Five Objections to Presuppositional Apologetics Crushed

By Brandon Todd Clay / June 10, 2018

How the top 5 objections to Christian presuppositionalism from believers and unbelievers ultimately fail.

Short Answer

#1: Presuppositionalism depends on circular reasoning…but so does every other worldview.
#2: Presuppositionalism is dogmatic…but so is every other worldview.
#3: Presuppositionalism prevents common ground with unbelievers…is both true in one sense and false in another.
#4: Presuppositionalism dodges having to present evidence for Christianity…is not true, but is based on a caricature of presuppositionalism.
#5: Presuppositionalism doesn’t prove the Christian God…is sometimes true and sometimes not.

Long Answer

Presuppositional apologetics (aka presuppositionalism) is not without its critics. Not only do non-Christians mock it, but other Christians attack it. These are some of the top objections to Christian presuppositionalism and how they ultimately fail.

Objection #1: Presuppositionalism Depends On Circular Reasoning

Circular reasoning happens when the claim is dependent upon the conclusion. In logical form, it looks like this:

X is true because of Y.
Y is true because of X.

Detractors claim that presuppositionalism presents a circular argument. This challenge varies depending on the person, but a statement they might attack is something like this: “The Bible is God’s word because the Bible says it’s God’s word.”

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

There is some validity to this objection. Believers in presuppositionalism admit to a certain kind of circularity though they deny that it’s “viciously circular.” Instead, they point out Christian presuppositionalism is a type of foundational claim about truth. All such foundational claims are necessarily circular. In other words, it depends on itself to make the claim. So this charge about circularity isn’t just a problem for the presuppositional Christian, it’s a problem for all foundational claims about truth. John Frame addressed this problem on

“As Van Til says, circular argument of a kind is unavoidable when we argue for an ultimate standard of truth. One who believes that human reason is the ultimate standard can argue that view only by appealing to reason. One who believes that the Bible is the ultimate standard can argue only by appealing to the Bible. Since all positions partake equally of circularity at this level, it cannot be a point of criticism against any of them.”

Christian presuppositionalism is circular. But so is every worldview: human reason, Buddhism, Scientism, or anything else. So anyone objecting to presuppositionalism because it’s circular probably hasn’t thought enough about their own belief system’s circularity.

Objection #2: Presuppositionalism is Dogmatic & Absolutist

Another objection to presuppositionalism is that it’s “dogmatic” or “absolutist”. Christianity claims itself to be true in the sense that “God said it’s true” and it can brook no legitimate opposition.

There are two reasons people object to presuppositionalism in this way.

One reason is we live in an age relativism. Any worldview that claims to be the one way to truth or God will be suspect. Relativism claims all religions are equally valid because it’s impossible to know the real truth of any worldview. That’s one of the main reasons relativism bristles at orthodox Christianity and claims presuppositionalism is overly dogmatic.

Secondly, this objection highlights Christianity’s attack on the primary “religion” in the Western world: secular humanism (read: atheism). Secular humanism objects to Christianity’s dogmatic assertions because, like all worldviews, it also aims for dominance. Secular humanism’s absolutism demands explanations for everything apart from God. In philosophy, science, ethics, law, entertainment, and everything else, it describes the world apart from God. Interestingly, secular humanism is dogmatic and absolutist in the same way Christianity is.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

Just like in the above objection to circularity, anyone objecting to presuppositionalism based on it’s dogmatism hasn’t thought much about their own system of thought. Certain axioms are assumed to be true in every truth system. This is easy to see in Secular Humanism, but it’s also true in relativism. Few philosophers hold to relativism because of it’s woefully contradictory truth claims. So once again, Christianity is not the only worldview guilty of this charge: every worldview has the same “problem” of being dogmatic.

Objection #3: Presuppositionalism Prevents Common Ground With Unbelievers

A common objection to presuppositionalism from the Christians is how presuppositionalists disparage the common ground between believers and unbelievers. These theologians claim that presuppositionalists won’t admit to commonly-held values between believers and unbelievers. Frame quotes about this objection from Classical Apologetics:

“There is common ground, namely the whole of creation. Believer and unbeliever live in the same universe. Each sees the same phenomena. The unbeliever and the believer can agree that two and two are four, and at certain principles of deduction are valid while others are invalid. Thus a kind of common ground is established.”

In laying out this framework, the authors are attacking presppositionalism when they say presuppositionalists minimize the “common ground” between believers and unbelievers. They claim their method is a more congenial way to interact with unbelieving thought.

