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Clete
November 9th, 2004, 07:20 PM
What exactly is Presuppositionalism? I have been looking for a clear answer to this question for some time now. Recently Jim Hilston posted some links to a few articles that can be found at www.tgfonline.org, a web site with which he is very heavily involved. I thought that this was really excellent because it was Jim who brought this Presuppositionalism idea to my attention in the first place and so it is his particular brand of Presuppositionalism that I am most interested in figuring out.

I read the articles Jim linked to and a few of the others that they have on the Trinity Grace Fellowship Online website and I found myself agreeing with more than I disagreed with. Basically Presuppositionalism is the idea that one shouldn't argue theology from the standpoint of evidence but rather from the standpoint of presuppositions. One of the main points is that everyone comes to the table with presuppositions of one kind or another, everyone. Genuine neutrality is an illusion and is totally impossible. Thus it is one's faulty presuppositions that lead to false conclusions and therefore should be the Christians main targets in a debate on any issue. It is not only in their view more effective to expose the faulty presuppositions and deconstruct their opponent's positions from the ground up but it is their belief that this is the ONLY Biblical and therefore the ONLY acceptable means of engaging in apologetics. Personally I tend to agree that it is by far the most effective means but I submit that the suggestion that it is the only valid apologetic system is a dramatic overstatement even if it is the only one with Biblical precedent, a point which has not yet been established to my satisfaction.

Further, it seems to me that they argue their theology logically, the same way I do. Jim himself reacts to me as though I base my beliefs on an altogether different set of presuppositions but I don't believe that this is the case. Although, I must admit that perhaps I do! That's the whole point and the question I wish to begin this thread exploring. What exactly are we supposed to presuppose? So far I've figured out that the existence of God and His goodness is presupposed as is the infallibility of the Scripture (in it's original autographs), both of which I agree with. I think that Jim believes that I do not presuppose the existence of God and His goodness based in large part on the subject matter of the last thread I started where I was examining the logic of an argument Bob Enyart made as a resolution to Euthyphro's dilemma. However, while the name of the thread is "Is God Really
Good?", I chose the that title to attract attention to the thread not to convey an accurate description of the actual topic that I wanted to discuss. The actual point of the thread was simply to explore the validity of the logic in Bob's argument with the intent of my future use of the argument in support for the logical necessity of the existence of the Trinity. I do in fact understand that the entirety of existence itself is irrational if God does not exist and that it is equally irrational not to presume that God is, in fact, good. I do not think that those issues can be rationally rejected under any circumstances. What I do reject, however, is the idea that examining those issues logically is disallowed by Scripture which is what it seems to me that the Presuppositionalist is saying. Whether or not the existence of God and His goodness is presupposed or not, it is still factually part of reality and will, therefore, stand up to the rigors of a logical examination. The point is that while many Christians are presuppositionalists and believe that certain things are literally unquestionably true, the fact remains that many unbelievers are not presuppositionalists and find it very easy to question anything and everything including the existence of God. And when the unbeliever presents an apparently valid argument which calls any Christian belief into question, we should be able to meet that challenge head on and deal with it with sound reason. I agree that eventually the discussion will inevitably bump into the unbeliever's presuppositions but I believe we should wait until those issues come up to address them. It seems to me that in this present "scientific" culture that we should do in Rome as the Romans do. We should engage the argument at what ever point the opposition brings the attack. If they want to argue evidence then we can do that, it's not like it's difficult to bring the discussion to an examination of the presuppositions if it comes to that but the point is that not everyone is even in a place emotionally or intellectually where they would even be able to engage the discussion at that level to begin with, so where is the benefit in restricting one's self to the exclusive use of presuppositional arguments? For you archers out there, it would be analogous to having field point and broad-head mounted arrows in your quiver and intentionally restricting yourself to only using the broad-heads even when the field points would be far more appropriate. Why do that? I don't get it!

So to clarify, I wish ask two main questions…

1. Why should Presuppositionalism be the ONLY allowable apologetic system? Or put another way; give me an apologetic for the exclusivity of the Presuppositional apologetic.
2. What is it, precisely, that we are to presuppose, and why, and by what means are we to distinguish those issues from other doctrinal issues that shouldn't necessarily be presupposed but are instead, valid topics for debate?

Resting in Him,
Clete

Hilston
November 10th, 2004, 12:34 PM
Clete,

I like your approach to this question and I would like to give it more time than I have at my disposal presently. I will try to reply soon, but in the meantime, I'd like to ask some preliminary (and admittedly leading) questions about your summary questions:

Clete asked: 1. Why should Presuppositionalism be the ONLY allowable apologetic system? Or put another way; give me an apologetic for the exclusivity of the Presuppositional apologetic.

Do you believe we are allowed to be creative with evangelism? By that I do not mean creative regarding the vehicle or garb through which the gospel is presented, but the content and method. How much latitude do the scriptures give us regarding the content and method of our evangelism?

Clete asked: 2. What is it, precisely, that we are to presuppose, and why, and by what means are we to distinguish those issues from other doctrinal issues that shouldn't necessarily be presupposed but are instead, valid topics for debate?

I don't think this is the right question. I don't think any topics are invalid for debate, but some topics are absurd, and debate can serve to expose that. Some claims are derived from underlying presuppositions; some claims are presuppositions themselves. All claims, even presupposed ones, can be proven or disproven, although in some cases, not directly.

For further reading on this, here are a couple of threads I started way back when Bob Enyart debated Zakath on the existence of God:
The impossibility of atheism (http://www.theologyonline.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=8240&perpage=15&pagenumber=1)
Bob Enyart has already lost the debate (http://www.theologyonline.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=7945)

Knight
November 10th, 2004, 12:40 PM
Man.... :( ya know... it would be so refreshing if just once Jim just responded to a post without stopping the thread turning it around and asking that all participants follow him around in one of his wacky goose chases.

Any other Presuppositionalists out there that can respond to Clete's post?

Chileice
November 10th, 2004, 12:52 PM
Clete,
I find the purpose of this thread very intriguing. I hope that I will have the time to dedicate to a little further study in order to be an active participant in the discussion. On a very casual level, I like what you have said. Most people don't even know what they presuppose. Most have presuppositions pre-programmed from the cultures they live in, the families in which they were raised or the religions to which they have belonged or participated in.

As we encounter more and more diverse world-views in todays society, it will be important for Christians to know what they pre-suppose as well as to be able to draw attention to the presuppositions of others with the end of drawing them to Christ. I hope your thread prospers.

Clete
November 10th, 2004, 02:20 PM
Originally posted by Hilston
Clete,

I like your approach to this question and I would like to give it more time than I have at my disposal presently. I will try to reply soon, but in the meantime, I'd like to ask some preliminary (and admittedly leading) questions about your summary questions:
I understand about time constraints! As long as we can have a productive exchange of ideas please feel free to take all the time you need.


Clete asked: 1. Why should Presuppositionalism be the ONLY allowable apologetic system? Or put another way; give me an apologetic for the exclusivity of the Presuppositional apologetic.

Do you believe we are allowed to be creative with evangelism? By that I do not mean creative regarding the vehicle or garb through which the gospel is presented, but the content and method. How much latitude do the scriptures give us regarding the content and method of our evangelism?
I either don't understand the question (what you're getting at) or else I simply don't know the answer to the question. I would say, however, that as long as the message we are communicating is accurate then it is allowable. As I said in the opening post, it seems to me that we should fight the battle at the point at which it is brought to us, or put in more offensive terms we should bring the battle to where the enemy is at.


Clete asked: 2. What is it, precisely, that we are to presuppose, and why, and by what means are we to distinguish those issues from other doctrinal issues that shouldn't necessarily be presupposed but are instead, valid topics for debate?

I don't think this is the right question. I don't think any topics are invalid for debate, but some topics are absurd, and debate can serve to expose that. Some claims are derived from underlying presuppositions; some claims are presuppositions themselves. All claims, even presupposed ones, can be proven or disproved, although in some cases, not directly.
Okay so which issues are presuppositions and which aren't and how do you objectively distinguish the difference? And I put the word objectively in there on purpose because it seems that presuppositionalists don't think it possible to be objective (neutral) and so I'm thinking that what you consider to be a Christian presupposition is itself based upon presuppositions which are in turn based on their own presuppositions and on and on ad infinitum adnausium It's just as if presuppositionalists presuppose presuppositionalism! Which if so, is pretty darn circular! I admit that this seems to ridiculous to be true so I have a feeling that I've missed something but I don't know what it is.


For further reading on this, here are a couple of threads I started way back when Bob Enyart debated Zakath on the existence of God:
The impossibility of atheism (http://www.theologyonline.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=8240&perpage=15&pagenumber=1)
Bob Enyart has already lost the debate (http://www.theologyonline.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=7945)
I'll take a look at it. Thanks! :thumb:

Resting in Him,
Clete

Clete
November 10th, 2004, 03:04 PM
Originally posted by Chileice

Clete,
I find the purpose of this thread very intriguing. I hope that I will have the time to dedicate to a little further study in order to be an active participant in the discussion. On a very casual level, I like what you have said. Most people don't even know what they presuppose. Most have presuppositions pre-programmed from the cultures they live in, the families in which they were raised or the religions to which they have belonged or participated in.

As we encounter more and more diverse world-views in todays society, it will be important for Christians to know what they pre-suppose as well as to be able to draw attention to the presuppositions of others with the end of drawing them to Christ. I hope your thread prospers.

A good place to start in order to be on the same page that Jim and I are on would be to read the following...


Pauline Apologetics and Atheism (http://www.tgfonline.org/TGF/tgfconf/1999/TGF995.htm)
The Matrix & Presuppositional Apologetics (http://www.tgfonline.org/TGF/topical/matrix.htm)
Pauline Apologetics and Evangelical Religions (http://www.tgfonline.org/TGF/tgfconf/1999/TGF993.htm)


You could also read just about anything on that web site.

Resting in Him,
Clete

geralduk
November 10th, 2004, 05:47 PM
While you may desire a clear undestanding of this matter.
I would ask though WHY you should want to ?
For there are as many 'ISMS' to day as there are versions of the bible.
and each ISM brings forth the counter ism to which then each 'faction' then fights to the death over and others sub divide the isms into degrees of ISMNESS!
SO THAT THE WAR can last for another few generations while the world runs head long into the mouth of hell.

It seesm to me that while men will debate ANYTHING other than DO what the scriptures SAY.
They are UNWILLING to ACCEPT that which is LAID OUT CLEARLY and simply by God in them.
But must rather justyfy themselves by their multitude of words put in such a way that you ned ANOTHER BOOK just to understand what they are writing about.
Im glad therefore and thankfull to God that HIS book is albeit unfathomable in the sense that no man can plumb all ist depths scale all its hights nor cover all the breadths contained therein.
you are STILL able to go up to the ankles(like a young child) up to the loins (like a young man)and there is enough to swim in.
Yet men seem UNABLE or disatisfied with the bread that has come from heaven but must needs have meat from some other scource.
Men may then be able to eat thereof but the meat will bring leaness to thier souls,

This is not a personal critisism but rather a warning to leave those men to thier wranglings and long wearysome contentions.
But rather keep and hold to "the simplicity that is in Christ" and if you need a dictionary or another book to understand what men are talkign about then they are FAR from that simplicity! and it must be said have left thier first love.
For if you know of a truth CHRIST then you should be able to progresivley preach CHRIST! and Him crucyfied and yea risen from the dead"
Rather than ANY ism that brings men to CONFUSION and ERROR rather than "makes men free" and if men call you foolish for doing as such then let themn so call you.
For you will be wise in Gods eyes.
Which is far better than to be wise in the worlds eyes.


Yours in Christ
gerald uk

Yorzhik
November 10th, 2004, 06:39 PM
Thanks Clete, you asked the question so much clearer that I was able.

Clete
November 10th, 2004, 07:08 PM
Originally posted by geralduk
But must rather justyfy themselves by their multitude of words put in such a way that you ned ANOTHER BOOK just to understand what they are writing about.

As far as I am concerned people can publish all the books they like as long as they use a spell checker and an occasional comma.

Feel free to post again when you have something to say that pertains to the topic at hand. I'm not interested in your 'nonismmatism'. That idea has already been explored to death on this web site.

Resting in Him,
Clete

Clete
November 10th, 2004, 07:11 PM
Originally posted by Yorzhik

Thanks Clete, you asked the question so much clearer that I was able.

Well thanks for saying so but I can't get past the feeling that I still don't get this Presuppositionalism thing at all. I've got a better handle on it than I did a few weeks ago but it seems so circular that I just have to be missing something important.

Resting in Him,
Clete

Balder
November 10th, 2004, 07:53 PM
This is an "Exclusively Christian Theology" room, so if my comments here are not welcome, I'll back out! I just wanted to add something to the mix, for anyone who is interested in exploring the implications, or examining the arguments in the following passages against the Christian presuppositionalist perspective.

The follow excerpt deals with belief, presuppositions, and knowledge, and their relationship to each other as well as their differences from each other:


REPLACING KNOWLEDGE WITH BELIEF

Whenever we need or desire knowledge, we are free to investigate for ourselves the limits of what is already known. Most often, however, we do not choose this course. Instead, we turn to an established authority, adopting the content of a knowing made available in advance. Whether we look to tradition, the instruction of parents, the advice of friends or experts, the guidance of a supernatural power, or perhaps simply the accumulated memories of prior acts of knowing, the outcome is the same: the substitution of a belief for knowledge.

Once adopted, a belief operates in a characteristic way. The mind classifies or labels experience in conformity with the belief and draws conclusions accordingly, perhaps ‘re-presenting' the result as potential content for a new belief. The structure so determined screens out direct knowledge of experience itself.

In establishing this structure, the key step is the acceptance of the content of the belief as trustworthy. Although we 'know' the content of the belief as content, we adopt the belief not because we know its content to be true, but because we accept the authority of its source. It is this acceptance that makes the belief a belief.

The accepting of a higher authority entails no knowledge, only the hope or conviction that the transmitted belief has been safely captured and that it ‘encloses' accurate knowledge. What then is the basis for yielding to the authority of a source whose knowledge we cannot directly verify? We might reply to such a question with specific explanations and arguments intended to establish the 'trustworthiness' of this or that specific authority. More fundamental than any such explanations, however, is another belief: the implicit notion that we ourselves lack knowledge, that someone or something else has greater access to the knowledge we need.

Perhaps it seems that this belief, at least, can be traced to a more direct knowing, for daily experience confirms at every turn that we lack access to the knowledge we need or want. But this lack may reflect the basic belief in our own not-knowing, rather than confirming it. Perhaps we do not know simply because we have forgotten how to make contact with knowledge, or else because we do not make the effort to do so. Perhaps we originally accepted a belief in our own not-knowing for reasons that suited our needs at the time, or have carried it forward unthinkingly from the original state of not knowing that characterized the first years of our lives.

Present knowledge insists that there are fixed limits on our ability to know, such as the physical limits that situate the self in space and limit it in time, or endow the body with specific attributes. Would such fixed limits operate in the same way if conventional belief structures were not in effect? For example, if our belief in the self shifted would new possibilities for knowledge open?

Beliefs as Carriers of Knowledge

If beliefs could truly communicate knowledge, the only thing standing between us and knowing would be correct judgments as to which beliefs were trustworthy. This state of affairs, however, does not seem to apply. Even assuming that beliefs were ‘carriers' for the knowledge we are lacking, there seems to be no way that we could benefit fully from that knowledge.

In the first place, the communication of knowledge through the transfer of beliefs will succeed only to the extent that we have the capacity to understand what is being communicated. Qualities of perception or awareness implicit in the belief will be lost in the course of transmission if they lie beyond the range of our own experience. We will receive from beliefs a knowing that has been leveled down to conform to our own lack of knowledge. In this sense, the belief as we receive it is a projection of the activity of our own mind.

Second, when we rely on beliefs we are accepting a structure that posits our own lack of knowledge and confirms our needs and wants as the basis for all action. The limitations that these presuppositions establish will continue to operate, no matter how subtle and refined the system of beliefs to which we give our allegiance.

Third, beliefs interpose themselves between our own experience and our knowledge of that experience. No matter how comprehensive the belief, it will leave the experience itself unknown.

Finally, even if a belief contains 'true' knowledge, we have no way of knowing whether that knowledge is complete. We could only determine this on the basis of another belief. As long as we 'import’ knowledge from outside our own knowing, we will lack the capacity to determine the depth and the scope of what we know.

In relying on beliefs, we are accepting an imperfect substitute for knowledge. Perhaps this seems necessary if we are to gain access to a vast range of knowledge outside our direct experience, but the result is just the opposite. We choke off knowledge that we might develop on our own, without escaping the limitations of the knowledge we have already adopted.

When beliefs replace knowledge, vision is foreclosed, leading to stagnation. Beliefs may be accurate in their content and useful in their operation, but in being passed from one person to another, they bypass our most fundamental concerns. We touch the true significance of a belief only by discovering for ourselves the knowledge it embodies.
~Love of Knowledge, Tarthang Tulku

Peace,
Balder

Hilston
November 10th, 2004, 08:30 PM
Clete writes:
I either don't understand the question (what you're getting at) or else I simply don't know the answer to the question. I would say, however, that as long as the message we are communicating is accurate then it is allowable.I agree. But aren't there methods of evangelism you disagree with? For example, years ago, I was on an "evangelism team." I was assigned to go door-to-door with a guy I had never worked with before. We visited a woman who was having troubles (money problems, divorce, etc). After she shared her burdens with us, my compadre, John, did most of the talking, and without explaining much of anything about the gospel, asked this woman if she would like to say the sinner's prayer. She agreed. I put a halt to it right away. He was so eager to get someone to say the prayer that it didn't matter to him whether or not the person understood the gospel. Would you agree that this is unbiblical?

Another example: When I worked at a Kinko's in college, I had heard that the women at this local apostolic church would flirt with men to get them to come to church. This was evangelism to them. I took it as a nasty and probably distorted rumor, until I saw it in action with my own eyes. A woman, dressed to kill (for Christ, of course), came into Kinko's to get her church bulletins photocopied. As I was copying her bulletins, I could see and hear her hitting on one of the other customers and inviting him to church. I'm sure you would agree that this is unbiblical, right?

My point in asking these questions is this: If there is a biblical way to evangelize in contrast to unbiblical ways to evangelize, perhaps there is a biblical way of defending the faith in contrast to unbiblical way that can be similarly considered.


Clete writes:
As I said in the opening post, it seems to me that we should fight the battle at the point at which it is brought to us, or put in more offensive terms we should bring the battle to where the enemy is at.I agree with you completely, at least your wording. But I need to know what you mean. Can you give an example or two?


Clete writes:
Okay so which issues are presuppositions and which aren't and how do you objectively distinguish the difference?It changes from person to person. Some people presuppose the uniformity of nature and base their whole worldview on that. Others presuppose the verity of logic and base their whole worldview on that. Most people have presuppositions that they're not even aware of and have never had them challenged.


Clete writes:
And I put the word objectively in there on purpose because it seems that presuppositionalists don't think it possible to be objective (neutral) ...Objective and neutral are not the same. There is objective truth. The question is not whether or not something is objective, but whether or not the grounds for claiming objectivity can be justified.


Clete writes:
... and so I'm thinking that what you consider to be a Christian presupposition is itself based upon presuppositions ...Let me give you one and let's see how circular it is: A Christian presupposition is that the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God. What presupposition would you say that is based upon?

Sozo
November 10th, 2004, 08:44 PM
Originally posted by geralduk

This is not a personal critisism but rather a warning to leave those men to thier wranglings and long wearysome contentions.
But rather keep and hold to "the simplicity that is in Christ" and if you need a dictionary or another book to understand what men are talkign about then they are FAR from that simplicity!


One thing is certain, geralduk, when it comes to understanding your posts, I never presuppose.

:chuckle:

Hilston
November 10th, 2004, 08:56 PM
Tarthang Tulku writes:
Whenever we need or desire knowledge, we are free to investigate for ourselves the limits of what is already known.Tarthang Tulku's premise is undermined in his very first sentence. As a Buddhist, Tulku has no justifiable grounds on which to determine for himself the limits of what is already known. If you think he does, I'd like to hear what you think it is and how it is justified.


Tarthang Tulku writes:
"... the outcome is the same: the substitution of a belief for knowledge."

Belief cannot be separated from knowledge. Tell me something you or Tarthang Tulku hold as knowledge and I'll show you that belief is inextricably tied to its foundation.


Tarthang Tulku writes:
If beliefs could truly communicate knowledge, the only thing standing between us and knowing would be correct judgments as to which beliefs were trustworthy.This is exactly right!


Tarthang Tulku writes:
This state of affairs, however, does not seem to apply.Oh yes it does! It applies when your knowledge is informed by God's Word.


Tarthang Tulku writes:
Finally, even if a belief contains 'true' knowledge, we have no way of knowing whether that knowledge is complete.Yes we do. If we base our beliefs and our concomitant knowledge on the foundation of God's Word, we can have certainty about our knowledge.


Tarthang Tulku writes:
In relying on beliefs, we are accepting an imperfect substitute for knowledge.How does Tulku know this? Did he determine this in a laboratory? Does he have empirical data that we can all examine? Or is it just a belief?

Balder
November 10th, 2004, 09:45 PM
Hilston,


Tarthang Tulku's premise is undermined in his very first sentence. As a Buddhist, Tulku has no justifiable grounds on which to determine for himself the limits of what is already known. If you think he does, I'd like to hear what you think it is and how it is justified.

First, I would like to hear why you think his being a Buddhist disqualifies him from being able to make any determinations about the limits of knowledge, or I presume from being able to make any valid determinations at all.

I would also like to hear if you accept his definition of belief, or if you would modify it or refine it in any way. That would help me respond to the rest of your letter.

Last, I would be interested in hearing your defense of your contention (an outrageous one, in my opinion) that all valid forms of knowledge, reasoning, logic, etc, derive necessarily from the Biblical/Christian worldview. This would include an explanation of why Christian presuppositions -- and there are many! -- should be regarded as the only valid ones.

My guess is that the basis for your argument will be that knowledge demands a founding set of parameters which cannot be questioned, for any knowledge claims to be able to "stand." And that further, these foundations are in fact built of nothing other than beliefs -- second-hand information which is accepted on the basis of the authority of its presupposed origin. My guess could be wrong, though, so if you would be patient with me and take the time to answer, or at least to point me to relevant passages on other websites, I'll be grateful. I am entering this conversation as a "sideline" participant and an observer, and I do not have time to read all of the links provided so far.

Peace,
Balder

Hilston
November 10th, 2004, 10:11 PM
balder writes:
First, I would like to hear why you think his being a Buddhist disqualifies him from being able to make any determinations about the limits of knowledge, ...I didn't say it disqualified him from making determinations. Just that he has no justifiable grounds on which to base them. I don't doubt for a second that Tulku can balance his checkbook. My claim is that he cannot justify the grounds upon which he does so.


balder writes:
... or I presume from being able to make any valid determinations at all.
Again, a Buddhist can make valid determinations, but he cannot justify them on the basis of his worldview. The Buddhist's worldview is internally incoherent and is unable to account for the most important facets of human existence (science, mathematics, logic, morality, or human dignity).


balder writes:
I would also like to hear if you accept his definition of belief, or if you would modify it or refine it in any way. That would help me respond to the rest of your letter.A state or function of the mind in which confidence is placed in a person or thing.


balder writes:
Last, I would be interested in hearing your defense of your contention (an outrageous one, in my opinion) that all valid forms of knowledge, reasoning, logic, etc, derive necessarily from the Biblical/Christian worldview. This would include an explanation of why Christian presuppositions -- and there are many! -- should be regarded as the only valid ones.No other worldview can justify knowledge, reasoning, logic, etc. Anyone who presumes to use logic is tacitly borrowing from the Biblical worldview.


balder writes:
My guess is that the basis for your argument will be that knowledge demands a founding set of parameters which cannot be questioned, for any knowledge claims to be able to "stand."Not at all. All things can be questioned, even fundamental presuppositions. The question is whether or not sense can be made of them. The Buddhist cannot make sense of his own presuppositions, holds conflicting premises in tension, and blindly assumes facts of reality and existence without cogent justification.


balder writes:
And that further, these foundations are in fact built of nothing other than beliefs -- second-hand information which is accepted on the basis of the authority of its presupposed origin.Do you believe in the verity of the scientific method, Balder? Or do you know it is truthworthy? In either case, why? And how?

Balder
November 10th, 2004, 10:36 PM
Hilston,

To pursue your (as yet unsupported) assertions that the Buddhist worldview is incoherent would take us too far astray from Clete's intentions for this thread, I'm sure. I certainly would be interested to hear your criticisms, though, and would invite you to post them elsewhere, or on any thread on TOL I start.


No other worldview can justify knowledge, reasoning, logic, etc. Anyone who presumes to use logic is tacitly borrowing from the Biblical worldview.

You've made this claim elsewhere, and I've asked you to back it up before. I think going into the premises of this claim would not take us too far astray from the central concerns of this thread, so I will ask you again to offer some defense of this very bold (and at this point, totally unsupported) assertion.


Do you believe in the verity of the scientific method, Balder? Or do you know it is truthworthy? In either case, why? And how?

The scientific method appears to be efficient at generating certain types of knowledge, but its presuppositions determine the scope and nature of the knowledge generated.

Peace,
Balder

Hilston
November 11th, 2004, 12:13 AM
Balder writes:
Hilston,

To pursue your (as yet unsupported) assertions that the Buddhist worldview is incoherent would take us too far astray from Clete's intentions for this thread, I'm sure. I certainly would be interested to hear your criticisms, though, and would invite you to post them elsewhere, or on any thread on TOL I start.It really isn't all that complicated. How would you finish this sentence? "According to the Buddhist worldview, the verity of the scientific method is based upon __fill in the blank__."

Hilston wrote:
No other worldview can justify knowledge, reasoning, logic, etc. Anyone who presumes to use logic is tacitly borrowing from the Biblical worldview.


Balder writes:
You've made this claim elsewhere, and I've asked you to back it up before. I think going into the premises of this claim would not take us too far astray from the central concerns of this thread, so I will ask you again to offer some defense of this very bold (and at this point, totally unsupported) assertion.Actually, it's right on-topic. Here is the backing to the claim: The existence of God and the revelation of His purposes in Scripture gives sufficient justification for our general reliance upon and confidence in discursive reasoning, logic, the scientific method, and mathematics. Furthermore, God and His Word give us objective grounds upon which to understand and apply principles of morality and human dignity. Do you have any other worldviews in mind that can compete with that?

Hilston wrote:
Do you believe in the verity of the scientific method, Balder? Or do you know it is truthworthy? In either case, why? And how?


Balder writes:
The scientific method appears to be efficient at generating certain types of knowledge, but its presuppositions determine the scope and nature of the knowledge generated.Do you believe in its trustworthiness? Do you know that it is trustworthy, or are you withholding judgment? Do you only trust it "so far"? Do you believe the underlying presuppositions of the scientific method are justified?

Balder
November 11th, 2004, 01:09 AM
Hilston,

Your comments, such as ...


The Buddhist's worldview is internally incoherent and is unable to account for the most important facets of human existence (science, mathematics, logic, morality, or human dignity).

... are frankly ignorant and uninformed, and so full of presuppositions that it actually would take quite a lot to unpack the prejudice behind them. But to do so would take us too far away from the topic of this thread.

On the other hand, if you can demonstrate that Christianity is the real and in fact the only acceptable basis for logic, rationality, the scientific method, morality, etc, then we won't even have to deal with Buddhism or other religions.


The existence of God and the revelation of His purposes in Scripture gives sufficient justification for our general reliance upon and confidence in discursive reasoning, logic, the scientific method, and mathematics. Furthermore, God and His Word give us objective grounds upon which to understand and apply principles of morality and human dignity. Do you have any other worldviews in mind that can compete with that?

I can think of several worldviews that can compete with that, and of course Buddhism is one of them. But let's stick for the moment to Christianity and to the tenets of presuppositionalism. First off, when you say that "only a Biblical worldview" can support and ground these things, can you unpack that a little? What aspects of the Biblical worldview? Specifically, what aspects of the Biblical worldview do this that cannot be found in other theistic religions?

From what I've read on the presuppositionalist websites so far, I am seeing a lot of smoke and mirrors and not a lot of substance. If you can point me to specific cogent arguments that support your thesis, please direct me to them.

Peace,
Balder

Chileice
November 11th, 2004, 05:43 AM
Originally posted by Tulku

In relying on beliefs, we are accepting an imperfect substitute for knowledge. Perhaps this seems necessary if we are to gain access to a vast range of knowledge outside our direct experience, but the result is just the opposite. We choke off knowledge that we might develop on our own, without escaping the limitations of the knowledge we have already adopted.

When beliefs replace knowledge, vision is foreclosed, leading to stagnation. Beliefs may be accurate in their content and useful in their operation, but in being passed from one person to another, they bypass our most fundamental concerns. We touch the true significance of a belief only by discovering for ourselves the knowledge it embodies.



Peace,
Balder

Balder,
I agree with much of what Hilston has said in this thread but not all of it. I will deal with that in a minute. However, what Tulku said sounds plausible on the surface, but when one examines it more deeply, his way of thinking is what chokes off knowledge. Without accepting the advances and learning of previous generations we are unable to advance as a society. I have faith in calculus and have accepted it without contmplating all of the theorems and axioms behind it. Had I to rethink every mathematical proof before accepting it in order to claim I believed it, I would be in a constant state of unknowing and several hundred years behind in my work.

Although I agree that we should be more concerned with discovering for ourselves what knowledge entails (hence my participation here and in the astronomy club, for example), I cannot spend my whole life trying to prove Copernicus was right, or Kepler or Luther or Zwingli or my own pastor as a child. Of course I must not walk blindly behind them unaware that they COULD be wrong. My radar is up to gain knowledge which might better my own life experience, but I am also enjoying "knowing " some things that I didn't have to go through life trying to figure out. I suppose those things, religious and non-religious (if there is such a thing) are my suppositions.

Chileice
November 11th, 2004, 05:56 AM
Originally posted by Hilston


Again, a Buddhist can make valid determinations, but he cannot justify them on the basis of his worldview. The Buddhist's worldview is internally incoherent and is unable to account for the most important facets of human existence (science, mathematics, logic, morality, or human dignity).

I think this underestimates the ability of people to live with ambiguity. Mosts Buddhists feel comfortable with the way they have come to look at the world. It may not seem coherent to you, but I am willing to bet 80% of them think it's either coherent or that the incongruities are part of the package. You are judging their worldview based on yours.


Originally posted by Hilston
No other worldview can justify knowledge, reasoning, logic, etc. Anyone who presumes to use logic is tacitly borrowing from the Biblical worldview.

Just a point to clarify. Greek schools of logic developed well outside the scope of Judaism and were certainly well developed before Christianity came to exist. So I don't quite follow. I agree that Christianity tacitly allows for logic and science, but to say that if you use logic you are borrowing from a biblical worldview... that's over the top. :confused:


Originally posted by Hilston
Not at all. All things can be questioned, even fundamental presuppositions. The question is whether or not sense can be made of them. The Buddhist cannot make sense of his own presuppositions, holds conflicting premises in tension, and blindly assumes facts of reality and existence without cogent justification.



Having lived many years outside North America, I guarantee you that we are the only ones who have a problem holding conflicting presuppositons. The cogent justification you are looking for is not even an aim for most. Life IS a series of random events incoherently jumbled together and then you die. That is many people's world view. So instead of trying to make sense out of it... they try to manipulate it: witchcraft, the lottery, luck, pal-reading, astrology, some plaster saints, writing prayers in the newspaper... whatever it takes to get along with the confusing world they live in. I'm not saying they are right. I'm just saying that your criticism of them is as invalid as you claim their world-view to be.

Clete
November 11th, 2004, 07:47 AM
Balder,

You know, every time I've put something in this forum I've ended up wishing that I hadn't. Please feel free to continue participating despite the fact that you are not a Christian. I think as long as you stay on topic, you won't be violating any rules anyway but even if that's not the case, your exchange with Jim has been so far and hopefully will continue to be a terrific example of the presuppositional apologetic system in action. I really couldn't have asked for anything better!
You, Jim and Chileice were pretty busy last night! I got up this morning and there was like a dozen new posts to read. I have a few things I'd like to respond too but time is going to be really short both today and tomorrow. Hopefully there will be time to post during lunch or something but as always your patience is appreciated.

Resting in Him,
Clete

Hilston
November 11th, 2004, 11:07 AM
Balder writes:
Your comments, such as ... "The Buddhist's worldview is internally incoherent and is unable to account for the most important facets of human existence (science, mathematics, logic, morality, or human dignity)." ... are frankly ignorant and uninformed, and so full of presuppositions that it actually would take quite a lot to unpack the prejudice behind them. But to do so would take us too far away from the topic of this thread.Not at all. Give it your best shot. What kind of Buddhist are you? Mahayana? Theravada? Or the cop-out Madhyamika? Give me your take on the succession of kalpas. Do you believe we're presently in the second kalpa, moving inexorably to the complete dissolution of the world system in the fourth kalpa of the ethereal, radiant world of Brahma? Do you hold to the concept of panna and the doctrine of anatta? Each of these concepts require that things become their opposites. Non-life becomes life. Unconsciousness matter becomes conscious. Self becomes non-self. Lawless chaos become orderly laws.


Balder writes:
On the other hand, if you can demonstrate that Christianity is the real and in fact the only acceptable basis for logic, rationality, the scientific method, morality, etc, then we won't even have to deal with Buddhism or other religions.You're right. And that is exactly how I'm able to dismiss all other worldviews, including Buddhism, as false. The use of logic requires the existence of universal laws of logic. These only make sense in the biblical worldview in which those laws reflect the nature and character of God Himself. All other worldviews fail to account for these laws. The scientific method depends on the uniformity of nature. Only the Biblical worldview can account for the regularity we see in creation. God's nature and character are reflected in His creation. Morality only makes sense in a worldview in which there are objective standards of morality. Objectivity requires an authority that establishes such a standard. God is that authority. Without God, there is no authority, and thus, no objective morality.

Hilston wrote:
The existence of God and the revelation of His purposes in Scripture gives sufficient justification for our general reliance upon and confidence in discursive reasoning, logic, the scientific method, and mathematics. Furthermore, God and His Word give us objective grounds upon which to understand and apply principles of morality and human dignity. Do you have any other worldviews in mind that can compete with that?


Balder writes:
I can think of several worldviews that can compete with that, and of course Buddhism is one of them.I'm all ears.

Hilston
November 11th, 2004, 12:21 PM
Hilston wrote: Again, a Buddhist can make valid determinations, but he cannot justify them on the basis of his worldview. The Buddhist's worldview is internally incoherent and is unable to account for the most important facets of human existence (science, mathematics, logic, morality, or human dignity).


Chileice writes :
I think this underestimates the ability of people to live with ambiguity. Mosts Buddhists feel comfortable with the way they have come to look at the world.Is that standard of truth? What makes us feel comfortable?

Pr 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.
Pr 16:25 There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
Pr 30:12 There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.


Chileice writes :
It may not seem coherent to you, but I am willing to bet 80% of them think it's either coherent or that the incongruities are part of the package.That's the point: Incongruities are indeed part of their package. If they want to admit that publicly, let's put it in big bold letters so everyone can see it. And then they don't have to bother showing up for the debate. They lose from the outset. One might claim that logical incongruities are not sufficient grounds to dismiss a view, but they use must logic to even make the statement. They must use logic to comprehend the question. They must use logic to even show up and to get from point A to point B. Logical incongruities are not acceptable, which is attested in every aspect of life. Logical incongruities get people killed, and send people to hell. The logically incongruent worldview loses.


Chileice writes :
You are judging their worldview based on yours.Absolutely. And I have a defensible worldview by which to judge. They don't. If my view happens to be correct, then in actuality, there is no other worldview on which to judge anything, which happens to be my claim. If you think you can disprove it, I invite you to bring it on.

Hilston wrote: No other worldview can justify knowledge, reasoning, logic, etc. Anyone who presumes to use logic is tacitly borrowing from the Biblical worldview.


Chileice writes :
Just a point to clarify. Greek schools of logic developed well outside the scope of Judaism and were certainly well developed before Christianity came to exist. So I don't quite follow. I agree that Christianity tacitly allows for logic and science, but to say that if you use logic you are borrowing from a biblical worldview... that's over the top.If you want to make an argument from antiquity, you still lose. God preceded the Greeks, even Anaximander (!). Whatever truths Anaximenes, Xenophanes, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Empedocles, or Anaxogoras happened to attain were all based on and borrowed from the Biblical worldview. The Pythagorean theorem is not true because the Greeks invented logic, but because Pythagoras successfully, albeit unwittingly, recognized the nature and character of God reflected in the natural order and applied those principles to his geometry and mathematics.

Hilston wrote:
All things can be questioned, even fundamental presuppositions. The question is whether or not sense can be made of them. The Buddhist cannot make sense of his own presuppositions, holds conflicting premises in tension, and blindly assumes facts of reality and existence without cogent justification.


Chileice writes :
Having lived many years outside North America, I guarantee you that we are the only ones who have a problem holding conflicting presuppositons.This is called an ad populum fallacy. There was a time when most people thought the earth was the center of the universe, too. The popular vote doesn't make a claim true.


Chileice writes :
The cogent justification you are looking for is not even an aim for most.Much to their demise, I'm afraid. Most people will end up in hell. That's why the road to destruction is wide and congested. The road to life is narrow and not well-traveled.


Chileice writes :
Life IS a series of random events incoherently jumbled together and then you die. That is many people's world view.Sure, and it's an incoherent one. The same order and consistency seen in the laws of logic can be seen in the order and consistency of historical events. It only appears random and incoherent to those of limited sight who presume to autonomously evaluate the complexities of ordered history accordingly. It's like an ant looking at the history of grass growth on his little plot of turf and assuming that it all must be random and incoherent because every so often the grass is suddenly shorter.


Chileice writes :
So instead of trying to make sense out of it... they try to manipulate it: witchcraft, the lottery, luck, pal-reading, astrology, some plaster saints, writing prayers in the newspaper... whatever it takes to get along with the confusing world they live in. I'm not saying they are right. I'm just saying that your criticism of them is as invalid as you claim their world-view to be.I can see why you would find comfort in that conjecture. Like those to whom you appeal above, you're obviously quite comfortable living with ambiguity and incongruity. You salve any pangs of uncertainty with such baseless statements as the one you just made, thinking that it explains away your accountability before a logical and righteousness and judgmental God who can destroy your body and soul in hell. It is sin to be willfully anti-logical, Chileice, and you will die in it if you do not repent.

Balder
November 11th, 2004, 01:45 PM
Chileice (and Hilston & Clete),

Tulku’s “way” of knowledge would indeed be stifling if he were saying that we aren’t allowed to rely on belief or second-hand knowledge in daily life, but that isn’t the case at all. Rather, he is pointing out the anemic and fundamentally incomplete, limiting nature of belief as a form of knowledge. This does not mean that beliefs or presuppositions (e.g., information accepted on faith in external authority) close off all possibility for knowledge or progress, obviously. Like fractals, a few set parameters can generate a profusion of new patterns, new connections, new structures – but the nature and scope of what develops from them will be limited by those parameters. Tulku is not saying, “Don’t do this,” or trying to give a set of prescriptions, but rather is suggesting that attention to the process of knowing and the development of relatively fixed forms of knowledge is helpful in enriching our aliveness and presence to Creation, and in counteracting the dullness, blindness, or rigidity of structure, perception, and behavior that tend to manifest when we establish ourselves on unconscious presuppositions and second-hand knowledge.

The excerpt I posted is from a 6-book inquiry into three fundamental aspects of being: time, space, and knowledge. Space as “that” which allows for the appearance of form, Time as “that” which allows for events, for growth and change, and Knowledge as “that” which forms the fabric of all experience, awareness, contact, communication, etc, are examined in depth precisely to uncover the presuppositions that influence how we inhabit and relate to the world. This is not the place to go into it (unless someone asks), but I believe Tulku presents a coherent and very elegant argument for the inseparability of these three dimensions of existence, not as dry abstractions but as living faces of being – as the dynamism of Spirit and all life and being that flow from it.

In the next post, I will be happy to answer Hilston’s questions about Buddhism, if no one objects to that being too much of a tangent. If you all are interested in this, I will “play along” and give Hilston a chance to demonstrate presuppositionalism in action. But if I do that, I will ask of Hilston the courtesy of answering any counter questions about his presuppositions and of providing answers other than the very general, unsubstantiated charges and dismissals that he has been issuing so far.

It may not be until this evening or tomorrow that I can write more, however. I’ve got an appointment tonight (coincidentally, with one of the editors of Tulku’s books) that will keep me busy until fairly late.

Peace,
Balder

Clete
November 11th, 2004, 02:32 PM
Originally posted by Balder
In the next post, I will be happy to answer Hilston’s questions about Buddhism, if no one objects to that being too much of a tangent. If you all are interested in this, I will “play along” and give Hilston a chance to demonstrate presuppositionalism in action. But if I do that, I will ask of Hilston the courtesy of answering any counter questions about his presuppositions and of providing answers other than the very general, unsubstantiated charges and dismissals that he has been issuing so far.

It would seem to me to be only fair that if Jim is saying that your presuppositions are invalid and his are valid that he should at least be willing to explain why this is true. Like I'm always reminding people, saying it doesn't make it so. Besides, the exercise would go a very long way toward answering the second of the two primary questions I posed in the opening post.

I wish I had time to post more but for now this will have to do.

Resting in Him,
Clete

Hilston
November 11th, 2004, 02:51 PM
Balder writes:
Tulku’s “way” of knowledge would indeed be stifling if he were saying that we aren’t allowed to rely on belief or second-hand knowledge in daily life, but that isn’t the case at all.It's not any notion of "stifling" that I object to. My question is this: On what authority does Tulku say anything about a "way of knowledge"? On what grounds or criterion does Tulku say one "way" is superior to another?


Balder writes:
Rather, he is pointing out the anemic and fundamentally incomplete, limiting nature of belief as a form of knowledge.Who says? In Proverbs, the bibilcal book of wisdom, Solomon states authoritatively:

Pr 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Pr 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

The fear of the Lord is belief in Who He is, His nature, character and attributes. From that belief proceeds knowledge. Belief in the Almighty justifies knowledge, validates knowledge. What does Tulku offer? Platitudes and dubious aphorisms. Stuff you put on refrigerator magnets.


Balder writes:
Tulku is ... suggesting that attention to the process of knowing and the development of relatively fixed forms of knowledge is helpful in enriching our aliveness and presence to Creation, ...Nothing is more enriching of our "aliveness and presence to Creation" than acknowledging and worshiping the Creator. All other attempts, Tulku's "way" included, are idolatry and will lead you directly to hell (do not pass "go", do not collect $200).


Balder writes:
The excerpt I posted is from a 6-book inquiry into three fundamental aspects of being: time, space, and knowledge. Space as “that” which allows for the appearance of form, Time as “that” which allows for events, for growth and change, and Knowledge as “that” which forms the fabric of all experience, awareness, contact, communication, etc, are examined in depth precisely to uncover the presuppositions that influence how we inhabit and relate to the world.Each of those "aspects of being" make sense only in a biblical framework. Tulku's way, however eloquent and pithy, are self-refuting and incoherent.


Balder writes:
This is not the place to go into it (unless someone asks), but I believe Tulku presents a coherent and very elegant argument for the inseparability of these three dimensions of existence, not as dry abstractions but as living faces of being – as the dynamism of Spirit and all life and being that flow from it.I'm asking I'm asking. So far, it's a bucketload of question-begging nonsense. Since knowledge seems to be the primary thrust of his thesis, will you begin with Tulku's view of logic? Are the laws of logic universal, or are they merely societal conventions?


Balder writes:
If you all are interested in this, I will “play along” and give Hilston a chance to demonstrate presuppositionalism in action. But if I do that, I will ask of Hilston the courtesy of answering any counter questions about his presuppositions ...That's exactly what I expect in a rational exchange of ideas. Start asking.


Balder writes:
... and of providing answers other than the very general, unsubstantiated charges and dismissals that he has been issuing so far.Balder, perhaps you're not reading what I've written. I've substantiated my claims. You may not agree, but you won't be able to coherently wiggle free from confronting the substance of my claims, and I intend to drive that home for you. It's up to you to show the errors in my argument. Stop talking about them being unsubstantiated and demonstrate what you're talking about.

Chileice
November 11th, 2004, 03:48 PM
I've been on the road all day and so wasn't ablle to get back to this. Looks like everyone else has time concerns too, so if we are patient, this could be interesting. I will enjoy watching Balder and Hilston's comments with Clete and I at the sidebar.


Originally posted by Hilston


That's the point: Incongruities are indeed part of their package. If they want to admit that publicly, let's put it in big bold letters so everyone can see it. And then they don't have to bother showing up for the debate. They lose from the outset. One might claim that logical incongruities are not sufficient grounds to dismiss a view, but they use must logic to even make the statement. They must use logic to comprehend the question. They must use logic to even show up and to get from point A to point B. Logical incongruities are not acceptable, which is attested in every aspect of life. Logical incongruities get people killed, and send people to hell. The logically incongruent worldview loses.
Although I agree with what you say in this passage, your next to the last statement is again a jump to hyper-space. There have been thousands, even millions of Christians who didn't know the first thing about logic but who were saved. Millions have come to simple faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and been saved whether they ever did another "logical" thing in their lives or not.


Originally posted by Hilston
Absolutely. And I have a defensible worldview by which to judge. They don't. If my view happens to be correct, then in actuality, there is no other worldview on which to judge anything, which happens to be my claim. If you think you can disprove it, I invite you to bring it on.
Here is where Clete may be seeing the circular logic of presuppositionalism. If you presuppose your view to be right, it will exclude all other views and since all other views are excluded, your view is right so your view is the only right one.



Originally posted by Hilston
If you want to make an argument from antiquity, you still lose. God preceded the Greeks, even Anaximander (!). Whatever truths Anaximenes, Xenophanes, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Empedocles, or Anaxogoras happened to attain were all based on and borrowed from the Biblical worldview. The Pythagorean theorem is not true because the Greeks invented logic, but because Pythagoras successfully, albeit unwittingly, recognized the nature and character of God reflected in the natural order and applied those principles to his geometry and mathematics.

This is a type of isogetical analysis that the communists used for generations. They took the current situation and reinterpretted the current event s they saw in terms of their dialectic. How can you, in good consciounce say early Greek thinkers borrowed from the Jews? Can you show me one demonstrable evidence that they actually borrowed from early Judaism to begin teaching logic? I love the Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart, but some intellectual integrity is needed if others are going to accept our efforts to evangelize as genuine.


Originally posted by Hilston
This is called an ad populum fallacy. There was a time when most people thought the earth was the center of the universe, too. The popular vote doesn't make a claim true.

Much to their demise, I'm afraid. Most people will end up in hell. That's why the road to destruction is wide and congested. The road to life is narrow and not well-traveled.

I am fully aware that this ad populum fallacy is a constant threat to every religion and society. The majority is USUALLY wrong, I would say. But, again, most people won't end up in hell because they aren't logical, but rather because they are faithless. There are many rational people who are logical but will not put their faith in Christ.



Originally posted by Hilston
I can see why you would find comfort in that conjecture. Like those to whom you appeal above, you're obviously quite comfortable living with ambiguity and incongruity. You salve any pangs of uncertainty with such baseless statements as the one you just made, thinking that it explains away your accountability before a logical and righteousness and judgmental God who can destroy your body and soul in hell. It is sin to be willfully anti-logical, Chileice, and you will die in it if you do not repent.

YOU have made a pretty big supposition here. You suppose I agree with them. In general, I don't. I do think that logical cosequence is of great importance for my own comfort if for nothing else. I'm uncomfortable with ambiguity. But I will say that I have learned that it exists... even in the Bible and yet, by faith, I trust that the lack of logical sequence in my own mind is the fault of the reasoner rather than with the Creator.

I will be very interested to see both of your proofs... yours for Christianity (or your version of it) and Balder for Buddhism (or his version of it). It might be of some interest to hear which flavors of said religions you subscribe to.

Chileice
November 11th, 2004, 04:02 PM
Originally posted by Balder

Like fractals, a few set parameters can generate a profusion of new patterns, new connections, new structures – but the nature and scope of what develops from them will be limited by those parameters.

This is an interesting analogy. However, none of us are truly given the opportunity to write our own equations. By the time we are old enough to know it, we have some givens that must be dealt with. And for most of us, those givens have been woven together in such a form that life is pretty liveable unless something really rocks our world. Living with someone else's equation, no matter how interesting the result, is a scary process.

But I think we have to look beyond the equations, the givens and presuppositions unto the final product. Is what we see in the end what we really want? If I do not want anhililation or do not want to be assumed into so eternal nothingness, will I really take the chance? I don't think so.

In some ways Hebrews 13.7 is very instructive:
Hebrews 13
7 Remember your leaders who have spoken God's word to you. As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith.

I think we look to the outcome of the way of life lived by people of faith. I know I have. Many don't, I realize, but when I look to the end of a godly Christian compared to others I have known, it only reinforces my desire to get to the end of life that same way.

So I don't WANT to reinvinte all the wheels. I am not attracted to all the other possible fractals in the world. The designs I see at the end of the eqation I chose as a teen are still what I want as an old man.

billwald
November 11th, 2004, 04:25 PM
1. Why should Presuppositionalism be the ONLY allowable apologetic system? Or put another way; give me an apologetic for the exclusivity of the Presuppositional apologetic.

All the Presups I know are also OPCs and/or Reconstructionalists. see www.frebooks.com



2. What is it, precisely, that we are to presuppose, and why, and by what means are we to distinguish those issues from other doctrinal issues that shouldn't necessarily be presupposed but are instead, valid topics for debate?

The presups are Young Earth Creationism plus VanTil/Rushdoony/North/Bahnsen theology.

Only true, real . . . Christians - people who agree with them - can know the truth. Nothing is TRUE unless confirmed by them.

For example, Einstein's theories or quantum mechanics may be true but can't be TRUE unless confirmed by an OPC/Theonomist "scientist."

billwald
November 11th, 2004, 04:29 PM
www.freebooks.com

Hilston
November 11th, 2004, 05:00 PM
Chiliece writes:
Although I agree with what you say in this passage, your next to the last statement is again a jump to hyper-space.Which one? "Logical incongruities are not acceptable, which is attested in every aspect of life"? Don't just assert, Chiliece. Prove your claims. Give me an example of an acceptable incongruity in life.


Chiliece writes:
There have been thousands, even millions of Christians who didn't know the first thing about logic but who were saved.You're wrong. If one has faith in Christ, they know quite a bit about logic. To know the Logos is to know logic.


Chiliece writes:
Millions have come to simple faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and been saved whether they ever did another "logical" thing in their lives or not.Where are you getting this stuff? Everyone lives according to logic. Line up 1,000 people. How many of those people question whether or not their sofa will hold them up every time they go to sit in it? Very few if any. That is logic in action. They've made a logical inference based on past experience and the uniformity of nature. We all do this, even Buddhists. The question is not whether or not we can be logical, but how do we account for its existence and justify our reliance upon it.

Hilston wrote:
Absolutely. And I have a defensible worldview by which to judge. They don't. If my view happens to be correct, then in actuality, there is no other worldview on which to judge anything, which happens to be my claim. If you think you can disprove it, I invite you to bring it on.


Chiliece writes:
Here is where Clete may be seeing the circular logic of presuppositionalism. If you presuppose your view to be right, it will exclude all other views and since all other views are excluded, your view is right so your view is the only right one.Do you believe the Bible, Chiliece? If so, do you agree with the Bible that says all who dismiss God's word are fools? If so, then what is your point? I've debated many other views and attacked their presuppositions. They've countered by attacking mine. I can show that their presuppositions are incoherent based on their own premises, via their own espoused tenets. But they could not do that to mine. I've had atheists and Buddhists admit to me that they could not argue against my presuppositions and they had to admit to their own arbitrariness where their presuppositions were concerned.

I invited you to bring it on. Are you going to bring it on so we can get it on? Or are we going to just talk about getting it on? Because it ain't "on" now and "on" is where I want to get it.


Chiliece writes:
This is a type of isogetical analysis that the communists used for generations. They took the current situation and reinterpretted the current event s they saw in terms of their dialectic.It doesn't do you or this discussion any good to diabolize me with references to marxist revisionism. Either put up or shut up. Prove me wrong.


Chiliece writes:
How can you, in good consciounce say early Greek thinkers borrowed from the Jews?You're not reading what I wrote. I never said such a thing. The early Greek thinkers borrowed from God. When Cain lit a fire, he used the principles of logic he borrowed from the biblical worldview believed by righteous Abel to do so. This is what the Bible teaches. The enemies and haters of God knew Him. They understood the created order and the principles that governed it. But they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. They changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator. And even those who do not have God's law do, by nature, the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts all the while accusing or else excusing one another. This is what you're doing, Chiliece, but kicking against the Scripture. You are excusing the gainsayer.


Chiliece writes:
Can you show me one demonstrable evidence that they actually borrowed from early Judaism to begin teaching logic?Sure. Gen 1:1 "In the beginning, God." There is enough logic in those four words to keep the Greek mind busy for kalpas.


Chiliece writes:
I love the Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart, but some intellectual integrity is needed if others are going to accept our efforts to evangelize as genuine.First of all, I don't give a flying Fallujah what others think about my efforts to evangelize. That's between me and God. Second, where is the lack of intellectual integrity to say that God's Word is supreme and no other worldview can compete with it?


Chiliece writes:
But, again, most people won't end up in hell because they aren't logical, but rather because they are faithless.That's incorrect. And you have it exactly backward. People who are faithless are illogical. Hell will be filled with illogical people. Every person in hell is illogical because they were faithless.


Chiliece writes:
There are many rational people who are logical but will not put their faith in Christ.That's incorrect. Give a biblical apologist five minutes alone with anyone who rejects Christ and the gainsayer's irrationality will be fully exposed.


Chiliece writes:
YOU have made a pretty big supposition here. You suppose I agree with them. In general, I don't. I do think that logical cosequence is of great importance for my own comfort if for nothing else. I'm uncomfortable with ambiguity.Then there's hope for you.


Chiliece writes:
But I will say that I have learned that it exists... even in the Bible and yet, by faith, I trust that the lack of logical sequence in my own mind is the fault of the reasoner rather than with the Creator.You just contradicted yourself. Either you believe there is ambiguity in the Bible or you believe your own reasoning is faulty and not the Creator. Which is it? I hope it's the latter.


Chiliece writes:
I will be very interested to see both of your proofs... yours for Christianity (or your version of it) and Balder for Buddhism (or his version of it). It might be of some interest to hear which flavors of said religions you subscribe to.I've given the proof. Here it is again: Without the existence of the God of the Bible, no sense whatsoever can be made of the most important aspects of man's existence: science, morality, logic, human dignity, time, space, knowledge, etc., That is, no other worldview can cogently and consistently account for the world as we know it. That's the proof. I challenge anyone to disprove it. I challenge anyone to present a view that even comes close to competing with it.

Hilston
November 11th, 2004, 05:06 PM
Billwald,

I'm a presuppositionalist. But I'm not OPC. I'm not a Theonomist. I'm not a Reconstructionist. I'm an Acts 9 dispensationalist.

So your gross generalization doesn't apply. And if you thought your blanket assumptions would give you grounds to dismiss presuppositionalism and excuse you from having to confront its claims upon your reason, you were wrong.

Redfin
November 11th, 2004, 06:41 PM
While everyone's pausing here, a question:

Does Presuppositionalism amount to a justification of or apologetic for certain forms of circular reasoning (and why or why not)?

Thanks!

Chileice
November 11th, 2004, 06:52 PM
Hilston,
Part of your problem in being an apologist is that you come across as crass, cocky and arrogant. One can be right without shutting others down before they have a chance to be heard.

Hilston said:
I've given the proof. Here it is again: Without the existence of the God of the Bible, no sense whatsoever can be made of the most important aspects of man's existence: science, morality, logic, human dignity, time, space, knowledge, etc., That is, no other worldview can cogently and consistently account for the world as we know it. That's the proof. I challenge anyone to disprove it. I challenge anyone to present a view that even comes close to competing with it.

That is NOT a PROOF. People make sense of their lives without the Bible every day. This proof makes sense to you because you believe it. But if you were dealing with a true unbeliever, you saying it was true would be no more proof than him saying it wasn't.

The challenge to you would be to prove by process of elimination that it was true. You would literally have to take on every world system, prove them wrong and then say... see, I told you.

I also agree that it is the best system to explain the world as it is. But to say that makes it a proof steps totally outside the rules of logic which you are so swift to defend.

Clete
November 11th, 2004, 07:30 PM
Originally posted by Hilston
My point in asking these questions is this: If there is a biblical way to evangelize in contrast to unbiblical ways to evangelize, perhaps there is a biblical way of defending the faith in contrast to unbiblical way that can be similarly considered.
Well yes, of course we should not do evil that good may result but that is a far cry from suggesting that there is only one single way to do evangelism. No one is suggesting that any and all conceivable means of preaching the Gospel are appropriate but you are suggesting that there one way and one way only. I believe that while the examples you gave are on one far side of the spectrum, you have gone too far to the other.


I agree with you completely, at least your wording. But I need to know what you mean. Can you give an example or two?
Responding to Euthyphro's dilemma with logic is one excellent example. While I agree that when Bob Enyart was confronted with Plato's logic puzzle that he could have chosen to attack it exclusively from a presuppositional point of view and that it would perhaps have been a stronger argument than the one he used, but, again, that is not to say that the argument he used was therefore invalid or ineffective and it certainly wasn't Biblically prohibited.
Bob answered the dilemma from the same grounds upon which it was presented. Zakath was arguing from a decidedly extra-biblical position and Bob answered him from the same extra-Biblical ground upon which the argument stood. In other words Euthyphro's dilemma doesn't present a problem for the Christian either way. Whether one comes at it with Platonic world-view or a Biblical world-view the argument Zakath made does no damage to the Christian position. It isn't necessary in order to defeat this argument to dismantle the Platonic world-view at its foundation. You might find it preferable but I do not see how you could say it was demanded by Scripture.


It changes from person to person. Some people presuppose the uniformity of nature and base their whole worldview on that. Others presuppose the verity of logic and base their whole worldview on that. Most people have presuppositions that they're not even aware of and have never had them challenged.
Yes, I know that unbelievers have all sorts of presuppositions, most of which they are completely unaware of, that's not what I am asking about. What I'm asking is what is it that we Christians are supposed to presuppose, or in other words, which presuppositions are the correct ones to hold and why is it logically absurd to question them?


Objective and neutral are not the same. There is objective truth. The question is not whether or not something is objective, but whether or not the grounds for claiming objectivity can be justified.
Very well then, by what means are they justified?


Let me give you one and let's see how circular it is: A Christian presupposition is that the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God. What presupposition would you say that is based upon?
That God exists for one.
That God can communicate meaningfully to us for another.
That God did in fact write or at least inspire the writing of the Bible.
These three things at least would need to be established before the inerrancy fo the Bible could be presupposed, there are perhaps more.

And I wish to address one thing that you said that seems to be at the crux of things so far in the discussion.
You said...

I've given the proof. Here it is again: Without the existence of the God of the Bible, no sense whatsoever can be made of the most important aspects of man's existence: science, morality, logic, human dignity, time, space, knowledge, etc., That is, no other worldview can cogently and consistently account for the world as we know it. That's the proof. I challenge anyone to disprove it. I challenge anyone to present a view that even comes close to competing with it.
While I do not disagree that you are correct in what you said, I think that the point everyone is trying to get you to see is that without having done the work to establish this all you are really saying amounts to "I'm right and your wrong and you can't prove otherwise." Surely you can see that this just will not do! You've jumped to the conclusion without telling the story. You've told the 'what' without saying anything about the 'why'.
In order for you to establish this it would be necessary to walk through at least part of this one logical step at a time and clearly show how the opposing world-view is logically incoherent. Just declaring that it is incoherent isn't going to convince anyone of anything.
This in effect was what Zakath was attempting to do to the Christian world-view when he brought up Euthyphro's dilemma. Had Bob not been able to rebut the argument Zakath's point would have had a lot more impact than it did because it would have displayed a major problem with a primary presupposition of Christianity, that being the goodness of God.

Resting in Him,
Clete

P.S. This is all I have time for right now. More to come later!

Hilston
November 11th, 2004, 08:41 PM
Chiliece writes:
Hilston,
Part of your problem in being an apologist is that you come across as crass, cocky and arrogant. One can be right without shutting others down before they have a chance to be heard.If crassness, cockiness and arrogance is all it takes to shut someone down, then maybe they don't have much to offer the discussion. Besides, it's merely perceived arrogance from where you're sitting. Anyone can argue presuppositionally, and you don't have to be a genius to do it. So there's nothing to be arrogant about. The Word of God does not need us to defend it, but we're called to do so anyway.

Hilston said: I've given the proof. Here it is again: Without the existence of the God of the Bible, no sense whatsoever can be made of the most important aspects of man's existence: science, morality, logic, human dignity, time, space, knowledge, etc., That is, no other worldview can cogently and consistently account for the world as we know it. That's the proof. I challenge anyone to disprove it. I challenge anyone to present a view that even comes close to competing with it.


Chiliece writes:
That is NOT a PROOF. People make sense of their lives without the Bible every day.No they don't, especially when they're pressed to account for matters of a foundational and ultiimate nature. Most people float along in willful ignorance, keeping themselves a safe distance from such confrontations. That's what the Bible says. Most people don't go around thinking about where the laws of logic came from. Rarely is anyone pressed on that issue in their mundane experience. But just because they're not forced to consider these matters, doesn't mean they can blithely claim to make sense of their lives.


Chiliece writes:
This proof makes sense to you because you believe it.Not true. It makes sense to those who don't believe it as well.


Chiliece writes:
But if you were dealing with a true unbeliever, you saying it was true would be no more proof than him saying it wasn't.Then prove it wrong, Chiliece. Stop talking about its inadequacy as a proof and disprove it.


Chiliece writes:
The challenge to you would be to prove by process of elimination that it was true. You would literally have to take on every world system, prove them wrong and then say... see, I told you.It's the Bible's claim. Not mine. Since God wrote the Bible, I take His word on it. And guess what? God has been right every time so far. Every worldview I've come up against hasn't been able to hold a candle to the scriptures. I have it on good authority (i.e., God's) that every world system has been proved wrong.


Chiliece writes:
I also agree that it is the best system to explain the world as it is. But to say that makes it a proof steps totally outside the rules of logic which you are so swift to defend.Show me where the laws of logic have been bent or abused.

Hilston
November 11th, 2004, 09:20 PM
Hilston wrote:
My point in asking these questions is this: If there is a biblical way to evangelize in contrast to unbiblical ways to evangelize, perhaps there is a biblical way of defending the faith in contrast to unbiblical way that can be similarly considered.


Clete writes:
Well yes, of course we should not do evil that good may result but that is a far cry from suggesting that there is only one single way to do evangelism.I don't think I'm being very clear. You would agree that there is such a thing as biblical evangelism, which would be ascertained according to the content and method employed by the evangelist, correct? That's all I'm saying about the biblical apologetic. The content and the method must be biblical.


Clete writes:
No one is suggesting that any and all conceivable means of preaching the Gospel are appropriate but you are suggesting that there one way and one way only.Yes, and that is what I call "biblical evangelism." There are many modes of evangelism that are legitimate but not found in scripture, but the content and method must be biblical. Do you agree?


Clete writes:
I believe that while the examples you gave are on one far side of the spectrum, you have gone too far to the other.It may be that I haven't been clear. I'm hoping to remedy that.

Hilston wrote:
I agree with you completely, at least your wording. But I need to know what you mean. Can you give an example or two?


Clete writes:
Responding to Euthyphro's dilemma with logic is one excellent example. While I agree that when Bob Enyart was confronted with Plato's logic puzzle that he could have chosen to attack it exclusively from a presuppositional point of view and that it would perhaps have been a stronger argument than the one he used, but, again, that is not to say that the argument he used was therefore invalid or ineffective and it certainly wasn't Biblically prohibited.It is prohibited because it is illogical.


Clete writes:
Bob answered the dilemma from the same grounds upon which it was presented. Zakath was arguing from a decidedly extra-biblical position and Bob answered him from the same extra-Biblical ground upon which the argument stood.No, he didn't. That would have required Bob to take Zakath's extra-biblical assumptions about logic, and show how they do not comport with his own view of reality.


Clete writes:
In other words Euthyphro's dilemma doesn't present a problem for the Christian either way.It does if one argues in Enyartian fashion.


