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Presuppositionalist xtians cannot rationally know truth from fiction

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/6/2016 Category: Religion
Updated: 7 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 305 times Debate No: 87749
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Presuppositionalist xtians live under the delusion that their arguments are the only ones that can ground reason, one of the elements they collectively lump into something they call the 'pre-conditions of intelligibility". But can they really claim this, when they cannot articulate a rational way to know truth from fiction, and insist that the universe is ruled by magic, mysticism, and beings so far from human experience that those beings have no meaning. In particular they believe in a god that can alter the facts of reality at a whim, leaving the xtian unsure as to whether they are, for example, drinking water or wine. The xtian position becomes incoherent.

The traditional excuse has been to demand that they know rationality through revelation from a being more powerful than them. However note here that they cannot know anything if magic rules the universe. Any revelation will not give any certainty, because they can merely be victims of a deception, in the same way for example that Abraham was deceived into the attempted sacrifice of Isaac, or indeed from the action of Satan posing as their diety. If they cannot break free from this problem, they are holding onto irrational claims. But it gets worse.

If all you have is "revelation", then your argument is fallacious, because revelation relies on your ability to form concepts using your senses and reasoning in the first place. This is something you cannot do without borrowing from my worldview and thereby commit the fallacy of the stolen concept. My worldview states that the senses and reasoning are self-evident, self-justifying and axiomatically valid. Quoting from Leonard Peikoff (Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, p. 39; italics original):

"The validity of the senses is an axiom. Like the fact of consciousness, the axiom is outside the province of proof because it is precondition of any proof. "

Proof consists in reducing an idea back to the data provided by the senses. These data themselves, the foundation of all subsequent knowledge, precede any process of inference. They are the primaries of cognition, the unchallengeable, the"self-evident."

So, what can the xtian give as a rational way to know truth from fiction? Answering this question is the sole purpose of this debate. Perhaps the presuppositional xtian has a way to know other than by revelation. We shall see. But the rules are:

1) if you reply stating your reasoning is valid, because of revelation, you lose based on the stolen concept fallacy
2) if you resort to any claim invoking magic and magical beings (inc. gods of any description), you lose based on incoherency of your position
3) if you attempt to merely assert that I use my senses and reasoning to justify my senses and reasoning, then firstly you cannot read or comprehend English and secondly you lose because you attack a strawman
4) if you attack my worldview, you lose because you are using your senses and reasoning to attack the validity of senses and reasoning.


I believe Pro confuses the idea of presuppositional apologetics when it is deeming "revelation" is necessary for rationality. The Clarkian school of thought is that rationaility itself is endowed by God (ie. The ability to REASON is the "revelation" that God permits and an atheist denies.) The general idea is that any reasoning done by your mind, as a result of your five senses, is the "revelation" you speak of. It's when atheist scientists describe their awe of the universe, yet are unable to give a reason for their awe. They can tell us HOW they think the universe is awe-inspiring, but they cannot tell us WHY they have reasoned so. A presupppositional scientist would say that the reason is "revelation" by God, which is innate in all humans. In short, what you call reason and logical truth, Clark and his presuppositional cronies call "revelation." Any other "reason" is simply not the truth, but rather a subjective description arising from limited sensory perceptions.

Pro's confusion on the idea is exemplified in his statement, "If all you have is "revelation", then your argument is fallacious, because revelation relies on your ability to form concepts using your senses and reasoning in the first place". Again, the reasoning you do is the very "revelation" God gives. If that revelation is true and consistent, then presuppositionalists will argue that it will also be consistent with the bible. If you have faulty logic, or logic is lacking consistency, it is argued that it is because the disbeliever is suppressing the "truth," or "revelation", or logical "reason", which would need to be consistent with the bible, they have drawn an illogical conclusion.

Also, Pro has confused the purpose of the presuppositional argument. apologetics is not a framework for reality or for proving the existence of God.. It is a framework for rebutting the atheist arguments against dogmatic Christianity. Rather it is a refutation of all worldviews from rationalism to pantheism, that exclude the need for a Christian God, to explain reality.
"After demonstrating the internal incoherence of the non-Christian views, the Biblical apologete will argue for truth and the logical consistency of the Scriptures and the Christian worldview revealed therein. He will show how Christianity is self-consistent, how it gives us a coherent understanding of the world. It answers questions and solves problems that other worldviews cannot. This method is not to be considered as a proof for the existence of God or the truth of Scripture, but as proof that the non-Christian view is false. It shows that intelligibility can only be maintained by viewing all things as dependent on the God of Scripture, who is truth itself. This is the proper "presuppositional" approach to apologetics."
. - See more at:

"Clark emphasized the point that there is a wide gap between basic sense experience and the propositional conclusions made by empiricists. 15 Sense data (the facts of experience) do not come with their own built-in interpretation. Rational conclusions cannot come from sense experience alone. Empiricism, therefore, fails as a truth-finding method. Next, Gordon Clark turned his attention to rationalism."
-taken from institue of biblical defense website

Clark is not saying that reason itself is unnecessary to arrive at truth. However, he is arguing that the Christian Truth is the actual truth and nothing but the truth. Clark is arguing that it is unreasonable to assume your five senses and rationality alone will allow you arrive at the conclusion that the Christian God is the truth. Here he argues you need the bible to know this truth, then continues to assert that the God of the bible is logically consistent with moral and logical worldviews that work, while other worldviews are hopelessly illogical, due to the fact that they are not based on the bible God.

