23 May 2013

A presuppositionalist parable: you'll be floored

by Dan Phillips

I've been listening most recently to some of Sye ten Bruggencate's apologetic debates and conversations. My goal is always to become a more effective apologist, myself. I'll confess that I spend a lot of time admiring him and his partners and thinking how poorly I'd have done in that situation. But I keep at it, because it's both a Christian's calling and part of the task of being a pastor, whether it comes easily to one or not.

Presuppositionalist apologists like Sye and others argue insistently (and to their opponents' dismay) that anti-Christians' every argument denying God's existence, in fact, proves God's existence. The point is a very good one, but I'm not sure everyone gets it.

Me, I'm simple; so I always chew things over to the point of my own understanding... and by that time, I've got something just about anyone can understand. Usually a good analogy helps me. Here, I think I have one, so I offer it to you, with the disclaimer that every analogy breaks down at some point.

For starters, presups point out that God is not a conclusion, He's the starting-place. Unbelievers hear this as saying we've no proof of God, though it isn't what we're saying nor meaning. I've wondered whether it might not be more effective to say that the truth of God is too big and fundamental to be the conclusion of a syllogism or chain of reasoning. Only truths of a certain size can fit at the end of a chain of reasoning, and the truth of God is too big to come at the end. That truth is so big and fundamental that it only fits at the start; any other location whittles that truth down to unrecognizability.

So here's the analogy. Envision two philosophical combatants. One school, the Floorists, asserts the existence of the floor as that on which everything else necessarily rests. The other (Afloorists) denies that assertion.

The Floorists say, "If there were no floor, we wouldn't even be here. We'd be nowhere. There'd be no connecting-point and no common-ground — literally. And you Afloorists confirm that fact with every word."

The Afloorists scoff. "Prove there's a floor, without standing on one!"

Floorists: "Can't do that."

Afloorists: "Aha! You see? You have no proof!"

Floorists: "No, we can't do that because we can't even have this discussion without resting on a floor. We can't even talk to you without all of us resting on the floor. The only reason we're talking right now is that both of us are resting on a common floor."

Afloorists: "Nonsense! For instance, look here, I'll show you..." (stepping off the couch onto the floor).

Floorist: "Stop. You just proved the floor. Even before you moved, you proved the floor  You were sitting on something resting on the floor."

Afloorist: "What? I never did! I'm just showing you, here and..." (taking a second step).

Floorist: "Stop! If there's no floor, you couldn't take a first step, let alone a second. All the time your mouth is running, denying the floor, you're standing on the very floor you deny. Every step you take, denying the floor, depends on the floor. You know that, or you'd not have stepped off so confident that something would support you. Every step you take affirms the floor. If there were no floor, you couldn't walk around denying the floor. Every step proves what your mouth denies."

Afloorist: "Bosh. You just can't prove the floor without assuming the floor. You have no evidence. Here, let me show you another place where there's no floor."

Floorist: "Only if you can do it without resting or walking on the floor."

Afloorist: "We can do that! We all know we can do that! Science has proved we can do that! Your problem is that you can't prove there is a floor!"

Floorist: "You can't even say that without resting on the floor. You're denying the floor that you know exists, and meanwhile you're depending on the floor, to deny the floor."

Afloorist (triumphantly): "Aha! You see? You have no proof! You refuse to prove the floor! We ask for evidence, you give none! You don't prove it here (takes step), or here (takes step), or here (jumps up and down). There is no floor! There. Now I'm going to go have sex, thanks to this exhilarating freedom that Afloorism has brought me."

Floorist: "...on something resting on the floor. Brilliant." (Facepalm.)

There y'go.

Dan Phillips's signature


103 comments:

interpretingthecosmos said...

Or another:

Ahelioists: There is no sun! Look here at this earth - it is all there is!

Helioist: But you couldn't see the earth without the sun - you couldn't see anything. You wouldn't know what vision is without light from the sun. Our lives would not exist without its warmth, light, radiant life-giving ener...

Ahelioist: AHA! No proof! You just assume a sun!

spencer said...

Dan, your simple summary of VanTil, Bahnsen & Bruggencate floored me.

DJP said...

Spencer: LOL, thanks for the first laugh of the day.

The post's simplicity is a reflection of the author's mentality.

PaulT said...

At the risk of pushing analogies too far... How about the Evidentialist Floorists, who waste time on their hands and knees pointing to the floor in order to prove its existence to the Afloorists?

DJP said...

Heh; I like it, Paul. They say, "Sure, we'll assume with you that we can have this discussion without resting on the floor. So our proof is..."

Except they already threw the debate, and don't even know it.

Well done!

spencer said...

No Dan, a mentality like that can wipe the floor with the opposition.

This post was so clean, I could eat off it.

This post was a fitting tribute to Cornelius Van Tile.

DJP said...

LOL; oh my.

jbboren said...

I bought the video on your recommendation and was very disappointed. It is basically a bunch of guys arguing for an hour. Like you, I respect Sye's courage, but the usefulness of his $36 video is very questionable.

Tom Chantry said...

Am I the only one who read this post and wondered if I was supposed to pick up flowers for my wife on the way home?

(Translation: Think you're simple-minded? I'll show you simple-minded!)

Kerry James Allen said...

But, but, "One man's ceiling is another man's floor!" (Paul Simon)

And the first two lines of the song are Pyro prescient, are they not?

There's been some hard feelings here
About some words that were said.

Rob Steele said...

Totally. That's what it's like. It might help atheists understand our frustration but I doubt it will help them understand their error.

Jules LaPierre said...

Gee, Dan. Thanks for reminding me that I need to scrub the kitchen floor today.

kyriosity said...

Nicely done, Dan.

R.C. said...

Beautifully done. That said, your epistemological floor is not the floor, but the law of non-contradiction. That's where you really started. Granted, the law of non-contradiction and the floor are one ontologically.

K L W said...

Yes, I caught the Pythonesque tone in that turn: "What? I never did!"

DJP said...

RC - no, I didn't.

(c:

K L W - Thank you!

Frank Turk said...

PaulT:

Does it bother you, when you say that, that Jesus delivered a lot of parables which pointed at the real world in order to tell people about God?

I ask because the biggest problem with the Christian faith is that it demands that people look at the evidence of God's action in the world in order to believe it.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DJP said...

N0t really interested in hosting your discussion with Doug Wilson, cowardperson. If he wants to take you through the philosophical sandbox, more power to him. This isn't that.

