So Nimm Denn Meine Hande...

Saturday, February 25, 2006

A Presuppositional Approach to Creationism...

Here's an extensive post that I posted as a response to some silly arguing on another blog...I kinda got 'in the zone' and figured that I'd share some decent writing with some of my other readers. Here it is:

Now as for this whole creation/evolution debate, this is as silly as it is useless. I won't really shed any new light on the issue, but I do have SOMETHING to say:

In a nutshell, and as much as I understand things, the debate is NOT about evidence. It's NOT about "scientific evidence" versus "creationist evidence". The issue isn't even a 'scientific' issue. It's a philosophical one. It's not a point of 'our evidence' versus 'their evidence'. It's all about interpretation of data to turn 'data' INTO 'evidence'.

When either side looks at any 'fact of nature', they see it through a philosophical (and theological...though that term is not very tasty to some) lens that helps them to interpret it and fit it into their greater picture of reality.

When an atheistic evolutionist see a flower, he sees many things. He sees photosynthesis, cells, etc. The creationist sees the SAME data. The observations differ in their INTERPRETATION of that data.

The atheistic evolutionist, by fidelity to his naturalistic worldview, is committed to explaining said flower's existance in purely naturalistic terms. There's no space for any sort of divine miracle or supernatural process because such activity is presupposed to have not occured, as a philosophical starting point to his scientific enterprise. The evolutionist has his starting point that EFFECTS the data (like it or not there is no such thing as 'neutral observation'). IF, however infinitely remotely, that flower were placed there by God (or aliens, or whatever 'supernatural' method was involved), that evolutionist would have absolutely no way of ever arriving at that conclusion because they START with the assumption that the supernatural is impossible; only the natural is involved.

The creationist, on the other hand, has a different starting point. He starts with the authoritative self-revelation of God; ie. the Bible.
Regardless of where the creationist thinks the flower came from, he's bound by his other fidelity; fidelity to the Bible. If the Bible says that God created it 4000 years ago in 1 day, then that is a statement about the ultimate reality as it applies to that flower and it is one that he is fully rationally justified to believe (I'll illustrate this further on).

The evolutionist does not start at the same philosophical starting point as the creationist, so it's no surprise that the creationist and the evolutionist arrive at different interpretations of the data. One sees matter, energy, space and time. The other sees all of the above PLUS God orchestrating it all.

The REAL question is WHO has a more objective position from which to view the facts about the flower? Even more so, who has a more objective position from which to comment on the origins of the flower?

The evolutionist observes the flower in the present and then through logical extrapolation creates a likely scenerio of that flower's origin. The creationist, on the other hand, observes the flower in the present and then seeks an answer to the origins question in the only existent document that claims to be a historical eyewitness account of the ONLY observer of that event in time.

In all reality, both sound kinda silly. In the first place, the scientist is making an educated guess on something that he can have essentially absolutely no REAL data on. It's like hearing a noise in the bathroom and then speaking authoritatively on what's going on in there without ever looking into the bathroom to SEE what actually happened. Was that sound a mouse? A magazine falling off the rack? A pipe? An open window? Is there someone IN the bathroom? Two people? Seventeen people? The Detroit Redwings? Was the wall knocked down and the noise actually coming from outside? The evolutionist can listen closely, examine the door, perform logical extrapolations and take all the measurements in the world...but until he opens the door and looks into the bathroom himself, he'll never be doing anything more than simply guessing as to what happened...and there are a LOT of people doing a LOT of guess work.

Funny thing is, due to the nature of the debate, the evolutionist can NEVER EVER have a chance to 'peek inside the bathroom' to see what actually happened. There's a door seperating the evolutionist from the bathroom, and that door is 'time'. No way in, unless you have a time machine.

To keep using my stuid example, the creationist also has NO access to the bathroom. He cannot 'open the door' to see what happened. He can also listen closely, examine the door, perform logical extrapolations and take all the measurements in the world, but he's no better off than the evolutionist...except for one thing. The creationist is in touch with a person who claims to have been in the bathroom when said noise occured. The creationist didn't see him in the bathroom (for such is impossible), and he didn't see him open the door and come out. But, the eye-witness claims that he was there, saw what happened, and can even tell the creationist what happened.

NOW, who would one listen too?

The person who is guessing or the eye-witness? I mean, the witness is either lying, insane or actually telling the truth. So what do you listen to? The educated guess or the possible eye-witness account?

They BOTH take faith...but which faith is more firmly placed?

The answer seems pretty obvious to me. If the eye-witness is known as a truthful man, you would most likely listen to him. For the educated guesser to discredit the eye-witness, he'd have to produce some very strong data to discredit the irrefutable and clear evidence to suggest that the eye-witness IS in fact lying (or a madman).