To demonstrate, the God of the Bible declares that "there is no understanding of God". This is logically consistent with the current reality of worldviews concerning God. The Bible also states that in the beginning was the Logos. To assume that before any physics or laws of nature can be formed, a logical construct must exist to permit their manifeststion and eventual rollout into physical time and space. These biblical views are consistent with logic, and can therefore become axioms upon which to build a world view. However, these axioms are self evident, but cannot be arrived at using simple senses or rationality.
Debate Round No. 1


Firstly I feel as though I owe Con an apology. This contention was aimed at being a parody of the recurring "How does an atheist rationally know truth from fiction" series, as opposed to an argument I would construct from scratch. Con has therefore responded to my cartooning of that thread rather than an actual argument I would put forward. Having said that I am happy to move this forward in good faith, because some of my own worldview is buried in it.

So thank you for your considered response Con. I will not say you said the word revelation and therefore you lose. But hopefully actually present you with something more coherent.

I am aware of the purpose of the presuppositional apologetics, and its attempt to expose incoherency in other worldviews. Even if they defeated every worldview available today (I am not sure they have defeated any), they would still not be able to claim Christianity is the basis of truth. This is because, we could not rule out other future worldviews, all one could ever say is that any attempt made by the presup. to claim total victory is at the very best inductive. However the recent (and to be fair mainly Vantillian based) attempts are an attack against Global Skepticism, on the assumption that atheists are Skeptics. They have not, for example, attempted to attack Objectivism.

So let me define a few terms:

reason - understand and form judgements logically from data derived from the senses
senses - the faculties by which the body perceives external stimulii
mysticism - spiritual apprehension of knowledge, inaccessible to consciousness
magic - the power of apparently influencing events by supernatural forces
revelation - supernatural disclosure of something relating to existence

If we start with the axiom of Existence. That Existence, exists and does so independently of the mind, we can state that there is something. There is an Existence for us to comprehend and that our only tool of comprehension is our consciousness (which includes our reasoning). We are able to feed our consciousness via our sensory inputs and using logical methods we can assimilate, integrate and differentiate data into objective concepts. The validity of consciousness is also axiomatic, any attempt to deny it commits the fallacy of the stolen concept.

I will contrast this approach with mysticism. Mysticism is the view that I (or anyone) can get a direct, unmediated "revelation" from a supernatural source. That somehow I get bootstrapped with pre-packaged truth quite literally by magic. I reject this view because it is fallacious, incoherent and multiplies assumptions beyond that which are required.

Firstly, we are now in a position where we need to determine whether reason or mysticism is the path to knowledge, what approach would we use to determine the answer? [insert answer here]. Hopefully it is fairly obvious that we would reason to it. So we must start with reasoning itself, and not a mystical revelation of reasoning.

Secondly, we can instead rely on the validity of our senses and reason axiomatically. There is no need for further justification. Consider the following: 1) If we deny the validity of our own senses, what do we use to confirm that denial? 2) If we deny reason, then what did we use to form the concept of reason to deny in the first place? In other words any attempt to deny their validity results in an immediate incoherence, making their invalidity (literally un-reason and non-sense) impossible. That is not to say that validity is perfection, or that there are no people with cognitive impairment, that is quite another matter. Just to say that the senses and reason are reliable for grasping reality.

Thirdly. How are we to distinguish fact from fiction if we accept this perspective. Quoting Dawson Bethrick on the Bahnsen Burner Blog:

"To say that God is ones proper epistemological starting point likewise commits the fallacy of the stolen concept, for " because even according to Christianity itself, it is supposed to be imperceptible " it could not (even if we supposed it exists) number among the objects of which man is aware directly. Even if the believer claims that we all know his god directly (following Rom. 1:18f), he cannot identify any objective means by which one could have awareness of his god, let alone explain how one can reliably distinguish between what he calls "God" and what he may simply be imagining. If the believer says "God exists" is his starting point, we simply ask where he got the concept "exists". He must have already formed this concept in order to apply it to his god, thus indicating that he in fact does have knowledge that is even more fundamental than his claim that his god exists. "

Fourthly, there is further inductive support for my view, which seems inexplicable on presuppositional (Clarkian) terms:

- we know, from experimentation, that total sensory deprivation causes a marked decrease in the ability of individuals to reason. Why would this be the case if direct, unmediated access to reason was available?
- we know that childrens ability to reason is limited by their sensorial experience. For example they may not know that "fire is hot", but would be aware later in life through experiences. Why would this be the case if direct, unmediated access to reason was available?
- humans with extreme sensorial impairment do not develop the same reasoning as those without. eg In cases where humans are insensitive to pain, they have often bitten off the tip of their tongue, or caused fractures to bones without realising what they are doing. The person that cannot feel pain, may not respond to problems the same way. Why would this be the case if direct, unmediated access to reason was available?
- we know animals have a capacity to reason. Why would this be the case if it was a revelation from a god to humanity?

To bring this together. The claim that reason is infact the "revelation" is not a move available. Con states " is argued that it is because the disbeliever is suppressing the "truth," or "revelation", or logical "reason", which would need to be consistent with the bible, they have drawn an illogical conclusion"". This betrays this particular apologetic, restated and in other words "your reasoning is invalid unless you believe in Jesus". This statement commits the fallacy of the stolen concept. Belief is already a reasoning process thus you cannot use it to deny the validity of it.