On the one hand, the classical apologists are right. Presuppositionalists believe in the noetic effects of sin (how sin has affected our abilities to think). The Christian views the world from one set of glasses, but the non-Christian cannot view the world from the same glasses because his lenses are cracked because of sin. So there is no pure common ground between the believer and unbeliever.

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15

However, the objection is also weak. Presuppositionalism does not claim there is no common ground between believers and unbelievers. Both Christians and non-Christians speak common languages, enjoy common foods, drive the same cars, and have many similarities with each other. But Christians do not share the same basic commitments to truth as non-Christians. They hold to mutually exclusive worldviews with points of intersection, but not at the foundational level. They do not share common presuppositions.

Objection #4: Presuppositionalism Dodges Having To Present Evidence for Christianity

Atheist Steven Shives suggests that those who hold to presuppositionalism dodge his requirement for presenting evidence for the truth of Christianity. He says that if Christianity is true, there should be ample evidence for its truth and presuppositionalism shouldn’t ignore the evidences for it.

Shives illustrates a common misunderstanding of presuppositionalism. Presuppositionalism is not an appeal to evidence and is not subject to that objection. Presuppositionalism is an appeal to the epistemological and metaphysical reality of the universe, namely God. Any evidence should be interpreted in that light.

Secondly, presuppositionalism (usually) does not oppose evidence for the existence of God. Depending on the practitioner, presuppositionalists may use traditional proofs for God’s existence or attempt to persuade unbelievers using evidence for the reliability of the Bible. The difference between the convinced presuppositionalist and the pure evidentialist apologist is that the presuppositionalist doesn’t depend on the evidence to convert a non-Christian. To the presuppositionalist, the non-believer “must be born again” (John 3:3) to believe the claims of Christianity. So evidence has a limited benefit in presuppositionalism.

“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15

Objection #5: Presuppositionalism Doesn’t Prove The Christian God

Another objection forwarded by, now-agnostic Ed Morris at suggests that presuppositionalism casts doubt on materialistic naturalism, but it doesn’t prove the existence of the Christian God. He thinks the arguments could be just as easily be employed to prove the Muslim god, Allah, or the mythical Norse god, Thor. Presuppositionalism only points to the existence of a higher power, but not to the Christian Trinity.

Morris’ claim that presuppositionalism can point to a higher power may suggest he has not encountered the more robust forms of Christian presuppositional apologetics – in other words, he’s attacking a “straw man”.

The Bible declares God to be of a certain nature: God has all knowledge (Colossians 2:3), he acknowledges the laws of logic (2 Timothy 2:13), he precedes the material universe (Genesis 1:1), etc. The Trinitarian God as revealed in Scripture possesses attributes that no other so-called deities from other religions retain. So the best formulations of the presuppositional apologetics like the  Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God or TAG Argument, depends upon Biblical theology, not Old Norse theology.

In Conclusion: Presuppositionalism Is Hard But True

Like all good theology, presuppositionalism is complex. It takes a range of Biblical, theological and philosophical data and attempts to synthesize a Christian apologetic aimed at making Christianity reasonable to an honest seeker aided by the Holy Spirit. Understanding presuppositionalism can be difficult, but it is not impossible to grasp.

Finally, if presuppositionalism is generally true (and I think it is), then it will withstand the philosophical, theological, and other intellectual challenges it faces. Because that’s what truth does. It doesn’t mean the challenges won’t seem legitimate and it doesn’t mean it won’t take work, but the challenges will ultimately fail if a system is true. Because presuppositionalism wasn’t created by Van Til, Calvin, or any other theologian. Presuppositionalism is an application of Biblical truth (2 Timothy 3:16).


Scott Oliphint: Answering Objections to Presuppositionalism

John Frame: Ten Problems with Presuppositionalism Answered

Brandon Clay is a husband, dad, and a Christian (Reformed Baptist). He enjoys researching about everyday, complex, and sometimes obscure theological issues in every field of knowledge and tries to make things easy to understand. He is married and has 4 children, one of whom (Knox) is now with the Lord. Todd holds a BA in history from the University of Texas at Austin and an MA in Theological Studies from Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

44 responses to “Five Objections to Presuppositional Apologetics Crushed”

  1. MM says:

    Great stuff! Thanks!