Trey J. said...

Lol, Dan.
I'm sorry, my name is Trey Jadlow. I don't do a lot of blogging and am trying to redo my settings.

Would it be possible for you to view and interact with the post w/o his name?

Michael Coughlin said...

Next ask them to prove laws of logic without using laws of logic.

We must remember 1 Cor 2:14 and preach Christ Crucified.

Busy guy for the next few days. Thanks for the good post.

DJP said...

If I ever do a post with a title like, "What's the best way to do apologetics?", maybe.

This was "Is this a good way to present the presupp argument?" Not "Is the presupp argument a good one?"

Part of what goes into my selection of topics is, "What do I have the time to interact about?"

Background here.

Kerry James Allen said...

Rob, those lines were not meant to be a critique of anything Dan or Frank state, but rather a reminder that when folks get in a snit here it is usually an emotional reaction to the very logical positions presented on Pyro. I just thought those two lines presented the cause and effect here well.

I'm not agin 'em, I'm with 'em!

Trey J. said...

Ok, cool. I think the presup approach is a good one, but just not the best. My concern is for the fideistic foundation, which, in the long haul may win the battle, but ultimately hinder long-term success.

Tobias said...

Turk,
I've always had a niggling feeling that Presup apologetics is cheating. Mind you, I am utterly convinced of its verity, but I question the efficacy of its use in real-life conversations.

As, I believe, Dan pointed out in his original post about the video series a few weeks ago, it may win arguments, but does it win souls to Christ?

Trey J. said...

Tobis,

Our job is not to persuade, but to prove. Salvation is God's job, but it's ours to implement. God has ordained the means as well as the ends and insofar as the method accurately testifies to what is true, it is useful, if for nothing else, to close the mouth of the obstreperous.

DJP said...

You addressed Turk, Tobias, but: as I've listened to Sye do it, where he goes is that only God can convert folks, which is true. Part of the apologist's necessary task is to tear down the false edifice (Pro 21:22). Otherwise, we're just rearranging chairs.

Daryl said...

...chairs which sit...on the floor. Heh.

Tobias said...

Agreed. At the same time, we are called to be light and salt. There are two sorts of light: the glow that illumines and the glare that obscures. In the same way, the right amount of salt makes the message more palatable, while too much may cause it to be rejected. It's a matter of striking the right balance, it seems to me. Some people may need the 2x4 to be applied "directly to the forehead" to get their attention. While others will be turned off by the messenger, without actually considering the message.

Here's an apropos quote:
"You see very little appeal, very little bridge-building, very little outreach. Paul's concern that he might win as many as possible (1 Cor. 9:19-22) isn't at the fore.

Here's what I mean: it is as if Paul told the men at the Areopagus, "I saw an altar to an unknown god, and I am here to tell you that your worldview is hollow and bankrupt, and besides, you already know the unknown god, you just suppress that knowledge." But that isn't quite what the apostle did, is it? He took the altar to the unknown god as his "in," and used that confession of ignorance to proclaim the true and living God and, in the process of this positive proclamation and call to repentant faith, systematically demolished their bankrupt and apostate worldview."

Frank Turk said...

Tobias --

You know, it often sounds like I am anti-presup, and I am no such thing. I am anti-lousy-presup, which runs around telling people things which are utterly irrelevant to whether or not they can recognize their own sinfulness and their own need for the Gospel. The point of any apologetic is the Gospel and not the reliability of any philosophical system.

With me so far?

That said, everyone has heard the Bahnsen/Stein debate -- everyone who is seriously concerned with being a Presup apologist, anyway. We have all listened to it, and we all agree that when Bahnsen pulls the rug out from under Stein, and shows Stein there's no there there in his demands of good-better-best, it's all over but the crying. Every atheist who listens to that debate for the first time walks away wondering what just happened -- because Stein does not win that debate. Stein is flabbergasted.

The problem for us is this: every encounter with an atheist is not a debate, and it is not the right platform for graduate-level socratic dialog on epistemological methods and process. When the atheist says to you, "I don't believe that God exists," as a shut-down of the Gospel you are preaching (that is: he's assailing the presup of your argument - that God has a say about your sin its consequences) chasing his rabbit doesn't bring us back to sin and repentance.

However: shouting the word "REPENT!" louder also does not solve the problem now raised, either. It may look very Old Testament, but it is in fact nothing of the kind. In fact: the OT response to those who are in love with their sin is this: "Let me show you something."

That what Hosea says to Israel, and he shows them Gomer. That's what Nathan says to David. That's what Moses says to both Pharaoh and to Israel. It's what God says to Cain and to Adam -- and in Adam's case, God wants to show the Man himself ("Where are you? Who told you you were naked?").

[more]

Tobias said...

I guess knowing your audience is vital here. If I'm having a water cooler conversation with a coworker, I expect I'll have other opportunities to share and illuminate. I want to keep that door open. If I'm doing street evangelism or debating a belligerent athiest, the 2x4 may be more appropriate.

Michael Coughlin said...

As Frank said the other day, we need a LIKE button for comments.

Tom Chantry said...

In a word, yes. This is a good way to illustrate one of the things presuppositionalism can do.

I could go on at some length, but I’d get us off topic. Other illustrations, various debates, etc.

But I’ll stick to this: for those of you who want to come in here criticizing presuppositionalism while demonstrating a fundamental ignorance of it, stop. If you can’t tell the difference between Cornelius Van Til and Ludwig Wittgenstein, it means one of two things: either you haven’t read either or you know nothing (truly nothing) of the Christian faith.

So maybe whenever this topic comes up we should do this. The presuppositionalists among us should try not to presume that evidentialism must be whatever the most ignorant presuppositionalist says it is. Meanwhile, those of you who are not presuppositionalists, stop assuming that it is whatever the most ignorant evidentialist says it is. Let the apologists speak for themselves. Or at least - since Van Til labored under the handicap of writing in what was not his native language - read a decent summary by someone who agrees. A good place to start would be the article Frank tweeted a few weeks ago.

Trey J. said...

Thanks Tom for the link. I'm not able to read right now, but will try to later.
I'm not an evidentialist, and I'd be grateful if you would rather interact personally rather than just give a link.
Dan, if this is an inappropriate forum for this direction, I understand.

Frank Turk said...

[con't]

So consider this conversation:
__________

ME: Listen - The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.