Clete writes:
Whether one comes at it with Platonic world-view or a Biblical world-view the argument Zakath made does no damage to the Christian position.Bob's position wasn't the Christian position. The reason Zakath's argument is impotent is because Zakath cannot provide sufficient grounds in which to even ask the question. He can't get out of the starting blocks because he has a self-refuting worldview. To grant Zakath any footing whatsoever is to feed him a untruth. To continue arguing as if Zakath has any footing is to perpetuate that untruth. Zakath becomes wiser in his own conceit, fulfilling Prov 26:5


Clete writes:
It isn't necessary in order to defeat this argument to dismantle the Platonic world-view at its foundation. You might find it preferable but I do not see how you could say it was demanded by Scripture.I don't see it as a preference issue. I see it as the difference between arguing truthfully/honorably and arguing untruthfully/disingenuously.

Hilston wrote:
It changes from person to person. Some people presuppose the uniformity of nature and base their whole worldview on that. Others presuppose the verity of logic and base their whole worldview on that. Most people have presuppositions that they're not even aware of and have never had them challenged.


Clete writes:
Yes, I know that unbelievers have all sorts of presuppositions, most of which they are completely unaware of, that's not what I am asking about. What I'm asking is what is it that we Christians are supposed to presuppose, or in other words, which presuppositions are the correct ones to hold and why is it logically absurd to question them?See below.

Hilston wrote:
Objective and neutral are not the same. There is objective truth. The question is not whether or not something is objective, but whether or not the grounds for claiming objectivity can be justified.


Clete writes:
Very well then, by what means are they justified?Objective truth is justified by means of God's Word.

Hilston wrote:
Let me give you one and let's see how circular it is: A Christian presupposition is that the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God. What presupposition would you say that is based upon?


Clete writes:
That God exists for one.
That God can communicate meaningfully to us for another.
That God did in fact write or at least inspire the writing of the Bible.
These three things at least would need to be established before the inerrancy fo the Bible could be presupposed, there are perhaps more.I agree with you, Clete. Those are well thought out and I would say these answer your question above (re: which presuppositions Christian should hold). Do you view this as circular?


Clete writes:
And I wish to address one thing that you said that seems to be at the crux of things so far in the discussion.
You said...

Hilston wrote:
I've given the proof. Here it is again: Without the existence of the God of the Bible, no sense whatsoever can be made of the most important aspects of man's existence: science, morality, logic, human dignity, time, space, knowledge, etc., That is, no other worldview can cogently and consistently account for the world as we know it. That's the proof. I challenge anyone to disprove it. I challenge anyone to present a view that even comes close to competing with it.

While I do not disagree that you are correct in what you said, I think that the point everyone is trying to get you to see is that without having done the work to establish this all you are really saying amounts to "I'm right and your wrong and you can't prove otherwise."No, I'm saying the Bible is right, exclusively, and everyone else is wrong, and anything that anyone happens to be right about (2+2=4, for example) is the result of borrowing from the Biblical worldview. Further, I am not only saying that no one can prove otherwise, but that all other worldviews are summarily dismantled by the biblical worldview, without exception, based on the claims of the bible and actual experience.


Clete writes:
Surely you can see that this just will not do! You've jumped to the conclusion without telling the story. You've told the 'what' without saying anything about the 'why'."Why" about what? "Why does God exist?" It's an absurd question. The answer is "I don't know and it doesn't matter that I don't know. He exists, and now we must deal with it." Or "Why can't any other worldview compete with the Biblical worldview?" The answer is because God created reality, and no other claims upon reality can compete with that which has been revealed by its Creator. Or "why is the Biblical worldview superior and true to the exclusion of all others?" The answer is because God is the Creator, and His creation reflects His nature, character and attributes. This alone accounts for the foundational necessities of logic, consciousness, morality, human dignity, etc. All other attempts by Godless worldviews to do so are shown to be fraught with question-begging and logical fallacies.


Clete writes:
In order for you to establish this it would be necessary to walk through at least part of this one logical step at a time and clearly show how the opposing world-view is logically incoherent. Just declaring that it is incoherent isn't going to convince anyone of anything.Of course. That is I will happily do if someone, anyone, would offer an opposing worldview. I'm still waiting for something from Balder to sink my teeth into.


Clete writes:
This in effect was what Zakath was attempting to do to the Christian world-view when he brought up Euthyphro's dilemma. Had Bob not been able to rebut the argument Zakath's point would have had a lot more impact than it did because it would have displayed a major problem with a primary presupposition of Christianity, that being the goodness of God.(a) Bob did not rebut the argument. He merely deflected it using a specious argument.

(b) Zakath's point would have had a lot more impact if he had stuck to his guns. He caved too easily. Since Bob had already surrendered the use of logic to Zakath (itself an unbiblical thing to do), Zakath was fully equipped to nail Bob with it, but either chose not to, or didn't know how.

Balder
November 12th, 2004, 01:24 AM
Hi, amigos,

I don't have time for more than a short note tonight. There's a lot to catch up on! I'll just answer one of Hilston's questions for now.


Not at all. Give it your best shot. What kind of Buddhist are you? Mahayana? Theravada? Or the cop-out Madhyamika? Give me your take on the succession of kalpas. Do you believe we're presently in the second kalpa, moving inexorably to the complete dissolution of the world system in the fourth kalpa of the ethereal, radiant world of Brahma? Do you hold to the concept of panna and the doctrine of anatta? Each of these concepts require that things become their opposites. Non-life becomes life. Unconsciousness matter becomes conscious. Self becomes non-self. Lawless chaos become orderly laws.

You have used a number of Buddhist terms, but the way you've used them and the claims you've made about them make me think that you do not understand them very clearly.

To classify myself, I would say the best descriptor is Western Buddhist -- meaning those Buddhists in the West who have been able to study from multiple traditions. I have studied with Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana teachers, but if I were to choose one traditional Buddhist school with which I am most strongly associated in terms of both practice and belief, it would be Vajrayana.

I'm curious why you think Madhyamika is a cop-out, and also why you think Buddhism teaches that life comes from non-life, or consciousness comes from unconscious matter. Buddhism criticizes materialism (both ancient Indian materialism and modern Western materialism) for precisely these reasons: such claims are incoherent, or at the very least, logically suspect.

Peace,
Balder

Redfin
November 12th, 2004, 03:00 AM
Originally posted by Redfin

While everyone's pausing here, a question:

Does Presuppositionalism amount to a justification of or apologetic for certain forms of circular reasoning (and why or why not)?

Thanks!

Was the question too "ignorant" to merit a reply?

A nutshell answer would be sufficient.

Chileice
November 12th, 2004, 06:23 AM
Originally posted by Redfin

While everyone's pausing here, a question:

Does Presuppositionalism amount to a justification of or apologetic for certain forms of circular reasoning (and why or why not)?

Thanks!

The question certainly wasn't ignorant. I think it sounds that way, especially the way Hilston presents it. If you want a more consice overview, you might try checking out this site:
http://www.lasalle.edu/~garver/presup.htm
It may answer more questions. At least it is presented in an easy to read fashion. Hope it helps.

Clete
November 12th, 2004, 07:24 AM
Redfin,

I don't think anyone intentionally ignored you, it's just that I don't think anyone knows the answer to your question.

I know that Presuppositionalism does not tolerate viciously circular reasoning but they do acknowledge that circularity to one degree or another is unavoidable when discussing things like the existence of God. I don't pretend to understand why or how they come to that position but I've seen it more than once in a couple of different articles on the subject. The only one here that is probably qualified to give you a direct answer to your question is Jim.

Resting in Him,
Clete

Hilston
November 12th, 2004, 08:28 AM
Redfin asked: Does Presuppositionalism amount to a justification of or apologetic for certain forms of circular reasoning (and why or why not)?

No. Presuppositionalism is another way of saying "Biblical apologetic." Defending the faith biblically. Evidentialism is an anti-biblical apologetic, extra-biblical at best. Some want to argue that "extra-biblical" is OK. That, I think, is the main question Clete has posed. Should the presupp' content and method be the only content and method used for apologetics, or are other contents and methods allowed. That is why I asked about evangelism. Is biblical evangelism the only content and method for evangelism, or are other extra-biblical contents and methods allowed? I would argue the former in both cases.

Clete writes: I know that Presuppositionalism does not tolerate viciously circular reasoning but they do acknowledge that circularity to one degree or another is unavoidable when discussing things like the existence of God.

That's correct.

Clete writes: I don't pretend to understand why or how they come to that position but I've seen it more than once in a couple of different articles on the subject.

I am not sure why you don't see this. You say don't understand why presuppositionalism affirms this view of circularity. Let's take any argument that you think is non-circular and let's have a look at it. K?

Hilston
November 12th, 2004, 08:47 AM
Balder writes:
You have used a number of Buddhist terms, but the way you've used them and the claims you've made about them make me think that you do not understand them very clearly.I admit to having only a superficial, and largely inadequate, understanding (if it can be even called that) of the vast teachings of the myriad Buddhist schools. Heck, I can hardly keep up with Christendom, let alone all the other religions in the world. I've never heard of the Vajrayana school. Does it follow a Mahayana soteriology or a Hinayana? I'm looking for something, anything to sink my teeth into, and you're not helping me, Balder. Assume I know nothing. I've asked you some basic questions and instead you choose to pick on my ignorance of your beliefs. Great. I'm an ignorant jackass. Give me something. Or at least ask me questions, like you said you would.


Balder writes:
... if I were to choose one traditional Buddhist school with which I am most strongly associated in terms of both practice and belief, it would be Vajrayana.I'm not familiar with that at all. Will you throw me a bone, or do I have to go do my own digging?


Balder writes:
I'm curious why you think Madhyamika is a cop-out, and also why you think Buddhism teaches that life comes from non-life, ...Then where does life come from, Balder?


Balder writes:
or consciousness comes from unconscious matter. ...Where does sentience come from, Balder?


Balder writes:
Buddhism criticizes materialism (both ancient Indian materialism and modern Western materialism) for precisely these reasons: such claims are incoherent, or at the very least, logically suspect.Then let's look at abstract entities. You used the phrase "logically suspect." By that, I assume that contradictions and logical fallacies are disallowed in your view. Why?

Clete
November 12th, 2004, 08:51 AM
Jim,

I'm not saying that arguments for the existance of God are not at all circular, I'm just saying that I didn't know that they were and I do not understand how they are. Perhaps you could give an example of how even the best arguments for the excistence of God are circular.

Resting in Him,
Clete

Hilston
November 12th, 2004, 09:16 AM
Clete writes:
I'm not saying that arguments for the existance of God are not at all circular, I'm just saying that I didn't know that they were and I do not understand how they are.Then give me one that you think is not circular and we can look at it.


Clete writes:
Perhaps you could give an example of how even the best arguments for the excistence of God are circular.Wait a second. Earlier you were criticizing me for circularity. Now you want me to demonstrate circularity? I don't get it. If you want to understand presuppositional argumentation, studying circularity isn't going get you there. It's like saying, "I want to learn about the differences between Aldous Huxley and Rush Limbaugh, so tell me about English grammar."

Furthermore, my view is that there is only one best argument for God's existence, which is the one used in scripture. There are many modes of apologetic, but only one biblical and best method and content to that argument. All the so-called great apologists, Wm. Lane Craig, R.C. Sproul, N. Geisler, Wm. Dembski, Philip Johnson, Jonathan Wells, Michael Behe, Josh McDowell, et al, use unbiblical arguments. And in their debates, they get slaughtered. Christians leave those debates thinking their guy won, but it's only because they've been duped by faulty, specious and unbiblical concepts that surrender the argument to the so-called atheists before they even leave the starting line. The so-called atheist crowd leaves the debate feeling validated and thinking their guy won the debate. And they're often right.

Clete
November 12th, 2004, 09:47 AM
Originally posted by Hilston

Then give me one that you think is not circular and we can look at it.
You aren't understanding me. I don't think any of them aren't circular, if you'll forgive the double negative. I believe you when you say that they are, I just don't know what the reasoning process is that makes that conclusion unavoidable or why such circularity is acceptable.


Wait a second. Earlier you were criticizing me for circularity. Now you want me to demonstrate circularity? I don't get it.
I accused you a being viciously circular, which I am assuming is dramatically different than the sort of circularity that you are saying is unavoidable and acceptable. I do not understand what the difference between the two is; I'm asking you to show me.


Furthermore, my view is that there is only one best argument for God's existence, which is the one used in scripture. There are many modes of apologetic, but only one biblical and best method and content to that argument. All the so-called great apologists, Wm. Lane Craig, R.C. Sproul, N. Geisler, Wm. Dembski, Philip Johnson, Jonathan Wells, Michael Behe, Josh McDowell, et al, use unbiblical arguments. And in their debates, they get slaughtered. Christians leave those debates thinking their guy won, but it's only because they've been duped by faulty, specious and unbiblical concepts that surrender the argument to the so-called atheists before they even leave the starting line. The so-called atheist crowd leaves the debate feeling validated and thinking their guy won the debate. And they're often right.
What precisely is that argument then? It seems to me that it amounts to "God exists because the Bible says He does."
If so, why is the Bible true? "Because God wrote/inspired it."
How do you know that God inspired it? "Because the Bible says He did."
I'm sorry Jim but if this is about how it would go, you just don't get any more viciously circular than that! This cannot be a valid argument.

How am I wrong?

Resting in Him,
Clete

Balder
November 12th, 2004, 09:52 AM
Hilston,


I admit to having only a superficial, and largely inadequate, understanding (if it can be even called that) of the vast teachings of the myriad Buddhist schools. Heck, I can hardly keep up with Christendom, let alone all the other religions in the world. I've never heard of the Vajrayana school. Does it follow a Mahayana soteriology or a Hinayana? I'm looking for something, anything to sink my teeth into, and you're not helping me, Balder. Assume I know nothing. I've asked you some basic questions and instead you choose to pick on my ignorance of your beliefs. Great. I'm an ignorant jackass. Give me something. Or at least ask me questions, like you said you would.

At least we have established that you are dismissing out of hand as incoherent something about which you admittedly have only a superficial understanding. And the brevity of my answers stems only from my pressed schedule; a longer and more substantial post will come this evening.

To answer your questions, Vajrayana is basically Tibetan Tantric Buddhism, which incorporates both Hinayana and Mahayana teachings in developmental fashion. More specifically, the tradition I follow is Dzogchen, which is different from tantra in a number of important respects. I can say more about this later, to give you something to sink your teeth into.


Where does sentience come from, Balder?

Sentience doesn't come from anywhere. Sentience is.

As I said, I'll be able to converse more regularly by this evening. If you have any new questions or comments, I'll get to them then along with a number of other posts I haven't been able to address.

Just in closing, I will offer my understanding of presuppositionalism so far: It is basically the belief that the Bible is the only true source of knowledge, and in fact the only true source of logic. As such, anyone arguing from it can (and should) attack the logical foundations of every other worldview, which necessarily cannot be correct. But as the origin of logic itself, the Biblical worldview is not subject to such analysis, and it should not be defended in the same way. "Proof" of the Biblical worldview demands only reporting whatever the Bible says, and saying, "Like it or not, take it or leave it."

In other words, it is basically a philosophical justification of the famous bumper sticker: "The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it."

Peace,
Balder

Hilston
November 12th, 2004, 10:27 AM
Balder writes:
At least we have established that you are dismissing out of hand as incoherent something about which you admittedly have only a superficial understanding.First of all, I don't speak on my own authority. The Bible gives me sufficient grounds to dismiss your view out of hand as incoherent, even if I don't understand it. Second, a superficial understanding is often all that is needed to dismiss a view out of hand, especially when one does not need to dig too deeply to expose the incoherence of it. I don't have to have more than a superficial understanding of atheism to dismiss it as incoherent. It doesn't mean, however, than I'm averse to learning other views and understanding their merits.

Hilston asked: Where does sentience come from, Balder?


Balder writes:
Sentience doesn't come from anywhere. Sentience is.The word "is" is a transitive verb. It takes a direct object in order to make sense. As it stands, the sentence makes no sense. Sentience is what? Sentience is "in existence"? Sentience is "eternal"? Is there past sentience? Is there future sentience? Can the Buddhist of the Vajrayana school say "sentience was" or "sentience will be"?


Balder writes:
Just in closing, I will offer my understanding of presuppositionalism so far: It is basically the belief that the Bible is the only true source of knowledge, and in fact the only true source of logic.No. I know all kinds of things that are not found in the Bible. And I did not learn logic from the Bible. My logical faculties were firmly in place before I ever opened the Book.


Balder writes:
As such, anyone arguing from it can (and should) attack the logical foundations of every other worldview, which necessarily cannot be correct.No. Rather, all other worldviews have no logical foundation. They only pretend to, and do so by borrowing from the biblical worldview. Ultimately, all other worldviews float in the void.


Balder writes:
But as the origin of logic itself, the Biblical worldview is not subject to such analysis, and it should not be defended in the same way.It is indeed subject to such analysis. Fire away.


Balder writes:
"Proof" of the Biblical worldview demands only reporting whatever the Bible says, and saying, "Like it or not, take it or leave it."Not at all. I have shown you the proof (if you've read the above posts). I haven't said anything remotely close to "take it or leave it."


Balder writes:
In other words, it is basically a philosophical justification of the famous bumper sticker: "The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it."The maxim holds for the individual believer. Amongst believers, we debate what the Bible says in order to ascertain or defend what we believe. However, between worldviews, such an argument is neither cogent nor adequate. It's not even an argument. If you want to ask me why I believe what I believe, that's a different question than asking me to prove the verity what I believe.

Hilston
November 12th, 2004, 10:51 AM
Clete writes:
You aren't understanding me. I don't think any of them aren't circular, if you'll forgive the double negative. I believe you when you say that they are, I just don't know what the reasoning process is that makes that conclusion unavoidable or why such circularity is acceptable.If circularity is not acceptable, then all is nonsense, logic is nothing but a societal convention, there are no laws, there is no intelligibility, all is illusion. If you're going to be a rational person, use logic, and speak coherently, you must allow circularity in your epistemology.


Clete writes:
I accused you a being viciously circular, which I am assuming is dramatically different than the sort of circularity that you are saying is unavoidable and acceptable. I do not understand what the difference between the two is; I'm asking you to show me.Vicious circularity is this:

The Bible is true because it says it is true. Or the Bible is God's word because God wrote it. Or, logic is trustworthy because I use it everyday. Or, I know my calculator works because it gives me the same answer every time I add up the same two numbers.

A non-vicious circular argument would be: Logic is trustworthy because God's logical nature and attributes are reflected in the created order.


Clete writes:
What precisely is that argument then? It seems to me that it amounts to "God exists because the Bible says He does."No, that's not it. I gave the argument above. The biblical worldview (which includes God's existence and the verity of the Bible) accounts for all aspects of human existence and provides sufficient grounding for all intelligibility. No other worldview can do that. That is the proof. And it just so happens that this is what the Bible teaches.


Clete writes:
If so, why is the Bible true? "Because God wrote/inspired it."That's not the argument for the verity of scripture. See above.


Clete writes:
How do you know that God inspired it? "Because the Bible says He did."Do you realize that this is a separate issue altogether? How I know and how I prove the inspiration of the Bible are completely different questions.


Clete writes:
I'm sorry Jim but if this is about how it would go, you just don't get any more viciously circular than that! This cannot be a valid argument.You're right and the way you've laid it out is not a valid argument at all. I hope you now see the difference between your scenario and the biblical apologetic.

Chileice
November 12th, 2004, 11:01 AM
Wow, Hilston, I am a very intelligent man but you are talking in circles. You break up the other people's quotes enough to make it LOOK like you aren't. But if you refer "to the things written above" or the "previous Proof", they are very circular and DO amount to what Clete has stated. As you have stated it, you do not have a valid argument. How can the way one knows and the way one proves something be that radically different unless all of your knowledge is just pure intuition?

Clete
November 12th, 2004, 11:01 AM
I can see that I will have to take this one step at a time. I don't understand your resistance to fleshing out the arguments for your own position.


Logic is trustworthy because God's logical nature and attributes are reflected in the created order.
On what basis do you make the claim that God's nature is logical?

Hilston
November 12th, 2004, 11:49 AM
Chileice writes:
Wow, Hilston, I am a very intelligent man but you are talking in circles.Did you intelligently read that article you linked to above? It happens to be a good one.


Chileice writes:
You break up the other people's quotes enough to make it LOOK like you aren't. But if you refer "to the things written above" or the "previous Proof", they are very circular and DO amount to what Clete has stated.Show me where you think I've been circular. I want to know what you're referring to.


Chileice writes:
As you have stated it, you do not have a valid argument.Show me where it is invalid.


Chileice writes:
How can the way one knows and the way one proves something be that radically different unless all of your knowledge is just pure intuition?I'm not talking about all of my knowledge. I'm talking about how I know versus how I prove the inspiration of the Bible. I get the feeling that you're not even trying, Chileice.


Clete writes:
I can see that I will have to take this one step at a time. I don't understand your resistance to fleshing out the arguments for your own position.Do you not understand that a presuppositional argument defends and attacks presuppositions? If you don't give me one to attack, you're going to be disappointed. By the way, I've used this on you many, many times.

Hilston wrote:
Logic is trustworthy because God's logical nature and attributes are reflected in the created order.


Clete writes:
On what basis do you make the claim that God's nature is logical?I claim it based on the impossibility of the contrary. No other worldview can account for the logical nature of the universe and the intelligibility of human experience.

Do you realize that this kind of a question isn't going to get you anywhere, Clete? There are no imaginary opponents with biblical apologetic. If you are arguing that God's nature is not logical, I will be happy to flesh out the attack against you. If you yourself are not making that argument, then you will be disappointed. The scriptures require that I attack presuppositions, Clete, not logs.

Karate Kid (looking at a promotional poster of guy chopping a log in half with his open hand): Mr. Miyagi, can do that?
Mr. Miyagi: Don't know. Never attacked by tree.

Clete
November 12th, 2004, 12:29 PM
Originally posted by Hilston
Do you not understand that a presuppositional argument defends and attacks presuppositions? If you don't give me one to attack, you're going to be disappointed. By the way, I've used this on you many, many times.
If you attack everyone else's presuppositions then you have to be prepared to put other presuppositions in place of the one's you've destroyed by whatever means. I want to know what specifically are those presuppositions and why are they the only logically coherent one's to hold.
And yes of course I know you've used this on me countless times. The problem is that you never bother to explain what you are doing or why and so no one ever gets what you are trying to say which inevitably results in the conversation circling the same barn 40,000 times until someone gets so frustrated that they blow their stack. This is a (not the) major reason I want to get to understand this stuff, so that I can get to understand you and that way our discussions can be more productive.


I claim it based on the impossibility of the contrary. No other worldview can account for the logical nature of the universe and the intelligibility of human experience.
How do you know that the contrary is impossible?
How do you know that all other worldviews are unable to account for the logical nature of the universe and the intelligibility of human experience?"

(I'm not saying that you are wrong. I'm asking how you know these things.)


Do you realize that this kind of a question isn't going to get you anywhere, Clete?
No I don't! Why do you ask such questions? Why don't you explain what you're getting at instead of making me ask for the explanation? It's so frustrating and somewhat insulting. Please stop playing games. Surely it is clear enough what it is that I'm after here isn't it?


There are no imaginary opponents with biblical apologetic. If you are arguing that God's nature is not logical, I will be happy to flesh out the attack against you. If you yourself are not making that argument, then you will be disappointed. The scriptures require that I attack presuppositions, Clete, not logs.
Which presuppositions would those be exactly and why are yours better than anyone else’s? I totally get it that presuppositionalism teaches to attack presuppositions and presuppositions only. What I do not get is how? So far despite your protestations to the contrary all you’ve said so far is "I'm right and you're wrong and you can't prove otherwise, nana-nana boo-boo! :nananana:" And that's not a valid argument!
I know, I know, you say that this isn't what you are doing but you won't explain how your argument is any different! It all seems to me that at the end of the day your argument boils down to “the Bible is true because the Bible says so.”

Resting in Him,
Clete

Redfin
November 12th, 2004, 01:06 PM
Thanks everyone, for the responses. I am intrigued. :thumb:

(I also feel like my question knocked loose a pebble that started an avalanche, but I believe I've learned more from the subsequent posts than the previous ones.)


Originally posted by Hilston

"The biblical worldview (which includes God's existence and the verity of the Bible) accounts for all aspects of human existence and provides sufficient grounding for all intelligibility. No other worldview can do that."

Balder, if you'll recall, this was basically my premise in a dialogue that we once began elsewhere, though I probably didn't state it quite as concisely. I was coming more from an intuitive sense of the premise though, and I sort of petered out as I tried to work it out.

I'm looking forward to discovering whether this approach can actually fill in some of my "gaps." :think:

Hilston
November 12th, 2004, 01:18 PM
Clete writes:
If you attack everyone else's presuppositions then you have to be prepared to put other presuppositions in place of the one's you've destroyed by whatever means.I agree. The Bible does that.


Clete writes:
I want to know what specifically are those presuppositions and why are they the only logically coherent one's to hold.You listed them, and I agreed, remember? God exists. God communicates to man in an intelligible manner. The Bible is God's Word. Etc.


Clete writes:
And yes of course I know you've used this on me countless times. The problem is that you never bother to explain what you are doing or why ...This simply isn't true. If I ask a question and you don't know its relevance, you can ask: "Why is this relevant?" However, if you've already called me a stupid blithering idiot who doesn't know Shinola™ from a hole in the ground, then don't expect much cooperation from me, especially if I've already gotten the answer I was looking for.


Clete writes:
... and so no one ever gets what you are trying to say which inevitably results in the conversation circling the same barn 40,000 times until someone gets so frustrated that they blow their stack.Have you ever had an experience where the things that are unsaid tell you more than the things that are said? That's what 40,000 times around the barn does for me. Everytime around the barn might seem the same to others, but not to me. I get I better data, more information, and clearer insights for defeating opposing worldviews every time around. Whether or not my opponents understand that is irrelevant. I'm seeking the truth for myself; not for my opponents, the incorrigible intransigent ones in particular.


Clete writes:
This is a (not the) major reason I want to get to understand this stuff, so that I can get to understand you and that way our discussions can be more productive.I appreciate that, and I hope this is being helpful. If it's not, I'll just keep trying. Did you read Chileice's link? It's a good article.

Hilston wrote:
I claim it based on the impossibility of the contrary. No other worldview can account for the logical nature of the universe and the intelligibility of human experience.


Clete writes:
How do you know that the contrary is impossible?There's a difference between knowing and proving. I know because it has been revealed to me by the Spirit; the scriptures say so, and that comports with my experience of reality. But again, asking me how I know something is true is different than asking me to prove it. The reason for my Hope is Christ, God and His Word. I know these things because they've been revealed to me, not by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. But I don't argue or debate on those terms because they apply only to me and other believers. If you want to know how I prove the contrary is impossible, you have to give me another allegedly "possible" explanation and I'll try to show you how it isn't possible at all.


Clete writes:
How do you know that all other worldviews are unable to account for the logical nature of the universe and the intelligibility of human experience?"Again, there's a difference between how I know and how I prove. I know because it has been revealed to me that the Bible is true, and that is what the Bible says. That's not how I prove it. I prove it by attacking whatever alternate view is shoved at me, and I supplant the alternate view with the testimony of scripture.

Hilston wrote:
Do you realize that this kind of a question isn't going to get you anywhere, Clete?


Clete writes:
No I don't! Why do you ask such questions? Why don't you explain what you're getting at instead of making me ask for the explanation? It's so frustrating and somewhat insulting. Please stop playing games. Surely it is clear enough what it is that I'm after here isn't it?No. You're asking me to attack a tree. I can't do it.

Hilston wrote:
There are no imaginary opponents with biblical apologetic. If you are arguing that God's nature is not logical, I will be happy to flesh out the attack against you. If you yourself are not making that argument, then you will be disappointed. The scriptures require that I attack presuppositions, Clete, not logs.


Clete writes:
Which presuppositions would those be exactly and why are yours better than anyone else’s?I attack the presupposition of logical laws in a God-less worldview. I attack the presupposition of morality in a God-less universe. I attack the presupposition of intelligibility in a universe that derives from chaos. The list is as endless and as varied as the opponents I face. My presuppositions (i.e., biblical presuppositions) are better because they are intelligible, uniquely and exclusively coherent, and account for every aspect of human experience.


Clete writes:
I totally get it that presuppositionalism teaches to attack presuppositions and presuppositions only. What I do not get is how?I've told you how, and I've shown you how. And I will continue, if that's what it takes. Did you get the links to my debate with Aussie Thinker and the rest? There you have examples of opposing anti-biblical presuppositions being exposed and dismantled. Ask Jefferson about this. It seems he has studied it for quite a while.


Clete writes:
So far despite your protestations to the contrary all you’ve said so far is "I'm right and you're wrong and you can't prove otherwise, nana-nana boo-boo! "I have not said that. Not. Once. I'm a liar. I'm a manipulator. I'm a selfish and egotistical person. I'm a nothing. A worm. A sinner deserving of eternal hellfire. What I defend is the scriptures. Sometimes badly. But the biblical method of defense is powerful. Man-made methods suck. That's all I'm saying, and all I'm trying to communicate.


Clete writes:
I know, I know, you say that this isn't what you are doing but you won't explain how your argument is any different! It all seems to me that at the end of the day your argument boils down to “the Bible is true because the Bible says so.”Explain where you get this idea, especially when I have never said anything like that. If you explain what leads you to that conclusion, maybe then I can figure out where lies the miscommunication on my part.

Clete
November 12th, 2004, 01:19 PM
Originally posted by Redfin
I'm looking forward to discovering whether this approach can actually fill in some of my "gaps." :think:

Boy, am I glad you said this!
This is precisely what I'm trying to get across to Jim and have been having a hard time finding the right words. There are big gaps that need filling in for me to buy into this Presuppositionalism thing. It seems that Jim and other Presuppositionalists that I've read (there aren't many) answer basic questions with grand declarations of truth but then resist explaining how they come to those conclusions which leaves a huge gap that's needs bridged before one can ascertain the validity of their position.
I could be wrong but it seems to me that if they do go into an explanation of those conclusion that they will either end up being terribly circular or else will end up arguing their position the same way that they say is invalid. For now, I see no other alternatives but as I said, I could be wrong.

Resting in Him,
Clete

Hilston
November 12th, 2004, 01:40 PM
Clete writes:
This is precisely what I'm trying to get across to Jim and have been having a hard time finding the right words. There are big gaps that need filling in for me to buy into this Presuppositionalism thing.Clete, that's not what Redfin is saying.


Clete writes:
It seems that Jim and other Presuppositionalists that I've read (there aren't many) answer basic questions with grand declarations of truth ...Funny, that's what the Bible does. And presuppositionalists claim to use Biblical methods of argumentation. So it seems fitting that presupp arguments declare and defend truth in a biblical manner.


Clete writes:
... but then resist explaining how they come to those conclusions which leaves a huge gap that's needs bridged before one can ascertain the validity of their position.There is no resistance to explanation. Every explanation you've requested has been given. If there's a gap, then please explain what you mean. I'm trying very hard to help out, and I'm very sorry that my communication skills are lacking. I'm trying to improve.


Clete writes:
I could be wrong but it seems to me that if they do go into an explanation of those conclusion that they will either end up being terribly circular or else will end up arguing their position the same way that they say is invalid.Explanation of what conclusion? That the Bible is God's word? That God exists? You've been given the explanations. It's now on you to disprove them, if you're so inclined.

Chileice
November 12th, 2004, 01:51 PM
Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer

Boy, am I glad you said this!
This is precisely what I'm trying to get across to Jim and have been having a hard time finding the right words. There are big gaps that need filling in for me to buy into this Presuppositionalism thing. It seems that Jim and other Presuppositionalists that I've read (there aren't many) answer basic questions with grand declarations of truth but then resist explaining how they come to those conclusions which leaves a huge gap that's needs bridged before one can ascertain the validity of their position.
I could be wrong but it seems to me that if they do go into an explanation of those conclusion that they will either end up being terribly circular or else will end up arguing their position the same way that they say is invalid. For now, I see no other alternatives but as I said, I could be wrong.

Resting in Him,
Clete

Here is an example: Hilston writing to you, Clete


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
"Why" about what? "Why does God exist?" It's an absurd question. The answer is "I don't know and it doesn't matter that I don't know. He exists, and now we must deal with it." Or "Why can't any other worldview compete with the Biblical worldview?" The answer is because God created reality, and no other claims upon reality can compete with that which has been revealed by its Creator. Or "why is the Biblical worldview superior and true to the exclusion of all others?" The answer is because God is the Creator, and His creation reflects His nature, character and attributes. This alone accounts for the foundational necessities of logic, consciousness, morality, human dignity, etc. All other attempts by Godless worldviews to do so are shown to be fraught with question-begging and logical fallacies.



OK Hilston, let's face this statement Here is what I think you are saying and how it will sound like to the atheist you are trying to reach:

Hilston- "He exists, and now it must be dealt with."

Atheist- "Says who? Says the Bible? So what?"

Hilston- "I'm tellling you what. It doesn't matter what you believe... it's true, so deal with it." "My worldview is superior, it has to be because it's the only one that explains the world as I see it."

Atheist- "Maybe not everyone sees the world like you, O omnipotent one (not that I think you are god of course... he doesn't exist)"

Hilston- "He exists because it is illogical that he doesn't as I have proved to you above."

Atheist- "Where did you prove THAT, may I ask."

Hilston- "In my forst statement, if you were listening. Now deal with it! Prove me wrong if you can. You can't so you are wrong, and I've just proved the logical fallacy in your world view."

Atheist- "You are talking in circles."

Hilston- "I'm only accepting the circular reasoning to prove the presupposition and not the knowledge and without circular reasoning the world is illogical. Therefore, if you accept logic, you are borrowing from the biblical worldview and your own worldview cumbles without it."

Atheist- "My worldview isn't based on the Bible." I don't even believe the Bible. I trust logic."

Hilston- "Well then you are either lying, because you can't trust logic without trusting God, or you are not really an atheist because you are trusting logic therefore you are trusting God. So as I said, atheism is absurd, because you can't be an atheist and be logical. That's illogical."

Atheist- "DUH! Say what? I am like totally confused and you are like... a nut case. Either that or I'm a Christian... who would have thunk it?

Hilston- "All right. I just won another argument. Never fails. His worldview is beaten into submission."

Now, without tearing this dialouge apart piece by piece, tell me in a consice overarching statement or two how I have misrepresented what you are saying, if indeed I have. I am trying. Believeme I am. But I think Clete and Redfin and Balder and I are all just a bit befuddled. So this is my attempt to see what you would do to nail an atheist.



:help:

Clete
November 12th, 2004, 01:53 PM
Originally posted by Hilston

Clete, that's not what Redfin is saying.
Yes, I know but the word 'gap' is an excellent way of communicating at least part of the problem I'm having with this methodology.


Funny, that's what the Bible does. And presuppositionalists claim to use Biblical methods of argumentation. So it seems fitting that presupp arguments declare and defend truth in a biblical manner.
This sounds exactly like "The Bible is true because it says it is true." How am I wrong?


There is no resistance to explanation. Every explanation you've requested has been given. If there's a gap, then please explain what you mean. I'm trying very hard to help out, and I'm very sorry that my communication skills are lacking. I'm trying to improve.
You've explained nothing! All you've done is declare conclusions without explaining how you came to those conclusions. You now seem to be saying that it is unbiblical to make such explanations but that there is no resistance to explanation. :dizzy:


Explanation of what conclusion? That the Bible is God's word? That God exists? You've been given the explanations. It's now on you to disprove them, if you're so inclined.
No I haven't been given any such thing. All you've said is that the Bible is true because of the impossibility of the contrary which would be an excellent first line of a well thought out argument but on its own it amounts to your word against the skeptic's. What is your opponent supposed to do, take your word for it?

Resting in Him,
Clete

Hilston
November 12th, 2004, 02:54 PM
Combined reply to Chileice and Clete:

Chileice,

I don't say "He exists, and now it must be dealt with" to the atheist. I prove to the atheist that a God-less worldview makes no sense. See the link below. I challenge the atheist to make sense of the world on his own presuppositions. Then I show him that it can't be done without the existence of God. See the link below. I usually only get the complaint of circularity from other Christians who don't know what they're talking about. Atheists seem to learn very quickly that they don't get very far with that tack. When an atheist says they trust logic, I demonstrate that it is a blind faith and an epistemological dilemma that can't be resolved on their own presuppositions. See the link below. I don't tell them that they can't trust logic; I demonstrate to them that it is a blind trust and only the existence of God can ground their reliance upon it.

Please have a look at the following link. It will give you an example of what I'm talking about:

The Impossibility of Atheism (http://www.theologyonline.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=8240&perpage=15&pagenumber=1)


Clete writes:
Yes, I know but the word 'gap' is an excellent way of communicating at least part of the problem I'm having with this methodology.I see. Thanks for clarifying.


Clete writes:
This sounds exactly like "The Bible is true because it says it is true." How am I wrong?The difference is, after the declaration is made, the proof is provided to back up the declaration. The demonstration is made of how the gainsayer's view doesn't come close to providing a cogent accounting. If you would read the link I gave Chileice above, you wouldn't be asking this question.


Clete writes:
You've explained nothing! All you've done is declare conclusions without explaining how you came to those conclusions.Clete, are you reading what I've written? I've explained to you how I've come to these conclusions. Do you remember these words? "... flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." That is how I came to these conclusions. It has been revealed to me. That is how I came to these conclusions. God reveals Himself to those who diligently seek Him. That is how I came to these conclusions. How did I come to these conclusions? God revealed them to me. These conclusions were arrived at how? By the revelation of God. How do I know these things are true? The Creator of heaven and earth revealed them to me through His Word. How is it that these conclusions are known by me? God's Spirit bore witness with my own that these things were so.


Clete writes:
You now seem to be saying that it is unbiblical to make such explanations but that there is no resistance to explanation.Um ... what? I've been making explanations and not resisting explanations. Please acknowledge that you see the distinctions between "knowing" and "proving" that I made above, because that's where we seem to be getting wrapped around the axle.


Clete writes:
No I haven't been given any such thing. All you've said is that the Bible is true because of the impossibility of the contrary which would be an excellent first line of a well thought out argument but on its own it amounts to your word against the skeptic's.Then give me the skeptic's counterargument.


Clete writes:
What is your opponent supposed to do, take your word for it?No, he is supposed to challenge me on it on the basis of his own presuppositions, and see if his view can compete with mine. Have you read the Impossibility of Atheism (http://www.theologyonline.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=8240&perpage=15&pagenumber=1) discussion? If not, please do. Read some of it, at least. Take some of those arguments and come back and tell me why they don't work in your opinion. It's not right for you to keep saying things that just aren't true about my method of argument, especially when I've explained how that's not the case, and have provided links that show my method in action that are nothing at all like the way you're characterizing it.

Jefferson, are you out there? Can you help Clete out? What am I saying that is not clear? What have I said that is confusing? As someone who seems to have spent quite some time studying this, perhaps you can give me some advice on where I've been unclear.

Clete
November 12th, 2004, 03:49 PM
Jim,

After reading the first several posts of the thread you linked to above I have a question.

Do I understand you to be saying that it is not the manner in which we debate but the specific issues that are debated that are at issue?

I apologize for not having read from that discussion before now. I had intended to yesterday and got too busy and once we got going this morning I just let it slip my mind. That's not good because it has resulted in a lot of wasted energy and time. :doh: I feel terrible!

Resting in Him,
Clete

Balder
November 12th, 2004, 08:41 PM
Hilston,


I've given the proof. Here it is again: Without the existence of the God of the Bible, no sense whatsoever can be made of the most important aspects of man's existence: science, morality, logic, human dignity, time, space, knowledge, etc., That is, no other worldview can cogently and consistently account for the world as we know it. That's the proof. I challenge anyone to disprove it. I challenge anyone to present a view that even comes close to competing with it...

No other worldview can account for the logical nature of the universe and the intelligibility of human experience…

Rather, all other worldviews have no logical foundation. They only pretend to, and do so by borrowing from the biblical worldview. Ultimately, all other worldviews float in the void…

No, I'm saying the Bible is right, exclusively, and everyone else is wrong, and anything that anyone happens to be right about (2+2=4, for example) is the result of borrowing from the Biblical worldview. Further, I am not only saying that no one can prove otherwise, but that all other worldviews are summarily dismantled by the biblical worldview, without exception, based on the claims of the bible and actual experience…

Balder, perhaps you're not reading what I've written. I've substantiated my claims. You may not agree…

I’ve culled these comments from several posts, to see if these statements are what you are referring to when you say you’ve provided “proof” for your claims and that you’ve substantiated your statements. If so, then you have a funny way of using the word “proof,” since I would call the above statements “claims.” Are claims their own proof? You may be able to demonstrate their soundness – that is yet to be shown – but right now, based on the content of this thread, your statements are as much “floating in the void” as the claims of any other religion. Because you haven’t backed them up. There may be opportunity for that, but until that happens, the use of the word “proof” is premature, to say the least.


"Why does God exist?" It's an absurd question. The answer is "I don't know and it doesn't matter that I don't know. He exists, and now we must deal with it." Or "Why can't any other worldview compete with the Biblical worldview?" The answer is because God created reality, and no other claims upon reality can compete with that which has been revealed by its Creator. Or "why is the Biblical worldview superior and true to the exclusion of all others?" The answer is because God is the Creator, and His creation reflects His nature, character and attributes. This alone accounts for the foundational necessities of logic, consciousness, morality, human dignity, etc. All other attempts by Godless worldviews to do so are shown to be fraught with question-begging and logical fallacies.

At this point, without having provided any reason for me to accept that the Bible is the absolute source and test of all knowledge, I don’t see how the above is anything but viciously circular reasoning. For instance, how is it different from a Shaivite Hindu saying, “Christianity can’t compete with our worldview, because Shiva creates and destroys everything, and no other claims upon reality can compete with that”? Or, “The Shaivite worldview is superior to all others because reality obviously reflects all of the divine attributes of Shiva, and without Shiva, who knows the world in and through all things, there wouldn’t even be the possibility for us to be aware of anything or to be asking these questions”?

In an earlier letter, I asked the following:


Balder wrote:
First off, when you say that "only a Biblical worldview" can support and ground these things, can you unpack that a little? What aspects of the Biblical worldview? Specifically, what aspects of the Biblical worldview do this that cannot be found in other theistic religions?

I’m still interested in an answer to this. I have noticed in a number of discussions that people jump from an argument for the necessity of theism to the claim that therefore Christianity is exclusively true, which is an unfounded logical leap, or at least a premature one. Lee Strobel makes it in most of his books.

To give you something to sink your teeth into, I’m copying and pasting part of one of my earlier posts which contains several passages from a traditional Dzogchen text, with commentary by a Western Buddhist scholar. Dzogchen employs some very specialized terminology within the Vajrayana tradition, not very familiar to Tibetan Buddhists in other schools, and the scholar here is translating them in his own way; other translators will use less technical (but also less precise) terms:

~*~

Before there was any shrouding
By either Samsara or Nirvana
There was self-existent pristine cognitiveness, a primordial purity in
Its facticity, an openness beyond demonstration and verbalization;
Its actuality, a sheer lucency shining from deep within;
And its resonating concern, the very energy of excitatory intelligence,
Abiding as an interiority of ultimate purity.
Facticity, abiding as gestalt, suffered neither displacement nor transformation;
Actuality, sheer lucency, manifested as authentic utterance;
And resonating concern was spirituality, abiding as excitatory intelligence.
Although facticity abided as formal gestalt, there was neither face nor hands;
Although actuality abided as lucency, there was no color;
Although resonating concern abided as excitatory intelligence, there was no oscillation.
In itself a radiant interiority, it was the ultimate ground for the universe to evolve.
It abided as the ground for the fact that, auto-dynamically,
From its formal gestalt the gestalt triad manifested,
From its lucency, spontaneous presence manifested as complete engagement in the scenario
developed by Being, and
From resonating concern, excitatory intelligence manifested as pristine cognitions.
This was the primordial state of affairs.

There are several points to be noted. The emphasis on self-existent pristine cognitiveness, which is synonymous with Experience-as-such, makes it quite clear that the big bang was not the explosion of a lump of matter into some preexisting void, as is often popularly believed contrary to what scientists understand it to be. Experience-as-such is neither matter nor a mind which, in a very special sense, might be claimed to "react on the world by ... collapsing it from a superposition into reality." Rather, it seems that Experience-as-such or self-existent pristine cognitiveness is more like an algorithm for dealing with (calculating) the results of actual experience (observation) and, in addition, a pointer to an autopoietic dynamics, which can be described only in terms of the immediacy of Being's auto-projectivity as a splitting into near copies of itself, which then may rush off in opposite directions, giving birth to the universes of Samsara and Nirvana. Furthermore, the reference to a triadic character of facticity, actuality, and resonating concern, apart from constituting symmetry transformations, may also be conceived as a pointing to a multitude of universes, which continue multiplying. In addition, each such expanding universe contains, as it were, a multitude of individuals as participant observers of that universe that they inhabit, being thereby bound within their own universe of limited dimensions. Each individual is therefore unaware of that larger dimensioned n-state universe, the ground and totality of all possible universes which as a 'superposition of N states is observed as a single state An(q) n( ), not because of a projection into that state alone but because the entire universe divides into n-states...'

In the light of these remarks, Longchen Rabjampa's account gains added significance. It is no mere turn of poetic diction when he describes Being's auto-presencing as (1) concern-like, (2) lucency-like, (3) gestalt-like, (4) pristine cognition-like, (5) nonduality-like, and (6) freedom-like. His use of the tag like (ltar) clearly indicates that none of these modes can ever be considered as actual, preexistent, eternally operative parameters, being but modes of the ground and totality auto-presencing as the n-state universe Being itself. Every reference to and (partial) experience of this auto-presencing is necessarily a limited profile, akin to (like) the totality. As a referring expression (a single state) it can never retain the essentially indeterminate spontaneity of the totality (n-states).

Thus Longchen Rabjampa states:

From this ground (gzhi), the ground-totality presencing (gzhi-snang) occurred as follows:
Its spontaneous presence, radiating from deep within as an interiority,
Was outwardly propelled by motility so that its intrinsic outward-tending glowing (gdangs) manifested.
When the "shell" of this spontaneous presence exploded,
Six modes of presencing and two passageways manifested.
The singular, internally radiating excitatory intelligence
Was propelled by motility, the outward-tending glowing of excitatory intelligence,
So that its inner glow was outwardly thrust.

By its concern-like auto-presencing
The auto-creativity of excitatory intelligence became outward tending glowing.
By its lucency-like auto-presencing, like a rainbow,
All and everything as the coming-into-presence of the continuum that is Being
was suffused by luminosity.
By its gestalt-like auto-presencing, clustered gestalts
With no center and no periphery encompassed the universe.
By its pristine cognition-like auto-presencing
Translucent galactic realm (zhing-khams) emerged.
By its nonduality-like auto-presencing
All and everything shared in its dissipative character, having neither center nor periphery.

Impure -- it appeared as a passageway to Samsara.
The presencing of six lifeforms, like a dream;
The downwardly gravitating radiance, like openness-turned-physical.
And still this coming-into-presence abides as the impetus for going further and
further astray.

Pure -- it appeared as the pristine cognitions passageway:
Nirvana's self-manifestation from the primordially pure ground;
Its upwardly dispersing radiance, like the sky. And still
This coming-into-presence abides as the impetus for exercising freedom.

While the six presencing modes are the exploding ground,
The two passageways are invitations to enter;
The entering is either Samsara or Nirvana.
These are the ways in and through which ground-totality presencing
occurs.

Due to the indeterminate character of Being-qua-Existenz, divergent processes develop, which yet remain pervaded by the intelligence of the universe. The cosmological scale on which this intelligence operates, is reflected in its open creativity (rtsal), its prismatic play (rol-pa), and its manifestations of beauty (rgyan). More specifically, these three facets reflect the working of self-existent pristine cognitiveness. Thus [Longchen Rabjampa states]:

The facticity of this self-existent pristine cognitiveness is not in any way anything; its actuality is radiantly diaphanous; and its resonating concern rises as any engagement. In this continuum, which is the ultimate primordial transparency of inseparable excitatory intelligence and open-dimensionality, all and everything that comes-into-presence, and is interpreted as Samsara and Nirvana, abides as its self-manifesting, auto-presencing, and intrinsic freedom in mere playfulness, beauty, and creativity. Moreover, the shape in which this excitatory intelligence expresses itself, is utterly dissipative as Being's openness and radiance; from this dynamic reach and range, which is nowhere and nothing, due to the creativity of the five colors of Being's spontaneous presence, what is found externally as world and internally as embodied sentience, has become present as a beautiful adornment of the auto-manifesting process, the prismatic play of pristine cognitions, and a ceaseless creativity. Yet in this coming-into-presence there is no reality value; rather it is like the appearance of a dream that has come about as the creativity, adornment, and play of an auto-manifesting process having no objective reality.

This process -- creative, playful, and imbuing everything with beauty -- leaves traces of its activity in and as the images that constitute our experienced world. All of them are pure symbols in that they are but self-presentations of Being-qua-Existenz...

The intelligence of the universe (Being), to which one has become gradually attuned (Being-becoming-Existenz), unfolds as the intelligence of our existentially constituted life-worlds and their projects (Being-qua-Existenz). In this unfoldment, the configurational character of Experience-as-such, itself a transformative flux, becomes evident as a multidimensional texture of perceptual, valuational, conceptual, motivational, and stabilizing operations, each having its own field character and yet operating in intimate interplay with all other operations. The interactions of these operations constitute life-worlds as worlds of meaning in which the experiencer feels "at home"...

~*~

Peace,
Balder

P.S. I wanted to respond to two more things...


Hilston asked: Where does sentience come from, Balder?


Balder writes:
Sentience doesn't come from anywhere. Sentience is.

The word "is" is a transitive verb. It takes a direct object in order to make sense. As it stands, the sentence makes no sense. Sentience is what? Sentience is "in existence"? Sentience is "eternal"? Is there past sentience? Is there future sentience? Can the Buddhist of the Vajrayana school say "sentience was" or "sentience will be"?

If we rephrase the question to ask, "Where does God come from?", what would your answer be?


I'm saying the Bible is right, exclusively, and everyone else is wrong, and anything that anyone happens to be right about (2+2=4, for example) is the result of borrowing from the Biblical worldview.

Your repeated charge that everyone who uses their brains at all is borrowing from the Biblical worldview is either sloppy or hyperbolic apologetics. I have heard Christians declare, "Jesus split time in half!" -- meaning that the modern calendar starts out with him, marking the close of an era and the beginning of a new one. But having a calendar in a particular culture started in your honor (it's been done before, as in the case of Prithivi Narayan Shah) is hardly the same as "splitting time." And your claim is similarly hyperbolic. Good for shock value, perhaps, or to impress people who don't think too much about what you are saying but who share your presuppositions, but it is not going to incline non-Christians to take you seriously. You clarified in a previous post that what you really mean is that logic, wherever it is found, is a reflection of God's nature, but that is not at all the same as asserting that whoever uses logic is borrowing from the Biblical worldview.

Chileice
November 13th, 2004, 07:34 AM
Hilston,
Let me borrow some phrases from the article by Joel Garver, which you yourself said was a good one. I also find his presentation relatively easy to follow. Where the two of you divirge is on the idea of "proof". Garver avoids the word proof and opts for the word "strategy" which I think is a much better term. Where I am bogging down, and where it seems everyone else is as well, is on your insistence that your presuppositions are in and of themselves "proof" for the exclusivity of the Christian worldview.

Garver says this:
I believe I'm being faithful to presuppositionalism, despite the overheated rhetoric used sometimes by presuppositionalists. I'm happy to admit that people other than Christians can hold logically consistent beliefs--there are, I suppose, innumerable sets of propositions that might be believed and are internally logically consistent. I would, however, deny that it is possible for an unbeliever to live in God's world in a consistent way in every respect (as is true of all of us ravaged by sin). I just would not want to reduce everything to a matter of logical consistency.

To me THIS makes sense. Other people CAN hold logical beliefs. But I also agree, as I'm sure you do, they will not live it as fully intended by God if they live it in a different way.

Garver also states:
First, it seems to imply that there is some kind of standard "transcendental proof" of the Christian faith in a sense that is, at least, analogous to what St. Thomas Aquinas thought he was doing in the Summa Contra Gentiles. I think that is a mistake. There's no such thing as the trascendental argument. What there are, are transcendental strategies for defending the Faith against unbelief.

Second, if we view these transcendental strategies as a "proof" we run into difficulties. One possible strategy that might be considered a proof is the attempt to show the "impossibility of the contrary" of Christianty, but it would be necessary to do so for every possible contrary. One could attempt to derive contradictions, inconsistencies, or kinds of unintelligibility (logical, practical, or otherwise) from the alternatives to Christianity. If this were successful, I suppose one would have gone a long way towards some kind of objective "proof" of Christian theism by process of elimination.

But that's the problem. Even if every other contender is problematic and even if you could show that to be the case (and imagine the odds of being able to do that!), you are not really left with anything deserving the title of "proof." For the purposes of proof you can't just eliminate the contenders and then assume the coherence of Christianity. You must try to demonstrate it.

This Hilston is where I find your approach flawed. I think that the superiority of the Christian worldview is defendable, and defendable based on our presuppositions, but I do not think it is "provable" in some mathematical/logical type proof unless you accept an assumption as an axiom.

Clete
November 14th, 2004, 11:10 PM
Jim,

I had intended to post something this evening but after writing it up, I hated it. I need to do a total rewrite and don't have time to do it this evening so I thought I would at least drop you this short note to let you know that something is in the works and to say that except for my having wasted several posts and most of a days time, the rest of this thread is going nicely. I'm learning a lot and I appreciate your participation.

Resting in Him,
Clete

Hilston
November 15th, 2004, 10:20 AM
Balder writes:
I’ve culled these comments from several posts, to see if these statements are what you are referring to when you say you’ve provided “proof” for your claims and that you’ve substantiated your statements. If so, then you have a funny way of using the word “proof,” since I would call the above statements “claims.”Here is Webster's definition of proof. It aligns with my use of the word. If you disagree with the definition, we'll use yours and I'll modify my statements accordingly.

Proof n 1 a : the cogency of evidence that compels acceptance by the mind of a truth or a fact. b : the process or an instance of establishing the validity of a statement esp[ecially] by derivation from other statements in accordance with accepted or stipulated principles of reasoning.


Balder writes:Are claims their own proof?What claims are you talking about? Can you deny that you have a blind faith concerning your use of logic?


Balder writes:
You may be able to demonstrate their soundness – that is yet to be shown – but right now, based on the content of this thread, your statements are as much “floating in the void” as the claims of any other religion.Not at all. Given the existence of the God of the Bible, my statements are sufficiently grounded, solidly based upon objective truth. Yours float in the void, as they have no objective basis.


Balder writes:
Because you haven’t backed them up.I think I have. If you're not satisfied with the backing I've provided, I invite you to expose the flaw of my reasoning or the insufficiency of my support.


Balder writes:
At this point, without having provided any reason for me to accept that the Bible is the absolute source and test of all knowledge, I don’t see how the above is anything but viciously circular reasoning.I've provided a reason, but you don't like it. That's not my problem. The reason is cogent. The evidence compelling. If you don't accept the idea of logic and science being objectively grounded, and if you prefer the idea of blindly trusting in concepts you cannot prove, then you've arbitrarily chosen an irrational worldview. I offer you a rational grounding of reality; you prefer irrationality and blind faith commitments.


Balder writes:
For instance, how is it different from a Shaivite Hindu saying, “Christianity can’t compete with our worldview, because Shiva creates and destroys everything, and no other claims upon reality can compete with that”? Or, “The Shaivite worldview is superior to all others because reality obviously reflects all of the divine attributes of Shiva, and without Shiva, who knows the world in and through all things, there wouldn’t even be the possibility for us to be aware of anything or to be asking these questions”?Is that your view? If so, let's analyze Shiva and the source of revelation about this entity. Is this a view you can defend? Or are you just throwing logs in the road for a lack a response from your own view?


Balder writes:
In an earlier letter, I asked the following:
First off, when you say that "only a Biblical worldview" can support and ground these things, can you unpack that a little? What aspects of the Biblical worldview? Specifically, what aspects of the Biblical worldview do this that cannot be found in other theistic religions?

I’m still interested in an answer to this.I apologize for missing this. The aspects of the Biblical worldview that supports and grounds the intelligibility of human experience are God's existence, nature and attributes, which are revealed to man in the Bible. These were revealed to man prior to the documentation of these things as well, through the created order, through the Mazzaroth (divine revelation in the constellations), through prophets, through angelic revelation, etc. Apart from the acknowledgement and recognition of God's existence, nature and attributes, the intelligibilty of reality becomes absurd and makes no sense.


Balder writes:
To give you something to sink your teeth into, I’m copying and pasting part of one of my earlier posts which contains several passages from a traditional Dzogchen text, with commentary by a Western Buddhist scholar.From what was it translated? Who wrote it? And what is the source? How do you ascertain whether or not it is true?


Balder writes:
There are several points to be noted. The emphasis on self-existent pristine cognitiveness, ...Is the SEPC a personal entity, or more like an energy or cosmological state?


Balder writes:
... Experience-as-such is neither matter nor a mind which, in a very special sense, might be claimed to "react on the world by ... collapsing it from a superposition into reality.""... neither matter nor a mind" suggests to me an impersonal entity, if it can be called at entity at all. Below you call it an algorithm. What grounds the algorithm, Balder? What makes it regular and predictable, despite the chaos and irregularity perceived by the cognizant scions running around on this planet? Is it universal and invariant, despite the particulars and variations in our experience?


Balder writes:
Rather, it seems ...Did you say "seems"? You mean you don't know???? What are you defending here? A speculation?


Balder writes:
... that Experience-as-such or self-existent pristine cognitiveness ... the entire universe divides into n-states ...'This is all very fanciful and impressive, but what about these claims should compel me to believe they are true? What is it about this story that assures you that your ability to comprehend it actuality comports with reality?

Hilston asked:
Where does sentience come from, Balder?

Balder writes:
Sentience doesn't come from anywhere. Sentience is.

Hilston replied:
The word "is" is a transitive verb. It takes a direct object in order to make sense. As it stands, the sentence makes no sense. Sentience is what? Sentience is "in existence"? Sentience is "eternal"? Is there past sentience? Is there future sentience? Can the Buddhist of the Vajrayana school say "sentience was" or "sentience will be"?


Balder writes:
If we rephrase the question to ask, "Where does God come from?", what would your answer be?My answer is "I don't know." If God is infinite, and that is what the scriptures indicate, then nothing exists outside of Him, and that makes the question absurd.

Hilston wrote:
I'm saying the Bible is right, exclusively, and everyone else is wrong, and anything that anyone happens to be right about (2+2=4, for example) is the result of borrowing from the Biblical worldview.


Balder writes:
Your repeated charge that everyone who uses their brains at all is borrowing from the Biblical worldview is either sloppy or hyperbolic apologetics.How is it sloppy? How is it hyperbolic? You have to do more than make inane statements, Balder. Demonstrate my sloppiness; expose my exaggeration.


Balder writes:
Good for shock value, perhaps, or to impress people who don't think too much about what you are saying but who share your presuppositions, but it is not going to incline non-Christians to take you seriously.Actually, my experience is the opposite. Most Christians don't like this form of argumentation. They've been duped by the standard tack of Creation Scientist and so-called Biblical apologists for too long. When the Biblical method of argumentation is presented, all of their training and memorization of evolutionistic theories and hoaxes pale by comparison, and they don't like that. I don't use these claims for shock value or to impress anyone. But because they're biblical. And I've found that non-Christians begin to take me quite seriously once they realize that my claims go well beyond mere shock value.


Balder writes:
You clarified in a previous post that what you really mean is that logic, wherever it is found, is a reflection of God's nature, but that is not at all the same as asserting that whoever uses logic is borrowing from the Biblical worldview.Sure it is. The use of logic, wherever it is found, only makes sense on the Biblical worldview. Whenever an atheist (or a buddhist) uses logic, he unwittingly affirms the verity of God's word. When the Buddhist balances his checkbook, he is using God's logic and God's arithmetic in order to do so. He doesn't have to acknowledge God in order to do it, but by refusing to acknowledge God, his logic and arithmetic make no sense, and he is left with a blind faith commitment to concepts and principles that seem to float in the void.

Hilston
November 15th, 2004, 10:24 AM
Chileice writes:
Where I am bogging down, and where it seems everyone else is as well, is on your insistence that your presuppositions are in and of themselves "proof" for the exclusivity of the Christian worldview.Then you're not reading very carefully. I don't claim my own presuppositions are proof. I claim that everyday experience is proof. Common use of logic and reason are proof. The intelligibility of human experience is proof. The order and regularity of the universe are proof. None of these things are presuppositions, and few people would deny the existence of everyday experience, the verity of logic and reason, the intelligibility of human experience or the order and regularity of the universe. But none of these things make sense in a God-less universe.


Chileice writes:
To me THIS makes sense. Other people CAN hold logical beliefs. But I also agree, as I'm sure you do, they will not live it as fully intended by God if they live it in a different way.If you will carefully read what I've written, I nowhere deny that people can hold logical beliefs. My point has always been that people who deny God's existence or the verity of His word cannot do so cogently, that when they are logical, they are not being self-consistent, because they refuse to acknowledge the very foundation of that logic.


Chileice writes:
Garver also states: ... But that's the problem. Even if every other contender is problematic and even if you could show that to be the case (and imagine the odds of being able to do that!), you are not really left with anything deserving the title of "proof." For the purposes of proof you can't just eliminate the contenders and then assume the coherence of Christianity. You must try to demonstrate it.The flaw in Garver's reasoning is that he has not accounted for the full assurance, unwavering certainty, and indubitable faith that Christ has given the believer. Given that, the believer knows, fully, assuredly, unwaveringly, with unshakable certitude, that every other contender is false. The believer doesn't have to prove this to himself. He knows it is true by faith, by God's Spirit bearing witness with his own. So believers can confidently state, based on the authority of the Bible, that no other worldview can compete with the biblical worldview, and that in fact all other worldviews are reduced to absurdity.


Chileice writes:
This Hilston is where I find your approach flawed. I think that the superiority of the Christian worldview is defendable, and defendable based on our presuppositions, but I do not think it is "provable" in some mathematical/logical type proof unless you accept an assumption as an axiom.In your mind, Chileice, is the existence of God still in question?

Balder
November 15th, 2004, 01:38 PM
Hilston,

I'm just stealing a moment on a public computer at work. A response to your letter will follow this evening.

For now, I have two questions I'd like to ask:

Why is God logical and consistent? Why are these attributes of His nature?


The flaw in Garver's reasoning is that he has not accounted for the full assurance, unwavering certainty, and indubitable faith that Christ has given the believer. Given that, the believer knows, fully, assuredly, unwaveringly, with unshakable certitude, that every other contender is false. The believer doesn't have to prove this to himself. He knows it is true by faith, by God's Spirit bearing witness with his own. So believers can confidently state, based on the authority of the Bible, that no other worldview can compete with the biblical worldview, and that in fact all other worldviews are reduced to absurdity.

How do you know this? How do you know that "what God has revealed to you" is really true, and that it is God who has revealed it to you? Is it by God's revelation that you know what is revealed to you is true? If so, isn't that begging the question?

Peace,
Balder

billwald
November 15th, 2004, 02:03 PM
"I've given the proof. Here it is again: Without the existence of the God of the Bible, no sense whatsoever can be made of the most important aspects of man's existence: science, morality, logic, human dignity, time, space, knowledge, etc.,"

NO, First, you fail to differentiate between physics and metaphysics.

Second, without the Bible - especially to those who believe that it is the chronologically first historical writing - there is no logical to assume that the metaphysical questions are of any importance at all.

Third, the physical observations would still be made if there was no metaphysics.

billwald
November 15th, 2004, 02:07 PM
In other words, If the Young EarthGenesis conclusions are not correct then the physical observations probably preceded the generation of the metaphysical problems.

Clete
November 15th, 2004, 07:12 PM
Jim,

I think I've gotten past the circularity issue but I am still not sure why you are so dogmatic about Presuppositionalism being the only proper means of apologetics. I know that you have a lot on your plate with this thread already but I would love it if you could establish this position Biblically. If there is an article that has been written on the issue just link to it and I'll read it.

Also, I'm curious to know how Presuppositionalism treats less foundational issues. I think I get it as far as arguing the existence of God or the truth of the Biblical worldview but how about something like Total Depravity for example. How would you argue an issue as complex as that on a presuppositional level? Or is it that you accept things like Total Depravity as presuppositions themselves? If that is the case then I'm back to the original question of how do you decide what is and is not a presupposition?

Resting in Him,
Clete

Balder
November 15th, 2004, 10:07 PM
Hilston,

There are a number of threads that could be picked up and pursued here. For the moment, I would like to address your continued assertions that no other worldview is capable of accounting for logic, order, morality, etc. This will entail presenting more of the Dzogchen Buddhist worldview, since that is the tradition to which I belong. Since this is an "exclusively Christian" section of TOL, if anyone asks me to change tacks and stop presenting non-Christian beliefs here, I will. My interest in this letter is indeed to counter your (baseless) claim that only the Biblical worldview is capable of adequately explaining the world, but also to provide you an opportunity to show "presuppositionalism" at work.