  2. […] Though I’ve written a couple of articles on it (What Is Presuppositional Apologetics and Five Objections to Presuppositional Apologetics Crushed , I still feel like a kindergartner when it comes to the method. Not that everyone needs to be an […]

  3. Jason Bladzinski says:

    Atheism is not the same as secular humanism. The author is being intellectually dishonest. I dont really care for what one can assert, I care about what one can demonstrate. So, unless you can demonstrate that the Christian god I’d necessary for the existence of the universe, them pressupositional apologetics is guilty of one big fallacy of assertion problem. Literally no one is convinced by pressupositional apologetics. It’s used solely as a way to make the believer feel justified, and to beat down atheists whose arguments easily defeat the claims of theists.

    • Todd Clay says:

      Thanks for dropping by, Jason. I’d like to address your core argument and I think it’s this: “I dont really care for what one can assert, I care about what one can demonstrate.” If I may rephrase it, you want demonstrable proof, not assertions.

      The presuppositional proof, if you can see it, is without God you can’t prove anything. He alone lays the foundation for all rational thought, morality, purpose, and destiny in the universe. But let’s just stay with rationality. The very fact that you are looking for proof, indicates that you’re interested in truth. I hope that’s a fair assumption.

      But why? Why would you be concerned about truth? It makes no sense if you’re just cosmic happenstance floating around on a dying planet in the accidental universe. So you can enjoy your spin and eventual death and nothingness? What good is truth to grown-up pond scum?

      The very fact that you’re aiming for some truth and reasonableness to the universe is proof you believe in transcendent order. And transcendent order doesn’t happen with materialistic naturalism — it cannot account for that order. Only the God of Scripture can account for such high ideals as we find in the pursuit of truth.

      • Jason Bladzinski says:

        “Without god you can’t prove anything” That’s an assertion, can you demonstrate that assertion? Just because you assert something, that doesn’t make it true. A assertion isn’t proof.
        At no point did I claim that I am the product of cosmic happenstance. Neither did I claim the universe is accidental. If you have to build straw man arguments against me, you are being intellectually dishonest. Clearly there are very specific parameters that are responsible for the universe and my existence within it. The universe is deterministic, not random and accidental. Why should I care about truth? I would like my internal map of reality to best match actually reality as much as possible. Why? Well, that’s the best way to live a meaningful productive life. False beliefs lead to false ideas, and false ideas are detrimental and dangerous to the quality of my life and the lives around me. This is really irreverent to the matter at hand. Why do you have to defer to me? Your ability to demonstrate your assertions has absolutely nothing to do with me. You are dodging and deflecting. In true presuppositinal style, you ask me a bunch of questions, which in good faith I answer, but never answer the one question put to you.
        I don’t believe in trancendent order. It’s dishonest to assume that you know my mind better than I do my own self. Please don’t do that. I’m a methodological naturalist. Transcendence is a human concept, an emotion, a feeling. There are many things that can give me a trancendent experience, but that’s irrelevant to you demonstrating the existence of your god. There could be thousands of reasons for transcendent experience, and no god is necessary.
        So what if we came from simple origins? How does that change the fact that we have complex emotions and an ability to understand the world around us on a profound level. We are the sum of our parts, not simply the individual components. This isn’t even an argument and it has nothing to do with whether your god actually exists or not.
        You claim that only the god of your scripture can account for these things, but before you can attribute anything to this god, first you must demonstrate that he actually exists. It’s like finding a footprint in the woods and claiming that only bigfoot could be responsible for this footprint. Really? How could anyone know that until first demonstrating that bigfoot actually exists. Same goes for you god. So, can you demonstrate the assertion or can you not?

        • Todd Clay says:

          Thanks for replying, Jason. In this last response, it’s clear our definitions are not the same: transcendence is not an emotion in the way I am using it. Frankly it’s difficult to argue when a slew of accusations and misunderstandings are typed out in rapid succession, but I want to be fair to you. I’m open to an offline discussion. I’m sending my email so we can continue it there where there can be more light and less misunderstanding. And we can also discuss my possible error in misrepresenting your position. Thanks!

  4. Don says:

    You posit in point number 1 that presuppositionalism is no more circular than a human reason worldview. Thus, I take it that you reached your presuppositionalist views without resort to “human reason.” Not sure how you did that. If you did that, I suppose you could provide me some examples of presuppositionalists that have no capacity for human reason. If you are saying that God is speaking through you as sort of a puppet-like figure and no human reason was used by you in this website, then I guess we’re done here, and I congratulate you. If not, please concede that you reached your presuppositionalist views threw run-of-the-mill ordinary human reasoning ability, and that you’re simply saying that you think you’re right. In your response please tell me if god is replying or if you are (just want to be sure).