NotME: Yes, but I don't believe in your "God." I don't have to listen because I don't believe in your old book and your old religion!

ME: It is a very old religion - from the beginning of the world. But let me ask you --

NotME: It's not from the beginning of the world, it's --

ME: No, hang on, friend - one objection at a time. Let me ask you: do you believe you're morally perfect?

NotME: Are you?

ME: I have a religion and a God who tell me I am not -- but you have rejected that. Is anyone morally perfect?

NotME: Why should I listen to someone who's not morally perfect?

ME: That's what I'm trying to find out. Are you morally perfect?

NotMe: Yes. Yes I am.

[his friends laugh and shuffle away since he has obviously just made an idiot of himself] <- note that his friends endorse the presupposition of this fellow's mistake by walking off from him

ME: I think your friends disagree. I think your friends know the truth that, even if you are a pretty good fellow, and even a good friend, you are hardly morally-perfect. What do you think the consequence of that is? With or without God, what's the consequence of your own moral imperfection?

notME: I have no idea what you're talking about?

ME: Then it's a good thing you stopped by. Do you think you have anything, in the course of your life, which requires you to be responsible for what you have done? Should you make up for anything you have done which wasn't right?

notME: Why is this about me all of a sudden?

ME: My dear friend, it is because you made it about you when you stopped here to interrupt. But I think you have done me a favor by giving me a real-world example of what we all face -- because you are not different than me or anyone standing right here. Everyone standing here knows they have something which the must make up for, one way or the other.

notME: That's ridiculous! People get away with terrible crimes every day. Did you know that 1/3rd of all homicides are never prosecuted?

ME: You mean in the real world? [ironically] In the actual, real world there are murderers who are never caught?

notME: Yes! Does that surprise you?

ME: Not really -- because men are fallible. Somehow you keep proving my point the more you talk about the real world. But look here: if 1/3rd of all murders go unsolved, why do we seek to prosecute any murderer? Isn't it unfair to prosecute some if we cannot prosecute all?

notME: What does that have to do with anything? What's that got to do with God?

ME: I'll tell you if you answer my question. Isn't it unfair to prosecute only some if there are many who are guilty and get away with their crime?

notME: I'll say yes so you can get back to my question. What does that have to do with God?

ME: My dear friend, you have just admitted to me that you agree that there is such a thing as morality -- something which every person knows applies to him. And you have just admitted that there is something greater than human laws -- because you believe they ought to be enforced even if they are enforced poorly. And you have just admitted that the guilty should be punished -- not the innocent, and not merely any ol' person when something as bad as murder has been perpetrated.

It seems to me, if I can say so, that you believe in God already -- his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived by you even as you argue with me. This world declares His Glory, and Power. What's left for you is to Honor Him rather than Spit at Him.
__________

[more]

Frank Turk said...

[con't]

Do you see? The question is not about what we can convince ourselves of regarding what we think is going on inside our heads. The question is that the world exists because of God, and he is everywhere we look. But: to know him properly, we have to return to His special revelation of himself to do more than merely intuit his presence.

[-30-]

Trey J. said...

Frank,

I would take your above moral argument a level deeper and ask for the justification of the skeptic's objective moral code, which distills to human value or the sanctity of human life. You see, they live in a contradictory world where they say (logically) humanity doesn't matter, but that humanity (emotionally/existentially) is really, really special, hence the dogmatic moralizing of the Richard Dawkins/Sam Harris' of the world. They have no framework by which to justify this disparity and are reduced (by their own standard of logic) to the position of blind, fideistic absurdity.

Trey J. said...

This is why we must...we MUST maintain rational coherence at all costs. That is not to say that there is mystery,but that mystery never violates the law of non contradiction.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

So basically, the unbeliever can make correct change at the register, and presup apologetics helps us show them why they do?

I really need to brush up on this.

SLIMJIM said...

Rolling on the floor laughing

Ryan said...

The OP provides a practical argument for accepting first principles in general, but insofar as it intends to parallel the goal Van Til, Sye, etc. - viz. to prove the Christian worldview in particular - I never understood why an atheist just couldn't respond: "Okay, so what is unique about your God ("the floor") such that He ("it") is the precondition for intelligibility, and why is this property necessary?" After all, in order to function as a "proof" for Christianity in particular, there must be something that distinguishes Christianity from infinitely many non-Christian worldviews.

Clarkian checking in.

Tom Chantry said...

I just wish you'd chosen to go with "the ground" rather than "the floor" so we could all acknowledge what a well-grounded argument this is.

Ba-dum...thud.

Shane Dodson said...

The last time Frank went after what he considers "lousy" presuppositional apologetics, he got this response...

http://americanvision.org/7082/how-to-abort-reformed-apologetics/

Scott Welch (formerly Scooter) said...

A parable to understand presup, a reminder to buy my wife flowers, and a never ending stream of jokes.

It's a 3 for 1 deal, you don't see these rock bottom prices at any old dealership.

Michael Coughlin said...

@Ryan - the reason is that without the Christian God you cannot make sense of anything - and without the Bible as the authority which reveals the Christian God.

Frank Turk said...

Shane:

In what way, do you think, the blog post that fellow is responding to disagrees with his core argument?

Saved By Faith Alone said...

Dan,

Just to prove (again) that my mind is a corrupt and sinful one, when I read: “Only truths of a certain size can fit at the end of a chain of reasoning, and the truth of God…” I immediately thought” “Ha! ‘Chains of reasoning’ have capacity ratings!” Yea, yea, so I’m an engineer. I guess it’s pretty obvious, huh?

Your analogy of Floorist versus Afloorist is a great one to contrast the presups against the unsups. Unsups don’t suppose anything, they wallow in and find great comfort in their un-belief. And it really is all about comfort if you think about it.

SDG

Dan....

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"A presuppositionalist parable: you'll be floored"

Good one!

How 'bout this attempt: "An evidentialist parable: you'll be overwhelmed."

(Not that I have such a parable. I'm just thinking of a memorable name.)

Ryan said...

Michael said:

"...without the Christian God you cannot make sense of anything - and without the Bible as the authority which reveals the Christian God."

I don't see how this answers my question. I asked what is it about the Christian God that provides the unique explanation according to which Christianity alone can be true, and why is this unique property an intellectual necessity.

Michael Coughlin said...

You err because you do not know the scriptures. LOL, I meant that tongue in cheek. :)

You show me how to reason your way to another God, and explain how you got there without using the Christian God's Word and I'll continue the discussion.

