Bible Contradiction? Did Jesus Claim That No One Has Ever Gone to Heaven?

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It’s a fairly common online assertion that the Bible is “fuLL oF cOnTraDicTioNs!” by those who are unfamiliar with the common mistakes that skeptics make when they make such claims. In a recent online discussion, a God-denier claimed that that Bible was full of contradictions. The principle assertion of contradiction was that Elijah ascended into Heaven (2 Kings 2:11) but Jesus claimed in John 3:13 that no one but the Son has ever ascended into Heaven

https://twitter.com/AmputeeAtheist/status/1538180851002970113?s=20&t=lNX1CRdWwIG0GNEupkEzRQ

Before I begin the rebuttal, let the reader understand that God-deniers have no grounds for declaring anything to be contradictory. Unless one starts with the God, who has revealed Himself in creation, in the Bible, and in the incarnation, there is no possible justification for logic, knowledge, morality, or truth. So, when a God-denier (like AmputeeAtheist) claims that the Bible contains contradictions, he has no logical or knowledgeable grounding from which to determine anything to be contradictory. From the perspective of the God-denier, there is only chaotic matter. As the imminent naturalist Carl Sagan religiously stated: “The cosmos is all there is, or was or ever will be.” There is no room in the worldview of the naturalist for unchanging abstract absolutes like laws of logic or induction. Lastly, before I refute this critic, AmputeeAtheist has NOT demonstrated conclusively that this is even a contradiction. He has taken only a paper-thin glance at the words (likely from an atheist meme online) and declared lazily that it ‘jUsT hAs tO bE a cOntraDictiOn”. For it to actually be a contradiction, no possible explanation can exist (which I will show below), and AmputeeAtheist has failed to demonstrate that there is no possible resolution. The unjustified assertion that “there is a contradiction” is echo chamber material suitable only for the “atheist choir”.

Let’s see what Jesus said in John 3:13

And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven

Is Jesus saying that no one has ever gone to Heaven? Would Jesus have been familiar with the 2 Kings passage that describes how Elijah was whisked off to Heaven in a chariot? Of course! So, why would Jesus make the claim that none have ascended into heaven?

To answer this, we must 1st look at the scriptures (the Old Testament) to see what Jesus was actually saying. Since the New testament is essentially the inspired commentary & fulfillment of what was revealed in the old testament, we should exegete (study the scripture) to see what Jesus might have meant when He said “ascend”.

Throughout the old testament, there is a theme that those, who met with God or interacted with God, did so on the mountaintops. This is important because man was incapable of getting to the “heavens” where God was. The understanding is that God must, in his grace, come down to meet mankind because man is unable to get to Him

  • Gen 8:18-22 When the ark landed on the mountains of Ararat, Noah built an altar to the LORD. Noah could worship the Lord, but despite the fact that Noah was at the highest point, he could not ascend to heaven
  • Gen 11 Shortly after the flood, the people intended to build a tower to the Heavens so that instead of proclaiming the Name of God as image bearers, they wanted to make a name for themselves as gods. The people at the tower of Babel failed to ascend to the presence of God.
  • Gen 22 God told Abraham to ascend Mount Moriah to sacrifice Isaac there. At the top of that mountain, God intervened and provided a substitute atonement for Abraham and his son. Abraham ascended as high as he could, but God had to descend from Heaven to meet with Abraham
  • There are 149 places in the ESV of the use of the phrase “high places”. Even the pagan worshippers, who setup their idols put them on the mountains or high places as a failed attempt to ascend to the Heavens or ascend to their false deity
  • Exodus 3 – Moses was tending his sheep on Mount Horeb and this is where God descended to meet with Moses. Moses could not ascend to Heaven. God had to come down to meet with Moses
  • Exodus 19 – Moses ascends Mount Sinai to meet with God, but since Moses cannot ascend into Heaven into the presence of God, God says in verse 9 “I am going to come to you” at the highest point you can possibly reach, which is far short of ascending to Heaven.
  • Exodus 34 – This theme is repeated but stated more clearly.in verse 2 God tells Moses to “come up on Mount Sinai” and in verse 5 it says “the LORD came down”. No one (including Moses) can ascend to Heaven in their own power.

Secondly and more importantly, let’s look to see in what context Jesus was speaking these words to Nicodemus. In the interaction Jesus has just scolded Nicodemus that as Israel’s presumed teacher, Nicodemus (while knowledgeable of the scriptures) does not understand them

Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.

John 3:10-13

Jesus is taking from Proverbs 30, which is a lament by the author in his realization that rejecting the understanding/knowledge/wisdom of God is stupid. Jesus is equating the author of Proverbs 30 with Israel’s teachers of the law in general and Nicodemus specifically.

Surely I am too stupid to be a man. I have not the understanding of a man. I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One. Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know!

Proverbs 30:2-4

The author continues saying that there is no who who can ascend into heaven to learn from God and return to teach the people about God. But in John 3, Jesus claims to ACTUALLY be the One, who has done this. Jesus has been in the presence of the Father, and He has both descended and ascended to the Father to bring both knowledge and forgiveness to mankind. Unlike what the skeptic has learned from atheist memes, Jesus is not claiming that no one has ever gone to Heaven. Jesus is displaying his rightful divinity and exposing, that despite their rote memorization of the law/prophets, the supposed teachers of Israel are unlearned (stupid) about God.

Nicodemus would also have recognized from Jesus’s words the passage in Deuteronomy 30 where Moses writes

“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?‘ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.

Deuteronomy 30:11-14

For those, whom the LORD has called and empowered, the commands of God are expectations. To follow those commands, one need not perform the impossible tasks of “ascend to heaven” or swim “beyond the sea” to obey. And yet, when Israel (and ultimately all of mankind) do fail to keep God’s commands, Jesus is faithful to perform the impossible Himself: bring the knowledge of God from Heaven down to mankind and atone for man’s disobedience.

Jesus does not stray from his consistent train of thought in John 6 verses 38, 42-44 and 62-63

For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me…So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day…Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

John 6

Jesus did not claim that no one has ever died and gone to Heaven. Considering Jesus knowledge of the scriptures, the context of his teaching, and the audience, it is clear that Jesus was identifying Himself as God, who has been in the presence of the Father, but has descended to mankind to bring knowledge and redemption.

We also see from Jesus’s disciples that they understood Jesus to be talking about Himself as descending from Heaven. John the Baptist says in John 3:31

He (Jesus) who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks an earthly way. He (Jesus) who comes from heaven is above all. He bears witness to what He has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true.

John 3:31-33

And Paul in Rom 10 and I Cor 15

But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘who will ascend into heaven?'” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘who will descend into the abyss?'” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

The first man (Adam) was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man (Jesus) is from heaven.

And while Paul did not specifically use the words ascend or descend in Philippians 2, it is clear that Jesus came from the presence of the Father in Heaven to descend to earth

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross

Philippians 2:5-8

There are no contradictions in the Bible. Although the God-denier was lazy and ignorant of the scriptures in making the claim that Jesus contradicted the scriptures with his words in John 3, with an understanding of the context, we see that it is silly to make such a claim. If you’re interested in more articles like this, check out the ever-growing list of refuted claims-of-contradiction by the author of Domain for Truth!

Because God, who knows everything and is eternally faithful, can be trusted in his revelation about the past, we can trust His revelation about our future

Magic

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A beetle sees a cat jump so high and far in a single bound that the beetle can no longer see it. The beetle exclaims:

Magic! That’s impossible. It’s got to be magic

But all along, the cat was performing something completely within its domain of power even if the beetle could not understand it since ability like that is beyond its imagination

A cat sees a turtle purposely submerge itself in a pond and reappear hundreds of paw prances away. It exclaims:

Magic! That’s impossible. It’s got to be magic

But all along, the turtle was performing something completely within its domain of power even if the cat could not understand it since ability like that is beyond its imagination

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A turtle see a bird extend feathered appendages from its torso, levitate into THIN AIR, and propel itself away at dangerous speeds. It exclaims:

Magic! That’s impossible. It’s got to be magic

But all along, the bird was performing something completely within its domain of power even if the turtle could not understand it since ability like that is beyond its imagination

A bird sees a human enter a stationary impenetrable 4-wheeled box and after that box leaves and returns, the human emerges unharmed with three dozen eggs. It exclaims:

Magic! That’s impossible. It’s got to be magic

But all along, the human was performing something completely within its domain of power even if the bird could not understand it since ability like that is beyond its imagination

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A human God-denier sees God’s eternal power and divine nature in the things that have been made. It exclaims:

Magic! That’s impossible. It’s got to be magic

But all along, God was performing something completely within His domain of power even if the God-denier suppressed the knowledge of God in unrighteousness and mocked Christians for believing in magic

The mockery of Christians for “believing in magic” is an immature and lazy argument, because the Almighty has no restrictions within his domain – which is everything. For the God-denier to shriek “you believe in magic” is the same as the beetle attributing magical powers to cats. Don’t argue like beetles

And all along the beetle, cat, turtle, and bird praised God for his common grace

Can Evolution Explain The Indonesian Mimicry Octopus?