In short I have demonstrated we have no choice but to axiomatically presuppose the validity of our reasoning. The problems only really start if we accept that reasoning is infact "revealed", or "imbued", or "a pre-condition established" by a diety. It leads to a slew of problems that do not exist if we drop that assumption. Those problems make this apologetic fallacious, irrational, and render the presup. unable to tell the difference between truth and fiction.

To turn to some specific points in your response:

Clark may have stated there is a wide gap between sense experience and propositions, but instead of offering a theory of concepts he imports a god into the gap.

It is a bold statement to claim that empiricism fails as a truth finding method. These statements are constrained in our daily life by pragmatism. Would you get on the plane if a revelation said it is safe to fly, and all the empirical tests say it isn't? Would you only step on to the plane if you thought you knew a god had revealed your reasoning was valid?

I think the point you made about the "logos-logic-beginning of the Universe etc" is self refuting. If you argue that a logical construct was in place to allow the universe to come into existence, then you have to explain which laws it operated by. The laws of logic that I am aware all require time to be in place as a pre-condition (eg A cannot be A and B in the same way and same time). How did a logical construct exist "before" time, but only exist in time ?


chipmonk forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


I have nothing to rebut from the previous round, but will further add to my argument by considering the TANG proposed by Michael Martin. Here Martin rebuts TAG (for logic, induction, morality) type arguments by simply pointing out that any of these are undermined and are indeed untrue if a god is the cause. As reason and rationality presuppose logic, undermining logic by arguing it is grounded in a god, undermines the theists own argument. To quote Martin:

"Logic presupposes that its principles are necessarily true. However, according to the brand of Christianity assumed by TAG, God created everything, including logic; or at least everything, including logic, is dependent on God. But if something is created by or is dependent on God, it is not necessary--it is contingent on God. And if principles of logic are contingent on God, they are not logically necessary. Moreover, if principles of logic are contingent on God, God could change them. Thus, God could make the law of noncontradiction false; in other words, God could arrange matters so that a proposition and its negation were true at the same time. But this is absurd. How could God arrange matters so that New Zealand is south of China and that New Zealand is not south of it? So, one must conclude that logic is not dependent on God, and, insofar as the Christian world view assumes that logic so dependent, it is false."


My apologies to Con for missing the last round. But I will do believe 5 rounds may be one too many anyways. ;)

Also , though I am not apologetic personally nor am i a presuppositionalist, but I am a firm believer, and i still see there are few glaring misconceptions about the presuppositionalist view and their resulting arguments, and I must point out why the type of argument i hereby provide, is in nature "apologetic."

The apologies are meant for the opponent in apologetics. We apologize to the opponent because they did not understand us the first time, when we said "God is truth". Even so, I agree with the first two axioms that we exist and we are conscious of it. However, Con seems to miscatrgorize the notion of God to begin with. If I am to say, God is the truth, then i am also claiming that everything about God, including his "revelations" to man (should they exist) would be true as well. True, in the sense that you could not just call if "mysticism" or "magic" and brush it off. Even if it APPEARS to be magic or inpossible to you, there is an underlying truth behind it. Each of those words you use deal with the supernatural. Supernatural occurances are not necessarily magic or voidoo. They are only , in so far as having explanatory foundations , highly lacking in any means of scientific scrutiny. This does not mean supernatural occurances do not happen. As we all know they do. This does not mean those supernatural occurances cannot ONE DAY be explained by science. Like UFOs or the Bermuda Triangle, are as of yet supernatural things that apparently exist yet are unexplained.

So mysticism could very well be a path to esoteric knowledge, that is simply unexplainable by scientific or empirical means. Con seems to forget that even without empricism and science, humans have accumulated vast amounts of knowledge and truth about how the universe works. And even scientific inquiry itself is led by the yearning to know that which everyone calls "God." Yet, until science can discover His hiding place, it can never definitively rule out the uncanny abilities of the consciousn mind to reach knowledge beyond the visible, legible, or audible realm. Also, its interesting to note rhat "knowledge" itself is an abstraction of reality that exists outside of the reality itself. Ergo, since senses are a means of assessing realities, one must reach beyond their senses to reach "knowledge."

Here Con seems to argue that one can go from senses to knowledge by method of "reasoning." He also misapprehends that revelation is referring to the ability to reason and presuppositionalists somehow circumvent all reason and live life as if the bible was a how-to-instructional for all things. This is a false idea of their views.

No matter what the views of any individual may be, by virtue of our first axiom, we have agreed that an objectice reality exists. We also agreed there is inherent subjectivity in the conceptualization of reality, being tied to a conscious mind and body. From this point each mind reasons about the objective reality God has revealed in the bible. Again, although God may reveal truth, conceptualization or reasoning will be subjective.

The list of cons attempts to draw relation with reasoning capabilities and sensory input, is highly fallacious and does not draw a distinct causal relationship, only assumes one. Further, as mentioned several times already, the revelation is the " truth" being revealed to man. And although i do not believe in the presuppositionalist claim that the bible must be literally true, i believe it must be logically true. Or in the least, make logical sense so as to deliver a messgae conveying some "truth."