Can you deny that you have a blind faith concerning your use of logic?

I can, and I do.


Only the Biblical worldview can account for the regularity we see in creation.

In our discussion so far, you have not provided sufficient defense of this claim. Even if I were to accept that having a theistic "creator" behind creation were somehow logically necessary, you have not demonstrated why the Christian creator is uniquely qualified in its explanatory power. Other theistic traditions also argue that their creator is the source of all order, all being, all intelligence, all goodness, etc.

Buddhism can account for the regularity we see in creation in a number of interrelated ways. One way is the doctrine of pratitya-samutpada, which teaches that all phenomena are fundamentally interdependent and co-determining. If you hold that this present universe has a beginning (not Being itself, but this universe), then the fundamental interrelatedness of all phenomena is sufficient to explain the seamless order that you find in the development of all the relative structures of the cosmos.

As my previous passages from the Dzogchen tradition demonstrated, the "big bang" theory is accounted for in this tradition in much more explicit, subtle detail than the mythical stories of Genesis. But the Dzogchen view of the universe is neither temporally "bounded" nor "materialistic," so followers of this tradition would regard the modern scientific account as only an approximation of the real state of affairs. I will share below a number of passages from Longchen Rabjampa's Matrix of Mystery, a classic Dzogchen text

"All that exists, without exception, each and every thing, the whole of reality,
Has sprung from the one point-instant that is the operational source."

"The root of our material-mental universe is this self-existent pristine cognitiveness, a point-instant virtual singularity; since its facticity is open-dimensioned and not discernable as any concrete thing, it is a meaning-saturated field as pristine cognitiveness (chos-kyi dbyings-kyi ye-shes). The radiation field of this open dimension is the intrinsic photic character of pristine cognitiveness. Since this is there in its own lucency with its prismatic character as yet undifferentiated into color values, it is the quasi-mirroring pristine cognitiveness (me-long lta-bu'i ye-shes). Since these modes of pristine cognitiveness have one and the same operational source, differing only in name, this facet is termed the selective mapping pristine cognitiveness (so-sar rtog-pa'i ye-shes). Since these modes of pristine cognitiveness are self-existent, identical with respect to their lucency and indivisibile, this facet is termed the auto-reflective identity pristine cognitiveness (mnyam-nyid-kyi ye-shes). Since by understanding correctly the meaning-value of this cognitive character of Being all intentional ideation is actualized spontaneously, this facet is termed the precisely actualizing pristine cognitiveness (bya-ba nan-tan-gyi ye-shes). It is from this pentad of pristine cognitions as the operational source of the intelligible universe that the eighty-four thousand portals to life's meaning open up."

"This self-existent pristine cognitiveness, dissociated from the restrictive labels thematized as eternally existent or non-existent, functions such that it cannot be localized as any thing since its facticity is openness; it never ceases coming-into-presence because its actuality is lucency; and it provides the ground and reason for the emergence of any and all thematic features because as resonating concern (thugs-rje) it never ceases providing for ever-new possibilities, and is therefore the ever-present existential reality."


Hilton asked:
Is the SEPC a personal entity, or more like an energy or cosmological state?

The passages above speak of the SEPC in impersonal, "process" language. But Dzogchen also uses personal language:

"Hai! The teacher of teachers, the king who is the creator of universes
Has patterned the energy that is his as a gestalt (sku) configuration so that
The whole of reality as it is present in discrete visible units
Stays patterned as the dynamic reach and range of Being's meaning-
Saturated field which has nothing to do with (conventional notions of) coming-into-
existence."

In some texts, the SEPC speaks directly:

"All that is has me -- universal creativity, pure and total presence -- as its root."

"Without understanding me, the creativity of the universe,
But investigating the phenomena that I manifest,
You perceive everything dualistically due to your attachments and longing."

The creative ordering principle of the universe (kun-byed rgyal-po), as the SEPC is sometimes described in Dzogchen, transcends the categories we ascribe to things, whether personal or impersonal, existent or non-existent, and thus is not referred to as an "entity," which carries all sorts of inappropriately limiting connotations. But nevertheless it should not thereby be "reduced" in our minds to something akin to lifeless matter or a bland abstraction: rather, self-existent pristine cognitiveness is majestic in its limitless, immaculate nature and intelligence.

Creation in Dzogchen is sometimes described as the "ornamentation" of openness or Being. As the following passages, as well as the preceding ones indicate, the Buddhist Dzogchen tradition is quite up to the task of providing a basis for logic, order, consistency, morality, etc, without having to borrow anything from the Biblical worldview:

"The internal logic of Being (chos-nyid) is adorned with the formal gestalt
Expressing the meaningfulness of Being (chos-sku),
Whereby its utter openness is made beautiful by radiating everywhere.
The formal gestalt expressing the meaningfulness of Being is adorned
With pristine cognitions,
Whereby it is made beautiful by ceaselessly operative capabilities.
Pristine cognitiveness is adorned with resonating concern,
Whereby it is made beautiful by applying itself to the welfare of beings.
For this reason, by virtue of being made beautiful, one speaks of ornamentation."

"Self-existent pristine cognitiveness, which itself is the dynamics of excitatory intelligence, is described in terms of creativity, playfulness, and beauty (manifesting as ornamentation), thereby suggesting a three-fold symmetry transformation of the state --> image kind; each facet presents a specific aspect of this intelligence's emergent holistic movement."

I will grant that there are some exalted and sublime descriptions of God as the ultimate reality in the Christian tradition. But I do not think you have a case at all when you say that the Biblical worldview is the only viable or logically consistent one, or the only one adequate to explain the order and beauty of the universe. In fact, many depictions of God in the Bible give a very different impression indeed -- not of a logical being, but a very emotional and impulsive entity, given to regretting his actions and fits of jealous anger.

Peace,
Balder

Hilston
November 16th, 2004, 10:55 AM
Balder writes:
Why is God logical and consistent? Why are these attributes of His nature?I don't know. But the fact that He is logical and consistent explains why His creation functions according to those rules. If God did not exist, there could be no order, no regularity, no particulars. All would be chaos, randomness and no particulars.

Hilston wrote:
The flaw in Garver's reasoning is that he has not accounted for the full assurance, unwavering certainty, and indubitable faith that Christ has given the believer. Given that, the believer knows, fully, assuredly, unwaveringly, with unshakable certitude, that every other contender is false. The believer doesn't have to prove this to himself. He knows it is true by faith, by God's Spirit bearing witness with his own. So believers can confidently state, based on the authority of the Bible, that no other worldview can compete with the biblical worldview, and that in fact all other worldviews are reduced to absurdity.


Balder writes:
How do you know this? How do you know that "what God has revealed to you" is really true, and that it is God who has revealed it to you?I know by the gift of faith that is given by God at the point of regeneration. Consequently, having now placed full trust in God as the sole arbiter of all things, all of human experience makes logical, scientiic, mathematic and moral sense. This confirms in my experience that which faith had already affirmed.


Balder writes:
Is it by God's revelation that you know what is revealed to you is true?No, it is by the faith that has been given me. All knowledge is ultimately based on faith commitments. God's revelation becomes more clearly recognized and is aggressively embraced as the result of the faith gift. Without faith, God's revelation is exposing, confrontational and repulsive.


Balder writes:
If so, isn't that begging the question?It might be begging the question if I offered that information as proof of my view, but I don't. I was asked how I knew something and I answered it. That's different from how I prove it.


Balder writes:
There are a number of threads that could be picked up and pursued here. For the moment, I would like to address your continued assertions that no other worldview is capable of accounting for logic, order, morality, etc. This will entail presenting more of the Dzogchen Buddhist worldview, since that is the tradition to which I belong.I asked you earlier, and I'm still interested in where this tradition originated, where the writings come from, who wrote them, and whence comes his/her insight into these things?


Balder writes:
My interest in this letter is indeed to counter your (baseless) claim that only the Biblical worldview is capable of adequately explaining the world, but also to provide you an opportunity to show "presuppositionalism" at work.You keep saying my claim is baseless. But that's because you do not believe in the Judeo-Christian God. You might as well say "God doesn't exist." If God exists, then my claim is not baseless. That's the bottom line here, Balder. And because the existence of God, to the exclusion of all other views, answers the question of a necessary precondition for the intelligibility of human experience, it behoves the gainsayer repent and to fear Him who can destroy body and soul in hell.

Hilston asked: Can you deny that you have a blind faith concerning your use of logic?


Balder writes:
I can, and I do.Then how have you determined that you can trust your use of logic?

Hilston wrotes:
Only the Biblical worldview can account for the regularity we see in creation.


Balder writes:
In our discussion so far, you have not provided sufficient defense of this claim.What constitutes "sufficient defense" in your mind? Please tell me what would satisfy you, and why.


Balder writes:
Even if I were to accept that having a theistic "creator" behind creation were somehow logically necessary, you have not demonstrated why the Christian creator is uniquely qualified in its explanatory power.If the God of the Bible exists, it suffices that He declares His unique qualifications. If the God of the Bible exists, you have no grounds on which to question those qualifications. If you presume to judge him, you must justify your own standard of assessment. You presume to usurp His authority as determiner of good and evil, justice and morality, but all the while you are sitting on His lap in order to slap Him in the face.


Balder writes:
Other theistic traditions also argue that their creator is the source of all order, all being, all intelligence, all goodness, etc.Which one do you want to defend? The existence of the claims does not make them cogent or defensible.


Balder writes:
Buddhism can account for the regularity we see in creation in a number of interrelated ways. One way is the doctrine of pratitya-samutpada, which teaches that all phenomena are fundamentally interdependent and co-determining.If you can't prove this, it's an empty claim. I want to see the credentials of the person who wrote this; I want to know where their alleged insight came from.


Balder writes:
If you hold that this present universe has a beginning (not Being itself, but this universe), then the fundamental interrelatedness of all phenomena is sufficient to explain the seamless order that you find in the development of all the relative structures of the cosmos.Do you believe there are universal laws, Balder?


Balder writes:
As my previous passages from the Dzogchen tradition demonstrated, the "big bang" theory is accounted for in this tradition in much more explicit, subtle detail than the mythical stories of Genesis.I can find as much equally impressive subtle detail in Greek mythology and the Beatles White Album, that doesn't make them true. Why should I or anyone give a rip about Dzogchen tradition? Because it has a nice story? Where does the order come from, Balder? How is it that particulars exist at all?


Balder writes:
But the Dzogchen view of the universe is neither temporally "bounded" nor "materialistic," so followers of this tradition would regard the modern scientific account as only an approximation of the real state of affairs.On what grounds, Balder? Where do you get the authority to say that science doesn't give the whole picture? Scores of people disagree with you. What should impress me about your view that would compel me to dismiss theirs?


Balder writes:
I will share below a number of passages from Longchen Rabjampa's Matrix of Mystery, a classic Dzogchen text

"All that exists, without exception, each and every thing, the whole of reality, Has sprung from the one point-instant that is the operational source."Does that include the one point instant operational source?


Balder writes:
"The root of our material-mental universe is this self-existent pristine cognitiveness, a point-instant virtual singularity; since its facticity is open-dimensioned and not discernable as any concrete thing, it is a meaning-saturated field as pristine cognitiveness (chos-kyi dbyings-kyi ye-shes)."How do you personally know this is true, Balder? And how do you prove it to others? Are we to be auto-reflectively impressed by the multi-modal meaning-value inventivity ('intha-loonyi bynn) of Dzogchenian wordification and hyphenicity that has been ideationally constructioned for the actualizing purposeness (krahkohooey) of operationed lucenticity (bukhettuf trype) and describicating the complexitized existationalistic awarenessicity (au'ta-wuhnz phrikking ghoort) of pristinified intelligibilitificationalismicness (blah bleedle blah' blarg blorg nya-nya-nya thblblblpbpbpbpbt)?

Hilton asked:
Is the SEPC a personal entity, or more like an energy or cosmological state?


Balder writes:
The passages above speak of the SEPC in impersonal, "process" language. But Dzogchen also uses personal language:So is it a personal entity or not? When SEPC speaks directly, is it figurative, or actual thoughts coming from the SEPC? What is Dzogchen's source for the very words of SEPC, and what compels you to believe he accurately recorded them?


Balder writes:
SEPC says:
"All that is has me -- universal creativity, pure and total presence -- as its root."

"Without understanding me, the creativity of the universe,
But investigating the phenomena that I manifest,
You perceive everything dualistically due to your attachments and longing."Please explain the kind of dualism that SEPC decries here and how he/she/it resolves it. Can you give an example?


Balder writes:
As the following passages, as well as the preceding ones indicate, the Buddhist Dzogchen tradition is quite up to the task of providing a basis for logic, order, consistency, morality, etc, without having to borrow anything from the Biblical worldview:

"The internal logic of Being (chos-nyid) is adorned with the formal gestaltWhat does that mean? What is "internal logic of Being"? What does it mean to be "adorned with the formal gestalt?"


Balder writes:
Expressing the meaningfulness of Being (chos-sku),
Whereby its utter openness is made beautiful by radiating everywhere.
The formal gestalt expressing the meaningfulness of Being is adorned
With pristine cognitions,What does this mean? What is the meaningfulness of Being? And how is it "adorned with pristine cognitions?"


Balder writes:
Whereby it is made beautiful by ceaselessly operative capabilities.What does this mean?


Balder writes:
Pristine cognitiveness is adorned with resonating concern, ...How is pristine cognitiveness "adorned with resonating concern"? Can an impersonal non-entity Being have concern?


Balder writes:
Whereby it is made beautiful by applying itself to the welfare of beings.It cares?


Balder writes:
For this reason, by virtue of being made beautiful, one speaks of ornamentation."For all this use of the term beauty, is there a definition?

My claim is that the Biblical worldview makes human experience intelligible. Your claim is that the Dzogchenian tradition does so as well. But here's a big problem, Balder: The Dzogchenian tradition itself is unintelligible. It appears to be a conceptual quagmire.

Hilston
November 16th, 2004, 11:08 AM
Reply to Billwald:

Hilston wrote: "I've given the proof. Here it is again: Without the existence of the God of the Bible, no sense whatsoever can be made of the most important aspects of man's existence: science, morality, logic, human dignity, time, space, knowledge, etc.,"


Billwald writes:
NO, First, you fail to differentiate between physics and metaphysics.Then take me to school, Billwald. How does my failure to differentiate physics and metaphysics invalidate my proof?


Billwald writes:
Second, without the Bible - especially to those who believe that it is the chronologically first historical writing - there is no logical to assume that the metaphysical questions are of any importance at all.Since I believe neither of those things, how are they at all relevant to this discussion?


Billwald writes:
Third, the physical observations would still be made if there was no metaphysics.Who are you talking to, Billwald?


Billwald writes:
In other words, If the Young EarthGenesis conclusions are not correct then the physical observations probably preceded the generation of the metaphysical problems.Oooooo-kay. Thanks for sharing.

Balder
November 16th, 2004, 05:03 PM
Hilston,



Balder writes:
Why is God logical and consistent? Why are these attributes of His nature?

Hilston replies:
I don't know. But the fact that He is logical and consistent explains why His creation functions according to those rules. If God did not exist, there could be no order, no regularity, no particulars. All would be chaos, randomness and no particulars.

What about matter or existence makes you think that, without the Judeo-Christian God, it would behave chaotically? Aren't you saying that matter's observable orderliness makes the existence of an orderly "creator" necessary, in other words arguing from a known property of matter -- its relative stability and structure -- and saying that there must be a reason it is this way and not chaotic? But why do you make this assumption? Why should chaos be more natural and necessary than order? This is a big presupposition, don't you think?

Really, it seems you are saying, because there is order, there must be an orderly creator...an entity of some sort which possesses the quality of "orderliness"; which when you look at it is really another way of saying, because there is order, there must be order. When asked why God Himself is orderly, you only say, "I don't know" -- meaning, essentially, that He is that way because He is that way. If you recall your conversation with Aussie Thinker, you berated Him for thinking this way, saying it was irrational and unacceptable.




Balder writes:
How do you know this? How do you know that "what God has revealed to you" is really true, and that it is God who has revealed it to you? Is it by God's revelation that you know what is revealed to you is true?

Hilston replies:
I know by the gift of faith that is given by God at the point of regeneration. Consequently, having now placed full trust in God as the sole arbiter of all things, all of human experience makes logical, scientiic, mathematic and moral sense. This confirms in my experience that which faith had already affirmed... It is by the faith that has been given me. All knowledge is ultimately based on faith commitments. God's revelation becomes more clearly recognized and is aggressively embraced as the result of the faith gift...

So, what you are saying is that you believe (have faith) that you are right, based on a subjective feeling, and that this feeling makes you aggressive... ;) (From what I've read on your website, you need to chill, and to turn your whiffle bat over to a responsible adult.)

Seriously, I'm happy that the Biblical worldview has allowed you to make sense of the world in a way that is personally satisfying and fulfilling. But your feeling of confidence and your conviction that your worldview is better and more satisfactory than anyone else's are not sufficient reasons for me to suddenly drop my own worldview and adopt yours, especially when I also find the worldview I have embraced to make more sense of the world than other worldviews that I have encountered. I will listen to your views and consider them, particularly when they are offered with rational support and not just expressed as ultimatums or sweeping generalizations, but you have not yet come close to making a cogent argument why the Biblical worldview surpasses all other possible perspectives, and must necessarily do so.


If God exists, then my claim is not baseless... If the God of the Bible exists, it suffices that He declares His unique qualifications. If the God of the Bible exists, you have no grounds on which to question those qualifications. If you presume to judge him, you must justify your own standard of assessment...

There are a lot of IFs here, don't you think? That is the operative word.

I will return later to respond to the rest of your letter.

Peace,
Balder

Clete
November 16th, 2004, 07:10 PM
Originally posted by Hilston
How do you personally know this is true, Balder? And how do you prove it to others? Are we to be auto-reflectively impressed by the multi-modal meaning-value inventivity ('intha-loonyi bynn) of Dzogchenian wordification and hyphenicity that has been ideationally constructioned for the actualizing purposeness (krahkohooey) of operationed lucenticity (bukhettuf trype) and describicating the complexitized existationalistic awarenessicity (au'ta-wuhnz phrikking ghoort) of pristinified intelligibilitificationalismicness (blah bleedle blah' blarg blorg nya-nya-nya thblblblpbpbpbpbt)?
:chuckle: I love this! It's both a brilliant argument and hysterically funny at the same time!

Excellent! :thumb:

Balder
November 16th, 2004, 10:18 PM
I love this! It's both a brilliant argument and hysterically funny at the same time!

Excellent!

When I first read Hilston's parody, I was just irritated. But then I went back and found it pretty funny. I disagree that Hilston made a good argument with his parody, but his phrases are hysterical.

The translator's choice of language (pristine cognitiveness instead of pure consciousness, for example) makes the reading more difficult, although he has legitimate reasons for being picky with his words, and for having to coin some new ones (since English has no exact matches). And Tibetan language, which has a lot of silent letters, looks pretty clunky and unpronounceable in the English alphabet (though it looks pretty cool in Tibetan script.) So, there's plenty there to work with if you've a mind to mock it.

Balder
November 17th, 2004, 12:26 AM
Hilston,


I asked you earlier, and I'm still interested in where this tradition originated, where the writings come from, who wrote them, and whence comes his/her insight into these things?

The author of the text I’ve been quoting is Longchen Rabjampa, a Tibetan hermit and scholar who lived during the 12th century. The earliest extant Dzogchen texts are from the 8th century, which appears to be the time that Dzogchen first appeared in Tibet. Those texts, however, indicate that Dzogchen originated centuries earlier in Odiyana, a country to the west of Tibet, most likely in the area of present-day Afghanistan. Longchen Rabjampa is one of the most respected writers in the Dzogchen tradition, and is regarded as one of the great contemplatives of the tradition. He was a scholar of Buddhism, studying widely with various teachers, but two mystical experiences (one lasting three days and one lasting seven) had a huge impact on him and he spent the remainder of his life as a contemplative. His “insight into these things” comes from his spiritual (visionary and contemplative) experience as well as his prodigious study of Buddhist teachings.


How have you determined that you can trust your use of logic?

For the most part, it hasn’t failed me. And because I have faith that all of reality proceeds from and is pervaded by the pristine intelligence of its base, the clarity of which is the light of my own consciousness and the consciousness of all living beings.

But perhaps we shouldn’t just throw the word “logic” around too blithely. What do you mean by it? Are you assuming that there is a single “logical system” that undergirds the whole universe? Which logical system is that? Aristotelian logic, fractal logic, quantum logic, institutional logic, “included middle” logic, modal logic, doxastic logic, deontological logic, multivalent logic, paraconsistent logic, or anti-realist logic? The fact that logic “works” certainly suggests that there is order to the universe, including human consciousness of the universe, but at the same time “logic” is a human construct. Recent studies in cognitive science have revealed, in fact, that rather than being composed primarily of intuited universal Essences, our logical systems are based largely on metaphors that are rooted pretty firmly in embodied human experience.

To illustrate, here’s a passage from a recent publication, The Embodied Mind:


“We saw how several of Aristotle’s most famous doctrines are the consequence of his weaving together of conceptual metaphors. Take, for instance, his fateful view of logic as purely formal. This view emerges in the following way. Predications are Categories. That is, to predicate an attribute of a thing is to place it within a category. Categories are understood metaphorically as abstract containers. Syllogisms, as forms of deductive reasoning, work via a container logic (e.g., A is in B, and B is in C, so A is in C). We also saw that Aristotle’s founding metaphor was Ideas are Essences. To conceptualize a thing is to categorize it, which is to state its essence, the defining attributes that make it the kind of thing it is. For Aristotle, then, the essences of things in the world, since they are what constitute ideas, can actually be in the mind. And for the essence to be in the mind, it cannot be the substance or matter of a thing; rather, it must be its form: Essences Are Forms. So, if our ideas are the forms of things, and we reason with the forms of things, then logic is purely formal, abstracting away from the content.

“Seeing these tight connections among the metaphors explains for us the logic of Aristotle’s arguments and shows us why he has the doctrines he has. Once we see this, we also see that there is no absolute necessity about this particular view of things. It is a view based on a metaphorical logic that uses one particular set of conceptual metaphors. However, there are other possible metaphors for understanding logic and reasoning in ways inconsistent with the metaphors Aristotle used to characterize ‘logic.’”

Logic, as a human conceptual system, is not infallible, obviously. Aristotle followed his own logic to some pretty far-out and ultimately incorrect scientific predictions.

I agree with you that there is order and coherence to the universe, which is accounted for in the Buddhist worldview by the radical interdependence of phenomena, the holism of reality, and the pervasive intelligence of Being known as buddhanature or rigpa (pristine cognitiveness), but we shouldn’t naively assume, say, that Aristotelian or some other human system of logic somehow “underlies” the universe or informs the nature of God.

It’s late and I haven’t finished responding to your letter, but I’ll stop for now. I’ve given you enough to work with for now, I’m sure. I’ll return to the rest later.

Peace,
Balder

Hilston
November 17th, 2004, 01:20 PM
Balder writes:
What about matter or existence makes you think that, without the Judeo-Christian God, it would behave chaotically?My claim is not based on my perception of matter or existence, but rather upon God's, regardless of whether or not I perceive them as chaotic or orderly. My personal belief in God is a priori, not a posteriori. So that belief informs all of my thinking; God pre-interprets all facts and data for the believer. Man is not autonomous, though he would like to be.


Balder writes:
Aren't you saying that matter's observable orderliness makes the existence of an orderly "creator" necessary, in other words arguing from a known property of matter -- its relative stability and structure -- and saying that there must be a reason it is this way and not chaotic?I do say this, but not on my own authority or truth claim, but on the authoritative declaration of God.


Balder writes:
But why do you make this assumption?It's not an assumption. It is an objective truth.


Balder writes:
Why should chaos be more natural and necessary than order? This is a big presupposition, don't you think?It's not a presupposition. I don't believe there is such a thing as chaos, precisely because God is the Creator, and His creation is orderly and purposeful, not chaotic, random or indeterminate in any way. What we view as chaos (or chaotic) is actually merely a limited purview.


Balder writes:
Really, it seems you are saying, because there is order, there must be an orderly creator, an entity of some sort which possesses the quality of "orderliness"; which when you look at it is really another way of saying, because there is order, there must be order. If my assumption of God's existence were based on that evidence, your criticism would be correct. But it's actually the other way around. Rather, since there is a personal, logical, righteous, omniscient and omnipotent Creator there is order.


Balder writes:
When asked why God Himself is orderly, you only say, "I don't know" -- meaning, essentially, that He is that way because He is that way. If you recall your conversation with Aussie Thinker, you berated Him for thinking this way, saying it was irrational and unacceptable.When I say "I don't know," I am not saying He is that way because He is that way. I offer no causal accounting of God, whereas Aussie Thinker was attempting a causal accounting of logic. It is not at all the same kind of thinking Aussie Thinker was guilty of. There is no causal explanation being offered when I say, "I don't know." Whereas, when Aussie Thinker says, "It happened because it did," he is offering a causal explanation that is blatantly irrational, unacceptable and amounts to a blind faith commitment.


Balder writes:
So, what you are saying is that you believe (have faith) that you are right, based on a subjective feeling, and that this feeling makes you aggressive ...My faith is indeed subjective, but it is not a faith in my own correctness directly, but rather a faith in the correctness of God. You can say I believe I am correct about God being correct, and that would be fine. But it needs to be pointed out that even that particular belief, the belief that I am right about God's existence, nature and attributes, according to the biblical worldview, is a gift from God. To be even more clear, belief in God is not based on a feeling per se, but a recognition of truth, a conviction and certainty about God that is humanly inexplicable. And as to the idea of being "aggressive," the intended point was to contrast the response of the regenerated man, who eagerly embraces God's word and pursue mastery of it as paramount in his life, to that of the unregenerate, who pushes God's word away from him.


Balder writes:
(From what I've read on your website, you need to chill, and to turn your whiffle bat over to a responsible adult.)You're probably right. I don't know how much longer I can last here with all those cops outside. I have enough provisions to last me another couple of months, at which point I'll probably have to come out and give up the whiffle bat.


Balder writes:
Seriously, I'm happy that the Biblical worldview has allowed you to make sense of the world in a way that is personally satisfying and fulfilling. But your feeling of confidence and your conviction that your worldview is better and more satisfactory than anyone else's are not sufficient reasons for me to suddenly drop my own worldview and adopt yours, especially when I also find the worldview I have embraced to make more sense of the world than other worldviews that I have encountered.If you will permit me, my goal is to disabuse you of that conviction, which I believe to be false. I invite you to try to disabuse me of mine and to try to give me good reasons to adopt yours.

Hilston wrote: If God exists, then my claim is not baseless... If the God of the Bible exists, it suffices that He declares His unique qualifications. If the God of the Bible exists, you have no grounds on which to question those qualifications.


Balder writes:
There are a lot of IFs here, don't you think? That is the operative word.No, there is only one, repeated 3 times in the same way. All it takes is for that one "IF" to be true and everything else falls into place.


Balder writes:
The author of the text I’ve been quoting is Longchen Rabjampa, a Tibetan hermit and scholar who lived during the 12th century. ... His “insight into these things” comes from his spiritual (visionary and contemplative) experience as well as his prodigious study of Buddhist teachings.[Snip bulk of excerpt] Thank you for those details (and for not quoting a Tibetan manuscript:cool: ). I do find it fascinating, but I must ask you, does any of this historical information compel your belief in the verity of Dzogchen claims? Or is there more that impresses you? I mean, certainly there are others throughout history who have comparable resumes and credentials. What is it about Dzogchen that gets your vote to the exclusion of the others?

Hilston asked:
How have you determined that you can trust your use of logic?


Balder writes:
For the most part, it hasn’t failed me.Do you realize the fact that if your logical faculties were flawed, you would have no way of knowing, since you would have to use your logical faculties in order to make such an assessment? I like to blurt out, in non sequitur fashion: "Look at that! The Law of Induction just stopped working!" Most people don't get it and they just look at me funny. The joke, of course, is that induction would have to be used in order to come to such a conclusion, but if induction doesn't work anymore, how could such a conclusion ever be drawn? This is the epistemological dilemma that is (often unwittingly) posed when one says "Logic hasn't failed me, for the most part."


Balder writes:
And because I have faith that all of reality proceeds from and is pervaded by the pristine intelligence of its base, ...Why do you have faith in this concept?


Balder writes:
... the clarity of which is the light of my own consciousness and the consciousness of all living beings.This assumes that the light to which you refer actually exists, right? What convinces you of its existence?


Balder writes:
But perhaps we shouldn’t just throw the word “logic” around too blithely. What do you mean by it? Are you assuming that there is a single “logical system” that undergirds the whole universe?I don't assume that. I know it based on the testimony of God.


Balder writes:
Which logical system is that? Aristotelian logic, fractal logic, quantum logic, institutional logic, “included middle” logic, modal logic, doxastic logic, deontological logic, multivalent logic, paraconsistent logic, or anti-realist logic? The fact that logic “works” certainly suggests that there is order to the universe, including human consciousness of the universe, but at the same time “logic” is a human construct.Do you believe modus ponens true before man used and codified it?


Balder writes:
Recent studies in cognitive science have revealed, in fact, that rather than being composed primarily of intuited universal Essences, our logical systems are based largely on metaphors that are rooted pretty firmly in embodied human experience.Given that the human is the imago Dei, it follows that human logical systems and human experience regarding them align with the testimony of God.


Balder writes:
To illustrate, here’s a passage from a recent publication, The Embodied Mind: ...[Snip excerpt] While some of the language and ideas are similar to the publications I've read of other cognitive scientists, there's something strange about these writers. I've checked all the more recent books I have on cognitive science (since 1991, when "Embodied Mind" was published) and none of them mention any of the authors Franscisco J. Varela, Evan T. Thompson, or Eleanor Rosch. I checked LeDoux, Pinker, Searle (my favorite, by the way), Sejnowski, Dennett ,et al. Has their work been peer-reviewed? Where have their studies been published, besides "The Embodied Mind"?


Balder writes:
Logic, as a human conceptual system, is not infallible, obviously. Aristotle followed his own logic to some pretty far-out and ultimately incorrect scientific predictions.Man has his logical systems, and they are not infallible. Where they fail is precisely where they depart from the universal laws of logic that reflect the nature of God in the created order. Do you believe in any single law of logic that is universal?


Balder writes:
I agree with you that there is order and coherence to the universe, which is accounted for in the Buddhist worldview by the radical interdependence of phenomena, the holism of reality, and the pervasive intelligence of Being known as buddhanature or rigpa (pristine cognitiveness), ...Why do you believe this?


Balder writes:
... but we shouldn’t naively assume, say, that Aristotelian or some other human system of logic somehow “underlies” the universe or informs the nature of God.As I indicated earlier, there are no an assumptions in the case of the believer who lives and thinks according to the Biblical worldview. Also, as I stated before, the believer does not ascertain God's nature on the basis of his own autonomous assessment of the natural order. The only reliable informant about the nature of God is God Himself. All other means are suspect at best, but can be generally relied upon solely because God, who is the source of all predication, is back of them.

Thank you for this discussion, Balder. I'm hoping to get a better grasp of what you believe and why you believe it as the result of these exchanges.

Bis später

Balder
November 17th, 2004, 10:13 PM
Hilston,


[S]ince there is a personal, logical, righteous, omniscient and omnipotent Creator there is order.

How do you know there is a personal, logical, righteous, omniscient and omnipotent Creator?


Hilston writes:
My personal belief in God is a priori, not a posteriori.

Where do you get your knowledge of God’s nature? If it is from the testimony of the authors of the Bible, or from the testimony of creation, then it is a posteriori knowledge, is it not? Your “knowledge” comes by way of the experience of hearing the testimony of someone/thing you regard as a reliable agent.


It's not an assumption (that matter would be chaotic without an orderly creator behind it). It is an objective truth.

What is the basis for your claim that this is ‘objective truth’? Are you deferring to the absolute authority which you have granted to the Bible?

I guess what I am wanting to get at here with this series of quotes and questions is the reason for your belief in the absolute reliability and “divine origin” of the Bible. In other threads, I have touched on this subject with Clete and BChristianK, and I suggested it was likely to be central to the arguments of this thread. So, would you mind talking a little about why you believe the Bible to be the infallible word of God?



Balder wrote:
Even if I were to accept that having a theistic "creator" behind creation were somehow logically necessary, you have not demonstrated why the Christian creator is uniquely qualified in its explanatory power.

If the God of the Bible exists, it suffices that He declares His unique qualifications. If the God of the Bible exists, you have no grounds on which to question those qualifications. If you presume to judge him, you must justify your own standard of assessment. You presume to usurp His authority as determiner of good and evil, justice and morality, but all the while you are sitting on His lap in order to slap Him in the face.

I responded to these comments before, but I am returning to them again because they really didn’t answer my question. You made an emotional appeal by declaring my questions to be insouciant, but you still haven’t told me why the Judeo-Christian concept of God is uniquely qualified above all others to account for the universe as we know it. As I said in a previous letter, many apologists make an unfounded leap from demonstrating (in their minds) the logical need for a “first cause” to asserting, “Therefore, Christianity is true.” And that is intellectually dishonest.


When I say "I don't know," I am not saying He is that way because He is that way. I offer no causal accounting of God, whereas Aussie Thinker was attempting a causal accounting of logic. It is not at all the same kind of thinking Aussie Thinker was guilty of. There is no causal explanation being offered when I say, "I don't know." Whereas, when Aussie Thinker says, "It happened because it did," he is offering a causal explanation that is blatantly irrational, unacceptable and amounts to a blind faith commitment.

If Aussie Thinker had not been innocently lured into your trap ;) and had refused to give a causal accounting for logic or order, insisting instead only on their primordial necessity, would you still have accused him of blind faith? Why or why not?


Thank you for those details (and for not quoting a Tibetan manuscript). I do find it fascinating, but I must ask you, does any of this historical information compel your belief in the verity of Dzogchen claims? Or is there more that impresses you? I mean, certainly there are others throughout history who have comparable resumes and credentials. What is it about Dzogchen that gets your vote to the exclusion of the others?

I don’t believe in Dzogchen to the exclusion of all other views. I have higher esteem for it than for other views, within Buddhism and without, but I do not believe that all other views must therefore of necessity be false. Rather, I see them as less complete, or sometimes (say, in the case of Mahamudra) as parallel expressions of the same truth, with slightly different emphases and styles of presentation. Heck, I even believe Christianity is partially true…although the “reflections of truth” that I see in Christianity have been dismissed by some here as shameless importations of Buddhism. (*shrug* Guilty as charged.)

My faith in the Dzogchen body of teachings does not rest only on my esteem for some of its teachers and writers. I related to the content of the teachings before I knew much about the authors, because the teachings themselves resolved problems I’d encountered and deeply illuminated glimpses I’d had during my several years of meditation in monasteries in Asia. Within Tibetan Buddhism itself, Dzogchen is highly revered; it is considered the highest “vehicle,” and for most of its history it was a relatively secret tradition, not taught openly but only one-to-one. Dzogchen is also the only tradition within Buddhism that has numerous examples of its masters and practitioners attaining jalu, the transfiguration of the body into pure energy upon death, or in some cases, instead of death. (This has occurred up until the present day. The Catholic church is aware of it, and recently sent priests to investigate an occurrence in a remote village of Nepal.) I have also been practicing Dzogchen meditation and studying with several Tibetan teachers since the early ‘90s, and this direct experience of its teachings and its meditative practices has only strengthened my faith in the truth of this tradition.


While some of the language and ideas are similar to the publications I've read of other cognitive scientists, there's something strange about these writers. I've checked all the more recent books I have on cognitive science (since 1991, when "Embodied Mind" was published) and none of them mention any of the authors Franscisco J. Varela, Evan T. Thompson, or Eleanor Rosch. I checked LeDoux, Pinker, Searle (my favorite, by the way), Sejnowski, Dennett ,et al. Has their work been peer-reviewed? Where have their studies been published, besides "The Embodied Mind"?

I have to apologize here; I misattributed the quote. The title of the book is Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought. The phrase from the subtitle is what stuck out in my mind. I have also read Varela’s book, The Embodied Mind, however, and consider it to be quite good. Varela’s work as a neurophysiologist and a cognitive scientist actually inspired him to begin active study and practice of Buddhism, because of the consonance he discovered between his own findings (autopoesis, body-mind nondualism, enactive emergence of cognition, etc) and some of the central claims and phenomenological practices of Buddhism. However, Varela is not who I was quoting. The authors of the passage I cited are George Lakoff and Mark Johnson. Since you brought up Varela, though, and questioned his credentials, you might want to check out a website dealing with much of the body of his work:
http://www.ccr.jussieu.fr/varela/publications/index.html


Do you realize the fact that if your logical faculties were flawed, you would have no way of knowing, since you would have to use your logical faculties in order to make such an assessment? I like to blurt out, in non sequitur fashion: "Look at that! The Law of Induction just stopped working!" Most people don't get it and they just look at me funny. The joke, of course, is that induction would have to be used in order to come to such a conclusion, but if induction doesn't work anymore, how could such a conclusion ever be drawn? This is the epistemological dilemma that is (often unwittingly) posed when one says "Logic hasn't failed me, for the most part."

That’s a nice point. What I was referring to, however, was human systems of logic, which indeed sometimes prove fallible.

This letter is long, it rambles all over the place, and I still haven’t gotten to all of your comments. But I’ll leave off for now.

Peace,
Balder

Balder
November 18th, 2004, 01:51 AM
One more thing. You have asked me on several occasions if I believe there are any universal laws. My answer is that I believe there are certain universals, which might be called laws (a metaphor taken from human social experience), depending on how one uses the term. But I would add that I believe that many of the things we call laws are more likely universal habits. Certainly, this is the contention of Buddhism, and a number of modern physicists and biologists agree: things manifest and behave in a certain way, along certain "grooves" or lines of development, not because abstract laws compel them to, but because a momentum has built up which makes one sort of happening more likely than another, given certain prevailing conditions. If immutable laws were actually in effect in all areas of the development of systems and organisms, then how would mutations and variations occur ... whence would come novelty? Quantum physicists says that absolute determinism is out; there is an openness at the heart of reality which allows for the new, even though the "old" carries a lot of weight and makes movement in one direction much more likely than in other ways...

So, when you speak of laws, what exactly are you thinking of? Are you talking about lawfulness and order in general, or about specific laws that are observable in the universe? Do you think gravity, entropy, and the speed of light are all specifically derive from similar laws that exist in the nature of God?

As I said in earlier posts, two Buddhist tenets -- the primordiality of experience or "mind" and the radical interdependence and co-determination of phenomena -- are quite capable of accounting for the order of cosmos. The primordiality of "mind" is not something many physicists readily accept, though some (like David Bohm) speak about the primordiality of meaning (soma-significance and signa-somatics), but the idea that the universe is holistically interrelated, somehow seamless or "entangled," in which the whole is implicate in every part, is more strongly supported by current evidence and is not viewed as far-fetched by many quantum physicists, as I'm sure you're aware. So, although Buddhism does not depend on nor look to science for support, its teachings on interdependence definitely find their reflections in many modern theories. The verity of these teachings may also be found in phenomenological exploration of direct experience in meditation, and they are quite philosophically sound as well (that's another discussion).

Since you just love translator Herbert Guenther's way with words, especially when he's trying to explicate a Dzogchen text and whippin' out the hyphens, I will quote some passages from him that are relevant:

"The quest for life’s meaning reaches its completion in the realization and enactment of meaningful existence, which implies, as inseparable from it, a sensitivity to and discovery of meanings in lived-through experience. However, behind this short and manageable term 'meaningful existence' lies a complex structure which can be circumscribed by the rather clumsy and yet more precise phrase of 'experience-as-a-thrust-towards-meaning-oriented-concreteness-in-lived-through-experience.' The hyphens serve to indicate the close bond that holds in an interlacing manner between 'existence' and 'meaning' and 'experience,' and also makes it possible to grasp these configurative constituents more specifically without sacrificing the contextual frame.

'Existence,' as used here, is neither a designation of that-ness nor a designation of finite existents in general. Rather it points to the open texture and dimension which in its very openness is already pregnant with possible meaning. 'Meaning' also is not something fixed once for all, but is an emerging, developing, and projective movement of the open dimension of existence, and acquires its full scope in lived-through experience. Since meaning is always meaning for someone, who yet never stands outside the configuration of lived experience, this circumstance points to the human being (or existent) who, in the search for ‘meaningful existence’ – for the meaning of (his) existence – cannot but start from the 'experience' of existence as the being he himself is. Such a starting point precludes any attempt to resort to such notions as 'substance' (which means different things to different persons, be they philosophers or lesser mortals), or 'particular existent,' which is always meant to be a particular ‘this’ in contrast with some other particular 'that,' and about which propositions are entertained as to the ‘what’ this particular existent is, be this 'what' then declared to be a substance or an essence.

The configuration 'existence-meaning-experience' is therefore not a category in the traditional sense. Its presentational and, at the same time, developing character directs attention to the 'how' rather than to the 'what,' and it is this 'how' that introduces the dynamic character into what otherwise might be conceived of as something static and lifeless. Moreover, this 'how' is presented in immediacy and is present as a kind of invitation to a response. The response is never mechanical, but always interpretive by virtue of lived-through experience. Presentational immediacy is already a situation open to interpretation. In its openness it is bound to the open texture of Being, and in its dynamic unfolding it is self-presenting, self-projective, and linked to interpretation which can take two different directions: the one, preserving cohesion, leads to 'meaningful existence'; the other, losing its anchorage, leads to 'fictitious being.' However, the important point to note is that 'existence-meaning-experience' is both configuration and process, and as such the constituents are throughout dialectically interpenetrating ontological features at work in every lived-through experience.

This configuration-process character of Being – an idea characteristic of Dzogchen thought and a distinct contribution to Buddhist philosophy – is in terms of facticity described as 'unchanging' and 'indestructible,' for which latter term the symbol of the diamond (vajra) is used. In terms of presentational presence it is described as a 'thrust towards and invitation by limpid clearness and consummate perspicacity'; and in terms of experience, as 'calmness,' which is meaning-orientedness and meaning-saturatedness in the experiencer’s concrete existence. Each of these three 'layers' acts as a 'founding stratum' and they all are related to each other by 'mutual foundedness.'

The first set of terms is used to make it clear that throughout experience an element of facticity is already in force which, negatively stated, implies that existence as existence can do nothing about its ‘existing’ and hence can neither be subject to change (qualitatively) nor destroyed (substantially). As facticity the open texture and open dimension of Being is in no way prejudged, contradicted, or restricted. 'Thrust towards and invitation by limpid clearness and consummate perspicacity’ points to the projective character which is inseparable from open texture in facticity, and in its presentational immediacy it preserves elements of this open dimension and facticity and solicits a response to its presence. 'Calmness' illustrates the response to the presentational immediacy of existence in experience which gives it its specific 'meaning,' that is 'calmness.' In the same way as the projective feature of existence retains its open-dimensional character, so also 'meaning' is not merely a passive resultant of the stimulus-response interaction. It, too, retains the projective texture by opening up ways towards understanding. It is therefore obvious that this configuration-process complex, first of all, is not an object alongside other objects (which in order to gain meaning would necessitate a subject). Objectification is made possible by virtue of the projective character of this configuration-process complex. Second, it follows that this configuration-process complex also is not a subject in the manner of transcendental ego, be this of the Kantian or Husserlian variety, the one synthesizing the operation of perception, imagination, and conception, the other functioning as the ultimate source of intentional consciousness. The constitution of a subject emerges late and in conjunction with the process of objectification. Moreover, the subject-object structure which belongs to and underlies all representational thinking, as one possible direction, but certainly not the only possible one, into which interpretation can move, simply does not apply here.

‘Buddha’ cannot and must not be equated with an ‘object’ or a ‘subject.’ Rather as this configuration-process complex, ‘Buddha’ points to experience which makes the emergence and constitution of a subject-object determined world-horizon possible. In this primary sense ‘Buddha’ is a term that sums up what we would call the ontology and ontogenesis of experience, which from the outset is configurative, open-dimensional, dynamical, meaning-oriented and meaning-saturated, and includes the experiencer in whom it is concretely present and who in this phrase is ‘Buddha.’ When in the interpretive analysis of experience the latter’s existentially significant, embodying and embodied character is singled out and referred to as ‘founding stratum of meaning’ (chos-sku) where founding stratum is understood as the absoluteness of Being concretely experienced, knowing as a process of disclosure (ye-shes, wisdom or knowledge of Truth) is already at work…”

Just as the heart of a lotus flower
Does not shine outward, since it is shut in by petals,
So also the capacity for Buddhahood, shining in its own light, cannot be seen
Since it is concealed by the thousand petals of subject-object constructs.
But just as the flower is there in its brightness once the petals open,
So also when we are free from the foliage of mistaken identifications that
Come due to the subject-object division,
The triple structure of our existentiality in limpid clearness and consummate
perspicacity shines by itself.

Therefore be sensitive to the presence in yourself
Of the continuum that is the internal logic of Being, the ultimately real, a
Sheer lucency…

In the above lengthy quotation [of which I have only posted two verses, to spare your eyes and your mind!], which epitomizes the multifaceted nature of experience, two themes stand out. One is that of indivisibility (dbyer-med, nonduality), the other that of configuration (dkyil-‘khor, mandala or world-horizon). Both, however are intimately related.

As we have seen in a previous chapter, indivisibility, also referred to as nonduality, names the functional operation of complementarity. It does not indicate the obliteration of differentiations, nor does it imply a fusion of disparate entities. Rather, it emphasizes the presence of a continuum from which, negatively speaking, dichotomies such as exterior and interior, subject and object, are suspended. More positively stated, these dichotomies are seen and felt to interpenetrate 'like the reflection of the moon in water.'

The indivisibility of Being and Existenz can be illustrated by analogies taken from the realm of science, which speaks of the indivisibility of energy and its radiation and of the vacuum and its fluctuations. But in Dzogchen thought there is the additional factor of intelligence which inheres in the very dynamics of the unfolding universe itself, and which makes primordiality of experience of paramount importance. The atemporal onset of this unfoldment occasions the emergence of various intentional structures, thereby allowing felt meanings to occur. Since this onset is structurally 'prior' to any functional splitting, one speaks of the indivisibility of openness (emptiness) and its presencing (form), which involves the gauging of what will become the 'world' (as the specific horizon-form of lived-through experience)…"

If you survived the above read (only a German could do that to the English language), I'll tie it in closer to this discussion with a few questions:

Do you believe existence has an origin? How about sentience or intelligence? Does it have an origin? Must these things neccessarily have an origin? Is there a relationship between them? Does God exist? Is He sentient or intelligent? Does He have an origin?

Peace,
Balder

P.S. Concerning the modus ponens, the fact that it works, that we take it to be "intuitive," is an argument for the truth of the Buddhist doctrines of pratitya-samutpada (dependent co-origination or interdependence), as well as karma.

Clete
November 18th, 2004, 06:31 AM
Jim,

You're not one to forget things like this but you've had your hands a bit full with this exchange with Balder so I thought just in case I would throw in a quick reminder on these few questions....

I think I've gotten past the circularity issue but I am still not sure why you are so dogmatic about Presuppositionalism being the only proper means of apologetics. I know that you have a lot on your plate with this thread already but I would love it if you could establish this position Biblically. If there is an article that has been written on the issue just link to it and I'll read it.
To go along with this question I would also like to understand what the problem would be with arguing the evidence with an evolutionist for example. Why is it (or is it) wrong to point out that there is no evidence for evolution, that in fact because of things like irreducible complexity, evolution is impossible?


Also, I'm curious to know how Presuppositionalism treats less foundational [theological] issues. I think I get it as far as arguing the existence of God or the truth of the Biblical worldview but how about something like Total Depravity for example. How would you argue an issue as complex as that on a presuppositional level? Or is it that you accept things like Total Depravity as presuppositions themselves? If that is the case then I'm back to the original question of how do you decide what is and is not a presupposition?

Resting in Him,
Clete

Hilston
November 18th, 2004, 09:16 AM
Hi Clete,

I do apologize for letting that slip through the cracks. Thank you for the reminder. I will quickly answer your questions and then get back to Balder's posts as time allows.


Clete writes:
I think I've gotten past the circularity issue but I am still not sure why you are so dogmatic about Presuppositionalism being the only proper means of apologetics.I base that dogmatism on several things:

(1) In every instance of instruction regarding apologetics in scripture, the presuppositional method is taught.

(2) In every example of apologetics I've found in scripture, regardless of the audience (Jews, gentiles, pagans, heathen, etc.), the apologist use the presuppositional method.

(3) In every case of non-presuppositional apologetics I've ever witnessed and analyzed, in every debate I heard or seen that uses non-presupp' apologetics, I can demonstrate not only the same logical errors in their reasoning that their opponents commit, but I can demonstrate where they violate scripture in their reasoning as well. I've not seen or heard a single non-presupp' apologist, whether Wm. Lane Craig, Jonathan Wells, Michael Behe, Phillip Johnson, Wm. Dembski, all the so-called "big guns" against evolutionism, win a debate. They lose and they don't even realize it. And their loss is not merely due to a failure to score substantial points against the atheist-evolutionist-etc., but to due to their repeated violation of biblical principles and compromising on biblical truth, which is much worse.

Of course, the audience will favor the performance of their hired gun, regardless of how badly they debated. It ends up being a big Rorschach, and it ought not to be. We're talking about objective truth, not "what do you think is more reasonable." It's black and white, logical vs. illogical, clarity vs. murkiness. This is the same complaint I have about "What is art?". If the Bible is true, then beauty is objective. It ought not to be "what do you think art is?," but rather "what is objectively beautiful?" Theistic apologetics have become the equivalent of "what is art?" and it ought not to be.


Clete writes:
I know that you have a lot on your plate with this thread already but I would love it if you could establish this position Biblically.I have done it. I'll try to dig out my notes. But in the meantime, try to think of biblical examples of apologetics, and see what method is followed by the apologist. An excellent example is Acts 17 where Paul speaks to the Areopagans on Mars Hill.


Clete writes:
To go along with this question I would also like to understand what the problem would be with arguing the evidence with an evolutionist for example. Why is it (or is it) wrong to point out that there is no evidence for evolution, that in fact because of things like irreducible complexity, evolution is impossible?Irreducible complexity is not a biblical argument. It's a God-of-the-gaps argument that fails on two fronts: Logically and biblically. Facts are pre-interpreted by God. To reject that proposition is to become one's own lawmaker (the sin of Adam). God says there is irreducible complexity in everything without exception, not just bacterial flagella. A pile of dirt, a field of grass, the arrangement of galaxies. All of these are as irreducible as a bacterial flagellum. The argument for IC is based on human perception, not on God's declared truth. To see this, consider the questions that IC requires the arguer to make: What "seems" to be designed to you? Doesn't this "seem" to be something that could not happen by chance? The reasonable opponent will say, "Just because we don't understand the mechanism behind its evolution today doesn't mean we won't discover it tomorrow. This is a God of the gaps argument."


Clete writes:
Also, I'm curious to know how Presuppositionalism treats less foundational [theological] issues. I think I get it as far as arguing the existence of God or the truth of the Biblical worldview but how about something like Total Depravity for example.The way you worded your question betrays a prejudice that itself would need to be justified. I happen to think Total Depravity is a foundational theological issue. But to answer your question, here is the principle as I see it: Between opposing worldviews (views about ultimate questions), presuppositons about those ultimate questions must be exposed, challenged, and scrutinized for soundness. But within a shared biblical worldview (where the answers to ultimate questions are agreed upon), the scriptures are the standard. The following link will give you some examples of what I'm talking about:

Pauline Apologetics and Evangelical Religions (http://www.tgfonline.org/TGF/tgfconf/1999/TGF993.htm)


Clete writes:
How would you argue an issue as complex as that [TD]on a presuppositional level?It would be argued on the basis of the scriptures. But the same two-pronged principle taught in Prov 26:4,5 will apply.


Clete writes:
Or is it that you accept things like Total Depravity as presuppositions themselves?It could be considered a presupposition, but it doesn't matter what you call it. The question is not whether or not something is a presupposition, but is the claim, whatever it is, is it defensible?; is it sound?; and does it make sense?


Clete writes:
If that is the case then I'm back to the original question of how do you decide what is and is not a presupposition?I think you're getting hung up on the term. It doesn't matter. Let's call all claims "glicks" from now on. You still deal with them the same way, regardless of what you call them, regardless of whether the claim is presupposed or discursively developed. The term "presuppositional apologetics" is aimed at distinguishing itself from "evidential apologetics", which relies not upon attacking false views biblically, but humanistically (using, for example, irreducible complexity).

Let me know if anything is unclear.

Balder
November 18th, 2004, 09:25 AM
I second Clete's question, but I would stop a few steps shorter than him. I can imagine why you might take general "theism" presuppositionally, as an a priori truth (and that is something we could debate), but how exactly do you take something as complex as the whole history of a particular people as recorded in a book, with all their interactions with God and the truths (or truth claims) which emerge from that interaction as a priori truth? I don't see how those things, even if accepted as true, could be anything but a posteriori truth -- truth which you accept based on experience, evidence, etc. You just can't arrive at the whole Bible by pure rational thought devoid of experience. So where does a priori leave off and a posteriori begin in the whole big package you call your worldview? If you do argue that the Bible itself must be taken as an a priori truth, what is the basis for such an argument?

Concerning your "full hands" when it comes to your interactions with me that Clete mentioned, you can just skip over the quotes from Guenther in the last post. I can easily replace them with a summary, in fact, if Clete would like me to save space.

Peace,
Balder

P.S. I just saw your post to Clete above:


(1) In every instance of instruction regarding apologetics in scripture, the presuppositional method is taught.

(2) In every example of apologetics I've found in scripture, regardless of the audience (Jews, gentiles, pagans, heathen, etc.), the apologist use the presuppositional method.

The prevalence of presuppositional arguments in those contexts could easily be explained without imagining that they therefore have a divine sanction, because the fact is, most people argue from presuppositions. They take their own beliefs and biases for granted. That's why they're called presuppositions. Being presuppositions in themselves does not make them correct, however. Why should the operation of a universal human characteristic of rather unconsciously taking things we've learned in our lives as "just the way things are" be seen as divine in the case of the Jewish people, and none other?

Clete
November 18th, 2004, 01:43 PM
Originally posted by Balder
Concerning your "full hands" when it comes to your interactions with me that Clete mentioned, you can just skip over the quotes from Guenther in the last post. I can easily replace them with a summary, in fact, if Clete would like me to save space.

Don't worry about me! I'm learning quite a bit so feel free to keep going the way you are. I am concidering having this thread moved to something other than the Exclusively Christian forum since you and Jim are giving the bulk of the material here but then again if it stays here we won't have to worry about 5 other people joining the conversation from 5 other different directions, perhaps it's better to just leave well enough alone. At any rate, while shorter posts are better than longer ones, the way things are progressing seems fine to me, so have at it. :thumb:

Jim,

Thanks for that last post, it was excellent. I do have some additional questions but I'll have to wait till later to post them. Too much work to do!

Resting in Him,
Clete

Hilston
November 19th, 2004, 11:25 AM
To Balder:

Hilston wrote: [S]ince there is a personal, logical, righteous, omniscient and omnipotent Creator there is order.


Balder writes:
How do you know there is a personal, logical, righteous, omniscient and omnipotent Creator?I've answered this. I know because of regeneration. I've been given the gift of faith and certainty in God's existence and the verity of His Word. I don't offer this as proof of anything, but it is what you asked for.

Hilston wrote:
My personal belief in God is a priori, not a posteriori.


Balder writes:
Where do you get your knowledge of God’s nature? If it is from the testimony of the authors of the Bible, or from the testimony of creation, then it is a posteriori knowledge, is it not?Yes it is. My knowledge about God is not the same as my belief in Him. The former is a posteriori, the latter is a priori.


Balder writes:
Your “knowledge” comes by way of the experience of hearing the testimony of someone/thing you regard as a reliable agent.Correct.

Hilston wrote:
It's not an assumption (that matter would be chaotic without an orderly creator behind it). It is an objective truth.


Balder writes:
What is the basis for your claim that this is ‘objective truth’?The Scripture.


Balder writes:
Are you deferring to the absolute authority which you have granted to the Bible?I've "granted" nothing of the sort. The Bible is the authoritative revelation of God to man whether or not I ever "grant" anything concerning it.


Balder writes:
I guess what I am wanting to get at here with this series of quotes and questions is the reason for your belief in the absolute reliability and “divine origin” of the Bible.The reason for my belief is the gift of faith and certainty that I received when I was regenerated.


Balder writes:
In other threads, I have touched on this subject with Clete and BChristianK, and I suggested it was likely to be central to the arguments of this thread. So, would you mind talking a little about why you believe the Bible to be the infallible word of God?Again, I've already answered this. I'll do so again: I believe the Bible to be the infallible word of God because at regeneration, the Holy Spirit gives the regenerated person the gift of faith and certitude about the Bible.


Balder writes:
Even if I were to accept that having a theistic "creator" behind creation were somehow logically necessary, you have not demonstrated why the Christian creator is uniquely qualified in its explanatory power.Let me ask this question, and if I may also urge you to answer it as clearly as you can: What would you say (YOU, Balder, not Dzogchen, not Siddhartha, but YOU) is the necessary precondition for the intelligibility of human experience? I claim the God of the Judeo-Christian Bible is the only coherent answer. I welcome your suggested alternative.


Balder writes:
... As I said in a previous letter, many apologists make an unfounded leap from demonstrating (in their minds) the logical need for a “first cause” to asserting, “Therefore, Christianity is true.” And that is intellectually dishonest.I agree with you. My task is to show how your view cannot rationally account the intelligibility of human experience and how mine does. In order to do that, I need to know more about your view. At this point, since you do not you agree that my view is exclusively rational, do you at least agree that my view is one rational explanation for the intelligibility of reality?

Hilston writes:
When I say "I don't know," I am not saying He is that way because He is that way. I offer no causal accounting of God, whereas Aussie Thinker was attempting a causal accounting of logic. It is not at all the same kind of thinking Aussie Thinker was guilty of. There is no causal explanation being offered when I say, "I don't know." Whereas, when Aussie Thinker says, "It happened because it did," he is offering a causal explanation that is blatantly irrational, unacceptable and amounts to a blind faith commitment.


Balder writes:
If Aussie Thinker had not been innocently lured into your trap ...It wasn't a trap. His claim was unsolicited. It was like a gift.


Balder writes:
... and had refused to give a causal accounting for logic or order, insisting instead only on their primordial necessity, would you still have accused him of blind faith? Why or why not?To insist on an impersonal monolithic primordial necessity is also blind faith, because it leads to an irrational dualism. The Many and the One cannot be accounted for. Universals and particulars make no sense on such a view. You earlier mentioned how Dzogchen rescues you from dualism. I'd like for you to unpack this, in your own words, if you can.

Hilston wrote:
Thank you for those details (and for not quoting a Tibetan manuscript). I do find it fascinating, but I must ask you, does any of this historical information compel your belief in the verity of Dzogchen claims? Or is there more that impresses you? I mean, certainly there are others throughout history who have comparable resumes and credentials. What is it about Dzogchen that gets your vote to the exclusion of the others?


Balder writes:
Heck, I even believe Christianity is partially true…although the “reflections of truth” that I see in Christianity have been dismissed by some here as shameless importations of Buddhism.While I claim that Buddhism has shamelessly imported truths from the Biblical worldview. Note that the antiquity of manuscript evidence is irrelevant if the Judeo-Christian worldview is true. God and His revelation to man (in whatever form) are prior to all other religions, so the extent to which any non-Judeo-Christian religion holds truth is precisely the extent to which that religion has borrowed, whether shamelessly or unwittingly, from the Judeo-Christian worldview.


Balder writes:
My faith in the Dzogchen body of teachings does not rest only on my esteem for some of its teachers and writers. I related to the content of the teachings before I knew much about the authors, because the teachings themselves resolved problems I’d encountered and deeply illuminated glimpses I’d had during my several years of meditation in monasteries in Asia.Please share an example of what you mean.


Balder writes:
Within Tibetan Buddhism itself, Dzogchen is highly revered; it is considered the highest “vehicle,” and for most of its history it was a relatively secret tradition, not taught openly but only one-to-one.Why is that?


Balder writes:
... this direct experience of its teachings and its meditative practices has only strengthened my faith in the truth of this tradition.Please define what you mean when you say "my faith."

I'll stop here for now. More later.

Rolf Ernst
November 19th, 2004, 11:53 AM
At least SOMEbody has been reading Rushdooney, Van Til, or Sproul.
Great minds tread where it is presupposed the unregenerate cannot enter. I agree with Van Til's presuppositional apologetics.

That is one issue upon which I must disagree with Sproul. I disagreed with classical apologetics even before I became reformed.
It will forever be true that "...in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God."

Clete
November 19th, 2004, 01:47 PM
Originally posted by Rolf Ernst
Great minds tread where it is presupposed the unregenerate cannot enter.
What exactly do you mean by this? Jim has said similar things as well but I don't think you can establish such a statement.

First of all it is totally unfalsifiable. If I understand what you are saying correctly only the "regenerate" mind can "get it" and that if you don't get it it's because your not "regenerate" and if you do it's because you are "regenerate". Question begging at its finest!

Secondly, there are lots of people whom you cannot deny are "regenerate" (I put the word in quotes because I do not believe that the Calvinistic version of regeneration is a valid theology in the first place) who do not even know what presuppositionalism is and definitely do not use it in their apologetics. Some are intentionally not presuppositionalists and yet are directly responsible for having lead hundreds or even thousands of people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The point being that you do not need to be a presuppositionalist to believe in Jesus. Some people can decide to believe based on the evidence even if that evidence is, in fact, unable to prove anything on its own. In other words, not everybody puts this much deep philosophical thought into their decision to follow Christ. Some people just think it makes sense, some people have totally non intellectual reasons for placing their faith in Christ. In fact, I would say that most people do not go through any sort of rigorous intellectual exercise trying to come up with the answer to life the universe and everything. Most people put their faith in Christ because they have been influenced, on a relationship level by friends, acquaintances or family members, whom they trust; it has absolutely nothing to do with "figuring it all out" or anything like that.

Resting in Him,
Clete

Balder
November 19th, 2004, 01:53 PM
Hilston,



Balder writes: How do you know there is a personal, logical, righteous, omniscient and omnipotent Creator?

I've answered this. I know because of regeneration. I've been given the gift of faith and certainty in God's existence and the verity of His Word. I don't offer this as proof of anything, but it is what you asked for.

I'm glad you aren't offering this as proof of anything. Are you saying that your belief in the verity of God's word precedes your knowledge of its contents and in fact does not depend in any way on the particulars it communicates?

Also, how do you know that you have been regenerated? Is it that you feel predisposed to believe everything the Bible says, even prior to reading and testing it; or is it that after rationally testing the Bible's claims, you have been convinced it is true? Or are there other "signs" that you appeal to that convince you that you are regenerate?


Hilston wrote:
My knowledge about God is not the same as my belief in Him. The former is a posteriori, the latter is a priori.

What thought process allows you to come to the a priori belief that God must exist? Does this reasoning process take place apart from the information communicated in the Bible? If so, how do you know the two are connected?



Balder writes: Are you deferring to the absolute authority which you have granted to the Bible?

I've "granted" nothing of the sort. The Bible is the authoritative revelation of God to man whether or not I ever "grant" anything concerning it.

If the idea that the Bible is the direct revelation of God is not something that can be proven, but rather is something which you believe on faith, then by placing your faith in it you have in fact granted absolute authority to it.



: Balder writes: Even if I were to accept that having a theistic "creator" behind creation were somehow logically necessary, you have not demonstrated why the Christian creator is uniquely qualified in its explanatory power.

Let me ask this question, and if I may also urge you to answer it as clearly as you can: What would you say (YOU, Balder, not Dzogchen, not Siddhartha, but YOU) is the necessary precondition for the intelligibility of human experience? I claim the God of the Judeo-Christian Bible is the only coherent answer. I welcome your suggested alternative.

I trust by stressing that you want an answer from me, and not Dzogchen or Buddhism, you aren't asking me to give an opinion that is completely independent of my faith, but rather you are begging me to spare you from having to read another Guenther quote. If so, your wish will be granted! I will do so when I have more time than these few minutes on my lunch break at work.



Balder writes: ... As I said in a previous letter, many apologists make an unfounded leap from demonstrating (in their minds) the logical need for a “first cause” to asserting, “Therefore, Christianity is true.” And that is intellectually dishonest.

I agree with you. My task is to show how your view cannot rationally account the intelligibility of human experience and how mine does. In order to do that, I need to know more about your view. At this point, since you do not you agree that my view is exclusively rational, do you at least agree that my view is one rational explanation for the intelligibility of reality?

I concede that there are some rational elements to the Christian worldview, but I also would have to know more about your particular worldview before I agreed that your view would qualify as a rational contender in my "list" of viable perspectives. If you subscribe to some form of Calvinism, then I have to say up front that that in itself gives me doubts about the viability of your perspective, as I regard Calvinism (as I understand it) to be probably one of the darkest and most morally problematic perspectives to ever have flowered in Christian soil.


