Presuppositions vs. Logical Reasoning (A Debate on the Best Apologetic Method)

Tim

Stratton

(The FreeThinking Theist)

|

October 20, 2015

Keith Thompson made a video taking Dr. William Lane Craig out of context. Sam Shamoun took the liberty of posting this video to Dr. Craig’s wall in an attempt to discredit him as an evangelical Christian apologist. In response to Thompson’s video (that Shamoun shared on Dr. Craig’s Facebook page), I said the following:

“We must be careful when using words like “certain.” After all, I can prove to you that you are not even 100% *certain* of your own name or of the existence of the physical world. However, you are still justified in saying that you are “certain” that you know your name and that matter exists. There is a big difference between knowing something with 100% certainty and knowing something with high degrees of certainty. If we are all honest, we don’t know if God exists with 100% certainty; however, knowledge is defined as “justified true belief.” Christians have this justification that warrants our beliefs (this is called “faith”). Does Dr. Craig know that God exists with 100% certainty? No, but neither do you. Do we as Christians KNOW that God exists with extremely high degrees of certainty? YES! That is why we put our faith in what we know is probably true.

Someone who goes by the facebook name, “Christ Exalted” jumped in and attacked a straw man instead of Dr. Craig. He stated that Dr. Craig is basically only a deist as he only argues for a “generic god.” I responded to him and said:

“Christ Exalted, if you are going to live up to your FaceBook moniker, you need to do a much better job representing people correctly. You said, “I used to think he [William Lane Craig] was one of the best until I learned that he argues for a generic god, not the god of the Bible.”Dr. Craig starts by building his cumulative case by arguing for a “generic” God, then demonstrates that this God is a maximally great being, and then demonstrates that this is the God of the Bible revealed in Jesus Christ.”

From this point the conversation blew up with the maker of the video, Keith Thompson, jumping in to argue with me. It eventually led to him calling me and my colleagues names like, “snake,” and “pagan.” Sam Shamoun eventually deleted me from the entire Facebook thread for asking questions that I simply wanted answers to. Simply for asking questions, Sam not only deleted me, but exclaimed that I was “pride-filled,” and an “arrogant troll!” I was shocked as I am used to debating atheists, but these Christians treated me worse than any atheist I can remember.

Although my friends Randy Everist and David Rhodes were active in this conversation, I only had saved my conversation with these presuppositionalists. I would like to share it here for all to read and learn from. Basically, we don’t disagree on too much. Both sides agree that we cannot know anything apart from God. Our disagreement comes when they assert that we must presuppose that. I contend that we can conclude that after starting with the laws of logic. I am fine with people presupposing that we cannot know anything apart from God, because I believe they are right; however, I merely claim that I can logically conclude what they presuppose. I don’t even claim that we must reason accordingly, simply that we can.

For this, I was told that I was a “pagan” and that I needed to repent.

We also had a disagreement on their Calvinistic approach denying that we have libertarian free will to choose any of our beliefs or behaviors. I demonstrated that rationality and knowledge goes down the drain if humans do not possess free will. I also provided three deductive arguments that prove “Five-point Calvinism is false. If you learn anything from this conversation, I hope it is how NOT to treat not just a fellow brother in Christ, but any human made in the image of God.

Please enjoy the rest of this dialogue:

Keith Thompson, you said, “Tim, certainty is a property of a proposition. Is the proposition “God exists” objectively true? Yes. Since, apart from presupposing Him we can’t account for valid human experience.”

That’s not true, Keith. You are not presupposing God’s existence to logically conclude human experience; rather, you are presupposing logic to rationally conclude God is the best explanation of why the laws of logic, mathematics apply themselves to the physical world (not to mention the fact that the physical world even exists). Why do we start with logic? Because to argue against it one must give a logical explanation as to why we don’t start with logic, but that would simultaneously affirm starting with logic as opposed to the presupposition that God exists and the Bible is His revealed word. When we start with logic, we logically conclude that God is the ground of logic. So, when we start with logic, we do start with God if we realize it or not. Be that as it may, we conclude God’s existence via logic, there is no need to presuppose.

Keith, you said, “Also, I don’t see the point in first arguing for a “god” since all men already know the Christian God exists (Rom. 1; Psalms 14:1). Why not just become an evidentialist and go right for the resurrection arguments?”

Keith, it may well be that no one “starts out” as an atheist, but people can actually believe lies and I believe some sincerely believe atheism is true. If you attached them to a lie detector test, it would demonstrate their honesty when they affirm atheism (at least some of them). With that said, I have had the pleasure of leading many atheists back to a belief in God and ultimately to the truth of Christianity. These individuals usually don’t just believe Christianity is true, but they become disciples who make disciples. You might not see the point, but I have had tremendous evangelical success via this approach.

Keith Thompson, you said, “I am presupposing God and His revelation as my final authority.”

Why? If you can answer that, then you are starting with *logic* to reason that God and his revelation is your next step.

You said, “Everyone engages in presupposition. The difference is mine is self-verifying / self-attesting meaning its not a vicious circularity.”

Again, Keith, you are using logic to attempt to argue that logic is not your starting point. This is self-nullifying. The only thing you can start with without committing logical fallacies is logic. Why is logic NOT question-begging? Because one must use logic to argue that we should not start with logic (as you are). This is self-refuting, and thus, affirming that logic is the bedrock of rationality and the rules of reason.

Arguments are based on logic, so if you are going to argue for your position, you will defeat your position.

Keith, you said, “Moreover, my ultimate authority must be assumed by everyone in order for human experience to be intelligible which is the proof of it. So there is no problem. Yes I am presupposing, but it is a valid presupposition.”

No, no, no! Keith, you used logic to conclude that God must exist for human experience to be intelligible. Then you argued from that logical CONCLUSION! You are starting with logic, but not realizing exactly what you are doing.

Keith, while deterministically arguing that determinism is true with those who are determined to believe it’s false, you stated the following: “I will not base determinisms truthfulness on rationalism. Rationalism is not my ultimate authority, Scripture is.”

If what you mean by “rationalism” is logical thinking, then I have demonstrated to you that you are starting with logic and not presupposing God’s existence or the inerrancy of God’s word; rather, you LOGICALLY conclude these things.