What would be the best irrefutable and clear evidence that the eye-witness was indeed lying (or a madman)? How about corroborating testimony of another eye-witness, or better yet multiple other eye-witnesses? Or a reputable expert on mental health who can comment on the mental state of the eye-witness.

Can the evolutionist produce multiple corroborating testimonies of OTHER eye-witnesses? Not that I'm aware of. How about 'divine mental health experts'? Same story...nada.

So, both DO seem to sound kinda silly. One guy is guessing and one guy claims to be an eye-witness. The thing is, if the educated guesser is right, it's SHEER chance. Even if he's right, it kinda sounds silly to me to take a gambling shot in the dark on finding truth. But if the eye-witness is telling the truth, it doesn't sound silly anymore. THEN, he's giving me the only eye-witness account of what happened and I would definitely be justified in believing him.

None the less, it still boils down to faith...who do you believe? The 'educated guesser' or the 'eternally waiting to be discredited' eye-witness?

Until Next Time,

The Armchair Theologian


Blogger Zac said...

"They BOTH take faith...but which faith is more firmly placed?"

I'm not really sure what you mean by this; if both positions take "faith" and by faith I assume you mean assumptions, then aren't both equally assumed?

Besides, if you're going to take a presuppositional approach, it's best to take a Clarkian approach. Looking at a flower yields no "facts" about the flower. No supposed design in nature that we see is ever proof, because, as you allude to, it has to do with our assumptions. If the Darwinist does not share our assumptions, then they will never see "design" in nature. I've written a few posts on Intelligent Design, general revelation and the logical problems found in these issues:

by the way, did you go to briercrest?

6:34 PM

Blogger The Armchair Theologian said...

Well, by faith I don't mean 'assumptions'. I simply mean that both require:

belief and trust.

Using the bathroom illustration, either you choose to believe and trust the educated-guesser or you choose to believe and trust the 'eternally waiting to be discredited' eye-witness.

The question is 'in which one is the belief and trust more greatly merritted?'

I'm also not thoroughly familiar with Gordon H Clark's variation of presuppositionalism. Can you recommend a book (or a few) that would helo me understand it better?

9:17 PM

Anonymous cam said...

We all know what sound came out of the bathroom, and only you could use the illustration of taking a dump to the creation of the universe. Well done Len! Good things, Good things!

11:32 PM

Blogger Zac said...

Is there a difference between belief and trust? Oh, but I digress.

If you believe something without any logical reasons to prove it, is that not an assumption? Or, if not a primary assumption, are you not assuming the non-logical reasons for believing it?

In the very least, when looking at a flower, aren't you assuming that your senses are accurate? You can never prove this. Aren't you also assuming that your memory is accurate? And do you not assume a whole host of other things? Such as, that there are other minds in the universe? That you are actually conversing with someone when you respond to me and not to some computer?

How is one belief of this type any more merited than another?

Check out and under the books the best one to get is "Christian Philosophy" it is really a collection of three of Clark's books: Religion, Reason and Revelation; Introduction to Christian Philosophy; and Three Types of Religious Philosophy. It's classic.

7:21 AM

Blogger Zac said...

Also, you call your blog "Reflections from a Rogue Brain . . ." but brains do not reflect; minds do.

7:22 AM

Blogger Andrew L said...

My brain reflects. It is bright and shiny!

9:08 PM

Blogger The Armchair Theologian said...

Well, do brains reflect? I don't know. Currently there is an accord being held in Tokyo (ironically spelled LIKE Kyoto) to discuss the accusation that brains cannot reflect. In attendance are my brain (the accused), as well as my mind, my thought, my consciousness, my uncounsciousness, my conscience, my huches, my emotions, my reason, my desires, my dreams, my intellect, my wits, my head, my common sense, my intelligence, my psyche, my sensations and my inner child.

Also, mediating the debate, is my sex drive...and with HIM at the wheel, this whole affair is bound to turn out horribly...

In an unrelated note, silly comments used to get silly answers. Now, in a startling change of protocol, smart alec comments will get silly answers too.

Remove tough stains in hard to reach areas with the new Armchair Theologian!

8:38 PM

Blogger Andrew L said...

So your ego didn't get invited? Understandable. Who'd want that boorish lout around?


7:18 PM

Anonymous RK said...

So who is in the bathroom? The default answer should be "We don't know and may never know". It seems incredible for someone to say they know EXACTLY who it is based on ancient literature.

I know xians have all their apologetics and facts regarding manuscripts, prophesy, eyewitnesses, the empty tomb, etc. but here's another fact - people are dumb***es. Not that long ago people were burning witches and practicing alchemy. Millions today believe all kinds of religious writings and stories which are even less convincing then the Bible.