In an online exchange, I asked a God-denier to provide evidence that evolution could explain the origins of the Indonesian Mimic Octopus. This exchange happened after after the person with the Twitter profile name, @AmputeeAtheist, called a Christian brother “stupid” for showing in an article how evolutionists have bad assumptions rather than evidence for their theory

In the link that @AmputeeAtheist provided which supposedly provided proof that evolution can explain the origins of any octopus…let alone the Indonesian Mimic Octopus, we are given several options to choose from to verify his claims.

Unbeknownst to @AmputeeAtheist, since he failed to read his own link, the second article in his list was written by Dr. Brian Thomas, who works for The Institute For Creation Research. How embarrassing for him

Embarrassing Link for God-Deniers

If you haven’t had a chance, stop now and watch the video in @Rational_faith_ ‘s article about the Indonesian Mimic Octopus. God’s design is indeed wondrous!

As I have done in my series of articles exposing evolution’s inability to explain anything, I’ll take a couple of the “scientific” articles in @AmputeeAtheist ‘s link and expose how there’s no actual evidence in them, but they are littered with assumptions and ambiguity:

Here’s the first article in the list – https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/60/11/962/329655?login=true

Most of the article is behind a paywall, but the article reveals how little these highly-trained lab coats know about the evolution of octopi.

“remarkable”
“astonishing”
“unusual”
“There is also conflicting research about whether its defense mechanisms are learned or inherited”
“The researchers had predicted…Instead, they discovered…”
“evolved”

“the traits evolved”

You’ll notice the deafening lack of details and the monumental surprise of the researchers that an octopus could have evolved

The second article in @AmputeeAtheist’s link, as was pointed out earlier, was written by a Christian, who trusts God’s revelation in scripture that animals were created rather than evolved, so there’s no need to expose the evolutionary deceit there. But you can read this magnificent article here. So, we’ll move on to the next article

This article is FULL of assumptions and ambiguity but is however lacking evidence that evolution can explain the origins of the Indonesian Mimic Octopus (IMO). Let’s review what it would take to show evidence

  • DNA of direct ancestor species of IMO without mimic traits
  • Repeatable evolutionary mechanism (X) that creates the information that builds phenotypic traits for the IMO to mimic more than 15 disparate species
  • Repeatable evolutionary mechanism (Y) that creates the information that controls (software) the phenotypic traits for the IMO to mimic more than 15 disparate species
  • Both mechanisms (X) and (Y) must be unguided and shown to be mechanisms that transform DNA base pairs in single, successive, slight modifications

Let’s see if this article contains any evidence like that or if it’s filled with assumptions

Before you shriek “Quote-mining!!!!”, you can read the whole article here and if you can show that instead of assumptions and ambiguity, there is actual evidence, be my guest. But on to the analysis. NOTES: Quotes from the article are in italics, and my comments of each quote are directly below:

flatfish swimming appears to have evolved concurrently with extremely long arms

Notice that the details are missing. And asserting (completely without evidence) that anything evolved concurrently is incompatible with evolutionary assumptions that the process of evolution proceeds with numerous, successive, slight modifications

the subsequent diversification of their descendents into lineages with successful conspicuous defence behaviours, remains a puzzling topic in evolutionary biology

Puzzling? Clearly!

have evolved

Details missing!

Maybe we’ll find the answer in the section titled: TOWARDS AN EVOLUTIONARY UNDERSTANDING OF A CONSPICUOUS PRIMARY DEFENCE IN T. MIMICUS

explore possible scenarios for the evolution

Possible scenarios? You mean there’s no ACTUAL evidence, just possible scenarios? That’s what I’ve been saying all along

Central to this investigation is the well-documented fact that many behaviours, including visual defences and their associated body colour patterns (e.g. Brodie III, 1989), are heritable traits

The link supposedly pointing to Brodie’s article is broken and subsequent search for the CENTRAL PILLAR TO THIS INVESTIGATION was fruitless. An article written by Brodie, on which their whole research relies, is missing in action

we assume

Obviously!

possible social mimicry…may also influence

More assumptions

evolve at the same time

Details missing!

Exaptations, by contrast, are traits that ‘are fit for their current role … but were not designed for it’

There is by definition NO DESIGN in evolution.

evolved originally either as adaptations for other uses

Details missing!

is likely to have evolved early in this lineage

Details missing! Assumptions abound!

we estimated genealogical relationships

Estimated? Estimated? I thought this was supposed to be about evidence

In the event of discrepancies between our observations and published accounts we followed our own observations

There was a fine chart (Figure 2) that presumed to show evolutionary relationships. However, they brought their own argument into question that they relied on evidence rather than subjective opinion in their admission above

appears most closely related

Ambiguity persists in that quote

may have evolved

Lots of assumptions and the details missing!

it appears that

Ambiguity persists

behavioural and morphological traits emerge concurrently

Incompatible with evolutionary assumptions that the process of evolution proceeds with numerous, successive, slight modifications

may have yielded

More ambiguity

may have evolved

Details missing!

may enable

More ambiguity

may evolve imperfect mimicry of an intermediate form

More ambiguity and where’s this intermediate form? ANOTHER missing link?

Although the lack of a conclusive flatfish model has generally been identified as a weakness in the cephalopod mimicry literature (Hanlon et al., 2008), we feel it reflects imperfect mimicry of multiple models in regions of high biodiversity

Feelings and weaknesses saturate this article

We do not know how potential unpalatability…may further contribute to predator confusion, learning, and/or future avoidance

They DO NOT KNOW…no doubt

The pattern is emerging that evolution, while presented as a theory with oVerWheLmiNg evidence, is instead supported by massive assumptions behind a venire of white lab coats

The Altruism Exchange – Part 3

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In part 1 and part 2 of the rebuttal to the Tall Friendly Atheist Dad’s objections to my original article: “Can Evolution Explain Altruism” we saw that he objected from the margins and never really addressed the meat of the article. He has shown himself to be verbose and persistent…and friendly. Let’s see if Part 3 of his objection will produce some positive criticism. As before, the tall friendly one will be referred to as TFAD, TFAD’s comments will be in red.

My original post included the line “So, scientists have recognized that it is counter-intuitive to assume that altruism fits within the evolutionary explanations”. And it’s not just scientists. There’s an inherent understanding that a mechanism (evolution) that’s taught as “survival of the fittest”, “red in tooth and claw”, and “culls the weak” has basic problems also explaining sacrificial giving to help the weak survive, empathy, and protecting the weak (even of other species) at the expense of one’s own reproductive success. But TFAD declares:

“This is wrong, as well as completely missing the point. No expert on the subject says that altruism is on the whole incompatible with evolution as a mechanism for human development or advancement. Nay, a cursory Google Scholar search for “evolutionary origins human altruism” brings up over 80’000 results which actually tie human altruism to evolution”

There are so many things with TFAD’s objection to dissect. Best start at the top:

  • For him to declare someone to be wrong, he would have to have absolute knowledge, but an epistemology which assumes naturalism has no such foundation for the preconditions of intelligibility. This is not just me lazily saying “I’m right and you’re wrong!” He has recognized the deficiency in his own worldview
  • AND, I am NOT wrong. People that TFAD would recognize as experts (no creationist links below) DO recognize the inherent contradiction of the mechanisms of evolution with altruism. While researchers think they may have answers, the point remains – Altruism is in conflict with evolutionary thought.
  • “No expert” – While TFAD did not specifically define expert, it would not take long to infer what he means by expert. Are experts only those who have PhDs? What about PhDs who are Christians? What about PhDs who have different ideological assumptions than you? What about PhDs who are employed by companies that you consider biased? If a person does not have a PhD can they object or point out inconsistencies in a claim/idea? Since TFAD does not have a PhD (or recognized expertise beyond height/friendliness) why is his objection to my exposure of evolutionary deficiency worth considering? This is not to say that education is bad or that there are not people who are highly trained in specific fields. There are. And I am questioning the assumptions, processes, and conclusions of some of those experts because their reasoning (as I have shown) is questionable. People mustn’t be silenced because they do not have fancy letters after their name. No one would consider me an expert in biology, which exposes the inadequacy of the explanations of evolutionists for altruism, since a non-expert (me) has easily shown the flaws in their thinking
  • TFAD found more than 80,000 results when searching for “evolutionary origins human altruism”, and he interpreted this as “See, evolution explains altruism”. This is what is called prejudicial conjecture. Rather than reading the 80,000 results or even a few of them, he just assumed (with his bias) that all of them are the answer. If we were to use the methodology of TFAD to try to answer the question “Is inflation good for the economy?” Google returns about 269,000,000 results. And following his progression of thought, I could claim “no, it is not! See, there are 269,000,000 articles telling me why.” I’m sure you all see the flaw TFAD’s argument, and it hath a name: prejudicial conjecture.