Keith, you offered several Bible verses for us to consider (hoping that we would *freely* follow the evidence wherever it leads) that you think proves determinism. However, as a Molinist, I affirm every single Bible verse you offered and can make sense of the ones you ignored. In fact, Molinism (which also affirms human libertarian free will) makes better sense of the verses you offered than presuppositional 5-point Calvinism.

Keith, you arrogantly chided David Rhoads and said, “You’re out of your league David and at this point being pointlessly contentious.”

That’s a presupposition if I’ve ever heard one!

Keith, again you inadvertently argued for starting with logic as you said, “The reason I know God is not deceiving me…”

If you are going to reason to argue for presuppositional apologetics, then you must adhere to the rules of *reason*  which are based on the laws of logic. We start with logic and then logically conclude that God is the grounding of these laws which help us make sense of the way things are. I can conclude and prove with logic what you are simply assuming is be true.

Keith, you said to David, “If you don’t interact with those texts one by one in your next message you go on the blocked list.”

Dr. William Lane Craig has dealt with all of these verses. I would be happy to discuss them with you as well.

Keith, you said to David, “… you claim those texts support free will and I claim they support determinism. We can let everyone view them and decide. Take care now, snake.”

Why would you call David a “snake” for “choices” he was powerless to make? He was simply determined by God (according to you) to reject determinism and affirm free will in a libertarian sense. If you are mad at anyone, you should be mad at God for forcing David to reject your views. Do you want to call God nasty names too?

Since you didn’t realize that you do, in fact, start with logic to conclude that God exists and the Bible is God’s Word (as we all do at Reasonable Faith), let me give you some other logic based arguments to chew on:

The Freethinking Argument Against Calvinism

1- If libertarian free will does not exist, rationality does not exist.

2- Rationality exists.

3- Therefore, libertarian free will exists.

4- Therefore, views that reject human libertarian free will are false.

5- Calvinism rejects human libertarian free will.

6- Therefore, Calvinism is false.

The Omni Argument For Molinism

1- If God were omniscient logically prior to his creative decree, he would know with absolute certainty what would happen (including the libertarian free choices of humans) in any of the potentially infinite worlds available for him to actualize.

2- If God were omnipotent logically prior to his creative decree, he could actualize any feasible world available for him to create.

3- Therefore, God can elect and create a world in which he knows with absolute certainty what will happen (including how we will freely choose).

4- Calvinism rejects deductive conclusion (3) and Molinism affirms it.

5- Therefore, Calvinism is false and Molinism is plausibly true.

Omni Argument Against Calvinism:

1- If Calvinism is true, whomever God (The Maximally Great Being) provides “irresistible grace” to will go to Heaven and not suffer eternal Hell.

2- If God is omnibenevolent, he would not want anyone to suffer eternal Hell.

3- If God is omnipotent, he could provide irresistible grace to all people.

4- If God is omniscient, he would know how to provide irresistible grace to all people.

5- People suffer eternal Hell.

6- Therefore, either God is not omnibenevolent, or not omnipotent, or not omniscient (feel free to pick at least one), or Calvinism is not true.

*(The argument can end here or continue as follows)

7- If one of God’s omni-attributes is subtracted from God’s nature, then He is no longer a Maximally Great Being.

8- Therefore, a Maximally Great Being (God) would not exist.

9- If a Maximally Great Being does not exist, then atheism is true.

10- Therefore, if atheism is false, Calvinism is also false.

11- Atheism is false.

12- Therefore, Calvinism is false.

*******************************

Ketih you said, “So your misunderstanding here in all your replies needs to be discarded. We’re saying reason and logic do not make sense apart from the Christian world view.”

Did you conclude that via logical reasoning, or do you believe it just because the Bible says it? If you affirm the former, then you deny the latter.

Keith, you said, “God and His revelation are our ultimate authority or criteria for truth, not autonomous reason.”

How did you come to that conclusion, Keith? Do you have any good reasons to believe that?

I said, “it may well be that no one “starts out” as an atheist, but people can actually believe lies and sincerely believe atheism is true”

You responded: “What Scripture do you use to justify this claim? None.”

Keith, Psalm 14:1 states that “the fool says in his heart there is no God.” Thus, the Bible is telling us that there are “fools” out there that need to be reasoned with. On top of the Bible, I appeal to experience. These “fools” can be reasoned with and I have led many of them to Christ. Do you have any Bible verses that tell me I haven’t?

Keith, you said, “Why is relying on your fallen mind as your ultimate authority on this issue (as you do) erroneous?”

Keith, you are the one that asserts that free will does not exist. Therefore, it follows that all is determined, including our thoughts and beliefs. If even our thoughts and beliefs are determined, how do you know (rationally affirm) that God has given you correct beliefs and us Molinists false beliefs. After all, according to your view, God forces some to be deceived; how do you know it’s not you? All you can do is beg questions (and you exclaim that we have faulty reasoning skills?)!

Keith, you said, “Because Scripture warns against it and Scripture’s teaching on noettic effects of sin making the mind fallible and untrustworthy as an ultimate authority.”

So, Keith, how do you know the Bible is true? The Muslim can make the same bad argument that you are making!

Keith, you said, “Our reasoning, unless it is subordinate to God’s divine revelation, is untrustworthy and inclined towards sinfulness and error rather than righteousness and truth (Jer. 17:9; Rom. 3:4, 11; 1 Cor. 1:21; 3:18-21; 1 Jn 3:20).”

I am a former “Calvinistic presupper” and I love the laws of logic as they are grounded in the nature of God himself. That is why I am a *former* Calvinistic presupper.” On your view, God forced me to reject Calvinism and presuppositionalism. You should argue with God instead of me.

Keith, you said, “Thus, when you base your claim that there are real atheists on your experience or mind, Scripture calls you on that method. Plus Romans 1 teaches since the beginning of man everyone has known God because of general revelation, not that people start out knowing God then stop.”

You are distorting Scripture, Keith. The Bible does not say that there are no atheists, it says they don’t have an excuse (i.e., a good reason) to be an atheist because of how God has revealed himself via nature (people do stupid things).

Keith, you offered Rom 1:19 “For what can be known about God IS [not was] plain to them, because God has shown it to them.”

