Presuppositionalist arguments


If you want some entertainment in the form of logical gymnastics, go to this page on the proof of god. If you’re impatient, here is one of the arguments:

Do you believe that Absolute Truth exists? Possible answers…

1. yes -> you go on to the next piece 2. no -> is it absolutely true that absolute truth doesn’t exist? 1. yes -> then you actually believe that absolute truth exists! 2. no -> you get asked again if you believe that Absolute Truth exists (with the statement “This is not a glitch (Think about it)”. – essentially implying either that you’re making an absolute truth statement, or you can’t state anything.

A similar point is made about the laws of logic:

“If you believe that laws of logic do not exist, how do you make decisions about the most basic things in life? How do you decide which side of the road to drive on? How do you choose whether to drink water or poison for nourishment?

One interesting aspect of denying laws of logic, like the law of non-contradiction, is that since you DO NOT believe in laws of logic, you actually DO believe in laws of logic. If contradictions are allowed in your worldview then so is that one.”

This form of presuppositionalist argument pretty much says that without God there can not be laws of logic, and thus to even have a worldview presupposes the existence of God. 

Why this is stupid

One thing that comes to mind in this type of argument is that there is a serious fallacy of the excluded middle.  Do you believe that absolute truth exists?  How about “I don’t know” or “you haven’t defined absolute or truth, so the question doesn’t make sense”.  I’m not convinced that they can be defined  in such a way that I’d be confident in them.  What we have at bottom are sensory experiences , and what model of the universe is most consistent with that sensory experience.  I have little patience for purely philosophical arguments that aren’t tied to what we know from science.

Another thing that comes to mind is that this argument, at best, gets you to a deism.  The only part that even attempts to get to a Christian god is the moral argument, and that has its own problems. 

Just a few thoughts on this, mostly silly, line of arguments.  Any takers to defend it?


About brianblais

I am a professor of Science and Technology at Bryant University in Smithfield, RI, and a research professor in the Institute for Brain and Neural Systems, Brown University. My research is in computational neuroscience and statistics. I teach physics, meteorology, astonomy, theoretical neuroscience, systems dynamics, artificial intelligence and robotics. My book, "Theory of Cortical Plasticity" (World Scientific, 2004), details a theory of learning and memory in the cortex, and presents the consequences and predictions of the theory. I am an avid python enthusiast, and a Bayesian (a la E. T. Jaynes), and love music.
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2 Responses to Presuppositionalist arguments

  1. Tim says:

    You said “go to this page”, but there’s no link — or at least, I don’t see one.

    It sounds like the arguments at the site are pretty silly though, so I don’t know if you want to correct this, or leave it as it is.

  2. Tim says:

    Based on your description, I wouldn’t call it “logical gymnastics”. “Gymnastics” is an elegant sport that requires skill and discipline and promotes health. This sounds more like “logical pablum” at best, “poison” at worst.

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