TFAD proceeds next down the well-worn “rabbit trail” of criticizing presuppositional apologetics again for a few paragraphs. It’s not really part of the discussion, but it gives TFAD warm fuzzies to be critical of philosophies with which he disagrees. But back to the real substance of the ongoing debate

I wrote “Essentially, he told me that science DOES have answers, and I’m ignorant of those answers because I’ve never read them” and TFAD countered:

“Not quite. I never said he was ignorant of the answers because he’s never read them. What I will say is that lousy epistomology (sp) utilising intellectually treasonous theology prevents people with theological blinders on from accepting the fact they could ever be wrong about something, particularly when that something challenges their deeply-held religious convictions. So ApoloJedi is not ignorant because he hasn’t read the answers – he’s ignorant (to use his word) because his chain of logic prevents him from ever being corrected on any topic he sees as contradictory to his theology.”

TFAD again has fallen into the trap of misunderstanding the entire purpose of the original blog post. I used the definitions of the evolutionists. I used the papers and books of the evolutionists. I used the links and assumptions of the evolutionists…all as an internal critique of their explanations of things (altruism) clearly seen. What remains unseen are their assumptions that natural selection acting on random mutations in the struggle for survival can produce behavior that is sacrificial to the reproductive fitness of the giver. TFAD says that I am opposed to “ever being corrected on any topic he sees as contradictory to his theology”. Should TFAD desire to take this path of argumentation, he needs to establish an epistemology with transcendent justification whereby his philosophical foundation is sufficient to correct others. As already shown and as he has already admitted, his philosophical foundation is unable to do so. Even if he does not want to go so deep as to engage in metaphysical foundations (as he really hates presuppositional apologetics), he could at the very least demonstrate (from his own perspective) the necessary evidence that evolutionary mechanisms can produce altruistic behavior in creatures where their direct ancestor did not behave altruistically. This glaring deficiency is what precipitated the original blog post in the 1st place, and TFAD would rather distract and pick at nits than demonstrate actual evidence that would put the whole issue to bed.

Fehr/Fischbacher

When, in my original post, I said “They (Fehr/Fischbacher) clearly recognize the counter-intuitive nature of the claim that evolution can sufficiently account for altruism”, TFAD almost shouted:

“No they don’t! ApoloJedi can quote an abstract, but not read it properly – it said “current gene-based theories” cannot explain, but it did not say evolution on the whole can’t account for it…All they said was that according to current gene-only evolutionary models, no theory sufficiently explains human altruism – hence why they believe the need for a co-evolutionary model that incorporates both genes and culture”

Gene-based theory IS the theory of evolution. Remember bullet points 2, 3, and 4 from the original post

There was nothing about culture, which TFAD now suddenly adds to the mix. TFAD never defines culture, but we can infer that he’s jumped down the Lamarkian rabbit hole of thinking that acquired characteristics can be passed on genetically. Lamarkism, the idea that a weightlifter will produce offspring with higher percentages of muscle or someone who pierces their ears will have offspring with pierced ears, is now generally dismissed, but there are rare exceptions. The theory of evolution is taught that beneficial heritable genetic traits persist while natural selection “weeds out” phenotypes that are unfit.

Moving on -> Many of you are familiar with the term “gaslighting“. TFAD attempts to gaslight the audience by questioning the reader’s understanding of reality. In the original post, I pointed out the redefinition of altruism made by Fehr/Fischbacher when in their definition of a new mysterious force they have defined as “Strong Reciprocity”, they talk about being rewarded for altruistic behavior “Reward? If there is a reward, it’s not altruism. Right from the beginning, they change the definition of altruism from something that is unselfish to appeal to the inherent selfishness”. But TFAD gaslights the reader by saying

“At no point do either of these definitons (sp) nor the SEP definition consider altruism as “doing something beneficial for no thought of reward””

When the very definition of altruism IS “Behavior by an animal that is not beneficial to or may be harmful to itself but that benefits others of its species”. When Fehr/Fischbacher introduce “reward”, they are not longer talking about altruism. But TFAD continues to say that selfish rewards and expecting “fair outcomes” are part of altruism, when we know in reality that altruism has nothing to do with selfishness or expecting fair outcomes. TFAD again tries to distract when he says

“I really don’t care about Merrian-Webster’s definition – I’d much rather use Stanford’s version because it is more academcially (sp) rigorous”

This reminds me of the objection from evolutionists that they have successfully refuted Michael Behe’s example of irreducible complexity in the standard mousetrap. In an analogy, Behe described the necessary components of the standard mousetrap (Model SM) as needing a base, spring, hammer, catch, and trigger all arranged in a very specific ingenious way that these pieces interact to kill mice. The analogy is that a blind/purposeless/atomic process (evolution) cannot produce the standard mousetrap (SM) that we see today, because it requires multiple interacting parts to be assembled in place with all proper tolerances, dimensions, materials, and initial conditions lest it not be preserved for lack of functionality. The evolutionists have said that there are mousetraps (not model SM, but model FF) that do not require the 5 interacting pieces. But that’s not Behe’s claim. Evolutionists have to account for what is seen, which is Model SM. Sure an intelligent objector can theorize Model FF that is designed to catch mice a different way, but Model SM (which is analogously seen today in complex interacting biological systems) is irreducibly complex. So, what TFAD has subtly done is propose a different definition of altruism (like Model FF) in an attempt to distract from evolution’s inability to explain real altruism (Model SM). And just like the evolutionist’s failed attempt to explain away irreducible complexity, TFAD’s attempt similarly fails.

In a last ditch effort to object to my questioning of evolution’s claimed abilities, TFAD distances himself from the very sources that he recommended. He posted a link from Google Scholar that he recommended I should analyze before questioning whether evolution could explain altruism, and Fehr/Fischbacher were 1st in the list.

“And you know why? Because Fehr & Fischbacher are economists with specialisations in human behaviour – not geneticists.”

Now that I’ve pressed back on his claims that evolution can explain altruism, it’s likely that he would not call Fehr/Fischbacher “experts” since they are just economists, even though he recommended them in the 1st place

While TFAD has been less than complimentary about creationist’s understanding of the theory of evolution, we now have to point out the TFAD does not understand the finer points of evolution

“Convergent evolution ain’t no mere assertion – it’s a demonstrable fact. Let’s think about it – if two separate primate species have overlapping characteristics and genetics, where do you think it’s pointing to?”

I had pointed out that the best that modern experiments can do when comparing common traits between widely disparate species would be to speculate that that it was the result of convergent evolution. Now convergent evolution is the description of the observation that two (or more) species that are not evolutionarily closely related have similar structures. An example would be wings. Birds, insects and bats have wings, but they are not closely related according to evolutionists, so evolutionists describe this marvel as convergent evolution. So, when TFAD says it’s demonstrable fact, it’s true that evolutionists have named an inexplicable observation as convergent evolution, but it doesn’t EXPLAIN anything. They could just have easily called it sorcery because those 2 terms have the same level of explanatory power – ZERO. TFAD thinks convergent evolution means “overlapping characteristics”, but as shown, it’s not overlapping traits from evolutionarily closely-related species. And it’s not a mechanism or a process. It’s just the assigned label of a mystery that’s devoid of explanation

Dawkins

Next TFAD takes aim at my analysis of Richard Dawkin’s book, The Selfish Gene. TFAD states:

“I’m curious as to why ApoloJedi chose The Selfish Gene instead of something like much more recent”

The Selfish Gene by RD is, according to the Royal Society, the most influential science book of all time. It has 4 editions, it’s written by the most well-known living evolutionist, and it’s sold over one million copies. The Guardian ranks it as the 10th best non-fiction book of all time. Why would I NOT choose to use one of the most popular science books written by one of the most popular science writers of all time in my article? If I had not, TFAD would have questioned why I DIDN’T use this popular and influential book. As noted in Part 1 of the Altruism Exchange, TFAD will have no end to the number of resources and books that I could have used. “Why not this one? Why not that one? Why not THOSE or THESE?!?!?” Ad infinitum

“Go tell Richard Dawkins that. He’ll be pleased a Creationist has been reading his books. But Dawkins is an expert in biology, not human psychology.”

Again with the “you’re not an expert” accusation. If nothing else, TFAD has shown that he’s the expert on who is NOT an expert. Well, maybe TFAD should go tell Richard Dawkins that despite all of the hours spent researching, writing, and publishing a book that attempts (and fails) to elucidate evolution’s ability to account for evolution, that he’s not an expert. Dawkins’ own words from the opening of his book tell us that he intended to write an account that explains clear examples of altruism via evolutionary mechanisms

Openstax Biology 2e

In his objection to the portion of my post that cited Openstax (the College Biology book), TFAD missed the whole point. In their chapter titled “Altruistic Behavior”, they gave examples and definitions of strong reciprocity and (like me) criticized the notion of a selfish gene being able to explain altruism. With the end of their examples, they proclaimed “Most of the behaviors described above do not seem to satisfy this definition (of altruism).” So they spent all that time trying to compose examples of why altruism is explained by evolution and then admitted, “but those aren’t TRULY altruistic”. And I agree. They were unable to give an accounting of observed altruism via evolutionary mechanisms. TFAD focuses instead on pulling the reader back to his preferred definition of altruism and opining that evolution is true.

TFAD: “Heritable traits that enhance one’s odds of survival – that sounds a heckuva lot like evolution to me”

Yes – heritable traits. But TFAD said that just after he quoted Openstax as saying “These instinctual behaviors may then be applied, in special circumstances, to other species, as long as it doesn’t lower the animal’s fitness.” But remember the definition of altruism? “behavior by an animal that is not beneficial to or may be harmful to itself but that benefits others of its species.” Astute readers will again see the raw contradiction…as I have been contending all along.

