Thursday, January 20, 2011

Responding to Paul Baird

I meant to respond to THIS a few days ago but my busy schedule got the best of me. In this post, Paul offers a critique of my video, ARE ATHEISTS ARBITRARY IN THEIR REASONING?. I don't know how far i'll want to go with this, but i'll at least provide an initial response to offer some clarification.

Mike has also posted this on Youtube and I wanted to record the transcript because Mike meanders in his commentary.

I listened to it it several times, mainly to proof the transcript and I was surprised that someone was actually advocating worse line for Presuppositional Apologetics than Sye.
So, what is the underlying proposition - without God how can a non-Theist (Mike, like Sye interchanges a generic God and the specific Christian God) 'justify' their use of logic.

It's such a stupid line of argument that I'm genuinely surprised to see it being advanced.

When a child is born it is not given a bottle, a nappy (a diaper to our US cousins) and primer in logic. Reason and logic are things that a child discovers as part of growing up in his or her interactions with the world.

And why is that? Why would one expect a child to come into the world and begin to reason correctly as he/she "figures out" the world? In other words, how can the atheist account for such a phenomenon? Is there anything prescriptive within Paul's worldview whereby this should be expected by all humans who come into the world (i.e. a raw material universe producing rational beings)? Why couldn't it be the case that humans come into this world with an irrational mind that continues to function as such?

You see, the Christian can account for this. All humans come into this world as being made in God's image and thus can be expected to think as God thinks. That is, logic is hard-wired. In Paul's worldview, there is absolutely no reason to believe any of this; unless he resorts to arbitrary reasoning.

If the 'reason' being employed fails in it's purpose then it is discarded.
How does it fail it's purpose ?
When it is tested and we do that every minute of every hour everyday and it does not produce the expected result.

I'd like to know how Paul has such confidence in such "testing." What test did Paul implement in order to know that such a test is the manner in which one determines the reliability of their reasoning faculties? But there is a much bigger problem at hand; it begs the question. What the Christian is trying to figure out is how the unbeliever can account for the reliability of his reasoning process. But when they resort to such "testing," they have to assume their reasoning faculties in order to interpret the results of the test; whether that be repeatability, external feedback, etc.

We are not passive actors in our own lives. We do not accept that how things are is how things will be, but what we do do is to make calculated assumptions based on past experience and accept that sometimes we can get it wrong. We use our experience to calculate risk and then act accordingly.

I see. So based on probability calculations, how would you determine the future based upon past experience concerning, let's say, your immortality? As far as I know, you haven't died. So it would seem that you should have a one hundred percent probability that, based upon past experience, you will not die. The reality is, calculating probabilities on the past can only tell you one thing: the past happened in the way that it did. This serves as no guarantee for future uniformity. And as you well know, the Christian can account for the future operating like the past:

““While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, And cold and heat, And summer and winter, And day and night Shall not cease.””
(Genesis 8:22)

“And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.”
(Hebrews 1:3)

We do not need a God (generic or specific) to justify our use of reason.

If this God is the only precondition for the intelligibility, then yes, you do. But i'd like to know how Paul knows that "we don't need a God to justify our use of reason?" Is Paul discounting even the possibility of the necessity of revelatory epistemology? I must admit that I appreciate such admissions by unbelievers because it further confirms the following:

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools,”
(Romans 1:18–22)

Finally, Mike has the same problem as Sye in claiming that revelation is the source of his justification.

@Kwinnky yes, I learned about God through my senses. But through God and His revelation, I can now account for the reliability of my reasoning faculties. And since you cannot even begin to account for the reliability of your senses, you are actually borrowing from my worldview in postulating such.

I find it interesting that you can't "prove it either way." This shows that your trusting in your senses is a completely arbitrary claim; something that is believed without any basis.
theapologeticfront 1 day ago

How can Mike be sure that the source of his 'revelation' is the Christian God and not another God (Loki would be a good candidate), Satan, or a mental aberration caused by disease, injury, drink or drugs ?

He can't. Therefore, at best, he has no better 'justification' for trusting his reason and logic than anyone else.

I can't? Again, Paul's confidence is noteworthy; especially for a self-professing "free thinker." I'm sure Paul will get a kick out of the following question: is it possible, if God exists, that He could reveal some things to us such that we can know them for certain? If Paul answers "no," i'd like to know how he can know for certain that I can't know for certain that God's revelation is His own?

Furthermore, my justification is not just better than that of others; its the only justification. How do I know its not from Satan? Because God has told me that its His own and He can't lie (Hebrews 6:18). I'm sure Paul will be quick to dismiss this, but it goes back to the question of Paul's certainty and how he knows that revelational epistemology is impossible.

Nonetheless Mike demonstrates the line of argument that Sye will no doubt be taking again in our next debate, so I'm looking forward to hearing it again, although no doubt better articulated.

No doubt, Sye is far more articulate and experienced in his apologetic than me. I'm not sure if this was a personal shot at me, but I know Sye and myself could both care less who is presenting the sharpest arguments. I can probably speak for Sye in that what we care about is our Lord and Savior being glorified through the proclamation of His Word.


Chris said...

Sye tells me we can expect him and Paul to go at it on Unbelievable? in late February.

The Apologetic Front said...

Yes, and I very much look forward to it!