You are asking presups to provide evidence to you. That's not what I do. I declare the Truth of scripture. I'm happy to leave the burden of proof on you that it is not true.

The fact is this - Since the Christian God is TRUE - to assume otherwise is absurd.

If you can show me a non-absurdity by first contradicting the Christian God, well, then my faith will be quite shaken.

Tobias said...

@Turk,
Thanks for that. I have not studied and interacted with presupositionalism, so much as I've read "about it". It's rather like learning about the bible by reading Team Pyro, without actually studyong and wrestling with the scriptures themselves. I should know better.

@Tom Chantry
Don't write us all off yet. We may be ignorant, but some of us are willing to learn.

Frank Turk said...

Ryan:

I am dying to answer your question, yet I don't want to rob the Presuppositionalists reading this blog and these comments from a big score on their home field -- if they can muster a team.

Ryan's question is "your" question, people angry about my concerns. Go get 'im.

Michael Coughlin said...

Think of it this way Ryan - replace floor in Dan's parable with Christian God - and it works (well enough).

Replace floor with "a god" - and it will fail.

Forgive me for terseness (which, coming from me, may come as a welcome change for other commenters). I have a lot going on this weekend and not much time.

But always a lil time for pyro

Frank Turk said...

Tobias:

Read this web essay first --

Common Misunderstandings of van Til's apologetics

And then read this --

John Frame on van Til

Trey J. said...

Michael,

>You are asking presups to provide evidence to you. That's not what I do. I declare the Truth of scripture. I'm happy to leave the burden of proof on you that it is not true.

>The fact is this - Since the Christian God is TRUE - to assume otherwise is absurd.

>If you can show me a non-absurdity by first contradicting the Christian God, well, then my faith will be quite shaken.

Here's the problem:
You are employing logic in order to prove your point and yet at the same time violating logic by assuming your conclusion....can't do that.....that's fideism, not Biblical faith....

Michael Coughlin said...

Please tell me the logic rule I am violating.

If you are referring to circular reasoning, then that doesn't disprove what I am saying at all. Please explain to me why circular reasoning is fallacious (without using circular reasoning to do so, of course).

Trey J. said...

There is a difference between presupposing the laws of logic and constructing a syllogism that begs the question, wouldn't you agree?

Michael Coughlin said...

Prove to me that laws of logic are valid. Think about it.

Trey J. said...

You didn't answer my question.
There is a difference between presupposing the laws of logic and constructing a syllogism that begs the question, wouldn't you agree?

Trey J. said...

You see, if my opponent commits the petitio principii fallacy, you would cry 'foul' in a moment. But if he were to employ non contradiction you would comply with his line....

Frank Turk said...

Trey J saith:

| I would take your above moral
| argument a level deeper and ask for the
| justification of the skeptic's objective
| moral code, which distills to human
| value or the sanctity of human life.

Why? The reason is that this is what Bahnsen did, and since everyone loves to fly like Superman, they do it too – whether or not the objection means a hill of beans to the person you’re trying to undo.

Even the merely-canny non-Christian ought to say this: “If you agree with me, I don’t need any justification. We agree. You can’t argue against yourself and sound like a sane person.”

| You see, they live in a contradictory world ...

Actually, this is also complete twaddle from the perspective of the person you are accusing of an epistemological shell game. The world they live in? It makes sense to them. You can tell because they are wearing clothes, they are mostly well-fed, they have a language that they speak, and somehow they were able to arrive in the place you are standing without guide dogs and GPS.

The problem you face here is that you mean they live in a state of theological contradiction. That is: they deny God while living off the ample bounty of his common grace in all things – ontological, physical, epistemological, teleological, etc. What you mean that God’s grace to a human being is like water to a fish – it’s a context so necessary and ever-present that they have no way to imagine a world without it, and at the same time cannot see it because it is so ever-present.

| ... where they say (logically) humanity
| doesn't matter, but that humanity
| (emotionally/existentially) is really, really
| special, ...

I suspect you haven’t actually talked to anybody not on the internet about this. Here’s what I suggest: the next time you are in Little Rock (are you ever in Little Rock?), you look me up and I’ll take the day off from work. Together, we’ll go camp out at Panera Bread or Starbucks or someplace where we can put up a sign that says, “Free Coffee to anyone who will talk to us for 5 minutes.”

There: we’ll ask the question you think will reveal their internal contradiction and see what real people think.

| ... hence the dogmatic moralizing
| of the Richard Dawkins/Sam Harris' of
| the world.

Thank God: most people have the sense to dismiss Dawkins and Harris as idiots. Even most atheists.

Let’s talk about people who are godless and yet are not ideologues against God because these people are legion.

| They have no framework by
| which to justify this disparity and are
| reduced (by their own standard of logic)
| to the position of blind, fideistic
| absurdity.

What if their response to that is this: “No – I just do what works for me. Look at my life: this works.” What if they aren’t consumed with demanding you not believe in God, but they simply don’t have time for your religion – they have other plans on Sunday?

You have to do better than this to affect those people in any way.

Michael Coughlin said...

I would argue that constructing a syllogism which begs the question does not invalidate the question begged.

Prove a god exists who is not the Christian God without using the Bible or concepts derived within and find no contradiction and you've got me!

Michael Coughlin said...

Also, you are making assumptions about what I would "cry foul" about without having any idea what I would "cry foul" about and no one has answered my questions.

Look, I'm happy to talk about these things, but I don't appreciate assumptions about me.

drmack said...

Nice. I've yet to see a critique of presuppositionalism that did not presuppose the presuppositions of presuppositionalism (that is assuming the assumptions that our assumptions are assuming are operating under the Lordship of Christ) ;-)

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Presuppositionalist apologists like Sye and others argue insistently (and to their opponents' dismay) that anti-Christians' every argument denying God's existence, in fact, proves God's existence. The point is a very good one, but I'm not sure everyone gets it."

Probably a good number of people don't get it. I wonder what rough percentage of people (and let's even segment it by age groups) who don't get it. And what people don't understand, they generally reject.

What if they don't even get the "floor" example? Then would it be alright to turn to evidentialist arguments?

Just asking.

Michael Coughlin said...

Read Frank's earlier comment for the answer, IMO. The one that starts tobias and has the line:

The problem for us is this: every encounter with an atheist is not a debate, and it is not the right platform for graduate-level socratic dialog on epistemological methods and process.