To insist on an impersonal monolithic primordial necessity is also blind faith, because it leads to an irrational dualism. The Many and the One cannot be accounted for. Universals and particulars make no sense on such a view. You earlier mentioned how Dzogchen rescues you from dualism. I'd like for you to unpack this, in your own words, if you can.

Why do you think an Atheist's insistence on an "impersonal monolithic primordial necessity" would lead to irrational dualism? I can think of some reasons, but I would like to hear yours.

As for presenting my own view...that is forthcoming, as promised.



Balder writes: Within Tibetan Buddhism itself, Dzogchen is highly revered; it is considered the highest “vehicle,” and for most of its history it was a relatively secret tradition, not taught openly but only one-to-one.

Why is that?

For a number of reasons. One, most people wouldn't get it, or else they would misuse it. Why do you think Jesus shared some things with his disciples that he did not preach to the masses?


Please define what you mean when you say "my faith."

My trust, my confidence, my devotion, my fidelity.

Peace,
Balder

P.S. NOTE TO CLETE:

I just saw this:


First of all it is totally unfalsifiable. If I understand what you are saying correctly only the "regenerate" mind can "get it" and that if you don't get it it's because your not "regenerate" and if you do it's because you are "regenerate". Question begging at its finest!

It seems like this is exactly what Hilston is arguing. Do you think so as well? I'd like your perspective on this, as well as Hilston's, because it sure does appear he is engaging in question begging here.

Clete
November 19th, 2004, 02:06 PM
Originally posted by Balder
It seems like this is exactly what Hilston is arguing. Do you think so as well? I'd like your perspective on this, as well as Hilston's, because it sure does appear he is engaging in question begging here.

I know! I don't get it. All I can say for certain is that Jim definately doesn't see it as question begging. I personally don't see how it can't be (I know a double negative) but a month ago I would have said Jim was a nutcase for buying into this presuppositionalism thing too, so I'm not about to get too dogmatic about it yet. We'll just have to wait and see if Jim can clear it up for us.

Resting in Him,
Clete

temple2006
November 19th, 2004, 03:27 PM
Wow...What a heavy discussion!!!!!
I do know that everyone comes to the table (discussion) with their own filters (apriori). But the person who can divest himself of, or at least realize, the filters are there, can progress.

Rolf Ernst
November 19th, 2004, 08:49 PM
Clete--RE your post #88: Scripture declares my statement to be so:

"...the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them..." 1 Cor. 2:14

"...in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God..."
1 Cor. 1:21

"...a man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven."
Jn.3:27

Why do you not understand my speech? Even because you cannot hear my word...he that is of God hears God's word. You therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God." Jn. 8:43,47

These texts are not directed to you personally, Clete. They are only proof texts which form the basis for presuppositional apologetics.

Rolf Ernst
November 19th, 2004, 09:13 PM
Clete--in the latter part of your post 88, you state some things I agree with. Not all calvinists are presuppositionalists, and many who are not can and have led many to Christ. There are many good Christians who know nothing of the differences between classical apologetics and presuppositional apologetics.

I don't know Sproul's motive in his use of classical apologetics. It is possible that he is using it as a means to engage the mind of unbelievers. He may thereby extend a conversation which would otherwise be much shorter, but I doubt the profitability of such a practice. I think it might actually be detrimental in that it credits man's reasoning with a potential which, according to scripture, it does not have.

Nevertheless, people who could not define either form of apologetics are used by the Lord. The critical thing is the message of Christ. If that is proclaimed, the Holy Spirit can use it in His work even if people's motives in declaring it are not proper. (See Phil. 1:15-18)

Clete
November 20th, 2004, 12:10 AM
Originally posted by Rolf Ernst
I don't know Sproul's motive in his use of classical apologetics. It is possible that he is using it as a means to engage the mind of unbelievers. He may thereby extend a conversation which would otherwise be much shorter, but I doubt the profitability of such a practice. I think it might actually be detrimental in that it credits man's reasoning with a potential which, according to scripture, it does not have.

You, I believe are reading your theology into the text. If man's reasoning does not have such potential then why is classical apologetics so remarkably successful? I can tell you what motivates Sproul, success that's what! C.S. Lewis is another great man of God who was a master of classical apologetics; his writings are responsible for perhaps hundreds of thousands of people coming to faith in Christ and millions more believers gained a stronger faith through those same writings. C.S. Lewis himself came to faith in Christ after having considered the perfection of the design of a baby's ear (or so I've heard). He considered it impossible that such perfection could have just happened by accident. He came to faith because the was substantive evidence that God must exist and he had the moral courage to accept what that evidence was telling him(i.e. faith Heb.11:1).
Josh McDowell is yet another skeptic what was fully persuaded by the overwhelming mountain of evidence that demands the conclusion that not only must God exist but Jesus Christ is that God.
Bob Enyart's video Mount Moriah (http://www.kgov.com/store/detail/video/mountmoriah.html) is all about the literal mountain of evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ and is responsible for many having come to Christ.
And there are just thousands upon multiplied thousands of examples of classical apologetics working very effectively in bringing lost souls into the Body of Christ. I simply cannot understand how one could object to something which has had its effectiveness so clearly demonstrated throughout the history of the church.
Jim suggests that every apologetic episode in Scripture is given on a presuppositional level. Well, that sure is easy to say but it is a lot harder to prove. First of all you would have to demonstrate that you have identified and analyzed every apologetic conversation in the Bible which if you got 10 people in a room and asked how many of such conversations take place you'd get 14 different answers. And if by some miracle you got everyone on the same page as too how many there were, if you compounded that miracle by getting them all to agree that they are all presuppositional you'd just about qualify to be God Himself!
Take James chapter 2 for example...

James2:18 But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

James' argument cuts both ways. He says that one's claim to faith is belied by the lack of evidence and his is proven by the presence of works as the evidence of that faith.
This doesn't sound like a presuppositionally based argument to me, and it is definitely apologetic.

Further, even if James is, by some means that I cannot see, arguing on a presuppositional level and that Jim's suggestion is completely right about every apologetic given in Scripture being presuppositional in nature, that does not prove that presuppositional arguments are the only valid ones that can be made. The Bible is not a text book on apologetics. For the most part, it is not attempting to convince anyone of the truth or to explain why it must be true, it simply declares what the truth is and leaves it at that. Giving an apology for the existence of God is absolutely not the purpose of the Bible, it is not why it was written, it is not what it's about, it has nothing to do with that topic at all, it is not an apology, period. Now I agree that there are passages that can be applied to the discipline of apologetics and they should be applied of course but to suggest that classical apologetic is unbiblical is simply taking things way too far in my view and actually manages to take the whole entire Bible out of its context, not just one or two verses like most people do every day but I'm talking the whole entire Bible! Now that's a pretty neat trick! I didn't even know that was possible!
Well, okay perhaps I'm overstating things a bit, but I trust you see my point. If you want to call classical apologetics (here after CA) extra-biblical I could probably live with that but I think that such a term would just be a case of picking nits. In my estimation CA is no more unbiblical than mathematics or the scientific method. While they stand upon the foundation of a Biblical world view and the presuppositions that come with such a worldview, they are not prohibited by Scripture and are thus not only permissible but effective tools to be used by the intellectually honest student of the truth.

Resting in Him,
Clete

Hilston
November 20th, 2004, 01:51 AM
Combined reply to Rolf and Clete:


Originally posted by Rolf Ernst
I don't know Sproul's motive in his use of classical apologetics.His book of the same title is a joke. Half the book is an irrational and unbiblical defense of Thomistic-Paley-esque argumentation and an attempted vindication of the "classic" theistic proofs that are all so frightfully embarrassing. The last half of the book is straw man critique of presuppositionalism. Three men authored this book and not one of them could get it right. They wouldn't know presuppositionalism if it came up and bit them on their collective tuchus. The most egregiously offensive thing about this book is that it was published after a public debate between R.C. Sproul and Greg Bahnsen on the very subject. There's no excuse for Sproul et al to publish such a bucket of excrement and to continue to stand by it.


Rolf Ernst writes:I think it might actually be detrimental in that it credits man's reasoning with a potential which, according to scripture, it does not have.Well said.


Clete writes:
Jim suggests that every apologetic episode in Scripture is given on a presuppositional level. Well, that sure is easy to say but it is a lot harder to prove.It's not hard at all. Take your pick. Which apologetic episode would you like to consider first?


Clete writes:
First of all you would have to demonstrate that you have identified and analyzed every apologetic conversation in the Bible which if you got 10 people in a room and asked how many of such conversations take place you'd get 14 different answers.Truth is not ascertained by consensus, Clete. If you can find a single apologetic episode in scripture that uses evidentialism ("classical" apologetics), then I will recant and admit my error. You only have to find one.

By the way, James 2 isn't about defending the faith or preaching the gospel to the unbeliever. It's about the believer demonstrating his faith to others by his works. And guess what? He does so presuppositionally! He doesn't ask the onlooker to consider his works and to conclude that God exists. God's existence is an irrefragable given. That's presuppositionalism.


Clete writes:
The Bible is not a text book on apologetics.The Bible is a book. The Bible contains, in text, commands and examples about apologetics. To me, that qualifies as an apologetics textbook.


Clete writes:
Giving an apology for the existence of God is absolutely not the purpose of the Bible, it is not why it was written, it is not what it's about, it has nothing to do with that topic at all, it is not an apology, period.That's not what apologetics is about, Clete. Defending the faith is not about proving the existence of God. Everyone already knows He exists. That's a given. (Ro 1:18-21). Those who deny it are lying. Those who deny lying are being deliberately self-deluded or are delusional.


Clete writes:
... but to suggest that classical apologetic is unbiblical is simply taking things way too far in my view and actually manages to take the whole entire Bible out of its context, ...Take any classical apologetic you like, and it can shown biblically to be a fallacious argument.


Clete writes:
While they stand upon the foundation of a Biblical world view and the presuppositions that come with such a worldview, ...But that's just it, Clete. They don't stand upon that. They're embarrassed by it. They want credibility and reputation and to impress people with their enlightened approach to "possibility of God's existence", and they attempt to do so by leaving the scriptures out of it.


Clete writes:
In my estimation CA is no more unbiblical than mathematics or the scientific method.On the basis of the CA apologetic, they are disqualified from using mathematics and the scientific method rationally. I would ask Sproul, Lindsley, Gerstner, Craig, Behe, Dembski, Wells, Johnson and all the rest the same questions I asked Prodigal in the other thread. They, too, would be shown to have an irrational blind faith concerning the very tools they presume to use to do mathematics and science. I've debated plenty of evidentialists, and they all end up looking just like Prodigal.

Hilston
November 20th, 2004, 01:56 AM
Also, just because someone got saved at a Marilyn Manson concert doesn't justify Ms. Manson's theology or evangelical methods. And just because people have gotten saved under Benny Hinn, Robert Tilton, Bob Enyart, RC Sproul, etc., doesn't validate their respective theology, evangelical strategy or their apologetic method.

Clete
November 20th, 2004, 09:10 AM
Originally posted by Hilston
On the basis of the CA apologetic, they are disqualified from using mathematics and the scientific method rationally. I would ask Sproul, Lindsley, Gerstner, Craig, Behe, Dembski, Wells, Johnson and all the rest the same questions I asked Prodigal in the other thread. They, too, would be shown to have an irrational blind faith concerning the very tools they presume to use to do mathematics and science. I've debated plenty of evidentialists, and they all end up looking just like Prodigal.
I assume by "they" you mean unbelievers. If so, that misses my point a bit. I understand why an unbeliever has no standing upon which to justify their use is mathematics, or science but that isn't true of the believer. A solid foundation is found under the believer's worldview and thus he is perfectly justified in the use of such extra biblical tools.
The point is, that I can demonstrate from whatever direction you want to come it that God is real and that there is evidence to back it up. Arguing that science flies out the window if you disregard God is one tack that I could take but I do not see how granting the validity of science to the unbeliever for the sake of argument is somehow egregiously offensive.
Do you see what I'm getting at here? I can pull the ground right out from under their feet or I can defeat them on that very same ground without ripping it out from under them. Why one would want to do one or the other depends on the situation at the time the conversation takes place. And while I'm prepared to grant you the point (for now) that such debates do not have Biblical precedent, I do not think that such debates have been prohibited by Scripture and so what God permits let not man forbid.

Oh and one last thing, you said almost nothing about this regeneration question begging issue, could you explain how such a position is not question begging?

Resting in Him,
Clete

Hilston
November 20th, 2004, 11:13 AM
Clete writes:
I assume by "they" you mean unbelievers.No, I mean Sproul, Lindsley and Gerstner. I don't think they're being consistent with their own espoused methods.


Clete writes:
... I understand why an unbeliever has no standing upon which to justify their use is mathematics, or science but that isn't true of the believer.It is true of many believers. Most of them haven't been sufficiently challenged on this point, so their inconsistency hasn't been exposed. In the case of Sproul, he is so vehemently opposed to presuppositional reasoning, he commits the foolish error of not basing his math and science upon the grounding of scripture.


Clete writes:
A solid foundation is found under the believer's worldview and thus he is perfectly justified in the use of such extra biblical tools.That's true, but most believers are unaware of this and have never adequately reflected on the matter.


Clete writes:
The point is, that I can demonstrate from whatever direction you want to come it that God is real and that there is evidence to back it up.The very enterprise, as you've stated it, is unbiblical. We don't have to demonstrate that God is real. We don't have to surrender the tools, OUR tools, to the atheist. He doesn't get to use our tools unless he can justify his right to use them. Until then, he can get his own tools. That was my message to Prodigal, and he finally, if even for a second, realized that he couldn't justify his use of MY tools and that he had no tools of his own.


Clete writes:
Arguing that science flies out the window if you disregard God is one tack that I could take but I do not see how granting the validity of science to the unbeliever for the sake of argument is somehow egregiously offensive.It's a lie, that's why. That's exactly what Adam tried to do in the Garden. He wanted to use God's tools to evaluate God. It is the Luciferian Thesis and Adam bought it. I'm urging you to reject it.


Clete writes:
Do you see what I'm getting at here? I can pull the ground right out from under their feet or I can defeat them on that very same ground without ripping it out from under them.They have no ground. That's the point. They are floating in the void. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Not by reasoning. Not by granting real estate to the gainsayer that they've neither earned nor are entitled to. Even if someone were to raise from the dead, they still will not believe. That's what the Bible says.


Clete writes:
Why one would want to do one or the other depends on the situation at the time the conversation takes place. And while I'm prepared to grant you the point (for now) that such debates do not have Biblical precedent, I do not think that such debates have been prohibited by Scripture and so what God permits let not man forbid.God prohibited it in the Garden. Paul makes the same warning in 2Co 11:3. Don't be an evidentialist like Adam and Eve. Satan is subtle. Sure, he wants people to blaspheme God, but that wasn't his approach in the Garden. He was satisfied by just getting Adam to question God's goodness, if even for a moment. He doesn't mind that people want to justify God, as long as they become their own lawmakers in the process. Satan wants you to try to justify God independently of God. That is the eating of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That was the sin of Job's friends. They said a lot of right things, but they tried to justify God on their own standards, on their own laws, independently of God.


Clete writes:
Oh and one last thing, you said almost nothing about this regeneration question begging issue, could you explain how such a position is not question begging?Regeneration isn't part of the argument or proof, so there is no question-begging. I discuss regeneration from a personal subjective position for description and explanation only, not as an objective argument or proof.

billwald
November 20th, 2004, 11:24 AM
McDowell raises straw men, such as his book title, "Who Moved The Stone?"

Reformed Presupps' bottom line is that no one can understand the Bible except people who agree with their theology are equivalent to Baptist presupps who claim that God only listens to their prayers.

Clete
November 20th, 2004, 11:58 AM
Originally posted by Hilston
God prohibited it in the Garden. Paul makes the same warning in 2Co 11:3. Don't be an evidentialist like Adam and Eve. Satan is subtle. Sure, he wants people to blaspheme God, but that wasn't his approach in the Garden. He was satisfied by just getting Adam to question God's goodness, if even for a moment. He doesn't mind that people want to justify God, as long as they become their own lawmakers in the process. Satan wants you to try to justify God independently of God. That is the eating of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That was the sin of Job's friends. They said a lot of right things, but they tried to justify God on their own standards, on their own laws, independently of God.
What else do you have on this subject? Do you know of any publications that I can read that expand on this? It is a somewhat different understanding of what was going on with Adam's rebelion than what I've heard before.

Balder
November 20th, 2004, 12:05 PM
Hilston,


Let me ask this question, and if I may also urge you to answer it as clearly as you can: What would you say (YOU, Balder, not Dzogchen, not Siddhartha, but YOU) is the necessary precondition for the intelligibility of human experience? I claim the God of the Judeo-Christian Bible is the only coherent answer. I welcome your suggested alternative.

You earlier mentioned how Dzogchen rescues you from dualism. I'd like for you to unpack this, in your own words, if you can.

I would say the number one precondition for the intelligibility of human experience (and everything else), according to Dzogchen Buddhist thought, is the absolute nature of reality, which you may call “emptiness” or “Being.” Emptiness here is not a nihilistic concept, meaning absolute non-existence or nothingness, but rather is a term which refers to the absolute “openness” and unconditionality of Being itself. Being is absolute. It is a given fact that does not need to be explained; it goes without saying. Being may be explicated in terms of its features, but the immediate fact or presence of Being itself, its “thereness” or “suchness,” cannot be seriously or coherently questioned. Thus, Being did not “come into existence” at any time, or “come from” anywhere; it always is.

In the Buddhist (particularly Dzogchen) tradition, Being is also called Mind-as-such (sems-nyid) or buddhanature. Being and knowing are a unity; self-existent pristine cognitiveness, as the nature of Being itself, is the ground of all existents. To speak in characteristically Dzogchen language, the absolute nature of reality is best described as the inseparability of clarity and emptiness, of Awareness and Being. Alternatively, Dzogchen describes ultimate reality in triune terms: Essence, Nature, and Energy. Here, essence is the utter openness of Being, nature is the clarity or intrinsic awareness and intelligence of Being, and Energy is the spontaneous fecundity and creativity of Being, which manifests either in the form of pristine cognitions (discrete knowings that never stray from their source) or in the form of dualistic consciousness, which tends toward going further and further astray from the true nature of its ground.

Another way of speaking about reality in Dzogchen Buddhism is as “the single sphere, unbounded wholeness.” Here, “sphere” is a metaphor, a way of describing the utter completeness and fullness of Being, rather than a literal object which would have a “border” beyond which was “nothing” or “something else.” The idea, of course, is that Being, and all beings that flow from it, are “of a piece,” whole, ultimately inseparable. No individual being is self-existent; its existence depends literally upon the whole, which cannot be cut or divided, impacted or diminished in any way.

Thus, these facets of the nature of Being account for the intelligibility of human experience: the facticity of Being itself as the ground of all experience, Mind-as-such; the openness and intelligence of Being as the possibility for all and every “form” to manifest; and the seamless wholeness and integrity of Being as the fabric of all things that show up in co-determinative, radically interdependent fashion. The pervasiveness of the intelligence of Being and the fundamental wholeness of Being (in itself and in the relationships that show up “within” it) account for the order and intelligibility of all things, forming the ground for all cognitive endeavors in the human sphere.

Peace,
Balder

Rolf Ernst
November 20th, 2004, 02:18 PM
Clete--the realization which came to Lewis after considering a baby's ear does not belong to the realm of classical apologetics. It is in the realm of scripture, which, according to Romans chapter one, is the testimony of God's creative work which is sufficient to condemn men but NOT bring them to SAVING faith. We are considering the apologetical method which is proper to evangelism, to bringing people to saving faith.

The testimony to the reality of God, His "eternal power and Godhead," is speech which is heard, knowledge which is shown daily throughout the whole world. Ambassadors of Christ are commissioned to deliver a more powerful message, and the power of the Holy Spirit especially blesses THAT apologetic because, as Jesus said, "when He comes, He will testify of me." If we would have the blessing of that particular power accompany our testimony, we MUST deliver the same message the Holy Spirit descended from heaven to deliver.

The testimony of God in the creation is more properly given in the context of the works of Christ the Creator rather than in creation apart from Him. The New Testament says that "the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light;" that is, despite the testimony of God in the creation, darkness shrouded the entire world until the revelation of God in Christ. The creation apart from Christ was the only apologetic to the unbelieving gentile world, and it was shrouded in darkness; but now Christ has come. Now if we speak of creation, we do not present it APART FROM the greater light which He bought into the world.

THAT is presuppositional apologetics as opposed to classical apologetics. Let Christ be the focus of our message and let all other things be seen in the prism of His work and person.

Chileice
November 20th, 2004, 04:55 PM
Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer

What exactly do you mean by this? Jim has said similar things as well but I don't think you can establish such a statement.

First of all it is totally unfalsifiable. If I understand what you are saying correctly only the "regenerate" mind can "get it" and that if you don't get it it's because your not "regenerate" and if you do it's because you are "regenerate". Question begging at its finest!

Secondly, there are lots of people whom you cannot deny are "regenerate" (I put the word in quotes because I do not believe that the Calvinistic version of regeneration is a valid theology in the first place) who do not even know what presuppositionalism is and definitely do not use it in their apologetics. Some are intentionally not presuppositionalists and yet are directly responsible for having lead hundreds or even thousands of people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The point being that you do not need to be a presuppositionalist to believe in Jesus. Some people can decide to believe based on the evidence even if that evidence is, in fact, unable to prove anything on its own. In other words, not everybody puts this much deep philosophical thought into their decision to follow Christ. Some people just think it makes sense, some people have totally non intellectual reasons for placing their faith in Christ. In fact, I would say that most people do not go through any sort of rigorous intellectual exercise trying to come up with the answer to life the universe and everything. Most people put their faith in Christ because they have been influenced, on a relationship level by friends, acquaintances or family members, whom they trust; it has absolutely nothing to do with "figuring it all out" or anything like that.

Resting in Him,
Clete

Sorry for the slowness in jumping back in, but you make an excellent point here Clete. Dozens of generations of regenerate Christians have come and gone without the first hint of understanding presuppositionalism. I placed my faith in Christ at 13 years of age because I realized I was a sinner in need of a Saviour and that all my good works in the world weren't going to get me saved. I didn't know presuppositionalism from post-modernism but I was saved.

Chileice
November 20th, 2004, 05:23 PM
Originally posted by Rolf Ernst

Clete--the realization which came to Lewis after considering a baby's ear does not belong to the realm of classical apologetics. It is in the realm of scripture, which, according to Romans chapter one, is the testimony of God's creative work which is sufficient to condemn men but NOT bring them to SAVING faith.
Rolf-
I believe this highly underestimates the power of the Holy Spirit. To compartmentalize the scripture to such a degree does a disservice to God Himself who has presented it to us as a whole. Any portion may be sufficient to convict and/or to convince a person of their need for Christ. I was convinced from a passage in Joshua. Not hardly an apologist's first book of choice.


Originally posted by Rolf Ernst
We are considering the apologetical method which is proper to evangelism, to bringing people to saving faith.
Again, the methodology is of little import. The more I read Hilston's self-important intellectually cloaked mumbo-jumbo, the more convinced I am that Clete is right and that although presuppositionalism has merit, it is certainly not the only valid form of contending for the faith.


Originally posted by Rolf Ernst
The testimony to the reality of God, His "eternal power and Godhead," is speech which is heard, knowledge which is shown daily throughout the whole world. Ambassadors of Christ are commissioned to deliver a more powerful message, and the power of the Holy Spirit especially blesses THAT apologetic because, as Jesus said, "when He comes, He will testify of me." If we would have the blessing of that particular power accompany our testimony, we MUST deliver the same message the Holy Spirit descended from heaven to deliver.
Although I certainly agree that an evangelistic message, an apologetic for the faith goes far beyond natural revelation, some men's souls have been seared to such a degree that they either cannot see or they refuse to see what Christians take as agiven. They do NOT see the God of that natural revelation and thus the need for CA which exposes that need to them. I understand that once the Spirit reveals to us the need for salvation and once we have experienced the freedom and grace of Christ his existence is a given. But to argue the point that: God is a given because we beileve what has been revealed because it was revealed and therefore we believe it, is to argue in circles and to beg the question. Even though I agree that the Christian worldview is the one that makes the world make sense, many cannot see that if they are not already on the inside. CA can help penetrate their world-view and point them toward ours.


Originally posted by Rolf Ernst
The testimony of God in the creation is more properly given in the context of the works of Christ the Creator rather than in creation apart from Him. The New Testament says that "the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light;" that is, despite the testimony of God in the creation, darkness shrouded the entire world until the revelation of God in Christ.

Actually Rolf, these words were first spoken in the Old Testament. Yes, they were mesianic prophesy, but they held meaning for the original listeners as well. God was FULLY revealed in Christ, but the world did not walk in utter darkness before his coming.


Originally posted by Rolf Ernst
The creation apart from Christ was the only apologetic to the unbelieving gentile world, and it was shrouded in darkness; but now Christ has come. Now if we speak of creation, we do not present it APART FROM the greater light which He bought into the world.
This I would agree with. Yes, the message of Christ MUST be proclaimed and many CAs have proclaimed it with vigour and force.


Originally posted by Rolf Ernst
THAT is presuppositional apologetics as opposed to classical apologetics. Let Christ be the focus of our message and let all other things be seen in the prism of His work and person.

I don't see the issue as either/or. Do you really think that no classical apologist have ever presentwed the message of Christ? I know you don't believe that because you are a far to intelligent person to believe that. I am sure that you feel the presups do a better job of it but I'm sure you wouldn't do a disservice to all of the great minds who have contended from the faith using a different approach.:)

Rolf Ernst
November 20th, 2004, 06:11 PM
Chileice--No. How could I disparage anyone whom God has used as instruments to call His people to Himself?

The classical/presuppositional discussion is something for theologians to discuss while missionaries are in the field, some of them from either school of apologetics, some not aware of such a discussion. Nevertheless, it is the message of Christ which the Holy Spirit uses in regenerating His people, and that is a message all must use whether
they are CA or presups.

Though someone may be a CA and may use it regularly, sooner or later they must, to truly win souls, deliver the same message presuppositionalists begin with. The gospel of Christ is not a part of Classical apologetics. It is the beginning and end of presuppositional apologetics.

Some have made great claims for the evangelistic effect of classical apologists, BUT the greatest soul winners of history have been presuppositionalists.

billwald
November 20th, 2004, 06:47 PM
Dear Rolf

"...the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them..." 1 Cor. 2:14

"...in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God..."
1 Cor. 1:21

"...a man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven."
Jn.3:27


OK, THEN, in each dispensation, what were the qualifications for knowing God? If a particular person knew God in a dispensation, did he lose this ability when the new dispensation arrived? Did he have to be requalified?

For example, if a person "knew God" in the year before the resurrection and lived 1,000 miles from Jerusalem, did he lose his qualification at the resurrection or at the time that the news of the resurrection reached his location? If he then rejected the information, would he be disqualified?

billwald
November 20th, 2004, 06:54 PM
Dear Clete

"Some are intentionally not presuppositionalists and yet are directly responsible for having lead hundreds or even thousands of people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ."

"Leading people . . ." is a semi-pelagian concept. Reformed theology teaches that the elect people are out there in the general population. The good news is preached and the elect will respond. No invitation or leading necessary.

Rolf Ernst
November 21st, 2004, 10:22 AM
Sir Billwald--Calvinists do not acknowledge dispensationalism. God's immutability and the unity of the covenants are contrary to such a doctrine. Abraham saw Christ's day and was glad to see it (said Jesus). The only difference in the times before Christ and after His advent is that they looked forward to Him, and we have the advantage of looking upon things they had not seen.

They saw Him in prophecies and types, and we look upon His finished work but our faith in Him now is the faith of those who were before.

Clete
November 21st, 2004, 12:49 PM
Originally posted by billwald

Dear Clete

"Some are intentionally not presuppositionalists and yet are directly responsible for having lead hundreds or even thousands of people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ."

"Leading people . . ." is a semi-pelagian concept. Reformed theology teaches that the elect people are out there in the general population. The good news is preached and the elect will respond. No invitation or leading necessary.
I couldn't possibly care less what Reformed theology teaches. The Bible teaches otherwise...
Rom. 10:14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
"How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!"
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our report?" 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
18 But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:
"Their sound has gone out to all the earth,
And their words to the ends of the world."
19 But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says:
"I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation,
I will move you to anger by a foolish nation."
20 But Isaiah is very bold and says:
"I was found by those who did not seek Me;
I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me."
21 But to Israel he says:
"All day long I have stretched out My hands
To a disobedient and contrary people."

Clete
November 21st, 2004, 12:56 PM
Originally posted by Chileice

Sorry for the slowness in jumping back in, but you make an excellent point here Clete. Dozens of generations of regenerate Christians have come and gone without the first hint of understanding presuppositionalism. I placed my faith in Christ at 13 years of age because I realized I was a sinner in need of a Saviour and that all my good works in the world weren't going to get me saved. I didn't know presuppositionalism from post-modernism but I was saved.
Yes, I do understand your point here but Jim makes a good point also. Truth is not determined by a majority vote. If the truth had to be popular or even common place we would all be Catholics and no one would have a clue that Luther ever existed. Indeed, it seems that those who hold to the truth have always been in the minority.

Resting in Him,
Clete

billwald
November 21st, 2004, 04:39 PM
Rom. 10:14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent?

Nothing like being able to write one's own job description. <G>

Paul got his information direct from God. God is limited by human preachers?


Now days, "How shall they hear without a TV or a radio?"

Clete
November 21st, 2004, 04:59 PM
Originally posted by billwald

Rom. 10:14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent?

Nothing like being able to write one's own job description. <G>

Paul got his information direct from God. God is limited by human preachers?


Now days, "How shall they hear without a TV or a radio?"

Umm,

WHAT? :confused:

Hilston
November 22nd, 2004, 10:17 AM
Second part of my reply to Balder:

Hilston previously wrote: Do you realize the fact that if your logical faculties were flawed, you would have no way of knowing, since you would have to use your logical faculties in order to make such an assessment? I like to blurt out, in non sequitur fashion: "Look at that! The Law of Induction just stopped working!" Most people don't get it and they just look at me funny. The joke, of course, is that induction would have to be used in order to come to such a conclusion, but if induction doesn't work anymore, how could such a conclusion ever be drawn? This is the epistemological dilemma that is (often unwittingly) posed when one says "Logic hasn't failed me, for the most part."


Balder writes:
That’s a nice point. What I was referring to, however, was human systems of logic, which indeed sometimes prove fallible."Human systems of logic", as compared or opposed to what?


Balder writes:
One more thing. You have asked me on several occasions if I believe there are any universal laws. My answer is that I believe there are certain universals, which might be called laws (a metaphor taken from human social experience), depending on how one uses the term.OK, let's just say "law-like" so we don't have to get hung up on the term. What are the "law-like" universals you believe in?


Balder writes:
But I would add that I believe that many of the things we call laws are more likely universal habits. Certainly, this is the contention of Buddhism, and a number of modern physicists and biologists agree: things manifest and behave in a certain way, along certain "grooves" or lines of development, not because abstract laws compel them to, but because a momentum has built up which makes one sort of happening more likely than another, given certain prevailing conditions.It would really really really REALLY help if you could put some skin and bones on what you're talking about. Puh-LEEEEZE offer an example so we can discuss it.


Balder writes:
If immutable laws were actually in effect in all areas of the development of systems and organisms, then how would mutations and variations occur ... whence would come novelty?That's exactly what I am going to ask you. Since you anticipated this question, I'm still interested in getting your alternate accounting for this reality.


Balder writes:
Quantum physicists says that absolute determinism is out; ...And they're absolutely wrong about that.


Balder writes:
... there is an openness at the heart of reality which allows for the new, even though the "old" carries a lot of weight and makes movement in one direction much more likely than in other ways ...Why do you believe this?


Balder writes:
So, when you speak of laws, what exactly are you thinking of? Are you talking about lawfulness and order in general, or about specific laws that are observable in the universe?Yes. Both.


Balder writes:
Do you think gravity, entropy, and the speed of light are all specifically derive from similar laws that exist in the nature of God?There are no laws "in the nature of God." Laws legislate; God is under no legislation and is responsible to no one and to nothing.


Balder writes:
As I said in earlier posts, two Buddhist tenets -- the primordiality of experience or "mind" and the radical interdependence and co-determination of phenomena -- are quite capable of accounting for the order of cosmos.Did order always exist? Or did it arise phenomenologically out of chaos?


Balder writes:
The primordiality of "mind" is not something many physicists readily accept, though some (like David Bohm) speak about the primordiality of meaning (soma-significance and signa-somatics), ...Don't forget about sogma-somnificance and simni-sigmatics. Can you define for me what you mean by "primordial/primordiality"? And what is "meaning" according to your view? Günther isn't very helpful. For all he has to say around the word "meaning," he gives no clarity to the word whatever.


Balder writes:
... but the idea that the universe is holistically interrelated, somehow seamless or "entangled," in which the whole is implicate in every part, is more strongly supported by current evidence and is not viewed as far-fetched by many quantum physicists, as I'm sure you're aware.I'm quite familiar with the giddy enthusiasm QPs exhibit as they skip along, hand-in-hand like little girls, on their way to conduct their self-fulfilling experiments. They still can't account for the very method they presume to employ in reaching their conclusions, nor can they justify the criteria by which they discard so-called outlying data.


Balder writes:
Since you just love translator Herbert Guenther's way with words, especially when he's trying to explicate a Dzogchen text and whippin' out the hyphens, I will quote some passages from him that are relevant:

"The quest for life’s meaning reaches its completion in the realization and enactment of meaningful existence, which implies, as inseparable from it, a sensitivity to and discovery of meanings in lived-through experience."What's that mean, and why do you believe it?


Balder writes:
"... Rather it points to the open texture and dimension which in its very openness is already pregnant with possible meaning."Why do you believe this?


Balder writes [quoting Günther]:
'Meaning' also is not something fixed once for all, but is an emerging, developing, and projective movement of the open dimension of existence, and acquires its full scope in lived-through experience.How does Dzogchen know this? And why do you believe it?


Balder writes [quoting Günther]:
Since meaning is always meaning for someone, who yet never stands outside the configuration of lived experience, this circumstance points to the human being (or existent) who, in the search for ‘meaningful existence’ – for the meaning of (his) existence – cannot but start from the 'experience' of existence as the being he himself is. Such a starting point precludes any attempt to resort to such notions as 'substance' (which means different things to different persons, be they philosophers or lesser mortals), or 'particular existent,' which is always meant to be a particular ‘this’ in contrast with some other particular 'that,' and about which propositions are entertained as to the ‘what’ this particular existent is, be this 'what' then declared to be a substance or an essence.Why can't he just say that everything is relative and subjective, including everything he said in the above paragraph?


Balder writes [quoting Günther]:
The configuration 'existence-meaning-experience' is therefore not a category in the traditional sense. Its presentational and, at the same time, developing character directs attention to the 'how' rather than to the 'what,' and it is this 'how' that introduces the dynamic character into what otherwise might be conceived of as something static and lifeless.Do you believe in the permanence of the soul, Balder? Or do you hold to the doctrine of anatta? Is a yes or no answer possible? Or is that going require another prolix treatise, complete with Tibetan transliterations and hyphenated character strings?


Balder writes [quoting Günther]:
Moreover, this 'how' is presented in immediacy and is present as a kind of invitation to a response. The response is never mechanical, but always interpretive by virtue of lived-through experience. Presentational immediacy is already a situation open to interpretation. In its openness it is bound to the open texture of Being, and in its dynamic unfolding it is self-presenting, self-projective, and linked to interpretation which can take two different directions: the one, preserving cohesion, leads to 'meaningful existence'; the other, losing its anchorage, leads to 'fictitious being.' However, the important point to note is that 'existence-meaning-experience' is both configuration and process, and as such the constituents are throughout dialectically interpenetrating ontological features at work in every lived-through experience.So is Dzogchen assertationally espousifying an unmediationally intuitivicty for the existent? It appears that he is saying that the discernation of any particularized invitationing event is cognizationed by the existent in a manneredness foundationally subjectioned and accordanced upon the basicicity of non-uniform interpretationing parameters, fluxing variationally in panna fashion from one existent to the next. Did I get that right? In other words, can panna be trusted to say anything meaningful at all? If so, on what grounds? If not, where do you draw the line and what's the point?


Balder writes [quoting Günther]:
This configuration-process character of Being – an idea characteristic of Dzogchen thought and a distinct contribution to Buddhist philosophy – is in terms of facticity described as 'unchanging' and 'indestructible,' for which latter term the symbol of the diamond (vajra) is used. In terms of presentational presence it is described as a 'thrust towards and invitation by limpid clearness and consummate perspicacity'; and in terms of experience, as 'calmness,' which is meaning-orientedness and meaning-saturatedness in the experiencer’s concrete existence. Each of these three 'layers' acts as a 'founding stratum' and they all are related to each other by 'mutual foundedness.'I'm really trying Balder. But this is ridiculous. It's a huge waste of time that I don't have. Here's the thing: I can go through and replace each of Günther's non-normative words with English words that make perfect sense. I know, cuz I've tried. It's the only way to understand this stuff. After I do this, the sentences become incoherent. Maybe to you there is actual meaning in these words. But if ask for it, I get more word inventions that strain at the boundaries of normative semantics. Maybe that, to you, is impressive and gives you good feelings and you find it personally fulfilling to meditate on these things. But that doesn't make it rational. The English language comprises 500,000 to 600,000 words, closer to a million if you include scientific terms (which I will not complain about). The English syntax is also sufficiently robust that you should be able to communicate clearly without resorting to word-inventions and word-groupings that make the eyes glaze over (what the heck is "presentational immediacy of existence"??? -- I know what each of those words mean; so why do I still not know what is meant by it?). I'm not averse to the occasional rendering of words in the original form, as my own posts indicate, but to totally re-jigger words and syntactical conventions that have a long-standing, well-established, patently successful history is unwarranted. I've debated Buddhists before that haven't had to resort to this. Maybe you attribute this to the higher and more intellectual tradition of Dzogchen. Maybe it's a lot of smoke-blowing. How could anyone tell the difference, especially given the fact that I could write have written this stuff myself and started my own religion?


Balder writes [quoting Günther]:
The first set of terms is used to make it clear that throughout experience an element of facticity is already in force which, negatively stated, implies that existence as existence can do nothing about its ‘existing’ and hence can neither be subject to change (qualitatively) nor destroyed (substantially).Does it impress you that Dzogchen understood the first law of thermodynamics? Did the middle way lead him to that understanding? Were Joule and Helmholtz relying on Buddhist thought when they codified the conservation of mass and energy?


Balder writes [quoting Günther]:
As facticity the open texture and open dimension of Being is in no way prejudged, contradicted, or restricted.[ 'Thrust towards and invitation by limpid clearness and consummate perspicacity’ points to the projective character which is inseparable from open texture in facticity, and in its presentational immediacy it preserves elements of this open dimension and facticity and solicits a response to its presence. 'Calmness' illustrates the response to the presentational immediacy of existence in experience which gives it its specific 'meaning,' that is 'calmness.' In the same way as the projective feature of existence retains its open-dimensional character, so also 'meaning' is not merely a passive resultant of the stimulus-response interaction. It, too, retains the projective texture by opening up ways towards understanding. It is therefore obvious that this configuration-process complex, first of all, is not an object alongside other objects (which in order to gain meaning would necessitate a subject). Objectification is made possible by virtue of the projective character of this configuration-process complex. Second, it follows that this configuration-process complex also is not a subject in the manner of transcendental ego, be this of the Kantian or Husserlian variety, the one synthesizing the operation of perception, imagination, and conception, the other functioning as the ultimate source of intentional consciousness. The constitution of a subject emerges late and in conjunction with the process of objectification. Moreover, the subject-object structure which belongs to and underlies all representational thinking, as one possible direction, but certainly not the only possible one, into which interpretation can move, simply does not apply here.Why do you believe this? Do you even understand it? Have you found that meditating on these words gives you a good feeling? It does to me, too. Here's where the good feeling comes from: Figuring out what the heck he is saying. Since you're already impressed by Dzogchen, anything you can figure out is going to give you the warm-and-fuzzies. But since you can't communicate the ineffable "truth" in your own words, you resort to excerpting huge tracts of Dzogchenian real estate, hoping either to scare off your challengers, or to confuse them into a catatonic fog. Or so it seems.


Balder writes [quoting Günther]:
‘Buddha’ cannot and must not be equated with an ‘object’ or a ‘subject.’ Rather as this configuration-process complex, ‘Buddha’ points to experience which makes the emergence and constitution of a subject-object determined world-horizon possible.Good grief, Balder. Couldn't you (or Günther) just say, "Budda is indescribable and utterly subjective"?


Balder writes [quoting Günther]:
In this primary sense ‘Buddha’ is a term that sums up what we would call the ontology and ontogenesis of experience, which from the outset is configurative, open-dimensional, dynamical, meaning-oriented and meaning-saturated, and includes the experiencer in whom it is concretely present and who in this phrase is ‘Buddha.’ When in the interpretive analysis of experience the latter’s existentially significant, embodying and embodied character is singled out and referred to as ‘founding stratum of meaning’ (chos-sku) where founding stratum is understood as the absoluteness of Being concretely experienced, knowing as a process of disclosure (ye-shes, wisdom or knowledge of Truth) is already at work…”Now I get it. You've taken it upon yourself to afflict me with as my own personal samsara. Is that it?


Balder writes [quoting Günther]:
... In the above lengthy quotation [of which I have only posted two verses, to spare your eyes and your mind!], which epitomizes the multifaceted nature of experience, two themes stand out. One is that of indivisibility (dbyer-med, nonduality), the other that of configuration (dkyil-‘khor, mandala or world-horizon). Both, however are intimately related.Yes, unity and diversity exist in our experience. The Triune God accounts for that phenomenon. I'm becoming convinced that your Dzogchenian solution is to not actually solve the long-standing impenetrable problem, but to talk around it in equally impenetrable jargon that short circuits the synapses into a karmic quagmire.


Balder writes [quoting Günther]:
As we have seen in a previous chapter, indivisibility, also referred to as nonduality, names the functional operation of complementarity.Functional operation of WHAT? What in the fallujah are you talking about? Complementarity? For crying out loud.


Balder writes [quoting Günther]:
It does not indicate the obliteration of differentiations, nor does it imply a fusion of disparate entities. Rather, it emphasizes the presence of a continuum from which, negatively speaking, dichotomies such as exterior and interior, subject and object, are suspended. More positively stated, these dichotomies are seen and felt to interpenetrate 'like the reflection of the moon in water.'Do you understand that paragraph, Balder? Explain it to me.


Balder writes [quoting Günther]:
The indivisibility of Being and Existenz can be illustrated by analogies taken from the realm of science, which speaks of the indivisibility of energy and its radiation and of the vacuum and its fluctuations. But in Dzogchen thought there is the additional factor of intelligence which inheres in the very dynamics of the unfolding universe itself, ...Define intelligence and then explain its nature. Is it personal? Is it active or passive? Does it function or exist according to set parameters and universal constraints? And have you personally experienced this?


Balder writes [quoting Günther]:
... and which makes primordiality of experience of paramount importance. The atemporal onset of this unfoldment occasions the emergence of various intentional structures, thereby allowing felt meanings to occur. Since this onset is structurally 'prior' to any functional splitting, one speaks of the indivisibility of openness ...You mean, like "emptiness"?


Balder writes [quoting Günther]:
... (emptiness) ...Oh -- so you CAN use words we all understand!


Balder writes [quoting Günther]:
... and its presencing ...You mean, like its "form"?


Balder writes [quoting Günther]:
... (form), ...Yes, I see. Instead of just saying "form," there's has to be the "inventioning" of a word by the "unfoldment "of a noun into gerund and call it "presencing". That's sure to impress people and to make Günther sound very holy and Dzogchen sound profoundly intimidating.


Balder writes [quoting Günther]:
... which involves the gauging of what will become the 'world' (as the specific horizon-form of lived-through experience)…"

If you survived the above read ...Barely. It makes me want to punch someone in the head, just for fun. But that wouldn't bode well for me in the karmic realm. Is "right communication" a part of the 8-fold path? It should be. But then again, perspicuity would probably do more to undermine Dzogchen tradition than promote it.


Balder writes:
... (only a German could do that to the English language), I'll tie it in closer to this discussion with a few questions:

[quote]Balder writes:
Do you believe existence has an origin?God's existence? No. The existence of everything that is non-God or not God? Yes.


Balder writes:
How about sentience or intelligence? Does it have an origin?God's? No. Man's? Yes.


Balder writes:
Must these things neccessarily have an origin?God's? No. Man's? Yes.


Balder writes:
Is there a relationship between them?Yes. Eternal existence is the source of sempiternal existence. Same with intelligence and sentience. Is the Buddhistic primordial Existent personal?


Balder writes:
Does God exist? Is He sentient or intelligent? Does He have an origin?You already know the answers to these questions. Yes. Yes. And no.


Balder writes:
P.S. Concerning the modus ponens, the fact that it works, that we take it to be "intuitive," is an argument for the truth of the Buddhist doctrines of pratitya-samutpada (dependent co-origination or interdependence), as well as karma.How do you know it works?

Balder
November 22nd, 2004, 12:09 PM
Hilston,

I haven't yet read your whole reply, but I've skimmed enough on my break to get your gist. I would really like you to reply to my final post to you as well, before responding in great detail to you.

Peace,
Balder

billwald
November 22nd, 2004, 01:32 PM
Yesterday's sermon started out with the preacher saying we are bound by the "law of gravity" and ended by saying that Jesus "maintains" everything. Do we live in a real, physical universe or a virtual universe maintained by Jesus and/or the mind of God?

Hilston
November 22nd, 2004, 02:12 PM
Hilston asked:
Let me ask this question, and if I may also urge you to answer it as clearly as you can: What would you say (YOU, Balder, not Dzogchen, not Siddhartha, but YOU) is the necessary precondition for the intelligibility of human experience? I claim the God of the Judeo-Christian Bible is the only coherent answer. I welcome your suggested alternative.

You earlier mentioned how Dzogchen rescues you from dualism. I'd like for you to unpack this, in your own words, if you can.


Balder writes:
I would say the number one precondition for the intelligibility of human experience (and everything else), according to Dzogchen Buddhist thought, is the absolute nature of reality, ...What do you mean by 'absolute'? What do you mean by 'reality'? The only thing absolute in my view is the existence of God. Reality is defined by God Himself, and all proper judgment and observation are based on His preinterpretation of reality. God Himself informing man is the only means of objective truth according to my view. Is objective truth available to man in your view?


Balder writes:
... which you may call “emptiness” or “Being.”It's one thing to "call" it something, it's another thing to define it. Is it ineffable? Ephemeral? Do you espouse the concept of maya?


Balder writes:
Emptiness here is not a nihilistic concept, meaning absolute non-existence or nothingness, but rather is a term which refers to the absolute “openness” and unconditionality of Being itself.So the absolute nature of reality is "openness". What does that mean? There are no rules? There are no constraints or limits? Open in what way? When you say "unconditionality of Being," as opposed to what? "Conditionality of Being? Explain yourself, Balder.


Balder writes:
Being is absolute.How do you know? Your own being may seem absolute to you, but how do you make the leap to other minds? Other beings?


Balder writes:
It is a given fact that does not need to be explained; it goes without saying. Being may be explicated in terms of its features, but the immediate fact or presence of Being itself, its “thereness” or “suchness,” cannot be seriously or coherently questioned.Show me the absolute nature and openness of your own being. Give me a demonstration.


Balder writes:
Thus, Being did not “come into existence” at any time, or “come from” anywhere; it always is.Why do you believe this?


Balder writes:
In the Buddhist (particularly Dzogchen) tradition, Being is also called Mind-as-such (sems-nyid) or buddhanature. Being and knowing are a unity;Then being isn't absolute, Balder.


Balder writes:
... self-existent pristine cognitiveness, as the nature of Being itself, is the ground of all existents.That's a tautology, Balder. Being as the ground of being is incoherent. It's not that impressive when you boil it down, Balder.


Balder writes:
To speak in characteristically Dzogchen language, the absolute nature of reality is best described as the inseparability of clarity and emptiness, of Awareness and Being.Yes, yes, Descartes taught us all about the cogito. The problem is making the leap from solipsistic awareness to the existence of other minds; to coherent statements about actual reality and justifying your epistemic parameters. That's where all this poetry seems to fall flat, Balder.


Balder writes:
Alternatively, Dzogchen describes ultimate reality in triune terms: Essence, Nature, and Energy.Very nice. The Catholic church took the pagan gods and rename them after characters of the Bible. Dzogchen takes the Persons of the Godhead and renames them according to his own Godless notions of "being."


Balder writes:
Here, essence is the utter openness of Being, nature is the clarity or intrinsic awareness and intelligence of Being, and Energy is the spontaneous fecundity and creativity of Being, ...These are all nice descriptions, and probably intimidate the beejeepers out of the average person. I see it as a lot of self-refuting rhetoric.


Balder writes:
... which manifests either in the form of pristine cognitions ...Of course, and "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." I understand that Dzogchen has hijacked the Christian concept of the Second Person manifesting the Trinity, just as you claim the SEPC as the "nature of Being" manifests the triunity of Being, and that's all very clever. I want to know if the SEPC is personal and self-aware.


Balder writes:
(discrete knowings that never stray from their source) ...So much for "absolute openness".


Balder writes:
... or in the form of dualistic consciousness, which tends toward going further and further astray from the true nature of its ground.Please elaborate.


Balder writes:
Another way of speaking about reality in Dzogchen Buddhism is as “the single sphere, unbounded wholeness.”So is that a universal truth? Are distinctions actual or merely illusions? Moreover, how does one "stray" from something that is unbounded? Is the "straying" due to proximty? Is it due to "otherness" of some sort? Conceptually straying? Behaviorally straying?


Balder writes:
Here, “sphere” is a metaphor, a way of describing the utter completeness and fullness of Being, rather than a literal object which would have a “border” beyond which was “nothing” or “something else.”Of course, the incoherent idea of "absolute openness" covers that nakedness.


Balder writes:
The idea, of course, is that Being, and all beings that flow from it, are “of a piece,” whole, ultimately inseparable. No individual being is self-existent; its existence depends literally upon the whole, which cannot be cut or divided, impacted or diminished in any way.So what is your desire, Balder?


Balder writes:
Thus, these facets of the nature of Being account for the intelligibility of human experience: the facticity of Being itself as the ground of all experience, Mind-as-such; the openness and intelligence of Being as the possibility for all and every “form” to manifest; and the seamless wholeness and integrity of Being as the fabric of all things that show up in co-determinative, radically interdependent fashion.So, the reason why I expect a tossed apple to fall is because the facticity of Being itself as the ground of all experience, Mind-as-such; the openness and intelligence of Being as the possibility for all and every “form” to manifest; and the seamless wholeness and integrity of Being as the fabric of all things that show up in co-determinative, radically interdependent fashion. Why do you find this convincing or compelling?


Balder writes:
The pervasiveness of the intelligence of Being and the fundamental wholeness of Being (in itself and in the relationships that show up “within” it) account for the order and intelligibility of all things, forming the ground for all cognitive endeavors in the human sphere.How does that ultimately inseparable monolithic impersonal Being account for my individuality, self-awareness, personal distinctiveness and desires? This is the essence of dualism, Balder.

Here's the bottom line: Who says? Why should we listen to Dzogchen, Balder? You have yet to tell us why you believe his claims? You have yet to tell us why anyone else should believe. What's worse, you offer no motivation to even consider them.

Here is my perception: Buddhists such as Balder are impressed with the teachings of evolutionism, but realize the futility of strict materialism. But they also hate the Judeo-Christian conception of God as Creator and Master. So, in order to have the best of both worlds, they borrow from both. On the one hand, these Buddhists whole-heartedly embrace the scientific aspects of evolutionism that sufficiently impress them. But on the other hand, in order to rescue them from the dead end of materialism, they hijack Christian concepts to provide a spiritual realm, redefining words and concepts in order to hide the similarities in obscure nomenclature. It is evolutionism with a mechanism, but still no less incoherent, because somehow impersonal inseparable unity of Being must somehow give rise to a diversity of personalities and discrete entities.

Balder
November 22nd, 2004, 09:40 PM
Hilston,

I’ve made a start on your two lengthy letters. I’ll post what I’ve responded to so far, and feel free to respond in turn at any time; but I will also be posting responses to other portions of your letter as well.

For your information, since I picked up that you were starting to use Dzogchen as a personal name, Dzogchen is the name of a tradition, not of a particular spiritual figure. Dzog-chen literally means, “Great Perfection” or “Great Completeness.”



Balder writes:
That’s a nice point. What I was referring to, however, was human systems of logic, which indeed sometimes prove fallible.

"Human systems of logic", as compared or opposed to what?

What are YOU thinking of? Can you name, and explain in your own words, any system of logic that is not a human system of logic? I am not talking about a general appeal to "God's logic," but to any form of logic which you yourself employ and with which you are personally familiar.



Balder writes:
Quantum physicists say that absolute determinism is out; ...

And they're absolutely wrong about that.

If you believe everything in the universe is absolutely deterministic, how do you account for free will? Or is that out?


I'm quite familiar with the giddy enthusiasm QPs exhibit as they skip along, hand-in-hand like little girls, on their way to conduct their self-fulfilling experiments. They still can't account for the very method they presume to employ in reaching their conclusions, nor can they justify the criteria by which they discard so-called outlying data.

Let me guess. Their work is "groundless" because they don't believe a cosmic, stylized Oriental despot or tribal wargod set it all in motion?



Balder writes (quoting Günther):
‘Buddha’ cannot and must not be equated with an ‘object’ or a ‘subject.’ Rather as this configuration-process complex, ‘Buddha’ points to experience which makes the emergence and constitution of a subject-object determined world-horizon possible.

Good grief, Balder. Couldn't you (or Günther) just say, "Budda (sic) is indescribable and utterly subjective"?

I guess I could, if you really want me to. But that's not what Guenther said.



Balder writes:
... which you may call “emptiness” or “Being.”

So the absolute nature of reality is "openness". What does that mean? There are no rules? There are no constraints or limits? Open in what way? When you say "unconditionality of Being," as opposed to what? "Conditionality of Being? Explain yourself, Balder.

Being is not opposed to, conditioned by, or dependent upon anything. It is unlimited and unconstrained by "rules." That's what "absolute" means.


Show me the absolute nature and openness of your own being. Give me a demonstration.

Are you prepared to seriously take up the practice of meditation? If you are, then you will surely get your demonstration, sooner or later.





Balder writes:
Thus, Being did not “come into existence” at any time, or “come from” anywhere; it always is.

Why do you believe this?

The alternative is incoherent. And the traditional theistic answer is problematic. Ask a Christian if there is a beginning to existence, they will say yes, there must be. Ask a Christian if God has a beginning, they will say no. Ask a Christian if God exists, they will say yes…



Balder writes:
In the Buddhist (particularly Dzogchen) tradition, Being is also called
Mind-as-such (sems-nyid) or buddhanature. Being and knowing are a
unity;

Then being isn't absolute, Balder.

Huh? Explain yourself, Hilston!

quote:


Balder writes:
... self-existent pristine cognitiveness, as the nature of Being itself, is the ground of all existents.

That's a tautology, Balder. Being as the ground of being is incoherent. It's not that impressive when you boil it down, Balder.

It’s not that impressive when you misrepresent it! I think you just didn't read it very carefully. I didn't say Being is the ground of Being, or even of Existence, but of existents. Being-as-such does not have a "ground,” a conditioning support, or a source.



Balder writes:
To speak in characteristically Dzogchen language, the absolute nature of reality is best described as the inseparability of clarity and emptiness, of Awareness and Being.

Yes, yes, Descartes taught us all about the cogito. The problem is making the leap from solipsistic awareness to the existence of other minds; to coherent statements about actual reality and justifying your epistemic parameters. That's where all this poetry seems to fall flat, Balder.

Descartes was on to something, but his conclusions were dualistic and thus ultimately flawed. He initiated the intractable mind-body problem that has plagued Western philosophy ever since. Being is self-aware, but in this case, awareness is not some separate, distinct property which Being possesses, or which it might lose or cast off. Knowing and Being are a unity.



Balder writes:
Alternatively, Dzogchen describes ultimate reality in triune terms: Essence, Nature, and Energy.

Very nice. The Catholic church took the pagan gods and rename them after characters of the Bible. Dzogchen takes the Persons of the Godhead and renames them according to his own Godless notions of "being."

I'm sorry, you've got it backwards. Those superstitious and philosophically untutored fishermen and tax collectors obviously took the Buddhist trikaya and mythologized it in good, hick-like, anthropomorphic fashion! Sorry, Hilston, if you're going to continue to make these ridiculous statements about Buddhism "stealing" from Christianity, I am going to have a hard time taking you seriously.



Balder writes:
Here, essence is the utter openness of Being, nature is the clarity or intrinsic awareness and intelligence of Being, and Energy is the spontaneous fecundity and creativity of Being, ...
These are all nice descriptions, and probably intimidate the beejeepers out of the average person. I see it as a lot of self-refuting rhetoric.

Well, they stumped you for awhile! But if you see what I'm saying as a lot of self-refuting rhetoric, don't just say so. Demonstrate the incoherence. You haven't done that yet; you’ve only mocked, mischaracterized, and misread things and then responded to your distortions.



Balder writes:
... which manifests either in the form of pristine cognitions ...

Of course, and "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." I understand that Dzogchen has hijacked the Christian concept of the Second Person manifesting the Trinity, just as you claim the SEPC as the "nature of Being" manifests the triunity of Being, and that's all very clever. I want to know if the SEPC is personal and self-aware.

Yes, SEPC is self-aware. But I need to ask you what you mean by personal. It is not a particular person, an entity that is set over against other entities.



Balder writes:
(discrete knowings that never stray from their source) ...

So much for "absolute openness."

Says who?


Here's the bottom line: …Why should we listen to Dzogchen, Balder? You have yet to tell us why you believe his claims? You have yet to tell us why anyone else should believe. What's worse, you offer no motivation to even consider them.

I have been writing here not to proselytize for Dzogchen, since I have no expectations that you or Clete will be leaving your faiths soon, and I am not trying to entice you to do so. I am only answering your challenge that no other worldview can account for the world as we know it, as well as giving you the opportunity (quite graciously, I might add ;) ) to demonstrate presuppositionalism in action.

Peace,
Balder

Hilston
November 22nd, 2004, 11:48 PM
Originally posted by Balder
For your information, since I picked up that you were starting to use Dzogchen as a personal name, Dzogchen is the name of a tradition, not of a particular spiritual figure. Dzog-chen literally means, “Great Perfection” or “Great Completeness.”That's fine. Why do you believe the teachings of the Dzogchen tradition to be true?


Originally posted by Balder
Can you name, and explain in your own words, any system of logic that is not a human system of logic?There is only one true system of logic, that which derives from the revealed nature of God. And then there are human corruptions of it.


Originally posted by Balder
If you believe everything in the universe is absolutely deterministic, how do you account for free will? Or is that out?It depends on how you define free will. Do you really believe you're free? Give me an example of an unconstrained decision you've made.


Originally posted by Balder
Let me guess. Their work is "groundless" because they don't believe a cosmic, stylized Oriental despot or tribal wargod set it all in motion?Their work is not groundless. Their assumptions are.

Hilston previously wrote:
Good grief, Balder. Couldn't you (or Günther) just say, "Budda (sic) is indescribable and utterly subjective"?


Originally posted by Balder
I guess I could, if you really want me to. But that's not what Guenther said.Is that what you believe? That Buddha is indescribable and utterly subjective?


Originally posted by Balder Are you prepared to seriously take up the practice of meditation? If you are, then you will surely get your demonstration, sooner or later.How do you define meditation? Why did you take it up? What reason would you give for me to consider meditation as you define it?


Originally posted by Balder
The alternative is incoherent. And the traditional theistic answer is problematic. Ask a Christian if there is a beginning to existence, they will say yes, there must be. Ask a Christian if God has a beginning, they will say no. Ask a Christian if God exists, they will say yes…Why must there be only one kind of existence?


Originally posted by Balder
Being is self-aware, ...How do you know this is true?


Originally posted by Balder
... but in this case, awareness is not some separate, distinct property which Being possesses, or which it might lose or cast off. Knowing and Being are a unity.Are Knowing and Being mutually inclusive? Can an unconscious entity have Being?

Hilston wrote:
Very nice. The Catholic church took the pagan gods and rename them after characters of the Bible. Dzogchen takes the Persons of the Godhead and renames them according to his own Godless notions of "being."


Originally posted by Balder
I'm sorry, you've got it backwards. Those superstitious and philosophically untutored fishermen and tax collectors obviously took the Buddhist trikaya and mythologized it in good, hick-like, anthropomorphic fashion! Sorry, Hilston, if you're going to continue to make these ridiculous statements about Buddhism "stealing" from Christianity, I am going to have a hard time taking you seriously.What makes my statement ridiculous? Why should I take you any more seriously than you take me?

Hilston wrote:
These are all nice descriptions, and probably intimidate the beejeepers out of the average person. I see it as a lot of self-refuting rhetoric.


Originally posted by Balder Well, they stumped you for awhile!Balder, I could easily make up a boatload of jargon-saturated double-speak that would take time and effort for anyone to unravel. I'm not convinced that you haven't been duped by a German huckster.


Originally posted by Balder
But if you see what I'm saying as a lot of self-refuting rhetoric, don't just say so. Demonstrate the incoherence. You haven't done that yet; you’ve only mocked, mischaracterized, and misread things and then responded to your distortions.The incoherence lies in your evasion and avoidance of speaking in comprehensible terms. Whenever I try to get you to define things, the result is more entanglement.


Originally posted by Balder
Yes, SEPC is self-aware.Does this self-awareness include will and desire?


Originally posted by Balder
But I need to ask you what you mean by personal. It is not a particular person, an entity that is set over against other entities.It's a self-aware non-person? Why do you believe this?


Originally posted by Balder
I have been writing here not to proselytize for Dzogchen, since I have no expectations that you or Clete will be leaving your faiths soon, and I am not trying to entice you to do so.Why would anyone want to embrace Dzogchen?


Elsewhere you've written:
[T]he fully realized Buddha [has] a radiant and eternal body.Why do you believe this?

When you talk about "our fulfillment lying most definitely in our transcendence of the limitations of this life," why should one desire to transcend "the limitations of this life"?

You wrote that "there are in fact quite a number of teachings that give a glimpse of what 'lies beyond.'" Why do you believe that these teachings are true?

Why do you believe Siddhartha was right?

Balder
November 23rd, 2004, 12:31 AM
Hi, Hilston,

I just saw you added something. I was coming to add the following piece, but I haven't read your response yet. I will now!

Balder wrote:
But I would add that I believe that many of the things we call laws are more likely universal habits. Certainly, this is the contention of Buddhism, and a number of modern physicists and biologists agree: things manifest and behave in a certain way, along certain "grooves" or lines of development, not because abstract laws compel them to, but because a momentum has built up which makes one sort of happening more likely than another, given certain prevailing conditions.



Hilston literally begged:
It would really really really REALLY help if you could put some skin and bones on what you're talking about. Puh-LEEEEZE offer an example so we can discuss it.

One example would be the problem of exact measurement. If you actually take seriously the data that are produced upon successive measurements of physical properties or variables, not “rounding off” or imagining an abstract “perfect condition” which is never actually found in nature, you do not find exact non-statistical regularity, which would be indicative of an absolutely deterministic law in operation. What you do find is varying degrees of habit, of varying, approximate, statistical regularity: in other words, relatively stable patterns of behavior, from certain very entrenched patterns to others which appear to be freer and more open to novelty.

There are lots of examples that could be taken from nature – why protein molecules tend to take a particular form, when no known laws would necessitate that they take that form over others, and yet they do; why out of 250,000 different species of plants, only 3 basic distribution patterns of leaves around stems are found; why bone structures of paws, hands, and fins have similar forms in all vertebrae; etc. You could say that God made them that way, but that is not an argument for specific deterministic laws of nature that require these things to take these forms. Another answer is that the tendency to “hover” around specific forms of organization is indicative of entrenched habits of nature – not “legal necessities,” but behavioral grooves, strange attractors that influence what forms emerge, and how.

Peace,
Balder

Balder
November 23rd, 2004, 01:27 AM
Okay, to respond to a few of your latest comments:


There is only one true system of logic, that which derives from the revealed nature of God. And then there are human corruptions of it.

Do you know this one true logical system, or only the human corruptions of it? Exactly how and where is it revealed? How do you tell if you've discerned it correctly, and not been misled by fallible human corruptions of logic in the process of your evaluation of it?

Are Knowing and Being mutually inclusive? Can an unconscious entity have Being?

