a•pol•o•get•ics n. (used with a sing. verb)

  1. The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the alleged truth of Christian doctrines.
  2. Formal argumentation in defense of something, such as a position or system. - Dictionary.com

Presuppositional apologetics is a certain type of apologetics. It is a form of Christian apologetics, primarily in the Calvinist tradition, that asserts that the acceptance of either the proposition "God exists" or the Biblical inerrancy is necessary in order for the world to be intelligible. Presuppositional apologetics typically rejects Thomist apologetics, which accepts the rules of logic prior to arguing for the existence of God.

The Transcendental Argument for the existence of God (TAG) is often considered a claim of presuppositional apologetics, though it is also used (in a somewhat different form) in Thomist apologetics. The argument has also associated with the claim that "Atheists know there is a God". One of the many problems with presuppositional apologetics is it depends on axioms that can't be demonstrated to be true.

Transcendental Argument

The Transcendental Argument for the existence of God (TAG) is often considered a claim of presuppositional apologetics, though it is also used (in a somewhat different form) in Thomist apologetics. The argument has also associated with the claim that "Atheists know there is a God". One of the many problems with presuppositional apologetics is it depends on axioms that can't be demonstrated to be true.

  1. All we experience is grounded in the laws of logic.
  2. The Christian worldview alone adequately explains and accounts for the laws of logic.
  3. Therefore, all we experience cannot be explained or accounted for outside of the Christian worldview.

Since the second premise is disputed, the more fundamental form of the argument is:

  1. Logic (or reason or knowledge, depending on the variation used) requires justification.
  2. Atheists cannot provide a justification.
  3. Therefore, God is necessary in providing a justification.

Of course, there are multiple problems with this argument. Eric Hovind and Sye Ten Bruggencate have similar variants of this argument that they follow in a checklist/script fashion. Their fundamental aims are to question a non-believer's basis for their reason and their reliance on their senses, and then launch into the non sequitur that God or the Bible resolves the supposed difficulties.

The transcendental argument runs:

  1. If there is no God, no knowledge is possible.
  2. Knowledge is possible.
  3. Therefore, God exists.

Van Til popularized a version of TAG, based on the role of the reciprocal relationships of the ontological trinity. There is some confusion about the exact structure of the argument, as it varied throughout Van Til's own writing. However, the traditional formulation is that the reciprocal relationships of the Trinity, being higher order relationships that exist outside of a relationship to the physical world, are the fundamental basis for logical relationships, and so reason is contingent on the existence of the Trinity. These arguments are rather strange because it claims the Biblical account of God to be foundational for the laws of logic, instead of allowing the laws of logic to be primitive. This version of the argument is problematic, because the relationship between entities is a synthetic statement while the laws of logic are analytic statements (the distinction was proposed by Kant).

Clarkian Presuppositionalism

Clark treated the truth of the Bible as though it were one of the axioms of a logical system. Other logical principle may be foundational, as long as they are compatible with the Bible. Clark asserts that the worldview that results from the acceptance of the Biblical axiom can be tested for consistency and comprehensiveness. Clark focused on demonstrating that there are no discrepancies or contradictions which can be produced by accepting the Bible as true, and embraces the possibility of using formal logic as a method for testing the propositions in order to ensure this. Because the Bible is foundational to a logical system, if any other logical rule produces any contradiction, then that logical rule must be rejected.

The idea that the Bible should be examined for possible contradictions draws some criticism from the Van Tillian branch, because they feel that the Bible should not be weighed against logical axioms. If an axiom is found to, hypothetically, demonstrate a contradiction within the Bible, then the problem is the axiom. Because Clark accepts that the laws of logic have bearing on falsifying the Bible, Van Tillian's often argue that this is not a genuine sort of presuppositionalism, and that it puts the laws of logic on the same foundational basis as the Bible.

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