Trey J. said...

Frank,

Just saw your response.

>The problem you face here is that you mean they live in a state of theological contradiction.

Actually, they live in a contradictory fashion both theologically and rationally. This is the point. Start with their own presuppositions and they have nowhere to go. As I said, our job is not to persuade, but prove and give the rest to the Holy Spirit.

Me:They have no framework by
| which to justify this disparity and are
| reduced (by their own standard of logic)
| to the position of blind, fideistic
| absurdity.

You:
>What if their response to that is this: “No – I just do what works for me. Look at my life: this works.” What if they aren’t consumed with demanding you not believe in God, but they simply don’t have time for your religion – they have other plans on Sunday?

>You have to do better than this to affect those people in any way.

Having a rationally coherent worldview is something every thinking person feels is an imperative they should participate in. It's the mantra of the NY Times, Richard Dawkins, Bill Mauer and Ricki Gervais. Granted, there are brain-dead folks who don't care, but I almost never encounter such folks on the internet.

We need to come to their level, assume the same presups and beat them. It's really not hard and (I think) gives more fertile soil for the Holy Spirit to work with.

Trey J. said...

>I would argue that constructing a syllogism which begs the question does not invalidate the question begged.

Michael, charitably, you are arguing with odd fancies, not rational coherence.


>Look, I'm happy to talk about these things, but I don't appreciate assumptions about me.

What?! All I assumed is that you would be willing to point out an informal fallacy. I'm not judging you morally....you disagree?!

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

78 year-old grandma: "I don't believe in God."

Presupper: "Grandma, there's a God."

Grandma: "Can you prove it to me?"

Presupper: "Do you know what epistemology is?"

Grandma: "What?"

Presupper: "Epistemology."

Grandma: "Why are you pissed off at Tom?"

Presupper: "No, no. No grandma, I'm not pissed off at anybody. Let me try again. How do you know things."

Grandma: "What do you mean, 'how do I know things'?"

Presupper: "Aw fuggedaboutit. Grandma, why don't you believe in God?"

Grandma: "Some Christians were mean to me a long time ago."

Presupper: "So."

Grandma: "So that's why I don't believe in God."

Frank Turk said...

Trey J said:

[QUOTE]
Having a rationally coherent worldview is something every thinking person feels is an imperative they should participate in.
[/QUOTE]

That's complete malarkey. Maybe that's what every grad student or alleged rationalist "feels," but there is nobody shopping for groceries right now who is worried that if they buy both the veggies and the Cheetos they have somehow betrayed their worldview. That is: every single adult person alive today is perfectly satisfied by living with choices that create some tensions and paradoxes.

Let me put it this way: Obama was re-elected president. Even today, there is not a massive gasp of epistemic horror over ever contradiction and paradox that action required on the part of voters and non-voters alike.

That being true: your argument is disconnected from reality. It doesn't work out the way you think it does.

Frank Turk said...

I don;t really want to admit this, but TUaD just won the meta.

Trey J. said...

>Let me put it this way: Obama was re-elected president. Even today, there is not a massive gasp of epistemic horror over ever contradiction and paradox that action required on the part of voters and non-voters alike.

I would assert b/c the modern Church is living in a self consumed, theological and philosophical Dark Age. We have abandoned theology and the mind and the culture has just followed suit.

>That being true: your argument is disconnected from reality. It doesn't work out the way you think it does.

I use it almost every single day...even as we speak. I have never lost a debate yet and am almost always the last poster on the thread where we are discussing such. I'm a rather ignorant and ineloquent fellow, but the arguments are iron-clad.

http://www.ligonier.org/store/defending-your-faith-dvd/

DJP said...

Trey: "...and am almost always the last poster on the thread where we are discussing such..."

That's ominous.

So to you who've gone off debating presup and engaging Trey: here and here, I said I didn't want to go there.

You went there. All I ask is that you finish up. I don't want him "counting coup" off of one of my posts.

Trey J. said...

>That's ominous.

ROFL>
http://www.miccostumes.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/dog_star_war_cosplay.jpg

I am happy to submit to your wishes, my liege...God bless....

Mike Riccardi said...

After all, in order to function as a "proof" for Christianity in particular, there must be something that distinguishes Christianity from infinitely many non-Christian worldviews. [...]

I asked what is it about the Christian God that provides the unique explanation according to which Christianity alone can be true, and why is this unique property an intellectual necessity
.

Hey Ryan. I'm not sure I have the answer you're looking for, but insofar as I've thought about your question I've landed on the uniqueness of Trinitarianism and the unity in diversity that's woven into the fabric of the universe.

To be extremely reductionistic for the sake of brevity: There is one universe with many galaxies; a particular galaxy (e.g., the Milky Way) with many planets and suns; a particular planet (e.g., earth) with many forms of life -- the whole Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, thing. God created every living creature "after its kind," such that there is unity in "living creatures," and diversity in "after its kind." And then even within the unity of each one's "kind" there is phenotypical diversity -- breeds of dogs; various skin tones and hair/eye colors; etc.

All of that unity in diversity reflects the nature of the God who is its Creator, who is both One and Three, united/one in essence yet diverse/three in person.

When you add that the God who Scripture reveals is both absolute and personal, you have what, on the face of it, looks like a contradiction. How can God be absolute such that He is wholly-other, unaffected, exalted above the heavens, and personal, engaging in relationship, and responsive to His creation. Again, the unity and diversity demanded by the Trinity, coupled with the incarnation, explains this.

Thus, the Triune God of the Bible is the only God that can thoroughly account for the universe being the way it is, and the only way to explain the "admirable conjunction of the diverse excellencies" of absoluteness and personality.

Now, I recognize that that still leaves us to disprove the professedly-Trinitarian abberations of Christianity (e.g., Catholicism). But at that point, we can simply go to the Scriptures, which, if we're agreeing on Trinitarian Monotheism, we will (at least largely) agree upon the Bible as the source of authority.

Hope that helps in some way.

Ryan said...

"You show me how to reason your way to another God, and explain how you got there without using the Christian God's Word and I'll continue the discussion."

Firstly, I don't reason my way to any God. As I already mentioned, I am a Clarkian. I take God's word as my first principle. But I don't believe God's word can be proved; instead, I regard it as self-authenticating, although only those whom God regenerates will accept is as such. More on this momentarily.