Yes, an unconscious entity can have being. Unconsciousness is still a form of consciousness, albeit often a stepped down, non-self-reflective form of consciousness. And even very complex operations of consciousness may take place outside of the immediate purview of personal consciousness. Through the practice of meditation, however, awareness may expand into areas formerly inaccessible to you.


Does this self-awareness [of the SEPC] include will and desire?

It includes intentionality, yes.


Why do you believe the teachings of the Dzogchen tradition to be true?

You wrote that "there are in fact quite a number of teachings that give a glimpse of what 'lies beyond.'" Why do you believe that these teachings are true?

Why do you believe Siddhartha was right?

There are many reasons, but the only one that I think will carry much weight with you is the following: it is a humanly inexplicable gift of faith.

And that's all I have time for tonight.

Peace,
Balder

Chileice
November 23rd, 2004, 06:59 AM
Though your tete a tete with Hilston is interesting (if not ponderous at times) there is far too much for me to deal with. However, one element of the discussion drew my attention... that is the element of existence. Just last night as I was meditating on the Lord, several verses came to mind about existence. I had not yet read your latest posts but reading them now caused me to think again on the subject.


Originally posted by Balder
Being is not opposed to, conditioned by, or dependent upon anything. It is unlimited and unconstrained by "rules." That's what "absolute" means.


Originally posted by Hilston
Show me the absolute nature and openness of your own being. Give me a demonstration.




Originally posted by Balder
Are you prepared to seriously take up the practice of meditation? If you are, then you will surely get your demonstration, sooner or later.






Originally posted by Balder
Thus, Being did not “come into existence” at any time, or “come from” anywhere; it always is.




Originally posted by Hilston
Why do you believe this?



Originally posted by Balder

The alternative is incoherent. And the traditional theistic answer is problematic. Ask a Christian if there is a beginning to existence, they will say yes, there must be. Ask a Christian if God has a beginning, they will say no. Ask a Christian if God exists, they will say yes…



Originally posted by Balder
In the Buddhist (particularly Dzogchen) tradition, Being is also called
Mind-as-such (sems-nyid) or buddhanature. Being and knowing are a
unity;




Originally posted by Hilston

Then being isn't absolute, Balder.




Originally posted by Balder
Huh? Explain yourself, Hilston!


Originally posted by Balder
... self-existent pristine cognitiveness, as the nature of Being itself, is the ground of all existents.




Originally posted by Hilston

That's a tautology, Balder. Being as the ground of being is incoherent. It's not that impressive when you boil it down, Balder.




Originally posted by Balder
It’s not that impressive when you misrepresent it! I think you just didn't read it very carefully. I didn't say Being is the ground of Being, or even of Existence, but of existents. Being-as-such does not have a "ground,” a conditioning support, or a source.


Peace,
Balder

This passage from Paul in Acts 17 comes to mind:

Originally posted by Luke, quoting Paul
22 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:
TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.
Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, "For we are also His offspring.' 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead."

For in Him we live and move and have our being. Our existence is tied to the existence of God and God just exists. Therefore I think there is some congruency in the idea you present Balder, but likewise the Christian view is also congruent. Without the existent one who is "I AM", we are not.

Colossians 3 also sheds light on this idea:

Originally posted by Paul
1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
Our life, as Christians, is hidden in Christ who is in God who is existence itself. In some ways my existence transcends beginnings and ends because I am now in eternity with Him, though the fullness of that fact has yet to be revealed.

Balder
November 23rd, 2004, 10:07 PM
I appreciate the clarity and warmth of your response, Chiliece.

Thank you.

Balder
November 23rd, 2004, 11:28 PM
Hilston,

This will be my third (admittedly short) post to you in a row, so I'll stop after this one because otherwise the material will just build up too much. You mentioned in one of your letters that responding was a waste of time you do not have, so I want to say that I will not be offended if you don't respond to every single sentence of my posts. Respond to whatever you like, and if you skip over something to which I am especially attached or to which I'd really like a response, I'll let you know.

We do seem to be a bit astray from the theme of this thread, but hopefully not so far astray that we can't get back on track.

Balder wrote:
As I said in earlier posts, two Buddhist tenets -- the primordiality of experience or "mind" and the radical interdependence and co-determination of phenomena -- are quite capable of accounting for the order of cosmos.


Hilston asked:
Did order always exist? Or did it arise phenomenologically out of chaos?

If by chaos you mean a condition in which phenomena exist without any sort of relationship or order, and if you are asking if such a condition preceded the emergence of “Reality,” then no, order has always existed, whether implicate or explicate. But since “order” actually implies a coherent arrangement of “parts,” I should clarify this statement. I do not believe there are any “primordial,” self-existent “parts” in the universe, any fundamental “things” that have always existed in relationship to each other. Rather, I think “order” as the creativity of SEPC has always been emerging or “appearing.”

Balder wrote:
The primordiality of "mind" is not something many physicists readily accept, though some (like David Bohm) speak about the primordiality of meaning (soma-significance and signa-somatics), ...


Don't forget about sogma-somnificance and simni-sigmatics.

Oh, you’re a yuck a minute, H. If you don’t know what the words mean, just ask.

Balder wrote [quoting Günther]:
Since meaning is always meaning for someone, who yet never stands outside the configuration of lived experience, this circumstance points to the human being (or existent) who, in the search for ‘meaningful existence’ – for the meaning of (his) existence – cannot but start from the 'experience' of existence as the being he himself is. Such a starting point precludes any attempt to resort to such notions as 'substance' (which means different things to different persons, be they philosophers or lesser mortals), or 'particular existent,' which is always meant to be a particular ‘this’ in contrast with some other particular 'that,' and about which propositions are entertained as to the ‘what’ this particular existent is, be this 'what' then declared to be a substance or an essence.


Why can't he just say that everything is relative and subjective, including everything he said in the above paragraph?

Because that’s not what he is talking about. He is stressing the primacy of the configurational nature of experience, as the true locus of meaning, and contrasting that to the familiar notions of “substance” and “essence” – two ways in which we typically attempt to classify and describe the world.


Do you believe in the permanence of the soul, Balder? Or do you hold to the doctrine of anatta? Is a yes or no answer possible? Or is that going require another prolix treatise, complete with Tibetan transliterations and hyphenated character strings?

Both.


Does it impress you that Dzogchen understood the first law of thermodynamics? Did the middle way lead him to that understanding? Were Joule and Helmholtz relying on Buddhist thought when they codified the conservation of mass and energy?

Something tells me that if you could show that a Biblical figure discovered the first law of thermodynamics, you would be waving that as a proud trophy in these conversations.

Balder wrote [quoting Günther]:
It does not indicate the obliteration of differentiations, nor does it imply a fusion of disparate entities. Rather, it emphasizes the presence of a continuum from which, negatively speaking, dichotomies such as exterior and interior, subject and object, are suspended. More positively stated, these dichotomies are seen and felt to interpenetrate 'like the reflection of the moon in water.'


Hilston said:
Do you understand that paragraph, Balder? Explain it to me.

He’s talking about non-duality. Perhaps we can approach it this way. How do you understand Christian doctrine to have resolved the “problem” of unity and multiplicity? Is it just that the Bible teaches that God is both Three and One, and you believe it without necessarily understanding it? Or do you have an intellectual understanding or a sense for how something could be both single and multiple? What is the relationship between the triune nature of the Godhead and the manifest universe, if any? Do you think the triune nature of the Godhead is mysterious, or is it really rather prosaic, like saying people are both “billions” and “one” because we’re all made of flesh, and yet we have different bodies?

What I am asking here, I guess, is, What is your understanding of the perichoresis of the Trinity? Theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg writes, "[T]he common essence of the three Persons does not have any separate reality prior to them but exists only in their interrelationship." What do you think of this claim?

Best wishes,
Balder

Hilston
November 23rd, 2004, 11:43 PM
Balder, I thank you for your diligence in this discussion. Thanks also for recognizing my lame attempts at humor.

I will be out of town for several days beginning Thursday. However, I have to finish preparation for two presentations I'll be giving over the weekend, so I won't be very active on TOL in the meantime.

I look forward to continuing our discussion. Until then ...

Peas out.
Jim

Balder
November 23rd, 2004, 11:46 PM
Happy Thanksgiving, Jim.

Hilston
November 23rd, 2004, 11:49 PM
Originally posted by Balder

Happy Thanksgiving, Jim. Altho' I don't celebrate religious holidays, I do appreciate the spirit in which your well wishes are offered.

"Love, baby, that's where it's at." -- B52s

:j

God_Is_Truth
November 23rd, 2004, 11:50 PM
Originally posted by Hilston

Altho' I don't celebrate religious holidays, I do appreciate the spirit in which your well wishes are offered.

"Love, baby, that's where it's at." -- B52s

:j

what about cultural holidays?

Hilston
November 30th, 2004, 09:00 AM
Balder -- I haven't forgotten about you.

Balder
November 30th, 2004, 12:05 PM
Okay! Thanks for checking in.

Hilston
December 2nd, 2004, 01:56 AM
Hi Balder,

Having gone over past posts and after reading your most recent posts, I realize a need to shift gears. My initial efforts were put toward better understanding your brand of Buddhism. I asked you specific questions about some of your claims and I ended up trying to sort through lots of jargon and nomenclature that I had no hope of understanding on my own. I don't view this as productive anymore. For all of your effort and typing, I am thankful and appreciative, but no closer to understanding even the basics of what you espouse. So if you will indulge me, I wish to ask you more general questions in light of my (admittedly inadequate) understanding of Buddhism. First, I will answer your questions.

Hilston wrote:
There is only one true system of logic, that which derives from the revealed nature of God. And then there are human corruptions of it.


Balder writes:
Do you know this one true logical system, or only the human corruptions of it?I know aspects of the true logical system insofar as I understand what the Bible has to say about logic, by description and by example. I'm no logician, but I have a basic understanding. I'm also familiar with some of the human corruptions of logic.


Balder writes:
Exactly how and where is it revealed? How do you tell if you've discerned it correctly, and not been misled by fallible human corruptions of logic in the process of your evaluation of it?The true logical system is both demonstrated and affirmed in the Judeo-Christian Bible. My knowledge of the general reliability of my logical processes is based on faith in the Judeo-Christian Bible. Of course, my initial use of logic, prior to my introduction to the Bible, came quite naturally, as it does with most everyone. However, my later encounters with the teachings of the Bible explained to me the nearly universal recognition and/or use of the laws of logic.

Hilston asked: Are Knowing and Being mutually inclusive? Can an unconscious entity have Being?


Balder writes:
Yes, an unconscious entity can have being. Unconsciousness is still a form of consciousness, albeit often a stepped down, non-self-reflective form of consciousness.So, would you say a shard of metal is an unconscious entity with a stepped down, non-self-reflective form of consciousness?

Hilston asked:
Why do you believe the teachings of the Dzogchen tradition to be true?

You wrote that "there are in fact quite a number of teachings that give a glimpse of what 'lies beyond.'" Why do you believe that these teachings are true?

Why do you believe Siddhartha was right?


Balder writes:
There are many reasons, but the only one that I think will carry much weight with you is the following: it is a humanly inexplicable gift of faith.Is your belief in the verity and righteousness of Dzogchen tradition and Siddhartha's teachings based on the existence of the "humanly inexplicable gift of faith" or the object of that faith, i.e. that which you believe in. In other words, in what or who have you placed your faith?


Balder writes:
We do seem to be a bit astray from the theme of this thread, but hopefully not so far astray that we can't get back on track.I agree, and that's partly my fault. I was genuinely interested (before I knew what I was getting into) in what you believed. Now, I'm not convinced that there is any need whatever to understand it. In fact, it seems deliberately obtuse, and you seem to be wholeheartedly swept away by its ambiguities. Your view seems to preclude any true desire or goal to understand with clarity, or to impart clear understanding to others.

Hilston wrote: Don't forget about sogma-somnificance and simni-sigmatics.


Balder writes:
Oh, you’re a yuck a minute, H. If you don’t know what the words mean, just ask.Balder, are you really that out of touch with the rest of humanity that you actually thought you could use these terms without defining them? What planet are you from? Line up a thousand people, and chances are, all one thousand people would look at you sideways if you used one or both of these terms.

Hilston asked: Do you believe in the permanence of the soul, Balder? Or do you hold to the doctrine of anatta? Is a yes or no answer possible? Or is that going require another prolix treatise, complete with Tibetan transliterations and hyphenated character strings?


Balder writes:
Both.I now realize that I should have asked one question at a time. Do you believe in the permanence of the soul?

Hilston asked:
Does it impress you that Dzogchen understood the first law of thermodynamics? Did the middle way lead him to that understanding? Were Joule and Helmholtz relying on Buddhist thought when they codified the conservation of mass and energy?


Balder writes:
Something tells me that if you could show that a Biblical figure discovered the first law of thermodynamics, you would be waving that as a proud trophy in these conversations.Then you don't understand my argument. There are plenty of Biblical data to affirm the first Law of Thermo', and myriad other recent scientific discoveries. There are plenty of data to show that the Biblical worldview and the ancients had vastly superior knowledge of science, mathematics, nature, etc. But I don't wave these things as proud trophies because it's not a biblical way to approach the matter.


Balder writes:
How do you understand Christian doctrine to have resolved the “problem” of unity and multiplicity? Is it just that the Bible teaches that God is both Three and One, and you believe it without necessarily understanding it?Yes.


Balder writes:
Or do you have an intellectual understanding or a sense for how something could be both single and multiple?Neither.


Balder writes:
What is the relationship between the triune nature of the Godhead and the manifest universe, if any?I see a relationship between the Son's incarnation and the fact that the Son is described as holding the physical universe together. I see a relationship in the manifest universe between decree, vocalization/articulation, and actualization and the triune Godhead. There are others.


Balder writes:
Do you think the triune nature of the Godhead is mysterious, or is it really rather prosaic, like saying people are both “billions” and “one” because we’re all made of flesh, and yet we have different bodies?It's mysterious.


Balder writes:
What I am asking here, I guess, is, What is your understanding of the perichoresis of the Trinity? Theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg writes, "[T]he common essence of the three Persons does not have any separate reality prior to them but exists only in their interrelationship." What do you think of this claim?I mostly agree with it, although I am loath to agree fully, not having explored what he intends by certain terms.

In a book titled Buddhism: The Light of Asia, by Kenneth K.S. Ch'en, the author quotes: "Not to commit any sin, to do good, to purify one's own mind, that is the teaching of the Buddha." He goes on to define sin as "any act that is harmful to oneself or to another." Do you agree with these statements? If so, why is it your desire to eschew sin and to do good and to purify your mind?

Clete
December 2nd, 2004, 12:03 PM
Jim,

I have a question for you.

How central to presuppositionalism is the doctrine of regeneration and total depravity? Please feel free to elaborate as much as possible.

Great post by the way!

Resting in Him,
Clete

Hilston
December 2nd, 2004, 12:40 PM
An excellent question, Clete.


Clete writes:
How central to presuppositionalism is the doctrine of regeneration and total depravity? Please feel free to elaborate as much as posible.Without regeneration as the impetus for embracing the verity of the Scriptures you're left with evidentialism. One of the most egregious errors of Bob Enyart's apologetic is his claim that his belief in the Bible is based on scienfitic evidence. It's important not to confuse this with the fact that all men know of God's existence and their accountability to Him without the Bible saying the so. They have both mediate (through experience and discursive thought) and immediate (intuitive) knowledge of God. When the Bible comes along, it condemns man and tells him what he knows to be true, but prefers to suppress. Total depravity makes it impossible for an unregenerated person to fully accept the Bible's assessment of himself.

For example, while I do tell materialist-atheists what the Bible says about them, I don't expect them to accept it because of their depravity. But that doesn't mean they are unable to rationally process or comprehend the principles. When they ask me how I know what I know, I bring it back to regeneration. When they ask why they should believe what I'm saying, given that they themselves are not regenerated, I say, because, if they do not, their worldview is reduced to absurdity and they become fools. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of true and solid knowledge and wisdom, not scientific investigation, empirical evidence and discursive reasoning. The latter only makes sense in light of the former. The latter avoids logical absurdity only in light of the former.

If they say to me, "How is it fair that you have a solid grounding for your worldview based on regeneration, yet you turn around and tell us to believe your Bible without regeneration?" I tell them that it's the only choice they have if they want to be rational and to avoid absurdity in their existence. If they prefer irrationality and absurdity (and I have had atheists tell me exactly that, in so many words), then they can continue to reject the Bible. If they don't want irrationality and absurdity to obtain in their worldview, then I urge them to repent of their sins, throw themselves on the mercy of God, and beg for Christ's forgiveness for their rebellion.

So, to answer your question, it appears to me, from a biblical standpoint, that recognizing the role of regeneration and the fact of total depravity is vital to a coherent biblical apologetic.

Much more could be said, of course. Let me know if this sparks any further questions.

Knight
December 2nd, 2004, 12:47 PM
Originally posted by Hilston
One of the most egregious errors of Bob Enyart's apologetic is his claim that his belief in the Bible is based on scienfitic evidence. Uh... just to set the record straight here.... I think I can speak for Bob that he views scientific evidence as only one of many proofs that the Bible is the word of God.

I just want to clarify so that the position is not overstated.

Hilston
December 2nd, 2004, 12:59 PM
Originally posted by Knight

Uh... just to set the record straight here.... I think I can speak for Bob that he views scientific evidence as only one of many proofs that the Bible is the word of God.

I just want to clarify so that the position is not overstated. I'm not talking about what Bob considers to be "proof that the Bible is the word of God." I'm talking about how Bob knows, and why he believes the Bible is the word of God, not how he proves it. These are two different issues entirely.

Bob stated unequivocally to atheist Michael Shermer that the reason he believes in the Bible is because he has determined its verity based on scientific evidence.

You said Bob views scientific evidence as one of many proofs. Since you're speaking for Bob, what are the non-scientific proofs Bob bases his belief upon?

Clete
December 2nd, 2004, 01:41 PM
Jim,

I understand that all worldviews other than the Biblical one are logically incoherent. In fact, I find that to be the most compelling argument for the truth of the Scriptures that I have ever heard. I understand that the existence of the Christian God (and all that entails) must be presupposed in order for existence itself to be made any sense of. What I am not convinced of, however, is the necessity of my having been regenerated in order for me to have understood this and excepted it as true.

You said...

If they say to me, "How is it fair that you have a solid grounding for your worldview based on regeneration, yet you turn around and tell us to believe your Bible without regeneration?" I tell them that it's the only choice they have if they want to be rational and to avoid absurdity in their existence. If they prefer irrationality and absurdity (and I have had atheists tell me exactly that, in so many words), then they can continue to reject the Bible. If they don't want irrationality and absurdity to obtain in their worldview, then I urge them to repent of their sins, throw themselves on the mercy of God, and beg for Christ's forgiveness for their rebellion.
This paragraph is striking to me because it is in effect the exact same thing that I would say to an atheist but without any reference to the idea of regeneration. I, not believing that neither regeneration nor total depravity are correct theologies can very easily see myself saying to an atheist, "If you prefer irrationality and absurdity, then you can continue to reject the Bible. If you don't want irrationality and absurdity to obtain in their worldview, then I urge you to repent of your sins, throw yourself on the mercy of God, and beg for Christ's forgiveness for your rebellion."
So my question is, why regeneration? It seems based on this one response that it is simply a separate theology which you plug in when it is appropriate but some of the things I've read give it a much more central position. In fact, from what I understand (and I could be wrong) of what Van Til taught, regeneration is foundational to the presuppositional apologetic; that if regeneration is not a true theology then presuppositionalism, while still very effective, cannot be held as the only permissible apologetic.
You seem to make the case for the exclusivity of presuppositionalism based on the idea that it is the only apologetic with Biblical precedent, which is an argument that I can live with. Others that I've read, however, seem to make presuppositionalism simply an extension of reformed theology. They seem to base their belief in presuppositionalism on the same basis that they believe in the rest of reformed theology (i.e. total depravity, unconditional election, irresistible grace, limited atonement, regeneration, predestination, the exhaustive foreknowledge of God, etc, etc.).
What I am wondering is whether or not you make this same connection with reformed theology and if so, is it by preference or by necessity? Is presuppositionalism dependant upon reformed theology or are they simply compatible?
I hope the intent of my question is clear, let me know if I need to rephrase it.

Resting in Him,
Clete

Knight
December 2nd, 2004, 02:05 PM
Originally posted by Hilston
You said Bob views scientific evidence as one of many proofs. Since you're speaking for Bob, what are the non-scientific proofs Bob bases his belief upon? My guess is Bob would say that God exists and the Bible is the reliable word of God based on many evidences i.e., historical evidence (not just archaeological but also social, traditional and civil etc.), then there is the evidence we can find when exploring the issue of absolute morality and finally the evidence we can find when examining the Bible itself, its claims and the proof of such claims. These are all pieces of evidence that make a compelling argument for the existence of God and the reliability that the Bible is indeed His word.

Hilston
December 2nd, 2004, 02:54 PM
Knight writes:
My guess is Bob would say that God exists and the Bible is the reliable word of God based on many evidences i.e., historical evidence (not just archaeological but also social, traditional and civil etc.), ...I asked what, other than scientific evidence, Enyart based his belief on. You just gave me more scientific evidence.


Knight writes:
... then there is the evidence we can find when exploring the issue of absolute morality ...More scientific evidence.


Knight writes:
... and finally the evidence we can find when examining the Bible itself, its claims and the proof of such claims.And yet more scientific evidence. All of these involve observable, testable, repeatable propositions and conclusions, Knight. These are all scientific; they all come under the heading of "inferred via the scientific method." You said Bob had non-scientific reasons for believing the Bible. What are they? Or do you now wish to retract your earlier claim and take Bob at his word that his belief is based on scientific evidence?


Knight writes:
These are all pieces of evidence that make a compelling argument for the existence of God and the reliability that the Bible is indeed His word.So far, right? That's the trouble with evidentialists, their "God of the Gaps" is only as convincing as the atheists lack of explanation. For every explanation he invents, the atheist becomes wiser in his own conceit, thanks to the evidentialist apologists like Knight and Enyart who use unbiblical arguments and incoherent reasoning, failing to sufficiently dismantle the gainsayer's view and expose it for the irrational house of cards that it is.

Knight
December 2nd, 2004, 03:16 PM
Originally posted by Hilston

I asked what, other than scientific evidence, Enyart based his belief on. You just gave me more scientific evidence.

More scientific evidence.You assert traditional, societal and moral evidence is scientific evidence? :confused:

If so... in your opinion what type of evidence WOULDN'T be considered scientific evidence?

Knight
December 2nd, 2004, 03:21 PM
Originally posted by Hilston
So far, right? That's the trouble with evidentialists, their "God of the Gaps" is only as convincing as the atheists lack of explanation. For every explanation he invents, the atheist becomes wiser in his own conceit, thanks to the evidentialist apologists like Knight and Enyart who use unbiblical arguments and incoherent reasoning, failing to sufficiently dismantle the gainsayer's view and expose it for the irrational house of cards that it is. Well... all I can say is praise the Lord for these so called "unbiblical arguments and incoherent reasonings" because I, my wife, my 6 kids, my dad, my sister and her husband and their 4 kids, my wife's sister and her husband and their 2 children all have come to know the Lord through these incoherent reasonings. :D

Clete
December 2nd, 2004, 03:31 PM
Originally posted by Hilston
So far, right? That's the trouble with evidentialists, their "God of the Gaps" is only as convincing as the atheists lack of explanation. For every explanation he invents, the atheist becomes wiser in his own conceit, thanks to the evidentialist apologists like Knight and Enyart who use unbiblical arguments and incoherent reasoning, failing to sufficiently dismantle the gainsayer's view and expose it for the irrational house of cards that it is.
This seems a bit overstated, I think.
First of all, the atheist's lack of ability to explain the evidence is a permanent condition. It’s not like there is some eureka moment coming in which some huge break through in science proves the nonexistence of God. That is not going to happen because it cannot happen. A point with which I am sure you agree.
Secondly, the only objection you have with use of such evidence is when one uses it in an apologetic setting. It's not that you think that the evidence is somehow wrong or misleading, or that the conclusions based on that evidence are in error, it's simply the circumstances of their application that you object too. Isn't that correct, or have I missed something?

This is where I find a problem with the insistence upon the exclusivity of the presuppositional apologetic. Even (especially) if one assumes that regeneration plays a role here. If regeneration is true, the fact is, that you cannot tell who is and who isn't regenerate until after they have believed. You also hold that those who are regenerate are able to use logic and the scientific method without "question begging" and are able to come to genuinely reliable conclusions. So what if Bob Enyart was regenerated when he began looking at this evidence and was therefore able to accurately analyze that evidence and come to a conclusion that was not only correct but that he could be certain of based on the correctness of his Biblical worldview.

Resting in Him,
Clete

Hilston
December 2nd, 2004, 05:01 PM
Knight writes:You assert traditional, societal and moral evidence is scientific evidence?Of course it is. It's observable. It's testable. It's repeatable. Traditions can be observed and evaluated. Societal norms can be examined and assessed. Moral values can be observed and correlated. Experts in anthropological and sociological fields are called scientists.


Knight writes:
If so... in your opinion what type of evidence WOULDN'T be considered scientific evidence?None. Where is the disconnect here, Knight? You, speaking for Enyart, say that there is something other than scientific evidence that Enyart bases his belief on. Please, just spit it out, or recant your claim.


Originally posted by Knight
Well... all I can say is praise the Lord for these so called "unbiblical arguments and incoherent reasonings" because I, my wife, my 6 kids, my dad, my sister and her husband and their 4 kids, my wife's sister and her husband and their 2 children all have come to know the Lord through these incoherent reasonings. :D Yeah, that's a bullet-proof argument for false doctrine if I ever saw one. If you can't defend a view on Biblical grounds, resort to the anecdotal promotional claims. Praise the Lord for Benny Hinn, too. How about Robert Tilton, Oral Roberts, Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Paul Crouch, and Jack Hyles. Might as well add Madonna and the Mormons to that list, since I personally know two people who came to the Lord through their influence as well.

:kookoo:

Hilston
December 2nd, 2004, 05:38 PM
Clete writes:
First of all, the atheist's lack of ability to explain the evidence is a permanent condition.Not in his own mind. Atheists have all kinds of explanations. Both debates I heard between Bob Enyart and atheists were disastrous. Michael Shermer and Doug Krueger both made him look like a fool and left the debate wiser in their own conceit, exactly what Prov 26:4,5 warns against. Most atheists have never had their fundamental presuppositions adequately challenged, and until they are, they just plod along, fully satisfied with their own explanations for the evidence. But once they have their basic assumptions challenged, they (sometimes) realize the problems underlying their worldview. I've seen it happen. They get to the end of the debate and say, "OK, fine. I can't prove my basic assumptions and you can. I'm still not going to believe in the Big Man in the Sky." At which point I explain that they have openly preferred an irrational and arbitrary worldview to a rational and coherent one, and that judgment day is going to be all the more horrific for them as a result.


Clete writes:
It’s not like there is some eureka moment coming in which some huge break through in science proves the nonexistence of God.According to the atheists, the break-throughs are innumerable, devastating and a done-deal. Just ask them. So what are we to do? Just say, "Nuh uh. You're wrong. You can't explain the evidence." And then the atheist proceeds to do just that. Of course, all the while they are borrowing our tools to do so, and we ought not to allow this.


Clete writes:
That is not going to happen because it cannot happen. A point with which I am sure you agree.No, they do it all the time. Everyday. In their professions, in their laboratories, in their research, they sit around coming up with godless explanations for the evidence. It's what they're paid to do and their employers see it as money well spent.


Clete writes:
Secondly, the only objection you have with use of such evidence is when one uses it in an apologetic setting. It's not that you think that the evidence is somehow wrong or misleading, or that the conclusions based on that evidence are in error, it's simply the circumstances of their application that you object too. Isn't that correct, or have I missed something?I object to the use of evidence with or by those who cannot justify their methods or criteria of assessment. That's all. And it includes professing Christians. They don't just get to use the tools for free. They have to prove that they know how to use them and why they work.


Clete writes:
This is where I find a problem with the insistence upon the exclusivity of the presuppositional apologetic. Even (especially) if one assumes that regeneration plays a role here. If regeneration is true, the fact is, that you cannot tell who is and who isn't regenerate until after they have believed.It isn't relevant to the argument against the atheist. It is only personally relevant from the standpoint of the apologist in answer to the question: How do you know what you know, and how do you know you're not being deceived? It's a different matter than proving the same. My knowledge (certainty, assurance, confidence) is different than my proof. Certainty is available only to the regenerate; it's not available to the unregenerate.


Clete writes:
You also hold that those who are regenerate are able to use logic and the scientific method without "question begging" and are able to come to genuinely reliable conclusions. So what if I Bob Enyart was regenerated when he began looking at this evidence and was therefore able to accurately analyze that evidence and come to a conclusion that was not only correct but that he could be certain of based on the correctness of his Biblical worldview.That is the correct method and exactly the way it's supposed to happen. Note that the correctness of the Biblical worldview precedes the evaluation of evidence. What Knight is claiming is the opposite: He first looks at the evidence, picking himself up by his own bootstraps, presuming to use tools that he cannot justify, putting God in the dock for evaluation and judgment, and then decides whether or not this God is worthy of his worship. Of course, no one really views it or states it so harshly, but it is exactly what is going on when people presume in this way. It's the sin of Adam.

Knight
December 2nd, 2004, 06:15 PM
Originally posted by Hilston

Of course it is. It's observable. It's testable. It's repeatable. Traditions can be observed and evaluated. Societal norms can be examined and assessed. Moral values can be observed and correlated. Experts in anthropological and sociological fields are called scientists.

None. Where is the disconnect here, Knight? You, speaking for Enyart, say that there is something other than scientific evidence that Enyart bases his belief on. Please, just spit it out, or recant your claim.

Yeah, that's a bullet-proof argument for false doctrine if I ever saw one. If you can't defend a view on Biblical grounds, resort to the anecdotal promotional claims. Praise the Lord for Benny Hinn, too. How about Robert Tilton, Oral Roberts, Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Paul Crouch, and Jack Hyles. Might as well add Madonna and the Mormons to that list, since I personally know two people who came to the Lord through their influence as well.

:kookoo: :sigh: Every time I go against my better judgment and attempt to discuss something with you Jim all I get is sarcasm and rudeness.

Is it within you to have a friendly discussion?

Hilston
December 2nd, 2004, 06:49 PM
Originally posted by Knight

:sigh: Every time I go against my better judgment and attempt to discuss something with you Jim all I get is sarcasm and rudeness.

Is it within you to have a friendly discussion? Knight, there was nothing unfriendly or sarcastic about what I wrote. Read it again; imagine a smile on my face. Imagine the tone of voice you heard in our phone conversation. Try not to be so defensive and it will sound perfectly friendly and civil. Do you remember what you wrote in the previous post?

"Well... all I can say is praise the Lord for these so called 'unbiblical arguments and incoherent reasonings' because I, my wife, my 6 kids, my dad, my sister and her husband and their 4 kids, my wife's sister and her husband and their 2 children all have come to know the Lord through these incoherent reasonings."

What is your praising the Lord for "so-called 'unbiblical arguments and coherent reasonings'" if not sarcasm? I answered in kind, with the same kind of irony that you used. But it's ok for you to use it, isn't it? If it makes you feel better, go ahead and consider the following statement to be quite unfriendly: Your modus operandi is a double standard; one for you and your friends, and another for the rest of the hostile world.

While your tone and your choice of words may be the friendliest ever, your M.O. is disgusting and one of the unfriendliest things I can imagine short of violence.

Clete
December 2nd, 2004, 06:54 PM
Originally posted by Hilston
Not in his own mind. Atheists have all kinds of explanations.

…they do it all the time. Everyday. In their professions, in their laboratories, in their research, they sit around coming up with godless explanations for the evidence. It's what they're paid to do and their employers see it as money well spent.
I agree that the atheist THINKS he has explained the evidence but he hasn't REALLY explained anything unless he happens upon the truth in spite of his unbelief (which happens quite a bit, by the way). The evidence in the world around us was created by God, and so must, by necessity, always lead to the conclusion that He does, in fact, exist if that evidence is correctly collected and analyzed.
Presup's argue that there can be no neutral position from which to analyze the available evidence and I agree with that but I also think that it isn't necessarily relevant. Suppose that the atheist analyzes the data and comes up with what he thinks is a good explanation, then the theists analyzes the same data set and comes up with a different explanation. Two different conclusion based on the same evidence, one wrong, the other right, both biased. Ignoring and even accepting the biases, should it not be possible for the theist to demonstrate that his conclusion, his explanation of the evidence, is far superior to that of the atheists? Wouldn't a correct answer always be more easily demonstrated as true than a false one? Not that this would be convincing to the atheist necessarily, but it could be, especially if this atheist is elect and doesn't know it, right? And so, neutrality isn't necessary, only intellectual honesty.


I object to the use of evidence with or by those who cannot justify their methods or criteria of assessment. That's all. And it includes professing Christians. They don't just get to use the tools for free. They have to prove that they know how to use them and why they work.
Who says? The Bible certainly never makes any such claim. And while I agree when you get to an epistemological level in the discussion, a Biblical worldview is indeed the only one that holds up but as far as I am concerned that is only just so much more evidence. And what's more, you use it as evidence, and expect the atheist to factor the epistemological problems that he has in as evidence, even proof, that his worldview is incorrect.
It the same thing, I guess it was I'm getting at. You are doing the same thing except that the evidence that you are presenting is epistemological. Not that that is a small difference, indeed, it's an important difference but the point is that you are still presenting evidence that must be analyzed via the very logic that you insist that they are not allowed to use in the first place and so I don't understand why they can analyze epistemological evidence and not any other sort of evidence.


It isn't relevant to the argument against the atheist. It is only personally relevant from the standpoint of the apologist in answer to the question: How do you know what you know, and how do you know you're not being deceived? It's a different matter than proving the same. My knowledge (certainty, assurance, confidence) is different than my proof. Certainty is available only to the regenerate; it's not available to the unregenerate.
But you can still prove that which you believe, right? And this proof is done by a logical analysis of the evidence, is it not?


That is the correct method and exactly the way it's supposed to happen. Note that the correctness of the Biblical worldview precedes the evaluation of evidence. What Knight is claiming is the opposite: He first looks at the evidence, picking himself up by his own bootstraps, presuming to use tools that he cannot justify, putting God in the dock for evaluation and judgment, and then decides whether or not this God is worthy of his worship. Of course, no one really views it or states it so harshly, but it is exactly what is going on when people presume in this way. It's the sin of Adam.
I think you are reading more into Bob's statement that what was meant. By your own logic all that is required is that the Biblical worldview be in place prior to an analysis of the evidence. You have not said that one must be aware that his worldview is Biblical. In fact, you have, in effect, claimed that everyone has, to one degree or another, a Biblical worldview whether they are aware of it or not. So what's to keep them from a correct analysis of the available evidence and what is the point from withholding it from them? And if such an analysis was done by someone who wasn't aware that he had a Biblical worldview to start with, wouldn't that person naturally make the statement that he had come to faith based on an analysis of the evidence? Whether this assessment is accurate or not isn't the point, the point is, that you cannot tell you is and is not elect (assuming for the sake of this discussion that election is a correct theology), nor can you tell what someone's presuppositions are by looking at them and so cannot say with certainty that an examination of the evidence is inappropriate for anyone individual person.


Resting in Him,
Clete

Balder
December 2nd, 2004, 07:11 PM
Hilston,


So if you will indulge me, I wish to ask you more general
questions in light of my (admittedly inadequate) understanding of
Buddhism.

That's a good idea. That's why I gave you a concise statement why I believed Buddhism provided the foundations for a coherent worldview and met all the standards of validity which you believe apply exclusively to Christianity -- I thought we could build on those few key claims. I think some of the Guenther quotes were also relevant, but the bulk of them were probably unnecessary and I'm sorry for clouding the water with admittedly foreign and difficult terminology.


Hilston wrote:
I know aspects of the true logical system insofar as I understand what the Bible has to say about logic, by description and by example. I'm no logician, but I have a basic understanding. I'm also familiar with some of the human corruptions of logic.

...The true logical system is both demonstrated and affirmed in the
Judeo-Christian Bible. My knowledge of the general reliability of my logical processes is based on faith in the Judeo-Christian Bible. Of course, my initial use of logic, prior to my introduction to the Bible, came quite naturally, as it does with most everyone. However, my later encounters with the teachings of the Bible explained to me the nearly universal recognition and/or use of the laws of logic.

If you know the "true logical system" only partially, and largely by faith, how are you able to ascertain which human systems of logic are corruptions of a logical system which is admittedly opaque to you?

When you write, "My knowledge of the general reliability of my logical processes is based on faith in the Judeo-Christian Bible," I pick up on a (perhaps unintentional) sleight-of-hand. What you really are saying is that you have faith in the general reliability of your senses based on your faith in the reliability of the Biblical witness. Because if the structure of the whole rests not on direct knowledge but on faith, then the specific items which you claim are supported by that structure cannot be known more absolutely and with more surety than the supporting structure itself.

You say that the Judeo-Christian Bible demonstrates and affirms the "true logical system." I have several questions about this claim. We've ascertained that you're not sure about all of the particulars of the "true logical system," but you have faith that what is recorded in the Bible definitely reflects aspects of it. First off, how do you know this? How do you know the Bible reflects parts of an entity which is unknown to you, at least in its full expression? Aren't you really saying that, based on your faith in the Bible, you have faith that whatever logical elements show up in the Bible must be "parts" of the true system of logic?

I've read the Bible front to back, and I do not recall many overt claims about logic, laws of logic, the necessary foundations for logic, and so on. Admittedly it's been at least 10 years since I read the Bible all the way through, so my memory may be failing me; can you point me to direct,clear Biblical teachings on logic? I have no problem believing that the Bible affirms and demonstrates logic, but that feature is certainly not unique to the Bible. I would dare say that most human documents at least implicitly affirm and demonstrate logic, if only because logic is a feature (but not the only feature) of human communication and thus human texts. Is there something about the Bible's affirmation and demonstration of logic that sets it in a league of its own, as the exemplar and in fact the necessary foundation of logic itself?

You may have read some of my correspondence with Clete and others on the "Religion is Obsolete" thread. I'm interested in your thoughts: if the Bible is indeed the ultimate source and foundation for logic and truth, forming the presuppositional bedrock for all valid forms of knowledge, how do you account for the fact that the Bible presupposes an outmoded, mythological, and factually incorrect cosmology as the backdrop of its narrative? If you haven't read my conversations with Clete, then in particular I am talking about the common three-tiered, enclosed universe of the ancients, where the sky was believed to be a metal dome (which, in the Bible, serves to separate celestial waters from terrestial waters and to support God's throne),studded with stars and supported by pillars, equipped with "gates" for admitting water from the celestial oceans and storehouses for storing hail, wind, etc, etc. If the Bible truly represents the only coherent, logical, absolutely true portrait of the universe, including its nature, origin, and organization, then how do you account for its presupposing the mythological (and incorrect if quite common) worldview I've described above?

I will close this letter here, but will post another one answering your questions to me soon.

Peace,
Balder

Clete
December 2nd, 2004, 07:11 PM
Knight and Jim,

I know that neither of you have asked my opinion and so I will offer this one observation and then will keep my mouth shut until asked a direct question but coming from a guy who likes both of you very much and is impressed by the intelligent, honest and articulate nature of you both, I would submit that you both read far more into each other's posts than is there.

Knight you seem to miss Jim's sarcasm and read it as overt hostility (which is pretty easy to do sometimes) and when you respond to the perceived hostility Jim reacts to what he thinks is a double standard on your part because as far as he is concerned, he's just dishing out the ice cream that you brought to the party! Then the real trouble begins because at that point there really is hostility and all of a sudden we've got a real nasty couple of posts on our hands.

Okay, there's my two cents. I'll shut up now.

Resting in Him,
Clete

Knight
December 2nd, 2004, 07:18 PM
Originally posted by Hilston

While your tone and your choice of words may be the friendliest ever, your M.O. is disgusting and one of the unfriendliest things I can imagine short of violence. Uh... Okay... :kookoo:

Knight
December 2nd, 2004, 07:21 PM
Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer

Knight and Jim,

I know that neither of you have asked my opinion and so I will offer this one observation and then will keep my mouth shut until asked a direct question but coming from a guy who likes both of you very much and is impressed by the intelligent, honest and articulate nature of you both, I would submit that you both read far more into each other's posts than is there.

Knight you seem to miss Jim's sarcasm and read it as overt hostility (which is pretty easy to do sometimes) and when you respond to the perceived hostility Jim reacts to what he thinks is a double standard on your part because as far as he is concerned, he's just dishing out the ice cream that you brought to the party! Then the real trouble begins because at that point there really is hostility and all of a sudden we've got a real nasty couple of posts on our hands.

Okay, there's my two cents. I'll shut up now.

Resting in Him,
Clete Point well taken.

Knight
December 2nd, 2004, 08:01 PM
Originally posted by Hilston

Of course it is. It's observable. It's testable. It's repeatable. Traditions can be observed and evaluated. Societal norms can be examined and assessed. Moral values can be observed and correlated. Experts in anthropological and sociological fields are called scientists.
I think our misunderstanding here is that I was talking about scientific evidence (as in evidence from the sciences) and you were talking about scientifically looking at the evidence (whatever type of evidence that may be). Sorry for the misunderstanding

Hilston
December 2nd, 2004, 09:33 PM
Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
I agree that the atheist THINKS he has explained the evidence but he hasn't REALLY explained anything unless he happens upon the truth in spite of his unbelief (which happens quite a bit, by the way).I agree, but the question is not whether or not the atheist can balance his checkbook. Of course he can. The question is whether or not the atheist's espoused claims comport with reality in light of his underlying presuppositions. The aim is to show his view is incoherent, to expose his assumptions as groundless, and to demonstrate that he has no excuse for his rebellion or for rejecting his Creator's demands upon his life.


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
The evidence in the world around us was created by God, and so must, by necessity, always lead to the conclusion that He does, in fact, exist if that evidence is correctly collected and analyzed.I agree, and the conclusion is in fact that He does exist and that all men are accountable to Him. The problem, however, lies in the rebellion of men who look for excuses. The problem is not a lack of evidence, but an improper means of assessing the evidence. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom. If a man will not begin with submission to Christ, all of his reasoning and observation will be suspect, skewed in support of his efforts to push God away from him.


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
Presup's argue that there can be no neutral position from which to analyze the available evidence and I agree with that but I also think that it isn't necessarily relevant.If it's not relevant, then you might as well ask the atheist to lift himself by his own shoe laces. If it's not relevant, what is? If you grant neutrality to the atheist, you're surrendering to him the grounds upon which to be his own lawmaker and to sit in judgment of God. To ask him to evaluate evidence on his own presumed autonomy is to ask a Luciferian question: "Hath God said?" He'll respond by trying to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, leaving God's law completely out of the equation. You will have lost before you even get out of the starting blocks. He is left wiser in his own conceit, and you're left looking like a fool.


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
Suppose that the atheist analyzes the data and comes up with what he thinks is a good explanation, then the theists analyzes the same data set and comes up with a different explanation. Two different conclusion based on the same evidence, one wrong, the other right, both biased. Ignoring and even accepting the biases, should it not be possible for the theist to demonstrate that his conclusion, his explanation of the evidence, is far superior to that of the atheists?On what basis? On the basis of more accurate measurements? On the basis of greater quantity of data? On the basis of the inclusion of outlying data? On the basis of pedigree? On the basis of peer review? Each of these presumed criteria is fraught with unspoken and unchallenged assumptions. You're correct to say we all have biases. The question is who has the correct bias and how is that established?


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
Wouldn't a correct answer always be more easily demonstrated as true than a false one?It depends on what your presuppositions are, what you consider to be "correct" and what you consider to be "false." Without the fear of the Lord as prerequisite, what is "correct" or "false" is up for grabs.


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
Not that this would be convincing to the atheist necessarily, but it could be, especially if this atheist is elect and doesn't know it, right? And so, neutrality isn't necessary, only intellectual honesty.If the atheist is elect and doesn't know it, I don't know it either. So I will continue to treat him as a gainsayer until I see full submission and surrender to the Word of Truth. Until he submits, he is still a rebel, opposing God, using the tools that come from God for the purpose of expressing his opposition. There is no neutrality, ever. He will pretend to be neutral, as all atheists do, and on that fact alone, intellectual honesty goes out the window.

Hilston wrote:
I object to the use of evidence with or by those who cannot justify their methods or criteria of assessment. That's all. And it includes professing Christians. They don't just get to use the tools for free. They have to prove that they know how to use them and why they work.


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
Who says? The Bible certainly never makes any such claim.It does indeed. When the Bible condemns right behavior due to a wicked mind (the sacrifice that is brought with a wicked mind is worse than an abomination, Pr 21:27), we can understand the offense God takes at that kind of hypocrisy. But how are we to understand when mundane behaviors, such as plowing, are viewed as sin? Even the plowing of the wicked is sin (Pr 21:4). Why? It's because the fear of the Lord is the begining of true knowledge and sound wisdom. By extension, if even such a seemingly neutral activity as plowing is condemned by God because of the wicked mind behind it, so also is the balancing of one's checkbook and the presumptuous wicked mind behind that activity. They don't get to use the tools of God (reasoning and sensory faculties) for free. It comes with a price, and they will be condemned for their presumption. Every inch of soil that is plowed, every "one" that is carried to the next column of their check register, is further indictment against the wicked mind for its rebellion and hatred of their Creator.

The fool has said in his heart, "No God" (PS 14:1). Why does this describe a fool? Because he wants to use God's tools apart from God. But apart from God, there is no true wisdom or knowledge. The fool presumes to be wise, to use the tools of reason, but in truth, he has no delight in understanding, except that his heart may discover itself (Pr 18:2). But he that trusts his own heart is a fool (Pr 28:26). For atheist (i.e., the fool), all that matters to him is his own judgment, his own wisdom, his own reasoning skills, his own assessment of good and evil. That is the sin of Adam. But whoso walks wisely, he shall be delivered (Pr 28:26). Why? Because he walks according to God's word, not according to his own presumed neutrality, using God's tools without warrant or justification.


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
And while I agree when you get to an epistemological level in the discussion, a Biblical worldview is indeed the only one that holds up but as far as I am concerned that is only just so much more evidence. And what's more, you use it as evidence, and expect the atheist to factor the epistemological problems that he has in as evidence, even proof, that his worldview is incorrect.The question is not whether or not I expect the atheist to factor in the epistemological problems as presented, but whether or not the atheist can justify that very ability to factor them in. I don't doubt this ability for one second, nor do I deny it of the atheist. I say, "Go ahead and reason this out, but you're on notice: Every act of reasoning is further indictment against you because you've stolen fire from the gods, and it's personal" (in a manner of speaking). :D


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
It the same thing, I guess it was I'm getting at. You are doing the same thing except that the evidence that you are presenting is epistemological.It's not the same thing. It is a presuppositional, not evidentiary, approach. The latter asks the person to use his reasoning skills to draw a certain conclusion. The former asks the person to justify and prove the verity of his reasoning skills. The absurdity that is exposed by the former is head and shoulders above the Mexican standoff that results from the latter.


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
Not that that is a small difference, indeed, it's an important difference but the point is that you are still presenting evidence that must be analyzed via the very logic that you insist that they are not allowed to use in the first place and so I don't understand why they can analyze epistemological evidence and not any other sort of evidence.What is "epistemological evidence"? Can you give an example?

Hilston wrote:
It isn't relevant to the argument against the atheist. It is only personally relevant from the standpoint of the apologist in answer to the question: How do you know what you know, and how do you know you're not being deceived? It's a different matter than proving the same. My knowledge (certainty, assurance, confidence) is different than my proof. Certainty is available only to the regenerate; it's not available to the unregenerate.


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
But you can still prove that which you believe, right? And this proof is done by a logical analysis of the evidence, is it not?Sure, and I expect them to use logical analysis. Their ability to do this is not in question. What is in question is their accounting for this ability and what is thus exposed is the fact that the materialist worldview is self-refuting.


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
I think you are reading more into Bob's statement that what was meant. By your own logic all that is required is that the Biblical worldview be in place prior to an analysis of the evidence. You have not said that one must be aware that his worldview is Biblical. In fact, you have, in effect, claimed that everyone has, to one degree or another, a Biblical worldview whether they are aware of it or not. So what's to keep them from a correct analysis of the available evidence and what is the point from withholding it from them?Sin and false presuppositions are what keep them from a correct analysis of the available evidence. There is no "withholding it from them." I give it to them all the time. I just don't give them any grounds on which to dismiss it. I might say, "Look at the stars. The heavens declare the handiwork of God." Of course, they'll disagree. I tell them they can't disagree without borrowing from my worldview. And so on.


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
And if such an analysis was done by someone who wasn't aware that he had a Biblical worldview to start with, wouldn't that person naturally make the statement that he had come to faith based on an analysis of the evidence?No. If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. Say for example Joe Atheist sees the absurdity of his worldview and the futility of his atheistic assumptions, realizes the superiority of the biblical worldview and wants to submit his reasoning to the Lordship of Christ. What was it that changed him? What was it that turned him from hating God and the scriptures to embracing His Lord and the authority of God's Word? Regeneration is the answer. Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
Whether this assessment is accurate or not isn't the point, the point is, that you cannot tell [who] is and is not elect (assuming for the sake of this discussion that election is a correct theology), ...I agree, but it doesn't matter. Every hostile opponent is viewed as non-elect until proven otherwise. Guilty until proven innocent.


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
... nor can you tell what someone's presuppositions are by looking at them and so cannot say with certainty that an examination of the evidence is inappropriate for anyone individual person.You've seen this debates, Clete. How long does it take to find out whether or not someone's reasoning is floating in the void? Two or three questions is all it takes, provided they give straight answers. I will grant that sometimes a person has never given much thought to these questions and their answers might be sloppy. But I try to help them through it, and if it seems to me that a person is a believer who has just never considered such questions, I try to show them the importance of having a clear conception of a biblical epistemology.

I know this is a lot to read. But I'm trying to be thorough. I must say how pleasantly surprised I am and delighted that you're willing to consider the merits of this matter. I was ready to give up at an earlier point. I'm glad to have pegged you incorrectly.

Balder
December 3rd, 2004, 02:02 PM
Hilston,

If you haven't noticed, this post has undergone several edits and additions. It's finished now.

Balder writes:
Yes, an unconscious entity can have being. Unconsciousness is still a form of consciousness, albeit often a stepped down, non-self-reflective form of consciousness.


Hilston replied:
So, would you say a shard of metal is an unconscious entity with a stepped down, non-self-reflective form of consciousness?

No, a shard of metal is not an "entity." The atomic and molecular constituents of metal may be considered to have a form of prehension, but the organization of metal itself is not such that it is capable of "mediating" or supporting any higher forms of consciousness than that.


Hilston asked:
Why do you believe the teachings of the Dzogchen tradition to be true?

You wrote that "there are in fact quite a number of teachings that give a glimpse of what 'lies beyond.'" Why do you believe that these teachings are true?

Why do you believe Siddhartha was right?

There are a number of reasons. I find his teachings to be both practical and profound, answering the questions of "why" and "wherefore" more fully and satisfactorily than other bodies of teachings that I've come across. I have also put his teachings into practice on a daily basis and have found them to be very reliable, wise, and profound. Since Siddhartha's teachings deal primarily with direct experience, in meditation and outside of it, they are largely open to practical verification.


Hilston asked:
Is your belief in the verity and righteousness of Dzogchen tradition and Siddhartha's teachings based on the existence of the "humanly inexplicable gift of faith" or the object of that faith, i.e. that which you believe in. In other words, in what or who have you placed your faith?

I have placed my faith both in the transmitters of these teachings and the truth to which they point.

Balder wrote:
We do seem to be a bit astray from the theme of this thread, but hopefully not so far astray that we can't get back on track.


Hilston replied:
I agree, and that's partly my fault. I was genuinely interested (before I knew what I was getting into) in what you believed. Now, I'm not convinced that there is any need whatever to understand it. In fact, it seems deliberately obtuse, and you seem to be wholeheartedly swept away by its ambiguities. Your view seems to preclude any true desire or goal to understand with clarity, or to impart clear understanding to others.

I'm sorry you feel this way. As I said in the last letter, I agree that posting so many terminology-thick passages by Guenther was probably a mistake, for a number of reasons. Even though the contents of those passages were relevant, they are certainly too specialized to be accessible to most. If I may respectfully submit, however, I believe that many of the "ambiguities" that you see in what I've communicated so far are probably due to your own unfamiliarity with these teachings. I would be similarly disoriented by a conversation which employed terms like Acts 9 dispensationalism, post-trib, etc, and while it would seem muddy and unnecessarily complicated to me, I'm sure it would convey quite meaningful distinctions to you.

To help move things along on a track that hopefully will be more agreeable to you, if my answers to your questions in this letter leave you confused, I will state the outlines of my general (Dzogchen/Buddhist) beliefs in brief in a subsequent post if you would like me to do so.


Hilston asked:
Do you believe in the permanence of the soul, Balder? Or do you hold to the doctrine of anatta? Is a yes or no answer possible? Or is that going require another prolix treatise, complete with Tibetan transliterations and hyphenated character strings?

I do hold to the doctrine of anatta, or non-self. The meaning of this is that individual beings are contingent beings; they are not self-existent, but rather are completely dependent upon all other aspects of reality for their existence. What you call Hilston -- your memories, your habits, your dispositions, your physical condition, etc, etc -- are all contingent and as such are subject to change. In this sense, Hilston is not "permanent," nor self-existent. In other words, you are not the cause of your own existence; you are not a self-existent monad, completely sufficient unto yourself. This is the meaning of anatta. It points to the radical interdependence of all phenomenal existents, including people.

I answered "both" to your question, however, because while individual beings are largely contingent "products" of their karma (the conditioning factors of samsara), every sentient being is capable of realizing buddhahood, in which case the individual, in realizing union with the Dharmakaya (the formless body of the Buddha, Mind-as-Such), is capable of existing forever in Sambhogakaya (light body) and Nirmanakaya (material form body) manifestations, depending on the intentions and purposes of the enlightened being.


Hilston wrote:
There are plenty of Biblical data to affirm the first Law of Thermo',
and myriad other recent scientific discoveries. There are plenty of data to show that the Biblical worldview and the ancients had vastly superior knowledge of science, mathematics, nature, etc. But I don't wave these things as proud trophies because it's not a biblical way to approach the matter.

I'd be interested to hear examples of Biblical data that you believe confirm recent scientific discoveries. In the last letter to you, I mentioned the mythical cosmology that is apparent as the background of many Biblical passages, so I'm sure you'll be dealing with that as well, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.



Balder: How do you understand Christian doctrine to have
resolved the problem of unity and multiplicity? Is it just that the Bible teaches that God is both Three and One, and you believe it without necessarily understanding it?

Hilston: Yes.

Balder: Or do you have an intellectual understanding or a sense for how something could be both single and multiple?

Hilston: Neither.


Not to be too picky, but I suppose you have to acknowledge that Christianity doesn't really "solve" the problem of unity and multiplicity, it just postpones it by making it an inexplicable aspect of ultimate reality instead of an inexplicable aspect of everyday reality.

Honestly, I'm interested in these topics both from a Buddhist and a Christian perspective. It might be enjoyable to talk about the Trinity, the Trikaya, and the relationships of these realities to the manifest world, but I believe the purpose of this discussion is actually to debate the merits of presuppositionalism and to test its claim that all other worldviews are incoherent or self-refuting, so unless we can tie such a discussion into those overriding concerns, I'm afraid it would just be a digression...even though I brought the topic up and enjoy talking about it!


In a book titled Buddhism: The Light of Asia, by Kenneth K.S. Ch'en, the author quotes: "Not to commit any sin, to do good, to purify one's own mind, that is the teaching of the Buddha." He goes on to define sin as "any act that is harmful to oneself or to another." Do you agree with these statements? If so, why is it your desire to eschew sin and to do good and to purify your mind?

Yes, the Buddha does teach these things. Buddhism doesn’t have an exact word for sin, however; the word used is akusala, which means unwholesome or unskillful. There are many reasons to avoid sin, to do good, and to purify the mind. One purifies the mind because that allows you to perceive reality more clearly, both on the relative level, where you gain insight into the nature and causes of suffering and evil, and on an absolute level where you gain insight into the true nature of reality, the pure Dharmakaya. Because all things are interdependent (pratitya-samutpada), and because as contingent beings we are continually being influenced and shaped by the nature of our thoughts, feelings, reactions, and interactions (karma), and because the pristine light of buddhanature that is in us is also in all beings, we desire to do good and to avoid evil out of wise recognition of the genesis of our own suffering and confusion, and out of compassion for others. The Buddha teaches that when we awaken to the depths of the truth of our mutuality, we are also awakened to our responsibility. The bodhisattva is one who dedicates himself to working for the welfare of others because of this insight into the true nature of things. There is more to say on this, of course, but I am keeping things short and to the point for the time being. Certainly all of these points could be fleshed out, in themselves, but also in their interrelationship with each other. If necessary, I’ll be happy to explain anything that isn’t clear – or to answer any charge of incoherence you may muster!

Peace,
Balder

Soulman
December 5th, 2004, 10:25 PM
Clete, Hilston, et al, pardon my butting in. Like Balder, not a Christian, unlike Balder, grumpy former Christian Reconstructionist. Currently a subjectivist sun worshipper. Espoused presup views for many years, not with the eloquence or understanding of Hilston, but faithfully towed party line. By the way, Clete, regret belligerent attitude and crack about doodling online, uncalled for, won’t happen again. Thought you did a good job, actually. Having read this thread, seems as if you were “practicing” on Prodigal, scored points on “hits” if not on “technique”? Slippery business…

Maybe I missed something, but why is it necessary to “presuppose” that the universe is “logical” or “coherent”? Maybe the universe is “illogical” and “incoherent.” Seems to fit the facts. In a naturalistic universe, the drive by shooting of an innocent child is a drive by shooting. Nothing more, nothing less. Theological explanations are unnecessary. In what way is a “naturalistic” explanation “logically incoherent” with the facts? Was being gunned down God’s “plan” for her life? How is “God allowed it” or “God decreed it” a better or more “logically cohesive” (or comforting, for that matter) explanation than “things happen”?

Chileice
December 6th, 2004, 06:58 AM
Originally posted by Soulman

Clete, Hilston, et al, pardon my butting in. Like Balder, not a Christian, unlike Balder, grumpy former Christian Reconstructionist. Currently a subjectivist sun worshipper. Espoused presup views for many years, not with the eloquence or understanding of Hilston, but faithfully towed party line. By the way, Clete, regret belligerent attitude and crack about doodling online, uncalled for, won’t happen again. Thought you did a good job, actually. Having read this thread, seems as if you were “practicing” on Prodigal, scored points on “hits” if not on “technique”? Slippery business…

Maybe I missed something, but why is it necessary to “presuppose” that the universe is “logical” or “coherent”? Maybe the universe is “illogical” and “incoherent.” Seems to fit the facts. In a naturalistic universe, the drive by shooting of an innocent child is a drive by shooting. Nothing more, nothing less. Theological explanations are unnecessary. In what way is a “naturalistic” explanation “logically incoherent” with the facts? Was being gunned down God’s “plan” for her life? How is “God allowed it” or “God decreed it” a better or more “logically cohesive” (or comforting, for that matter) explanation than “things happen”?

Entropy and order co-exist, that is what really makes it more strange. If it were all random, then I would agree with you. But there is also an inherent order that seems to transcend the obvious randomness we find. The Uncertainty Principle formulated by Werner Weisenberg in the area of quantum mechanics has a bit of an application in the theological world as well.

The more definite we are about measuring one aspect of God, the more imprecise we will be in measuring another. The more we try to focus on the preciseness of his judgement, the more unfocused and less able to measure the expanse of his love we become. The more we focus on measuring his logic/rationalness, the less able we are to see his transcendence. There is some kind of unseen equilibrium that we will never be able to measure because we cannot measure God in a closed environment and while we were measuring the individual parts we would be losing the integrated whole.

Stuff happens... but so do blessings. Evil stuff we can't explain happens, yet the world refuses to cycle down into complete randomness. Borrowing a bit from atmospheric science, human nature would seem to dictate that the natural state of mankind would be complete chaos. Yet, there is some unseen force giving moral energy to the system allowing it not to rest at absolute zero. Like the earth we are absorbing that "energy" and are not like some cold rock in distant space shivering near absolute zero.

I know this argument may seem a bit esoteric, but I think it shows how both views have a point. There are random unexplainable events which seem to negate aworld of total logic. Yet there are many events that defy the minimun energy, maximum entropy axiom. Blessings exist... out of the blue... beyond logic. Yet, there is also an order, but one I think we will never fully be able to coprehend due to the Uncertainty Principle of Theology (I just borrowed it from quantum mechanics, but hey... I'll take credit:chuckle: ).

God will not be held hostage to Hilston's Laws of logic. Neither will he be held to Soulman's Totally Random World Theory. I think he corresponds to the Law of Dynamic Divinity which cannot be totally measured due to the Uncertainty Principle of Theology.

Clete
December 6th, 2004, 08:01 AM
Originally posted by Soulman

Clete, Hilston, et al, pardon my butting in. Like Balder, not a Christian, unlike Balder, grumpy former Christian Reconstructionist. Currently a subjectivist sun worshipper. Espoused presup views for many years, not with the eloquence or understanding of Hilston, but faithfully towed party line. By the way, Clete, regret belligerent attitude and crack about doodling online, uncalled for, won’t happen again. Thought you did a good job, actually. Having read this thread, seems as if you were “practicing” on Prodigal, scored points on “hits” if not on “technique”? Slippery business…
You're absolutely right, I was practicing on prodigal and my "technique" was bad enough at the outset that if prodigal had been a better debater he'd have had me beaten inside of 100 posts. I think I (actually not me, but Jim) pulled it out pretty nicely though. And I feel it important to point out that while it is true that I am new to this presuppositional or "worldview" apologetic and that I was indeed practicing on prodigal, I do understand the argument well enough to believe that it is a valid and compelling argument or else I would never have conducted such an experiment in the first place.
And don't give the "doodling online" comment another thought. I appreciate your apology and happily forgive you. :thumb:


Maybe I missed something, but why is it necessary to “presuppose” that the universe is “logical” or “coherent”? Maybe the universe is “illogical” and “incoherent.” Seems to fit the facts. In a naturalistic universe, the drive by shooting of an innocent child is a drive by shooting. Nothing more, nothing less. Theological explanations are unnecessary. In what way is a “naturalistic” explanation “logically incoherent” with the facts? Was being gunned down God’s “plan” for her life? How is “God allowed it” or “God decreed it” a better or more “logically cohesive” (or comforting, for that matter) explanation than “things happen”?
Okay, you realize that you've laid claim to a worldview that is intentionally incoherent, right? If the universe is "illogical" and "incoherent", how can you be reading this right now? How would you have known how to formulate the question? How would you have ever formed language skills in the first place?
Can you balance your checkbook? I bet you can! How? How is that possible in a universe that is fundamentally illogical? Numbers and mathematics are nothing but a form of logic. Scientists (even atheistic ones) use mathematics to such an extent that indeed mathematics is the very language of science. How could that be if what you are suggesting is even close to being true?


Resting in Him,
Clete

Soulman
December 6th, 2004, 08:50 AM
Chileice, seems that introducing a deity to explain "drive by shootings" or why "bad" things happen to "good" people or why "good" things happen to "bad" people only complicates matters. Living in a random universe where "stuff happens" would be bad enough; now we have to explain why God would decree or allow the murder of an innocent child.

Granted, the murder of an innocent child COULD be interpreted as the result of a "Dynamic Divinity," but a "Random World" theory "fits the facts" without the additional complication of “faith-based” explanations. Why did God do it? Why did God allow it to happen? Agonizing questions, even for the true believer -- and an unnecessary “complication” if the universe is random and there is no God.

Chileice
December 6th, 2004, 09:24 AM
Originally posted by Soulman

Chileice, seems that introducing a deity to explain "drive by shootings" or why "bad" things happen to "good" people or why "good" things happen to "bad" people only complicates matters. Living in a random universe where "stuff happens" would be bad enough; now we have to explain why God would decree or allow the murder of an innocent child.

Granted, the murder of an innocent child COULD be interpreted as the result of a "Dynamic Divinity," but a "Random World" theory "fits the facts" without the additional complication of “faith-based” explanations. Why did God do it? Why did God allow it to happen? Agonizing questions, even for the true believer -- and an unnecessary “complication” if the universe is random and there is no God.

The problem with your theory is, that while it explains evil, it does nothing to explain good. There is no explanation for non-rational altruism, love, emotions and actions that defy the maximum entropy law. I think your random universe theory would be hard-pressed to explain the good away.

Balder
December 6th, 2004, 09:43 AM
Soulman,

I am not signing on to defend Christian Presuppositionalism, but I did want to say that embracing a view of complete randomness -- while an understandable reaction to disillusionment with a particular view that pretends to have things "all sewn up" -- is the far end of a pendulum swing, and too extreme in my opinion. You would not even be able to conceive of "randomness" and disorder if you did not also perceive order in the world. People often talk about entropy, using it as proof of the ultimate disorder and randomness of the universe, but they neglect self-organization, autopoesis. Ilya Prigogine's work on dissipative structures and self-organizing systems shows beyond doubt the principles of self-organization at work, even in the inanimate world.