Yes, God made it clear, and people can still come to believe that God doesn’t exist because of lies! Satan is the “Father of lies” and he attacks humanity with them relentlessly. Why would Paul instruct us to “destroy arguments against the knowledge of God,” (2 Cor 10:5) if no one could *really* be an atheist?

Moreover, consider Romans 1:25 and notice this verse implies that the unsaved did, in fact, *have* the TRUTH, and they “chose to exchange the truth of God for a lie.” This implies that it was “plain” to them, but it no longer is, Keith. This can get us into a long conversation regarding “Indirect Doxastic Voluntarism.” I’d be happy to talk about this as it is a significant part of my master’s thesis.

Keith, you said, “Now, you said you could deal with the texts I mentioned and prove they support Molinism. I would like to see that. I would like to see a single Scripture that supports Molinism in fact.”

Here you go, Keith: Free Will, Calvinism, & Romans 9

While you are at it, please read all four of “The Petals Drop” series:

Why Calvinism is Impossible

Why I’m not a TULIP kind of Calvinist

Calvinism Implies Atheism

Piper’s Problems

*****************

Keith, I said, “Did you conclude that via logical reasoning, or do you believe it just because the Bible says it. If you affirm the former, then you deny the latter.”

Ketih, you responded, “You seem to think I believe I can’t make any logical proposition unless it is found in Scripture. Nope, don’t believe that. Simply saying one can only affirm logic is a reliable tool if one affirms God gave it to man in the context of an orderly universe. Hence God is the necessary precondition for it to even be trusted. So all of your “did you use logic for that” argumentation is useless and irrelevant waste of time.”

That’s where you are wrong, Keith (one of the many places you are wrong), and my argument is not a “waste of time” at all because you are using logic via your word “hence” to CONCLUDE that “God is the necessary precondition for logic to be trusted.” This is a huge error and if you argue that only Christians can reason correctly, why do you do such a bad job of it? Should we doubt your salvation? You are using logic to CONCLUDE God is the grounds of logic before starting your other arguments. Therefore, you are not the presupper you thought you were. All you are demonstrating is your violation of Paul’s command in Philippians 4:5 “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.”

I wrote, “Keith, you said, “God and His revelation are our ultimate authority or criteria for truth, not autonomous reason.” How did you come to that conclusion, Keith? Do you have any good reasons to believe that?”

You replied, “Yes, because Scripture affirms fools depend on autonomous fallen reasoning instead of God;’s wisdom, and Scripture says autonomous reasoning is unreliable because of sin”

Keith, why should we believe what the Bible says? I have good reasons to believe the Bible is the Word of God, all you can do is beg questions like Muslims and Mormons.

I asked, “how do you know (rationally affirm) that God has given you correct beliefs and us Molinists false beliefs.”

Keith, you responded: “Scripture which is perspicuous for the believer.”

Well, I have come to the conclusions using Scripture that we ought to be reasonable, rational, and logical. Isaiah tells us, “Come let us reason,” and Paul even states that we are to “Let our reasonableness be know to everyone.” Presuppostional circular reasoning is the farthest thing from being “reasonable.”

Again, Keith, I ask you, WHY should you believe the Bible is true as opposed to the Quran or the Book of Mormon? They make the exact same arguments that you make.

I said, “On your view, God forced me to reject Calvinism and presuppositionalism. You should argue with God instead of me! ”

Keith, you said, “Nope, according to Scripture you’re accountable for violating God’s prescriptive will.”

Oh, so now you are affirming that God determines all things but I have libertarian free will to choose to do otherwise (a.k.a. be responsible)? C’mon man, take Paul’s biblical command and advice and be reasonable.

Keith, you said, “The idea you’re only accountable if you’re free is nowhere taught in the Bible, only in paganism.”

Did you freely come to that conclusion or was it forced upon you? Perhaps it is you that has been forced to believe false things? However, I don’t think you have read the entire Bible because libertarian free will is definitely implied in its authoritative pages! Take 1 Cor 10:13, for example: It says that God will provide us a way out when we are tempted to sin. That means that when we do sin, there was legitimately another way that we could have acted. Therefore, we had the genuine freedom to choose to sin or do otherwise. Why don’t you believe ALL of the Bible, Keith? It seems you just pick and choose.

Keith, you said, “You failed to refute how Romans 1 affirms for all time people have known God but simply suppress their knowledge.”

I refuted it just fine, Keith. Go back and read it again. Knowledge gets suppressed by lies and when we fail to take our thoughts captive to obey Christ. When people believe lies the truth gets suppressed and people actually can believe some lies are true (it happens all the time).

You said, “Psalms 19:1 says the heavens declare the glory of God. You are saying they don’t really do that since people actually become atheists and do not see how the heavens declare the glory of God.”

Keith, it doesn’t follow that people cannot be deceived or blinded by lies. The Bible affirms that there are “fools” that deny God’s existence. Atheists are foolish, but I have reasoned many of them out of their foolishness before (the Holy Spirit uses logical arguments). Do you have a Bible verse that says I haven’t? What would you say to these former atheists whom are now Christians? Do you think they are really not Christians?

I said, “Why would Paul instruct us to “destroy arguments against the knowledge of God,” (2 Cor 10:5) if no one could *really* be an atheist?”

Keith you exclaimed: “knowledge of God” there isn’t referring to knowledge of the existence of God, but instead knowledge that comes from God.”

That’s a crock, Ketih! It says “knowledge *OF* God,” not “knowledge that comes from God.” You are deliberately taking the Bible out of context!

As a former presupper, I can tell you that since I abandoned that incoherent view, my evangelistic efforts have increased exponentially. Now I can have reasonable conversations (as it makes clear in Colossians 4:5-6), with non-believers, agnostics, atheists, and even fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree. In the past, this is what my conversations were like (Randy Everist came up with this):

Unbeliever: I just have a few questions about Christianity, and right now I don’t see how it could be true.

Presup: You’re just in sin, and you have to borrow my worldview in order to ask questions.

Unbeliever: What? I just want to know the answers to some of these questions. That’s all.

Presup: You’re just doing circular reasoning, as all reasoning is. If you would repent you would see I am right.