This is distinct from reasoning itself, or rationality. My apologies if That was not made clear. The argument is that REVELATION is the objectice truth, and that even with our reasoning and rationality, we cannot arrive at the full truth ONLY relying on sensory input from our external existence.

Also to add straws to strawmen, con has presupposed 1. The definition of god, 2. The definition of existence (though i conceded to his axioms about existence in this observable reality, we did not clear define existence. Do ideas exist? If god the bible says , and is before time and space as the bible says, yet to exist is defned as occupying time and space..does God still exist? If heaven exists, and I am in heaven..does that count as existing?")

There are many ontological and epistemological precepts that Con is in absolute disregard for, which does not do justice to my position or to that of the presuppositional xtian.

I appreciate your rebuttal thus far, but also would like you to address my argument face on.

Simply. That given much of what we know about this reality, taking a sincere look at the bible as well as the history surrounding it, one can get a clearer grasp of "truth" (atheist and theist alike), than any scientific theory could ever possibly do on its own. And provided that the bible is some how true, and accurate, and reflecting truth about this "existence," then it it could very well be a wealth of mystic esoteric supernatural knowledge that science isnignorant to. has yet to disprove Jesus or God or the bible as divine revelation and people have been living as christians for 2000 years.

For the past 2000 years christianity has brought tremendous success and profress to all different creeds and races all around the world. It is the one central religion of this modern world, and as the bible says the "governments will be upon his shoulders." Most nations today are majority christians with christians in government for at last1600 years.

Please argue how christianity and The teaching is Jesus Christ are not revealed words from God. Please tell me how if Godn existed,!how you would reason his existence as well as the coming of Jesus Christ. One can not reason such things. Yet they appear to be very true. Throughout history and time, christianity has proven to be a reliable source of truth again and again, allowing each generation after the next to continuously improve after one another for 2000 years.
Debate Round No. 3


Thanks again to Con for his response. I think Con wants to call me Pro (and not Con) :-). Con, I accept fully that you are not a presuppositionalist. Let me address my response in 3 parts 1) the rebuttal of your rebuttal, 2) the claims you make which I think are mistaken and why and 3) your direct challenges to me.

The purpose of this debate was to establish whether presuppositionalists could know truth from fiction if they are consistent with their worldview. I have set out the Axioms I adhere to, built arguments on their foundation, showed why that means presuppositionalism is false and demonstrated further inductive reasons as to why presuppositionalism cannot account for features of the natural world. In short:

1) the presuppositionalist has to stand on my worldview to make his claims, to deny my worldview, and therefore commits the fallacy of the stolen concept
2) the presuppositionalists own position is incoherent, because inserting a god as an interlocutor between himself and existence renders his own perception of existence as open to abuse
3) they fail the test of parsimony as no justifications of the so called pre-conditions of intelligibility are required, if the Axioms are true

Con believes I have not addressed his rebuttal and/or made fallacious arguments. I think Con is just confused here. I believe I have given a rather full explanation of my position and rebuttals of his defence of presuppositionalism. Con has failed to point out where my arguments do not succeed, but merely asserted he finds some problems with them.

In Cons last response there are 2 claims that I would like to tackle head on:

A) God=Truth
B) Mysticism is plausibly a path to truth


I freely admit phrases like this leave me cold. I find it an utterly unimpressive and meaningless tautology. However, to add insult to injury it even appears to defeat itself. For truth to be true, it cannot be contingent. Resting it within a god makes truth contingent on a god. Contrast this with my view that truth pertains to facts about objective Existence, is independent of consciousness and immutable.

Mysticism is plausibly a path to truth

Con claims that a vast amount of knowledge was gained before the age of science, that mysticism somehow fills a gap where science cannot reach and that notwithstanding any of this there is an emotional need (a yearning) to discover god anyway. Lets break this down.

I think Con makes the mistake of assuming I am espousing a scientistic perspective (a view inspired by science). I am not, although of course I respect science for its own end, I do not say it is the only potential way to truth. But I do specifically exclude Mysticism as a potential way to truth.

I wonder what knowledge is referred to here by Con? Conceding that some mathematics and philosophical advances were made in the pre-science era by Reason (and not by Mysticism). So lets say the pre-science era is before the time of Copernicus (for the sake of argument), what Mystical beliefs did humans hold?: the earth was flat, the sun orbited the earth, life came from spontaneous generation or was specially created, rainbows were miracles, the night sky was a solid metal dome, the moon was a light source, mental health was demon possession, astrology worked, there were Platonic idealised forms, slavery was OK...etc. Through the strenuous and earnest application of Reason, we have jettisoned these false beliefs which once passed for knowledge.

As for Mysticism filling a gap where science cannot penetrate. Lets try the thought experiment! Science cannot penetrate back before planck time at the instance of the big bang. So is our next step to wait for some mysterious handshake with the universe, or to reason it out? And back to a point I have already made. If you say reason is limited and at some point mysticism takes over, then what method would you use to establish where that point was? Or whether that was even possible? These arguments you want to use are always bound to commit the fallacy of the stolen concept.

As for yearnings".If you start your epistemological quest from an emotion instead of a foundation, it may lead you to conclusions you want".but not a lot else.

So to the specific things Con has asked me to address:

"Simply. That given much of what we know about this reality, taking a sincere look at the bible as well as the history surrounding it, one can get a clearer grasp of "truth" (atheist and theist alike), than any scientific theory could ever possibly do on its own.... then it it could very well be a wealth of mystic esoteric supernatural knowledge that science isnignorant to. has yet to disprove Jesus or God or the bible as divine revelation and people have been living as christians for 2000 years."