Peace,
Balder

Clete
December 6th, 2004, 09:45 AM
While I appreciate the point Chileice makes, I would suggest that it explains neither good nor evil. Good and evil both presuppose a standard that would not exist without there being a God. In a "random" universe, morallity could not exist. Neither could the concept of order or randomness for that matter. It is incoherent on its face, especially if one attempts to explain the problem of evil by employing it.

Resting in Him,
Clete

Soulman
December 6th, 2004, 10:43 AM
Clete,

Okay, you realize that you've laid claim to a worldview that is intentionally incoherent, right?
Correct.

If the universe is "illogical" and "incoherent", how can you be reading this right now? How would you have known how to formulate the question? How would you have ever formed language skills in the first place?...
Or tie my shoes, or know my shoes belong on my feet and not on my head. Gotcha.

Convention. Trial and error. Culture. Evolution. Habit. What you attribute to a supernatural “logical coherency” may simply be the brain’s attempt to create order out of chaos. Four follows three because (in this universe, anyway) that’s what “happens” when you add a “one” to a “three.” Perhaps you are reading “logical coherency” into a universe operating on a purely “mechanical” level. Gravity exists, and gravity must be “obeyed.” But is gravity “logical”? I think the word “logical” is misleading. I would be interested to know how a physicist would answer that question. Is matter following “rules of logic” laid out in advance? Or is matter simply being true to its own “nature”?

You are assuming a teleological (believe that's the right term) “motive” to the universe, and arguing from there. Remove the “motive” (defending the biblical worldview, asserting the crown rights of Jesus) and “supernatural” solutions become unnecessary.

Soulman
December 6th, 2004, 11:34 AM
The problem with your theory is, that while it explains evil, it does nothing to explain good.
If by “good” you mean “good deeds” done on behalf of others, nothing more is needed than pure selfishness. People “do good” for reasons as crass as assuaging “guilt” or for reasons as mundane as making themselves “feel” good. If by “good” you mean sunlight and rain and food and shelter and health and the love of our children, it would appear that “good” is distributed in a very haphazard manner with no discernable pattern of “logical coherence.”

Randomness explains "good" -- or a tragedy -- as well as ”the providence of God” -- with a lot less fuss.

Chileice
December 6th, 2004, 12:30 PM
Originally posted by Balder

Soulman,

I am not signing on to defend Christian Presuppositionalism, but I did want to say that embracing a view of complete randomness -- while an understandable reaction to disillusionment with a particular view that pretends to have things "all sewn up" -- is the far end of a pendulum swing, and too extreme in my opinion. You would not even be able to conceive of "randomness" and disorder if you did not also perceive order in the world. People often talk about entropy, using it as proof of the ultimate disorder and randomness of the universe, but they neglect self-organization, autopoesis. Ilya Prigogine's work on dissipative structures and self-organizing systems shows beyond doubt the principles of self-organization at work, even in the inanimate world.

Peace,
Balder

Thank you, Balder. I think you are right, insofar as you go with this post.

Chileice
December 6th, 2004, 12:32 PM
Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer

While I appreciate the point Chileice makes, I would suggest that it explains neither good nor evil. Good and evil both presuppose a standard that would not exist without there being a God. In a "random" universe, morallity could not exist. Neither could the concept of order or randomness for that matter. It is incoherent on its face, especially if one attempts to explain the problem of evil by employing it.

Resting in Him,
Clete

I would quite agree with you. The whole reason this world is not completely random is some kind of moral order felt by people who makes them do things that are NOT completely selfish. I also think that morality comes from God. Man has certainly altered it and modified it, but the impulse was there for some moral energy injected into the system.

Soulman
December 6th, 2004, 12:52 PM
Balder:

You would not even be able to conceive of "randomness" and disorder if you did not also perceive order in the world.
It’s not necessary to postulate systems of “pure order” and “pure randomness” and pit them against each other. Is there “regularity” in the world? Of course. My slippers are (almost) always right where I left them. Yet, it is perfectly feasible that the predictability and regularity and orderliness of our worlds could be instantly shattered by a random, unforeseen, unpredictable event. Like a serial slipper mover -- or a drive by shooting. How are random events to be explained? Either random events are not as “random” as we think they are, or what we perceive as random events are, in reality, deliberate acts of God.

Since we are “part” of the order of the world in which we live, the world should appear “orderly” -- to us. If you could step back, out of the space-time continuum (hate that phrase), and see the conception and unfolding of the universe as a time-lapse sequence compressed into the “time space” of a few “earth seconds,” what would you perceive? An orderly, safe, predictable universe? Or an incoherent, dangerous riot of “random” fireball energy and matter literally exploding into the void? Are the “rules of logic” imposed upon man by God from above? Or, Are the rules of logic imposed on the universe by man from below? One explanation seems as “likely” as the other.

Chileice
December 6th, 2004, 12:57 PM
Originally posted by Soulman

If by “good” you mean “good deeds” done on behalf of others, nothing more is needed than pure selfishness. People “do good” for reasons as crass as assuaging “guilt” or for reasons as mundane as making themselves “feel” good. If by “good” you mean sunlight and rain and food and shelter and health and the love of our children, it would appear that “good” is distributed in a very haphazard manner with no discernable pattern of “logical coherence.”

Randomness explains "good" -- or a tragedy -- as well as ”the providence of God” -- with a lot less fuss.

Frankly, I mean both. But mostly I am pointing toward the former. I do NOT think selfishness can explain good behaviour. Even your word "guilt" implies some "morality" of some kind imposed on the system to keep it from falling to the lowest common denominator. I will grant you that selfishness is strong. It is the force that tries to disintegrate people and relationships and drive them to the ultimate every-man for-himself mentality.

John 1 sheds an intersting light on this for those of us who have faith:

5 That light shines in the darkness,
yet the darkness did not overcome[12] it. --HCSB

5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend[1] it. --NKJV

[12] l 1:5 Or grasp, or comprehend, or overtake; Jn 12:35
[1] 1:5 Or overcome

The word used in Greek means both to overcome and to comprehend. I think it was a word which aptly describes this world's relationship with God. It neither comprehends him nor can it overcome him. Jesus keeps shining in spite of all His detractors and inspite of the human propensity to spiral downward. I do believe faith is needed to explain the "problem of good" which your random universe theory avoids. Selfishness will never truly explain selflessness.

Soulman
December 6th, 2004, 01:09 PM
Clete,
Good and evil both presuppose a standard that would not exist without there being a God. In a "random" universe, morality could not exist.

This is a conclusion driven by your presuppositions about God and morality and the “meaning” of the universe. You need look no further for the standard you speak of than -- you. The universe could conceivably be a “moral vacuum,” with concepts of right and wrong imposed on the universe from below. I can think of no objective “test” to demonstrate the validity of a universal standard of morality imposed upon man from above.

Clete
December 6th, 2004, 01:57 PM
Originally posted by Soulman

Clete,

This is a conclusion driven by your presuppositions about God and morality and the “meaning” of the universe. You need look no further for the standard you speak of than -- you. The universe could conceivably be a “moral vacuum,” with concepts of right and wrong imposed on the universe from below. I can think of no objective “test” to demonstrate the validity of a universal standard of morality imposed upon man from above.

ME! Are you nuts? What if I was a maniac and came and took your house by force and turned your daughter into my personal sex slave because I thought that it would serve my self-interest? Would you say that since my standard is “me” and that since the actions served my self-interests that the action was morally right?

Fair warning…

You are crazy if you say “yes”!

Resting in Him,
Clete

Soulman
December 6th, 2004, 06:44 PM
Clete:

ME! Are you nuts? What if I was a maniac and came and took your house by force and turned your daughter into my personal sex slave because I thought that it would serve my self-interest? Would you say that since my standard is “me” and that since the actions served my self-interests that the action was morally right?
Molesting my daughter may be morally right to a maniac, but that doesn’t make it morally right for my daughter, or society at large. The maniac’s private “moral compass” is not the last word. Unless he happens to live in a universe where violating the human dignity of others is acceptable behavior, his behavior will be “limited.” Whether an absolute standard for morality exists or not, it cannot PREVENT a “maniac” from hurting others, so the result is the same, and that’s all that matters. Molesting my daughter, however, is not a “random event,” like being struck by lightning, or a stray bullet. The maniac might be selecting his victims “at random,” but the molestation itself is a deliberate, self-willed, avoidable act. Being struck by lightning or a stray bullet “just happens” -- randomly, without “reason,” and always without the extra baggage of moral justification. Only Christian apologists need to morally “justify” stray bullets and lightning strikes as “the will of God.”

If you were to sexually molest one of my three daughters, whether you attempted to justify your actions as morally “right” or “wrong” is immaterial. No more justification than the “law of the jungle” is needed to explain why theft and rape and acts of violence are “socially unacceptable” in a naturalistic, non-theistic universe. As a practical matter, punishing, and therefore discouraging, mayhem promotes the health and well-being of society. Survival is its own “moral” justification.

If the survival of the species, the well-being and approval of society, and the threat of imminent punishment in this world will not prevent you (or some other maniac) from molesting my daughter, how will otherworldly “moral absolutes” help her, or discourage you? Do you need an absolute “moral code” to tell you that molesting someone’s daughter is not in her best interests, society’s interests, or your own? Do you need to consult “the manual” before protecting your daughter from a maniac? Is survival a "moral dilemma"?

Hilston
December 6th, 2004, 11:00 PM
Balder writes:Hilston,


quote:
So if you will indulge me, I wish to ask you more general questions in light of my (admittedly inadequate) understanding of Buddhism.

That's a good idea. That's why I gave you a concise statement why I believed Buddhism provided the foundations for a coherent worldview and met all the standards of validity which you believe apply exclusively to Christianity -- I thought we could build on those few key claims.The plan sounds good, but it just doesn't pan out. When you gave explanations, I asked for clarifications on things I didn't understand. Then I couldn't understand your explanations without further explanation, which I also couldn't understand. It's horribly uninviting and discouraging to make an effort toward understanding something, only to be hamstrung time and again by a deeper and deeper quagmire (or so it seems) of alien terminology, invented words, syntactic acrobatics, and Tibetan guru-speak. How am I to tell the difference between what you say and the words of someone who is not being honest, but just trying to jack me around to try to prove me wrong. I've said it before, and I'll say it again because I'm earnestly interested if you can disprove this. How do I know that all of this is nothing more than your own obsession with trying to dissect obscure ramblings of some ancient writings and to find warm-and-fuzzy "enlightenment" by shoehorning modern scientific explanations into Dzogchen, not unlike how modern interpreters try to eisogete Nostradamus as a foreteller of modern events?

Hilston wrote: I know aspects of the true logical system insofar as I understand what the Bible has to say about logic, by description and by example. I'm no logician, but I have a basic understanding. I'm also familiar with some of the human corruptions of logic.

...The true logical system is both demonstrated and affirmed in the Judeo-Christian Bible. My knowledge of the general reliability of my logical processes is based on faith in the Judeo-Christian Bible. Of course, my initial use of logic, prior to my introduction to the Bible, came quite naturally, as it does with most everyone. However, my later encounters with the teachings of the Bible explained to me the nearly universal recognition and/or use of the laws of logic.


Balder writes:
If you know the "true logical system" only partially, and largely by faith, how are you able to ascertain which human systems of logic are corruptions of a logical system which is admittedly opaque to you?You misunderstand. First, I'm not a logician; that doesn't mean I do not use logic successfully. Most people use logic successfully and have never had a class on advanced logic. Second, my knowledge of logic is not "largely on faith." As I said, I knew and understood the use of logic prior to my introduction to the Bible. My trust and certainty in logic is ultimately based on faith, but my understanding, use, and application of it preceded faith in Christ and the Bible. And Third, my faith in Christ and the Bible enables me to make sweeping and general claims (such as "no other worldview can account for the intelligibility of human experience" and "the true logical system is both demonstrated and affirmed in the J-C Bible") because I appeal to an Authority Who makes that claim. That does not absolve me from having to demonstrate it, but I can confidently take that as my starting point because my Authority has given that direction and instruction.


Balder writes:
When you write, "My knowledge of the general reliability of my logical processes is based on faith in the Judeo-Christian Bible," I pick up on a (perhaps unintentional) sleight-of-hand. What you really are saying is that you have faith in the general reliability of your senses based on your faith in the reliability of the Biblical witness. Because if the structure of the whole rests not on direct knowledge but on faith, then the specific items which you claim are supported by that structure cannot be known more absolutely and with more surety than the supporting structure itself.No, knowledge based on faith is still knowledge. The question is whether or not that knowledge can be certain, and that depends on the verity of what one's faith is based upon. My certainty of knowledge is based on the Judeo-Christian faith, which is objective faith in the Person of Christ. I knew how to use logic before I had faith in Christ, but if someone were to press me on my certainty in that knowledge, I would be left with a blind faith commitment to my own experience, which is hardly reliable apart from some assured grounding of it. David Hume is excellent on this point, and remains unanswered by anti- or non-biblical philosophers.


Balder writes:
You say that the Judeo-Christian Bible demonstrates and affirms the "true logical system." I have several questions about this claim. We've ascertained that you're not sure about all of the particulars of the "true logical system," ...I can be sure that all the particulars are accounted for, whether or not I have the personal ability to articulate the details thereof. Just as I can be sure that no other system of thought apart from the Biblical worldview can account for reality, even if I have personally never encountered every other system of thought.


Balder writes:
... but you have faith that what is recorded in the Bible definitely reflects aspects of it. First off, how do you know this?I know because of regeneration. When my dead spirit was made alive at regeneration, God's Spirit gave to me the gift of faith and certitude regarding the Judeo-Christian Bible.


Balder writes:
How do you know the Bible reflects parts of an entity which is unknown to you, at least in its full expression?Same answer as immediately above.


Balder writes:
Aren't you really saying that, based on your faith in the Bible, you have faith that whatever logical elements show up in the Bible must be "parts" of the true system of logic?Sure, you can put it that way. But it's much more complete than your characterization of it. Look at it this way: The Bible, rightly understood, describes reality in a way that comports with my daily experience. With a priori faith in the verity of the Bible, I then compare its claims to my personal experience and I see congruity and verification. Therefore I conclude that my personal experience must be generally trustworthy and reliable. If, hypothetically speaking, my personal experience did not line up with scripture, then my a priori faith in scripture would tell me that something is wrong with me, not scripture. Schizophrenic and alcoholic believers may have to deal with this more often than those who do not have these debilitating conditions.


Balder writes:
I've read the Bible front to back, and I do not recall many overt claims about logic, laws of logic, the necessary foundations for logic, and so on.The very language of scripture already assumes it. The claims of miracles assumes logical inference and the uniformity of nature, otherwise, miracles would not be called miracles. The scriptures ask the reader to make inferences on all sorts of levels. The scriptures ask the reader to observe events, natural phenomena, properties of nature, etc., and to draw conclusions therefrom. If the Bible is God's inerrant and infallible Word, and if the language used by God affirms my own understanding of language and logic, then I have sufficient grounding for my use of logic. The Son of God is called the "Logos," the Word, the articulation of God's decrees. Creation reflects aspects of the Creator's nature and character. In a sense, the created order is a manifestation of aspects of the Logos, God decreed creation, and because God is logical, so is the universe He created and the laws that govern it.


Balder writes:
Admittedly it's been at least 10 years since I read the Bible all the way through, so my memory may be failing me; can you point me to direct, clear Biblical teachings on logic? I have no problem believing that the Bible affirms and demonstrates logic, but that feature is certainly not unique to the Bible.That is true. My high school geometry book affirmed and demonstrated logic. But even Archimedes understood the problem of geometry sans a grounding of the concepts he developed. He lamented not having a pou sto, or a locus standi, a ledge or fulcrum at which ground his lever. And that's what makes the Bible unique. The existence of God provides the ledge or fulcrum by which one can "move the world," that is, ground one's knowledge. Without it, there is only blind faith and knowledge floating in the void.


Balder writes:
I would dare say that most human documents at least implicitly affirm and demonstrate logic, if only because logic is a feature (but not the only feature) of human communication and thus human texts.I fully agree.


Balder writes:
Is there something about the Bible's affirmation and demonstration of logic that sets it in a league of its own, as the exemplar and in fact the necessary foundation of logic itself?Yes, and that is the fact that the Bible claims to be God's inerrant and infallible Word. Add to that the fact that those who are regenerated to faith in the Author of that book by the very same Author further affirms its uniqueness and declares it to the world.


Balder writes:
You may have read some of my correspondence with Clete and others on the "Religion is Obsolete" thread. I'm interested in your thoughts: if the Bible is indeed the ultimate source and foundation for logic and truth, forming the presuppositional bedrock for all valid forms of knowledge, how do you account for the fact that the Bible presupposes an outmoded, mythological, and factually incorrect cosmology as the backdrop of its narrative?That's incorrect. It doesn't presuppose that at all. For example, the narrative of the Zodiac preceded the documentation of the Torah. Abel understood the right sacrifice God required by that which was taught to him in the Zodiac. Abraham understood the message of the Coming One in the constellations as well. This is an example of how critics take their own presuppositions, e.g. that ancients were "primitive" and cosmologically ignorant, and impose them upon the text to draw convenient dismissive conclusions. The biblical view is that the ancients were quite advanced in their understanding of these things and that anything that appears to be "primitive" or cosmologically incorrect is actually figurative language that was familiar, meaningful and unambiguous to the original audience.

More to come.

Cheers.

Clete
December 7th, 2004, 01:00 PM
So4dm*n,

I rjfuse t0 enga46e in * c234ersem5ion wi^h s^m%ne w^o can$$t emmla#n to m) w46t is wr23g wjwh tois seqjepce or w7y it i$ s233l re48qble.

R3s3*5g ip Him,
C*!:e

Clete
December 7th, 2004, 01:22 PM
Jim,

Your last post was excellent! That point about Archimedes and his absent fulcrum was brilliant!

Keep em coming!

Balder
December 7th, 2004, 09:32 PM
Jim,

Your last post was excellent! That point about Archimedes and his absent fulcrum was brilliant!

Keep em coming!

Hey, no fair. Hilston gets a cheerleader!

Hilston, I apologize for being slow. As I told BCK on another thread, I'm in the middle of writing several large papers so my time is more limited than usual. If you have another installment ready, please post it and I'll respond to both posts together in a few days.

Peace,
Balder

Clete
December 8th, 2004, 09:44 AM
Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer

So4dm*n,

I rjfuse t0 enga46e in * c234ersem5ion wi^h s^m%ne w^o can$$t emmla#n to m) w46t is wr23g wjwh tois seqjepce or w7y it i$ s233l re48qble.

R3s3*5g ip Him,
C*!:e

What, no response?!! :confused:

Soulman
December 8th, 2004, 10:47 AM
No answer IS an answer. How am I supposed to reply to something like that??? If that's all the mileage you can get out of the points I've attempted to make, if that's as seriously as you can take an opposing point of view, then I accept responsibility for my "logical incoherece" and will leave it at that. This is your thread and I interpreted your reply as "get lost." If you have no interest in responding to my questions, or using my questions, however idiotic they may seem to you, as stepping off points for further discussion, then we are not dialoging, we are monologing. Not what I had in mind.

Keep working on that "technique."

Clete
December 8th, 2004, 11:05 AM
Originally posted by Soulman

No answer IS an answer. How am I supposed to reply to something like that??? If that's all the mileage you can get out of the points I've attempted to make, if that's as seriously as you can take an opposing point of view, then I accept responsibility for my "logical incoherece" and will leave it at that. This is your thread and I interpreted your reply as "get lost." If you have no interest in responding to my questions, or using my questions, however idiotic they may seem to you, as stepping off points for further discussion, then we are not dialoging, we are monologing. Not what I had in mind.

Keep working on that "technique."

Good greif man! You really should lighten up a little. I did not intend it as a "get lost" at all! I guess I should have simply asked what you thought was wrong with the sentence and why you thought it was still readable. The "I'm not interesting..." part was a poor choice of words, it way overstated things. The fact is, I am interested in talking about it, that's what the whole thread is about.

So if you are willing to continue perhaps you could attempt to explain why that sentence is fowled up (besides my poor choice of words) and also why it is that you were still able to figure out what it said in light of your proposed inately logically incoherent universe.

I'll look forward to your response.

Resting in Him,
Clete

Clete
December 8th, 2004, 01:37 PM
Originally posted by Hilston
Without regeneration as the impetus for embracing the verity of the Scriptures you're left with evidentialism.

Why?

Where's the connection exactly? I don't understand how a removal of the regeneration doctrine (as I understand it) leads inescapably to evidentialism. And if it did, why would that be such a big deal? Perhaps it would be wise to start by clarifying what exactly you mean by regeneration.

Also, you may have done so to some degree already but would you mind responding further to
post 135 (http://www.theologyonline.com/forums/showthread.php?postid=635871#post635871)? (In particular, the last paragraph of that post).

Resting in Him,
Clete

Balder
December 8th, 2004, 01:52 PM
Hilston,

I haven't finished responding to all of your last letter, and I think you have more forthcoming as well, but I'll post what I have for now.


Hilston wrote:
So if you will indulge me, I wish to ask you more general questions in light of my (admittedly inadequate) understanding of Buddhism.

Balder said:
That's a good idea. That's why I gave you a concise statement why I believed Buddhism provided the foundations for a coherent worldview and met all the standards of validity which you believe apply exclusively to Christianity -- I thought we could build on those few key claims.


Hilston replied:
The plan sounds good, but it just doesn't pan out. When you gave explanations, I asked for clarifications on things I didn't understand. Then I couldn't understand your explanations without further explanation, which I also couldn't understand.

Maybe your presuppositions are getting in the way. Sometimes they have to be suspended, though not necessarily forsaken, to understand where another person is coming from.


Hilston said:
It's horribly uninviting and discouraging to make an effort toward understanding something, only to be hamstrung time and again by a deeper and deeper quagmire (or so it seems) of alien terminology, invented words, syntactic acrobatics, and Tibetan guru-speak.

Come on, now. I've been trying. I think you'll find my last several posts to you to be relatively short on Guentherese. At least you are still saying "or so it seems"; maybe I can clear up some of the confusion in coming letters.


Hilston then asked uncharitably:
How am I to tell the difference between what you say and the words of someone who is not being honest, but just trying to jack me around to try to prove me wrong. I've said it before, and I'll say it again because I'm earnestly interested if you can disprove this. How do I know that all of this is nothing more than your own obsession with trying to dissect obscure ramblings of some ancient writings and to find warm-and-fuzzy "enlightenment" by shoehorning modern scientific explanations into Dzogchen, not unlike how modern interpreters try to eisogete Nostradamus as a foreteller of modern events?

Since a few paragraphs later you use astrology to support the supposed scientific knowledge of the writers of the Bible, I think you should think twice about telling others that they are trying to "shoehorn" science into an outmoded worldview or are on par with Nostradamus supporters! Honestly, I'm not sure how to answer your question; I am definitely doing my best to answer your questions honestly and in a straightforward manner. How do I know that you aren't obsessed or dishonest or deluded or whatever? How are you to prove that? Why don't we just give each other a fair listen for starters.

Balder wrote:
If you know the "true logical system" only partially, and largely by faith, how are you able to ascertain which human systems of logic are corruptions of a logical system which is admittedly opaque to you?


Hilston responded:
You misunderstand. First, I'm not a logician; that doesn't mean I do not use logic successfully. Most people use logic successfully and have never had a class on advanced logic. Second, my knowledge of logic is not "largely on faith." As I said, I knew and understood the use of logic prior to my introduction to the Bible. My trust and certainty in logic is ultimately based on faith, but my understanding, use, and application of it preceded faith in Christ and the Bible. And Third, my faith in Christ and the Bible enables me to make sweeping and general claims (such as "no other worldview can account for the intelligibility of human experience" and "the true logical system is both demonstrated and affirmed in the J-C Bible") because I appeal to an Authority Who makes that claim. That does not absolve me from having to demonstrate it, but I can confidently take that as my starting point because my Authority has given that direction and instruction.

The point I am making is that you believe there is a perfect logical system, but you do not know it directly. You conclude that it must exist because the fallible human logical inferences and deductions you make nevertheless appear to be generally reliable, but you do not know it in itself; it is an object of faith, like the God of which you believe it is a part. Your understanding, use, and application of logic that preceded your knowledge of the Bible are all based on your exposure to human systems of logic -- linear, grammatical, etc. You suggest that the Bible supports your use of logic in a way that no other worldview can, but you haven't demonstrated this yet, beyond making an appeal to the authority you attribute to the Bible. But you haven't demonstrated the logical superiority of the Christian worldview, or proven why the Bible of necessity must be the only valid source of knowledge. Certainly there are other worldviews as well that similarly claim to account for the existence of orderliness and logical structure in the universe...and this, of course, is one of the focuses of this conversation.


Hilston wrote:
[K]nowledge based on faith is still knowledge. The question is whether or not that knowledge can be certain, and that depends on the verity of what one's faith is based upon. My certainty of knowledge is based on the Judeo-Christian faith, which is objective faith in the Person of Christ. I knew how to use logic before I had faith in Christ, but if someone were to press me on my certainty in that knowledge, I would be left with a blind faith commitment to my own experience, which is hardly reliable apart from some assured grounding of it. David Hume is excellent on this point, and remains unanswered by anti- or non-biblical philosophers.

Two questions:

1) What do you mean by "objective faith" in the Person of Christ? Are you just using that word to give your claim more weight and apparent authority, or do you mean something specific by it that is objectively demonstrable? Do you just mean that it is an objective fact that you have faith in Christ?
2) How is your certainty in the existence of a logical God less of a blind faith commitment than your previous faith in the verity of logic itself? (I'm not saying that belief in God is necessarily "blind," but rather asking you to clarify the differences between the two positions, as you see them.)

Peace,
Balder

Soulman
December 8th, 2004, 05:30 PM
Clete, glanced at it, didn’t bother trying to “decipher” it. :rolleyes:

You can insist that logical coherence is only “possible” in a biblical worldview, but first you must eliminate all possible “naturalistic” explanations; otherwise, you're only pontificating.

For the sake of argument, let’s say that an absolute standard IS necessary to account for the “logical coherence” you see (or think you see). It doesn’t follow that since an absolute standard is “necessary,” that the absolute standard MUST be “metaphysical.”

Why is a “theistic” explanation NECESSARY to explain how you’re able to read what I’m writing, or know that molesting someone’s daughter is not in the victim’s interest, society’s interest, or your own?

Clete
December 8th, 2004, 06:51 PM
Originally posted by Soulman

Clete, glanced at it, didn’t bother trying to “decipher” it. :rolleyes:

You can insist that logical coherence is only “possible” in a biblical worldview, but first you must eliminate all possible “naturalistic” explanations; otherwise, you're only pontificating.

For the sake of argument, let’s say that an absolute standard IS necessary to account for the “logical coherence” you see (or think you see). It doesn’t follow that since an absolute standard is “necessary,” that the absolute standard MUST be “metaphysical.”

Why is a “theistic” explanation NECESSARY to explain how you’re able to read what I’m writing, or know that molesting someone’s daughter is not in the victim’s interest, society’s interest, or your own?
Because logic cannot be explained at all in a naturalistic universe. You will inevitably 'beg the question' (http://www.fallacyfiles.org/begquest.html) if you try. The only possible way one can have a logically coherent worldview is to presuppose the existence of a God who is intelligent, logical, able to communicate, etc. who created this universe.

This might seem too simple an argument to be satisfying but that is basically it, in a nutshell. The actually fact of the matter is that you really couldn't have picked a better idea to bring up that what you did. Your suggestion that the universe could be innately incoherent is, in point of fact, no more logically incoherent than any other worldview other than the Christian one. It is more obviously incoherent but a woman who is 8 months pregnant is more obviously pregnant than one who is only two days pregnant but neither is more pregnant than the other. A worldview either breaks down into logical incoherence or it does not. The Christian worldview does not, every other one does.
You will no doubt be thinking that I couldn't possibly know that every other worldview breaks down because I have not been presented with every other worldview and of course you are correct in that I haven't studied every worldview that exists nor do I intend to do so. It wouldn't make any difference how many of them I studied the result would be the same. I would know that Christianity in logically coherent and that no other could make such a claim and you would deny my ability to make that claim. The point being that I know of no way of proving a universal negative, if you find a way to do such a thing you let me know and I'll accompany you to the Pulitzer prize ceremony. Until such time as that happens however, you have now in one hand an admittedly incoherent worldview, and in the other, one which is totally logical in every respect which proves, by the way, that the world is not innately incoherent. If it were, the formulation of a logically coherent worldview would be utterly impossible. The question is what will you do now? Which will you choose? Will you cling to incoherence or will you discard it in favor of a ration worldview?

"I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days"

Resting in Him,
Clete

P.S. No time for editting! If I haven't been clear on a particular point let me know and I'll clarify. Thanks!

Soulman
December 8th, 2004, 09:48 PM
Clete:

Because logic cannot be explained at all in a naturalistic universe. You will inevitably 'beg the question' if you try. The only possible way one can have a logically coherent worldview is to presuppose the existence of a God who is intelligent, logical, able to communicate, etc. who created this universe.

Like Hilston, we are not professional logicians, but you seem to be asserting what remains to be demonstrated. I don’t recall asking you to concede any point, assuming that’s why you left the bread crumbs. I’m asking why the “invisible hand” or organizing principle of logic must by necessity be metaphysical. Your answer? Because the alternative is impossible. Would I be begging the question to ask how it follows that the invisible hand of logic must by necessity be metaphysical? Am I begging the question to ask how it follows that logic is “impossible” anywhere other than in the “biblical” worldview? If so, please show how.

I’m by no means an expert, but might your position be expressed as:

The universe is logically coherent.
A logically coherent universe is impossible without a logically coherent Creator.
Therefore, there must be a logically coherent Creator.

Express it any way you’d like.

You are making the claim here. I am not “defending” or promoting “radomist subjectivist sun worship,” or claiming that I’m right and everyone else is wrong. As a “subjectivist randomist sun worshipper,” I concede that the “theistic” explanation remains “possible” until proven otherwise (of course, it cannot be). You simply haven’t used the tools God gave you to prove it. Present the irreducible logic of your case. Prove you are right without merely saying so. If the biblical worldview truly is the only “logically coherent” worldview, it should be no problem to settle the matter and prove it logically and coherently true without “trumping” the argument by playing the theological “wildcard” of “divine revelation.” If that’s all you’ve got, you’re bluffing.

Clete
December 9th, 2004, 11:14 AM
Soulman,

You're not really giving me much to work this here. You've already conceded that your worldview is incoherent and that mine is not. What more do you want? It is not possible to prove a universal negative, which you also seem to understand and yet you insist that I do just that before you would accept my argument. It makes no sense!

You are, in effect, rejecting Christianity hoping that there will someday come along a viable alternative which will allow you to reasonably avoid submitting to a God whom who clearly do not like. My question is why? I mean I really don't get it. What is so bad about the God of Christianity that makes you fight so hard against accepting that He even exists, and hope against hope that you'll someday come across something that you'll be able to use as a reasonable excuse for having not obeyed Him? Wouldn't it be a whole lot easier to just admit that you would rather follow a God whom you don't necessarily understand but who is real rather than live you life based on something you know cannot be true?

As far as your specific question is concerned...

Would I be begging the question to ask how it follows that the invisible hand of logic must by necessity be metaphysical?
You can't beg the question by asking a question. Begging the question is any form of argument in which the conclusion occurs as one of the premises, or a chain of arguments in which the final conclusion is a premise of one of the earlier arguments in the chain. Here's a good example, which deals with the issue of logic...
Take the statement, "All truth claims must be verified by logic and reason." This statement is a common position among those with a naturalistic worldview. And it is also basically what you are asking me to do now. You have asked me to prove logically that Christianity must be presupposed and the proof of which is that the contrary is impossible. If you insist that all truth claims must be verified by logic and reason then I would ask you how you verify that truth claim? If you say that you verify it with logic and reason then you beg the question, and if you say that you verify it another way then you contradict the statement itself. So either way you go your stuck in a hopeless mess of logical incoherence.
Every worldview out there ends up with the same sort of problems to one degree or another, every single one that is except for Christianity which presupposes the existence of a Creator who is logical, reasonable, intelligent, able to communicate, etc, etc.

Now you could arbitrarily go out there and formulate a worldview which presupposes these same things and call it something other than Christianity but what good would that do? You are still borrowing from the Christian worldview whether intentionally or otherwise. The bottom line is that Christianity is the only one out there that has all the pieces in place which allows for a worldview completely free from logical incoherence.

There's lots more that could be said but that's enough for now. Thanks for continuing with the conversation, by the way. I'll look forward to your response.

Resting in Him,
Clete

Clete
December 9th, 2004, 01:11 PM
Soulman,

I was just going over some other material that I have on this issue and came across something that Bob Enyart wrote during Battle Royale VII (http://www.theologyonline.com/forums/showthread.php?postid=311438#post311438). It happens to be germain to our discussion and so I will post it here for your consideration. It makes the same point I just made in my last post but goes into a lot more detail and just basically does a much better job of it that I did. (The link above will take you to the post that the excerpt below is from.)


Originally posted by Bob Enyart
Transcendental Proof for God

As soon as the atheist says he wants to resolve this Battle Royale in a rational way, he has lost. Here’s why:

God exists because of the impossibility of the alternative. Unbelievers require theists to provide evidence for God which is not circular, which does not beg the question, that is, they insist that we do not assume that which we should try to prove. They claim that faith puts theists at a disadvantage, because we trust in God. Contrariwise, they claim that they reject faith, and constrain themselves to the laws of logic and reason. Atheists claim that only evidence based upon logic and reason is valid. But how do atheists validate that claim? They cannot. For [BA10-9] if atheists attempt to justify “logic and reason” by logic and reason, then they have based their entire godless worldview on circular reasoning; and we find that rational atheism is an impossibility. And if they cannot defend the foundation of their worldview by logic or reason, they leave themselves only with the illogical and irrational, which accounts for arguments actually offered by atheists. To justify logic apart from circular reasoning, you must seek the foundation of logic outside of logic itself. Thus we learn that, apart from belief in God, nothing can be truly knowable. If an honest and consistent atheist could actually exist, he would not claim that atheism is defensible by logic, since logic itself is indefensible by logic apart from circular reasoning. Therefore on the one hand, if the atheist claims to know anything at all, he unwittingly has shown that atheism (the alternative to God) is an impossibility, because apart from God, nothing is knowable, as demonstrated in this paragraph.

On the other hand, as a last ditch attempt to consistently defend atheism, the atheist may claim to be a no-nothing, that is, to know nothing at all, because by atheism, actual knowledge is impossible. Popular atheism is moving in this general direction. When this happens, we theists point out that the pinnacle achievement of atheism is ignorance. As I have said, every observation provides direct evidence for God while atheism struggles to account for anything whatsoever. The honest thinker who wants to work out a systematic atheistic worldview will find that without God, the only things that are possible are nothing and ignorance (the lack of knowledge). Apart from God, nothing can be known or justified, not microevolution nor heliocentricity, not a wit of logic nor even a half-wit. No certainty can exist without Him who is the foundation of truth, and those who love truth, love Him. (Dr. Greg Bahnsen successfully used the transcendental proof for God while debating a leading atheist, Dr. Gordon Stein, at the University of California at Irvine.)

A fundamental difference between God and logic is that logic is a system of thought that attempts to rationally justify ideas, and as an idea itself, logic must somehow be justifiable, or found to be illogical. God is not a system of thought that needs to be justified. He is an actual being. And while the existence of logic apart from God is self-contradictory as just demonstrated in BA10-9, there exists no contradiction in the existence of the rational God whose very mind and thoughts provide the foundation for logic itself. And while we cannot see God, as we cannot see hope or love, the Bible defines “faith” as accepting “the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

In giving my first eight lines of evidence (except for the epistemological part of [BA10-7]) I assume that atheists often use logic and reason (imitating Christians) even though they cannot logically defend doing so in their own godless worldview. But without a foundation for logic, I also realize that their intellectual discipline allows them to treat all evidence illogically, since they have no ultimate commitment to reason, not even to logic itself, and certainly not to truth or morality. So, in an atheist’s attempt to win a debate, there is nothing inherently inconsistent or wrong with lying, cheating, or quitting in an attempt to spoil the endeavor (which I will not let Zakath do); for there is no ultimate reason for honesty, no absolute commitment to truth, and no foundation for an unwavering determination to be logical. Word games, contradictions, unresponsiveness, slight of hand, obfuscation, misstatements, and ignoring arguments all can be used as consistent with atheism in order to attempt to win the debate, and in actual practice, such deception is the strength of the atheist’s ability to persuade.

Yet surely, God either exists or does not exist. (Ahh, see, there I go again! I said “surely!” I’ve used logic here, which a theist can use with certainty, whereas the atheist cannot absolutely defend even such simple logic.) The atheist worldview is dysfunctional, and they can only operate by borrowing the certainty that is possible with God. By the way, that is an insight we can find in Christ’s statement that, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26), by which He was not claiming that square circles could be drawn, nor defending any irrationality, but that all things knowable or doable, especially evident in the matter of salvation itself, are only possible because of God. In contrast to atheism, my theistic worldview is functional, because I recognize that logic and reason do exist, that they are absolutes, and that they are possible because they flow from the mind of God. Logic exists and can only exist as a consequence of the rational thoughts in the mind of God. God is non-contradictory, truthful, logical, reasonable, and knowledgeable, and there is no other epistemological basis upon which we can absolutely defend truth, logic, reason, and knowledge.

Popular atheism has come to accept that it rejects absolute morality. As mankind corporately continues to think through these matters, given enough time, popular atheism will also come to accept that atheism also rejects absolute truth, logic, reason, math, and science. Again: the pinnacle achievement of atheism is ignorance. We find examples of this in the early rounds of this debate and in the life of Bertrand Russell. Zakath readily talks about morality, and admits that he does not believe in absolute morality (although he recoils from the ramifications), whereas he is more hesitant to talk about truth, and posts 2a to 4b show that his intuition tells him that an atheist should resist defending even the existence of truth. While Zakath consciously acknowledges that atheism disallows absolute morality, only subconsciously does he fear that atheism also disallows truth, logic, and reason. So like most atheists, Zakath has yet to embrace the intellectual, though amoral, ramifications of atheism. Apart from a righteous God, as Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason rightly observed, no such thing as absolute morality can exist; and conversely, if Zakath admitted the existence of absolute morality, he would thereby concede the existence of God. What atheists disdain most about God is absolute right and wrong (because they pridefully rebel against His moral constraints, desiring immorality with impunity). So naturally, the atheist community is most ready to admit to the moral consequence of atheism that denies the possibility of ultimate righteousness. But as the intellectual ramifications of atheism continue to work their way into mankind’s corporate thinking, eventually, atheists will lose their hesitancy and admit the same effect regarding logic. Apart from God logic cannot exist, since it is illogical to prove something via circular reasoning, that is, you should not assume (or declare by faith) that which you are claiming to prove, so atheists cannot build a consistent, godless, logical worldview. Notice that it is with foundations and origins that atheists have the greatest difficulty in even attempting to construct a defense, as regarding the origins of the universe, life, consciousness, personality, higher biological functions, and now, even of logic itself. Why is this? Because God is the foundation of all that exists, physical and spiritual, rational and logical. So atheists are stuck beginning with faith in their origins, apart from any evidence, science, logic, reason, or laws which predict or justify their faith in atheist origins, and then by faith they construct arguments for origins which, unlike the theistic origins claims, defy all evidence, science, logic, reason, and law, superficially and fundamentally. So only with a rational God can the laws of logic can truly exist, as can math and the laws of science, and they can be known only because knowledge can exist. Bertrand Russell devoted his long life to providing an atheistic foundation for logic, reason, math, and knowledge, and after many decades, he became increasingly uncertain of almost all knowledge. Again, and again: the pinnacle achievement of atheism is ignorance.

With clarity Los Alamos scientist John Baumgartner reveals an implication of Einstein’s Gulf: “If something as real as linguistic information has existence independent of matter and energy, from causal considerations it is not unreasonable to suspect an entity [like God] capable of originating linguistic information also is ultimately non-material [i.e., spiritual] in its essential nature. An immediate conclusion of these observations concerning linguistic information [the existence of ideas, knowledge, logic, reason, law] is that materialism, which has long been the dominant philosophical perspective in scientific circles, with its foundational presupposition that there is no non-material reality, is simply and plainly false. It is amazing that its falsification is so trivial.”

What gives intelligibility to the world? Only the thoughts in the mind of God can make the cosmos understandable. Nothing but God can demonstrably or even conceivably allow for actual knowledge. The reason Einstein could not identify any way for matter to give meaning to symbols is that there is no way, for the physical laws have no symbolic logic function, and they cannot have any such function because logic is not physical and so is outside of the jurisdiction of physical laws. No physical law can even influence symbolic logic, yet the rules of logic constrain the physical laws, showing Baumgartner’s point that the spiritual takes precedence over the physical!

So try this: go and find an unsuspecting atheist, and ask him two questions. First, Q1: Is atheism logical? Second, Q2: Are the laws of logic absolute or has society only agreed upon them by convention? He will be happier with the first question than with the second. To the first, a typical atheist today will answer, yes! A1: Atheism is logical. (Why that answer? Atheists crave a foundation and so they are still substituting an indefensible, reasonless rationalism for the reasonable God whom they rebel against.) But for the second question, the atheist’s fear of the absolute will cause him to hesitate. If that phobia is strong enough, it could bring him to expose his own rejection of logic itself. A2-1: “No, the laws of logic are not absolute!” as the leading atheist Stein maintained in the above mentioned debate. And if logic is not absolute but rather a consensus of rules which some men have created, then any logical argument for atheism is really just an appeal to authority, an appeal to the authority of those men or those societies which agreed upon the current set of laws. And since atheists reject the source of all authority (God), they especially despise appeals to authority. (When pressing for an answer to Q2, expect some obfuscation, word games, or unresponsiveness.) When it dawns upon them, whether consciously or not, that denying its absolute nature turns logic into an argument from authority, some atheists then hesitate to say that logic is not absolute. But the unbeliever must step out of his own realm of atheism and become inconsistent to answer yes. A2-2: Yes, the laws of logic are absolute. He will then face the immediate follow-up question for which we will not permit him a circular justification: “What validates logic?” What justifies your faith in logic? Atheists tell the theist not to beg the question by using circular arguments. So by his own worldview, we will not allow him to assume (by faith) that which he claims he should be able to prove by logic (remember A1). This atheist finds himself with the same difficulty as his predecessors who tried to defend absolute morality apart from God: it can’t be done. And so, popular atheism has long ago yielded absolute morality to theists. (With even knowledge, logic, and reason falling victim to atheism, not surprisingly, the godless long ago discarded wisdom and righteousness.) Paralleling their loss of absolute morality, apart from God today’s atheist cannot defend the absolute laws of logic either. Regarding A2-1, as with morality, atheism will move toward a consensus against the existence of logic. For eventually, either atheism collapses, or its trust in logic collapses. They will redefine logic to mean just convention, as they have redefined right and wrong. As atheists fall into denial by increasingly rejecting the universality of logic, they will eventually yield logic to theists, just as they did with morality. Such intellectual schizophrenia demonstrates the claim of Christians that atheism is inherently self-contradictory, and more than just morality, atheism also undermines logic. For, rational atheism is easily demonstrated to be impossible [BA10-9], and the transcendental proof for God affirms His existence by the impossibility of the alternative. And so, which worldview is logical, theism or atheism? Once again I will grant that if right and wrong does not exist, and now if logic does not exist, then God does not exist. So if Zakath wanted to resolve this Battle Royale disagreement over God’s existence in a rational way, he has lost, for atheism has no rational basis.

Sorry about the legth but it's worth the time to read. If you're interested I can get you a link to the debate that Bob mentioned at the end of the second paragraph.

Resting in Him,
Clete

Hilston
December 9th, 2004, 11:26 PM
Hilston wrote: Without regeneration as the impetus for embracing the verity of the Scriptures you're left with evidentialism.


Clete writes:
Why? Where's the connection exactly?If you don't have regeneration to drive you toward belief in the Scriptures, what are you left with? Discursive reasoning? Scientific evidence? Based on what? Senses you can't calibrate? Reasoning faculties you cannot verify? Authorities you can't justify? Flesh and blood does not reveal this (Matthew 16:17). Human effort cannot manufacture belief (John 1:13 Romans 9:16). Even if someone were to rise from the dead, unbelievers would not believe (Luke 16:31). Evidence is not sufficient. Human effort is not sufficient. Reasoning is not sufficient. Because the problem is not a lack of evidence or a lack of compelling argument. The problem is rebellion born out of a dead spirit. Only regeneration can make a dead spirit live. Only regeneration can break the desire to rebel. Note that "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1Co 2:14)." This doesn't mean the natural man is incapable of understanding the things of the Spirit. Almost anyone can comprehend the teachings of scripture. Rather, he does not receive them because he is a rebel and has no desire to embrace that which indicts him before God. The mind of such a person is described as "carnal" and stands in aggressive opposition to God., "for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." (Ro 8:7,8).


Clete writes:
I don't understand how a removal of the regeneration doctrine (as I understand it) leads inescapably to evidentialism. And if it did, why would that be such a big deal?It's a big deal because evidentialism is the sin of Adam. It's the sin Paul warns about when he says to beware, "lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2Co 11:3).

Certainly, Lucifer was crafty, but what did he do that would warrant that description? One thing was that he didn't go directly to Adam, although Adam was standing right beside Eve the whole time ("... she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat" Ge 3:6). When we consider Paul's fear and warning in 2Co 11, the beguiling of which he speaks describes more than just being deceived by a Satanic "end around," as Adam experienced (and errantly permitted to happen).

Satan's craftiness goes beyond his indirect approach, rather, it is the fact that he enticed Adam with the prospect of being his own lawmaker. That was, after all, the temptation of the forbidden fruit: It was borne of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (or, "The truly evil good" if we look at it hendiadystically). The actual aim of Lucifer's question, "Hath God said?" was to get Adam to justify or condemn God on his own terms. It didn't matter which. In other words, Lucifer was suggesting, "Why don't you use your own reason, Adam, your own assessment, your own standard of evaluation to ascertain whether or not God's mandate makes sense to you? Why don't you become your own lawmaker?"

Of course Adam's answer should have been: "Yes, God hath said, and yes He means what He says" (presuppositionalism) But instead, Adam's response could be characterized like this: "Hmm. Good point, Lucifer. God warns us that we will surely die if we eat the fruit of that tree. But what evidence do I have that this true? What does it mean to 'die,' after all, I've never seen anyone die before" (evidentialism).

By so doing, Adam asserted his own imagined autonomy, presuming to have sufficient knowledge of good and evil beyond that which God revealed to him. It appears to me that the eating of the fruit coincided perfectly with Adam's presumed usurpation of God as Lawmaker. The eating of fruit is almost incidental (almost), the very act being the outward declaration of what had already occurred in Adam's mind and heart. Consider it like this: The fruit was not the thing. It was the presumption of knowing good and evil autonomously, apart from God's law. There is no way Adam could have eaten the fruit from that tree without this presumption having already occurred. The eating was a manifestation of Adam's presumption to know good and evil apart from God. It was Man's act of independence from God, becoming his own lawmaker, becoming as God, becoming his own judge of good and evil.

Thus, when Adam was found by God, hiding because of his newly realized nakedness, Adam's guilt and presumed autonomy was exposed (no pun intended). And God's question was both leading and loaded: "Who told you that you were naked?" We could paraphrase God's question this way: "You're not supposed to know that, Adam. You're supposed to get your information from ME. Will you now be your own lawmaker?"


Clete writes:
Perhaps it would be wise to start by clarifying what exactly you mean by regeneration.The Greek word is palingenesia. It can mean "restoration," as in the case of Israel in Mt. 19:28 (also referred to as the "time of reformation" (Heb 9:10)). But in the case of the members of the Body of Christ, it refers to individual rebirth (Titus 3:5), the quickening of the dead spirit (Eph 2:1). Paul refers to the same concept as being made a "new creation."

2Co 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Ga 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.


Clete writes:
Also, you may have done so to some degree already but would you mind responding further to post 135? (In particular, the last paragraph of that post).I'll have a look at it and get back with you.

Soulman
December 10th, 2004, 02:53 PM
You're not really giving me much to work this here. You've already conceded that your worldview is incoherent and that mine is not. What more do you want? It is not possible to prove a universal negative, which you also seem to understand and yet you insist that I do just that before you would accept my argument. It makes no sense!

Let’s apply the logical coherency of the biblical worldview to a concrete situation. I introduced the concept of randomness earlier. As a discrete event in a “logically coherent” universe, what “purpose” does a drive by shooting serve? There are any number of “logically plausible” ways to explain “how” a drive by shooting “might” be possible (poverty, “sin,” mental incapacity), but there is no “logical” way to explain why this child in particular was killed. That’s what the mother of this child wants to know. Why HER? It doesn’t “make sense,” i.e., the child’s death and manner of death is, to her, “logically incoherent.” A subjectivist randomist sun worshipper would say that she is absolutely right; the death of her daughter doesn’t make sense. The challenge for the Presuppositionalist is to “make coherent” the “senslessness” of her daughter’s death, especially in the “logically coherent” universe of the biblical worldview. In a naturalistic “random” universe, a logically coherent reason for her daughter’s death is unnecessary: Stuff “happens.” No less tragic, but in a universe of matter in motion, people are going to get hurt. My worldview not only accommodates the drive by shooting, but the mother’s “why HER” question – (i.e., why NOT her?) -- without introducing the “wildcard” of a deity.

In the biblical worldview, every conceivable event, no matter how minor, must have a purpose contributing in a real, medial way toward the successful accomplishment of God’s ultimate, overriding purpose. There can be no event whose purpose is not tied to and utterly dependent upon this larger, overriding purpose, for to imagine an event isolated from God’s larger, overriding purpose is to imagine a rogue event “independent” of this larger, overriding purpose. In the logically coherent universe of the biblical worldview, a “rogue event” is impossible.

Any event that is NOT medially necessary to God’s ultimate, overriding purpose is by definition, then, superfluous; that is, all events either contribute to the accomplishment of God’s ultimate purpose, or not. If not, such an event is mere adornment, an event without a purpose. The biblical worldview does not allow for the possibility of a “random” or “rogue” event. It therefore follows that in the biblical worldview, the drive by shooting must be both medial AND necessary for the achievement of God’s ultimate purpose.

Even in the orderly universe of the biblical worldview, the concept of randomness (even if “randomness” is only “apparent” randomness) cannot be avoided. The drive by shooting must be “accounted for,” that is, attributed. In the logically coherent universe of the biblical worldview, that child was not shot in vain; she was shot for a “reason.” God ordained it, or “allowed” it to happen. One thing we do know: God did nothing to stop it. God did not intervene. God “let” that child be killed. The drive by shooting, then, is not a “random” act in the biblical worldview, but the “will of God” and therefore necessary to the accomplishment of God’s ultimate purpose. Either her death is “necessary” to the accomplishment of God’s purpose, or her death is of no consequence and “neutral” in respect to God’s larger purpose. If the success of God’s ultimate purpose does not “hinge” on the child’s death, then her death is not only “senseless” (as it would be in a naturalistic, random universe), her death was entirely “avoidable” (unlike the same event taking place in a naturalistic, random universe).

We are not, however, told how or why the brains of an innocent child splattered over the family porch should be “necessary” to the accomplishment of God’s ultimate purpose, or why, in the infinite number of ways God’s purposes might be achieved, this child must necessarily be “selected,” or why an alternative method of achieving the same purpose could not have been devised. In the inconceivably vast number of discrete events that must occur in order to form the unbroken chain of redemptive history, this single event could not be overlooked. Either her death was “necessary” in the mind of God in order to get from redemptive point A to redemptive point B, or the child’s death served no purpose. We can only conclude that her death, down to the “manner” of her death and the smallest forensic detail, was “necessary” in order for God to accomplish his ultimate purpose.

Unlike the “logic” of a naturalistic explanation, the “logic” of God requiring her death escapes us. If we live in a naturalistic universe of matter in motion, accidents such as this are easily accounted for. If, however, we live in a universe governed by a logically coherent Creator (not to mention just, loving, merciful, etc.), and the death of this child was “logically necessary” as an expedient to the larger “object lesson” of redemptive history, we are never told why. Nor can a “logical” reason be imagined. The “logic” of the biblical worldview, in fact, defies even the "regenerated" mind on this point. There IS no "logical" answer. The “biblical” explanation is an enigma, not an explanation. There is nothing “logically coherent” (or even remotely satisfying) about a worldview requiring the death of an innocent child to achieve the higher purposes of God. The “logical coherence” you speak of only “works” in the biblical worldview. In fact, as you’ve already demonstrated, the “logic” you’re using fails miserably in the real world -- until a “wildcard” is played. In the real world of matter in motion, wildcards are not necessary, and convoluted arguments explaining “how” or “why” God behaves the way he does are avoided all together.

Interestingly, whether God exists or not, the “results” are the same. The child is just as dead.

Balder
December 11th, 2004, 11:43 AM
Hi, Hilston,

This conversation has really slowed down. Have you lost interest, or are you just busy?

Balder wrote:
Aren't you really saying that, based on your faith in the Bible, you have faith that whatever logical elements show up in the Bible must be "parts" of the true system of logic?


Sure, you can put it that way. But it's much more complete than your characterization of it. Look at it this way: The Bible, rightly understood, describes reality in a way that comports with my daily experience. With a priori faith in the verity of the Bible, I then compare its claims to my personal experience and I see congruity and verification. Therefore I conclude that my personal experience must be generally trustworthy and reliable. If, hypothetically speaking, my personal experience did not line up with scripture, then my a priori faith in scripture would tell me that something is wrong with me, not scripture. Schizophrenic and alcoholic believers may have to deal with this more often than those who do not have these debilitating conditions.

Do you imagine you are unique in having this experience? Do you imagine that people with other belief systems do not experience congruity and verification among their beliefs and experiences?

Balder wrote:
Admittedly it's been at least 10 years since I read the Bible all the way through, so my memory may be failing me; can you point me to direct, clear Biblical teachings on logic? I have no problem believing that the Bible affirms and demonstrates logic, but that feature is certainly not unique to the Bible.


That is true. My high school geometry book affirmed and demonstrated logic. But even Archimedes understood the problem of geometry sans a grounding of the concepts he developed. He lamented not having a pou sto, or a locus standi, a ledge or fulcrum at which ground his lever. And that's what makes the Bible unique. The existence of God provides the ledge or fulcrum by which one can "move the world," that is, ground one's knowledge. Without it, there is only blind faith and knowledge floating in the void.

Yes, you can find many examples of thinkers who developed some system of thought and then desired to find a way to concretely ground that system. And you can find systems which do coherently account for the world, which are more complete than Archimedes' model (because they deal with more than Archimedes' limited set of concerns, for example). Using your "method," all Archimedes had to do was to posit an ineffable "Ground of Geometrical Law" that can only be known by faith, a Platonic Form of Forms which accounts for the existence of all Forms in space and thought. And the fact that you really know this ground, and thus have a geometrically pure mind, is demonstrated by the objective fact that you believe Archimedes' assertions, and find them to make sense of your world. When you find examples of geometrical systems -- new spaces, Rheimannian manifolds, whatever -- that go beyond what Archimedes imagined, all you have to do is retreat to a safe level of abstraction: well, the Ground of Geometrical Law is fundamentally geometrical, therefore it can coherently account for the existence of all geometrical models, no matter their level of complexity.

Peace,
Balder

Hilston
December 11th, 2004, 05:15 PM
Hi Balder,

Thanks for the reminder. My next installment is below.

Balder previously wrote:
Yes, an unconscious entity can have being. Unconsciousness is still a form of consciousness, albeit often a stepped down, non-self-reflective form of consciousness.

Hilston replied:
So, would you say a shard of metal is an unconscious entity with a stepped down, non-self-reflective form of consciousness?


Balder rejoins
No, a shard of metal is not an "entity." The atomic and molecular constituents of metal may be considered to have a form of prehension, but the organization of metal itself is not such that it is capable of "mediating" or supporting any higher forms of consciousness than that.Three questions:
(1) How do you know this?
(2) Is a plant considered an entity on your view?
(3) How do you define "unconsciousness"?

Hilston asked:
Why do you believe the teachings of the Dzogchen tradition to be true?

You wrote that "there are in fact quite a number of teachings that give a glimpse of what 'lies beyond.'" Why do you believe that these teachings are true?

Why do you believe Siddhartha was right?


Balder writes
There are a number of reasons. I find his teachings to be both practical and profound, answering the questions of "why" and "wherefore" more fully and satisfactorily than other bodies of teachings that I've come across.By what criteria did you determine the teachings of Dzogchen and Siddartha to be "more fully satisfactory"?


Balder writes
Since Siddhartha's teachings deal primarily with direct experience, in meditation and outside of it, they are largely open to practical verification.If I were to seek verification based on direct experience via meditation, etc., what would you tell me to look for as confirming evidence for the verity of your view?

Hilston asked:
Is your belief in the verity and righteousness of Dzogchen tradition and Siddhartha's teachings based on the existence of the "humanly inexplicable gift of faith" or the object of that faith, i.e. that which you believe in. In other words, in what or who have you placed your faith?


Balder rejoins
I have placed my faith both in the transmitters of these teachings and the truth to which they point.Do you view the transmitters as authoritative regarding what they taught? Do you believe the transmitters had any errors in their teaching/writings?

Hilston wrote:
I agree, and that's partly my fault. I was genuinely interested (before I knew what I was getting into) in what you believed. Now, I'm not convinced that there is any need whatever to understand it. In fact, it seems deliberately obtuse, and you seem to be wholeheartedly swept away by its ambiguities. Your view seems to preclude any true desire or goal to understand with clarity, or to impart clear understanding to others.


Balder writes:
If I may respectfully submit, however, I believe that many of the "ambiguities" that you see in what I've communicated so far are probably due to your own unfamiliarity with these teachings. I would be similarly disoriented by a conversation which employed terms like Acts 9 dispensationalism, post-trib, etc, and while it would seem muddy and unnecessarily complicated to me, I'm sure it would convey quite meaningful distinctions to you.You raise a good example. Whenever I communicate with anyone who is admittedly unfamiliar with theological terms, I don't use them. I substitute the terms with explanations or phrases that may be a bit more unwieldy, but easier to understand than the theological jargon for those who don't have the background. When I asked for clarification from you, it went in the opposite direction.


Balder Writes:
To help move things along on a track that hopefully will be more agreeable to you, if my answers to your questions in this letter leave you confused, I will state the outlines of my general (Dzogchen/Buddhist) beliefs in brief in a subsequent post if you would like me to do so.I'm interested, but not making any promises, not having seen what you have in mind.

Hilston asked:
Do you believe in the permanence of the soul, Balder? Or do you hold to the doctrine of anatta? Is a yes or no answer possible? Or is that going require another prolix treatise, complete with Tibetan transliterations and hyphenated character strings?


Balder writes:
I do hold to the doctrine of anatta, or non-self. The meaning of this is that individual beings are contingent beings; they are not self-existent, but rather are completely dependent upon all other aspects of reality for their existence. What you call Hilston -- your memories, your habits, your dispositions, your physical condition, etc, etc -- are all contingent and as such are subject to change. In this sense, Hilston is not "permanent," nor self-existent. In other words, you are not the cause of your own existence; you are not a self-existent monad, completely sufficient unto yourself. This is the meaning of anatta. It points to the radical interdependence of all phenomenal existents, including people.From your explanation, it appears to me that your definition of "self" requires being the cause of one's own existence; self-existent and unchanging. If you are not the cause of your own existence and if you are not self-existent and unchanging, you are not permanent, right? Why do you believe this?


Balder rejoins
I answered "both" to your question, however, because while individual beings are largely contingent "products" of their karma (the conditioning factors of samsara), every sentient being is capable of realizing buddhahood, in which case the individual, in realizing union with the Dharmakaya (the formless body of the Buddha, Mind-as-Such), is capable of existing forever in Sambhogakaya (light body) and Nirmanakaya (material form body) manifestations, depending on the intentions and purposes of the enlightened being.Do you believe you yourself have reached buddhahood yet? If not, do you know anyone who has?

Hilston wrote:
There are plenty of Biblical data to affirm the first Law of Thermo', and myriad other recent scientific discoveries. There are plenty of data to show that the Biblical worldview and the ancients had vastly superior knowledge of science, mathematics, nature, etc. But I don't wave these things as proud trophies because it's not a biblical way to approach the matter.


Balder rejoins
I'd be interested to hear examples of Biblical data that you believe confirm recent scientific discoveries. In the last letter to you, I mentioned the mythical cosmology that is apparent as the background of many Biblical passages, so I'm sure you'll be dealing with that as well, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.There are whole organizations and websites devoted to this stuff. It doesn't interest me. It has no bearing whatever on my faith in scripture. Even if there were not a single example of Biblical data confrimed by science, I would still believe the Bible is God's inerrant, infallible Word. That's the nature of a priori belief.


Balder rejoins
Not to be too picky, but I suppose you have to acknowledge that Christianity doesn't really "solve" the problem of unity and multiplicity, it just postpones it by making it an inexplicable aspect of ultimate reality instead of an inexplicable aspect of everyday reality.No, it's not that vague. The Bible teaches about a triune Godhead. The many in one. The regenerated philosopher reads the Bible and says, "Of course! That's the solution! The many and the one (diversity/unity) is a reflection of the Godhead! No wonder it is such an elusive concept; it is an analogy to the elusive nature of the Godhead itself. It's no longer a problem because the very nature of the Creator underpins this phenomenon in nature."

Hilston wrote:
In a book titled Buddhism: The Light of Asia, by Kenneth K.S. Ch'en, the author quotes: "Not to commit any sin, to do good, to purify one's own mind, that is the teaching of the Buddha." He goes on to define sin as "any act that is harmful to oneself or to another." Do you agree with these statements? If so, why is it your desire to eschew sin and to do good and to purify your mind?


Balder rejoins
Yes, the Buddha does teach these things. Buddhism doesn’t have an exact word for sin, however; the word used is akusala, which means unwholesome or unskillful.How are those terms defined (unwholesome, unskillful)?


Balder rejoins
There are many reasons to avoid sin, to do good, and to purify the mind. One purifies the mind because that allows you to perceive reality more clearly, ...Why do you want to perceive reality more clearly?


Balder rejoins
... both on the relative level, where you gain insight into the nature and causes of suffering and evil, ...Why do you want this insight? Aren't reality and suffering and evil unpleasant? Why do you want this insight?


Balder rejoins
... and on an absolute level where you gain insight into the true nature of reality, the pure Dharmakaya.Do you believe you have attained or acquired this?


Balder rejoins
Because all things are interdependent (pratitya-samutpada), and because as contingent beings we are continually being influenced and shaped by the nature of our thoughts, feelings, reactions, and interactions (karma), and because the pristine light of buddhanature that is in us is also in all beings, we desire to do good and to avoid evil out of wise recognition of the genesis of our own suffering and confusion, and out of compassion for others.Why is it your desire to be compassionate to others? Why does it matter to you that the pristine light of buddhanature is in all beings?


Balder rejoins
The Buddha teaches that when we awaken to the depths of the truth of our mutuality, we are also awakened to our responsibility.Why do you want responsiblity?


Balder rejoins
The bodhisattva is one who dedicates himself to working for the welfare of others because of this insight into the true nature of things.Do you consider yourself a bodhisattva?


Balder rejoins
... There is more to say on this, of course, but I am keeping things short and to the point for the time being. Certainly all of these points could be fleshed out, in themselves, but also in their interrelationship with each other. If necessary, I’ll be happy to explain anything that isn’t clear – or to answer any charge of incoherence you may muster!I'm doing my best. :D

Cheers, bloke.

Balder
December 11th, 2004, 07:54 PM
Hi, Hilston,

Thanks for your letter. I'm in the middle of finishing up a paper right now and will give a fuller response in a day or two. For now, I just wanted to say that I noticed many of your questions asked me to justify why I believe a certain thing, why I trust this tradition, etc. These questions are certainly fair, but I don't know if they are on topic. As I understand it, the presuppositionalist argument is that all other worldviews are incoherent, floating in the void, and necessarily logically self-refuting, so I thought this is what we were going to be debating: the coherence of a non-Christian worldview. Why I follow Buddhism is relevant, to me, and I understand why you might want to know the motivations of a person who has chosen a different path from yours, but I don't know if it really matters in this discussion. If the Buddhist tradition I follow is incoherent and incapable of accounting for the world, then shouldn't we be examining why you think Buddhism is incoherent as a worldview, rather than why a particular adherent believes in it?

If you can explain to me your rationale for asking these questions, and that rationale turns out to be relevant to this discussion, then I'll get more personal in my answers. But at this point, it appears that such questions are a digression; they are not getting to the point, which is your assertion that Buddhism is necessarily incoherent.

