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Christian Subject Changers

Often times when I am discussing religion with a fundamentalist Christian, they will change the subject on me and say things like, “well, you believe that the Universe came from nothing,” or “well, you believe that people came from monkeys.” I wish I was making that up, but it is true that fundamentalist Christians have repeatedly attempted to change the subject with those answers. The scary part is that they also claim to understand the theories of the “Big Bang” and “Evolution.” But that is another topic.

Aside from their grossly inaccurate view of these two theories, their argument amounts to, “don’t criticize my answers to the big questions because your answers are also ridiculous.” The problem is that those aren’t my answers. Before we get into my answers, we need to know what the questions are.

What was before the Universe? And how did we get here? These are the two basic questions that every child asks. For religion, the answers are the same, “God did it.” For science, the answer to the first question is, “We don’t know… yet.” While the Big Bang is a great theory and the scientific community is reasonably sure that is how the Universe started, it does not address what came before the singularity. We don’t know what came before the Big Bang. All we can measure is what came after the Big Bang and what the effect of the Big Bang is on our universe. While there are many ideas about where the singularity came from, we just don’t have enough data to determine any real “first cause” or “prime mover.” Before the Big Bang, the laws of physics and cause and effect may not have even existed. So we just don’t know… yet. Science is always learning new things and is continually searching for more evidence and new information so that some day we may have an answer.

As for the question of how we got here, we have a much better idea. The theory of evolution does give us a pretty accurate idea of how human life started on Earth, but we still don’t know the nitty-gritty of it completely. On this question however, science has made steady progress and the theory of evolution continues to evolve to fit the latest discoveries and evidence. As it is with all science however, we cannot say with the absolute certainty that fundamentalist Christians demand that we have all the answers. The fact is that while science is reasonably certain of how life began on this planet we could be wrong on some of the details. New evidence can come to light, which will cause science to adapt its theory. But as time goes by and more and more evidence continues to confirm the theory, we become more and more certain of it. Yet we can never really claim to “know with absolute certainty.”

The point here is that while fundamentalist Christians try to change the subject by butchering the scientific theories, all they are really doing is acknowledging their own ignorance. First by dodging the actual issues at hand and second by showing their ignorance about science and the scientific theories they hope to demonize.  The fact is that while Christians can change the subject and attempt to criticize theories they don’t understand, that still doesn’t make their ridiculous beliefs any less ridiculous. God still doesn’t answer any of the questions that Christians claim it does. We still don’t know what came before the universe or how we got here from the Christian perspective. “God did it,” is simply not a sufficient answer to the questions.

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  • http://www.myspace.com/atheistteam The A-Team

    It’s kind of the combination of 2 logical fallacies, tu quoque and straw man. The straw man is in their getting your position wrong. And a tu quoque argument attempts to discredit the opponent’s position by asserting that the opponent is also guilty of the same objection they’re making. Even if it is so, it is not a valid defense of a position just to say, what amounts to, “Oh yeah! Well you started it!”

  • 1225truth

    Also, don’t forget, fishing out the “red herring”.

  • Tinman

    You have to give credit where credit is due though. It’s a very effective argument for winning a debate(even if it isn’t honest).

  • http://www.poweressence.com/ Maxwell Jennings

    I have yet to meet a religious person who doesn’t change the topic or who will accept that their argument is flawed to any degree. I’m also disappointed in any scientist that says “we now know” when they’re still talking about theory. Accepted theory is not proof, only proof is proof. Perpetuating theory with more theory upon more theory, even though there are major flaws in the fundamental theories is not true science.

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      When scientists are talking to the general public and say “we now know,” they are using the term “know” loosely in that we know with reasonable certainty. For all practical purposes as far as the general public is concerned, that is fact. Within the scientific community, there is some wiggle room. Again, theory and scientific theory are two different things. “We now know” that the theory of gravity is true. There is no proof for the theory of gravity. It is a scientific theory.

  • http://myspace.com/blackhawk089 Matt

    First Cause= Eternal God and every theory science brings to the table is nothing without God. Presuppositionalism ftw

    The issue between believers and non-believers in Christian theism cannot be settled by a direct appeal to “facts” or “laws” whose nature and significance is already agreed upon by both parties to the debate. The question is rather as to what is the final reference-point required to make the “facts” and the “laws” intelligible. The question is as to what the “facts” and “laws” really are.

    I have learned that “facts” and “laws” are meaningless unless we first address why/how these things are even intelligible. I wish I knew this a few years ago….wasted alot of time talking “facts” with people….I’ma stick to philosophy.

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      I think I already covered this is at least two blog posts. One of them talked about how Christianity is anti-intellectual. Well sure, i you take away all facts, evidence, reason, and accountability then Christianity makes perfect sense, lol. Matt that is such a nonsense. It is a lazy cope-out.

