Young Earth Presuppositionalism

Young Earth Presuppositionalism

Presuppositionalism is an apologetic method developed by reformed theologians and philosophers which consists of showing that all worldviews except Christianity (and by that they really mean Calvinism) are self-contradictory.

It is contrasted with evidentialism which accepts the reliability of logic and our sense perceptions as a common ground with the unbeliever and tries from there to provide evidence for the truth of the Christian faith.

There was recently a discussion about presuppositionalism involving young-earth creationists.

This discussion makes it clear that there are different degrees of fundamentalism.

Dr. Richard Howe is an evidential philosopher and he took Ken Ham to task for calling creationists taking into account data from the external world “compromisers”.
He rightly pointed out that before Galileo, almost everyone thought that the sun once literally stood still as described in the book of Joshua. Only after heliocentrism had been accepted was the current interpretation considered as valid.

Dr. Jason Lisle does not agree and believe that the text of Genesis is clear and that we are not allowed to depart from the most obvious meaning,. He wrote a book “The ultimate proof of creation” arguing that the Genesis account must be true because there is NO OTHER alternative.

Towards the end of the video there was an interesting discussion about the viability of proving the truth of the Protestant Canon using a presupositional approach.

Dr. Howe asked wittily: “Would the laws of logic still be valid if the third book of John were not included?”

In a way typical of Calvinist fundamentalists, Dr. Lisle answered that if we reject the slightest verse of the Bible, we would no longer have any grounds for believing anything else in the Bible and consequently would no longer have any way to ground rationality and knowledge because this wholly hangs on the truth of Scripture.

I think that these folks give Christianity a very bad name and are creating insurmountable obstacles for intellectual people. Actually, I am sure that Ken Ham and his minions have brought much more people away from God than Dawkins and his minions could ever hope for.

Finally, we would happen if presuppositional young earth creationist were to have full power in a state? I consider it very likely that they would not content themselves with “teaching the controversy” but would also banish all other views.

8 thoughts on “Young Earth Presuppositionalism

  1. Presuppositionalism seems to serve a useful purpose: a counter to what is all too commonly an attitude of “presuppositions don’t matter one whit“. This attitude shows up when people disdain philosophy. But to disdain philosophy is to not care about consistency and reasoning to logical conclusions. It’s almost as if the people who disdain philosophy don’t want to understand what their true presuppositions might be. Perhaps because some of those presuppositions are evil. A common one is that “I am rational, but most other people are animals and I can manipulate them as I please”. See, for example, BF Skinner.

    Now, I would prefer that people properly balance presuppositionalism with evidentialism (or something like this; see Eccl 7:15-18, and preferably in the ESV, not NIV). But as long as there are many people at one pole (extreme), I think there will be many at the other. Blaming only one pole is not constructive; it might even be destructive.

    • That’s all well and good, but as Dr. Hell pointed out, we don’t need presuppositionalism in order to skeptically investigate presuppositions.
      Critical thinking is largely sufficient for that purpose.

      • What is the difference between needing presuppositionalism to ‘skeptically investigate presuppositions’, and needing presuppositions to ‘skeptically investigate presuppositions’?

  2. Jason Lisle is one of that rare breed: a scientist who’s actually done real work in his field, and is obviously intelligent, but who lives in a self-imposed fantasy world. I, along with several friends, commented pretty heavily to his blog up to the point where he simply shut it off. Not surprising.

  3. Thanks for the comments on our discussion. Just for the record, my name is Howe, not Hell (unless you were being humorous and making a commentary on your take on my position, in which case, I think it’s hilarious!)
    Dr. Richard G. Howe
    Emeritus Professor of Philosophy and Apologetics
    Southern Evangelical Seminary

    • My apology professor Howe!

      My humor isn’t that sophisticated, alas. 🙂
      While I’m a progressive Christian, I am interested in interviewing people from many perspectives and would be delighted to interview you as well about apologetics and above else your response to atheistic arguments.

      Have a blessed day!

      Lovely greetings in Christ.

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