Monday, 28 November 2011

The Circularity of Presuppositional Apologetics

Breaking the Circle



In the "Unbelievable" Discussion Group, there is a long discussion about Paul Baird and Sye Tenbruggencate's radio show on presuppositional apologetics. In that discussion I postulated a hypothetical document called the Sinbad Codex. 

Unfortunately, I was debating Despeville, When he was banned, all his posts disappeared so it looks like I'm debating with myself or an invisible opponent.

The Sinbad Codex was used to demonstrate the circularity in one of the arguments for presuppositional apologetics. (The Bible proves the Bible).  

The Sinbad codex contains exactly the same circular argument... (The Sinbad Codex proves the Sinbad Codex).

The Sinbad Codex. (an extract).
1. Sinbad wrote this.
2. God is never wrong.
3. The Moon is bigger than an Elephant.
4. The Pope is a Chimpanzee.
5. Presuppositional Apologetics is wrong.
6. Sinbad is God.

The reasoning in both arguments is fallacious because simply presupposing the conclusion is true in the premises does not constitute evidence for that conclusion. Clearly, assuming a claim is true does not constitute evidence for that claim. ("X is true. The evidence for this claim is that X is true.")

If you were to rely only on the Sinbad Codex for evidence of the Truth of the Sinbad Codex, it could not be disputed, all the claims in the document are be proven to be True. 

If I had to prove the truth of the claims in the Sinbad codex without using the Sinbad codex as proof or evidence, could I do it?

I could probably prove claim #1 and #3 to a very high level of certainty. Claims #4 and #5 are debatable and I would fail to prove #2 and #6. 

I propose that the same applies to the Bible. Yes, you can prove the non-spectacular claims in the Bible in the same way I can prove the non-spectacular claims in the Sinbad Codex. But Spectacular Claims need Spectacular evidence. 

Bearing in mind that Faith is not evidence or proof, calling something the Truth does not make it True and something is not necessarily true because someone believes it to be True......

Can a Christian prove or supply conclusive evidence or even present a convincing argument that:-

1. Jesus was who he claimed to be.
2. Whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 

They should be able to do this without referring to Biblical scripture as evidence for Biblical Scripture (Directly or indirectly). They should be able to do this in a way that isn't also equally valid for the truth claims of any other religion.

If this can not be done, I can only assume that all religious scripture, from any religion is equally valid and equally true... including the Sinbad Codex.

3 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Repost as to not be 'unknown'

    "Bearing in mind that Faith is not evidence or proof, calling something the Truth does not make it True and something is not necessarily true because someone believes it to be True......"

    Does that render this statement as untrue, because simply 'calling something the truth does not make it true...'? This statement is self-defeating and also renders your entire argument irrational.

    "They should be able to do this without referring to Biblical scripture as evidence for Biblical Scripture (Directly or indirectly). They should be able to do this in a way that isn't also equally valid for the truth claims of any other religion."

    I challenge you to do the same. You should be able to argue your truth claims without using aspects of your worldview (directly or indirectly). This of course is impossible! The Bible serves as an ultimate standard because nothing outside of it can prove it, thus, it must use its own criteria to prove itself. This is precisely why the circular argument for the Bible in this respect is not fallacious. The same cannot be said about any other religion or science.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Interesting article and diagram. I have found that it is ultimately futile to engage in discussions with those that want to use the circular argument. Such discussion often end in frustration. My belief is that those that hold strongly onto such circular arguments is a sign of cognitive dissonance as they seek self-justification. BTW you may be interested in the following diagram of JTB applied to the God debate: http://lbamagic.deviantart.com/art/God-is-safe-for-now-505829425

    ReplyDelete