Sunday, January 4, 2015

... on Presuppositional, Again ... (and again, updated with answers on Axioms and Circularity)

See A note on "Presuppositional"

Sye Ten B and BTWN - The Problem with God as an Axiom

0:55 "that Christianity is the basis for all knowledge and that all other world views borrow from the Christian world view"

Not really, rather that Christian THEISM is presupposed as true for any act of reason or of knowledge to be valid - and that all world views opposed to Christian Theism tacitly borrow from it.

Obviously it is not saying that Plato's and Mohammed's view of knowledge were borrowed from Christianity as a revealed religion - because they were in fact also Theists in the sense we are concerned with.

1:20 "having presuppositional apologetics as your ONLY source of apologetics is not exactly a good idea"

Agreed, it's a more roundabout case of the principle in the five ways, if you like.

1:34 "by Calvinist theologians, the most well known ..."

Wouldn't that be CSL, who was Anglican as opposed to Calvinist? Miracles uses exactly this line of argument. Or very nearly so.

2:45 "if you deny God, you become steeped in irrationality"

At one level yes. If you deny God as Materialist Atheists do, you become steeped in the CONCRETE irrationality OF presuming knowledge to be valid while denying any possible base for its validity.

If you deny God as New Agers do, you become steeped in the CONCRETE irrationality OF "reconciling" your own limited existance's obvious non-identity with eternal reason with your having access to eternal reason with no eternal reason existing outside such non-identicals to it.

And so on.

2:56 "they try to make God into an axiom"

Rather a meta-axiom - read Miracles, it works.

before 3:08 "to deny it would be refuting yourself"

Exactly. No God = no eternal reason = no eternal validity behind reason = no reason. Complete refutation of any reasoning's claim on validity.

3:22 The question whether an eternal and personal God is presupposed for validity of reason, is of course distinct from the other question, whether He is the God of Bible or of Qoran or of some other religion or unknown to religion except "natural religion" as in what is common to them.

Depend on it, all large bodies are mixed bags, anywhere anyone makes an intelligent argument, someone agreeing with him will be there to make a remark that may be stupid or propheticaly profound, but hardly obviously rational.

CSL's Miracles has two steps: a) presuppositional apologetics about existence of God, b) posing the question whether denying miracles as Hume and Voltaire do isn't most worthy of God as opposed to the one we find in the Bible - and answering no. By refuting antimiraculous theisms as non-theisms.

3:47 "in order for God to be an axiom, you have to demonstrate how denying the existence of God leads to a logical absurdity"

Sure. CSL did that.

4:04 "they try to state that knowledge is not possible unless there is a ... being which we call God"

(error 404 - is the missing word "self-evident"?)

St Thomas "tried to state" movement is not possible unless there is a first mover which we call God.

He did not do so by calling a first mover "self-evident" but by demonstrating the absurdity of:

  • x being moved without a mover
  • x being moved by y being moved by z into infinity without a first mover

And not just CSL but also Sye goes through similar logical steps to assure that denial of God leads to real demonstrated absurdities.

Resuming his argument by stating it as "he's trying to state C" which is his conclusion is presenting his conclusion without its premisses and therefore dishonest as a resumé.

4:14 "they try to argue that God is not the conclusion because God is what is presupposed"

That would be a confusion of ontological level (where they are right) with logical level.

  • x explains y usually means x furnishes causal or ontological reasons to accept y (which is for other reasons known) as not just a brute fact but a possible and understandable fact.
  • y proves x means that y furnishes logical reasons to accept x (which doesn't need to have y as its ontological cause at all) as not just a theoretical possibility among many, but the one which is factual.

What is true is that eternal validity of reason is presupposed before any conclusion - this can be shown inductively but not deductively.

But proving God involves proving "eternal validity of reason" involves "validity of eternal reasoner" or even "of eternal reason". Which it does.

4:24 "in order for that to be logically valid, you first have to demonstrate why God has to be proposed"

Well, no. Axioms are obvious, but not proven, but rather presupposed when anything else is proven. What one must if anything do is demonstrate why denial of God leads to absurd propositions such as "no act of reason is valid", via "no act of reason is eternally valid". Which CSL did, which Sye does.

4:28 "you have to define what is this God you are talking about"

They do. Eternal reason. Eternal matter can't do, because matter is not reason. Human reason won't do, because humans are individually not eternal. Coexistence of eternal matter with eternal reason on one hand looks like a space/matter containing both, and as reason being dependent on matter - which refutes validity of reason. Collective eternity of human reason by non-eternals adding up to eternity doesn't fix it either. Also, it is not the theory of the usual opponent Western Atheism.

4:38 "epistemic level, it doesn't really make that much difference"

Go on? Sounds absurd after I get the argument (which I did back in my teens), but do you have a point?

4:51 [paraphr.] both Christian and non-believer are on same epistemological grounding point ...