Secondly, a burden of proof is on you as well. For you are defending an alleged proof for [the Christian] God. It is not enough to just state that God alone is the very precondition for proof. That's well and good, but that is, as it stands, itself an assertion in search of an argument.

In fact, unless you ground such an assertion on Scripture, it requires you to know that and how every other worldview is self-defeating. But there are infinitely many such worldviews, so either you have internally critiqued each of these one by one - which is impossible since there are infinitely many - or you must know of a property unique to the Christian God which explains why He is necessary. If there were no such unique property, then He wouldn't be the precondition for intelligibility. Well, just what is that property, and why is it necessary? Unless you can tell me that, your transcendental argument rings hollow.

"You are asking presups to provide evidence to you."

I'm merely asking you to defend your proof. For it to be a proof, the Christian God must be the conclusion of an argument. The argument, or so I understand, is that because God is the precondition of proof (premise 1), and because proof is necessary (premise 2), God exists (conclusion). But a conclusion is only as true as its premises. I'm questioning how you came to know premise 1.

"That's not what I do. I declare the Truth of scripture. I'm happy to leave the burden of proof on you that it is not true."

Again, it's not enough to say I have a burden of proof. I am aware of that, and I have my own epistemic system to defend it. But you too have a burden of proof.

Now, if your answer to my question about premise 1 outlined above is just a deduction from Scripture, then I will ask you to prove Scripture. Eventually, you will hopefully see that something - God's word, in fact - must be taken for granted without proof for the simple reason that we are not omniscient. Something must be self-authenticating, and whatever proposition[s] is or are taken as first principle[s] will be one's alleged sufficient condition for knowledge.

If you too begin with Scripture, then congrats, you too are a Clarkian. But in that case, I would say it's a bit disingenuous to promote an argument for the Christian God without specifying that your source of this knowledge is an allegedly self-authenticating revelation from said God. Not that I would disagree, but I doubt Van Til meant for his views to collapse into Clark's :)

Michael Coughlin said...

Well, you know what more than me about how to label things, but if you read my comments, particularly the very first one toward you, you will see from the beginning I started with scripture and assume it as self authenticating. So I'm a Clarkian as far as you are concerned on this meta.

I never offered any "proof" as you called it. I simply assented to the fact (in other words) that to deny the Christian God is absurd and I'm sticking to it. If you would like to share more information about Clark or Van Til post a link or message me at my website.

Ryan said...

Mike,

"I'm not sure I have the answer you're looking for, but insofar as I've thought about your question I've landed on the uniqueness of Trinitarianism and the unity in diversity that's woven into the fabric of the universe."

I have encountered this answer before, actually, although a bit different in that it focused on the need for multiple persons in order for there to be love. The problem (as I see it) with both of these appeals is that there is no way to establish it as necessary apart from Scripture - more on this in my replies to you below - in which case we would eventually be left with Scripturalism or Clarkianism. As I said to Michael, this suits me just fine, but I don't understand that to be acceptable to Van Tilians.

"All of that unity in diversity reflects the nature of the God who is its Creator, who is both One and Three, united/one in essence yet diverse/three in person."

Well, I don't agree with the typical Reformed view of the Trinity for a variety of reasons - though I do accept monotheism and that the Father, Son, and Spirit are homoousios and so in some sense may each be referred to as "God" - but for the sake of argument, let's take your unity in diversity argument without those peripheral concerns.

Why one and three? Why not one and two or one and four? What about the personality of said God? Can all of His or their attributes really be deduced via reductio ad absurdems alone? See what I mean about needing to resort to Scripture?

"Again, the unity and diversity demanded by the Trinity, coupled with the incarnation, explains this.

Thus, the Triune God of the Bible is the only God that can thoroughly account for the universe being the way it is..."

Do you see that you skipped a step? Again, for emphasis, the Trinity would be *an* explanation of unity and diversity, not necessarily the *only* explanation... unless we resort to a self-authenticating divine revelation.

"Now, I recognize that that still leaves us to disprove the professedly-Trinitarian abberations of Christianity (e.g., Catholicism). But at that point, we can simply go to the Scriptures, which, if we're agreeing on Trinitarian Monotheism, we will (at least largely) agree upon the Bible as the source of authority."

This is a good point too. By your own admission, then, belief in the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is only a necessary condition for belief in Christianity. That is, there are non-Christians who believe the Trinity. But that means the Trinity isn't a sufficiently unique doctrine.

Ryan said...

Michael,

Thanks for you replies. Will follow up soon. There is bound to be some level of talking past one another in such complex subjects as these.

Alex Ford said...

Afloorist: "We can do that! We all know we can do that! Science has proved we can do that! Your problem is that you can't prove there is a floor!"

Floorist: "You can't even say that without resting on the floor. You're denying the floor that you know exists, and meanwhile you're depending on the floor, to deny the floor."

Afloorist: ROFL!!!

Mike Riccardi said...

Well, I don't agree with the typical Reformed view of the Trinity for a variety of reasons -

Yikes. That's disconcerting. Unless I'm misunderstanding what you mean by the "Reformed" view of the Trinity. As far as I know the Reformers embraced Nicea and Chalcedon, so I'm not sure there's a difference between the Trinitarianism of the Reformers and that of the 4th- and 5th-century councils. If I'm right about that, you've got bigger problems than apologetic methodology, dear friend.

Why one and three? Why not one and two or one and four?

This is a legitimate question, but my answer is simply to say that Scripture reveals Trinitarianism and not Binitarianism or Quadrinitarianism.

What about the personality of said God? Can all of His or their attributes really be deduced via reductio ad absurdems alone? See what I mean about needing to resort to Scripture?

Yes, but I see no problem in having to resort to Scripture. Scripture is truth; it reveals reality. I don't think there's any contradiction between arguing Scripturally and arguing transcendentally. In fact, the way that those in my circles have framed the issue is: "Reality is the way it is, thus, the God of the Bible exists." They always include the phrase "of the Bible," and so are foundationally maintaining the authority of Scripture. I don't think Bahnsen or Van Til would have had a problem with this, and I know Frame doesn't.

Do you see that you skipped a step? Again, for emphasis, the Trinity would be *an* explanation of unity and diversity, not necessarily the *only* explanation... unless we resort to a self-authenticating divine revelation.

Yes, but again, I'm not sure why that's such a problem. I want to resort to a self-authenticating divine revelation. Let's do that! The Trinitarian explanation moves from an explanation to the only explanation given what God has revealed about Himself in Scripture.

