It is no secret that I think Christianity is a ridiculous religion however the belief in a deity in and of itself is not necessarily ridiculous. It is just improbably and there is no valid evidence to support such a belief. I have heard many arguments for God, most of which are pretty poor. There is one argument that I do find challenging and I think that atheists really need to address this argument in a compelling way.
The presupposition argument is a tough argument to argue against. While it takes many forms and deals with many issues, it basically argues that God presupposes truth. This is more of an offensive argument than a defensive one. Instead of arguing in favor of God,
The apologist argues that atheists must rely on God in order to justify “Truth” because God presupposes truth.
In other words, Christians are challenging atheist view of reality. They ask, how we know something is true?
We usually answer that we consider something to be true if our beliefs conform to reality. By using our senses, supporting evidence, and reason we can determine the probable truth of reality.
This is where they play gotcha. They now assert that atheists are using reason to justify our ability to reason. This they claim is just as circular as their view that the Bible is true because it says it is true. So now we are both being circular and it is a wash.
Let’s face facts here. This is a very hard argument to argue against. It is confusing and nonsensical, but it also sounds really good and puts atheists on the defensive. Plus, most atheists haven’t thought about this argument enough to really defend against it in a compelling way. Plus, the more you think about this argument the more confusing it gets because it is a nonsensical argument.
What the Presupposition Apologist is counting on is the mind-numbing confusion that is this argument. The idea is to just confuse people. We know that reason is the best way to determine truth because it works. Plus, Christians can’t argue that reason is invalid by using reason. That defeats their argument in the first place. Reason isn’t circular, it is properly basic. That is to say that it is a self-evident axiom. One cannot reason that reason itself is unreasonable; that would be self-contradictory.
On the flip side, it is not contradictory to claim that the Bible does not match up with reality in various places and therefore may be untrue. In other words, the truth-value of the Bible is completely dependent on reality, not the other way around. Aspects of the Bible may be true and they may be false and we can in fact evaluate that by matching various claims made in the Bible with what we observe with our senses, with the evidence we discover, and with our reasoning ability. We can test the claims made in the Bible to determine their truth-value. How well do the claims made in the Bible match up with reality?
Christians obviously claim that the Bible is true to various degrees, but they do so using reason. Their reasons are not valid, but they are using reason nonetheless. Claiming that reason is circular is just an attempt at confusion. One cannot even make such a statement without relying on reason itself to do so. It makes no sense to say that reason is unreasonable. But it makes perfect sense to say that the Bible does not match up with what we observe about reality. The presupposition argument simply doesn’t work.
Don’t let Presupposition Apologists use you to confuse their flock even more and validate their beliefs. Even if reason were circular it would not validate the Christian belief system. It wouldn’t even validate the belief in a deity. But there I go again — using reason to show Presupposition Apologists are being unreasonable. Their attempt to reason their way out of being reasonable is as ridiculous as their belief system – perhaps even more ridiculous.
Here is my Atheism 101 article on the Presupposition argument.