And in 2000 years Christianity has failed to demonstrate the truth of itself despite (apparently) having a god on its side. Science has been around at most 200 years and has advanced civilisation beyond the imagination of anyone living in the bronze age. You are fallaciously asserting that there are mystical insights which get us a clearer grasp of reality...Name one thing that is clearer as a result of accessing mystical knowledge. To this point you have not provided any examples and thus there is nothing for me to rebut.

"For the past 2000 years christianity has brought tremendous success and profress to all different creeds and races all around the world"...the bible says the "governments will be upon his shoulders." Most nations today are majority christians with christians in government...."

For the past 2000 years Christianity has sought to control people, and only events like the enlightenment, the industrial revolution, the advent of capitalism and free trade, parliamentary democracy, has set people free from being slaves to dogma. Christianity has been forced to concede ground and control, it has been dragged into the modern world kicking, screaming and bemoaning secularism. The birth accident of government leaders is NOT indicative of Christian success, correlation is NOT causation. There is no case for your position, it is founded on bare assertions, which fail the most basic tests.

"Please argue how christianity and The teaching is Jesus Christ are not revealed words from God. Please tell me how if Godn existed,!how you would reason his existence as well as the coming of Jesus Christ. One can not reason such things. Yet they appear to be very true. Throughout history and time, christianity has proven to be a reliable source of truth again and again".."

I don"t think I have to argue "how christians teachings are not the revealed words of a god". Why would this be my burden in the context of this debate? Christianity has no track record of being a reliable source of anything, please state just one example to counter it. I think you are only applying wish thinking here.

Let me turn to your complaints about existence. Existence is simply "what is". This is not the important point however, the axioms of existence and consciousness have further implications which are deadly to your worldview. Consciousness is the faculty which perceives and identifies existents (things that exist). We can therefore say that existence then is primary, and that consciousness requires existence. There can be no consciousness without something existing to be conscious of. A consciousness cannot be conscious only of its own consciousness (this is a contradiction in terms). Thus there is no consciousness without existence.

However, this is exactly the opposite of the Christian claim and the model it proposes. Namely that Consciousness is metaphysically prime over Existence. Literally an imagined disembodied mind, floating in an imagined realm, aware only of itself but still antecedent to Existence. Literally meaning that Christianity is a contradiction in terms, and therefore impossible


Likewise to you pro. Sorry, I am usually Pro side and kept calling Con a Con, because he is trying to Con the audience. ;)
Just kiddinng. Kinda. Ha.

A presuppositional christian knows truth from fiction the same way anyone else does. Through reason. This is what I keep needing to repeat. Presuppositinalists never advocate circumventing reason, and replacing it with anything else. They only advocate that the Bible is the truth, and nothing but the truth, and that by using your reasoning abilites correctly, One is able to draw similar conclusions. That the bible is a very good method of ascertaining truth about REALITY.

There is a temporal and semantical divergence bw saying "truth is known by revelation." And saying "truth is known by reason." The first talks about the objective truth itself. Being literally shown and explained. . The second talks about a process towards objective truth. Without any demonstration from a third party. Reasoning is an internal mechanism for discerning reality. But reason itself does not tell you if your reasoning is true or valid. . Becsuse reason is not an actual "path" to all objective truth, but rather a tool , which when used correctly, that helps ppl find truth. Further, reasonin only helps ppl find truths to paricular circumstances they have participation in, but not to questions like, "how did the universe begin?"'or however, you can hope to reason to understand "WHY the universe began." In such a way, reasoning is limited in its abilities to provide objective form and function to aspects we do not yet understand. Therefore, Reasoning does not necessitate truth. Truth exists in spite of correct of incorrect reasoning.

And I hope to make this clear, I am not saying "reasoning is useless." I am only saying it is not a surefire path to the truth about everything. Although it is an extremely important tool in guiding us through life and every day obstacles, and even determining axioms upon which to base our world views, reasoning does not tell us if those axioms are true or false .
In other words reason allows us to draw up multiple hypotheses and consider the likelihood of each, however it does not provide us with any valid means or mechanism for testing each of those hypotheses with any empirical scrutiny. Reasoning is a good way for us to find truth. But it does not allow us to verify that truth. Except by its own reasoning. Which would be a circular fallacy to commit. You can not you reason to reason you are right. You also need evidence. one finds the truth. The other verifies it.

Basically. Con confuses the presuppositionalists position. As i said before. The presuppositionalist does not say that revelation replaces reasoning. This is a misinterpretation of equivocation. They say by revelation, God revealed the TRUTH about reality to man. Whether man recognizes it as truth is another story. They are only saying, as I am sure any reasonable person would agree, that it is hard to come to the conclusion that "the bible is the truth" By ONLY using reason and rationailty. This does not they do NOT use reason, it means they use it along with the bible and revelation from God. To recognize that "the bible is the truth."

