A few people on FreethoughtBlogs (AronRa & PZ) are talking about Presupposition Apologetics. As it so happens, this subject interests me greatly because I think it is the best argument religious believers have. What I mean by that is that it is by far the most convincing and the hardest for most atheists to refute. That being the case, I’m going to refute it pretty easily so that you can do the same when some religious apologist tries to use it on you.
So what is presupposition apologetics? The claim is that Christians view everything through the lens of the Bible. They presuppose the truth of the Bible and thus believe that the Bible is true because it says it is true. This is obviously circular reasoning. But here is the rub. They claim that we are using circular reasoning too.
They claim that atheists presuppose the truth of logic and reason and thus we use logic and reason to prove that logic and reason are true. That sounds pretty circular and it seems like atheists are in the same boat as Christians and therefore circular reasoning isn’t a problem and ought to be perfectly acceptable, right?
Now I have already written about this on Examiner and while I think I addressed the issue pretty well there, I think I could be clearer. I think I can address the issue in three very short sentences that would knock this argument aside. You can quote me on this; here we go:
“We observe that logic and reason work. We don’t presuppose them. We deduce them.”
Yeah, it is pretty much that simple. Logic and reason are tools we use to understand the world around us. We use those tools because they work. We know they work because we observe that they accurately predict the future. When someone makes a prediction using reason, logic, and the scientific method and that prediction fails, we change the theory until the theory does actually predict the future and can be repeated.
I should add that if reason and logic didn’t work, then we would never have invented the wheel. We would have observed that sometimes a wheel rolls and for no apparent reason sometimes it doesn’t. Everything we do would have randomly different outcomes and we wouldn’t have computers, houses, automobiles, books, or fire.
Stephen Hawking put it best when he said:
“There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority and science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works.”