Christian presuppositionalists rig every debate they're in by claiming that only they are qualified to use logic.

These are some questions designed to work within those assumptions.

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Christians defend their belief in a number of ways. One of these is called “presuppositional apologetics”. Any attempt to discuss religion with these people in any conventional sense of the term is almost impossible.

The upshot of their opinion is that only the existence of a god enables the logic and reason we all use. The truth of the scripture is taken as axiomatic rather than something that requires evidence to demonstrate. Therefore, anyone who doesn’t accept that god exists cannot engage in any argument about the existence of a god. Only Christians are qualified to make these arguments because all arguments rest on the existence of a god. This is circular logic, what we used to call “begging the question”.

Modern Christian presuppositional apologetics dates back decades and is based on Kant’s Transcendental Argument, but the most famous Christian presuppositionalist in public atheist circles is probably Sye Ten Bruggencate. His debate with Matt Dillahunty in 2014 brought presuppositionalist tactics to a much wider audience.

Bruggencate has since stepped down from public activism after confessing to a “moral failure” with a “vulnerable woman.”

Intentionally unjustified assumptions

Any requests to back up their claims with evidence will be met with a wall of intentionally unjustified assumptions. No one can possibly account for their worldview and their use of reason except Christians. When pressed for their evidence, they will insist their opinion comes from a personal divine revelation and refuse to elaborate.

Whatever logic is and wherever rationality comes from, we are all somehow using them. Presuppositionalists think it comes from a god and I don’t. We should be able to move on and discuss things using reason even while disagreeing about its provenance. They disagree.

If you didn’t find any of the arguments you are proposing here convincing, why would anyone else?

Nevertheless, they keep showing up to debates and speaking sentences into microphones. Some of these sentences appear to be arguments. Maybe there are articles of discussion that don’t involve proving a god exists at all? On this basis, I have designed some questions to work within even the obstructionist worldview of presuppositionalists. Try some of these out on your neighbourhood presuppositionalist today!

The questions

Question One: You claim that the reason you believe these things is through personal revelation. If you didn’t find any of the arguments you are proposing here convincing, why would anyone else?

Question Two: If your god knows everything, then he knows what I would need to experience to believe in him. If the only true path to belief is through personal revelation, why do you think your god has withheld that personal revelation from me?

Question Three: If you accept the existence of a god as an axiom, this means by definition it’s beyond proof. It’s unfalsifiable. But before determining whether the existence of a god is axiomatic or not, what reason would anyone have to accept the existence of any god at all?

Question Four: Our faculties to see and hear and think are notoriously unreliable in all sorts of well-understood ways. What makes you think you can trust your revelation? What in your worldview can account for the possibility that you are suffering from convincing delusions?

Question Five: Humans cannot have any coherent thoughts about god or anything else without rationality. The basic mental grammar is reason. What in your worldview can account for this rationality that necessarily precedes any belief about a god?

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Barry Purcell lives in Ireland and writes about religion, philosophy, psychology, politics and language for a variety of paper and online publications. He has been involved in campaigns to counteract the...