    • Todd Clay says:

      Hi Don – Christian presuppositionalism is not a position that has been arrived at through human reason. It’s a position that understands all of our faculties – reason and otherwise – are only reliable based upon a Christian metaphysic. With respect, this comment doesn’t seem to be grappling with the argument.

      • Don says:

        You miss the point when you say that “Christian presuppositionalism is not a position arrived at by human reason.” I ask you again – are you aware of any presup. apologist who is not human and/or human but with no capacity for human reason? Unless you can show me one presuppositionalist that is not a reasoning human – It seems like your statement has a small problem – Every person that believes in presuppostionlism is a reasoning human deriving their thoughts from their own brain like everyone else. If your presuppositionalism is some kind of divinely inspired idea that was implanted in your brain from the heavens, then just say that. Otherwise, your position has a bit of an issue.

        • don says:

          And I forgot to ask. If presuppositionalism is not based on human reason as you say, then why are you trying to explain it to me? As a nonbeliever, I’m one of those handicapped humans that is limited solely to human reason. It’s all I have. Presumably, as a presuppositionalist you already knew that. Yet you respond? Why?

          • Todd Clay says:

            The only reason your human reason is somewhat reliable is you live in the world God created. It’s certainly not reliable based on atheistic/agnostic assumptions. I respond because you are made in the image of God – despite your protestations. By the grace of God, repentance is still possible – and it’s why I respond.

        • Todd Clay says:

          RE: “If your presuppositionalism is some kind of divinely inspired idea that was implanted in your brain from the heavens, then just say that. ”

          I think that’s a fair statement. God grants faith to believers (Eph 2:8). I believe the Bible, in God, because God gave me the ability to see things in that way. Or as CS Lewis wrote, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

          That said, I think the apologetic (or reasoning) that is most useful is one addressing coherence. Which system accounts for all of reality in the best way? I think Christianity does. And if Christianity is true, then every other system is by necessity false, because they all teach things contrary to the Bible and Christianity.

  5. don says:

    Objection No. 2 is a classic straw man. You mischaracterize another’s position so you can easily knock it down. Atheism for most people is not dogmatic or even a central issue in a so-called atheist’s life. I don’t believe in Santa Clause, unicorns or leprechauns any more than I believe in a God. I don’t make up names for my non-belief in these mythical creatures, seek to dominate the world based on my non-belief, or organize my life around my non-belief. I, like most so-called atheists, don’t think there’s sufficient evidence for these things. If I obtained evidence, I could certainly change my mind. This isn’t dogmatic. You’re transparently projecting your religious dogmatism on others. If dogmatism is demanding evidence before belief, then I think you fundamentally misunderstand the word.

    • Todd Clay says:

      You sure about that? Sounds like you’re pretty convinced – I counted 4 arguments in your comment. If you weren’t so dogmatic about your skepticism, you would NOT have left the comment with such a bold attempt to refute the point. If you were genuinely non-believing about your skepticism, we wouldn’t be exchanging comments. But because you are dogmatic in your assertions you entered the fray. With respect, you proved #2 by objecting in the first place. Friend, you and I are both dogmatic.

      • don says:

        I’m not convinced there’s a god. If I see some credible evidence, I would change my mind. Or, I could just be too stupid to understand the evidence that is available to me. I’m open to either possibility. However, starting with “presupposition” that god exists doesn’t seem like evidence. That makes me dogmatic? That’s perplexing. Please explain my dogmatism to me. I’m not getting it.

        • Todd Clay says:

          This thread assumes something I will not grant: your supposed neutrality. If I may reword your position, “I think idea of ‘God’ is possible, I just haven’t seen any evidence that convinces me of his/her/its/their existence’ (I hope that’s fair). The Bible, and therefore God, vehemently disagrees with this approach. You have knowledge of the holy. And of God (Rom 1:18-23). And of spiritual realities and transcendence beyond yourself – and our physical world. The attitude of neutrality is fundamentally bankrupt. The proof of God, if you will see it, is all around you. And you will not be moved from your dogmatic supposed neutrality because that would mean repenting of your rebellion and serving a new God – not yourself.