This is a good point too. By your own admission, then, belief in the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is only a necessary condition for belief in Christianity. That is, there are non-Christians who believe the Trinity. But that means the Trinity isn't a sufficiently unique doctrine.

Sure. But that wasn't my argument. My argument wasn't: "Trinity, therefore the God of the Bible." My argument was: "Reality, therefore the God of the Bible." When you asked what it is about this God of the Bible that distinguishes Him from other "gods," I said: the Trinity. At that point, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Jainism, Islam, JWs, Mormonism, Judiasm, atheism, and agnosticism all fail to account for reality as it is. I'd say that's quite a bit of ground to gain. And if at that point, the only ones left are those who at least pay lipservice to faith in the Scriptures as the authority, it's a short walk.

So, to summarize, I think maybe you thought I was making an argument I wasn't trying to make. And, also, I agree that there's every reason to stand on Scripture itself as a presupposition in these conversations. I think to argue Scripturally is to argue transcendentally, and vice versa.

wakawakwaka said...

uh no.. a good afloorist would tell you what you are actually standing on....

Tom Chantry said...

I feel bad for the true apologetic theorists. I really do. So many of their "followers" are...well...

...like this:

"Hey, guys, what about me? I'm a Clarkian? But a Christian? Not so much. Trinitarianism? Meh. We could do better."

It's OK, Gordon. You can stop spinning in your grave. We know it's not your fault.

Tom Chantry said...

Oh, and regarding "afloorists," I'm an a-floor-milenialist. I think that's why I keep getting in trouble in DJP's posts.

Grant H said...

The Afloorist/Floorist parable pivots on an analogy between the floor and God.

But the floor is material and visible. God is neither material nor visible.

I can appreciate that those who already believe in God may find this parable edifying. This unbeliever, at least, does not find it compelling.

I realise that my non-elect status may render my opinions suspect or even null in this forum, but, for what it's worth, Frank Turk is making the most sense on this. And he's right about TUaD's Grandma/Presupper piece. Nails it.

Ryan said...

Mike,

"Unless I'm misunderstanding what you mean by the "Reformed" view of the Trinity. As far as I know the Reformers embraced Nicea and Chalcedon..."

I completely agree with the Nicene Creed of 325. But the idea that God is one what and three whos is pure nonsense. Rather, "God" has different meanings throughout Scripture (e.g. John 1:1), one of which refers to the person of the Father (hence, monotheism) and another of which can refer to a member of the class or genus of divinity (hence, since there are three persons who possess all of the divine attributes, Trinitarianism). But you can read more about what I think about the Trinity on my blog if so inclined.

"This is a legitimate question, but my answer is simply to say that Scripture reveals Trinitarianism and not Binitarianism or Quadrinitarianism."

Fine by me. Now to the follow-up question I've already alluded to: why do you accept Scripture? Is it for any other reason than that it's self-authenticating? If not, then as I mentioned to Michael, it seems Van Til's transcendental proof for God really does presuppose Gordon Clark's apologetic. If you know anything about the history between those two, you can't fail to appreciate the irony.

"I don't think there's any contradiction between arguing Scripturally and arguing transcendentally."

Me neither :) I consider Scripture to be the sufficient condition for knowledge which accounts for all subsidiary, necessary conditions for knowledge (i.e. transcendental arguments).

"In fact, the way that those in my circles have framed the issue is: "Reality is the way it is, thus, the God of the Bible exists.""

So long as it is agreed that the only means by which we know reality in the first place is Scripture, I once again agree. As to whether Bahnsen, Van Til, or Frame would agree, I don't know. I know Sye disagrees with Scripturalism. And I recall reading a friend's review of a book by Bahnsen in which he stated a supposed problem with Clark, but would have to check into why.

Well, I am in any case pleasantly surprised by the level of agreement in this thread.

"At that point, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Jainism, Islam, JWs, Mormonism, Judiasm, atheism, and agnosticism all fail to account for reality as it is. I'd say that's quite a bit of ground to gain."

Well, there is the question of why such persons ought to care that Scripture is compatible with Trinitarianism alone, but if we also take into account internal critiques of those alternatives, the consistency of Scripture, and it's ability to account for [widely acknowledged] necessary preconditions for knowledge, you are right: that is good evidence. It's still not proof for Scripture, but given it is self-authenticating, that's not a problem.

To be honest, though, I see no need to appeal to Trinitarianism at all as an intermediary step if we can and must appeal to Scripture anyway. Scripture itself is the unique doctrine of Christianity which contains the set of propositions which by definition distinguish the God whose word it is from all else.

Michael Coughlin said...

Principal: Mr. Madison, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Billy Madison: Okay, a simple "wrong" would've done just fine.

Ryan said...

Tom wrote:

"Hey, guys, what about me? I'm a Clarkian? But a Christian? Not so much. Trinitarianism? Meh. We could do better."

Yes. We could do better. Your tongue in cheek barb has a little too much sting of the truth in it.

Paul Reed said...

Great post!

What I found the most encouraging on the subject of the existence of God was something Paul Washer said in one of his sermons on SermonAudio:

He mentioned various books like "25 Reasons that Prove God Exists" (can't recall the actual name of the book).
But then he said during his missionary work in Peru, some of the best Christians he knew really can't give "25 reasons to believe". It's something they just know is true. And they don't try to lean on their own understanding.

But yeah, how can people who don't believe in God have any kind of moral code? Seriously, if there's no God, why not just leave your wife and kids and go do what you please? After all, there's no such thing as morality, no reward or punishment after you die. If you can get away with it in this life, why not just do what you please?

Frank Turk said...

It's a bother that the truly presuppositional have better things to do - like ministry.

Grant H said...

Paul Reed,

THEE:
But yeah, how can people who don't believe in God have any kind of moral code? Seriously, if there's no God, why not just leave your wife and kids and go do what you please? After all, there's no such thing as morality, no reward or punishment after you die. If you can get away with it in this life, why not just do what you please?

I don't trust in (πιστεύω) your “biblical” God, yet - perversely enough - I have no desire to desert my dependents, or to pursue narcissistic self-indulgence.

I don’t subscribe to your stick-or-carrot eternity, yet - again perversely - I do not conclude thereby that I have some license to diminish the wellbeing of others in this world. Bizarre as it may seem to you, it would not "please" me to live this way, regardless of whether I'd "get away with it". I am not itching to do harm under a God-less heaven.