      • http://myspace.com/blackhawk089 Matt

        No no you miss the point. You do not merely take away all the facts that is not what I’m saying.

        The insight I am posing is that antitheism actually presupposes theism. To reason at all, the unbeliever must operate on assumptions that actually contradict his espoused presuppositions–assumptions that comport only with the Christian worldview. This is what I am saying. :)

        Further, the unbeliever’s efforts to be rational and to find an intelligible interpretation of his experience are, then, indications that he bears a knowledge of God the Creator within his heart, though struggling to suppress it (as the Bible itself speaks of sinful man’s condition).

        • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

          I covered the Presupposition argument before Matt and it was crap then and it is still crap now. Your claim that those you lack believe must not really lack belief at all is an obvious contradiction. There was a time Matt, when you actually valued your intellect. Now, you have just become lazy. Instead of arguing your point, you just resort to arguing why you shouldn’t argue your point. But if you really would like to change the topic of this blog to presupposition, please present your reasoning (if you can call it that) and/or evidence.

          • http://myspace.com/blackhawk089 Matt

            lol I am in no position to defend the presuppositional school of thought. Seeing as how I am barely 1/4 of a way through my first real book on the matter I would butcher the argument. I simply presented it, because I find it very appealing and find myself agreeing without almost everything it holds to. The finer points I will eventually iron out though, and then I’ll give it a go.

            • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

              You really haven’t presented the argument, merely mentioned it. I am asking you to present the argument. It really is a ridiculous argument in which things mean their opposite (i.e. non-belief means belief). Such nonsense is an attack on language and on intellectual discourse.

              • http://myspace.com/blackhawk089 Matt

                Ok, I will try to find something in the book that better represents a representation of this philosophical thinking. BUt it is not merely talking about non-belief meaning belief….I’m not quite sure how you got that out of it.

                What it comes down to is that the job of apologetics is to move beyond the recognition of the presuppositional nature of the disagreement between the believer and the unbeliever and show whose presuppositions are correct. The task of presuppositional thinking ot so remove the foundation of the unbeliever’s argument. When a non-Christian criticizes the Christian worldview, the defender of the faith should “ask his critics to show him the epistemological foundation on which they stand when they raise their objection. Can they, on their foundation, even have any such thing as an intelligible philosophy of fact?”

                The quote is from Van Til, one of the major contributors to the presuppositional method. I am somewhat paraphrasing “Van Til’s Aplogetic, readings and anylisis” by Greg Bahnsen. Some are my own thoughts, and some is paraphrased from the book.

                We can rehearse briefly why this is the case. The thing that is most characteristic of the philosophy of the unbeliever is its presumption or moral and intellectual autonomy from God. The non-Christian is no philosophically self-sufficient and cannot make sense out of experience apart from God, but he still desires (and claims) to be independent of his Creator. Van Til pointed out “Man has declared hi independence from God. We may therefore call him the would-be autonomous man. This would-be autonomous man assumes that he is the ultimate and properly the final reference point in predication, i.e., reality must be interpreted by man in terms of man.” (Protestand Doctrine of Scipture,125)

                Van till further said that the natural man, who is dead in trespasses and sin, that he “wants to be something that he cannot be. He wants to be ‘as God,’, himself himself the judge of good and evil, himself the standard of truth…..The non-regenerate man takes for granted that the meaning of the space-time world is immanent in itself, and that man is the ultimate interpreter of this world” instead of receiving God’s revelation as the ultimate point of reference for his thinking, reasons, and interpretation of the world or experience.

                Furhter, Van til says “I have frequently explained that by the term “autonomous man” i mean the idea of a man who virtually denies his createdness….With the entrance of sin man was no longer willing ot obey the law of his maker. He became a covenant breaker. He sought to be a law until himself, that is, he sought to be autonomous….Men virtually assume or presuppose that they are noncreated….Is this too broad and sweeping a statement to make about all sinners? The daily newspaper is unintelligible on any other basis. There are those who worship and serve the creature and there are those who worship and serve the Creator. This is the simple differentiation with which I am concerned. I try to call men back to the recognition of the fact that they are creatures of God by challenging their false assumption of their non-createdness, their autonomy or ultimacy.”

                The Christians worldview maintains the indelibly revelational character of every fact of the created universe and the all controlling providence of God in governing every event in history. The Non Christians autonomous philosophy is not “neutral” on such crucial points, but obviously works on assumptions that are quote contrary to them. “Why live in a dream world, deceiving ourselves and making false pretense before the world? The non-Christian view of science: a presupposes the autonomy of man; b presupposes the non-created character, ie.e the chance-controlled character, of facts; c presupposes that laws rest non in God but somewhere in the universe.”