Peace,
Balder

temple2006
December 11th, 2004, 08:20 PM
Balder...I hate to inflict myself on you again ...... but I want to know why you are Buddhist rather than Christian and I certainly have no problem with thinking that Buddhism is an incoherent world view. I am so nosy I just cannot stand not knowing. :)

Hilston
December 11th, 2004, 08:54 PM
Hi Balder,


You write:
For now, I just wanted to say that I noticed many of your questions asked me to justify why I believe a certain thing, why I trust this tradition, etc. These questions are certainly fair, but I don't know if they are on topic. As I understand it, the presuppositionalist argument is that all other worldviews are incoherent, floating in the void, and necessarily logically self-refuting, so I thought this is what we were going to be debating: the coherence of a non-Christian worldview.If I'm going to accomplish that task, I need information. My questions are aimed at understanding your view. My past debates with Buddhists have been different, for whatever reason. My original approach with you revealed some deficits in my understanding -- at least in your brand of Buddhism. I need those gaps plugged if I'm to make a logically sound and biblical critique of your view.


Balder writes:
Why I follow Buddhism is relevant, to me, and I understand why you might want to know the motivations of a person who has chosen a different path from yours, but I don't know if it really matters in this discussion.It matters greatly. I don't know how much you're familiar with biblical apologetics, but it is an ad hominem approach (not in the logical-fallacy sense of ad hominem, but as an apologetic methodology).


Balder writes:
If the Buddhist tradition I follow is incoherent and incapable of accounting for the world, then shouldn't we be examining why you think Buddhism is incoherent as a worldview, rather than why a particular adherent believes in it?Buddhism, as I understand it, is a worldview that must be personally experienced. The verity of its teachings must be personally confirmed, according to Buddhism. If that's the case, and what you've written seems consistent with this, then I must explore your personal feelings, experiences, reactions, etc. regarding this path you've chosen.


Balder writes:
If you can explain to me your rationale for asking these questions, and that rationale turns out to be relevant to this discussion, then I'll get more personal in my answers. But at this point, it appears that such questions are a digression; they are not getting to the point, which is your assertion that Buddhism is necessarily incoherent.I am confident that I will be able to demonstrate the incoherence of your view once I have a better understanding. My time is valuable to me, as I'm sure yours is to you. I have and will continue to do my best to stay on topic with our discussion. I assure you that my questions are right on track with the topic. If you were a strict materialist, this would be easy. You're not, so it's going to take a bit more poking and prodding.

Balder
December 11th, 2004, 08:59 PM
Okay, fair enough. :)

But I have to ask for your patience (you too, Temple!). As I mentioned, I'm finishing some fairly big projects, but I'll be done in a day or two.

Until then...

Visualize whirled peas.

Balder.

temple2006
December 11th, 2004, 10:58 PM
Balder...I will try very hard to restrain myself :) Are you using a play on words here?

Balder
December 11th, 2004, 11:54 PM
Yes! Parrotting a silly bumpersticker. :)

Rolf Ernst
December 12th, 2004, 08:09 PM
Has anyone pointed out that presuppositionalism is twofold?

R.C. Sproul is, to my knowledge, the theologian who delves most deeply into presuppositional apologetics versus classical apologetics.

He teaches that presuppositional apologetics is giving a Christian apologetic based on the presupposition that the existence of God is a given, and therefore the apologetic doesn't attempt to prove the existence of God. It assumes it and continues from that starting point, testifying to what scripture teaches concerning Him.

Classical apologetics, attempting to engage the minds of skeptics, appeals to man's powers of rationality and reasoning to prove the existence of God.

I believe that presuppositional is the more biblical method of apologetics. Appealing to man's reasoning powers overinflates an ego that greatly needs to be deflated rather than given a high gloss by any appeal to it other than the testimony of Christ.


Apologetics on the basis of the existence of God being presupposed usually leads to a second presupposition--that men are so fallen that attempting to reason anyone into faith is a vain exercise and that just as God has independently created the world apart from the input of His creatures, so He will also, when He pleases, create new creatures in Christ Jesus through the ministry of His word and the accompanying power of the Holy Spirit.

Those who adopt the classical apologetic method most often--though not always--carry their attempt to deal with men through rationality and reasoning past the issue of believing in the existence of God into believing in Christ by the same method, which is even more unbiblical.

Clete
December 13th, 2004, 02:22 PM
Originally posted by Rolf Ernst

Has anyone pointed out that presuppositionalism is twofold?

R.C. Sproul is, to my knowledge, the theologian who delves most deeply into presuppositional apologetics versus classical apologetics.

He teaches that presuppositional apologetics is giving a Christian apologetic based on the presupposition that the existence of God is a given, and therefore the apologetic doesn't attempt to prove the existence of God. It assumes it and continues from that starting point, testifying to what scripture teaches concerning Him.

Classical apologetics, attempting to engage the minds of skeptics, appeals to man's powers of rationality and reasoning to prove the existence of God.

I believe that presuppositional is the more biblical method of apologetics. Appealing to man's reasoning powers over inflates an ego that greatly needs to be deflated rather than given a high gloss by any appeal to it other than the testimony of Christ.


Apologetics on the basis of the existence of God being presupposed usually leads to a second presupposition--that men are so fallen that attempting to reason anyone into faith is a vain exercise and that just as God has independently created the world apart from the input of His creatures, so He will also, when He pleases, create new creatures in Christ Jesus through the ministry of His word and the accompanying power of the Holy Spirit.

Those who adopt the classical apologetic method most often--though not always--carry their attempt to deal with men through rationality and reasoning past the issue of believing in the existence of God into believing in Christ by the same method, which is even more unbiblical.
Rolf,

It seems to me that attempting "to deal with men through rationality and reasoning" is precisely what you are doing. Both Jim and now you have made this same point that appealing to evidence is somehow elevating man's mind beyond a point which would be Biblically appropriate and that presuppositionalism does not do this. The thing is, I just don't see it.
First of all when the Bible defines faith it speaks about substance and evidence (Heb. 11:1) so I'm not convinced that presenting such substantive evidence is all that unbiblical in the first place, indeed, it seems to me that it is God Himself who provides such evidence and holds us responsible for either accepting or rejecting it.
Further, presuppositionalism, it seems to me, simply presents another form of evidence for the existence of God, that evidence being, the demonstrably logical incoherence (i.e. rational impossibility) of any other alternative. When someone makes the transcendental argument for the existence of God they are presenting evidence. It's not physical to be sure but it is substantive and compelling and there can be no doubt that it is reasonable. In fact, reasonability is what the argument is based upon.
Now, you can hold to the position that someone will not accept this evidence of reason and thereby come to faith without having first been regenerated but that can in no way get you out from under the fact that you have indeed used evidence of one kind or another in order to prove the existence of God. And what’s more is that such a doctrinal position goes against something else that Jim said several days ago about how his life experience confirms the truths that have been communicated to him via revelation (regeneration).
Here are Jim’s exact words (emphasis added)…

Originally posted by Hilston
The Bible, rightly understood, describes reality in a way that comports with my daily experience. With a priori faith in the verity of the Bible, I then compare its claims to my personal experience and I see congruity and verification. Therefore I conclude that my personal experience must be generally trustworthy and reliable. If, hypothetically speaking, my personal experience did not line up with scripture, then my a priori faith in scripture would tell me that something is wrong with me, not scripture.
This statement sounds fine and with most Christian theologies I would say that it is a perfectly fine thing to say. The problem is, that Jim (and I assume you as well) do not hold the doctrine of regeneration to this same test. If you did, you would have to drop it because the simple fact is that the world as we experience it operates precisely as one would expect for it to operate if regeneration was not a true theology. From an ‘experience’ point of view, regeneration cannot be confirmed. Unregenerate people look exactly like regenerate people and vise versa. The only difference is that one either does, or is going to, believe and the other does not and will never believe. That’s the only difference which is the exact same difference between people anyway; people either do or will believe or the don’t and won’t; regeneration changes nothing as far as our experience is concerned. If someone refuses to believe they may not be regenerate now but they might be at some point in the future so everyone must be treated as if they are regenerate because if you assume they are not then there is no reason to have the conversation in the first place. The result is both action and experience that exactly duplicate that which would occur if regeneration weren’t true.
So what’s the point, you ask? Well, if the exclusivity of the presuppositional method of apologetics is based upon the doctrine of regeneration and a rejection of evidentialism, which I think is Jim’s position (correct me if I’m wrong), then with both of those pillars compromised the exclusivity of presuppositional apologetics cannot stand.

Resting in Him,
Clete

P.S. I’ve been out of town for the last few days and am very far behind on my responses. I probably have something else that needs to be said but this will have to do for now. When I’ve gotten a chance to review everything that I’ve missed, I may have more to say. Thanks for your patience!

Clete
December 14th, 2004, 09:41 AM
Originally posted by Soulman

Let’s apply the logical coherency of the biblical worldview to a concrete situation. I introduced the concept of randomness earlier. As a discrete event in a “logically coherent” universe, what “purpose” does a drive by shooting serve? There are any number of “logically plausible” ways to explain “how” a drive by shooting “might” be possible (poverty, “sin,” mental incapacity), but there is no “logical” way to explain why this child in particular was killed. That’s what the mother of this child wants to know. Why HER? It doesn’t “make sense,” i.e., the child’s death and manner of death is, to her, “logically incoherent.” A subjectivist randomist sun worshipper would say that she is absolutely right; the death of her daughter doesn’t make sense. The challenge for the Presuppositionalist is to “make coherent” the “senselessness” of her daughter’s death, especially in the “logically coherent” universe of the biblical worldview. In a naturalistic “random” universe, a logically coherent reason for her daughter’s death is unnecessary: Stuff “happens.” No less tragic, but in a universe of matter in motion, people are going to get hurt. My worldview not only accommodates the drive by shooting, but the mother’s “why HER” question – (i.e., why NOT her?) -- without introducing the “wildcard” of a deity.
No it doesn't! It doesn't even explain how you understand the concept of "tragedy" in the first place, or how she would have ever figured out how to ask the question "Why me?". In fact, your scenario is just that much more argument that the world is not random and that things generally make sense. If it were a totally common event for children of all ages to just randomly drop dead for no reason at all then why would the mother have detected anything to be upset about in the first place? The whole point is that it isn't normal for mothers to be deprived of their children for any reason much less a random drive-by shooting. Indeed, in a totally, inherently random universe, randomness would never be noticed; it is only with order that randomness becomes meaningful.


In the biblical worldview, every conceivable event, no matter how minor, must have a purpose contributing in a real, medial way toward the successful accomplishment of God’s ultimate, overriding purpose.
By what logic did you come to this conclusion? There is nothing in the Bible that teaches such a thing. There are lots of Calvinists who would teach you this, but the Bible does not. In fact, the Bible teaches just the opposite. God has enemies that are actively working to keep Him from accomplishing His purposes. They will, of course, be defeated in the end but that does not mean that they never complete a task designed to hinder God and to advance the cause of evil in the world. God's enemies were so successful at one point that God wiped out every last person on the planet save eight individuals and started all over again with those eight people.


There can be no event whose purpose is not tied to and utterly dependent upon this larger, overriding purpose, for to imagine an event isolated from God’s larger, overriding purpose is to imagine a rogue event “independent” of this larger, overriding purpose. In the logically coherent universe of the biblical worldview, a “rogue event” is impossible.
You are definitely reacting here to Calvinism not simply a Biblical worldview. If you want to reject Calvinism or the idea that God is a control freak, then I encourage you to do so, but ripping Calvinism to shreds is not the equivalent to ripping the Biblical worldview to shreds, it's not the same thing at all.


Any event that is NOT medially necessary to God’s ultimate, overriding purpose is by definition, then, superfluous; that is, all events either contribute to the accomplishment of God’s ultimate purpose, or not. If not, such an event is mere adornment, an event without a purpose.
There are three main possibilities. An event either serves directly to further God's purpose, or it serves to further the purposes of evil, or it is neutral. My attempt to convince you of the verity of the Biblical worldview serves God, your rejection of it serves evil, a supernova in another galaxy that goes completely unnoticed by anyone on this planet is neutral. God is able to use events that directly serve evil or that are neutral to accomplish His goals but doing so is an event discrete from the evil or neutral event itself.


The biblical worldview does not allow for the possibility of a “random” or “rogue” event. It therefore follows that in the biblical worldview, the drive by shooting must be both medial AND necessary for the achievement of God’s ultimate purpose.
If your premise was correct so would your conclusion. Your premise is not correct however, so your conclusion is erroneous as well.
2Sa 1:6 And the young man that told him said, As I happened by chance upon mount Gilboa, behold, Saul leaned upon his spear; and, lo, the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him.

Luke 10:31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.


Even in the orderly universe of the biblical worldview, the concept of randomness (even if “randomness” is only “apparent” randomness) cannot be avoided. The drive by shooting must be “accounted for,” that is, attributed. In the logically coherent universe of the biblical worldview, that child was not shot in vain; she was shot for a “reason.” God ordained it, or “allowed” it to happen.
God could stop the entire universe from existing if He chose to, so every event that happens is "allowed" by God, everything. I do not believe and the Bible does not demand (logically) that God "ordained" every event or that every event have a meaning or a specific overarching cosmic purpose. Some things, many things, perhaps most things just happen.


One thing we do know: God did nothing to stop it. God did not intervene.
You could not possibly know this.


God “let” that child be killed. The drive by shooting, then, is not a “random” act in the biblical worldview, but the “will of God” and therefore necessary to the accomplishment of God’s ultimate purpose.
More Calvinist heresy and a prime example of why I hate that theology so completely.


Either her death is “necessary” to the accomplishment of God’s purpose, or her death is of no consequence and “neutral” in respect to God’s larger purpose.
Or it is evil! Remember that Satan fellow in the Bible?


If the success of God’s ultimate purpose does not “hinge” on the child’s death, then her death is not only “senseless” (as it would be in a naturalistic, random universe), her death was entirely “avoidable” (unlike the same event taking place in a naturalistic, random universe).
In a Biblical worldview, you have both good AND evil, love AND hate. You cannot love if it is impossible to hate. Love must be volitional as must be any act that has a moral component attached to it. Without choice morality is meaningless and without options choice is meaningless. The fact that you understand mindless murder to be a problem is proof that you know (at least intuitively) that good and evil, right and wrong, exist. Your own conscience, your own sense of right and wrong testify against the position you are arguing.


We are not, however, told how or why the brains of an innocent child splattered over the family porch should be “necessary” to the accomplishment of God’s ultimate purpose, or why, in the infinite number of ways God’s purposes might be achieved, this child must necessarily be “selected,” or why an alternative method of achieving the same purpose could not have been devised. In the inconceivably vast number of discrete events that must occur in order to form the unbroken chain of redemptive history, this single event could not be overlooked. Either her death was “necessary” in the mind of God in order to get from redemptive point A to redemptive point B, or the child’s death served no purpose. We can only conclude that her death, down to the “manner” of her death and the smallest forensic detail, was “necessary” in order for God to accomplish his ultimate purpose.
You keep repeating this same idea. Why are "good" and "neutral" the only two options? What ever happened to evil?


Unlike the “logic” of a naturalistic explanation, the “logic” of God requiring her death escapes us.
Yeah, if you close your eyes to the possibility of evil, it escapes you! But logic cannot exist in a naturalistic universe. It is rationally impossible.


If we live in a naturalistic universe of matter in motion, accidents such as this are easily accounted for.
No. In a naturalistic universe you cannot account for the existence of anything at all, accident or otherwise. Nothing is knowable at all including whether or not something is an accident or what the word accident means or even if it is a real word.


If, however, we live in a universe governed by a logically coherent Creator (not to mention just, loving, merciful, etc.), and the death of this child was “logically necessary” as an expedient to the larger “object lesson” of redemptive history, we are never told why. Nor can a “logical” reason be imagined. The “logic” of the biblical worldview, in fact, defies even the "regenerated" mind on this point. There IS no "logical" answer. The “biblical” explanation is an enigma, not an explanation.
The logical answer is evil.


There is nothing “logically coherent” (or even remotely satisfying) about a worldview requiring the death of an innocent child to achieve the higher purposes of God.
I completely agree with you.


The “logical coherence” you speak of only “works” in the biblical worldview. In fact, as you’ve already demonstrated, the “logic” you’re using fails miserably in the real world -- until a “wildcard” is played. In the real world of matter in motion, wildcards are not necessary, and convoluted arguments explaining “how” or “why” God behaves the way he does are avoided all together.
What "wild card" are you talking about? I have used no wild cards, only simple, unavoidable logic.


Interestingly, whether God exists or not, the “results” are the same. The child is just as dead.
Precisely! This goes right along with my previous post. Only you are discussing random chance rather that regeneration. Calvinism (as it is today) discounts randomness or chance, just as you have accused the Bible of doing. The problem is that the world we live in looks PRECISELY like it would if randomness and chance did exist. Ask anyone in Los Vegas if chance is real and you'll be told in no uncertain terms that it absolutely does. This is another Calvinistic theology that does not stand up to the test of verification by our experience. This would be a problem for the Biblical worldview if the Bible actually did teach such a thing but it does not. The idea is derived from other erroneous theologies, it is not explicitly (or implicitly) taught in Scripture at all. At best, theologians read this into the text.

Resting in Him,
Clete

P.S. Sorry it took so long to reply, I'm trying to get caught up!
P.S.S. I didn’t do any editing except for a spell check. Let me know if I need to clarify something.

Hilston
December 14th, 2004, 09:36 PM
Hi Balder,
Latest installment follows:
Hilston wrote:
The plan sounds good, but it just doesn't pan out. When you gave explanations, I asked for clarifications on things I didn't understand. Then I couldn't understand your explanations without further explanation, which I also couldn't understand.


Balder writes:
Maybe your presuppositions are getting in the way. Sometimes they have to be suspended, though not necessarily forsaken, to understand where another person is coming from.This statement indicates to me that you're not clear on what presuppositions are. They can't be suspended. That's the nature of them. They are non-negotiables that underpin our thinking. As to the statement itself, it doesn't take a rocket scientist or professor of linguistics to recognize the problem of explaining solecisms with neologisms or vice versa. At some point, there must be a nexus in our language that allows us to actually communicate.

Hilston said:
It's horribly uninviting and discouraging to make an effort toward understanding something, only to be hamstrung time and again by a deeper and deeper quagmire (or so it seems) of alien terminology, invented words, syntactic acrobatics, and Tibetan guru-speak.


Balder writes:
Come on, now. I've been trying. I think you'll find my last several posts to you to be relatively short on Guentherese. At least you are still saying "or so it seems"; maybe I can clear up some of the confusion in coming letters.You're absolutely right. Recent posts have been much easier to understand and contemplate.


Balder writes:Hilston then asked uncharitably: ...You're being a little too sensitive here, Balder. This is not an attack on you. It is a legitimate question, one you could just as legitimately ask of me. Here it is again:

How am I to tell the difference between what you say and the words of someone who is not being honest, but just trying to jack me around to try to prove me wrong. I've said it before, and I'll say it again because I'm earnestly interested if you can disprove this. How do I know that all of this is nothing more than your own obsession with trying to dissect obscure ramblings of some ancient writings and to find warm-and-fuzzy "enlightenment" by shoehorning modern scientific explanations into Dzogchen, not unlike how modern interpreters try to eisogete Nostradamus as a foreteller of modern events?


Balder writes:
Since a few paragraphs later you use astrology to support the supposed scientific knowledge of the writers of the Bible, I think you should think twice about telling others that they are trying to "shoehorn" science into an outmoded worldview or are on par with Nostradamus supporters!This is the wrong reaction, Balder. Instead, you should have said, "I didn't realize the Bible teaches that the Zodiac was intended by God to communicate revelation to man."


Balder writes:
Honestly, I'm not sure how to answer your question; ...Do your best; come up with something. How am I to know you're not being disingenuous, sandbagging and simply trying to sabotage the discussion? Hint: It has to do with the authority to which you appeal. How am I to know you're not on a psychological trip and everything you're saying are delusional ramblings?


Balder writes:
I am definitely doing my best to answer your questions honestly and in a straightforward manner.I don't doubt that, and I truly appreciate your efforts. My question is not intended to express doubt regarding your sincerity, but rather to discover the foundation of your belief and why I should care. I think we are making progress and I hope you're inclined to continue.


Balder writes:
How do I know that you aren't obsessed or dishonest or deluded or whatever? How are you to prove that?Excellent question! Here's the answer: You can check my claims against that of scripture.


Balder writes:
Why don't we just give each other a fair listen for starters.I assure you, if that were not my goal, this discussion would have ended a dozen pages ago.

Balder previously wrote:
If you know the "true logical system" only partially, and largely by faith, how are you able to ascertain which human systems of logic are corruptions of a logical system which is admittedly opaque to you?

Hilston responded:
You misunderstand. First, I'm not a logician; that doesn't mean I do not use logic successfully. Most people use logic successfully and have never had a class on advanced logic. Second, my knowledge of logic is not "largely on faith." As I said, I knew and understood the use of logic prior to my introduction to the Bible. My trust and certainty in logic is ultimately based on faith, but my understanding, use, and application of it preceded faith in Christ and the Bible. And Third, my faith in Christ and the Bible enables me to make sweeping and general claims (such as "no other worldview can account for the intelligibility of human experience" and "the true logical system is both demonstrated and affirmed in the J-C Bible") because I appeal to an Authority Who makes that claim. That does not absolve me from having to demonstrate it, but I can confidently take that as my starting point because my Authority has given that direction and instruction.


Balder writes:
The point I am making is that you believe there is a perfect logical system, but you do not know it directly.Sure I do. The scriptures give direct affirmation of the verity of logical laws.


Balder writes:
You conclude that it must exist because the fallible human logical inferences and deductions you make nevertheless appear to be generally reliable, but you do not know it in itself;On the contrary. I do know it in itself because God has verified it. If I didn't have God to verify it, there would be no way to verify it.


Balder writes:
... it is an object of faith, like the God of which you believe it is a part.Of course, and there is nothing more sure than that faith. All worldview operate on faith and place their faith in unproven assumptions. The Christian worldview does not have this problem. The Christian's faith is sure, unwavering, certain, and solid because it depends not upon the believers efforts or will, but upon God Who gives the give of faith and certainty.


Balder writes:
Your understanding, use, and application of logic that preceded your knowledge of the Bible are all based on your exposure to human systems of logic -- linear, grammatical, etc. You suggest that the Bible supports your use of logic in a way that no other worldview can, but you haven't demonstrated this yet, beyond making an appeal to the authority you attribute to the Bible.I cannot prove a universal negative, Balder. If that's what you want, then this conversation will end right here. The Bible makes the claim, and that suffices for me. Any worldview that wants to challenge it can have its day in court, and that's what we're doing here. If I can show that your worldview is internally incoherent and violates the laws of logic, then my claim stands with respect to your worldview versus mine, and that's all that matters right here and right now between these two men named Hilston and Balder.


Balder writes:
But you haven't demonstrated the logical superiority of the Christian worldview, or proven why the Bible of necessity must be the only valid source of knowledge.In order to do that adequately, I need a better understanding your view. I have shown how the Christian worldview answers every major area of human existence and experience. Now if I can show that yours does not, then the demonstration will have succeeded competely.


Balder writes:
Certainly there are other worldviews as well that similarly claim to account for the existence of orderliness and logical structure in the universe...and this, of course, is one of the focuses of this conversation.This is what the Bible denies and I aim to demonstrate, specifically with regard to your particular brand of Buddhism.

Hilston wrote: [K]nowledge based on faith is still knowledge. The question is whether or not that knowledge can be certain, and that depends on the verity of what one's faith is based upon. My certainty of knowledge is based on the Judeo-Christian faith, which is objective faith in the Person of Christ. I knew how to use logic before I had faith in Christ, but if someone were to press me on my certainty in that knowledge, I would be left with a blind faith commitment to my own experience, which is hardly reliable apart from some assured grounding of it. David Hume is excellent on this point, and remains unanswered by anti- or non-biblical philosophers.


Balder writes:
Two questions:

1) What do you mean by "objective faith" in the Person of Christ?Objective faith is faith that does not only exist in the mind. It is not subjective but objective. It is objective because it is the faith of Christ Himself given to man.


Balder writes:
Are you just using that word to give your claim more weight and apparent authority, or do you mean something specific by it that is objectively demonstrable?The latter.


Balder writes:
Do you just mean that it is an objective fact that you have faith in Christ?No, but I appreciate your obviously careful thought on this question. Very good. :thumb:


Balder writes:
2) How is your certainty in the existence of a logical God less of a blind faith commitment than your previous faith in the verity of logic itself? (I'm not saying that belief in God is necessarily "blind," but rather asking you to clarify the differences between the two positions, as you see them.)I understand. My previous faith in the verity of logic was without foundation. It was not proveable or testable because there is no way to test those laws without using those laws. If the laws don't work, you can't use them to prove them. So my trust in them was blind assumption. Of course the assumption is correct, but that's not the same as justifying or accounting for them. And the reason the assumption is correct and that people have used these laws of logic successfully all over the world and throughout human history is precisely because God created the universe in a way that reflects His logical nature and character and He created man, His pinnacle creation, with a mind analogous to His own (the imago dei -- in the image of God). My certainty in the existence of a logical God is not blind. It has been communicated to me via regeneration, imparting unwavering certainty, unshakeable confidence and full irrevocable assurance in that fact and in the verity of the Bible as God's Word.

Clete
December 15th, 2004, 12:42 PM
Anyone heard from Rolf or Soulman?

Hilston
December 15th, 2004, 03:42 PM
Clete,

Did you get my response to your last post to me?

Clete
December 15th, 2004, 04:39 PM
Originally posted by Hilston

Clete,

Did you get my response to your last post to me?

Umm. Nope!

I found it now though! :doh:

I knew I must have missed something! Sorry about that. I'll respond ASAP. Some of my last two posts is pertinent to our discussion; feel free to throw in your two cents on those in the mean time if you like.

Resting in Him,
Clete

Hilston
December 15th, 2004, 08:05 PM
Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer

Rolf,

It seems to me that attempting "to deal with men through rationality and reasoning" is precisely what you are doing. Both Jim and now you have made this same point that appealing to evidence is somehow elevating man's mind beyond a point which would be Biblically appropriate and that presuppositionalism does not do this. The thing is, I just don't see it.This isn't true Clete. There's nothing wrong with appealing to evidence. The problem lies in the atheist's uncritical acceptance of his own standards of evaluation. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Therefore, we challenge the knowledge of the atheist apart from the fear of God.


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
First of all when the Bible defines faith it speaks about substance and evidence (Heb. 11:1) ...You're misunderstanding the verse. Faith itself is the evidence.


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
... so I'm not convinced that presenting such substantive evidence is all that unbiblical in the first place, ...It isn't unbiblical as long as you are presenting faith as substantive evidence. If you're presenting irreducible complexity as evidence, you're being unbiblical.


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
... indeed, it seems to me that it is God Himself who provides such evidence and holds us responsible for either accepting or rejecting it.Without a doubt, God presents His own evidence, but that is based upon the witness He immediately bears upon their souls regarding His existence. That is why they are without excuse. That is why they cannot say, "Show me more evidence." God has sufficiently and completely done this already. The one who denies it is self-deluded and suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
Further, presuppositionalism, it seems to me, simply presents another form of evidence for the existence of God, that evidence being, the demonstrably logical incoherence (i.e. rational impossibility) of any other alternative.Again, there's nothing wrong with evidence as long as the means by which it is assessed is justified and accounted for. To demonstrate the rational impossibility of atheism by shining a light on their own reasoning deficits is not the same as shining a light on an irreducibly complex flagellum. The latter is arguable on the basis of incomplete knowledge, gaps of data, unknown mechanisms, limited purview, etc. The former is not arguable on any of those bases. The force of the logic is compelling and irrefutable. The atheist can only (a) acknowledge and yield, (b) acknowledge and run, or (c) refuse to acknowledge.


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
Now, you can hold to the position that someone will not accept this evidence of reason and thereby come to faith without having first been regenerated but that can in no way get you out from under the fact that you have indeed used evidence of one kind or another in order to prove the existence of God.You really seem hung up on this mistaken assumption. Try to get it out of your head that evidence is a big no-no. The fact is, presuppositionalists are the only one's who can rightly and biblically make use of evidence. The evidentialists (i.e. Classical apologists) cannot without begging crucial questions.


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
And what’s more is that such a doctrinal position goes against something else that Jim said several days ago about how his life experience confirms the truths that have been communicated to him via revelation (regeneration).
Here are Jim’s exact words (emphasis added)…[snipped Hilston's quote]

This statement sounds fine and with most Christian theologies I would say that it is a perfectly fine thing to say. The problem is, that Jim (and I assume you as well) do not hold the doctrine of regeneration to this same test.How would propose to test it?


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
If you did, you would have to drop it because the simple fact is that the world as we experience it operates precisely as one would expect for it to operate if regeneration was not a true theology.That's not true, Clete. Because of regeneration, there are Christians with unwavering confidence and faith in the scripture to argue in its behalf. Without regeneration, you would have a bunch of evidentialists making their best guess about the scripture, never knowing for sure whether to completely trust it or not. Remember, faith is the substance and the evidence. Not bacterial flagellum.


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
From an ‘experience’ point of view, regeneration cannot be confirmed.It can be approximated, but not absolutely confirmed. It is not supposed be. Regeneration is a personal experience. It cannot be adequately investigated.


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
Unregenerate people look exactly like regenerate people and vise versa.That's exactly right.


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
The only difference is that one either does, or is going to, believe and the other does not and will never believe.No, you're confusing unregenerate with reprobate. The regenerate do or will believe, that is correct. But the unregenerate may still become regenerated. The reprobate, on the other hand, can never be regenerated.


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
That’s the only difference which is the exact same difference between people anyway; people either do or will believe or the don’t and won’t; regeneration changes nothing as far as our experience is concerned.When a person becomes regenerated, the journey begins, the hunger, the drive, the insatiable desire for God and His truth. That's quite a big change, isn't it?


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
If someone refuses to believe they may not be regenerate now but they might be at some point in the future so everyone must be treated as if they are regenerate because if you assume they are not then there is no reason to have the conversation in the first place.Here you're confusing regenerate with elect. There are elect people in the world who are not yet regenerated; we don't know who they are, but we keep our eyes peeled. Non-elect people (the reprobate) will never be regenerated, but we don't know who they are (usually). We should consider all unbelievers as possible elect people. But how we treat them might vary depending on their reaction to the gospel.


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
The result is both action and experience that exactly duplicate that which would occur if regeneration weren’t true.That's not true. When I meet someone who is newly regenerated, but not yet converted, it is an amazing experience. They don't even know what has happened to them. All they know is they want more, they want God, they want truth at all costs. When you tell them what has happened to them, they are blown away, fully acknowledging that it was nothing they could have done or mustered on their own.


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
So what’s the point, you ask? Well, if the exclusivity of the presuppositional method of apologetics is based upon the doctrine of regeneration and a rejection of evidentialism, ...It's important that you understand that a rejection of evidentialism is NOT a rejection of evidence.


Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer
... which I think is Jim’s position (correct me if I’m wrong), then with both of those pillars compromised the exclusivity of presuppositional apologetics cannot stand.I can honestly see how you would come to this conclusion based on what you wrote above. I'm hoping that I've cleared some of those things up for you and that my view will at least be seen a logically coherent (not that you have to agree with it). If it doesn't, then I haven't done my job and I'll have to explain better.

Thanks for participating in this discussion, Clete. I think it's going quite well.

Balder
December 16th, 2004, 01:21 AM
Hi, Hilston,

I have completed the several projects I mentioned I was working on, so I will have time soon to respond more fully to your recent letters. For tonight, I will address just a few things that stuck out for me in your last post.

Balder wrote:
Maybe your presuppositions are getting in the way. Sometimes they have to be suspended, though not necessarily forsaken, to understand where another person is coming from.


Hilston replied:
This statement indicates to me that you're not clear on what presuppositions are. They can't be suspended. That's the nature of them. They are non-negotiables that underpin our thinking.

Interestingly, your response makes me think that you don't understand what presuppositions are! Since this is evidence at least that we are probably using the word in different ways, I guess I should ask you for as clear a definition as possible of presuppositions. In particular, I'm interested if you think that presuppositions are specific "atomic" ideas that exist universally in all human minds. Since I can think of a number of cultural and linguistic presuppositions that are not universal at all, I am wondering if you are thinking just of a limited subset of presuppositions that you believe are non-negotiable for all human beings.

As I understand the term, a presupposition is an often unconscious belief that underlies human thought -- a proposition which in itself is accepted unquestioningly or without proof, but on which other proofs are then "built." Different worldviews and logical systems will operate with different presuppositions about the nature of the world. What is universal is that there always appear to be a few foundational "atoms" of thought which are taken for granted, if not held completely unconsciously, and which are necessary for the coherence of that particular worldview, system, or statement (depending on the level of analysis).

In your understanding, are there certain presuppositions which are common to all human thought at all times, in all cultures? If so, what is the nature of these presuppositions? Are they beliefs, instincts, or what? Are they products of cognitive development, or do they orignate "outside" of human beings? If the latter, how do they get into our minds? Is it possible for human beings to hold incorrect presuppositions, or is a presupposition by definition always correct?

In another letter, I noticed you said it was inconsistent and incoherent to use logic to describe and defend logic. I'm curious if you think the same is true of language. Do you think it is incoherent and necessarily problematic to use language to describe language and to defend the effectiveness of language? If so, why? If not, why not? Why is using language to describe and defend the usefulness and effectiveness of language less problematic than using logic to describe logic and defend its usefulness?

Balder wrote:
You conclude that it must exist because the fallible human logical inferences and deductions you make nevertheless appear to be generally reliable, but you do not know it in itself;...


Hilston replied
On the contrary. I do know it in itself because God has verified it. If I didn't have God to verify it, there would be no way to verify it.

How do you verify that God has verified it? Should I trust your word, or another's? Didn't Paul say all men are liars?

Balder asked:
What do you mean by "objective faith" in the Person of Christ?


Hilston replied:
Objective faith is faith that does not only exist in the mind. It is not subjective but objective. It is objective because it is the faith of Christ Himself given to man.

This sounds like a tautology: objective faith is objective because it's not subjective. If faith is a special feeling that is transmitted by another subject, e.g. the Person of Christ, then perhaps you should call it intersubjective faith.

Can you say more about this? Where else does faith exist, but in your mind? And how are you able to determine that it is anywhere but in your own mind? What tools do you use to determine this?

Balder wrote:
How do I know that you aren't obsessed or dishonest or deluded or whatever? How are you to prove that?


Hilston responded:
Excellent question! Here's the answer: You can check my claims against that of scripture.

If I find out that you are faithfully repeating what you have heard
elsewhere -- as you are also doing with Bahnsen's arguments -- why should that impress me as particularly honest, undeluded, or unobsessed? Why should I regard the Bible as authoritative or the final word?

Balder wrote:
Since a few paragraphs later you use astrology to support the supposed scientific knowledge of the writers of the Bible, I think you should think twice about telling others that they are trying to "shoehorn" science into an outmoded worldview or are on par with Nostradamus supporters!


Hilston chided:
This is the wrong reaction, Balder. Instead, you should have said, "I didn't realize the Bible teaches that the Zodiac was intended by God to communicate revelation to man."

Well, yes, I would be interested to know exactly what revelations you believe are revealed in the Zodiac. But which Zodiac are you talking about? Is there only one correct associative pattern, out of all those countless dots up there? You know how the Rorschach test works, I'm sure...

In response to some of your recent comments elsewhere, can you define "fear of the Lord"? How is it related to wisdom? How is accepting a set of presuppositions based on fear a better example of "critical thinking" than atheists' acceptance of the presupposition of logic based on experience?

Balder wrote:
I'd be interested to hear examples of Biblical data that you believe confirm recent scientific discoveries. In the last letter to you, I mentioned the mythical cosmology that is apparent as the background of many Biblical passages, so I'm sure you'll be dealing with that as well, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.


Hilston replied:
There are whole organizations and websites devoted to this stuff. It doesn't interest me. It has no bearing whatever on my faith in scripture. Even if there were not a single example of Biblical data confrimed by science, I would still believe the Bible is God's inerrant, infallible Word. That's the nature of a priori belief.

Yeah, I know. Facts be damned! "The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it."

It still appears that old bumper sticker sums up Biblical presuppositionalism pretty nicely. Seriously, I am interested in why I should regard the Bible as infallible, regardless of what it says or how it connects with modern knowledge, and why that should be an a priori belief.

More will follow soon, but if you have time to address any of this in the meantime...feel free.

Peace,
Balder

Soulman
December 18th, 2004, 08:18 AM
Clete:

[Naturalism]…doesn't even explain how you understand the concept of "tragedy" in the first place…
There’s that wild card again. Apes experience loss and are known to conduct ritualistic “wakes” after the death of a family member. They may not understand the concept of a “tragedy,” but they know the difference between dead and alive. Humans protect their young, apes protect their young, and it’s always a “tragedy” when a mother loses a child to a drive by shooting -- or a drive by cheetah. You ask, but how does a mother “know” that the death of her child isn’t actually a “good” thing? How does the mother “know” to feel “bad” about it? Without some Ultimate Standard “showing” her that the death of her child is a “bad” thing, she might actually be “happy” about it. In the logically incoherent universe of naturalism, the mother would not know enough to place “value” on the life of her child. Alive-good, dead-bad. Dead-good, alive-bad. The “concept” would escape her.

I’m no braniac, but if a monkey knows alive-good, dead-bad, I should be able to tell the difference. If a chimp can know alive-good, dead-bad without being told, it follows that I could “know” at least as much, for reasons having nothing to do with morality or wild cards.

…or how she would have ever figured out how to ask the question "Why me?". In fact, your scenario is just that much more argument that the world is not random and that things generally make sense. If it were a totally common event for children of all ages to just randomly drop dead for no reason at all then why would the mother have detected anything to be upset about in the first place?
Whether and to what degree “things generally make sense” is open for interpretation. “Generally” makes sense is an odd way to describe the divine governance of the cosmos. One would hope for something more than “generally makes sense” from a Supreme Being. I can say as much about my random universe. I think on closer unbiased inspection you would find that things generally make very little sense. Mothers often live in hostile environments where the death of children is not an uncommon event. It is not uncommon for a child to drop dead “for no reason at all.” In each and every case, I’d wager, the mother "detected something" to be upset about, with or without a wild card.

Soulman:

In the biblical worldview, every conceivable event, no matter how minor, must have a purpose contributing in a real, medial way toward the successful accomplishment of God’s ultimate, overriding purpose.

By what logic did you come to this conclusion? There is nothing in the Bible that teaches such a thing. There are lots of Calvinists who would teach you this, but the Bible does not. In fact, the Bible teaches just the opposite. God has enemies that are actively working to keep Him from accomplishing His purposes. They will, of course, be defeated in the end but that does not mean that they never complete a task designed to hinder God and to advance the cause of evil in the world. God's enemies were so successful at one point that God wiped out every last person on the planet save eight individuals and started all over again with those eight people.
Didn’t realize the sovereignty of God was a Calvinistic proposition. In MY “biblical worldview” God has ordained the end from the beginning. Yours, I see, is different. Are you presupposing that God doesn’t have an ultimate, overriding purpose, that God has more than one ultimate, overriding purpose, or that God has no interest in “minor” events?

There are three main possibilities. An event either serves directly to further God's purpose, or it serves to further the purposes of evil, or it is neutral. My attempt to convince you of the verity of the Biblical worldview serves God, your rejection of it serves evil, a supernova in another galaxy that goes completely unnoticed by anyone on this planet is neutral. God is able to use events that directly serve evil or that are neutral to accomplish His goals but doing so is an event discrete from the evil or neutral event itself.
How can God be “neutral” toward anything? I have an even harder time imagining an event being neutral toward God.

God could stop the entire universe from existing if He chose to, so every event that happens is "allowed" by God, everything. I do not believe and the Bible does not demand (logically) that God "ordained" every event or that every event have a meaning or a specific overarching cosmic purpose. Some things, many things, perhaps most things just happen.
That’s my line.

Soulman:

One thing we do know: God did nothing to stop it. God did not intervene.

You could not possibly know this.
She’s dead, isn’t she?

Soulman:

God “let” that child be killed. The drive by shooting, then, is not a “random” act in the biblical worldview, but the “will of God” and therefore necessary to the accomplishment of God’s ultimate purpose.

More Calvinist heresy and a prime example of why I hate that theology so completely.
If God could stop the entire universe, he could stop a drive by shooting. Why is it a heresy to say that God “let” that child be killed?

Soulman:

Either her death is “necessary” to the accomplishment of God’s purpose, or her death is of no consequence and “neutral” in respect to God’s larger purpose.

Or it is evil! Remember that Satan fellow in the Bible?
Satan killed her, God allowed it, or it just “happened.” Doesn’t it all boil down to the same thing? Either way, God could have prevented her death, but chose not to intervene.

Soulman:

If the success of God’s ultimate purpose does not “hinge” on the child’s death, then her death is not only “senseless” (as it would be in a naturalistic, random universe), her death was entirely “avoidable” (unlike the same event taking place in a naturalistic, random universe).

In a Biblical worldview, you have both good AND evil, love AND hate. You cannot love if it is impossible to hate. Love must be volitional as must be any act that has a moral component attached to it. Without choice morality is meaningless and without options choice is meaningless. The fact that you understand mindless murder to be a problem is proof that you know (at least intuitively) that good and evil, right and wrong, exist. Your own conscience, your own sense of right and wrong testify against the position you are arguing.
I’m arguing that her death was “senseless.” If in the biblical worldview Satan did it or it just “happened,” you have made no more “sense” of her death than I have. The question is, why did God allow it? Was her life expendable? Did she have nothing to contribute to the achievement of God’s ultimate purpose (if he has one)? Did Satan orchestrate the drive by shooting in opposition to God? Or did it just “happen,” independent of God’s plan? You have no idea.

Soulman:

Unlike the “logic” of a naturalistic explanation, the “logic” of God requiring her death escapes us.

Yeah, if you close your eyes to the possibility of evil, it escapes you! But logic cannot exist in a naturalistic universe. It is rationally impossible.
What is “logical” about God “requiring” her death, God giving Satan free reign to kill her, or God permitting her to die “accidentally”? I suppose “Bizzaro World” has its own kind of logical coherence, but that doesn’t explain how Bizzaro logic applies in OUR world.

Soulman:

Interestingly, whether God exists or not, the “results” are the same. The child is just as dead.

Precisely! This goes right along with my previous post. Only you are discussing random chance rather that regeneration. Calvinism (as it is today) discounts randomness or chance, just as you have accused the Bible of doing. The problem is that the world we live in looks PRECISELY like it would if randomness and chance did exist.
That’s my line -- again. Clete, the biblical worldview, at least as you’re explaining it, is an incoherent mess, and you’re proving it. Working both sides of the street (God’s in charge…no wait, Satan did it! God’s in charge…no wait, things just happen! God has a plan…no wait, the world is random!) is not helping you make your case. You have brought your own “brand” of theology into this, which makes your argument partisan, subjective, and part of a larger package of assumptions that may or may not find support outside your local Presuppositionalist bookstore. Like many "theories," it doesn't handle the particulars very well.

Just out of curiosity, what would YOU tell the child's mother?

Balder
December 19th, 2004, 07:09 PM
Hi, Hilston,

Here's my latest installment. I haven't quite finished responding to your last letter, but I'll post as much as I've done so far:

Balder wrote:
No, a shard of metal is not an "entity." The atomic and molecular constituents of metal may be considered to have a form of prehension, but the organization of metal itself is not such that it is capable of "mediating" or supporting any higher forms of consciousness than that.

Hilston responded with three questions:
(1) How do you know this?

My beliefs in this area are based on the assertions of teachers that I trust, and on philosophical objections to the problematic traditional dualism of mind and matter, body and consciousness.

(2) Is a plant considered an entity on your view?

Yes, in my view it is. However, according to Buddhist teachings, while a plant is an entity – meaning that it is a living creature, a coherently self-organizing and self-replicating organism – it is not classified as a sentient being. More precisely, while a plant is inseparable from Buddha-nature, as are all other phenomena, and as such may be considered an objective presentation of Presence or SEPC, it does not possess an individual mind (citta).

(3) How do you define "unconsciousness"?

A cognitive process that is inaccessible to or outside the purview of conscious awareness. A function of intelligence that is not necessarily reflexively self-aware.

I believe even atoms are a function or “presentation” of Intelligence.


Hilston asked:
By what criteria did you determine the teachings of Dzogchen and Siddartha to be "more fully satisfactory"?

Their coherence, their explanatory power, and their comportment with my experience (within and outside of meditation).

Balder wrote:
Since Siddhartha's teachings deal primarily with direct experience, in meditation and outside of it, they are largely open to practical verification.


Hilston replied:
If I were to seek verification based on direct experience via meditation, etc., what would you tell me to look for as confirming evidence for the verity of your view?

Buddhist teachings contain some fairly sophisticated maps of consciousness, including descriptions of types of experiences and insights that occur at different stages of meditation practice and different levels of consciousness. By putting meditation into practice, you would be able to test whether its claims about the nature of mind, awareness, thought, emotion, suffering, self, etc, are in fact accurate.


Hilston asked:
Do you view the transmitters as authoritative regarding what they taught? Do you believe the transmitters had any errors in their teaching/writings?

I do regard the transmitters as authoritative. I do not know of any errors in Dzogchen literature, nor of any in Buddhist scripture that I regard as significant to the soteriological message of Buddhism, although some passages in early Buddhist texts reflect a mythological cosmology, not unlike the Bible, and I believe these references are factually inaccurate (e.g., that the world is organized in four symmetrical continents around Mount Meru).


Hilston wrote:
From your explanation (of the Buddhist doctrine of anatta), it appears to me that your definition of "self" requires being the cause of one's own existence; self-existent and unchanging. If you are not the cause of your own existence and if you are not self-existent and unchanging, you are not permanent, right? Why do you believe this?

Can you give me a philosophical or practical reason why I shouldn’t believe it? Are you permanent and unchanging? Is your body non-contingent, or your personality?


Hilton asked:
Do you believe you yourself have reached buddhahood yet? If not, do you know anyone who has?

No, I have not reached buddhahood yet. I don’t think I have met any living teachers who have, either, although I believe I have met some who are quite enlightened, from a Buddhist perspective, and who may be on the verge of that realization.


Balder wrote:
Yes, the Buddha does teach these things. Buddhism doesn't have an exact word for sin, however; the word used is akusala, which means unwholesome or unskillful.


Hilston asked:
How are those terms defined (unwholesome, unskillful)?

Unwholesome and unskillful acts are those which are harmful, unhealthy, destructive, leading to suffering, illusion, obscuration, fragmentation, and negative actions or intentions. They are acts or beliefs which promote the root causes of suffering and delusion and which prevent the conscious actualization of the inherent perfection and plenitude (dzog-chen, “great perfection”) which is the ultimate ground and end of all things.


Hilston asked:
Why do you want to perceive reality more clearly?

...Why do you want this insight? Aren't reality and suffering and evil unpleasant? Why do you want this insight?

Why wouldn’t I? If you are interested in your existential condition, and as a human being I don’t think you can avoid confronting the need to do so at some point in your life, then you naturally must face these realities and learn from them if you can. It’s not just about seeking whatever is pleasing on the surface; that attitude, in fact, turns out to be part of the problem.

Peace,
Balder

Balder
December 19th, 2004, 08:10 PM
Hilston,

A further note...

You’ve mentioned a number of times that you don’t know why you should even care to learn more about Buddhism, or the Buddhist tradition I am representing here (Dzogchen). In the context of this discussion, I think you should care to learn more about Buddhism because I believe it is capable of doing what you say it cannot do – providing a coherent account for the world as we know it, as well as a coherent base for a moral system that is certainly on par with Christian morality. As far as whether you should care to learn more about Dzogchen or not, I will repeat here that I am not proselytizing for the tradition; that is not my place in this “Exclusively Christian” debate room. But as a Christian person who most likely regards the resurrection of Jesus as a pivotal event in history, and who probably dismisses all other religions because they do not have a resurrected savior (among other reasons), I think you should at least be curious about a tradition which claims to have many instances of an event that is quite similar to the resurrection: jalu, or the attainment of the “rainbow body.” When a practitioner of Dzogchen attains rainbow body, the body is completely dissolved into subtle energy at death, until no trace of the physical organism remains (except sometimes lifeless hair and nails). The fully realized person who manifests rainbow body at death does not simply “cease to exist,” however, and may return in either visionary or physical manifestations to his disciples. There are scores of people who have realized this final fruit of Buddhist practice in the Dzogchen tradition, even up to the present day. If these stories are true, then I think they represent a phenomenon which should at least merit investigation by any open-minded Christian, particularly if he believes in the resurrection of Jesus and looks forward to the same for himself. Because not only does Dzogchen tradition teach that these things happen; it knows precisely how and why they happen, and in the later stages of its path prepares all followers for the same end.

Peace,
Balder

Soulman
December 20th, 2004, 07:51 AM
Hilston:

Hilston asked Balder:
Why is it your desire to be compassionate to others? Why does it matter to you that the pristine light of buddhanature is in all beings?
And Balder said:
The Buddha teaches that when we awaken to the depths of the truth of our mutuality, we are also awakened to our responsibility.
And Hilston replied:
Why do you want responsibility?
Not sure if Balder answered it directly, meant to ask earlier, but why would you ask why Balder (or anyone else) would “want” responsibility?

I know, why would I ask why you would ask?

Because I’m not sure what you meant by it. Are you implying that in the Buddhist (or any non-biblical) worldview the “logical coherency” (or incoherency) of “responsibility” wouldn’t be “possible”? Or are you saying that it isn’t “logical” to accept personal responsibility, regardless of one’s worldview?

Balder
December 20th, 2004, 01:37 PM
I wondered too about that question. It isn't one that I've addressed directly, but I may write about it more in a subsequent letter. I'd be interested to hear why Hilston is asking the question. One thing that I suspected behind the question was the following line of reasoning: "If you don't believe that there is someone standing over you telling you to be responsible to other people and warning you of severe punishment if you fail to comply, then why would you bother being responsible or caring for other people?" But I may be reading too much into the question. I hope I am.

Peace,
B.

Clete
December 20th, 2004, 01:57 PM
Originally posted by Soulman

Clete:

There’s that wild card again. Apes experience loss and are known to conduct ritualistic “wakes” after the death of a family member. They may not understand the concept of a “tragedy,” but they know the difference between dead and alive. Humans protect their young, apes protect their young, and it’s always a “tragedy” when a mother loses a child to a drive by shooting -- or a drive by cheetah. You ask, but how does a mother “know” that the death of her child isn’t actually a “good” thing? How does the mother “know” to feel “bad” about it? Without some Ultimate Standard “showing” her that the death of her child is a “bad” thing, she might actually be “happy” about it. In the logically incoherent universe of naturalism, the mother would not know enough to place “value” on the life of her child. Alive-good, dead-bad. Dead-good, alive-bad. The “concept” would escape her.
You apparently don't even understand the form of the argument, Soulman. How would she know that the child was dead? How would she know that the child was ever alive to begin with? How would she know that there was a child at all? How would she know that she wasn't dreaming the whole drive-by scenario up?
The answer is, that she cannot and neither can you. Your entire worldview is utterly incoherent. The only thing you can know is that you cannot know anything at all, including that you cannot know anything at all. How much sense does that nonsense make?


I'm no braniac, but if a monkey knows alive-good, dead-bad, I should be able to tell the difference.
That's just the point. You cannot know alive-good, dead bad. That's just how pathetic your worldview is. You might assume alive-good, dead-bad but you cannot explain why it make s sense without begging the question and you cannot tell someone who thinks alive-bad dead-good why they are wrong.


If a chimp can know alive-good, dead-bad without being told, it follows that I could “know” at least as much, for reasons having nothing to do with morality or wild cards.
Are you suggesting that drive-by shootings of children has nothing to do with morality? Are you suggesting that it is simply survival of the fittest as it is in the jungle where chimps live? Is that really where you want to go with this?


Whether and to what degree “things generally make sense” is open for interpretation.
No, you are wrong. Something is either logically coherent or it is not. Worldviews that are hopelessly mired in question begging are logically incoherent, period. Your opinion (or mine for that matter) is of no consequence to the truth.


“Generally” makes sense is an odd way to describe the divine governance of the cosmos. One would hope for something more than “generally makes sense” from a Supreme Being.
You do not understand the use of common language, you do not understand the God whom you blaspheme, you do not understand anything that you are talking about.


I can say as much about my random universe.
NO! That's is just the point. You cannot say anywhere close to as much about a random universe. If you understood the argument against you, you wouldn't even begin to say something so ridiculous.


I think on closer unbiased inspection you would find that things generally make very little sense. Mothers often live in hostile environments where the death of children is not an uncommon event.
Something that makes logical sense isn't always pleasant. Something that is unjust isn't logically incoherent or even inconsistent within a universe where evil exists and is real.


It is not uncommon for a child to drop dead “for no reason at all.” In each and every case, I’d wager, the mother "detected something" to be upset about, with or without a wild card.
It is uncommon (although not as uncommon as it would be if the laws in this country were just) but the fact that the mother detects a problem only argues my point, not yours. You really need to go back and make an effort to understand the argument.


Didn’t realize the sovereignty of God was a Calvinistic proposition. In MY “biblical worldview” God has ordained the end from the beginning.
As you define sovereignty it is very definitely a Calvinistic proposition and an unbiblical one at that. For starters the Bible does not say that God "ordained the end from the beginning." That is a classic example of Calvinists reading their theology into the text of the Bible.


Yours, I see, is different.
Yes. Mine is based on the Bible, not on the writings of Aristotle and Plato.


Are you presupposing that God doesn’t have an ultimate, overriding purpose, that God has more than one ultimate, overriding purpose, or that God has no interest in “minor” events?
Neither.


How can God be “neutral” toward anything? I have an even harder time imagining an event being neutral toward God.
Who cares what you can imagine. The number of time a specific electron has rotated around a specific atom nucleus makes no difference at all about anything. God doesn't know, and doesn't care about all of the mindless minutia that occurs every moment in the universe. He couldn't care less how many photons of light have entered your left eye ball. He doesn't care how many strokes it took for me to finish brushing my teeth this morning, or whether I used Crest Tarter Control or baking soda. There are thousands of things that happen every day that God is able to control if He decides there is a need to do so but that are generally just happening just as they have been designed to work.


That’s my line.
No it is not!
You do not understand the argument.


She’s dead, isn’t she?
That isn't God's fault.


If God could stop the entire universe, he could stop a drive by shooting. Why is it a heresy to say that God “let” that child be killed?
Saying that God "let" anything happen is a stupid thing to say. Of course He "let" it happen or else it wouldn't have happened in the first place. Saying that God let something happen is no more informative than saying that everything that happens, happens. Well of course it happens, or else you couldn't say it happens! It's a totally waste of time thing to say.
It's heresy for you to say it though because when you say it, you are loading up the words with extra meaning. What you are saying, or at least implying is that God intended for it to happen, that God planned for it to happen and that He predestined that it would happen and that the perpetrator of the crime could not have done otherwise because God had ordained before his birth that he would perform that crime in just the manner and circumstances in which it was performed. You make God out to be the author of evil and in so doing you commit blasphemy of the highest order.


Satan killed her, God allowed it, or it just “happened.” Doesn’t it all boil down to the same thing? Either way, God could have prevented her death, but chose not to intervene.
I've been really trying to stay away from the insults lately but frankly this statement is idiotic. You have no concept at all of what the whole point of God having created us in the first place is do you? You have no concept of what it means to do something evil, you must therefore have no concept at all of what it means to do something good either.

Take your idiotic statement to the other logical extreme, Soulman...

Satan did it, God allowed it, or it just “happened.” Doesn’t it all boil down to the same thing? Either way, God could have prevented that Tic-Tac from getting stolen, but chose not to intervene.

Now, lets see if you can figure out the point I just made with that rephrasing of your statement.


I’m arguing that her death was “senseless.” If in the biblical worldview Satan did it or it just “happened,” you have made no more “sense” of her death than I have.
We are not talking about justice here Soulman we are talking about logical coherence. Do you not understand that when you argue about the obvious "senselessness" or injustice of such an act that you are arguing against you own position? Outside a Biblical worldview, justice cannot exist at all!


The question is, why did God allow it?
Why does He allow anything Soulman?


Was her life expendable?
Expendable in what sense? (You will not be able to answer this question without arguing against your own position and in favor of the Biblical worldview.)


Did she have nothing to contribute to the achievement of God’s ultimate purpose (if he has one)?
All people have something to contribute, including you. The question is will you and if you don't will God therefore be defeated. NO, He will not be.


Did Satan orchestrate the drive by shooting in opposition to God?
Very likely yes but perhaps it was just the evil jerk off who did the deed who planned it. People can be pretty darn evil all by themselves without the help of demons or Satan or Hillary Clinton.


Or did it just “happen,” independent of God’s plan? You have no idea.
It was not God's plan for someone to be murdered. I can in fact know that without any doubt whatsoever.


What is “logical” about God “requiring” her death, God giving Satan free reign to kill her, or God permitting her to die “accidentally”? I suppose “Bizzaro World” has its own kind of logical coherence, but that doesn’t explain how Bizzaro logic applies in OUR world.
Again, you argue against your own position. Your constant appeal to justice is your Achilles heel.


That’s my line -- again.
No it isn't.
You do not understand the argument.


Clete, the biblical worldview, at least as you’re explaining it, is an incoherent mess, and you’re proving it. Working both sides of the street (God’s in charge…no wait, Satan did it! God’s in charge…no wait, things just happen! God has a plan…no wait, the world is random!) is not helping you make your case. You have brought your own “brand” of theology into this, which makes your argument partisan, subjective, and part of a larger package of assumptions that may or may not find support outside your local Presuppositionalist bookstore. Like many "theories," it doesn't handle the particulars very well.
Look, who are you debating against, anyway? I never said anything like "God’s in charge…no wait, Satan did it! God’s in charge…no wait, things just happen! God has a plan…no wait, the world is random".
If you want to debate a Calvinist you need to go find Z Man or Swordsman. My worldview has no such logical incoherence as what you have suggested here.


Just out of curiosity, what would YOU tell the child's mother?
That there will come a day when judgment will be committed to the saints of God and that if she is a believer, those who killed her child will stand before her to receive their just reward for their actions.

Your turn, what would you tell her, “Woops! Man, that’s a real bummer! Oh well, I guess it’s as good an excuse to have another kid any anything else, eh?”?

Resting in Him,
Clete

Balder
December 20th, 2004, 05:07 PM
Hi, Clete,

Although I'm quite involved in a parallel discussion, I wanted to make a comment with regard to your recent assertion that non-Christians have no coherent reason for considering the murder of a child a tragedy. As I believe I indicated on another thread, I do understand where presuppositionalists are coming from in their arguments, but I believe this comment is taking things too far, even within a presuppositionalist framework. On a personal level, where you love an individual, you have hopes for the promise they show, you care for their well-being and happiness, etc, etc, you do not need to hold to a theistic worldview to feel the untimely demise of a child is tragic, or to mourn a stray bullet to her head. You don't need an elaborate metaphysics to appreciate or feel that loss, or for that feeling of loss to be real and meaningful. Even an atheist materialist can coherently lament the loss of a child within his worldview, because in his worldview, life is rare and precious, lasting only a handful of decades. If this time is cut in half, or worse, I don't think it is incoherent at all for an atheist to regard such a loss as a tragedy.

I understand that you may be thinking of "ultimate," or metaphysical reasons why the death of a child is tragic and not just "natural," but if you think about it, the metaphysical worldview of Christianity doesn't necessarily render such a loss "tragic" either. If you hold that "absent from the body" means you must be "present with the Lord," especially for innocent children and saved Christians, then why should such a death be considered as more "ultimately" and coherently "tragic" than from an atheist's viewpoint? If you believe, however, that a non-Christian 7 year old killed in a drive-by shooting is destined for eternal conscious torment as punishment for her sins...well, that indeed IS more tragic. But the tragedy here depends upon believing the Creator of that child is quite monstrous indeed, and this belief should not be held up as a morally superior or more coherent worldview.

Peace,
Balder

Hilston
December 20th, 2004, 05:39 PM
Hi Balder,

Thanks for the continued discussion. My reply to your first of your most recent posts is below:

Hilston wrote:
This statement indicates to me that you're not clear on what presuppositions are. They can't be suspended. That's the nature of them. They are non-negotiables that underpin our thinking.


Balder writes:
Interestingly, your response makes me think that you don't understand what presuppositions are! Since this is evidence at least that we are probably using the word in different ways, I guess I should ask you for as clear a definition as possible of presuppositions. In particular, I'm interested if you think that presuppositions are specific "atomic" ideas that exist universally in all human minds.No, that's not my view.


Balder writes:
Since I can think of a number of cultural and linguistic presuppositions that are not universal at all, I am wondering if you are thinking just of a limited subset of presuppositions that you believe are non-negotiable for all human beings.No, nothing like that.


Balder writes:
As I understand the term, a presupposition is an often unconscious belief that underlies human thought -- a proposition which in itself is accepted unquestioningly or without proof, but on which other proofs are then "built."I agree with that definition.


Balder writes:
Different worldviews and logical systems will operate with different presuppositions about the nature of the world.I agree with that as well.


Balder writes:
What is universal is that there always appear to be a few foundational "atoms" of thought which are taken for granted, if not held completely unconsciously, and which are necessary for the coherence of that particular worldview, system, or statement (depending on the level of analysis).Again, I agree. I would add, however, that most people do not subject their worldview to an adequate level of analysis, otherwise they would realize that the coherence of their worldview is suspect at a fundamental level.


Balder writes:
In your understanding, are there certain presuppositions which are common to all human thought at all times, in all cultures?I've never given that much thought. It wouldn't matter to me, frankly, if that were case or not. Each person is unique, and the similarities of their presuppositions to others nothwithstanding, I would still need to find out what they are and how self-conscious they are about those presuppositions.


Balder writes:
Is it possible for human beings to hold incorrect presuppositions, ...Yes, most do.


Balder writes:
... or is a presupposition by definition always correct?No.


Balder writes:
In another letter, I noticed you said it was inconsistent and incoherent to use logic to describe and defend logic.That's not true. If I said that, I misspoke. If you have the quote handy, I might be able to explain what I meant or correct my error.


Balder writes:
I'm curious if you think the same is true of language. Do you think it is incoherent and necessarily problematic to use language to describe language and to defend the effectiveness of language? If so, why? If not, why not? Why is using language to describe and defend the usefulness and effectiveness of language less problematic than using logic to describe logic and defend its usefulness?That's not my view ... at all.

Balder wrote:
You conclude that it must exist because the fallible human logical inferences and deductions you make nevertheless appear to be generally reliable, but you do not know it in itself;...

Hilston replied
On the contrary. I do know it in itself because God has verified it. If I didn't have God to verify it, there would be no way to verify it.


Balder writes:
How do you verify that God has verified it?I can't. God's word comes pre-verified. My faith in God and my confidence in His Word are gifts that I cannot account for or prove. It is personal and subjective, but no less certain and fully assured in my worldview.


Balder writes:
Should I trust your word, or another's? Didn't Paul say all men are liars?You should not trust my word. All men are liars, with the rare exception of prophets who were kept from error by supernatural means. The prophets spoke and wrote inerrantly and infallibly ("prophet" here is not used in the "future-telling" sense of of the word, but in the "speaking/writing in behalf of God" sense of it). There are no prophets today. The only thing trustworthy today is God's word. All else is suspect.

Balder asked:
What do you mean by "objective faith" in the Person of Christ?

Hilston replied:
Objective faith is faith that does not only exist in the mind. It is not subjective but objective. It is objective because it is the faith of Christ Himself given to man.


Balder writes:
This sounds like a tautology: objective faith is objective because it's not subjective.Then allow me to clarify. It is objective because it is the faith of Christ Himself given to man. It is not conjured up in the mind. It is not manufactured by effort or meditation. Christ's faith, the foundation of all objective truth, is perfect, unwavering, and complete. That is the objective sense of faith. It is the foundation of the believer's subjective faith and the basis of objective truth.

1Co 2:11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.


Balder writes:
If faith is a special feeling that is transmitted by another subject, e.g. the Person of Christ, then perhaps you should call it intersubjective faith.It isn't a feeling. It is a confidence regarding something unseen and unrealized.


Balder writes:
Can you say more about this? Where else does faith exist, but in your mind?One's own faith exists in the mind. The Faith of Christ is objective and exists outside of the mind. Our subjective faith is informed by Christ's faith. The subjective faith is made certain of Christ's faith by the work of the Spirit.

Ro 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:


Balder writes:
And how are you able to determine that it is anywhere but in your own mind? What tools do you use to determine this?The Bible is the only reliable tool that determines the nature of our faith.