          One quote sums it up well from Sye Ten Bruggencate: “You have a pump in your chest about the size of your fist that pumps 700,000 gallons of blood per year and runs for 90 years on donuts. And you ask me how to know if God exists. Look around, you know that God exists.”

          • Don says:

            You state that I and everyone else KNOWS god exists. So stop this apologetics nonsense. You don’t need to convince me of something that you’ve already told me I know to be true. Do you even listen to yourself?

          • Todd Clay says:

            Don – there are levels of knowledge. Yes, I do think you know things deep down. And consciously you don’t think you know them. Atheism is an exercise in self-deception according to the Bible. Like the perfectly healthy man who thinks he’s dead or the fat woman who can’t see the relationship between her overeating to her weight problem. So also the atheist doesn’t consciously understand his own condition. He knows, but doesn’t know at the same time.

  6. Don says:

    Objection 3. In sum your position appears to be that unbelievers are bad sinners so they can’t think clearly like Christians, and “Christians do not share the same basic commitments to truth as non-Christians.” I ask for evidence before belief, but you presuppose what you want to believe. Yet, you have a higher level commitment to truth. This speaks for itself.

    • Todd Clay says:

      As for evidence, where does the commitment to truth come from in an atheist worldview?

      According to atheist mythology, you are the product of random explosion of particles (from nothing) through billions of years of undirected development and evolution – then the universe finally birthed you, Don. According to your worldview, you are stardust. Nothing more than stardust. Any attempt to generate meaning, morality, or truth – especially truth – out of that bankrupt natrualistic metaphysic is subjective and grasping at air. Without the transcendent, Trinitarian God of Scripture, you have none of that: no meaning, no morality, no truth.

      • don says:

        Should I just kill myself now or wait until my kids turn 18? I love my wife and kids and have plenty of great friends – both christian and not. My life feels like it has meaning. Am I just wrong about that? Should I stop loving my family and friends because it’s meaningless? Stop playing ball with my son? Stop helping the kids with homework? If my life is so meaningless, what exactly should I do? (let me guess presuppose the truth or more precisely the “triune god” – am I right?)

        And by the way, you totally ignored responding to the fundamental point that a presupposition in the truth is not a commitment to truth. I can presuppose an apple is an orange. I can write books that an apple is an orange because the orange has given me special powers beyond human reason so that I know that an apple is an orange. That doesn’t make it so. It also doesn’t mean that I’m not using my own reason instead of the orange’s magical reason. And it doesn’t seem to a commitment to truth. Maybe you could consider responding to my original point now that you’ve established my life is meaningless. Hopefully, you respond before I put an end to my miserable, meaningless life. (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

        • Todd Clay says:

          RE: “the fundamental point that a presupposition in the truth is not a commitment to truth” — You’re right, I am missing something. A presupposition is a commitment. Or else it wouldn’t be a presupposition.

  7. Don says:

    Objection 4. “Presuppositionalism is not an appeal to evidence and is not subject to that objection. Presuppositionalism is an appeal to the epistemological and metaphysical reality of the universe, namely God. Any evidence should be interpreted in that light.” Epistemology is the study of knowledge and justified belief. Reality is the state of things as they actually exist. Presuppositionalism is not epistemological or concerned with reality. Rather, presuppositionalism is the belief that only people that have the same belief can understand and agree with the belief. Therefore, no evidence is needed. You got me there. We have a winner.

    • Todd Clay says:

      I guess we can agree on some things 🙂

      • don says:

        One question. I understand presuppositionalism (by the way – it would be nice if the word was a little shorter – I digress). What I don’t get is “presuppositional apologetics.” It seems the 2 terms are contradictory. Presuppositionalism is the divinely inspired presupposition that god exists – that’s where you start your analysis (or implanted divine thought directly from god – whichever). I always thought apologetics was a reasoned defense of the absolute truth of theism/christianity. I don’t think that my presupposition in the existence of unicorns would be a reasoned defense for the existence of unicorns. Presuppositional apologetics seems to have a different view. What exactly am I missing?

        • Todd Clay says:

          Others have the same critique of presuppositionalism: the name is too long and possibly confusing. Personally, I like the term because it pushes back the argument to the foundation of the conversation: to the prerequisites of meaningful conversation/debate. But I understand why someone would object to the name.