In line with such reasoning, it is reasonable to say that we exist. And we need our sense to reason. And reasoning helps us arrive at truth. However it would be a slippery slope , to say that reason leads one to truth absolutely. Reason is also prone to error and human error is inevitable. This is the problem with Con's logic, if he is assuming just because his first two axioms were true, that he could also arrive at the actual "truth" about reality , without additional help, science or revelation , then he would be rashly drawing the conclusion

So to answer's Con's question "how does a presuppositional xtian differentiate fact from fiction without using reason?" He cant. No one can. Reason is exactly what allows ppl to differentiate fact from fiction, and a hard line of REaSoning (of the presented evidence.) is what leads ppl to believe some theories that Jesus existed, the world is round, the universe is expanding and in constant motion, etc. these types of truths cannot be arrived at using only senses and only reason. Ppl need methods of studying that truth or to have it revealed to them by a greater authority.

Likewise, I have stated mysticism as a PLAUSIBiLiTy of arriving at truth. It does not mean that it is. To say that it is most certainly not a method for arriving at truth, IS to presuppose that one has already arrived at the absolute and certain truth about reality, and how this world really works. Certainly, con has not revealed all of the mysteries of life and the universe, neither has our greatest scientists discovered all of the mysteries of the universe, let alone the mystery of the conscious mind. Therefore, without exactly understanding the mechanisms and processes for mysticism to work, Contin not certain if she can specifically exclude mysticism as an approach to truth. No one said mysticism is feeling a gap that science cannot penetrate. I am just saying that it very well could be, and there's no way to verify it being false or true.

And in light of the above , I hope one is logical enough to see, it is not for the presuppositionalis to demonstrate the veracity of the Christian religion, or the Bible. In light of the fact that the "ultimate truth" is unknown, to man, to science, and even to reason, the best explanation always serves as the most rational one.

The christian worldview best explains the reality in which we live. From explaining morality, to explaining the mysteries of the conscious mind. Con asserts these are his worldviews , but in fact all he has done is borrowed from the monotheistic, abrahamic philosophies much as anyone else has done. Consciousness is a thing. And existence is a state. To say one comes after another is complete nonsense.

Finally Con believes that ideologies such as capitalism and democracy provided progress, and christianity held progress back. Although this is a commonly held notion amongst atheist, it IS a gross misrepresentation of the truth, and a misunderstanding of religion and its role in society. First, religion and political ideologies do not work against each other nor are they mutually exclusive. In fact, it is a common known political science that Christianity is the reason capitalism and democracy was successful while marxist socialism and communism had failed. Without proper incentives, people did not properly work and growth was inhibited from a lack of motivation that followed. in contrast, nations based on the christian religion found that its labor class was more incentivised to work and innovate of their own free will, even when prospects of riches were not in reach. Further, its pretty common knowledge that the US constitution, and the current democratic model we use are based off of the Christian belief that "God as endowed all men with unalienable rights." The very social constructs Con cites as reasons for progress were all founded on christian values. To deny such is a display of ignorance towards historical facts. All one needs to do is google "role of christianity".

The Protestant work ethic was an important force behind the unplanned and uncoordinated mass action that influenced the development of capitalism and the industrial revolution. This idea is also known as the "Protestant ethic thesis."[134]

Can Con explain how these ideas persist? If any of his assertions that christianity inhibits progress is true? Obviously, Con has alot of opinions about the effects of christianity, but they are helplessly myopic only considering news headlines, and not considering historical facts.

Has Con understood how presuppositionalists claim to differentiate fact from fiction is through REASON and BELIEvE the bible is revealed truth from God, and that reason and rationality confirm?
Debate Round No. 4


Con you are still referring to me as "Con" throughout your response. For the benefit of the reader I am Pro. I thank Con for his interaction in this debate. I will try to draw together the main points of this and conclude.

The bible is a terrible method of showing truth from reality as witnessed in this debate. Not one piece of evidence from the bible has been offered demonstrating its value in this regard. I agree presuppositionalists can know truth from fiction, but only by adopting my worldview. If they were true to their worldview, they would not know anything for certain, see TANG by Michael Martin.

All through this debate Con has failed to recognise that he (like presuppositionalists) commit the fallacy of the stolen concept, by protesting that reason is not the only way to truth, but only to turn round and use reason to form a concept of "mystical revelation" in the first place.

Con states (wrongly referring to me as Con): "But reason itself does not tell you if your reasoning is true or valid". This has already been covered twice. Reason is axiomatically valid and any other situation is impossible. If it were possible for reason to be invalid, then unreason would be valid (and the law of non-contradiction would not hold). I cannot comprehend a situation were unreason is valid, because I cannot comprehend a situation where the law of non-contradiction does not hold. Ergo my reasoning is valid. Contrast that with the Christian view that states that reasoning cannot be valid without an imaginary, tinkering, capricious, invisible being who can change reality at a whim.

Con states (wrongly referring to me as Con): "reasonin only helps ppl find truths to paricular circumstances they have participation in, but not to questions like, "how did the universe begin?"". I find it incomprehensible that Con thinks to answer the question of Cosmic origins, we should use a method other than Reason. This statement rather underlines the mistake Con is making in his argumentation and again commits the fallacy of the stolen concept.

Con states: "reasoning does not tell us if those axioms are true or false". The axioms are undeniable, but one still reasons to them, because of the impossibility of the contrary. No-one need access direct, unmediated revelation from a being to know the truth of the axioms.