Balder writes:
If I find out that you are faithfully repeating what you have heard elsewhere -- as you are also doing with Bahnsen's arguments -- why should that impress me as particularly honest, undeluded, or unobsessed?I appeal to no authority but scripture.


Balder writes:
Why should I regard the Bible as authoritative or the final word?Because if you do not, your worldview is reduced to absurdity.

Hilston chided:
This is the wrong reaction, Balder. Instead, you should have said, "I didn't realize the Bible teaches that the Zodiac was intended by God to communicate revelation to man."


Balder writes:
Well, yes, I would be interested to know exactly what revelations you believe are revealed in the Zodiac. But which Zodiac are you talking about?The one referenced in the scriptures.


Balder writes:
Is there only one correct associative pattern, out of all those countless dots up there? You know how the Rorschach test works, I'm sure...If the Bible is true, and if all men are descendents of Noah, who understood the message of the constellations, then it was not a Rorschach situation. And in fact, we find that the older Zodiacs are more consistent and similar to one another, just as we find with the transcultural/transcontinental flood legends. Let me hasten to say that I do not rely upon any extrabiblical claims regarding the Zodiac to prove its use by the ancients. The scriptures suffice to demonstrate that.


Balder writes:
In response to some of your recent comments elsewhere, can you define "fear of the Lord"?Reverence for the Lord. Giving the Lord priority in all of one's reasoning.


Balder writes:
How is it related to wisdom?True wisdom comes from humble submission to the authority of God and His Word. Without that humility and submission to His Word, there can be no true wisdom.


Balder writes:
How is accepting a set of presuppositions based on fear a better example of "critical thinking" than atheists' acceptance of the presupposition of logic based on experience?There is no justifiable "critical thinking" apart from reverence, humility and submission to God's authority. There is no certainty regarding experience that has not been grounded and justified by the Word of God. The atheist cannot justify or validate what he calls "critical thinking"; nor can he justifiably rely upon what he call "experience."

Hilston wrote:
There are whole organizations and websites devoted to this stuff. It doesn't interest me. It has no bearing whatever on my faith in scripture. Even if there were not a single example of Biblical data confrimed by science, I would still believe the Bible is God's inerrant, infallible Word. That's the nature of a priori belief.


Balder writes:
Yeah, I know. Facts be damned! "The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it."You're mistaken. Belief and confidence in the Bible establishes and validates the facts. Those who do not start with the fear of the Lord and the authority of scripture have no certitude or validation regarding the so-called facts.


Balder writes:
It still appears that old bumper sticker sums up Biblical presuppositionalism pretty nicely.You're mistaken. Presuppositionalism describes a method of apologetics that employs biblical principles or argumentation. The bumper sticker is intended to describe a personal, subjective confidence.


Balder writes:
Seriously, I am interested in why I should regard the Bible as infallible, regardless of what it says or how it connects with modern knowledge, ...You shouldn't. You can't. The best you can attain is the acknowledgement that your worldview does not adequately account for or align with reality, and that the biblical worldview does. You cannot attain confidence in its infallibility apart from regeneration.

Mt 16:17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

Lu 16:31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.


Balder writes:
... and why that should be an a priori belief.Because you cannot manufacture your own faith and confidence in God's word. It cannot be had apart from Holy-Spirit-initiated regeneration. The carnal mind will not yield to God's law; it is unable to do so. The only way for you to confidently believe in the inerrancy and infallibility of scripture is to be regenerated. The result of that will be an insatiable hunger for the scriptures, a humble acknowledgement of your own unworthiness before God, and full repentance regarding your rebellion and sinful disregard for God and His Word.

Hilston
December 20th, 2004, 09:52 PM
Originally posted by Clete Pfeiffer

Umm. Nope!

I found it now though! :doh:

I knew I must have missed something! Sorry about that. I'll respond ASAP. Some of my last two posts is pertinent to our discussion; feel free to throw in your two cents on those in the mean time if you like.Just a reminder, Clete.

Balder
December 20th, 2004, 10:43 PM
Hi, Hilston,

Just a short response for now…

Since you agree with my definition of presuppositions, and believe that many people hold mistaken presuppositions, and further suggest that worldviews can be held up to an adequate enough level of analysis to reveal inconsistency or incoherence, then I am curious why you argued previously that presuppositions could not be suspended – that they are in fact non-negotiable. If what you contend were actually true, then learning would be impossible; no one could grasp, examine, or let go of whatever errant presuppositions they happen to have gotten saddled with. Do you believe this?

You also didn’t answer my query on the origin of presuppositions – if they are innate or acquired, wholly given or cognitively constructed over time. Do you have an opinion?

Peace,
Balder

temple2006
December 20th, 2004, 10:47 PM
Et al...I live on a farm and there are cattle in our pasture. The other day my husband and I observed a very agitated cow. She was walking in circles around a particular spot, mooing loudly the whole time. This went on for three days. Her calf had been born dead and I really have no explanation for her behavior, but it seems that there was some sort of "maternal instinct" at work.

Re the meaning of the drive by shooting which left the child dead. If you subscribe to randomness theory (which I do), then, no problem.
I go with the attitude, $__t happens.

Hilston
December 20th, 2004, 11:32 PM
Originally posted by Balder
Since you agree with my definition of presuppositions, and believe that many people hold mistaken presuppositions, and further suggest that worldviews can be held up to an adequate enough level of analysis to reveal inconsistency or incoherence, then I am curious why you argued previously that presuppositions could not be suspended – that they are in fact non-negotiable. If what you contend were actually true, then learning would be impossible; no one could grasp, examine, or let go of whatever errant presuppositions they happen to have gotten saddled with. Do you believe this?Yes. The only way errant presuppositions get jettisoned is by regeneration. They are not discursively supplanted, but supernaturally.


Originally posted by Balder
You also didn’t answer my query on the origin of presuppositions – if they are innate or acquired, wholly given or cognitively constructed over time. Do you have an opinion?I think it is a combination. Some presuppositions are innate; some are acquired. Some are innate, but perhaps modified over time.

Balder
December 21st, 2004, 12:54 AM
Hilston wrote:
The only way errant presuppositions get jettisoned is by regeneration. They are not discursively supplanted, but supernaturally.

Do you believe that no human in history has ever had one errant presupposition supplanted by another errant one? If not, if one set of non-Christian presuppositions can get exposed, uprooted and replaced by another non-Christian set, how do you explain this in your worldview?

Hilston
December 21st, 2004, 01:08 AM
Maybe you can proffer a specific example.

Clete
December 21st, 2004, 09:22 AM
Originally posted by Hilston
If you don't have regeneration to drive you toward belief in the Scriptures, what are you left with? Discursive reasoning? Scientific evidence? Based on what? Senses you can't calibrate? Reasoning faculties you cannot verify? Authorities you can't justify? Flesh and blood does not reveal this (Matthew 16:17). Human effort cannot manufacture belief (John 1:13 Romans 9:16). Even if someone were to rise from the dead, unbelievers would not believe (Luke 16:31). Evidence is not sufficient. Human effort is not sufficient. Reasoning is not sufficient. Because the problem is not a lack of evidence or a lack of compelling argument. The problem is rebellion born out of a dead spirit. Only regeneration can make a dead spirit live. Only regeneration can break the desire to rebel. Note that "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1Co 2:14)." This doesn't mean the natural man is incapable of understanding the things of the Spirit. Almost anyone can comprehend the teachings of scripture. Rather, he does not receive them because he is a rebel and has no desire to embrace that which indicts him before God. The mind of such a person is described as "carnal" and stands in aggressive opposition to God., "for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." (Ro 8:7,8).
Then why are you reasoning with Balder?
If you simply stepped back and looked at what you are doing with him and compared it to something that I might do if I were as familiar with the specific arguments as you are, you would not see any difference at all. I, not believing at all in the doctrine of regeneration would, or at least could, give the same arguments in the same fashion and with the same emotional and intellectual force as you, and end up with the exact same results. Balder will either accept the evidence that you are presenting of his worldview's incoherence or he will not. A belief in regeneration changes neither the approach taken, nor the results seen. There is simply nothing in our experience that provides any verification whatsoever that regeneration is anything more than simply a doctrine.


It's a big deal because evidentialism is the sin of Adam. It's the sin Paul warns about when he says to beware, "lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2Co 11:3).
I have looked at this idea of yours that evidentialism is the sin of Adam and I have yet to get close to figuring out where you've come up with it. The sin of Adam was eating of the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, pure and simple. It may have been a clever argument of some sort that led him to commit that sin, but the argument wasn't the sin, the sin was eating of the Tree. And it was legalism Paul was warning about not faulty apologetics. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is a symbol of the law. The Tree had a ministry of death as did/does the law. If we place ourselves under law then we are cursed and Christ will profit us nothing. Instead we should count ourselves dead to the law in Him. If we are dead, having been put to death by the law in Him, then the law has exhausted its rights concerning us and we can therefore no longer be held accountable to it whether by the letter or by principle.


Certainly, Lucifer was crafty, but what did he do that would warrant that description? One thing was that he didn't go directly to Adam, although Adam was standing right beside Eve the whole time ("... she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat" Ge 3:6). When we consider Paul's fear and warning in 2Co 11, the beguiling of which he speaks describes more than just being deceived by a Satanic "end around," as Adam experienced (and errantly permitted to happen).

Satan's craftiness goes beyond his indirect approach, rather, it is the fact that he enticed Adam with the prospect of being his own lawmaker. That was, after all, the temptation of the forbidden fruit: It was borne of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (or, "The truly evil good" if we look at it hendiadystically). The actual aim of Lucifer's question, "Hath God said?" was to get Adam to justify or condemn God on his own terms. It didn't matter which. In other words, Lucifer was suggesting, "Why don't you use your own reason, Adam, your own assessment, your own standard of evaluation to ascertain whether or not God's mandate makes sense to you? Why don't you become your own lawmaker?"
You are reading a hell of a lot into what the text offers Jim. The simple fact is that Lucifer who at the time was unfallen and therefore trusted by Eve, deceived her into believing that it was not only okay to eat of the Tree but that she would be doing a good thing. He appealed to emotions, her good and righteous desire to be like God. He deceived her into thinking that eating was a short cut and she took it and Adam, knowing better, went along with her.
It seems to me that stretching this episode of Scripture to have it be involved somehow with an approach to apologetics is just that, a stretch.


Of course Adam's answer should have been: "Yes, God hath said, and yes He means what He says" (presuppositionalism) But instead, Adam's response could be characterized like this: "Hmm. Good point, Lucifer. God warns us that we will surely die if we eat the fruit of that tree. But what evidence do I have that this true? What does it mean to 'die,' after all, I've never seen anyone die before" (evidentialism).
There is simply no way that you could ever get, “Hmm. Good point, Lucifer. God warns us that we will surely die if we eat the fruit of that tree. But what evidence do I have that this true? What does it mean to 'die,' after all, I've never seen anyone die before” out of the text in Genesis by simply reading it. It’s just not in there. You are reading your theology into the text.


By so doing, Adam asserted his own imagined autonomy, presuming to have sufficient knowledge of good and evil beyond that which God revealed to him. It appears to me that the eating of the fruit coincided perfectly with Adam's presumed usurpation of God as Lawmaker. The eating of fruit is almost incidental (almost), the very act being the outward declaration of what had already occurred in Adam's mind and heart. Consider it like this: The fruit was not the thing. It was the presumption of knowing good and evil autonomously, apart from God's law. There is no way Adam could have eaten the fruit from that tree without this presumption having already occurred. The eating was a manifestation of Adam's presumption to know good and evil apart from God. It was Man's act of independence from God, becoming his own lawmaker, becoming as God, becoming his own judge of good and evil.
There are a thousand different things that could have been in Adam’s mind. You cannot know what you presume to know in the above statement. I understand why you assume what you assume but now you are begging the question by presuming to know what was in Adam’s mind in order to attempt to prove that he was guilty of evidentialism which would have been in his mind.


Thus, when Adam was found by God, hiding because of his newly realized nakedness, Adam's guilt and presumed autonomy was exposed (no pun intended). And God's question was both leading and loaded: "Who told you that you were naked?" We could paraphrase God's question this way: "You're not supposed to know that, Adam. You're supposed to get your information from ME. Will you now be your own lawmaker?"
If you previous assumption is correct then this assumption could be correct but not necessarily. This is the danger of reading theology into the text in the way you are doing here. Frankly I’m a bit surprised at you really. It isn’t like you to do this sort of thing and regularly call other on it when you detect it. I recommend simply sticking with what the text actually says and going from there.


The Greek word is palingenesia. It can mean "restoration," as in the case of Israel in Mt. 19:28 (also referred to as the "time of reformation" (Heb 9:10)). But in the case of the members of the Body of Christ, it refers to individual rebirth (Titus 3:5), the quickening of the dead spirit (Eph 2:1). Paul refers to the same concept as being made a "new creation."

2Co 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Ga 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
I wasn’t looking for a definition of the word so much as an explanation of your understanding of the doctrine. You vehemently deny being a Calvinist and so I didn’t want to presume the normal Calvinistic understanding of the doctrine in your case. If there is no significant difference then we can proceed without dwelling on definitions any further. I just wanted to make sure we were talking about the same doctrine, that all.

Resting in Him,
Clete

Balder
December 21st, 2004, 12:04 PM
Hilston wrote:
Maybe you can proffer a specific example.

Okay, say that a person from India grows up with a set of presuppositions about the "natural" hierarchy of individuals based on birth, skin tone, and occupation (the caste system), and about the inescapability of one's "lot" in life -- one's karmic debt and dharmic duty to society. Later in life, this person moves to the US and attends university as an English major. In that environment, exposed repeatedly to thought that is influenced by Marxist, Feminist, and Poststructuralist/Deconstructionist beliefs and the presuppositions that drive them, the Indian person's presuppositions are repeatedly unearthed and challenged. Eventually, this person comes to reject the fatalistic, hierarchical presuppositions into which s/he had been born, and embraces the postmodern perspective, which presupposes that the world is not fixed but is a fluid text. The presupposition of necessary "divine order" that underpinned the former belief is now replaced with a new presuppositional lens, that oppressive narrative power structures hold the world together, and true individual and societal fulfillment are found not in fatalistic submission to pre-ordained structures but through radical equalizing discourse and the deconstruction of the stories of patriarchy. In this instance, one non-Christian worldview (based on its own set of presuppositions) has been uprooted and supplanted by another one (based on another set of presuppositions and guiding metaphors). How could this happen, if you assert that presuppositions can only be uprooted and replaced via regeneration?

Peace,
B.

Clete
December 21st, 2004, 12:38 PM
Originally posted by Balder

Okay, say that a person from India grows up with a set of presuppositions about the "natural" hierarchy of individuals based on birth, skin tone, and occupation (the caste system), and about the inescapability of one's "lot" in life -- one's karmic debt and dharmic duty to society. Later in life, this person moves to the US and attends university as an English major. In that environment, exposed repeatedly to thought that is influenced by Marxist, Feminist, and Poststructuralist/Deconstructionist beliefs and the presuppositions that drive them, the Indian person's presuppositions are repeatedly unearthed and challenged. Eventually, this person comes to reject the fatalistic, hierarchical presuppositions into which s/he had been born, and embraces the postmodern perspective, which presupposes that the world is not fixed but is a fluid text. The presupposition of necessary "divine order" that underpinned the former belief is now replaced with a new presuppositional lens, that oppressive narrative power structures hold the world together, and true individual and societal fulfillment are found not in fatalistic submission to pre-ordained structures but through radical equalizing discourse and the deconstruction of the stories of patriarchy. In this instance, one non-Christian worldview (based on its own set of presuppositions) has been uprooted and supplanted by another one (based on another set of presuppositions and guiding metaphors). How could this happen, if you assert that presuppositions can only be uprooted and replaced via regeneration?

Peace,
B.
Balder,

I have been slaking lately in regards to this thread and in regards to reading your posts in particular. Not because they are uninteresting but just because I've had a cold and have been out of town and have just been generally lazy these last few weeks.
However, after this post, I am motivated to get caught back up!
While I, of course, to not agree with your philosphical and religious positions there can be no denying that you have made an elloquent and powerful point with this post. One must give credit where credit is due....

POTD (http://www.theologyonline.com/forums/showthread.php?postid=643382#post643382)! :first:

Brilliant! :thumb:
If you keep thinking this clearly you'll eventually come to agree with me! :D


Resting in Him,
Clete

Balder
December 21st, 2004, 01:41 PM
Thank you, Clete. I'm honored. I think this is a first for me here on TOL.

And who knows... maybe I will come to agree with you more in the future... :) But be careful! If you keep finding clarity in my thoughts, you may come to agree with me more than you'd bargained for as well!

Peace,
B.

Clete
December 21st, 2004, 02:55 PM
Originally posted by Balder

Thank you, Clete. I'm honored. I think this is a first for me here on TOL.

And who knows... maybe I will come to agree with you more in the future... :) But be careful! If you keep finding clarity in my thoughts, you may come to agree with me more than you'd bargained for as well!

Peace,
B.

:think:

:shocked:

Balder
December 21st, 2004, 05:04 PM
:think:
:shocked:


:chuckle:

Hilston
December 21st, 2004, 11:35 PM
Hilston wrote:
If you don't have regeneration to drive you toward belief in the Scriptures, what are you left with? Discursive reasoning? Scientific evidence? Based on what? Senses you can't calibrate? Reasoning faculties you cannot verify? Authorities you can't justify? Flesh and blood does not reveal this (Matthew 16:17). Human effort cannot manufacture belief (John 1:13 Romans 9:16). Even if someone were to rise from the dead, unbelievers would not believe (Luke 16:31). Evidence is not sufficient. Human effort is not sufficient. Reasoning is not sufficient. Because the problem is not a lack of evidence or a lack of compelling argument. The problem is rebellion born out of a dead spirit. Only regeneration can make a dead spirit live. Only regeneration can break the desire to rebel. Note that "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1Co 2:14)." This doesn't mean the natural man is incapable of understanding the things of the Spirit. Almost anyone can comprehend the teachings of scripture. Rather, he does not receive them because he is a rebel and has no desire to embrace that which indicts him before God. The mind of such a person is described as "carnal" and stands in aggressive opposition to God., "for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." (Ro 8:7,8).


Clete writes: Then why are you reasoning with Balder?Why not reason with Balder? You still seem to be hung up on some grave misconceptions about biblical apologetics. There's nothing wrong with reasoning. Just as there's nothing wrong with evidence. Evidence and reasoning are required for biblical apologetics. The point is that neither is sufficient to bring about belief in the scriptures. You made this same mistake before regarding evidence. Now you are making the same mistake regarding the use of reason. Why am I reasoning with Balder? Because the biblical apologetic taught in the scriptures require me to.


Clete writes: If you simply stepped back and looked at what you are doing with him and compared it to something that I might do if I were as familiar with the specific arguments as you are, you would not see any difference at all.What arguments? I'm still trying to understand what Balder believes, Clete. I have to ask questions, seek clarification, push the limits of his claims, etc. Once I have a better grasp of his view, I'll be able to offer a biblical critique. In the meantime, you'll have to be patient. If this were a face-to-face conversation, it wouldn't take as long. This is an inherent disadvantage of this type of venue.


Clete writes:
I, not believing at all in the doctrine of regeneration would, or at least could, give the same arguments in the same fashion and with the same emotional and intellectual force as you, and end up with the exact same results.What arguments are you talking about? And what are the scriptures talking about in Titus 3:5?


Clete writes:
Balder will either accept the evidence that you are presenting of his worldview's incoherence or he will not. A belief in regeneration changes neither the approach taken, nor the results seen.That's incorrect. If a person does not approach the debate recognizing the insufficiency of reasoning and evidence apart from regeneration, his argument will degenerate to unbiblical evidentialism. This is exactly what you've done with Soulman.


Clete writes:
There is simply nothing in our experience that provides any verification whatsoever that regeneration is anything more than simply a doctrine.That's not what the Bible says. How did Abraham know he was regenerated? His faith was evidence of that which is unseen, i.e., that he had been regenerated and given confidence of an assured hope. Abraham's faith was the substance of that hope.

Ro 4:3 "Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness."

Who is the antecedent of "him"? Answer: Abraham. He was told of his own righteousness by way of his belief, his faith informed him that he had a righteous standing before God. Not by flesh and blood, not by external evidence evaluated by sensory or reasoning faculties, but by an internal faith given to Him by God at regeneration.

Heb 11:1 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Hilston wrote:
It's a big deal because evidentialism is the sin of Adam. It's the sin Paul warns about when he says to beware, "lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2Co 11:3).


Clete writes:
I have looked at this idea of yours that evidentialism is the sin of Adam and I have yet to get close to figuring out where you've come up with it.Did you read 2Co 11:3? Ask yourself this: What was the sin Paul was warning the Corinthians against?


Clete writes:
The sin of Adam was eating of the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, pure and simple.No, the sin of Adam was his consideration a competing gospel based on his own presumed autonomy.


Clete writes:
It may have been a clever argument of some sort that led him to commit that sin, but the argument wasn't the sin, the sin was eating of the Tree.Is there anything inherently wrong with eating fruit from a tree? No. The eating of the tree was the manifestation of Adam's sinful usurpation of God's law by willfully entertaining another gospel, that with which Lucifer enticed him.


Clete writes:
And it was legalism Paul was warning about not faulty apologetics.Not at all. He was warning against adopting the rules of the Jewish household instead of heeding the rules of their own.


Clete writes:
The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is a symbol of the law. The Tree had a ministry of death as did/does the law. If we place ourselves under law then we are cursed and Christ will profit us nothing.Of course, but that doesn't mean we no longer have to obey the law.


Clete writes:
Instead we should count ourselves dead to the law in Him.Of course, which means our obedience to the Law is in Him as well. So when we walk in obedience in order to please God, we recognize that the life we now live, our good works and obedience to Mystery law, we live by faith in the Son of God.


Clete writes:
If we are dead, having been put to death by the law in Him, then the law has exhausted its rights concerning us and we can therefore no longer be held accountable to it whether by the letter or by principle.Is it your view that there are believers who will experience a loss of rewards? Isn't a loss of reward a matter of accountability? And if so, by what standard do you think they will lose reward?

Hilston wrote: Certainly, Lucifer was crafty, but what did he do that would warrant that description? One thing was that he didn't go directly to Adam, although Adam was standing right beside Eve the whole time ("... she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat" Ge 3:6). When we consider Paul's fear and warning in 2Co 11, the beguiling of which he speaks describes more than just being deceived by a Satanic "end around," as Adam experienced (and errantly permitted to happen).

Satan's craftiness goes beyond his indirect approach, rather, it is the fact that he enticed Adam with the prospect of being his own lawmaker. That was, after all, the temptation of the forbidden fruit: It was borne of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (or, "The truly evil good" if we look at it hendiadystically). The actual aim of Lucifer's question, "Hath God said?" was to get Adam to justify or condemn God on his own terms. It didn't matter which. In other words, Lucifer was suggesting, "Why don't you use your own reason, Adam, your own assessment, your own standard of evaluation to ascertain whether or not God's mandate makes sense to you? Why don't you become your own lawmaker?"


Clete writes:
You are reading a hell of a lot into what the text offers Jim.Not at all. Everything I've said is there in the text, either explicitly stated, or implicitly inferred.


Clete writes:
The simple fact is that Lucifer who at the time was unfallen and therefore trusted by Eve, deceived her into believing that it was not only okay to eat of the Tree but that she would be doing a good thing.You. Have got. To be kidding me.


Clete writes:
He appealed to emotions, her good and righteous desire to be like God. He deceived her into thinking that eating was a short cut and she took it and Adam, knowing better, went along with her.Adam was standing right there the whole time, Clete. Read the text. She turned to him after she ate of it. Adam disrespected his own headship and authority over Eve by allowing Lucifer to approach her, by not stepping up and declaring the Word of Lord on the matter. And you accuse me of reading a hell of a lot into what the text offers? You assume Lucifer was innocent? You assume Eve's desire was good and righteous? Good grief!


Clete writes:
It seems to me that stretching this episode of Scripture to have it be involved somehow with an approach to apologetics is just that, a stretch.Ooooookay. Thanks for sharing.

Hilston wrote:
Of course Adam's answer should have been: "Yes, God hath said, and yes He means what He says" (presuppositionalism) But instead, Adam's response could be characterized like this: "Hmm. Good point, Lucifer. God warns us that we will surely die if we eat the fruit of that tree. But what evidence do I have that this true? What does it mean to 'die,' after all, I've never seen anyone die before" (evidentialism).


Clete writes:
There is simply no way that you could ever get, "Hmm. Good point, Lucifer. God warns us that we will surely die if we eat the fruit of that tree. But what evidence do I have that this true? What does it mean to 'die,' after all, I've never seen anyone die before" out of the text in Genesis by simply reading it. It's just not in there. You are reading your theology into the text.Sorry, Clete. But it's there. What was Lucifer's claim? You shall not surely die. What was Adam's response? "No, God said we must not eat of that tree"? No. It was "Maybe we can eat of that tree." It's what is patently inferred from the text:

"And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat."

Adam didn't intervene when he should have during the dialogue between Eve and Lucifer. And he didn't stop her from eating from the tree. What other motive could Adam have, standing right there and allowing all of this to go on without a word? He was an evidentialist, Clete. He wanted to see what would happen, he wanted external evidence to verify God's Word.

Hilston wrote:
By so doing, Adam asserted his own imagined autonomy, presuming to have sufficient knowledge of good and evil beyond that which God revealed to him. It appears to me that the eating of the fruit coincided perfectly with Adam's presumed usurpation of God as Lawmaker. The eating of fruit is almost incidental (almost), the very act being the outward declaration of what had already occurred in Adam's mind and heart. Consider it like this: The fruit was not the thing. It was the presumption of knowing good and evil autonomously, apart from God's law. There is no way Adam could have eaten the fruit from that tree without this presumption having already occurred. The eating was a manifestation of Adam's presumption to know good and evil apart from God. It was Man's act of independence from God, becoming his own lawmaker, becoming as God, becoming his own judge of good and evil.


Clete writes:
There are a thousand different things that could have been in Adam's mind. You cannot know what you presume to know in the above statement.Sure I can. The text bears it out. Paul affirms my understanding of Genesis 3.


Clete writes:
I understand why you assume what you assume but now you are begging the question by presuming to know what was in Adam's mind in order to attempt to prove that he was guilty of evidentialism which would have been in his mind.Um ... what?

Hilston wrote:
Thus, when Adam was found by God, hiding because of his newly realized nakedness, Adam's guilt and presumed autonomy was exposed (no pun intended). And God's question was both leading and loaded: "Who told you that you were naked?" We could paraphrase God's question this way: "You're not supposed to know that, Adam. You're supposed to get your information from ME. Will you now be your own lawmaker?"


Clete writes:
If you previous assumption is correct then this assumption could be correct but not necessarily. This is the danger of reading theology into the text in the way you are doing here. Frankly I'm a bit surprised at you really. It isn't like you to do this sort of thing and regularly call other on it when you detect it. I recommend simply sticking with what the text actually says and going from there.That's exactly what I've done, Clete. The events, the dialogue, the entire setting intimates each point I've raised. Then, when we get to 2Corinthians, Paul affirms those inferences. If you want to have your evidentialist cake and to presuppositionally eat it, you're going to have a major conflict on your hands. You're going to have to choose one or the other.

Soulman
December 22nd, 2004, 07:12 AM
Clete, haven't had a chance to repsond to your last post, but have a quick question: Are cows logical? Are cows also dependent on (without giving proper credit) the logical coherence of the biblical worldview in order to know alive-good, dead-bad?

Since cows were not made in the image of God, and have no consciousness of God, and no awareness of "right" or "wrong," I think it's fair to say that the concept of alive-good, dead-bad is not (as it is for humans) a "moral dilemma" for a cow. Yet, apes and cows "know" alive-good, dead-bad without the assistance of the absolute moral yardstick of the biblical worldview.

According to you, in a "logically incoherent" worldview, there is no "logical" reason for a mother (of any species) to value the life of her child (or "know" that her child is dead). Yet, higher non-human life forms demonstrate an "awareness" of this concept every day.

What "yardstick" are they using?

Soulman
December 22nd, 2004, 07:28 AM
Gotta love it. If you two can't agree on something as basic to the faith as the Fall of man, why should we take either of you seriously about anything else?

Hilston
December 22nd, 2004, 11:39 AM
Soulman write:
Gotta love it. If you two can't agree on something as basic to the faith as the Fall of man, why should we take either of you seriously about anything else?Notice the form of reasoning Soulman has adopted: If two people disagree, neither of them can be correct.

Soulman, since you and Clete disagree about something so basic as logic or reason, why should we take either or you seriously about anything?

:kookoo:

prodigal
December 22nd, 2004, 12:20 PM
Hilston,

I don't think Soulman's point was as general as you'd like to present it. He was making specific reference to a specifc topic of argument. I think it was a little to deep a subject to be written off with such a generalization. I haven't been sticking my nose into this discussion, and I don't really intend to after this.

What Soulman pointed out is the christian inability to come to terms with themselves. Soulman's idea of logic and Clete's idea of logic are what appears to be two different things, which only makes sense because they are both basing their arguments on their own worldviews. Two christians not coming to agreement on the fall of man is slightly more significant than a christian and one who follows randomness having a disagreement.

That's my two cents.

Soulman
December 22nd, 2004, 12:24 PM
Hilston, you're as predictable as a Chatty Cathy doll. Pull the right string, and away you go.

Hilston
December 22nd, 2004, 01:56 PM
Originally posted by prodigal
Two christians not coming to agreement on the fall of man is slightly more significant than a christian and one who follows randomness having a disagreement.You're naive.


Originally posted by Soulman
Hilston, you're as predictable as a Chatty Cathy doll. Pull the right string, and away you go.You're just jealous.

prodigal
December 22nd, 2004, 02:01 PM
Hilston,


You're naive.

See, I don't understand how this answers anything. Christianity is plagued by in-fighting. This in-fighting ranges from the fall of Adam to how one comes to salvation.

Hilston, if christians can't agree on the fall, and if christians can't agree on the system of how one comes to salvation, how are we to believe in the validity of a christian definition of a "sin nature", or "salvation"?

Hilston
December 22nd, 2004, 02:11 PM
All men are liars, prodigal. Myself included. You have to check everyone's claims against the inerrant, infallible Word of God. Christians debate what the Word of God teaches. That doesn't make the Word of God wrong or suspect.

It is, of course, quite convenient to dismiss Christianity on those grounds. But the logic doesn't follow. When you stand before God, you won't have the excuse: "I didn't submit to You because all these Christians were fighting with each other."

prodigal
December 22nd, 2004, 02:17 PM
All men lie, but to label them all liars is just as convenient as my excuses. Christians are supposed to determine what the law of god says, but isn't their determination in itself determined by their own agenda? I've found that the bible can and will say whatever the reader wishes it say. The fact that there is no general consensus, but there is in-fighting does stand as an obvious example of christians not really knowing what to make of what the bible says.

And if the bible is, in fact, inerrant and infallible, than it is being abused by the errant, fallible minds of those who are interpreting it according to their own whims.

Is it possible, in your opinion (all men being liars) for there to be an accurate intepretation of what the bible actually says? If I'm hearing you correctly the bible is no way shape or form able to be deciphered by us sinners.

And please, I'm being both fecitious and questioning. I don't like my inquisitives being quoted as declaratives or imperatives.

prodigal
December 22nd, 2004, 02:19 PM
and also, the holy ghost can't possibly be telling all of these christians all of these different doctrines and where to find them in the bible. And if you determine who is, and who isn't "in" by what they are teaching, you could be guilty of the same subjective interpretation of the bible, an interpretation based on your wish of what you want to be found in the material.

Balder
December 22nd, 2004, 05:04 PM
Temple,

I'm aware that I haven't told you why I'm no longer Christian, as I'd promised in an earlier letter. It could be a lengthy discussion, if you were really interested in all the whys and whatfors. But briefly, there are two basic reasons why I left the Christian faith. The first is that it was just the natural progression of my studies: the more I learned about Buddhism, the more I found that tradition to be compelling, and closer to my spiritual experience. The second is the growing doubts I had at the time about particular elements of Christian teaching: blood sacrifice soteriology, eternal damnation, exclusivity of salvation through faith in Christ, and certain portraits of God in the OT and the NT, to name the most prominent ones. I was also frustrated with the relative lack of appreciation for, attention to, and development of contemplative aspects of faith in modern Christianity. This is just a thumb-nail sketch, and there are other reasons as well that I haven't touched on, but as I said above...to go into detail about why I left Christianity, and how my beliefs about it have changed over time (even up to now), would be a discussion in itself.

Peace,
Balder

temple2006
December 22nd, 2004, 11:46 PM
Thank you very much, Balder. That is really all I wanted to know. And guess what, I agree with you. My journey has been a difficult one due to the fact that it was extremely difficult for me to leave my former beliefs because I come from a dysfunctional family who taught by using guilt and shame. When I came to reject the blood-atonement soteriology, I felt as if I had my feet planted in thin air. Not comfortable, I can tell you.

In my view, the atonement thing came to us via a misinterpretation in Jesus' message. I have much study to do regarding the concept of martyrdom and non-violence. Right now it appears to me that there was a terrible misunderstanding of that message. Buddhism appears to have much in common with my version of Christianity and where they diverge, I think is mostly in the concept of an afterlife. I readily admit the possibility of reincarnation but not so of it's probability. And as for justice, isn't that our (human) way of thinking, where we would want our piece of flesh? :)

Soulman
December 24th, 2004, 09:13 AM
Clete, reviewed your response (post 207), frankly don’t see anything worth responding to. Every time I raise an objection, all you’ve got to say is “Logical coherence is impossible without the god of the Bible,” which means that arguing with you is logically incoherent, since every argument I make “proves” that you must be right!

Elephants and dolphins also demonstrate a knowledge of, or at least an ability to make a distinction between, alive-good, dead-bad. In fact, the survival instinct of non-human life forms of all kinds hints at the same awareness. When threatened, virtually every living creature on the planet will flee, or attempt to defend itself (even non-sentient plant life “knows” alive-good, dead-bad; otherwise why not just curl up and die rather than compete for scarce resources?). Is a rutabaga “logically coherent”? Are cows logical? Is “logic” necessary for a cow to know alive-good, dead-bad? Are cows, apes, elephants, dolphins etc obeying an absolute “moral imperative” of alive-good, dead-bad when experiencing the loss of a family member? If not, how do THEY know the difference?

Another example. Not sure which zoo it was, but a small child fell into a monkey exhibit. Before help could be summoned, a female monkey retrieved the child, scaled the wall, and handed the child back to its mother. I have never heard a Christian claim that lower life forms have the law of God written on their hearts. If you are correct, that without the god of the Bible logical coherence is impossible, knowing what we know of animal behavior, seems we must either lower the bar for humans, or raise the bar for the family cow.

Worth repeating: If apes, elephants, dolphins, cows and every non-human life form on the planet know alive-good, dead-bad, what “yardstick” are they using?

Hilston, would be interested in hearing what you've got to say about this.

Season's greetings.

Clete
December 24th, 2004, 09:51 AM
Originally posted by Soulman

Clete, reviewed your response (post 207), frankly don’t see anything worth responding to. Every time I raise an objection, all you’ve got to say is “Logical coherence is impossible without the god of the Bible,” which means that arguing with you is logically incoherent, since every argument I make “proves” that you must be right!

EXACTLY! Now you're beginning to understand! (I'm not kidding.)


Elephants and dolphins also demonstrate a knowledge of, or at least an ability to make a distinction between, alive-good, dead-bad. In fact, the survival instinct of non-human life forms of all kinds hints at the same awareness. When threatened, virtually every living creature on the planet will flee, or attempt to defend itself (even non-sentient plant life “knows” alive-good, dead-bad; otherwise why not just curl up and die rather than compete for scarce resources?).
Last time I checked, Elephants, dolphins, chimps and all other living things all live in the same God created universe you do.


Is a rutabaga “logically coherent”? Are cows logical? Is “logic” necessary for a cow to know alive-good, dead-bad?
Yes. Absolutely. They are not aware that what they are doing is logical but that doesn't mean it is incoherent.


Are cows, apes, elephants, dolphins etc obeying an absolute “moral imperative” of alive-good, dead-bad when experiencing the loss of a family member? If not, how do THEY know the difference?
Again, any creature can respond to a negative simulous response in a logically ocherent manner without having to understand that it is logical or even that there is a God who created them. You are missing the point! The point is that you, who are able to understand such concepts and think about questions like "Is there a God?" cannot account for the logical order of the universe in any of its nuance without the existence of a creator who Himself is logical without being logically incoherent yourself and thus proving yourself wrong.
Like you said, every argument you attempt to give to the contrary argues against your own position. Every time you point out some nuance of creation that is logical coherent you add to the mountain of evidence against yourself.
Here's yet another....


Another example. Not sure which zoo it was, but a small child fell into a monkey exhibit. Before help could be summoned, a female monkey retrieved the child, scaled the wall, and handed the child back to its mother.
This, I believe to be a myth. The child would perhaps not have been killed but Apes are fundamentally unable to "scale the walls" of zoos first of all and secondly the ape would have seen the child as an intruder and would have been nervous at least and more likely agitated. It would not have wanted to be anywhere near a human mother with whom it was unfamiliar. There is just no way that this actually happened. Not that it matters.


I have never heard a Christian claim that lower life forms have the law of God written on their hearts. If you are correct, that without the god of the Bible logical coherence is impossible, knowing what we know of animal behavior, seems we must either lower the bar for humans, or raise the bar for the family cow.
The family cow and apes in zoos are both created creatures with God given instincts and behaviors. Boy, that was hard to explain, wasn't it?


Worth repeating: If apes, elephants, dolphins, cows and every non-human life form on the planet know alive-good, dead-bad, what “yardstick” are they using?
They are not consciously using one but it is the same one you use to make the same sort of decisions. The difference is I can account for the yard sticks existence and you cannot.


Hilston, would be interested in hearing what you've got to say about this.
Hilston will not be posting here any more as he was banned the other day. I can't go into details as that is a breach of protocal but I didn't want you to be thinking he was ignoring you.


Season's greetings.
And a merry Christmas to you!
Not to put too fine a point on it, but you're just a fountain head of things that cannot be explained without the existence of God and His Son Jesus Christ. ;)

Resting in Him,
Clete

Soulman
December 26th, 2004, 10:11 AM
What "logical order" are you talking about? Is all perceived "order" necessarily "logical"?

What you have admitted is that moral absolutes are not necessary in order to make the alive-good, dead-bad distinction.

Do humans possess a "survival instinct"? If so, then humans can make the alive-good, dead-bad distinction, too, with or without moral absolutes. Even if God created man with a conscience, man would still need a "survival instinct" to defend himself in a post fall, hostile environment. Is "survival" a moral dilemma?

Clete
December 26th, 2004, 10:33 PM
Originally posted by Soulman

What "logical order" are you talking about? Is all perceived "order" necessarily "logical"?
This is a self contradictory question!
Logic is required in order to perceive anything at all, including order AND disorder. In fact, without logic you could not tell that something was illogical!
The universe must be logical because of the rational impossibility of the contrary. If the universe were inherently random then rationality would not be a possibility in the first place. So the mere fact that we are able to ask the question is proof that the universe must be logical.


What you have admitted is that moral absolutes are not necessary in order to make the alive-good, dead-bad distinction.
Death is not immoral. Who ever said it was? Murder is immoral, but that's a different topic.
Animals and human are able to process sensory input. Bad stimuli are reacted to in a logical way even by things which are not capable of understanding the notion of logic. My worldview can easily explain such a situation; yours not only cannot explain it, but is actually falsified by it.


Do humans possess a "survival instinct"? If so, then humans can make the alive-good, dead-bad distinction, too, with or without moral absolutes.
Yes! Thank you for proving your own worldview false yet again. That's three times in this one post alone.


Even if God created man with a conscience, man would still need a "survival instinct" to defend himself in a post fall, hostile environment.
Umm, was that logic you just used?
Yeah, make that 4 times.


Is "survival" a moral dilemma?
What are you talking about?

Look, the bottom line is this. You make the ridiculous suggestion (for the sake of argument) that the universe could be completely random and that any order we see could just be accidental. You and I BOTH have repeatedly proven that this simply cannot be the case. The universe is logical. If it were not, science would not be possible, mathematics could not explain the things it does in the universe (math is a form of logic), you could not detect the difference between what is orderly and was is not, you would not be able to formulate the concept that the question is about much less the question itself, etc, etc, etc. The notion that logic is not real is irrational by definition. What is the point in rehashing this any further?

For you to continue to deny the existence of logic is literally insane. Why don't we move on with an agreement that we can even have a coherent conversation because the existence of logic is real, and that the universe cannot therefore, be inherently random.

I suspect that you will resist such an agreement because you will of course anticipate the next logical question, which is how do we account for the fact that logic exists and the universe is a place in which things make sense?

If this is so, I encourage you to not allow the existence of difficult questions scare you into sticking your head in the sand. Any worldview that cannot answer such questions is not worth investing any more of your time into in the first place, so if you can answer the question do so, if you cannot then deal honestly with the ramifications of that and move on to something better. I will pledge to you to do the same.



I just reread this post and realized that it is sort of open-ended or at least the question I posed is sort of vague in that there is about a million different dirrections one could go in an attempt to answer it. Allow me to ask a more specific question in hopes of moving this conversation into newer territory.

By what means do you (you personally) determine the truth of any claim? And I don't just mean the big claims like "God exists.", but any truth claim at all.
A Ferrari will go faster than 200 mph.
Water will turn to a gas if heated to a certain temperature.
Murder is wrong.
The desk I'm sitting at is made of wood.
Any truth claim at all. By what means do you verify it's truth? Logic, a sixth sense, little angels speaking in your ear, the Bible, divine revelation, what? (These of course are not the only options; I just shot a few out there so you could get a sense for the sort of answer I'm looking for. I wanted to make sure you understood what I was asking.)

Resting in Him,
Clete

Balder
December 26th, 2004, 11:56 PM
Hi, Clete,

Did you see my post #208 to you? If you don't feel inspired to respond to it, that's cool with me, but I thought I'd bring it to your attention since my conversation with Hilston seems to have come to a standstill.

Peace,
B.

Clete
December 27th, 2004, 06:43 AM
Originally posted by Balder

Hi, Clete,

Although I'm quite involved in a parallel discussion, I wanted to make a comment with regard to your recent assertion that non-Christians have no coherent reason for considering the murder of a child a tragedy. As I believe I indicated on another thread, I do understand where presuppositionalists are coming from in their arguments, but I believe this comment is taking things too far, even within a presuppositionalist framework. On a personal level, where you love an individual, you have hopes for the promise they show, you care for their well-being and happiness, etc, etc, you do not need to hold to a theistic worldview to feel the untimely demise of a child is tragic, or to mourn a stray bullet to her head. You don't need an elaborate metaphysics to appreciate or feel that loss, or for that feeling of loss to be real and meaningful. Even an atheist materialist can coherently lament the loss of a child within his worldview, because in his worldview, life is rare and precious, lasting only a handful of decades. If this time is cut in half, or worse, I don't think it is incoherent at all for an atheist to regard such a loss as a tragedy.

I understand that you may be thinking of "ultimate," or metaphysical reasons why the death of a child is tragic and not just "natural," but if you think about it, the metaphysical worldview of Christianity doesn't necessarily render such a loss "tragic" either. If you hold that "absent from the body" means you must be "present with the Lord," especially for innocent children and saved Christians, then why should such a death be considered as more "ultimately" and coherently "tragic" than from an atheist's viewpoint? If you believe, however, that a non-Christian 7 year old killed in a drive-by shooting is destined for eternal conscious torment as punishment for her sins...well, that indeed IS more tragic. But the tragedy here depends upon believing the Creator of that child is quite monstrous indeed, and this belief should not be held up as a morally superior or more coherent worldview.

Peace,
Balder

First of all I think you took what I said too far. Of course atheist experience tragedy and understand it as such but they cannot, if pressed to do so, account for their ability to detect it.
Also, Soulman was talking about tragedy in the context of a completely random universe which is even more difficult to defend because "tragedy" can only exist when something out of the ordinary happens and in a universe that is inherently random, nothing could ever be considered ordinary and so the idea if "out of the ordinary" would never come up and so therefore, neither would the idea of tragedy. And, by the way, neither would this whole line of thought ever come up in an inherently random universe, logic itself would not exist and so since we are even able to be having this conversation we can know that such an inherently random universe is not reality.
As for tragedy in a Christian worldview, it can, as you suggested get sort of confusing. One has to be clear as to what is being discussed. There can be no doubt that the accidental death of a 4 year old child is tragic, but as you have correctly pointed out, there is a silver lining to that dark cloud. The child is in a better place (or will be, theological positions differ on this issue, but Calvinists are the only ones I know of who even think the child might immediately be sent to hell, all others either send the child to God immediately or upon the child's resurrection). So the child's death is perhaps not an ultimate tragedy but it is no less devastating to the child's loved one's and is in that context, tragic.
Atheist would not even be able to explain how they are able to detect that the child is dead in the first place as they are unable to explain the existence of their own senses and whether or not those senses are providing them with accurate information. As far as atheists know, this is all happening in the matrix and is nothing more than a computer generated dream.
As for your worldview, I don't know. How would you go about determining whether something that you feel is a tragedy actually happened in reality?

Resting in Him,
Clete

P.S. I'm really sorry I missed this post of yours! This sort of thing happens with me far too often. I'll try to pay closer attention.

Balder
December 27th, 2004, 11:25 AM
Hi, Clete,

No problem about missing the post; I know you've been busy, as you explained in another letter. For the moment (since I'm a little short on time this morning -- it's my son's birthday and we're preparing for a party), I'll just ask one question that comes to mind and will respond to the rest of your letter later.

Is it possible for a Christian to hallucinate, to be deceived by his senses or his mind, to become mentally ill or deranged, to be fooled by someone (even a Biblical apologist or exegete)? How does he know absolutely whether what he sees or experiences in life is real or false, at all times?

Peace,
Balder

Clete
December 27th, 2004, 01:17 PM
Originally posted by Balder
Is it possible for a Christian to hallucinate, to be deceived by his senses or his mind, to become mentally ill or deranged, to be fooled by someone (even a Biblical apologist or exegete)? How does he know absolutely whether what he sees or experiences in life is real or false, at all times?
Well yes, of course Christian's are fooled and make mistakes all the time without realizing it. But the point is that the Christian has a means of figuring out what the real truth of something is without question begging.
The point is that there is no way to reason backward to God without begging the question. The existence of God must be presupposed in order to make logical sense of the world around us. With that presupposition in place, then one can use logic and reason to figure out that what one believes is either right or wrong and that you perhaps had been deceived up to that point.
Some people may not ever use their ability to think skillfully enough to ever figure out that they have been deceived on some point of theology but the point is that without the presupposition that God exists, no such reasoning can be coherently justified. Even if they do figure it out, without God’s existence being the foundation of their reasoning, they have unwittingly borrowed from the proper Christian worldview.
In other words, unbelievers and unthinking Christians alike can all use logic and do so on a regular basis, sometimes quite well as in your case, but in doing so they (unbelievers) violate their own worldview and borrow from the Christian's because logic cannot be accounted for otherwise without question begging which violates the very rules of logic they are trying to account for.
So to answer your question directly, the Christian knows (or can know) whether he has been deceived the same way everyone else does, it's just that they can do so without violating the very foundational principles of their own worldview, which means, of course, that everyone else really can't know whether or not they've been deceived at all. They try to borrow from the Christian worldview but they cannot do that without being self-contradictory. Just because they use logic and come to the same conclusion that I do doesn't matter. The fact remains that when you get right down to brass tax, unbelievers are living in a fog of uncertainty that is utterly inescapable.

Resting in Him,
Clete

P.S. I love birthday parties! I hope your son has a great time.

Balder
December 27th, 2004, 11:27 PM
Clete,

Naturally, as a Buddhist, I take exception to the claim that Buddhists are unwittingly borrowing from Christianity and that we are incapable of accounting for logic, order, morality, or any other fundamental aspects of reality from within our own worldview. I understand that you are simply stating the presuppositionalist position, but if you believe that presuppositionalism “stands” or is true because, in practice, the Christian worldview is the only one actually capable of making sense of the world without falling into incoherence, then I have a question: Is this a falsifiable belief, or not? In other words, if you believe “coherence” is the proof for Christian presuppositionalism, then is it also the test for it? If someone demonstrated to you that aspects of the Christian worldview were incoherent in one way or another, would you relinquish your belief in Christianity? Or would you say, as you did in the case of the problem of eternity and linear time we discussed, that even if it “doesn’t make sense” now, there must be an answer that will be revealed by and by?

Similarly, what would your response be if a representative of a different worldview – say, me for instance! – was able to account for all of the things that you regard as fundamental to reality in a coherent fashion, using the principles of his own tradition rather than yours? Would you say that Christianity must nevertheless be true, even if this worldview proved to have equal explanatory power? (In this hypothetical, I am not arguing that this worldview might even have greater explanatory power, because I am more interested in what your response would be if the “minimum requirements” were met.) If you would maintain that Christianity must nevertheless be the only correct view, on what would your confidence rest? How would you defend your presuppositional beliefs, if another worldview proved as robust as you believe Christianity is in accounting for the fundamentals?

Now, I expect you to say that my questions don’t matter, because this hypothetical situation can’t actually be true, but that is why I’ve agreed to let Hilston grill me. I am confident that I represent a tradition as robust as anything he has to offer, if not more so. Intellectual honesty should demand that you actually be able to demonstrate the superior explanatory power of Christianity, across the board, if you are intent on maintaining that it is in fact the only coherent worldview and that no other view has legs to stand on. If Hilston doesn’t show up here again, or even if he does, you are of course invited to demonstrate this superiority, or to attempt to reveal my own worldview as weak and insupportable.

Peace,
Balder

Clete
December 28th, 2004, 06:50 AM
Originally posted by Balder

Clete,

Naturally, as a Buddhist, I take exception to the claim that Buddhists are unwittingly borrowing from Christianity and that we are incapable of accounting for logic, order, morality, or any other fundamental aspects of reality from within our own worldview. I understand that you are simply stating the presuppositionalist position, but if you believe that Presuppositionalism “stands” or is true because, in practice, the Christian worldview is the only one actually capable of making sense of the world without falling into incoherence, then I have a question: Is this a falsifiable belief, or not? In other words, if you believe “coherence” is the proof for Christian Presuppositionalism, then is it also the test for it? If someone demonstrated to you that aspects of the Christian worldview were incoherent in one way or another, would you relinquish your belief in Christianity? Or would you say, as you did in the case of the problem of eternity and linear time we discussed, that even if it “doesn’t make sense” now, there must be an answer that will be revealed by and by?
IF and I stress IF it could be demonstrated that Christianity was rationally impossible then yes I would abandon the belief system. That is of course very easy to say, but as you point out later, intellectual honesty demands such a position. After all, we have been trying to get to a point where we can show that your own worldview is rationally impossible, it wouldn't do to call foul when you try to do the same to us.
However, with that having been said, I do believe that the Christian worldview has been demonstrated to be logically necessary. The same issue cannot be both necessary and false at the same time, so I think you are fighting an up hill battle to say the least.


Similarly, what would your response be if a representative of a different worldview – say, me for instance! – was able to account for all of the things that you regard as fundamental to reality in a coherent fashion, using the principles of his own tradition rather than yours? Would you say that Christianity must nevertheless be true, even if this worldview proved to have equal explanatory power? (In this hypothetical, I am not arguing that this worldview might even have greater explanatory power, because I am more interested in what your response would be if the “minimum requirements” were met.) If you would maintain that Christianity must nevertheless be the only correct view, on what would your confidence rest? How would you defend your presuppositional beliefs, if another worldview proved as robust as you believe Christianity is in accounting for the fundamentals?
Both systems cannot be true because of the law of non-contradiction. Buddhism openly contradicts Christianity, if one is true the other CANNOT be, thus your question can have no rational answer. Whichever system is true will always do a better job of "accounting for the fundamentals", as you put it.


Now, I expect you to say that my questions don’t matter, because this hypothetical situation can’t actually be true, but that is why I’ve agreed to let Hilston grill me. I am confident that I represent a tradition as robust as anything he has to offer, if not more so.
We'll never know if we can't ever get to know what your presupposition actually are. Frankly the fact that they are apparently so difficult to explain in a clear and understandable manner is strong evidence that they are, in fact, much weaker than you suggest in their ability to explain anything.
Have you and Jim nailed down at all even a single one of your fundamental presuppositions? If so, I missed it. Please point out the post or else just briefly explain what it is.


Intellectual honesty should demand that you actually be able to demonstrate the superior explanatory power of Christianity, across the board, if you are intent on maintaining that it is in fact the only coherent worldview and that no other view has legs to stand on.
I agree. Jim is far better at doing that than I.


If Hilston doesn’t show up here again, or even if he does, you are of course invited to demonstrate this superiority, or to attempt to reveal my own worldview as weak and insupportable.
Well, I can try but I don't guarantee that I'll be able to do so. The simple fact of the matter is that I'm very much a beginner when it comes to presuppositional apologetics. When I started this thread, I didn't even understand what it was or what the arguments involved! I now understand the premise and have at least heard or read many of the arguments but I'm still very much a novice at actually arguing from the presuppositional position.

What I am even less familiar with is Buddhism. All this mumbo jumbo that you've been throwing around with Jim makes my eyes instantly glaze over. If it is necessary for me to learn a whole new vernacular in order to understand your belief system I frankly don't want to understand it. That might be intellectually dishonest on my part but there it is.

Resting in Him,
Clete

Balder
December 28th, 2004, 11:41 PM
Hi, Clete,

Perhaps you've missed some of my arguments because your eyes have glazed over and you really haven't tried to understand what I'm saying. And I don't blame you -- if you're not interested in a topic, and a lot of unfamiliar words crop up in a discussion of that topic, it is natural to just tune it out. I will still be engaging with Hilston on this subject, so hopefully I will eventually state my position in language clear enough for you to understand without having to enter very deeply into Buddhism. But at the same time, I think it is necessary to recognize that no worldview is without its vernacular; if it weren't, it wouldn't qualify as a worldview in its own right, but just a "flavor" of the familiar. I can certainly try harder to make Buddhist concepts understandable to a Christian audience, and I have worked hard at that on other threads, but at the same time, there comes a point where efforts to "translate" central Buddhist ideas in commonly understandable terms leads to compromise and distortion -- precisely because of the presuppositions that are in place. To make sense of a fundamentally different worldview, to really grasp it and not just dismiss it as "mumbo jumbo" from afar, you have to unearth and face your own presuppositions -- and realize in the process that they are presuppositions, beliefs which have been taken for granted as "fundamental" without necessarily thinking them through or reasoning about them.

For what it's worth, I have debated at length with other Christian partners, and one in particular finally found the "rosetta stone" in one of the writers to which I referred him, and he was then able to come back to my posts to him and see a lot in them that had simply been opaque to him before. So, while I do take seriously the responsibility in any interfaith encounter to speak clearly and to earnestly try to communicate, including making an effort to step into and inhabit the other's position (to the best of my ability), I also recognize that sometimes that "gaps" in communication are simply unavoidable, given the very different presuppositions and beliefs that we may hold.

If you prefer to take a back seat at this point and not debate the viability of Buddhism, that's fine with me; but if you would like to debate it, you might start with anything which you believe Christianity can explain that other religions can't, and I'll give it my best shot.

As for my conversation with Hilston, that is likely to continue on another forum. I'll let you know.

Peace,
Balder

Clete
December 29th, 2004, 08:21 AM
Originally posted by Balder

Hi, Clete,

Perhaps you've missed some of my arguments because your eyes have glazed over and you really haven't tried to understand what I'm saying. And I don't blame you -- if you're not interested in a topic, and a lot of unfamiliar words crop up in a discussion of that topic, it is natural to just tune it out. I will still be engaging with Hilston on this subject, so hopefully I will eventually state my position in language clear enough for you to understand without having to enter very deeply into Buddhism. But at the same time, I think it is necessary to recognize that no worldview is without its vernacular; if it weren't, it wouldn't qualify as a worldview in its own right, but just a "flavor" of the familiar. I can certainly try harder to make Buddhist concepts understandable to a Christian audience, and I have worked hard at that on other threads, but at the same time, there comes a point where efforts to "translate" central Buddhist ideas in commonly understandable terms leads to compromise and distortion -- precisely because of the presuppositions that are in place. To make sense of a fundamentally different worldview, to really grasp it and not just dismiss it as "mumbo jumbo" from afar, you have to unearth and face your own presuppositions -- and realize in the process that they are presuppositions, beliefs which have been taken for granted as "fundamental" without necessarily thinking them through or reasoning about them.
You are correct about my having "tuned out". I have to admit to having little patience with ideas that are not communicated in a way that normal people can understand them. But it was not my intention in my previous post to suggest that your ideas are stupid or not worth looking at or anything like that. My use of the term mumbo jumbo was just what popped into my head when I thought of the multi-syllable unpronounceable words you use when discussing Buddhism. I'm sure those words are packed with meaning that is very important and perhaps indispensable when trying to understand your worldview but it is the ideas behind those words I'm interested in, not the words themselves.


For what it's worth, I have debated at length with other Christian partners, and one in particular finally found the "rosetta stone" in one of the writers to which I referred him, and he was then able to come back to my posts to him and see a lot in them that had simply been opaque to him before. So, while I do take seriously the responsibility in any interfaith encounter to speak clearly and to earnestly try to communicate, including making an effort to step into and inhabit the other's position (to the best of my ability), I also recognize that sometimes that "gaps" in communication are simply unavoidable, given the very different presuppositions and beliefs that we may hold.
I of course agree that people with otherwise honest intentions may have points of misunderstanding that are difficult and perhaps sometimes virtually impossible to overcome due to many possible factors but I do not believe that any limitation in the English language can be blamed for a large percentage of them. Any truly important ideas that form ones basic presuppositional positions about the nature of the reality in which we live that cannot be communicated in plain English is not because of a lack on the part of the language itself but on the part of the one using that language to communicate the ideas. This might seem to be more of a claim than I am qualified to make but I think I'm on pretty firm ground based simply on the fact there are hundreds, if not thousands of books written about Buddhism in the English language and hundreds of thousands of people in this country alone who have become Buddhists based solely on what they learned in those English books.
I'm not attempting to deprive you of the Buddhist vernacular, I'm simply saying that you have to be able to clearly articulate the ideas you are trying to communicate in such a way that your audience can understand, which I'm sure is something you make an attempt to do anyway.


If you prefer to take a back seat at this point and not debate the viability of Buddhism, that's fine with me; but if you would like to debate it, you might start with anything which you believe Christianity can explain that other religions can't, and I'll give it my best shot.
I would be interested, although I don't know how qualified I am to debate the issue, in how a Buddhist solves the long-standing philosophical problem of unity and diversity. I don't know how familiar you are with this philosophical puzzle but let's just say that all attempts in philosophy, outside of Christianity (that I am aware of), to unify the diversity without diversifying the unity have ended in failure. If you don't have any idea what I'm talking about, it's a common enough philosophical issue that a Google search will yield plenty of info on it in short order.

Resting in Him,
Clete

Balder
December 29th, 2004, 12:15 PM
Hi, Clete,


I would be interested, although I don't know how qualified I am to debate the issue, in how a Buddhist solves the long-standing philosophical problem of unity and diversity. I don't know how familiar you are with this philosophical puzzle but let's just say that all attempts in philosophy, outside of Christianity (that I am aware of), to unify the diversity without diversifying the unity have ended in failure. If you don't have any idea what I'm talking about, it's a common enough philosophical issue that a Google search will yield plenty of info on it in short order.

I can offer a more detailed answer later. Here's a start.

Buddhism does address this issue; it is, in fact, quite central to its perspective, which is nondualism. Nondualism is not monism, where the "many" is reduced to just the "one"; rather, nondualism is precisely the philosophy of "unity in multiplicity."

As far as I know, Christianity doesn't solve this issue philosophically so much as it just takes it as a necessary part of the mystery of God. In other words, it says, "God is both one and multiple, though we don't understand how this can be. But since He is, that solves the problem." This isn't a philosophical solution, obviously, but a statement of faith. The closest Christianity comes to tackling this philosophically is the Catholic theological doctrine of the perichoresis of the Trinity, where the persons of the Trinity are understood to be radically interdependent and mutually determinative.

As I have written elsewhere, the doctrine of perichoresis is close to what Buddhists mean by emptiness or the nondual "dependent origination" of all phenomena (pratitya-samutpada). I've run out of time now, so I'll have to explain this in more detail in the next installment.

Peace,
Balder

Knight
December 29th, 2004, 12:37 PM
So....

I think after reading this thread I am more convinced than ever that....

While Presuppositionalism may be an excellent approach and apologetic style which can be somewhat effective it certainly could only be effective under certain circumstances, and it MOST certainly shouldn't be used as an exclusive approach.

In my opinion...
Presuppositionalism requires a willing participate that is prepared for a very long drawn out debate that can often times seems obscure and way off the beaten track. There just seems to me too much ground to cover and recover. And I have yet to see Presuppositionalism work in real life (anecdotal evidence to be sure).

I can however see Presuppositionalism being used as part of the apologetic arsenal in certain circumstances or to handle certain types of arguments that other apologetic styles struggle with.

Clete, Balder, if you could indulge me for a moment and summarize (at this point in the debate) what you think of Presuppositionalism that would be really great.

Balder
December 29th, 2004, 01:44 PM
Knight,

In my opinion, presuppositionalism points out an aspect of "evidence-based" apologetics that is often overlooked, and which does often put Biblical apologists on insecure ground: to convince the non-believer, they often adopt non-believers' presuppositions and attempt to argue within them, rather than relying on strictly Christian presuppositions.

The direction that presuppositionalists take this is philosophically suspect, in my opinion, and ultimately indefensible: the claim that only Christian presuppositions are correct, and all others are false or else "borrowed" from Christianity. The reason I say this is indefensible is because, as Hilston argues, no amount of reasoning will ever convince someone that Christian presuppositions are the only correct ones, because they are not evidentially based: they are "pre-given" by God, and according to Hilston one must be regenerated to receive this gift and gain the confidence necessary to argue presuppositionally.

A more reasonable use of the knowledge of presuppositions, in my opinion, is simply the one acknowledged by hermeneuts in general: to attempt to expose and examine the presuppositions that inform all the "positions" involved. I personally do not believe that presuppositions are sacrosanct; they are just part of the way the human mind works, sometimes to its advantage, but many times also to its disadvantage.

Peace,
Balder

Clete
December 29th, 2004, 10:52 PM
Knight,

I basically agree with your assessment.
The title of the thread is 'Presuppositionalism - What and Why?'; I now know the 'what', but I am no closer to understanding the 'why'.
The Presuppositional apologetic boasts some very powerful arguments to say the least. In fact, the transcendental proof for the existence of God is perhaps the most compelling argument that I've ever heard, but what I have yet to understand is how such an argument isn't only just so much more evidence that is being presented. In other words, Presuppositionalists and Jim in particular, argue that the presuppositional apologetic system is the only allowable system and that Evidentialism (basing conclusions on evidence) is not allowed, but I have yet to see an argument made by anyone that did not present one sort of evidence or another including those made by presuppositionalists. Presuppositionalist simply present evidence that one's presuppositions are incoherent rather than showing evidence that supports some other aspect of the Christian faith. In the end, the approach is the same; it's simply the focus of the argument that is shifted.
Further, the position that their system is the only Biblical (and therefore the only allowable) system must be defended by the presentation of evidence. So one might be led to ask, which came first Presuppositionalism or the evidence that supports it? Or put another way, must the exclusivity of Presuppositionalism be presupposed or must it be supported by Evidentialism? Either way, it seems to me to be a problem for their position. Although, I must admit that this seems too simplistic. These people who came up with this apologetic system (Van Til and others) are way too smart to have overlooked something so simple so it could very well be that I'm missing something important but the point is that whatever it is that I'm missing has yet to be explained to me in any clear manner.

It also seems to me that Presuppositionalism is simply a logical extension of Calvinism (or at least Calvinistic theology). I haven't worked it all out yet, but I suspect that Presuppositionalism would fall apart if its Calvinistic underpinnings were removed.

This thread has been very profitable for me though. I've learned some very powerful arguments for the Christian faith which seem to have their most impact in discussions with unbelievers (an area in which I have been lacking), and have managed to find some common ground with Jim as well. I've done more reading as a result of this thread than any other thread I've been involved with and I'm sure that will continue. I'm still very fascinated by this whole presuppositional approach and I'm sure there is more about it that I do not understand than what I do understand.






Balder,

In response to your last post, I would just say that there is no way I'm qualified to debate the issue with you. I can tell you're way ahead of me on the philosophical issue. However, if you wouldn't mind spending the time, I would still be very much interested in hearing more about how you resolve this issue. It would also interest me to hear more about what you think of the Christian resolution, which, as I understand it, is done by simply starting from the presuppositional position the One God is Triune in nature; that both unity and diversity are equally ultimate concepts.

Resting in Him,
Clete