          As for the unicorn hypothesis, that’s a bit far-fetched. To equate the Christian metaphysic to the unicorn metaphysic is hardly feasible. What is the basis for unicorn revelation, it’s internal consistency, or where are the hundreds of millions of unicorn followers? What universities did the unicorn adherents found? Or hospitals? To be fair, I think the only semi-contenders to the Christian worldview are the major religions. I don’t even consider atheism a contender because of it’s inability to account for morality, meaning, truth, etc.

          One apologist who agrees with you that presuppositionalism is not the best term is Scott Oliphint. He provides both an alternative name (Covenantal Apologetics) and has a very good overview of ‘presuppositionalism’:

          • Don says:

            Clearly unicorns are an example. How about we change the example to a presuppositional belief of walking on water, or numerous people popping out of their graves and walking around, or 900 year old men, or a talking donkey, or the sun standing still in the sky, or the sun moving backward in the sky, or bread falling from the sky, or ocean waters parting to make a path, or water turning to blood, or sticks turning to serpents, or…..? Your pretense at rational thought and attack on the existence of unicorns is laughable considering you believe all the above (and more) to be true. You cannot cite me one example of any of the above ever happening but you believe with absolute credulity. Yet you attack unicorns?! If your answer is all this is true because, the Bible says so, millions of people believe it, or I already know this and believe it because God says so, then don’t bother. Apologetics in the name of convincing me about what I already know to be true lacks any kind of rationality. I know but don’t believe. Truly Bizarre. I’m sorry I wasted both your and my time.

          • Todd Clay says:

            Guilty as charged – I believe all those things. And if they Bible spoke about unicorns, I would believe that too. Though you were challenging me with a non-existent truth system: Unicornism (not unicorns). Give me a real argument, not pretend systems that supposedly debunk Christianity. It’s almost like you don’t want to believe in Christ…sort of like I’ve been saying.

            I think you’re getting hung-up on the term presuppositionalism. Forget that, and just think about Christianity as a worldview: a system of belief. Based on your previous comment, you’re attacking the Biblical miracles, why? Because you don’t believe in miracles, presumably. You have a commitment to metaphysical naturalism – admitted or not. But did you realize that atheist mythology has it’s own set of (usually) unchallenged miracles?

            1. Getting Something from Nothing
            2. Getting Life from Non-Life
            3. Getting Order from Chaos
            4. Getting the Immaterial from Physical Matter
            h/t Clay Kraby

            The system is bankrupt namely because atheistic naturalism requires miracles to get started in the first place — it can’t deny miracles (and you have no sufficient reason to reject the Biblical miracles if you accept atheist miracles). The atheistic system is a cult – it enjoys single-digit and low-double digit percentage of adherents in the Western world even after 150+ years of government and university propaganda. Atheism is propped up by universities and a mass of unbelieving intellectuals who are too afraid to declare the emperor has no clothes – or committed to their rebellion against God.

  8. Don says:

    Objection 5. You argue that presuppositional apologetics is “robust” based on the argument that god is the god of the Bible because the Bible says so. That sure is a “robust” argument. Another winner. I concede.

  9. don says:

    I’m gratified that we agree on the definition of “robust.” You have some common ground with a nonbeliever.

  10. don says:

    Your assumption is that because you don’t understand how an atheistic origin could have happened without a miracle – then only a miracle could explain it. That doesn’t allow for the possibility that there is an explanation that (1) you don’t understand or (2) has not been discovered yet. Your position is that if you don’t understand it, then it couldn’t have happened. The word hubris comes to mind. Believe it or not, facts exist independent of your understanding, which means you (and me) could be wrong. However, being wrong is a possibility for which you will make NO allowance. That makes you part of a cult, delusional, and dishonest.
    Moreover, your immutable position that regardless of what I say – I am a dogmatic atheist, worshiping the atheist god (paradox intended) is more evidence of your cult-like views. You shoe-horn me into a belief because an ancient book makes some absolute statements although you don’t know me at all. What I say about my own beliefs is factually wrong in your view. I don’t take a position on the origins of life because I don’t need to. I haven’t seen evidence of god and I don’t understand enough about the origins of the universe to say the big bang theory is accurate either. So I live my life without taking a position on either. You WILL disagree when you read this and TELL me what I actually think. This whole conversation is a charade if you believe that (and based on your own words – you do). Moreover, the concept of “free will” is also a complete hoax. According to you, I can believe one of 2 things (and one of those 2 things, I don’t actually believe). Wow!
    Finally, your point that more people believe in a god, then do not seems rather ridiculous to me. At various points in human history that would be an argument for slavery, a flat earth, geocentric universe, alchemy, bloodletting, horoscopes…..I could go on but I won’t. Pew’s latest poll on religion shows that 56% of Americans believe in the god described by the bible. If that ever dips below 50%, will you reject Christianity? I predict – you won’t because the argument is specious. Simply stated, majority belief is a defense of nothing. Moreover, your own Bible talks repeatedly about the inherent fallibility of humans, BUT on the origins of life, the purpose and meaning of life, the afterlife – humans (or at least Christians) have a perfect understanding. That is contradictory to say the least. By your own religion’s standards, you’re a sinful fallable human prone to error but you CANNOT be wrong. Keep telling yourself that – it won’t make it true though.