I have no epistemologically flawless “code” undergirding my aversion to breaking bad. Clearly, I must be a fool; the only life that has any logical coherence for me is one devoid of responsibility to others, bent on hedonistic abandon. The lack of God demands it. Got it.

Note to self: Must live down to my depravity...

Ryan said...

Grant said,

"I don't trust in (πιστεύω) your “biblical” God, yet - perversely enough - I have no desire to desert my dependents, or to pursue narcissistic self-indulgence."

Such as trying to prove a point on a blog post which you can have no reason for even bothering to read in the first place... wait.

Grant H said...

Just clarifying, Ryan: are you suggesting that my commenting here is itself a form of narcissistic self-indulgence? In using this phrase, I had in mind something less cerebral than a comment thread on presup apologetics ... something in the leaving-wife-and-kids league referred to by Paul Reed. I don't think commenting here quite compares, but what would I know?

I have been "bothering to read" here at Pyromaniacs for at least 18 months, though I have not commented before.

Why is it that I "can have no reason" for doing so? That seems rather censorious.

Ryan said...

Grant,

"I don't think commenting here quite compares, but what would I know?"

That question is probably more apropos than you realize. On what grounds indeed do you make comparative value judgments?

"Why is it that I "can have no reason" for doing so? That seems rather censorious."

I mean that atheism can't afford you a basis on which you can have a reason for doing anything. There might be a causal explanation, but there could be no underlying rationale for your actions. For such things presuppose absolute moral values. I noticed that despite your personal testimony, none of it actually answered Paul's questions.

Grant H said...

Ryan, I did write "I have no epistemologically flawless “code” undergirding my aversion to breaking bad". In other words, I am aware that I can't meet your presup demands for certain foundations. That theomachinist game is designed to keep you a winner, always.

You win. I am Hiroshimated.

And yet here I am, still irrationally making value judgements, unable (unchosen?) to have the correct faith that will save me from eternal torture (which actually means that I'm desperately suppressing The Truth with every heartbeat, of course). I can't deploy some epic counter-biblical rationale for why I rate abandonment of dependents as more serious than pushing back against an over-certain scoffer. I just have my depraved intuitions - a patchwork of shreds I must have stolen from God's elect.

Paul Reed scoffs at the very idea of non-Christians having a "moral code". If God ain't there, why wouldn't we just indulge every whim, drive, and impulse? Ah, even though we are the depraved automata of Sin and Death, we are agreeably tweaked by common grace for the benefit of the elect...

Hiroshimated.

Ryan said...

Candor won't absolve you of failure to take epistemic duties seriously.

Grant H said...

I'll carry on unabsolved then, and leave epistemic virtuosity to the blessedly assured.

Tom Chantry said...

@Grant,

I'm glad that you have an ethic. I even commend you for it. It may be that I find it irrational, but then I find disbelief in God irrational in itself. I don't assume that an irrational man must be an evil man in every way. I will express the hope that your irrational refusal of the Creator and His grace is one day shattered, but I don't expect that here.

To you, to "wakawakawaka" (is that supposed to be a sound effect from an old Pacman game?), and to others reading: you do understand that this post was neither meant as an apologetic argument nor as an evangelistic outreach, right? It was a parable - an illustration to others who agree on core principles - of how a certain form of argument is supposed to work. It was never meant as an example of a good argument. Don't dance over having decimated what was not an argument.

Tom Chantry said...

@Ryan,

I'm truly worried about you. Those other fellows I just addressed understand that they are not believers. They think that they are wise, no doubt, but they know that they have no god. Perhaps someday they will see the folly of that.

But you don't understand at all where you stand. You actually list yourself among the faithful and try to take a turn "witnessing" to the "outsiders," while all the while you have rejected the Christian God. I would suggest that you are in a terribly dangerous place. You are self-deceived as to your own spiritual condition.

I believe, as do the hosts of this site, that the words of the Athanasian Creed are entirely accurate: Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled; without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity...

This is the very core of "Christian," and you have by your words placed yourself outside it. You are not Clarkian. Gordon Clark was a Christian, but you are not and cannot claim to be. Could there be such a thing as a Clarkian Mormon? A Clarkian Unitarian? It's absurd.

You need to stop engaging in philosophic debate on the existence of God altogether, and go back to Scripture to discover who God is. Until you know that, your soul is in peril.

Grant H said...

@ Tom C

Thank you for expressing that hope; I appreciate your good will. Though I fail to attain the Rational - in your ultimate sense - I aim to be Reasonable in the meantime. As for further shattering, I would hope to be spared that; a still small voice would do wonders.

A salute to your whiskers!

Tom Chantry said...

@Grant,

Ah, but nothing shatters the soul so deeply as the still, small Voice!

Keep thinking, it is a good thing to do. I do pray God's blessing for you.

Frank Turk said...

OK friends --

The thread, I think, has not gone exactly as DJP expected. I'm going to close it and invite Ryan to e-mail me at frank @ iturk dot com.

Comments are closed.

DJP said...

Author's postscript:

As usual, Tom Chantry got it exactly right:

...you do understand that this post was neither meant as an apologetic argument nor as an evangelistic outreach, right? It was a parable - an illustration to others who agree on core principles - of how a certain form of argument is supposed to work. It was never meant as an example of a good argument. Don't dance over having decimated what was not an argument.

I've told him before, and hope Chantry understands how much I appreciate folks who read me in accord with (usually directly-stated) authorial intent, over against the many who do not.

It is literally impossible to have a life, let alone a ministry, when you write "Here's a post about driving to Pittsburgh," and commenters only want to write, "What? You haven't proven that round is a good shape for a tire!" Like the poor souls convicted by the parachurch post wanting to bleat about nothing other than the fact that it didn't prove what it was not written to prove. ("Round? Why round?? You didn't answer me! You deleted my tire-shape comment! I'm going to cry to the world!")

Thursday is supposedly my day off. It's really the only day off I just about always take, and even on it I usually have church correspondence. Maybe I shouldn't post, Thursdays. But I don't want to spend that one day with my family proving tires should be round, unless I wrote about that issue.

The meta of this post illustrates what happens when commenters don't (and I'm not there to make them) keep to the limited topic, and that grieves me. Folly and smarmy dismissiveness head the bus for the ditch. But oh well, that's life in the big leagues. However, it is again making me reconsider just not enabling comments, or trying to bullyrag Turk into agreeing to put the whole blog on moderated status.