In the original article I said “In their first paragraph they invoke a sciency-sounding phrase, kin selection, as if merely naming an observation actually explains it…Kin selection like convergent evolution like strong reciprocity are terms that hide the explanation under the guise of science. People hear “kin selection” and assume, “well, it’s got a fancy name, so someone must have demonstrated that evolution is the only explanation for it.”” TFAD replies

“Got bad news for you, good sir – kin selection is an observed and documented scientific fact…Kin selection, strong reciprocity and convergent evolution are ALL documented phenomena in the scientific literature. Ignore it at your intellectual peril”

I never said kin selection wasn’t observed. I said kin selection doesn’t EXPLAIN altruism…or anything else. Like convergent evolution, kin selection is simply a label. It’s not an explanation. TFAD thinks that because the WhiteLabCoats have placed a label on something, that it has explanatory power, but AS I SAID in the original post, the label gives it no explanatory power.

TFAD put a lot of effort into his objections, and I appreciate the sharpening of thought and communication. But as shown, his objections never quite hit the core of the argument. His strong faith commitment to the theory of evolution prevented him from seeing the contradictions based on my internal critique of evolutionism, and his bias left my original contention completely intact that the theory of evolution cannot explain altruism.

The Altruism Exchange – Part 2

Photo by Greg on Pexels.com

Last week, in Part 1 we looked at the Tall Friendly Atheist Dad’s (TFAD) 1st response to my blog post of whether evolution can explain altruism or not. If you’ve not had a chance, I encourage you to read the original blog post in question, Can Evolution Explain Altruism? It defines evolution, altruism, and then analyzes the arguments of 3 evolutionary authorities, who claim to have explained why they think that the theory of evolution can indeed account for altruism. I’ll continue the pattern of referring to the Tall Friendly Atheist Dad as TFAD and his nitpicking as *NP* when he doesn’t actually address the arguments I’ve presented but just wants to be argumentative

Let’s see if Part 2 of TFAD’s objections have more teeth than Part 1. TFAD did not really appreciate the definition of evolution from the college biology textbook, Biology 2e, from OpenStax because he says

TFAD: “What piqued my interest here was that when I studied up on evolution, no-one ever mentioned anything to me about competition for limited resources”

To be clear, I never claimed to be analyzing what TFAD might or might not have been taught about evolution. It’s not my problem that he’s unfamiliar with the material, but I’m being very open as to what I am analyzing, and it’s NOT TFAD’s (lack of) understanding of evolution

But he’s focusing on the wrong details here. I’m clarifying the definition of the theory of evolution, not to disagree with those who teach it but to expose the inherent contradiction of saying that this theory can account for altruism. TFAD has fears that maybe I’m trying to sneak in some creationism when he says “or that you’re listening to the wrong people on the topic (evolution)”. Rather than critiquing what I wrote, he’s critiquing creationism in general, of which there is none in this article to critique. In American baseball terms, that’s a swing and a miss for TFAD.

TFAD did not approve of the amount of quoting that I did from the college textbook, because he opines:

TFAD: “I would have preferred if ApoloJedi quoted the whole text, including the first principle of natural selection, because to me, if you’re going to discuss a scientific principle – especially critically – you need to make sure you portray an accurate a picture as reasonable of what it is you’re criticising, including any representations from the source text.”

It might have been a fair objection, but those who read the original post see that I outlined the mechanism that TFAD thought I was missing (random mutations) several times. From my original post

For evolution to have explanatory power, there must be uncountable sequential individual heritable changes that are preserved solely by natural selection. Now Darwin had no idea about DNA or the unimaginable complexity of genetic code that is stored on DNA, but scientists after Darwin discovered the code of DNA which serves as the source of inheritance, the mutation of which supposedly provides for novel traits.

The mechanisms of evolution are natural selection acting on random mutations

I even highlighted the pertinent text in bold IN THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE. But we know he didn’t miss it, because he literally critiqued this paragraph in part 1 of his objections. So I can’t mark down this objections to nit picking as he ignored his previous objections and ignored the actual text that was included. It’s less than nit picking – it’s misleading

In my original post, I take 7 bullet points to summarize what is being taught as the grand theory of evolution when I write “Evolution can be verified by showing the gradual process of uncountable sequential individual heritable changes.”

TFAD again tries to distract from the original effort by simply being argumentative for argument’s sake when he tries to critique point 1 in my summary of evolution that “Evolution is unguided”:

TFAD: “However, without a higher purpose is a more suitable term than unguided

Again, this is a distinction without a difference – *NP*

TFAD: “However, if you wish to accept the Theistic Evolution hypothesis”

No, I have been very clear what I am critiquing. While I disagree with the theistic evolution hypothesis, I never claimed to be incorporating or critiquing any such rubbish. Why even bring it up? TFAD is again distracting from the target argument. Stay on target!

In point 2 of my summary I said “Evolution can be verified by showing the gradual process of uncountable sequential individual heritable changes.” And TFAD waxes eloquent in the next 6 paragraphs that I described the theory of evolution correctly

TFAD: “But we can, and have, demonstrated the overall sequence of gradual processes acting upon heritable changes…fossil record…phylogenetics…So yes, not only can evolution be verified by uncountable, sequential, individual and heritable changes – evolution HAS been verified by analysing the uncountable, sequential, individual heritable changes”

Yes, this is what evolutionists teach. What we will NOT see from the 3 sources that I critique in the original post is a “sequence of gradual processes acting upon heritable changes…fossil record…phylogenetics” that produces altruism, where before it did not exist. What I showed in my exposure of the sources is that they DID NOT reference the fossil record or phylogenetics to support their case that evolution can explain altruism. So, while TFAD blindly believes the theory of evolution to be true because of his great faith in the powers of nature and the sermons of the white lab coats, when skeptically analyzed, his faith and those of his fellow God-deniers is unwarranted

Again from my summary of evolution, “The mechanisms of evolution are natural selection acting on random mutations“, TFAD has a critique:

TFAD: “Firstly, while there is an element of randomness to evolution, but it is more of a feedback loop rather than something like lottery balls or coin tosses”

Random mutations are not feedback loops or lottery balls or coin tosses. Random mutations as have been shown by research are truly random, and trying to define them as feedback loops tries to dilute the enormous problem of constructing complex irreducible systems 1 step at a time with no foresight or purpose. My statement is a SUMMARY of what evolutionists teach. The neo-darwinian synthesis embraces the notion that evolution’s mechanisms are natural selection acting on random mutations. This is not disputed. TFAD is nitpicking *NP*

TFAD: “Secondly, it could be argued that natural selection doesn’t drive the changes.”

“Drive” is his word…not mine. Nobody (except TFAD) disagrees that the neo-darwinian synthesis is a combination of natural selection acting on random mutations. Again, TFAD mistakes this bullet point summary for a graduate level course on natural selection. More *NP*

TFAD: “Thirdly, those ‘random mutations’ could be one of a handful of observed mechanisms for genetic variation. Single nucleotide polymorphisms, insertions/deletions, polyploidy, genomic duplication, frameshift mutations, endogenous retroviruses and more.”

All of these supplemental mechanisms rely originally upon random mutations to have constructed genetic code for there to have even been something to polymorphize, insert, delete, duplicate or frameshift. So, while these minor mechanisms have been observed, they have not been observed to create any new information. But again, this is not the focus of the analysis. While I do understand the lure for TFAD to attack my perceived lack of knowledge, he again fails to stay on target with his response.

Another bullet-point from my summary of evolution was “Genetics determines traits, behaviors, and reproduction”

In response TFAD had this to say: “But again, it’s not the whole story…So the most reasonable way of putting it is to say that genetics has an INFLUENCE on traits”

Again, this is the very definition of nit-picking. He says it’s not the whole story, but a summary is not expected to be the whole story. Might TFAD be more assuaged had I said “primary influence” rather than determines? How large a change is it to say primary influence rather than determines? Maybe a nit and a half? *NP*

In summary point 5, I said “Organisms that are the most fit (greatest fitness) in their environment persist to pass their genes to subsequent generations”. TFAD inadvertently confirmed that he too believes my original skepticism of a theory of fitness being able to explain altruism

TFAD: “You don’t have to be the most fit – you just need to be somewhat fit to the point that the environment doesn’t actively work against your existence…So it’s not the case that you need to be so strong that you’re selected for – you just need to not be so weak as to be selected against”

Oooops. Altruism is by definition “behavior by an animal that is not beneficial to or may be harmful to itself but that benefits others of its species.” Yet Christians have been building hospitals and caring for those, who would otherwise be selected against for millennia. Many people build kennels and nature centers and nature preserves…not because they consistently believe in evolution’s culling of the weak but because they know there is beauty in caring for the weak as God has done for us

In point 6 of my summary TFAD proclaims that I am correct in my definition of fitness, so we’ll move on to his critique of bullet point 7, in which I said “Evolution’s sole drive is to reproduce genetic material in a competition for limited resources”. This is a KEY point in the question of whether evolution can explain altruism. Astute readers will see the incompatibility between forces that are driven by the need to reproduce and a behavior (altruism) that has zero or negative benefits in helping one to reproduce. In his critique, TFAD declares

“Half-right. Evolution’s driving factor is reproduction and survival, but there doesn’t need to be competition for limited resources for evolution to work. Evolution also works when plenty of resources are available as well.”