Unbeliever: …

*Foreshadowing Alert: You will see this exact tactic employed towards me at the end of this conversation!

Keith, I said, “my argument is not a “waste of time” at all because you are using logic via your word “hence” to CONCLUDE that “God is the necessary precondition for logic to be trusted. This is a huge error.”

Keith, you replied: “How is it an error? I already said Van Tilians use logic as a tool only after noting it is only a reliable tool because of God.”

We agree on this. I agree that logic is grounded in the nature of God, but the Bible does not make this clear (I argue that it can be inferred via John 1). Instead we start with logic to infer that God is the grounds of logic. So, we both agree that logic is grounded in God’s existence. I can logically infer that conclusion, yet you, on the other hand, can only beg the question. That is not reasonable and Paul would condemn you (Phil 4:5). I already answered and explained this very thing earlier but you keep “repeating this kind of trash” (to use your exact words).

I said, “You are using logic to CONCLUDE God is the grounds of logic before starting your other arguments. Therefore, you are not the presupper you thought you were”

You missed the point entirely, Keith, and responded: “Nothing in presuppositional literature says a Christian can’t use logic in their formulations of arguments.”

That’s NOT what I’m arguing, Keith. I am stating that you claim that you start with the presupposition that God exists and the Bible is his Word, but then you try to justify that claim logically. Thus, you affirm my case; you are using logic to conclude logic can only be grounded in God. You are starting with logic if you realize it or not. You are contradicting yourself, Keith. That is why I said you are not the presupper you thought you were.

Keith, you said, “Again, we are simply saying one should not take logic for granted without noting God is needed in order for it to be a valid tool…”

That is exactly what I do, Keith! However, I’ve made the case that we start with logic to CONCLUDE that God is needed to ground logic for it to be a valid tool. One doesn’t have to merely assume or presuppose this is true; we can conclude it is true via logic and the inference to the best explanation.

Keith, you said, “… including logic in my scriptural argument does not go against those two things. What don’t you understand?”

Well, according to your Calvinistic worldviews, Keith, God is causally determining me not to be able to understand. Why can’t you understand the logical implications of your own worldview?

The process of reason and rationality requires the use of libertarian free will. The process of rationality entails the properties of being able to think of and about competing hypotheses, deliberate between them, and infer the best explanation via the laws of logic. Given this definition, a rational entity must also possess at least two other attributes: intentionality AND libertarian free will.

Keith, if you are going to deny libertarian freedom, then I am powerless to do otherwise. So if you think I am wrong, take it up with God and stop arguing with us causally determined robots (according to you, God just forced me to tell you that)!

I said, “Why should anyone believe what the Bible says? I have a reason and can specifically explain WHY the Bible is the word of God to anyone that asks (1 Peter 3:15). All you can do is reason in circles. All you can do is beg questions like Muslims and Mormons.”

Your response was this: “If an unbeliever asks why he should believe the Bible I am not going to give a classical answer like you because God is not on trial and the atheist is not the judge (that is offensive), the unbeliever hates God and suppresses the truth about Him in hostility (Romans 1; 8:7-8; Col. 1:21) therefore it is meaningless to present evidence to him like you do since he will reject it, the unbeliever already knows the God of the Bible exists (Rom 1; Psalms 19:1) – I will get to your misuse of Romans 1 shortly – so why give evidence the Bible is true?”

Wow that’s a long sentence, Keith, but speak for yourself. I am living PROOF that you are wrong! There are some unbelievers who do hate God, but there are others who have been indoctrinated to think atheism is true. Keep telling yourself that they cannot be reasoned with, and I will keep leading them to Christ!

Keith, you said, “What I will do is recognize this person already knows God deep down from general revelation, common grace and being in God’s image, reduce his world view to absurdity showing the God he knows is needed to rescue Him from it and then give Him the gospel praying for his salvation. Then if born again through this experience he will be open to believe the Bible.”

You mean if God hits him over the head with irresistible grace then he will be saved. It has nothing to do with your supposed “reasoning ability” or him *freely* following the logical argumentation to it’s deductive conclusions according to your claims. In fact, how do you “reduce his view to absurdity” when you are the one begging the questions? Do you only hope to lead the uneducated to Christ?

I said, “Oh, so now you are affirming that God determines all things but I have libertarian free will to choose to do otherwise (a.k.a. be responsible)?”

You replied, “Never said anything of the sort.”

True, but you do inadvertently imply it, Keith!

You said, “Here is a perfect example of a distortion of my clear words. I said although God is in control of you (thus you are not free), you are nevertheless accountable. How does that equal me saying you have libertarian free will? Can you not comprehend the English language?”

I understand the English language just fine, Keith; however, it is clear that you do not understand the laws of logic and the rules of reason. How in the world does it logically follow that I am accountable for actions that I am powerless to make?

Please show me how that follows *logically* Keith! You assert this without explaining how. It makes ZERO sense and you make Christianity look really bad (when it’s really AWESOME)!!!

You said, “If God is in complete control, as I stated, then there is no libertarian free will.”

Again, I agree that God is in complete control, Keith (however we disagree on “how God controls” as there is HUGE difference between causal determinism and predestination), but now you are left with a huge conundrum! If God causally determines all things (including our thoughts, beliefs, and actions), then you affirm that God causally determines people to have false beliefs. How can you justify or rationally affirm that it is not YOU that God is forcing to be stupid? All you can do is reason in circles and beg questions! This goes against the Biblical command to be reasonable (Phil 4:5 ESV)!

You said, “Again, only in paganism (not the Bible) is it assumed one must be free in order to be held accountable.”

FALSE! I already provided Scripture that affirms human libertarian freedom (1 Cor 10:13).

Keith, you said, “But, as I proved earlier, the Bible teaches even though men are not free but controlled by God they are still held accountable. I can accept this because I am not in rebellion to God and I view His word as my ultimate authority. You, because you view your fallen unreliable, autonomous mind as your authority, will not accept this.”

Wow! That’s a good argument, Keith (intentional sarcasm)! What does it mean to say, “I am not in rebellion to God”? If you were, on your view you are not responsible for it — God is!

Keith, it doesn’t follow that people cannot be deceived or blinded by lies!