  • a) relevant opposition is between Theist and non-Theist

  • b) not really, since non-Theism implies an ontological contradiction with the epistemological grounding point

4:54 both on the same plane field

Have you heard too much ecumenical wishwash about how apologetics must be done?

True, when reasoning with a non-believer I cannot and should not assume without telling him why that I am right and he is wrong and I know more than he does.

But I can and should tell him why his position involves an absurdity which I have seen through.

5:01 both are using logic, reasoning etc.

Sure. But the non-Theist at one point betrays the foundation of the claims of all this.

5:09 "logic is simply the scripture that governs our thinking"

By a cultural or species-specific convention? Or in a universally valid way? Can a Chinaman conclude that two plus two make five? Can a dog conclude that two plus two make five? Can a Martian conclude that two plus two are five?

Or must all that have reason universally everywhere (which means we can count out the dog and the Martian, one as irrational and one as non-extant) conclude that two and two make four?

THAT is the very question you are stumbling onto by using the word "simply" - hence my emphasis.

5:17 - 5:21 "in order for God to be 'foundation of all this knowledge' you HAVE to demonstrate why it is a self evident truth"

It is a self evident truth that logic is universally valid. Which is the basis for the presuppositional argument.

It is a self evident truth that individual man as such is not universally valid. Which is the basis for not identifying individual human reason with the universal validity of logic.

This latter leads us or rather non-Theists to a dilemma:

  • logic is universally valid, but there is no universally valid basis for it to be so

  • logic is NOT universally valid.

The thesis "logic is universally valid but there is no universally valid basis for it to be so" violates a basic logic principle - the principle of sufficient causation.

The thesis "logic is NOT universally valid" is - as previously usually admitted - absurd.

5:27 "and you can't really do that unless you demonstrate that God is an axiom, and God being an axiom is something you need to justify"

Just did so.

And if you had attended to the actual argumentation of Sye, you would perhaps have seen that so did he.

5:36 "how is God on the same level as saying 'existence exists'?"

Because eternal validity of reason is on the same level as saying "existence exists".

Because logic is not just the "script" how you happen to think (if so, no one could be illogical, since each is following his own "script") but the eternally valid law on how you must think on pain of thinking nonsense.

And "eternal validity of reason" cannot be founded in eternal existence of mere non-reason-endowed existence.

6:01 THAT part is a polemic against Sye (or just BTWN?) as a Protestant, not as doing presuppositional apologetics.

Obviously I do confess that Baruch and I and II Maccabees are canonical, as defined by Trent. But that is a bit off topic - unless BTWN has a version I haven't seen in Sye or Sye has a version I haven't seen on his site.

7:04 "all presuppositional apologetics is basically sola scriptura on drugs" ...?

That was a burst of temper and a refusal to reflect until you understand a point, it was very much not an accurate summing up of the argument.

Are you aware that Pascal and Riccioli (none of whom can be accused of sola scriptura heresy) were closer to presuppositional than to five ways of St Thomas? Conversely, Calvin's analysis of Geocentric observations (if taken as factual, as they should as long as there is no real refutation of appaerances) is closer to St Thomas' Prima Via than to presuppositional.

On the other hand, presuppositional is a kind of restatement of 4th or 5th Via among the five ways. "There are degrees of nobility" etc.

Matter and animal life unendowed with reason are two of them. Human ephemeral or at least not-ab-aeterno existance (as it is on a purely empirical showing) BUT endowed with reason is a step higher. This supposes there is a high-EST step, namely pure reason "which everyone calls God".

My summing up: rejection of presuppositional is not Thomistic, it is a temperamental refusal to consider implications of UNIVERSAL VALIDITY as a claim of reason, made openly or tacitly in every reasoning. Even in a roundabout way in every reasoning that rejects this universal validity.

Axioms and Circularity

I hear a little echo from Kant's dichotomy between a priori and a posteriori.

If you have Kritik der Reinen Vernunft, burn it.

Entry in Index Librorum:

Kant, Immanuel Kritik der reinen Vernunft. 1827

This means the Index congregation of Inquisition of God's Church put the book on index that year, 1827. It remained there in 1948.

Index Librorum (1948)

By the way, I think Flood Denying Geology or Flood Universality Denying Geology was also indexed, since Norwegian or Danish Syndsfloden means "the Flood of Noah".

Literally "the Flood [to Punish] Sin".

Here is the relevant entry for that one, "just below" Kant nearly:

Klee, Frederik Syndfloden; en Raekke af geologiske Hypotheser, fremsatte fra et verdenshistorisk Standpu[n]ct. 1848

Now, I would not agree the when a presup argues existence of God from the presupposition of universal validity of reason or logic, that he is arguing by axiom to applications of that axiom.

Rather, every time ANYONE uses principle of contradiction, he argues by applying the axiom that "laws of thought" like principle of contradiction are universally valid.

