Yes, you read that right, and it freaks me out too, but I’m beginning to see all the more where Cornelius Van Til and other presuppositional apologists are coming from after a certain event that occurred a few nights ago. I will confess that this did involve a couple beers, but hey, certain things are just better with a glass of abbey ale, theology being one of them.
I found myself, once again, in an Internet argument. Yes, I’m pretty ashamed of myself too, so I don’t blame you if that’s the first thing you think. It’s especially bad after you leave comments on a fellow blogger’s post about not feeding the troll (which is basically what I found myself doing), but none of that’s the point of my post here.
This argument took place on Facebook, and involved debate with a nonbeliever regarding the state of disunity within the church. What this dude was arguing was that, because so may people have taken Scripture and misinterpreted it, exploited it, and generally made a mess of the ordeal, this is a clear indicator that God doesn’t exist, because an omnipotent God would not make things so unclear and fuzzy as to cause dissension amongst His followers. Let’s show logically how this works.
1) God is omnipotent, and wishes to communicate to Mankind through the Bible.
2) People take said Bible, and use it to say things about God they want to see in God, rather than take God at his word.
3) An omnipotent God’s will cannot be thwarted, and since the Bible is supposed to be an expression of that God’s will, and that will is thwarted and distorted, God is not actually omnipotent, and therefore does not exist.
Now, I know I’m not doing this argument justice; in a way, I’m turning this into a straw-man argument. Understand that, the way this was presented to me was much better than I just presented it to you. It’s not my objective to debate this argument; I already did that on Facebook.
Here’s what happened: as I argued with this guy, I realized that every time I attempted to form a rebuttal (most of these defending the Bible as God’s word), I would try to meet this guy on neutral ground. However, I found myself actually watering down my own beliefs (and the truth) in order to help bring this guy into agreement with me, but every time, he only hit the weak points of my argument to bring it down further. I wasn’t purposely attempting to compromise the truth, just trying to meet him halfway.
This is precisely what presuppositional apologetics aims to avoid. It’s not that people haven’t been brought to God through evidential apologetics (which I was sort of trying to use), but it can, and often does, lead us to compromise what we actually believe and find ourselves defeated by the person we’re trying to persuade. While I still dislike Van Til’s attitude, he makes an excellent point as to why we have to presuppose that God and the Bible are the only source of rationality. If we don’t, we compromise on key issues.
I’m not calling myself a presuppositionalist, but having this play out in front of me helped make a lot of sense of the matter. Even though it happened at 4 AM, it was an awesome epiphany!