Keith you said, “In the first century lofty opinions were raised against knowledge that comes from God (the Christian gospel and kingdom), not God’s existence. The Jews and Gnostics the early Christians were in opposition with already believed in God’s existence or had (knowledge of God in that sense). But what they didn’t have, and what they raised lofty opinions against, was knowledge from God (which can also easily be called “knowledge of God”). Its of God because it comes from Him and is now possessed by believers. Moreover, even if you were right, this would be referring to saving knowledge of God, which one claims Romans 1 speaks about.”

Can you tell me where it says all of that in the Bible, Keith? This is a huge stretch and it seems you are twisting Scripture to make it say what you want it to say! All you have to do is study Plato to see that there were atheists alive BEFORE Jesus even lived!

Keith you said, “Notice you didn’t address the idea of free will coming from pagans and not the Bible.”

Keith, it doesn’t logically follow that if someone else had the idea of free will before the Bible was written, then, therefore, free will does not exist (Christianity was true before the New Testament was written for crying out loud)! You don’t even realize it, but you are assuming free will to argue against it via rationality.

Be that as it may, the Bible is full of verses implying free will. I already offered one that I don’t think you have interacted with yet! Dr. Craig has many more. In fact, we can use the book of Romans to come to the conclusion that humans have libertarian free will:

I believe Romans 9 is one of the most misinterpreted and improperly understood passages in the Bible. I recently taught on this passage in youth group. When compared to the rest of Paul’s writings (even in the rest of Romans) the Calvinistic/deterministic interpretation of this passage cannot be correct (bad hermeneutics)! Paul is not teaching about individual salvation, but rather, corporate salvation. Let me explain.

According to the theologian, Dr. Craig Blomberg Ph.D., in the passage you refer to, Paul proceeds to highlight how only a remnant of Abraham’s seed, chosen by grace, reflected the true people of God throughout Old Testament times (verses 6-29, especially 27-29). During this period, as he contrasts Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob, and Esau (6-13), he is probably not talking about election to eternal salvation of damnation but about the way God’s plan for human history would work itself out in this life. After all, Esau’s reconciliation with Jacob (Genesis 33) suggests that Esau ended his life right with God. But his seed was still not part of the chosen (corporate) nation of Israel. We may speak of this as corporate (not individual) temporal election.

It seems to me that when we compare the rest of Paul’s writings (including the rest of Romans), we see that not only does the Bible affirm God’s sovereignty, but fully affirms human libertarian free will. Consider Romans 1:28-32, “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God (they could have but chose not to), God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not be done…. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only (freely choose) do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

* I added the words in the parenthesis to help clarify.

This implies that they could have acknowledged God, but they chose not to. Therefore, God gave them the freedom to choose to live an evil lifestyle and divorce themselves from God. This is in reference to homosexual acts in verse 1:26-27. Rewind to 1:25 and one can see that this verse implies that the unsaved did, in fact, have the TRUTH, and they “chose to exchange the truth of God for a lie.” This is the epitome of idolatry!

Other Bible passages affirm this human libertarian free will as well. In 1st Cor 7:9, Paul states, “If they cannot exercise self-control…”

The context of this verse is referring to sexual immorality and Paul implies that we have the freedom to choose to act on our physical desires or not! We can take two things from this verse:

1- Humans possess libertarian free will and make real choices.

2- Even if one is “born that way,” they’re not forced to “act that way.”

Joshua 24:15 (NIV) “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then *choose* for yourselves this day whom you will serve…”

Moreover, let me reiterate, 1st Cor 10:13 states, “God is faithful and will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

Accordingly, whenever one sins, they did not have to. Therefore, they freely chose to sin and they are responsible for it!

All of this to say that we must affirm, as the Bible does, BOTH God’s complete sovereignty AND libertarian human freedom and responsibility. Calvinism (if consistent) cannot do this and is therefore, unbiblical. I think Molinism (the doctrine of God’s middle knowledge) connects the logical and theological dots perfectly to create a beautiful and perfect picture of how a sovereign God interacts with free creatures to ensure his perfect plan!

We must remember that God can create a world in which he knows with omniscient certainty how those in this world will freely choose. As Paul says, God knows these things “before the foundations of the world!” Therefore, actualizing this world (he could have created another world or none at all) guaranteed, elected, and predestined all that will happen in it; including the choices of FREE and therefore, responsible creatures! THis is also why the concept of Hell makes logical sense. If we were not really responsible for choosing to “exchange the truth of God for a lie,” then the existence of Hell – separating sinners from God’s presence for choices they are powerless to make – would make God a moral monster in my opinion.

Here is a link from Dr. William Lane Craig on Romans 9:

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/molinism-and-divine-election

Keith, you said, “This is the bottom line. You do not view Christ as the Lord of your reasoning.”

False! I do too! I believe he gave me a soul in his image (I am a soul created in his image) so that I could recognize logical laws and infer that Jesus is Lord and the grounds of my reasoning capabilities. I just don’t have to assume it like you do, I can conclude it! That, my friend, is very attractive to the lost world (“outsiders“), and people come to Christ via logical explanations as opposed to question-begging circular nonsense!

Ketih, you said, “You disregard Scripture when it says unbelievers suppress the truth in unrighteousness when you endlessly give them evidence to suppress without noting that the only reason they can examine evidence is because of God.”

That is simply false, Keith. I logically explain why logic can only be grounded in God. I don’t tell them they just have to assume it; I logically prove it.

Keith, you said, “You exalt emotionalism and sin-affected rationalism to dictate if a doctrine is true instead of what Scripture clearly teaches. This is why I can’t stand you people.”

Keith, truth is a logical concept! If we argue that Christianity is TRUE, then we are simultaneously affirming logic as our starting point. This is based primarily on the logical law of the excluded middle.

Keith, one thing I have learned is when someone realizes they are losing an argument, they typically attack their opponents character as opposed to their arguments. You exemplified this by exclaiming this to me: “Your ideas are sub-Christian. Repent pagan.”

Keith, how can I choose to repent if God forced me to stop being a “presupper Calvinist?” It’s not up to me according to your view. It would be nice if you would try to be a little consistent.