    • Todd Clay says:

      P1: Your faith in naturalism is so unmoved (dogmatic) you must appeal to something that hasn’t been discovered. Your faith commitment is so strong in atheism, you’re willing to appeal to ‘science of the gaps’ vs. reject your ‘god’ of atheism. You, like me, are quite religious (BTW – that’s another marker of the Image of God). Unless something breaks thru for you to realize, admit to, and plead forgiveness through Christ for your personal sinfulness before a holy creator, you will die in your sins. I pray the Holy Spirit, who you presumably deny, will reveal himself to you before it’s too late.

      P2: I admit. I don’t know where you fit on the spectrum of agnosticism/atheism. It seems you have taken offence at my applying general critique to your personal faith commitments. I do believe you are made in the image of God and why you are so seemingly interested in a coherent believe system – you are demonstrating your similarity to the rational, Triune God. If you’re actually interested in understanding more about Christianity, I would love to continue the discussion so we can get more specific. I am sending a personal email to you where we can continue the conversation in private.

      P3: Related to the percentage of believers in atheism making it less believable: I agree the percentage of believers in any system does not prove a system. My point is that atheism doesn’t account for human experience very well or else more people would believe it. It’s not an iron clad argument, but I think it carries merit and I wouldn’t call it specious. Perhaps I was unclear before.

  11. FM says:

    The only things crushed here is logic
    “Christian presuppositionalism is circular. But so is every worldview: human reason, Buddhism, Scientism, or anything else.”

    False. Some worldviews are circular, like scientism and presuppositionalism, others aren’t.

    Objection 1 stands.

    “the objection is also weak. Presuppositionalism does not claim there is no common ground between believers and unbelievers. Both Christians and non-Christians speak common languages, enjoy common foods, drive the same cars, and have many similarities with each other. But Christians do not share the same basic commitments to truth as non-Christians. They hold to mutually exclusive worldviews with points of intersection, but not at the foundational level. They do not share common presuppositions.”

    This answer makes *no sense*

    The common ground the objection #3 speaks about it not food or language, it’s in fundamental axioms where people can agree upon when discussing an issue, so you are not really rejecting objection #3, you are re-affirming it.

    Objection #3 stands

    ” The difference between the convinced presuppositionalist and the pure evidentialist apologist is that the presuppositionalist doesn’t depend on the evidence to convert a non-Christian.”

    Again you are reaffirming objection #4, rather then refuting it.
    Sure some presuppositionalists might accept natural theology as well, but presupposotionalism itself doesn’t present any evidence and becomes quickly irrelevant.

    Objection #5 stands in virtue of objection #1 and #4.

    The only objection one might agree is invalid is #2, depending on how you define dogmatism.

    • Todd Clay says:

      Thanks for dropping by, FM!

      Objection #1: You didn’t address the objection. You asserted the opposite and did not provide a counterexample. I’m very curious: which worldview is NOT foundationally dependent on circular reasoning?

      Objection #3: Point taken that the OP did not discuss common axioms held between many unbelievers and Christians. So here goes: typically both unbelievers and Christians believe in the validity of math, order in the universe, such a thing as values (not which values are superior, but that there are values). So your objection was likely based on my not being very clear at first.

      Objection #5: Your counter to objection #5 is a restatement of a common misunderstanding of presuppositional apologetics. Presuppositionalism does NOT reject evidence. One of the best presuppositional apologists out there is Jason Lisle. His lectures are full of evidences in a presuppositional context. If you’re interested in more, checkout:

  12. Aaron says:

    I know I’m a little bit late but I do have questions for point #5, I presume that the answer to the objection is that the Christian God is the best fitting God to reality as compared to the gods of other religions. However, I don’t see how presuppositionalism excludes the gods of other religions in that sense because I might as well make up my own god that would be more appealing or more “appropriate” to the idea of presupp as compared to the Christian God.

