Preconditions of intelligibility

(Text: “Debating an Atheist — Round Two“, Soli Deo Gloria, July 8, 2012)

According to Pastor Stephen Feinstein, his debate with Russell Glasser was really a debate about assumptions and epistemology.

The assumptions that you accept will cause you to interpret evidence in a particular way…

We both are claiming that certain things happened, and we both need to be able to justify what we claim. Yet, if our presuppositions are epistemologically weak, or even worse they are impossible, then we cannot justify what we claim. So it is not useless to talk about these assumptions, for it is here that I am going to effectively refute your positions.

This, then, is the goal that Pastor Feinstein sets for himself, or at least one of the goals he claims to be able to accomplish. Let’s see how he goes about trying to achieve that.

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Christianity, worldviews, and atheism

(Text: “Debating an Atheist“, Soli Deo Gloria, July 2, 2012)

Pastor Stephen Feinstein has just finished giving us four points which summarize what he calls the Christian metaphysical understanding of God. As it happens, the first and last of those points contradict each other, due to the implications of Trinitarian doctrine, but he seems pretty happy with it anyway.

I am not yet offering arguments showing how such a God is the necessary precondition of all intelligibility. Instead, I am simply showing that I am making a defense for the Christian worldview alone. No other religion or philosophy holds anything close to what I just mentioned. In fact, every other worldview holds to a one-level concept of reality, an impersonal ultimate (whether it be chance or Brahmin), and is committed to the epistemological autonomy of man. Christianity alone runs counter to this. And at the end of the day, only the existence of the Christian God can rightly account for all that exists.

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The Christian metaphysical understanding of God

(Text: “Debating an Atheist“, Soli Deo Gloria, July 2, 2012)

Pastor Stephen Feinstein is taking us on a whirlwind tour of presuppositional Christian apologetics, and as we saw last week, he’s already made the mistake of presuming that a Creator God can be non-contingent, meaning His existence is not preconditioned on anything else. That’s not the case, because the existence of a Creator God can only be true if it occurs in the context of a reality that is greater than Himself, that is perfectly self-consistent and that includes both everything that is God, and also everything (including material properties like time) that is not God. We could propose a pantheistic God like Alethea as the ultimate Necessary Being, but a true Creator God, in the Christian sense, is contingent on the existence of a greater, self-consistent reality that contains Him.

Today, Pastor Feinstein is going to build on his mistaken assumptions and give us what he calls “the Christian metaphysical understanding” concerning God. I’m not sure why he specifically calls it a metaphysical understanding, since what he actually delivers is essentially dogma. Perhaps he means that, being “metaphysical,” it’s not subject to scientific investigation, and is therefore presumably immune to critique? But that’s not right, because we have plenty of valid criticisms that can be made, and I’m sure Pastor Feinstein knows that. So let’s just raise a few of them, and take it from there.

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Fallacies of a contingent God

(Text: “Debating an Atheist“, Soli Deo Gloria, July 2, 2012)

I’m going to take a break from my usual practice of working through book-length manuscripts and indulge in something I’ve been wanting to do for a few months now. I’m going to shamelessly piggy-back on Russell Glasser’s marvelous idea of having an on-line debate with a defender of presuppositional apologetics. And worse, I’m not even going to bother to go out and find my own apologist to debate with—I’m just going to use the material that has already been presented in the existing debate. Consider this an extended post-mortem, if you will.

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