**************

I said, “I am stating that you claim that you start with the presupposition that God exists and the Bible is his Word, but then you try to justify that claim logically. Thus, you affirm my case; you are using logic to conclude logic can only be grounded in God. You are starting with logic if you realize it or not! You are contradicting yourself, Keith. That iswhy I said you are not the presupper you thought you were.”

Keith, you responded: “When we say we start with God we’re not talking about chronology. Frame, Van Til et al readily agree we must reason or use sense perception to read the Bible or form arguments etc. What Van Til meant by “start with God” (a slippery often misunderstood phrase) relates to our criterion of truth. Van Til affirmed the self (in this case using reason/logic) was the proximate but not the ultimate starting point (see Frame’s discussion in Apologetics to the Glory of God, pp. 223-230). So your misunderstanding here in all your replies needs to be discarded.”

Keith, it is your arguments that need to be discarded because you are so blind to what I am arguing that you attack straw men and miss the point entirely. You said, “We’re saying reason and logic do not make sense apart from the Christian world view. God and His revelation are our ultimate authority or criteria for truth, not autonomous reason.”

I know exactly what you are saying, Keith, and I am saying (and logically arguing to conclude) that I agree that reason and logic do not make sense apart from God; however, we can start with logic to conclude (not just presuppose and assume) that this is true. I have used this method many times in evangelism. Virtually everyone agrees that logic is necessarily valid and if they don’t it doesn’t take much to convince them. However, not everyone who agrees with the laws of logic also believes in God (or they are at the very least struggling with belief). I then start with logic to demonstrate that logic can only make sense by grounding it in God. Therefore (a logical phrase), if logic exists, God exists!

You can pretend this method doesn’t work, but I will keep using it and seeing the lost come to Christ.

Keith you said, “In the first century lofty opinions were raised against knowledge that comes from God (the Christian gospel and kingdom), not God’s existence. The Jews and Gnostics the early Christians were in opposition with already believed in God’s existence or had (knowledge of God in that sense). But what they didn’t have, and what they raised lofty opinions against, was knowledge from God (which can also easily be called “knowledge of God”). Its of God because it comes from Him and is now possessed by believers. Moreover, even if you were right, this would be referring to saving knowledge of God, which one claims Romans 1 speaks about.”

Keith, I decided to use your exact tactics and said, “Can you tell me where it says all of that in the Bible, Keith?” I went on and noted: “This is a huge stretch and it seems you are twisting Scripture to make it say what you want it to say! All you have to do is study Plato to see that there were atheists alive BEFORE Jesus even lived!”

Your reply was the following: “This is how people respond when they have no answer.”

This is what you do all the time, Keith! Why is it acceptable for you to use this tactic but when others do it it’s not? How hypocritical can you get?

You said, “Do you disagree the Jews and Gnostics were not atheists?”

I’m sure most of them were theists, but are you telling me that it was impossible for there not to be one Israelite among them who at least secretly doubted the existence of God? It’s definitely possible! Keith, you asked, “Do you contend they were raising lofty opinions against the existence of YHWH?”

I doubt many Jews would argue that, but Paul’s ministry was to the Gentiles also, Keith. He ministered to the Greeks also (see Acts 17) and we know there were at least some atheists in that culture (one could argue that very few of them believed in a Maximally Great Being, and therefore, technically speaking, they would be atheists). “Arguments raised against the knowledge of God” can include not just The Maximal Great Being’s characteristics, but also His very existence.

Keith, you said, “What is your response? Nothing.”

I keep responding to everything you write, Keith (point by point), but by the way, I’ve noticed that you seem to have intentionally avoided many of the points and arguments I have made. Why do you avoid these? Do you not have any answers because you realize all you can stand on in baseless assumptions?

I said, “logic is grounded in the nature of God, but the Bible does not make this clear (I argue that it can be inferred via John 1).”

You replied: “John 1 has nothing to do with this.”

Of course it does, Keith! John 1:1 states, “In the beginning was the Logos.” The Greek word “logos” is used synonymously with Jesus in the text. What’s interesting is that logos in Greek means “the principle of reason.”  This is where we get the term “logic.” The Bible is clear that Jesus is God and suggests that he is the ground of logic itself. This would make perfect sense as to why the immaterial laws of logic impose themselves on the material world. God created the material world according to the logical laws he had in mind or that are grounded in his essence and nature. This seems to be the best explanation of why logic imposes itself on the material world. Therefore, it makes perfect sense as to why computers (for example) must be programmed by logical, intentional, volitional, and rational programmers to obey the laws of logic and function properly.

Just as computers function correctly when programmed to work according to the laws of logic, humans behave correctly (in an objective sense) when approximating to “The Logos.” When humans freely choose to think and behave logically, we simultaneously think and behave in a godly manner. Isaiah seems to agree: “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord…” (Isaiah 1:18)

Keith, you said, “You agree logic is grounded in the nature of God and yet allow the unbeliever to use it without giving God glory as if its mere common ground. That is shameful.”

WOW! Keith, I allow the unbeliever to use logic to conclude God exists and that Jesus is Lord so that they will bring God glory. I’ve seen this happen many times; all you can do is simply assume this never happens. That is the epitome of question begging! Again, this is so against the Biblical command in Philippians 4:5.

Keith, you said, “Contrary to your ignorance, the Bible does ground the laws of logic with God. As Bahnsen notes, “The Christian holds as a basic presupposition that God is the creator of the world (Gen, 1) and of the human mind (Gen. 1:26-27), so all intelligibility is due to Him. He is the author of all truth, wisdom and knowledge (Prov. 1:7; 9:10; Col. 2:3). . . . the laws of logic (which reflect that character) are unchanging and unchangeable, in that God ‘cannot deny himself’ (2 Timothy 2:13)”

Keith, how many times do I have to tell you that I can logically conclude all of these propositions without begging the question like you do. It makes for POWERFUL evangelism when you can show someone logically that God exists, created the universe, that the human soul exists (the topic of my master’s thesis), that God is the creator of the soul/mind, that God is the grounds of logic, and then demonstrate that the Bible affirms all of these propositions too! In fact, it is part of my cumulative case for demonstrating that the Bible is the Word of God (it works)! I never had any success when someone asked me why the Bible is true, and I responded with, “Because it says it is true!” That might work on kindergarteners, but it rarely works with anyone with the slightest bit of education.