                It is somewhat complicated…but basically the best I’ve seen it simplified is that “One must stand upond the solid ground of theism to be an effective antitheist.” This demonstrates the Christian worldview to be true from the impossibility of the contrary. Or, as Van til Succinctly expressed it elsewhere: “The only ‘proof” of the Christian position is that unless its truth is presupposed there is no possibility of ‘proving’ anything at all”.

                Now this does not mean that unbelievers know nothing whatsoever and cannot make any useful contribution to culture. Not at all. It means that the would-be autonomous man ca never give an intelligible, coherent, or meaningful ACCOUNT of how he is able to know anything or accomplish anything culturally. The unbeliever’s failure is a rational or philosophical failure to make sense out of knowledge, morality, beauty, ect…But because the unbeliever is no actually what he thinks he is–and the world is not actually what he takes it to be–he can within God’s world, as a creature made in God’s image, make intellectual and cultural progress. The traditional reasoning for this is Calvin’s view of common grace.

                Hopefully…that made sense…haha like I said I may have butchered it but its hard to swallow…I think this book is like 800 pages of pure awesome.

                • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

                  As I said before, I talked about all of this before in multiple blog entries. First, Van Til straw mans ALL “non-believers.” He assumes that his God is the only God. He uses circular reasoning, etc., etc. The guy is a philosophical disaster. I love the part where you say, “One must stand upond the solid ground of theism to be an effective antitheist” and the claim that you don’t where I got the idea that your saying that non-believers are really believers. These arguments are so ridiculous and anti-intellectual. Not only do they not even argue for Christianity, but they are self-refuting, circular, and complete non-sense. I could simply remove the Christian God from this argument and swap it out with any other deity or fictional being and nothing would change except your opinion of the conclusion. “But Matt, One must stand upon the solid ground of belief in Zeus to be an effective anti-Zeus,” lol.

                  • http://myspace.com/blackhawk089 Matt

                    This presuppositional approach aims to first remove doubt as to why the Christian God is the only God (answering the silly replacing Jesus for Zeus thing) and then move onto more of what I was saying. The Evidence for Christianity is there….there is no empirical reason as to why anyone should not trust the validity of the witness’s described in the gospel who attested to the events surrounding Jesus’s life. (See Testimony of the Evangelists by Simeon Greenley)

                    ““One must stand upond the solid ground of theism to be an effective antitheist””

                    I said I don’t understand where you got this idea that non-believers are really believers because you clearly do not understand what this means. It is NOT saying that non-believers are really believers. What this means is that when the anti-theist presupposes his autonomy from God, he cannot account for his intellectual and reasoning capabilities (it is much much more than this…but I’m keeping it simple), and therefore he unknowingly contradicts his entire worldview and is in reality a testimony for his creator. That does not at all make him a believer, it merely makes him a fool for proclaiming autonomy.

                    The non-Christian is not philosophically self-sufficient and cannot make sense out of experience apart from God, but he still desires (and claims) to be independent of his Creator. You did not address anything about the autonomous man idea either, if you have blogs on this point me to them, but I thought you were referring to your transcendental argument blog, which doesn’t really address any of this.

                    “He assumes that his God is the only God. He uses circular reasoning, etc., etc. The guy is a philosophical disaster. ”

                    #1 he does not assume the God of the BIble is the only GOd, he builds this reasoning off of a very strong foundation, and you are not addressing any of the points mentioned, merely writing it off this way.
                    #2 Show me the circular reasoning, because I do not see it if it is there.

                    #3 He is not a philosophical disaster, (if so, point it out to me in a more coherent way so I can at least see your argument) the man spent his entire life devoted to philosophy and mastered pretty much every great thinker from Kant on, as well as the big ones (Aristotle ect. ect.) before he even completed his first PHD. His biography is quite impressive.

                    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

                      Matt, I have talked about many of these topics in various blogs over and over again. I don’t have the time to restate every argument every time some Christian thinks they have all the answers. I am not even sure I have the time to re-read this entire thread to point out all the glaring errors in logic and reason you made on behalf of Van Til. As for the “autonomy of man,” this is a straw man. Just as the claim of some sort of grounding be it moral otherwise. In philosophy, one of the age old issues centered around how we know things. Aristotle talked about it, Kant talked about it, and it goes without saying that Plato talked about it. Van Til doesn’t quite get it. And you certainly don’t get it. We know things through the scientific method. There is no grounding because there is no absolute knowledge that we can know absolutely. I talked about this before somewhere using an example of a car’s headlights. We can only know what we can observe through the headlights. Science continues to create brighter headlights to understand more and more. Fundamentalist Christians simply claim knowledge without valid evidence to back up such claims. The Christian view is that faith (lack of evidence) trumps actual evidence. When fundamentalist Christians do try to play the evidence game they often show a surprisingly poor understanding of the scientific method and how it works. Often they use poor reasoning skills, circular logic, and name calling.