As for the eyewitness from the Bible, is it so unreasonable to believe people wrote exaggerated stories about him? What are we to make of Jesus' levitation into the stratosphere? What happened to his body? Doesn’t the story make more sense when you realize people from 2000 years ago probably thought the earth was flat and heaven was a literal place above the clouds?

12:36 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are right, people are "dumb asses". I don't want to be too straight forward and offensive but... it seems you are a prime example. Maybe you should read up on those "religious manuscripts" (ie. the Bible) and figure out what it says. Don't be giving the arguement that people are smarter today than people back in the day. You just have to read a newspaper, listen to the news, or look out your front door to see that people aren't any smarter. In fact, i would have to say people are getting dumber and dumber. The fact is, as it was so nicely illustrated, that it takes faith to believe any theories of the origin of the universe. Further, the Rogue Brain suggested that there is a greater perspective/insight that a person can have. A person is hard pressed to argue/disagree with experience. I would go as far to say that the Rogue One is talking about a relationship with the Creator and not "mere religious text" (all though one can argue that those writings have validity +). It seems you are happy to be the one that is "eternally waiting to be discredited". Why not eat, drink and be merry cause tomorrow we die, hey? You can discredit ancient writings, eye witnesses, and even your senses. But the fact of the matter is, if someone insults you (ie. craps in your shoes) things seem pretty objective. Food for thought.
Dirty Jurgs

6:49 PM

Blogger The Armchair Theologian said...

Hmmm. RK makes some serious arguments here: So I have some questions:

1. If you admit that there are 'facts' regarding the manuscripts, the prophesies, the empty tomb and whatnot, are those facts 'trumped' by the 'fact' that people are stupid? If so, why?

2. The eyewitness from the Bible isn't's God the Father. Does that change how things sit with you? (The whole idea is that God was the eyewitness who saw creation...seeing that HE was the creator).

3. How does the misunderstanding of a proposition change it's truth? I mean, nobody pretends that Christians DON'T think and do stupid things; they definitely DO! The question remains is the truth of the Bible 'corrupted' when people don't adhere to it's teachings?

Just asking...

7:26 PM

Anonymous RK said...

The fact that people have a high propensity to believe fallacy does in my mind trump any "fact" from Christian apologetics. Perhaps if we lived in a world where human logic immediately extinguished all lies and absolutely no false belief or historic inaccuracy existed, then by logical necessity the supernatural tales of the Bible would have to be taken as an incorrigible fact. However that's not the case. People are prone to exaggerate and inexorably inclined to believe whatever comes their way. Pick any religion as the Truth and you are left with the fact that billions have believed a lie.

Common sense and naturalist reasoning need to be our first defenders when sorting out fiction from fact. I'm not saying that supernatural history could never have happened only that unfortunately, we may never realize it did considering the quagmire of beliefs that have plagued our history and are present today.

If you hear a strange sound in the bathroom do you not start by ruling out all rational answers first (a mouse, a pipe, etc) before you delve into the supernatural and declare that there's a ghost. If you see a strange light in the sky do you believe its an alien spaceship before you've applied some common sense answers (weather balloon, military aircraft, the weed I just smoked, etc). The same is true of the Bible. There is a tangible FACT (a big freaking weather balloon) that is staring us in the face: people make up religious writings and people believe them!

12:38 PM

Blogger The Armchair Theologian said...

...Or just come on here and don't interact with any sort of rational's all good! Rant away! I'll interact though...hope you don't mind.

1. People are stupid, therefore all other facts are subservient to that? Uh...not to just brush away all of reality with a broad stroke or anything. That's a pretty convenient solution...

"well that may be true, but people are stupid so I don't care!"

I'm not sure you're going to win a whole lot of arguments with that one.

2. Why do "Common sense and naturalist reasoning need to be our first defenders when sorting out fiction from fact."?

If people are so stupid, why should we trust common sense or naturalist reasoning? Wouldn't the thoughts of flawed minds be equally flawed? I'd suggest that you're trapped by your own insistence of the stupidity of man. By your reasoning, any faith in 'common sense' or 'naturalist reasoning' (or any reasoning, for that matter) should be suspect and not the basis for anything.

3. I also fully believe that people make up religious writings and billions of others believe them (or disbelieve them and live by them out of some other reason than sheer belief). The thing is that the Bible doesn't present itself as just another book. The Bible is EXCLUSIVE in it's truth claims (unlike any other religious writing) and presents itself as a divinely written document. The stupidity of man doesn't work with a divinely written document. Man doesn't even factor in.

Not that I'd be nieve enough to think that you'd believe that for a second...but it does make logical sense IF it's true. If God DID write the Bible, then it could be actually true and the stupidity of mankind wouldn't affect it's truthfulness.

10:24 PM


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