I said, “Well, according to your Calvinistic worldviews, Keith, God is causally determining me not to be able to understand. Why can’t you understand the logical implications of your own worldview?”

You finally admitted I was correct (there is hope) and said, “You’re right. I will pray God ordains you can understand.”

Keith, why even pray on your theologically deterministic/Calvinistic view? I mean, if you do pray, God is causally determining you to pray, but if you don’t, God forced you not to pray. God is going to causally determine everything to happen according to your view, so don’t worry about it. In fact, why do you even argue and debate on Facebook at all? God will provide irresistible grace to the elect one way or the other. Oh yeah, I guess you ASSUME that God is forcing you to debate incoherently on Facebook and beg questions. Why in the world would God force you to go against the teaching of the Bible and be unreasonable (Phil 4:5)? Hmmm…

Keith, you said, “Nevertheless, according to Scripture you are accountable despite being controlled by God. Acts 4:27 says Pilate, Herod and the people murdered Christ and this was done by God’s hand and predestination. Yet they are accountable.”

This is according to your horrible interpretation of the Bible, Keith! As I’ve noted above, there is a huge difference between causal determination and predestination. If you don’t understand the difference, then you have no grounds to even be having this conversation right now. Moreover, if the Bible tells us to be reasonable to all people (Phil 4:5), then why do you think you are justified in stating logically incoherent things like, You have no control over your actions, yet you are accountable for your actions!

That is just plain logically incoherent!

Keith, you offered several Bible verses that you think affirm “causal determination” and “accountability,” but these scriptures work perfectly within the context of God’s middle knowledge and human freedom. I offered three deductive syllogisms above that you have yet to even touch on this issue. Please deal with them. You have even affirmed that logic is a “useful tool.” My arguments are based on nothing but logic, so please tell me what mistakes I’ve made in your opinion.

You said, “So now I want you to be consistent and reproach God…”

Keith, you are assuming I have free will to *choose* to be consistent when according to you, God is forcing me to reject your incoherent views! Again, this is the epitome of incoherence! Why are you so inconsistent?

You said, “… saying because this doesn’t fit with your authonomous, fallen reasoning you won’t accept it, even though Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding”

I do trust in the Lord with all my heart, Keith! Even when things don’t make sense to me, I have always chosen to rest in His arms. I love Jesus with my entire being and I would die for Him! Now I am at a point where everything makes logical sense (even suffering, the incarnation, and the doctrine of the Trinity). Just because there are times when I cannot connect the logical dots, it doesn’t logically follow that these dots are not logically connectable! The TRUTH is out there, even if we don’t know it!

Keith, you said, “Christ is not the Lord of your reasoning, you (the little, arrogant fallen creature) is.”

Keith, that is simply false! I argue that the Logos (The 2nd person of the Trinity to be exact) is the ground of reasoning. I just don’t have to assume or presuppose this is true; rather, I can logically argue and CONCLUDE that this is true! All you can do is beg the question which is in direct violation of Philippians 4:5.

I asked, “How in the world does it logically follow that I am accountable for actions that I am powerless to make?”

You replied: “This is not a biblical but a pagan argument.”

That doesn’t answer the question, Keith!

You asked, “What law of logic does this break?”

Let’s examine the three main laws of logic that are grounded in the nature of God:

The Law of Identity: Something is what it is. ‘A’ is ‘A’. Things that exist have specific properties that identify them

The Law of Non-Contradiction: ‘A’ cannot be both ‘A’ and ‘Non-A’ at the same time, in the same way and in the same sense

The Law of Excluded Middle: A statement is either true or false. There is no middle position. For example, the claim that “A statement is either true or false” is either true or false.

Now let’s consider an argument that is based on these laws known as the Consequence Argument:

If causal determinism is true, then our acts are the consequences of God’s actions and will. But it is not up to us what  God’s will is, what God does, or what God forces us to do. Therefore the consequences of these things (including our own acts) are not up to us. Therefore, we are not accountable, God is!

The consequence argument assumes two “rules” that demand examination:

Rule Alpha: There is nothing anyone can do to change what must be the case (or what is necessarily so).  This rule seems self-evident; after all, if one could change a necessary thing, it wouldn’t be necessary after all, but rather, a contingent type of thing. There is nothing we can do about things that exist or occur necessarily because they must be.

Rule Beta: If there is nothing anyone can do to change X, and nothing anyone can do to change the fact that Y is a necessary consequence of X, then there is nothing anyone can do to change Y either.

*****

I said, “Keith, TRUTH is a logical concept! If we argue that Christianity is TRUE, then we are simultaneously affirming logic as our STARTING point! ”

You replied: “When we say we start with God we’re not talking about chronology.”

I am arguing otherwise! I don’t care what Frame or Van Til say! I had to read Frame in depth during my graduate studies and I thought he was completely incoherent. Stating that Frame and Van Til agree with you is not a good argument, Keith. In fact, it is committing another logical fallacy known as “appealing to authority.” Again, why do you hate Philippians 4:5? That is so unbiblical of you, Keith.

Keith, you said, “Van Til affirmed the self (in this case using reason/logic) was the proximate but not the ultimate starting point.”

Please remind me, does Van Til *assume* “the self” exists, or does he logically conclude it does? Does he *assume* logic is the bedrock of reason and rationality, or does he logically conclude it is? Do you just assume these thing, Keith? I believe these things are true, but I don’t have to merely assume them, I can logically demonstrate their validity!

You said, “So your misunderstanding here in all your replies needs to be discarded. We’re saying reason and logic do not make sense apart from the Christian world view.”

I agree with that statement (the second sentence) 100%!!! PLUS, I can logically demonstrate this statement to be TRUE! The Christian does not have to simply *assume* or presuppose these things. If that is all we are left with, we are on the same footing as Muslims and Mormon presuppers! I like being able to SHOW them exactly WHY they are wrong without appealing to logical fallacies. That is all you can do at this point!

Keith, you said, “God and His revelation are our ultimate authority or criteria for truth, not autonomous reason.”

Why is that the case? Can you answer the “why” to that question, Keith? I can, but all you can do is beg questions! A clear violation of Philippians 4:5!