                      #1 based on what you have quoted and paraphrased and based on my own admittedly superficial research on Van Til, he simply assumes the Christian deity and seems to have no basis for excluding any other deity or supernaturally creative force. If you know something here that I don’t, please share it. But I am betting that Van Til breaks from his presuppositionalism here to justify the Christian god based off of the anecdotal claims of people who were mentioned in the Bible and those who are alleged to have written the Gospels even though almost all scholars have continually pointed out that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John did not write the books attributed to their names. But that is a different argument for a different day.

                      #2 “The only ‘proof” of the Christian position is that unless its truth is presupposed there is no possibility of ‘proving’ anything at all.” So the only proof of the Christian position is that unless we presuppose it to already be true, than there is no possibility of proving that it actually is true (i.e. proving anything at all). That my friend is called circular reasoning. Look it up. He might as well have said that the Bible is true because it says that it is true. But of course, I think he probably does say that in order to justify the Christian God and reject any other possible creative force.

                      #3 aside from the Straw Man, the Circular Logic, the Anecdotal Evidence (at least three times removed), there is also Kant. Kant who is his ground breaking and super complex book the Critic of Pure Reason talked about how everything we experience and know must first be filtered through our senses and/or our brain. We can’t presuppose any further than that. This is basically the view of the Scientific Method which Van Til considers to be a rejection of god necessarily.

                      I have probably mentioned this before, but when I was in grad school, I had two professors who shared the same office. One was my mentor who was a super genius and the other was a professor who wished to be my mentor. When I walked into that room, I felt that I understood more than the one to the same degree that the other understood more than I. In other words, one of those professors wasn’t that thoughtful (although he was very well read and a great source of information which he often did not really understand) while the other was probably the most thoughtful person I have ever met. My point here is that while the PhD paper is supposed to prove that someone has a certain level of understanding, it doesn’t always work out that way. A small percentage slip through the cracks.

                    • http://myspace.com/blackhawk089 Matt

                      Ok, thanks for answering the #’s but the beginning was a sort of generic rant against Christianity that didn’t really pertain lol…I’ll keep this in mind as I continue studying the book. I shall be back….woohoo!!

                    • http://myspace.com/blackhawk089 Matt

                      oooo 1 more thing….you say that we know things through the scientific method….ok, yes, we know SOME things. There are many things the scientific method has absolutely nothing to do with. The scientific method cannot explain the immaterial, unchanging laws that govern our world….the scientific method cannot explain WHY we have the ability to make anything intelligible…it can only show the chemical process of the brain.

                      ““The only ‘proof” of the Christian position is that unless its truth is presupposed there is no possibility of ‘proving’ anything at all”.”

                      Also, this quote is difficult to interpret unless you have read more of Van Til….that is why Bahnsen wrote the book I am reading…because often times in his writing Van Til would assume tha the reader already had prior knowledge of certain things….so this is a loaded quote, and I have not gotten to the in depth analysis yet so once I’ve studied that I”ll be better able to explain what he means and why I don’t think this is circular. THanks for your thoughts staks I really do appreciate it…I’m sure I annoy you at times. :)

              • http://myspace.com/blackhawk089 Matt

                Also, it is very difficult to “present the argument” seeing as how it is philosophically based on internal assumptions we all have. The task of presuppositionalist is to reveal the underlying assumptions of the non believer and examine the starting point rather than the ending point. Basically, rather than arguing about creation/ evolution or is there a God or isn’t there a God, we are talking about the philosophical implications of there NOT being a God and discussing foundational thinking of the theist/non theist. That is what I think Van Til means by the “Impossibility of the Contrary.”

                THe reason I find this study so interesting is because I think one’s foundational beliefs are much more important to examine than the following conclusions. Because we both know that if a premise is wrong then every following conclusion is also wrong. So this is why this study is so appealing to me, because it forces one to think about things they may not normally think about.

                Example. I seriously doubt you looked at your wife today and thought….”I wonder why I can account for the fact that I think my wife is beautiful and why I love her.” That may be a horrible example…lol but the presuppositional method allows one to take a look at such things as metaphysics and examine ones epistemology and find his basis for his foundational assumptions.

              • http://myspace.com/blackhawk089 Matt

                Ohhhh I forgot…my favorite example that Bahnsen uses is the following….(paraphrased…) Arguing against the existence of God is like arguing against the existence of air while all the time you are breathing it. THat is a good way to explain the presuppositionalists thinking.

          • http://myspace.com/blackhawk089 Matt

            For the record, I believe the blog your referring to was on the transcendental argument, while they do go hand in hand, it is not exactly the same thing.

  • http://myspace.com/blackhawk089 Matt

    Staks! I took some time here and posed the argument the best way I can now and no reply?! :-( Sadness….