    • Todd Clay says:

      Thanks Aaron. I defined ‘presuppositional apologetics’ in a previous post:

      “Presuppositional apologetics is an approach to Christian apologetics which aims to expose the faulty foundations of unbelieving thought and argues the Biblical worldview alone makes human experience intelligible.”

      As I understand presuppositionalism, one of the primary aims is to show how Christianity makes the best sense of the world – or of reality. Presuppositionalism is more of a method, and less of a system. Christianity is the system, the worldview, if you will. Presuppositionalism is an approach within Christian apologetics.

      If you have another ‘god’ that makes better sense of reality, truth, or value – be my guest. Bring forth your god.

  13. Andrew says:

    I am absolutely late to replying, but I noticed that those who refute the OP did not provide counter arguments. There was quite a bit of defensiveness, but not foundational support to their objections.

    I will also state that disinterest in the origins of the universe is not an argument against the existence of a Christian God.

    I agree with Francis Schaeffer that there is absolute truth that is found in the thesis/antithesis argument. If “good” is defined (thesis), there must be an antithesis: evil. But, our society has been trained that relativism is the norm.

    One thing I need an unbeliever to explain is the existence of a conscience that consistently exists regardless of the people group in this world. Also, why do we find a need for love and to love others? Why do we desire social justice? What is the source of this?

    I have yet to find a worldview or atheist who is able to adequately answer this question. Pointing back to evolutionary processes is not sufficient because it is impersonal. Such personal tendencies within us must come from a personal being. Furthermore, that personal being must be defined. All of the above mentioned desires, and much more, rest in the pre-existent Trinity.

    • Thanks for popping by, Andrew! Yes, a disinterest in the origin of the universe is not an argument. Well said.

      The latter two paragraphs seem to fall more under the category of the moral argument for the existence of God. I do think the moral argument is a great one — and atheists cannot account for transcendent morality. Only practical conventions. CS Lewis had a great take on it here:

  14. Mahsen Hollowell says:

    Hello. I had a question for you. Is there anyway you could elaborate on point #5 a little bit more?? And also, (continuing on point #5) couldn’t the Muslim give forth the same presuppositional argument for their religion?

    • Thanks for dropping by, Mahsen. Regarding #5, “Presuppositionalism doesn’t prove the existence of the Christian God,” I will agree with Morris that presuppositionalism casts serious doubt on materialistic (atheistic) positions but it’s not the same thing as proving Christianity. Fair point.

      Here’s where I think presuppositionalism proves the Christian God. The Triune God of Scripture claims to have certain attributes. For instance, he knows everything (Colossians 2:3) and he doesn’t lie (Numbers 23:19). He claims to uphold the universe with certain regularity (Genesis 8:22) – and other instances like this which when added together structures the universe in such a way that makes sense of all of reality. See:

      No other so-called “god” claims to run the universe in such a way that lays out the possibility for knowledge – including Allah. For instance, some Muslims believe Allah can lie. Assuming that’s the proper understanding of Islam, that would preclude us truly knowing anything about the universe. Allah could be lying to us about his nature or reality or anything else. That Islamic doctrine destroys actual knowledge and shows us we could not prove anything, since Allah was the source of all knowledge. That’s just an example from their theology, but you could pick another doctrine that would do the same thing. So no, I don’t think Islam can use presppositionalism in the same way as Christians can.

      To be frank, I think this is a more difficult point to prove.

      • Mahsen Hollowell says:

        Thanks for your reply. I just had one more question for you. How can the Christian make sense of Uniformity in Nature? And how come the Atheistic worldview can’t?

        • I think that one is easier. Uniformity in nature cannot be accounted for in a chance universe. If, as the atheist suspects, the universe came about by a giant explosion billions of years ago (Big Bang), with chaos begetting order, and molecules turning into man (a preposterous idea in the first place), how could you expect order from that? How could you expect an orderly, uniform nature when the entire, glorious event started – by chance?

          To get order and structure and uniformity in nature, you must have a a transcendent something (or someone) who put it all together. Atheism doesn’t have that. Only the God revealed in Scripture can account for the orderly universe you and I both find ourselves in.

          • Mahsen Hollowell says:

            I guess I’m just confused on why the Muslim can’t say basically the exact same thing… That Allah created the universe and upholds it together by His power.

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