You concluded with a statement that we agree on. You said, “It doesn’t matter if you use reason to argue. Starting point has to do with ultimate authority, not chronology.”

I agree 100% as I have already explained to you that I argue that logic is grounded in God and only makes sense if God exists! So, we agree that God is the ultimate authority and has given us the ability to engage in rational deliberation (however that requires libertarian free will but that’s besides the point). We both agree that God is the foundation or logic and reason; I simply argue that we ought not argue from that position because we can start with the laws of logic (which the vast majority of humanity agrees with) to logically conclude that God is the ultimate authority and grounds of rationality. Then I show them that that is exactly what the Bible teaches too!

Here is an article I recently wrote on the consequences of Christians making logically incoherent statements:

http://freakengministries.com/christianity-is-not-true/

*THE END of the conversation because at this point most of my responses got deleted! I asked for reasons as to why I am being censored, and that got deleted!

I attempted to ask the following question to Sam Shamoun:

Sam, I am not trying to debate right now, but I sincerely need some clarification from you or someone else who can answer this question for me. In the comments of mine that you (or someone) deleted, I demonstrated that Keith and I both agree on the same thing: That it is God who is the grounds of logic and without God there is no explanation for human reasoning at all. We both agree that God is the ontological and causal grounds to that proposition; however, Keith calls me a “pagan” (he called David Rhoads a “snake”) because I demonstrated that I can start with logic to conclude and PROVE these things in a chronological sense and that I don’t just have to presuppose it. I also demonstrated WHY we SHOULD start with logic when reasoning in a chronological sense.

Why does this make me a “pagan” when we really both agree on the same thing? I don’t even argue that we must reason chronologically; rather, I simply argue that we can, and that this method is effective for many “future Christians.” I know this is true via personal experience.

*********

Sam Shamoun deleted that comment and responded:

“You see what I mean? Instead of respecting my wishes, Tim Stratton has to get in the last word by complaining about why Keith Thompson has to get the last word since his pride just won’t allow for it. Tim Stratton, let me make this as simple as possible. Keith Thompson gets the last word BECAUSE I SAID HE DOES. Now prove to yourself you don’t have pride issues and DO NOT POST ANY MORE TEXTS.”

I commented again and made it clear that I was done debating but that I just wanted my question answered. Sam deleted that and replied:

“Tim Stratton did it again, thereby confirming that he has serious pride issues. Time to repent of your ego since YOU WILL NOT GET THE LAST WORD. Nor will you be allowed to post here anymore. Now watch his sinful pride kick in again and watch how he will have to say something in response.”

I responded:

It seems like you are the one with the “ego problem” as you are arbitrarily stopping this conversation when your favorite team starts to lose! I am just trying to UNDERSTAND your “favorite team. Sam, I am not trying to debate anymore. I just want you to help me understand a couple of things! In the comments of mine that you (or someone) deleted, I demonstrated that Keith and I both agree on the same thing: That it is God who is the grounds of logic and without God there is no explanation for human reasoning at all. We both agree that God is the ontological and causal grounds to that proposition; however, Keith calls me a “pagan” (he called David Rhoads a “snake”) because I demonstrated that I can start with logic to conclude and PROVE these things in a chronological sense and that I don’t just have to presuppose it. I also demonstrated WHY we SHOULD start with logic when reasoning in a chronological sense.

Why does this make me a “pagan” or a “snake” when we really both agree on the same thing? I don’t even argue that we must reason chronologically, rather, I simply argue that we can, and that this method is effective for many “future Christians.” I know this is true via personal experience.

Sam deleted my question and said I had “pride issues.”

I asked, “How is asking a question a “pride issue?”

Sam went on to delete that question and excommunicate me entirely from the thread that he posted on Dr. Craig’s wall. I can’t even see the thread any longer so who knows what is being said about me.

I sincerely wanted my question answered, so I thought if I private messaged Sam, perhaps we could have a civil conversation since no one else was watching. I asked him this:

“Sam, now that this is in a private forum, could you please answer that question for me. This has NOTHING to do with pride; I am just curious and would like my question answered as I am starting to feel like we are really closer to the same page than we thought. Here is my question that I posted:

I am not trying to debate right now, but I sincerely need some clarification from you or someone else who can answer this question for me. In the comments of mine that you (or someone) deleted, I demonstrated that Keith and I both agree on the same thing:

That it is God who is the grounds of logic and without God there is no explanation for human reasoning at all. We both agree that God is the ontological and causal grounds to that proposition; however, Keith calls me a “pagan” (he called David Rhoads a “snake”) because I demonstrated that I can start with logic to conclude and PROVE these things in a chronological sense and that I don’t just have to presuppose it.

I also demonstrated WHY we SHOULD start with logic when reasoning in a chronological sense.

Why am I a “pagan” and an “arrogant troll” because I argue that we can start with logic to conclude the things you presuppose? I don’t even argue that we must do this; simply that we can.”

To date there has been no response.

This argument was intriguing and enjoyable at first, but it wound up breaking my heart and it verged on all of us violating the biblical command to “avoid stupid arguments” (2 Tim 2:23). I do enjoy a good theological debate with brothers as it sharpens us like iron and helps all of us to think correctly about God; however, when people are attacked (instead of the arguments), we do a huge disservice to our God. I believe irrational and incoherent arguments coming from Christians actually leads to the rampant atheism and skepticism we are witnessing today. In fact, I have seen it lead Christians to have a weak faith instead of a strong and reasonable faith. This is why I do try to respectfully and lovingly argue with my brothers in Christ. It breaks my heart when it devolves into emotional fighting. I share the blame!

Be that as it may, I pray that we can all learn from this conversation. As my friend, Tim “The Orthodox” Fox, says:  “Let it be known that such divisiveness is childish and does more harm than good. But (we must) also address the issue!”

Here is a podcast Richard Eng and I recorded shortly after this dialogue.

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About the Author

Tim

Stratton

(The FreeThinking Theist)

Tim pursued his undergraduate studies at the University of Nebraska-Kearney (B.A. 1997) and after working in full-time ministry for several years went on to attain his graduate degree from Biola University (M.A. 2014). Tim was recently accepted at North West University to pursue his Ph.D. in systematic theology with a focus on metaphysics.

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