We’ll chalk this up to more nit-picking because he’s majoring on the minors again. TFAD admitted to the key element of the summary (reproduction), but based on his own personal definition of evolution, he had to jab that he feels the creationist doesn’t understand (resources). As in Part 1 of the rebuttal, I’ll remind everyone again that I’m not using TFAD’s personal definition of evolution, as I have been very clear about which definition I am using (the one from a University-level text book) to write the blog post

The remainder of TFAD’s Part 2 response consists of his dislike of my use of the terms evolutionist and evolutionism. Being aware of the dominant paradigm and nearly complete immersion by academic elites into the cult of Darwinism is good for readers to have knowledge. However, I’m content to let him have his say on those items without rebuttal since, while they are related to the discussion, they are not critically necessary to determine whether or not the theory of evolution can explain altruism…which we have all seen that it cannot

You can look forward to my rebuttal of Part 3 of TFAD’s objections soon.

The Altruism Exchange 1

I suppose I should be honored that my small blog has relevance enough to merit a response to the arguments that I have presented. But a FOUR-part response with thousands of words to one of my posts deserves kudos, if for nothing else than the amount of time spent, to the Tall Friendly Atheist Dad (TFAD)

If you’ve not had a chance, I encourage you to read the blog post in question, Can Evolution Explain Altruism? Its defines evolution, altruism, and then analyzes the arguments of 3 evolutionary authorities, who claim to have explained why they think that the theory of evolution can indeed account for altruism

TFAD begins with some posturing and attempts a “poisoning of the well” in his opening of part 1, and perhaps I’ll circle back at the end of this response to address those, but let’s get right into the meat of the argument – Can Evolution Explain Altruism?

Definitions are important. I defined altruism using two sources that both defined altruism the same way.

TFAD: “I prefer Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s definition.”

TFAD decided he didn’t like those definitions and thrust his own definition into the fray, and in the end, he has made a distinction without a difference. We can all agree that altruism is unselfish behavior that benefits another person or another creature without any expectation of personal benefit. I gave examples in my original blog post, which would fit with the definition that I gave and that TFAD gave

At this point, I need to jump ahead in the discussion just a little, because in our conversations I noted that some of the objections the TFAD gives are nitpicking and distractions. He took “umbrage” to my identification of many of his objections as such. His addition of an additional definition of altruism is nitpicking. I’ll denote future examples of nitpicking with *NP* moving forward

I must stress the importance of the following points, because the entire argument hinges on it, but TFAD strays from the point throughout his 4 posts. They are basic to this discussion, and other considerations are distractions:

  • The theory of evolution is taught as if its mechanisms can explain everything (except its origin) about life
  • Altruistic behavior has been observed and requires a consistent explanation via evolutionary mechanisms
  • When I asked how does evolution explain altruistic behavior? TFAD posted a link to “scientific” papers that he felt gave answers to my question. I took the top result and analyzed it. This is significant, because in part 4 of his objections, TFAD tries to distance himself from the scientific papers that he himself recommended as sufficient.
  • My analysis of these three evolutionary sources-of-explanations is based on the assumptions and definitions of the evolutionists. While I note my beliefs at the beginning, I am not bringing my own assumptions into the analysis of their work. Their works need to be able to stand or fall on their own – and as I have shown, by their own assumptions, they fail miserably at trying to explain observations of altruistic behavior via evolutionary mechanisms
  • When TFAD tries to show how creationism is wrong, he is distracting from the argument
  • When TFAD tries to attack me or my lack-of-credentials, he is distracting from the argument

Back to the discussion. I noted in my original post that “altruism is seen in ant and bee colonies”

TFAD replies: “however you want to define altruism, you then have to admit that altruism is not a behaviour seen only in humans, which means that the mechanism for how altruism developed in humans is just as applicable to how it developed in non-human mammals”

Possibly, unless it is another asserted example of “Convergent Evolution”. TFAD’s response has absolutely nothing to do with this post. Nobody assumes that humans evolved from bees or lions. Nobody says altruism doesn’t exist in other creatures. My question from the beginning is “Can evolution explain altruism?” So, for TFAD to say as a critique that some mysterious/unknown mechanism (which nobody has quantified or elucidated) could be the same in humans as in other animals is pointless. Regardless, it’s the explanation that has been given by evolutionists that I am critiquing. So, TFAD is either distracting from the main point or does not understand evolution

TFAD: “But if we ignore the scientific research and look to an Intelligent Design/Creation model”

Distraction. I’m not proposing a different model in this post

TFAD: “One of Intelligent Design’s fatal flaws…”

Another distraction. I’m not proposing a different model in this post. Stay on target!

TFAD: “not only has evolution been established as the primary driving factor behind biodiversity, but it also helps explain how altruism is found mostly in mammals, in particular social primate mammals, but only in a handful of other species – in short, it simply wasn’t a trait that was developed and inherited across the animal kingdom”

Interesting assertion, but again his lack of explanation is notable especially since he claims “it helps explain” without giving an ACTUAL explanation. Another note to TFAD, I am not critiquing your assertions here. I am critiquing the specific “explanations” presented by evolutionary authorities.

TFAD: “The detailed answer lies in genetics, which is not my field, but feel free to read a book literally titled The Genetics Of Altruism if you want the granular detail”

It’s doubtful that he has read it, but I’m not opposed to analyzing that book too. Undoubtedly, its “explanations” will be similarly impotent and full of assumptions. It’s available for the bargain price of $60 US. If someone wants to send it to me, I’ll be happy to expose its contents as empty as well. In the end, I made known the authorities that I was analyzing, one of which was the principle suggestion from TFAD. NOW, he expects me to analyze another source. Doubtless, were I to analyze this authority and 5000 other sources that claim to have the answer, it would *never* be enough. He would always be able to say “Well, have you analyzed THIS one? This one? This one? AHA!”

The paragraph that begins with “This is not too far off the mark…” is almost completely nitpicking.

*NP*

Back to my comments from the original post “For evolution to have explanatory power, there must be uncountable sequential individual heritable changes that are preserved solely by natural selection”

TFAD replies “Firstly, natural selection isn’t the only mechanism proposed”

…but no explanation of additional mechanisms is proposed by either Darwin or TFAD

*NP*

TFAD continues: “evolution is a process that happens to populations, not individuals

It appeared to TFAD that I was contending that a single individual has to survive while all other individuals perish, when the emphasis is on the change/trait. This should have been clear to TFAD, because this is not what I was contending as my wording is clear

*NP*

TFAD persists: “Thirdly, it is not quite uncountable”

The phrase that TFAD is concerned about is my paraphrase of Darwin’s famous line “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down”. Online thesaurus confirms that uncountable is indeed a synonym of numerous. Therefore *NP*

TFAD: “This is almost correct. If ApoloJedi took out the word supposedly in the last sentence”

*NP*

In my original article I wrote: “the mutation of which supposedly provides for novel traits”

TFAD critiqued: “But saying ‘supposedly provide for novel traits’ is, again, shows that he is either unaware of the research, or is discarding it because of theological bias to do with the subject matter”

This is beyond the scope of critique for this particular blog post, but I’ll be happy to read and analyze any peer-reviewed paper that he thinks is airtight evidence of random mutation and natural selection producing in a creature novel traits that did not exist in its supposed directly previous ancestor. TFAD should be aware that antibiotic resistant bacteria, sickle-cell anemia, wingless beetles on windy islands and nylon-eating bacteria are not examples of evolution-producing-novel-traits as has been shown and explained time and again. Those well-worn examples are evidence of BROKEN (less-functional & loss-of-information) proteins providing a survival advantage in constricted environment. It would be the same as saying that if your survival depended on avoiding being handcuffed, those without hands would have a survival advantage. But you would never be able to produce highly dextrous pianists with a population of handless humans. In the same way, the mechanisms of evolution cannot have not demonstrated the ability to turn a beetle into a bird by removing its wings. The only “evidence” for such a fable is in assumptions and artwork

TFAD has been known to say (in his awesome Australian accent) “Evolution is the best working explanation we have for the diversity of life on earth today”. But remember, I’m NOT critiquing TFAD’s personal definition of evolution. For use in this blog post I’ve been open about the definition of evolution I’ve used from Charles Darwin, Wikipedia, OpenStax college textbook, and RationalWiki (none of those are bastions of creationist thought). Evolution must be able to EXPLAIN all of life: functionality, traits, reproduction, metabolism, predation, camouflage, instinct, migration, hibernation…and altruism. But as has been shown, evolution’s proponents are devoid of demonstrable evidence showing that the mechanisms of the theory of evolution can explain altruism.