Con states (wrongly referring to me as Con): "Con confuses the presuppositionalists position. As i said before. The presuppositionalist does not say that revelation replaces reasoning". And neither did I, they claim revelation is foundational to reason. Which is, as ironic a position as anyone can hold. In other words, in order to reason we must have a mystical revelation as a metaphysical primary antecedent to reason. They argue for the primacy of conscious over existence, which is incoherent as I have previously explained.

Con states (wrongly referring to me as Con): "This is the problem with Con's logic, if he is assuming just because his first two axioms were true, that he could also arrive at the actual "truth" . Again I did not say that, but the axioms are foundational to truth.

Con states: "the world is round, the universe is expanding and in constant motion, etc. these types of truths cannot be arrived at using only senses and only reason". Really? What other methods were deployed to gain these insights into the universe? Last time I looked it was only sense data and reasoning. There was no revelation involved in their discovery.

Con claims I borrow from Abrahamic faiths but nowhere shows this. I have very clearly laid out a non-religious foundation to my knowledge. I do not say that clinches it for Atheism, but I do say that it is therefore complete nonsense to accuse me of standing on Abrahamic faith. I do wish we didn't see theists retreat to claiming that atheists are secretly crypto-theists. It amounts to an ad hominem. I think I am honour bound to accept Con at his word in that he believes that God exists, he needs to accept that I do not.

Con is indeed the one demonstrating ignorance and a surface level understanding of history, citing the "protestant work ethic" as the reason Capitalism flourished. Con falls into the classical trap laid out for him by Marxist philosophy. He attempts to equate hard work (Muscle) with the growth of wealth and Capitalism. In this view it is the Proletariat that are secretly creating wealth and are entitled to a greater share. This is the Marxist calling card (see the "Ragged trousered philanthropist").

History shows us the exact opposite is true. It is the application of ideas in an economically free environment which promoted and promotes wealth and Capitalism, not Muscle. Muscle is free to trade its value with the Capitalist (Ideas generator) for mutual gain, but is useless in and of itself. There was plenty of Muscle in China and USSR, but neither economy grew as Socialist states, until they dropped Socialism and the wealth creators were free to act and put their ideas into practice. The only tangible contribution of Christianity came from Calvanism, as it made Usury (using wealth to create wealth) more acceptable. Up to that point free exchange of investment was made impossible by Catholicism. But even here Christianity was only removing an obstacle to Capitalism, put in place by Christianity itself. It is hardly something to champion!

So it was the rise of individualism and the freedom to act free from institutional (inc. Church) interference which created a culture of Capitalism. We can even see that today in the aforementioned China and to a lesser extent in Russia (which is held back by its continued alliance to collectivism). Christianity up to the age of reason had espoused collectivism and altruism, to its core it is a cult of self-sacrifice, where the individual is held as moral or good for sacrificing for the good of others (the tribe, the church, the society). This is not a culture conducive to Capitalism where trade is premised on mutual exchange of value between independent actors in a free market (not one controlled by, nor tithed by church or government). All that happened historically is that Christians knew the game was up, and some of them (eg Quakers) cloathed themslves in Capitalism (despite being derided by theocrats, busy bodies, do-gooders and socialists in their own ranks). Infact the core of International Socialism was a Christian movement (Fabianism), who saw the self-sacrifice of Jesus, the overturning of money changes, championing of the slaves, the poor and meek etc as a good thing.

Finally Con states (wrongly referring to me as Con): "Con explain how these ideas persist?" Con asks a good question. Why does Christianity persist? Well firstly I think the evidence suggests that it is declining, especially in Europe. But I think Nietzsche got close to the truth when he stated that Christianity was the religion of slaves who cannot think or act for themselves, so make virtues out of their own weaknesses. It persists because people want it to, whether there is truth value in it or not. Con accuses me of being myopic, yet sees the world only through Christian coloured glasses.

In conclusion, Cons position is incoherent as he stands on my worldview to deny it, making outlandish claims about the success of Christianity in truth, knowledge, economics and society. But is ultimately left holding an empty sack as each claim falls flat on its face. Which after 2000 years of Christian thinking is not very impressive. I have given an account for reason, sense validity, knowledge, truth and answered some of Cons less relevant claims about history. I would like to thank Con again for his thoughts and mostly polite interaction and wish him every success in future discussions.


I thank pro for his closing statements. But must say ,i am a bit disappointed because i had sincerely hoped for a good response or in the least an honest one. I did not hope to use my closing statements to point out straw men while disparaging my opponent. However, i guess this how debates go, though ,,I can honestly say his response to christianity being the back bone of capitalistic growth was the best part of his rebuttal. Only pro lacks any credible sources and evidence to back his theories in regards to christianity holding progress back.

As for his derogatory descriptions of God, i ignore for the sake of brevity, and only point out the immaturity of context and content , pro clearly providing a demonstration of someone lacking in any actual ",reason" in deploying such adjectives ad hoc, we can see it as a cry for help, rather than any logical conclusions drawn from any axioms.

. I said :"But reason itself does not tell you if your reasoning is true or valid".
Pro said,,,"This has already been covered twice. Reason is axiomatically valid and any other situation is impossible. If it were possible for reason to be invalid, then unreason would be valid (and the law of non-contradiction would not hold). "
First of all pro completely missed the mark in undersranding his opponent's (my) claim. Reasoning does not tell you if ,YOUR reasoning is valid. reasoning is valid because it is called reasoning, by definition it must be valid. But it does not mean that The ideas in pro's head are valid or "reason". It does not mean pro is using valid reasoning .infact. This point demonstrates how Pro seems to unable to understand simple English, and how he cannot reason his own individuAl reasoning as valid. Despite his own axioms.