A presup apologetics is NOT so arguing from the "meta axiom" that reason is always true to a specific application of it - anymore than anyone else who is arguing at any time - a presup is arguing from EXISTENCE of this axiom to a CAUSE for our reason having access to universally valid principles of analysis (like abstraction of individual matter), of conclusion (like syllogism Barbara) or of conduct.

So, even in Kant's faulty dichotomy, the argument is not from an axiom to a conclusion of axiom as in geometry, it is from the experience of this axiom obviously existing to a sufficient cause for it to be accessible to us. In other words, it is a causal argument, what Kant calls a posteriori, from the effect in our minds of a universally valid reason being there, and from inadequacy of our individualities, especially on materialistic views, to account for this effect, to a cause that is God.

Precisely as St Thomas does - whom Kant either totally ignored or misanalysed. I suspect the latter, rather.


By definition of "number" in general and "2" in particular.

"2+2=4" would require a reasoning.

  • 2+2 = 2+1+1 (definition of 2)
  • 2+1 = 3 (definition of three)
  • SO: 2+2 = 3+1

  • 3+1 = 4 (definition of 4)
  • SO: 2+2 = 4.

That is a reason from the axioms we call definitions, using kind of meta axiom that the basic unit is 1, whereas the numbers are just groupings of several items of 1.

Note that to St Thomas, every reason works from something evident.

2+1=3 is evident because a definition.

I am before a computer (as I am now) is evident because immediately experienced.

Computers with functioning internet access connect people over distance is evident from my universal experience of computers. [Note I added "functioning" to "internet access" ... when not functioning it is not doing so.]

AND "reason is universally valid" is evident also because of universal experience of what we actually do (and presuppose!) when we reason. This item, of course, being the key proposition for presup apologetics.

There is no such thing as "circular reasoning". You can have circulus in probando, you can have circulus in definiendo, you can have circulus in explicando.

A proves B. B proves A. Therefore (and therefore only) A and B are both true.

Vicious circle "in probando". Both could be false instead (however if implications as such are correct, one being false and other true would not be possible).

A explains B. B explains A. That way (and that way only) we understand both A and B.

Vicious circle "in explicando". Both could be opaque and we could be understanding neither. But if they are mutual explanations, you could understand either one of them for another reason (not excluding "evident clarity") and by so doing you would be understanding both.

There is such a thing as breaking a circle.

In a way you did that by providing the starting point. You said there is no such thing as a "married bachelor" - if both words are used properly. When you say to someone "the bachelor is married now" you do not mean he is actually a bachelor, but that he was bachelor so long or otherwise prominently that he came to be known as [or referrable to in context as] "the bachelor". So you are not using the word bachelor properly.

There is a REAL attack on universality of reason which is REALLY going on, and which REALLY targets presup. You could say, as some do, that definitions do not hold universally true.

You could take shortest distance between our localities on the GLOBE as a proof against Euclid always being right.

But shortest distance between our localities IS a straight line, it is only that this distance though relevant for geometry's truth is less relevant for travel. We are fortunately not demons, we do not travel from one antipode to [its] antipode via the point where Satan is chewing Judas and possibly Cassius and Brutus too. The "not universal validity" of geometric axioms is concluded from a confused terminology between shortest geometric and shortest travellable distance.

If you live in a flat, shortest geometric distance to your neighbour's bad music on cd may be much shorter than shortest distance for you to go down or up to your neighbour to tell him you want to sleep or hear classical music. The concepts are not the same just because they can use the same words.

The guys who seek subterfuges like "non-Euclidean geometry" (a concept very probably inspired by Kant, not in its observations that so called "triangles" on a globe have more than 180° but in its calling them triangles to get an excuse for saying "triangles do not always have angular sum 180°") those are guys who are really taking out atheism to its logical conclusion of epistemological nihilism.

To give an illustration of non-viciousness of some "circles", take this example:

- Why is that hat here?

- It's the boss' hat, and it is here because
(explaining) the boss has arrived.

- How do you know the boss has arrived?

- Because
(proving) I see his hat here.

This would be an ideal point for a Kantian to shout "circular reasoning" but in fact it is neither a circulus in probando (proof starts from the habitual evidence of a certain hat belonging to the boss and a visual evidence of the hat being here), nor in explicando (explanation starts from hat belonging to boss, as habitually known and boss' arrival being a very fair guess as to "why" - explicative/causal "why" - the hat is also here along with him).

Since the supposed "circular reasoning" in presup is this non-vicious kind, your providing the starting point "in probando" is not really "breaking the circle" anyway. But you do provide the starting point by insisting that married bachelors do not exist. Not just not in your usage, but anywhere, everywhere. And that a married "bachelor of arts" is totally irrelevant, since baccalaureatus is another concept. [In fact an older one, but baccalaureati at a certain time had to be still bachelors, hence similarity of naming the concepts].

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