TFAD continues his response to my article in part 2, and I answer his responses here

But for those who want to stick around while I circle back and answer a few of the more petty elements in his 1st response, see below

TFAD: “I interact with a lot on Twitter who goes by the handle of @Apolojedi_, so handled because he is an apologist who finds your lack of faith disturbing. (Apologist Jedi – get it? But since it was Darth Vader who said “I find your lack of faith disturbing”, his handle should actually be ApoloSith)”

I’ve answered this little dig directly to him before, but he seems to have forgotten or ignored it. It’s just a simply mash up of apologetics and Jedi (one who is patient and wise). We must remember that Star Wars is the story of the redemption of Anakin Skywalker. Vader, once a Jedi and turned to the dark side, heroically gave his life to save his son, Luke. In the end of this story, he was redeemed and earned the (fictional) “after life” with Obi-Wann and Yoda as a Jedi.

Now naturalists have no consistent place in their worldview for morality, sin, or redemption. They do try to taxidermy the idea of secular humanism or moral realism into a cosmos of particles, but these ideas are in direct conflict with their base assumption of naturalism. So, it is no surprise to me that TFAD would not resolve the redemption of Anakin Skywalker as a Jedi for my handle as there is no logical categorization for redemption in the mind of the naturalist.

TFAD: “the core skill of Pre-Suppositionalists is uncritically assuming that they’re correct, then dismissing atheists because they are apparently self-deceived fools who can’t even know for sure if the sky is blue”

This is not true. I have corrected TFAD’s mischaracterizations many times. He remains in error despite my attempts to help him.

TFAD: “I would also add that because he is a Biblically-Literal Creationist, I feel that he feels that he is theologically-obliged to not accept or understand evolution* no different than the standard Creationist tropes of it, then to attack that Creationist straw-man of evolution as if he is criticising evolution as actually understood in the scientific literature”

The accusation from TFAD is that I do not understand evolution, but in our exchanges, he’s never been able to articulate exactly what it is about evolution that I do not understand. He’s simply making an unwarranted assertion. I have taken the definition of evolution from the leading prevaricators of the theory, and I have demonstrated more than sufficiently a working knowledge of the theory. TFAD assumes that since I find the theory of evolution to be absurd, then I must not understand it. It’s like Stalin saying, “You just don’t understand communism if you don’t accept it.” Rubbish. It’s because I understand both the theory of evolution and communism that I reject them. TFAD also has his own private definition, that we talked about just above, and I understand that one too. Neither of which can sufficiently account for altruism. Secondly, I have corrected TFAD on this point – I am not a biblical literalist. I am a biblical contextualist. The mischaracterization of a biblical literalist is easy to bludgeon because in the view of the atheist, a wooden, literal interpretation of scripture must be adhered to in all reading of the Bible despite the context, genre, or overarching theme. So after purposefully misinterpreting my position in an attempt to make it easier to defeat, TFAD subtly poisons the well by essentially saying that “ApoloJedi is unqualified to criticize anyone wearing a white lab coat…or anyone who accepts evolution because of things he accepts.”

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels.com

TFAD: “All of this is in stark contrast to myself”

After setting up and bludgeoning the strawman, TFAD polishes his own image as pure and knowledgeable. At least he’s friendly and very tall.

TFAD: “Accepting the theory of evolution just means that I acknowledge what I regard to be the evidentially unescapable (sp) fact that the species homo sapien is a member of the wider primate family (which itself is the result of a long line of forebears who are now extinct) as well as the fact that all organisms on earth are inherently related”

Evidentially inescapable? As noted before, I do not regard artwork or assumptions as evidence. When what gets put forward as evidence of the Grand Theory of Evolution is critically analyzed rather than blindly assimilated, the “evidence” is exposed as impotent artwork and assumption

After analyzing the “objections” from TFAD from the initial post, we see that nothing substantial has been produced. Mostly picking at nits and distractions. In my next blog post, we’ll see if TFAD’s Part 2 can provide something with more teeth

Can Evolution Account for Reason?

Stock Photo from Pexels.com

There are many online claims about the power of evolution to create new biological traits. Some evolutionists have speculated that evolution can account for altruism, but I exposed the deficiency in the “explanations” here. And while evolutionists claim that “nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution”, they have swept under the rug evolution’s inability to explain biological software.

This week, I asked a God-denier to explain how “reasoning” could be explained via natural causes. This God-denier posted a link which was supposed to provide evidence and confirmation that evolution can explain the origins of reasoning. Bing the intrepid ApoloJedi that I am, I read through the contents of the article and have analyzed it to see if it could make good on its claims. Of note, I regard this article to be poorly formatted and absent of any explanatory power, so I expect there will be a future blog post entitled “Can Evolution Explain Reason – Part 2?” when a subsequent God-denier doubtlessly posts another wild assertion that naturalistic causes can explain the origins of reasoning.

The article in question has been cited 10 times and accessed over 1000 times and much of it is hidden behind a paywall (remaining unanalyzed). There are 30 notes organized in a list. In the analysis I quote the pertinent piece from the note above in Italics and my comment below each is in Bold. Without further delay, here’s the analysis

Abstract:
I conjecture that reasoning evolved primarily because it helped social hominins more readily and fully align their intentions
Conjecture indeed

The Primary Naturalist Assumptions include purposelessness and amorality
  1. “first article”
    Hidden (hidden like evidence for evolution) behind a pay wall
  2. “purpose of reasoning”
    Purpose/teleology is a concept that is incompatible with the primary naturalist assumptions AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  3. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  4. “argumentative posturing”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  5. “moral emotions…loyalty, gratitude, sympathy”
    Morality is a concept that is incompatible with the primary naturalist assumptions AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  6. “Imagine…reasons”
    Imagine indeed AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  7. “likely”
    Not evidence AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  8. “those with a preference for going right will often capitulate by joining the majority”
    This very clearly shows the absence of reason AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  9. “The odds of surviving might be enhanced, for example, by keeping mum about a fruit tree discovered while scouting”
    While evolutionists crone about how empathy drive social advancements, this note is literally contrary to that assumption AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
    Also, in conflict with Note 14
  10. “team agency” & “team reasoning” & “gestational reasoning” & “group’s collective intent”
    Purpose/teleology is a concept that is incompatible with the primary naturalist assumptions AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  11. “giving of reasons counts as a kind of reasoning”
    Circular. Tautology. Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  12. “My claim here is that the faculty of reason played—and continues to play—a critical role”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  13. “By calling manipulative reasoning…”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  14. “collaborative reasoning” & “When reasoning together”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
    Also, in conflict with Note 9
  15. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  16. “may have been made possible by the prior emergence of basic reasoning aptitudes. The claim is conjectural, but worth further exploration”
    Conjecture indeed AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  17. “it is not incorrect to speak of intention alignment as the primary utility or purpose of reasoning”
    Pragmatism is insufficient AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  18. “I take it up presently”
    It IS an important question AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  19. ” ‘mind writing’ involves intentional or deliberate alteration”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  20. “The ethical implications of IAM are significant, and well worth exploring”
    Assumes that reasoning already exists AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  21. Another article behind a paywall, but the abstract does not explain the origins of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  22. “if we could be sure that a bee’s nervous system supported something properly described as a mind”
    Humans did not evolve from bees AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  23. “complex social practice built atop basic reason-giving propensities”
    Difficulties with the naturalistic origins brought up AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  24. Another article behind a paywall, but the abstract does not explain the origins of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  25. “my aim here is not to decide the question, but make a preliminary case that IAM belongs in the discussion”
    An introduction to a hypothesis AND does not explain the origin of reasoning
  26. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  27. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  28. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  29. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources
  30. Nothing in this note explains the origin of reasoning from non-reasoning sources

As you can clearly see, this linked article has given us no explanation for the naturalistic origin of reasoning via evolutionary forces. We did see some internal contradictions, and it was strong on assertions, but ended up be short on both evidence and justification

Disclaimer: Because God has revealed in his eternal Word that He has is the Source of reasoning, we know that the answer to the question “Can Evolution Explain Reason?” is most assuredly no. But as has been the case with other posts in this series, I have taken the claims of the naturalists and analyzed them within their own worldview, to see if their claims are valid. And just like the other posts, their claims are shown to be severely lacking.

Drink Up or Shutup!

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How do you answer the exvangelical or God-denier or self-proclaimed atheist who says,

Go read Mark 16:18 and then drink up or shutup!

Let’s look at the words of Jesus recorded in Mark 16 and see if we can provide an apologetic answer

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

This sounds like an example of an internal critique. If the Christian is truly convinced that they are a follower of Jesus (so the skeptic would challenge), then the signs spoken of above will be exhibited in their life. Should a Christian immediately go out, find some serpents and slurp up some venom? Mmmm – No. Here are a few tips for how to respond to our skeptic friends.

