knowledge

The argument that Lewis made has been misconstrued as “Atheists can’t do things like know things, drive a car, do math, or love people because they believe their brain is just a collection of particles. But this is ridiculous because we atheists do all of that.” It’s not that Christians are smart and atheists are dumb. Lewis wasn’t saying that.

This is NOT the substance of the argument. The argument rather is that since we can know things, drive cars, do math, and love people – that it is incongruent to believe brains are just a collection of particles. Rather than questioning their assumptions about the unobserved past or the inability to recreate/observe consciousness emerging from particles, they instead just wildly assert that rationality MUST have simply appeared because we observe rationality today.

The key to remember in these discussions is: which worldview (collection of presuppositions) provides sufficient justification for knowledge, love, information, reasoning…everything? As shown above, the presuppositions that deny God are woefully deficient in justification. The only worldview that can sufficiently (and exclusively) do this is Christianity since the Creator, who knows everything and is eternally faithful, revealed Himself through what He made, through the Bible, and through his incarnation.

Can Evolution Explain Software? 2.0

The guys at Stuff You Should Know Podcast released a recent episode called Dragons: As Real as Mermaids. They always have interesting topics, and I thought this episode would be a good topic for listening during a lunchtime walk around the neighborhood with the family dog, Diego

Following is a near-quote from one of the hosts. If you don’t like that “near-quote” qualification, feel free to listen to the podcast, put in what you think I was missing, and quibble at the edges of this presentation rather than bringing an argument against the REAL substance of this article, but your protestations will be swept aside as nitpicking.

Humans evolved and primates evolved with the fear of 3 predators basically: snakes, big cats & eagles. It sorta makes sense that every culture sorta has a dragon myth because you might combine the 3 scariest things into 1 super scary thing: a dragon….David Jones: His premise is that we have these ancient fears of these things & as we evolved & became humans we told each other stories, these things combined into this 1 big mythological monster which is basically the sum of our most primal fears

Having recently completed a post entitled Can Evolution Explain Software? that quote above left me with even MORE questions about a process that is claimed to be able to explain all of biology and that nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution.

  • What evolutionary mechanism produces heritable code for “primal fears” and “learned behaviors”?
  • What is the proof of this mechanism?

A note about proof – Sufficient proof would be:

  1. DNA and/or epigenetic code in a creature that does not have fear of snakes, big cats, and eagles
  2. DNA and/or epigenetic code in a creature that is an immediate descendant of the creature above that does have fear of snakes, big cats, and eagles
  3. Comparison of the DNA/epigenetic code that is quantifiable
  4. Repeatable proof of the mechanism that produces the quantifiable changes to the heritable material
  5. Repeat for as many creatures as possible to avoid the idea of a one-time miracle. This will validate a patterned process in nature.

As always, the disclaimer: This site maintains the presupposition that God is the Creator and that revelation in creation, in the Bible, and through the incarnation are the only sufficient justifications for all of reality. Because God revealed in the Bible that animals (including the code for their behavior “software” was preprogrammed by the Almighty Engineer) are a product of his direct creation according to their kinds. God’s revelation is in direct conflict with the claims made by evolutionists that gradual and rare accumulation of information through a process of death and suffering (evolution) prior to the sin of mankind are false. But we (as Christian apologists) are encouraged to “Answer the fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.” Proverbs 26:5. Therefore, in the following paragraphs, I will do a very brief skeptical analysis of the claims of the evolutionist in conjuring up the answers to the questions above

As noted above, the podcast hosts got much of their opening thoughts from an author named David Jones. Following the sourced and linked materials to this wiki page only raises more questions and inconsistencies. Words & phrases like “claims”, “argues”, “hypothesis”, “proposes”, “suggests”, “lack of evidence” and “it cannot be demonstrated that the fears of ancestral hominids are coded in the human brain” litter the article. But perhaps the links included within the article will shed more light on the claims of the evolutionists…

In the wiki page for instinct, we find only hypotheses and post hoc fallacies attempted explanations. As we continue in the chain of sources to find the elusive mechanism and proof, I followed the link to Genetic Memory

This wiki page left us with this gem:

It is based on the idea that common experiences of a species become incorporated into its genetic code, not by a Lamarckian process that encodes specific memories but by a much vaguer tendency to encode a readiness to respond in certain ways to certain stimuli

No explanation. No mechanism. No proof. Just a big “vaguer” claim. Maybe the included link to Epigenetics would solve the mystery

Nothing here, except the realization that (at best) epigenetics has control over only physiological phenotypic traits. They also seem unaware the epigenetics eviscerated evolutionary theory when it was discovered a few years ago. Might the link to Behavioral Genetics answer our questions?

Here we find some correlations between some behaviors and epigenetic markers, but no mechanisms or proofs. Surely, THIS next one is the one!!!

Evolutionary Neuroscience! That sounds like a solution to most any problem. But…nothing to see here either except:

  • “the evolution & function of the human cerebral cortex is still shrouded in mystery”
  • “the organization of the brain cannot be ascertained only by analyzing fossilized skulls”
  • “Visual cues & motoric pathways developed millions of years earlier in our evolution”

They’ve inadvertently “hidden” their inability to answer with the vague and ambiguous terms: “developed” “millions of years ago” and “evolution”. Large on claims. Short on substance

Clearly, this exercise was a brief introduction into the murky waters of testing the claims of the evolutionists. But a pattern is emerging – Keep digging because SURELY SOMEONE has this whole thing figured out. SURELY someone has ironclad proof of the claims that at one point, there was no coded information for primal fears in creatures…and then there WAS coded information for primal fears within creatures. And this heritable information was produced by some naturalistic mechanism. Right?

I predict that one kind lazy evolutionist will post a reply to this article saying “You didn’t research deep enough, [insert relevant epithet]”

The other kind of lazy evolutionist will say, “just because evolution doesn’t have the answer to your questions today, doesn’t mean your preferred deity did it.”

To which I would reply, then why do you propose that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”? And I’ve already told you that my God did it…I’m just showing you why your naturalistic “deity” (evolution) is short on actual answers.

A more robust evolutionist will post a peer reviewed article behind a paywall and say “See, proof” without going into details or revealing the answers to the questions…and once actually read, that article will be devoid of the answers requested

A last brand of evolutionist might say, “but some Christians believe in evolution. Are they wrong too.”

To which I would reply, why would a Christian espouse a godless mechanism that invokes death & suffering for biology in place of the miracle that God ACTUALLY revealed?

God is worthy of praise because He is good. We can clearly see his eternal power and divine nature in what He has made, and because we can trust what He has revealed about the past – we can trust Him with our future!