I said: "reasoning does not tell us if those axioms are true or false".
Pro says :The axioms are undeniable, but one still reasons to them, because of the impossibility of the contrary. No-one need access direct, unmediated revelation,,," pro must think just thinking something is some form of "reason." He just proved he arrived at his own axioms without using any real reason, by calling them "undeniable." Calliing something "undeniable" does not provide any reason, logic, or evidence for such axioms being true. In the past it was "undeniable" the world was flat

Pro says:
" states (wrongly referring to me as Con): "Con confuses the presuppositionalists position. As i said before. The presuppositionalistdoes not say that revelation replaces reasoning". And neither did I, they claim revelation is foundational to reason". As i repeated so manytimes pro got it wrong. Revelation is seen as foundation to valid reasoning. Not reasoning it self. One can reason all day all night, and never arrive at the truth. Due to a lack of valid reasoning. As you have been doing. Calling something incoherent , doesnt make it so. And calling something reasoning, doesnt make it so.

Why do i think pro borrows from abrahamic faith? Simple. He asserts 2 core axioms of the christian faith inorder to assert his own argument. First. A truth exists. If there is no God, truth becomes subjective, and loses any certainty it has. Something cannot be reasoned to be true, if turth itself only exists in the eye of the beholder. This is a whole course on epistomolgy and ontology , which tell us there is no way to certainly know the absolute truth. Yet ,Pro somehow argues that he does to certain truth via his senses and reason. Alas, he doesnt even recognize his own senses and reason decieve him everyday. While his logic fails him as a result. So how can I accept his argument that reason leads to truth. Who's reasoning leads tp truth? Pros reasoning? this i highly doubt. Secondly, Pro argues that humans are able to discern truth. Another axiom of the abrhamic faith. Man being made in God's image. It makes sense that pro would argue his reasoning is By default truth and reality. Since pro does not believe in God, he does not really believe in objective truth, therefore whatever he thinks is the truth for him. Prozone able to see it just because it's true to him it doesn't make it an absolute or objective truth.

Since Pro thinks all he needs is reasoning to find truth, Id like to ask him and anyone else who thinks the same one question. So, what is the turth? What is reality about? How did life appear? Oh wait...what? Pro doesnt have an answer for these simple questions? Why?!!!!! According to pro if you can reason you should know the truth . Logic dictates that since pro does not know the truth, if we except his axioms as valid, we can say pro does not know how to reason!!!! Pro thinks these questions get answered via logic and reasoning. Alas, u cannot use reason to validate itself. U cannot use science to validate the scientific method. u take them on faith, because it is the only method we have. To say the method is flawless, is a big big big stretch. We discovered the world was round, using telescopes. Not only senses, reason, and data. We needed an apparatus , or a tool, to aid in that discovery. Without the telescope can your senses "detect" the so called data?? No. U need help to arrive at the truth. Reasoning alone is necessary but not sufficient.

Further pro would like to disconnect christianity with social progress as much as he likes, but does not have any evidence for his assertions. Go figure.

Supposing that capitalism did produce Europe"s own "great leap forward," it remains to be explained why capitalism developed only in Europe. Some writers have found the roots of capitalism in the Protestant Reformation; others have traced it back to various political circumstances. But, if one digs deeper, it becomes clear that the truly fundamental basis not only for capitalism, but for the rise of the West, was an extraordinary faith in reason.

Further, pro only speaks of the past 200 years as progress. He does not consider the 1800 years before science, or capitalism to be progress? I suppose right up until the 1800s , we were all still living in caves, and worshipping sun Gods. Oh wait. Some of us still were. The native americans and almost any other part of the world that has not yet encountered christianity. Besides them, since Jesus, all european and western states have slowly progresed over time. Much of it with help from the church. We wouldn't have science at all if if werent for the church and its members , eager to find God.

To deny christianity as the foundation of all modern progress is to pretty much denythe fact that more than half the world's population is christian and that our progress came from the population. Here, pro does seem to argue that progress was not brought on by the sacrifice of the labor force. That in fact, progress was a result of the elite who controls the labor force. if this were true, id like to see how fast bill gates can fix my car. The proletariat are meaningless without a willing labor force to support them.

Pro is simply delusional if he thinks a societ can progress without the backbone of a strong and motivated labor force. Pro is also delusional if he thinks people are inherently happy to recieve minimum wage and spend the rest of their lives toiling. Pro lacks a coherent explanation for why christian countires ALWAYS flourished, and why others did not.

Con can call my perspective "christian coloured," but again he fails to provide any logic or reason as to why chrsitanity has played a major role in the success of capitalism, success of democracy and the progress in general. He has no alternative , because he cannot distort facts. And fact is the christian religion is so ubiquitous, if it DID inhibit progress, we would not be where we are today.since at one point the whole western world was christian, its impossible to say christianity inhibited progress. If that were did we progress until now? Was everybody secretly an atheist for 2000yrs?
Debate Round No. 5
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by CaptainScarlet 7 months ago
I guess we all have our hobgoblins, and yours appears to be syntax.
Posted by jkgraves735 7 months ago
Anyone who spells Christians "xtians" loses some validity in my book.
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