  1. When faced with a similar temptation from Satan, Our Lord responded with scripture. Flip over just a few pages to the right in your Bible, to find the history of Jesus’s temptation as recorded in Luke 4. Starting in verse 9 “And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” So, the first of our possible responses is that we are not to put God to the test. Jesus, in the face of the same temptation as our skeptic friend (although He also had the assurance of God’s protection), did not yield to the whims of Satan and his petty temptation. In like manner, let the skeptic know that as a follower of the Way, you will act as Jesus did in the same situation
  2. We see from Mark that remaining healthy after drinking deadly poison as a possible “sign”. But not every Christian is associated with every sign in the Bible. Acts 2:3, Acts 5:12, 2 Cor 12:12, I Cor 12:4, Acts 9:6 are all examples of signs that have accompanied some believers. Not every believer casts out demons. Not every believer has spoken in tongues. Not every believer has the gift of healing, so in logical progression, we can can say that not every believer will survive drinking serpent venom. From the context and from the rest of scripture, we see that this sign is not intended as some sort of entry exam or comprehensive conditional test. It was in fact recorded several times that not every disciple was exhibiting every sign but was still a faithful disciple of the Eternal Monarch (Mark 9:28, Mark 14:66-72). Not every Christian has every gift, so it’s a false expectation for someone to say that “if you don’t survive drinking venom, then you are not a Christian.” It’s a false expectation
  3. We have indisputable proof that the poison of a deadly serpent did not harm the Apostle Paul as recorded in Acts 28. So shocked were the onlookers that they recognized the divine protection afforded to Paul. So, God remained faithful to his Word in protecting Paul for the glory of God. It does not logically follow, however that EVERY instance of encounters with asps by Christians will be health in this life
  4. From Genesis to Revelation we see the serpent as the enemy of God and his people both literally and figuratively. Because of what Jesus has done, the works of the devil are both destroyed in this life and in eternity. Either way, the Christian need not fear the works of the devil (Matthew 10:26-31)
  5. Like the young men, who were exiled in Babylon, it may very well be that a Christian is called upon to stand for his faith in the face of persecution. Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego faced the dire choice of purposeful apostasy or death. They bravely faced their accuser and rather than obeying his unrighteous mandate, “drank the poison” of death by fire. Their testimony rings powerfully “If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” In that instance, God protected his people with power and effectiveness. God has proven Himself capable, but He is not obligated to go against his eternal plan (of which only the part of his plan recorded in scripture is known) for the sake of earthly comforts or long life for Christians
  6. Lastly, all modern translations note that Mark 16:9-20 is not found in the earliest or most reliable manuscripts from which the book of Mark has been translated. Scholars have debated the reasons as to why this segment of scripture does not have the same kinds of support as the rest of scripture. You can hear some of the information in this video.

We can see, that this challenge from the skeptic is not a proper internal critique. Whereas a proper internal critique would take into account the other assumptions of the Christian from above. So, there’s no need to wilt or despair should you encounter the “venom” of the skeptic. God is faithful and we can trust his eternal Word

Empathy is Arbitrary, Inconsistent, & Irrational for Atheists

You’ve likely heard it before, a self-identified secular humanist*, skeptic, and/or atheist tells you that their personal morality is based on whether an action is empathetic or provides maximum well-being. I’ve had these discussions before, but during a recent online conversation when I pressed back on an atheist making his case – I pointed out that it was arbitrary for the atheist to define “goodness as empathetic”. That atheist responded to me:

The definitions we attach to words are arbitrary…Why can’t “cat” mean “an energy drink.” It could…but it doesn’t. This doesn’t mean calling my house pet a cat is inconsistent or irrationaly

To answer this, some basic groundwork needs to be done in explanation…

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To be clear, atheism has no grounding for intelligibility at all, let alone the philosophical ability to make judgments or distinctions. To see why, you can view the reasons here.

But for purposes of this discussion, I will grant the God-denier the ability to make intelligent distinctions.

The definition they supplied for “good” was “helping others“. I’ve heard other God-deniers say that good is “empathy” or “whatever promotes well-being”. I consider all of those synonymous, so I’ll address them as one below.

There are at least 3 levels of arbitrariness from the atheist perspective in defining goodness as “helping others”.

Firstly, goodness could have been defined as any other ideal. Just saying that “helping others is good” is arbitrary. “Goodness” could just as easily have been defined as:

  • Whatever promotes fitness
  • Whatever preserves history
  • Whatever benefits frogs
  • Whatever helps Democrats
  • Whatever smells pleasant
  • Whatever Oprah says

Secondly, who are the others they are talking about? To whom should empathy be given? Should “helpfulness” be termed good if it is applied to a specific person, or a specific group of people, or to a particular cause (environmentalism, veganism, BLM…)? What if being helpful to 1 person is detrimental to another person? What if the 1 person to which helpfulness is offered is the 45th president? Might someone consider helping the originator of MAGA as bad instead of good? What if being helpful to one group is destructive of another group? What if being helpful to a particular cause/person/group leads to the extinction of a species? Why would goodness not be helping and promoting the well-being of the most fit creatures on earth: bacteria? Arbitrariness abounds for the skeptic, but there’s more…

The final reason that the atheist definition of goodness is arbitrary is that there are multiple metrics for measuring well-being. Which metric should be used to define good as well-being? Should we measure the well-being based on economic, hedonistic, pragmatic, physiological, psychological, spiritual or evolutionary metrics? “Helping others” in one of these categories will necessarily deprive help in at least one of the other categories. Besides that, who gets to decide what is TRULY helpful within each metric? For example, if I were going to help someone economically, I might give them all the money they would ever need and someone might call that good. But the recipient might spend the money on destructive things or waste the money by donating to the (insert evil political entity here) party, which might lead someone else to call my beneficence bad. Arbitrariness!

In contrast, defining a cat as a “4 legged pet” is not arbitrary in the same way. Sure, the initial word “cat” being applied to a 4 legged pet might have been chosen in place of any other word that was not in use to describe something else, but “cat” is not an abstract standard. Atheists cannot rationally conjure up an “ought” from an “is”.

Arbitrariness in defining “good” is not the only problem for the atheist. Defining good as empathetic, helping others, or promoting well-being is also inconsistent with their other assumptions and irrational based on their theory of knowledge.

Key assumptions for the skeptic is that unguided/impartial/purposeless forces (natural selection acting on random mutations) brought about the tree of life. Those creatures that produce the most offspring are said to be the most fit. Those creatures that are unfit are culled from the gene pool. Difficulties, harms and other selection pressures provide stimulus for creatures to produce/perpetuate novel traits. So it would necessarily be inconsistent to deem helpfulness/empathy as good, when protecting a creature from difficulty/SelectionPressure limits their ability to evolve.

Defining good as being empathetic, being helpful or promoting well-being for the atheist is also irrational on at least 2 levels. It is irrational firstly because the atheists teach that humans are the serendipitous product of stardust from a universe that is amoral, purposeless, undesigned, blind, pitiless, and indifferent – and if this is the case, why does it matter if one accidental aggregation of stardust interacts with another accidental aggregation of stardust? It is irrational to declare that one action by one collection of particles towards another collection of particles as good/evil. Secondly, it is irrational for anyone who does NOT have all knowledge of all time to declare some temporal action as good since a temporary negative could lead to tremendous positive or a short-term positive could lead to devastating negatives.

Summary

For the atheist/skeptic/SecularHumanist to define good as empathy, well-being, beneficial, or helping others is:

Arbitrary

  • When they chose a specific ideal, any other ideal could have just as easily been chosen to represent goodness
  • In the midst of competing needs/wants, to whom should help/empathy be given?
  • Based on which metric should help/empathy/well-being be measured (economic, moral, spiritual, physiological, hedonistic, pragmatic….)?

Inconsistent – because if the natural forces of evolution produced all of life, then choosing well-being as the primary good would be contradictory. If the skeptic assumes that the same forces which promote advancement through reproductive fitness also requires that well-being be considered as of primary importance then they are blind to the contradictory assumptions. To be consistent with their assumptions of natural selection acting on random mutations to produce the most fit offspring, the skeptic would need to define goodness as whatever produced the highest fitness in creatures. Since stress/harm produces selective pressure that drives novel traits and culls the unfit, then well-being is literally the opposite of the process that brought them into existence.

Irrational

  • If humans are just stardust, there’s no rationale for judging one action as good/bad
  • If justification for knowledge (let alone all knowledge) is not possible for the atheist, then picking 1 action as good/bad is unintelligible.

In stark contrast, Christians can make a coherent case that helping others and promoting well-being is coherent and consistent within our worldview

Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to “love the LORD your God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength” when He references Deut 6:5. He followed up the greatest commandment with the second most important commandment when He says “The second commandment is like the first: love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus even went so far as to say “love your enemies.” With the first and greatest commandment in mind, we should love and promote well-being to people around us.

To be clear, the atheist/skeptic/humanist CAN be empathetic because they are made in the image of God. They do have the pre-programmed desire (Romans 2:15) to promote well-being to others, but as shown above, it is arbitrary, inconsistent and irrational for them when you consider their other worldview assumptions.

*It has been pointed out to me that secular humanists are not arbitrary in their choosing of limited harm (maximum well being, etc…) for their standard of goodness. This is a fair criticism as it is part of their worldview. However, because secular humanism is a godless religion without any transcendent measure AND is built upon a foundation of naturalism, there is an arbitrary and inconsistent nature to their belief that limiting hard is good. Were naturalism, the foundation of secular humanism, true, goodness nor evil could be known. Everything would just be.

Is TAG the same as Presup?

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In a friendly conversation this past week, J Brian Huffling asked me if I could articulate the Transcendental Argument for God (TAG). The conversation was on Twitter, so with the character limit, I decided to create a blog post for the benefit of verbosity

I do not know Dr. Huffling personally. We follow each other on Twitter, and I have appreciated his tweets/articles. I have no reason to doubt his regeneration in Christ. This is a friendly conversation on apologetic method only. I hope that when we get to interact on this post and future conversations, that we will both be able to discuss on a friendly level with greater knowledge of the other’s viewpoint – all for the glory of God. This discussion is a brotherly interaction with the disagreement being solely about apologetic method. I consider Dr. Huffling a brother in Christ and a faithful disciple (from what I have seen/read). So, there is no animosity or condemnation on my part towards him.

The discussion is primarily about whether presuppositional apologetics or classical apologetics is a better description of how Christians should defend the faith. It became interesting when there was disagreement over what is the ultimate source of knowledge. Huffling said there is knowledge of nature before there is knowledge of God. Let’s define the term knowledge.
What is knowledge? Justified true beliefs.
How can one justify their beliefs? The Christian can justify his beliefs by standing on the foundation of God’s revelation:

  • Prov 1:7 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge”
  • Proverbs 2:6 “For the LORD gives wisdom and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding”
  • Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom”
  • Psalm 111:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom”
  • Isaiah 33:6 “The LORD will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge. The fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure.”
  • Colossians 2:2-3 “Christ in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”
  • Romans 1:19 “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them”


The presuppositional apologist will stand firm on this principle: God’s revelation and the ability to justify this revelation through God’s Word

The skeptic has no such path to justification. For them all knowledge is provisional and the tools for justification are not compatible within a worldview that does not start with God.

Classical apologists (like Dr. Huffling) view reasoning as the standard for determining truth. Reasoning IS a valid tool for the Christian and it is not wrong to consider regenerated reasoning as glorifying to God, however, because of the curse of sin, the unbeliever cannot trust his reasoning and reasoning itself does not hold the power of ultimate justification. So, I would view the classical argumentation as deficient in properly communicating the defense of the faith.


Back to the conversation with Dr. Huffling. There was a misunderstanding on presuppositional apologetics and the transcendental argument for God (TAG). Dr. Huffling asked me to articulate TAG. I think what happened in the exchange was that he conflated presuppositional apologetics with TAG. Now TAG is a particular type/category of presuppositional apologetics, but the two are not synonymous. As described above, I would say that presuppositional apologetics has more to do with the analysis of both the Christian and non-Christian worldviews. The epistemology of the Christian is revelation from God. We can know things because God has revealed them. His revelation has three main manifestations (Hebrews 1:2-3)

  • Creation
  • The Bible
  • Jesus

The accusation from Dr. Huffling and others is that presuppositional apologetics is circular since it relies upon the Bible to prove the Bible. This is a mischaracterization of the claims of presuppositional apologists. The Bible is revelation from the One, who knows everything and is eternally faithful AND since it is only part of God’s revelation, it can be verified by the other parts of his revelation

  • Jesus is the Creator (John 1:3)
  • Creation is the manifestation of God’s power and divine nature (Rom1). The Heavens declare the glory of God (Ps 19:1). If people do not praise God, the rocks (creation) will cry out in praise (Luke 19:40)
  • The Bible records the details of God’s creative works (Gen 1)
  • Jesus fulfilled the prophecies recorded by the prophets in scripture (I Cor 15)
  • The whole purpose of scripture is to detail, who Jesus is and codify the covenant of God (Luke 24:27)
  • So creation, the Bible, and the incarnation are self-authenticating interdependent revelations from God, which gives the Christian a justified epistemology for certain knowledge. What God has revealed cannot be refuted or validated by any higher standard. As Hebrews 6:13 tells us “When God made His promise to Abraham, since He had no one greater to swear by, He swore by Himself”, so we know that there is no higher standard. Should we follow the logic of Dr. Huffling that circularity in logic is always fallacious, then God would be fallacious by swearing upon Himself. But we know that God has never been fallacious. Since He is the highest authority and his eternal Word carries the weight of his authority, the Bible can be used to virtuously authenticate itself as part of God’s revelation.

Dr. Jason Lisle says it more eloquently :

“In fact, all of God’s reasoning is necessarily circular. God is all-knowing. So, whenever God draws a conclusion from premises, the conclusion is something that God already knows. Truth is that which corresponds to the mind of God. And the justification for that truth is… that it corresponds to the mind of God. This is not arbitrary, but logically necessary since God’s mind determines all truth. Those people who argue that all forms of circular reasoning are fallacious are in the unenviable position of implying that God’s reasoning is fallacious.”

Rather than presupposing that the Bible is ultimately true but instead arguing that one’s senses/reasoning are the valid source for determining truth, this person must then attempt to validate their senses/reasoning by employing their senses/reasoning – which is viciously circular.

The skeptic (and even Dr. Huffling) might reply “But we need to use our senses/reasoning to read the Bible.” While this is true, using our senses/reasoning is not the same as justifying them.

Again from Dr. Lisle:

“Yet, this answer has a degree of circularity. Namely, we must use our senses in order to read in the Bible that our senses were designed by God. Does this mean that the reliability of sensory experience is more foundational than the Scriptures? Not at all. This is another example of a difference in the order of chronological discovery and logical primacy. That is, we believe in the reliability of our senses before we discover the logical justification for that belief (the biblical worldview). This is always the case with our most foundational presuppositions. They must be assumed before they are proved. Yet, after assuming that our senses are reliable, we discover that we have a good independent reason to believe this: the Bible. The circle is not vicious because our belief in reliable senses is not arbitrary; it is rationally necessary for us to discover that it has independent, self-consistent justification. Namely, we need reliable senses to discover what the Bible says about our senses. But when we read the Scriptures, we find that our belief was justified.”

Regarding the use of either presuppositional or classical apologetics in conversations with unbelievers, I would suggest that Christians should not trust the unregenerated reasoning of unbelievers to conclude rationally to trust God. Romans 1:21 tells us “…their (godless/wicked) thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” So, when the unbeliever attempts to use their reasoning/understanding of evidence to determine truth, their presuppositions are deficient. There are several problems with the approach that people can accurately view evidence by applying their reasoning to determine something as accurate:

  • Everyone interprets evidence according to their worldview. For instance, if we were to evaluate the evidence of a dinosaur bone, a Christian would say “This is great evidence that supports the historical global flood.” The non-Christian would say “This is great evidence that supports the idea of millions of years of natural selection acting on random mutations to produce all life from bacteria to Bach.” Same evidence – different conclusions
  • If the classical/evidential apologist presents evidence to the non-believer, he is putting the non-believer in the judge’s chair…God’s rightful place. God’s existence is never up for judgment as God has revealed Himself. As Romans 1 tells us, “what may be known about God is plain to them because God has made it plain to them.”
  • Because creation bears the scars of the curse of sin (Romans 8, Genesis 3), it is an insufficient source of knowledge to bring one into a saving faith in the Triune God. Only with guidance by the special revelation of scripture can a person be knowledgeable of the necessity of repentance and humility before God for grace by faith

Colossians 2:8 goes even further in telling Christians to begin with the presupposition of Christ’s revelation: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” And before the Christian can defend the faith, we must (as Peter tells us) “set apart Christ as Lord in your heart”.

If our primary presupposition is NOT God and his revelation, then we (as Christians) are missing the proper biblical apologetic method.

Now, as some may be remembering, I still have not articulated the transcendental argument for God. It’s not that I have forgotten, but it was more important for me to clear up the misunderstanding above that Presup = TAG. The more important part of Presup for me is the identification and analysis of presuppositions for knowledge. As shown, the Christian bears witness to the necessary and exclusive preconditions for intelligibility because of God’s revelation. I believe that others, more knowledgeable/eloquent than I have done better at articulating the nuances of the transcendental argument, but I’ll give it a shot:

TAG – Because there are transcendentals (unchanging, abstract, absolutes) like logic, math, induction, morality. and information there must be a reasoning & upholding Source for these absolutes. God is unchanging, transcendental and absolute therefore He is (at minimum) consistent with the existence of unchanging, abstract, absolutes. Further, God has revealed that He is the source of logic (law of identity & law of non-contradiction) in Ex 3:14 “I AM who I AM”, Isa 45:19 “I YHWH, speak the truth. I declare what is right”, 2 Tim 2:13 “he remains faithful— for he cannot deny (contradict) Himself”. And when the skeptic asks “How do you know the Bible is revelation from God?” the presuppositional apologist can reply “By the impossibility of the contrary.”

The impossibility of the contrary can best be described as if what God has said is not true, then nothing can be known and only absurdities result from all events. Since we can know things, God’s revelation is corroborated. From Dr. Greg Bahnsen’s work – Always Ready, he describes the “impossibility of the contrary” thusly:

Always Ready – Greg Bahnsen
Always Ready – Greg Bahnsen p123

For a better (than my own) explanation of the transcendental argument for God, please see

If I misrepresented Dr. Huffling in any way, it was not my intention, and I would ask him (or someone knowledgeable of his views) to provide correction in Christian love, and I will humbly edit this post.