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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 02/07/2010 :  16:29:39  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Inquiring minds want to know!

When explaining their beliefs, Christians often feel they must first prove the Bible or prove the existence of God. This approach reveals that they do not yet understand the Bibleís approach, known as presuppositional apologetics.

Proving the Bible and/or the existence of God would certainly aid the Christian's case. Apologetics without a solid foundation is no more stable than a house that lacks such, and that is where apologetics fail when arguing with a skeptic. Mere belief/faith, unsupported by evidence, cuts no ice in debate.
Presuppositions are simply beliefs that everyone has that affect how they think, view the world, interpret evidence, and read the Bible. Apologetics is a reasoned defense of beliefs. So presuppositional apologetics is a reasoned defense of Christian beliefs based on recognizing our presuppositions.

Recognizing presuppositions is all very well and good until you run up against another set of them that is based on solid evidence. Then, unless your presuppositions are very, damned good indeed, you will have a problem.
For instance, my presupposition is that God exists and He has given us His Word (the Bible) that is absolute truth. So I use the Bible as the basis for how to think, interpret evidence, explain the world around me, and read the Bible. An atheistís presupposition will most likely be that there is no God and that truth is relative. An atheist believes that man decides truth, and so he thinks, interprets evidence, and views the world and Bible accordingly.

That's accurate enough, I suppose. However, the axiom of evidence vs. wind still holds; if you have the former, you won't need to use the latter, whatever your presuppositions might be.
If we start off believing the Bible is the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16; Psalm 18:30; Proverbs 30:5), then we use it as our axiom. An axiom (often used in logic) is a proposition that is not susceptible to proof or disproof; its truth is assumed. The Bible takes this stance, assuming Godís existence to be true and not something to be proven (Genesis 1:1; Exodus 3:14; Revelation 1:8).

Right, but if you assume nothing and look for the empirical facts of the topic, you will no longer require presuppositions that might or not be in the ball park. Assuming that God exists with no more backup than an ancient tome written by people relying upon their presuppositions is not a good positon to argue from.
The battle is not over evidence but over philosophical starting points: presuppositions. As Christians, we should never put away our axiomóthe Bibleówhen discussing truth with others. This would be like a soldier going into battle without any armor or weapons. Asking a Christian to abandon the Bible for the sake of discussion is like asking an atheist to prove there is no God by using only the Bible. You would be asking the atheist to give up his axiom.

A presupposition is neither armor nor arms, but a point of view. And if you are dumb enough to ask an atheist to prove the nonexistence of God you will be laughed out of the saloon. You can neither prove nor disprove a negative, Bible or no Bible.
The prophets and the apostles never tried to prove Godís existence. They started by assuming Godís existence, and they always reasoned from Scripture (Acts 17:2, 17; 18:4, 19). By using the Word of God, we are actually pitting the unbeliever against God and not our own fallible thinking.

There's that "assume" business again, this time used in an attempt to crawfish out of an argument. "God done it all!" ends the discussion because there is no way of proving nor disproving God(s).

Here we have the logical fallacies of Argumentum ad antiquitatem, Argumentum ad ignorantiam and plain, old Straw Man, all gussied up with just a touch of Circulus in demonstrando.

I'm feeling a little light-headed and this time it's not the weed.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


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HalfMooner
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Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 02/07/2010 :  19:12:31   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Very nice, Filthy. Isn't it quaint how they use multisyllabic Latinate words like "presuppositional" simply to state the ideas with which they are coming to the debate aren't open to discussion?

It adds a certain air of pseudo-scholarship to the basis of one's argument to refer to it as "bovis faeces" instead of bullshit.


It fits hand in glove with Ken Ham telling us to look at science through "biblical glasses." Here are the facts, now where's the evidence?

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
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Dave W.
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Posted - 02/07/2010 :  19:21:55   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Presuppositional apologetics begins with the idea that any statement which one chooses to call an "axiom" gets to remain forever an unquestionable truth. Even statements which are demonstrably incorrect.

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astropin
SFN Regular

USA
970 Posts

Posted - 02/08/2010 :  10:28:59   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send astropin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yeah....same story, different day.

Good post filthy

I would rather face a cold reality than delude myself with comforting fantasies.

You are free to believe what you want to believe and I am free to ridicule you for it.

Atheism:
The result of an unbiased and rational search for the truth.

Infinitus est numerus stultorum
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Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9677 Posts

Posted - 02/08/2010 :  11:55:40   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by filthy
For instance, my presupposition is that God exists and He has given us His Word (the Bible) that is absolute truth. So I use the Bible as the basis for how to think, interpret evidence, explain the world around me, and read the Bible. An atheistís presupposition will most likely be that there is no God and that truth is relative. An atheist believes that man decides truth, and so he thinks, interprets evidence, and views the world and Bible accordingly.

That's accurate enough, I suppose. However, the axiom of evidence vs. wind still holds; if you have the former, you won't need to use the latter, whatever your presuppositions might be.

"An atheistís presupposition will most likely be" emphais mine.

"Most likely" being the operative word here. He's building a strawman and calls it atheist, without bothering to note there are several types of atheists, both agnostic and gnostic.

There's a difference between "presupposing No god" and "not presupposing god". By leaving out the question of God you simply starts with one less assumption. Then you can also look at the evidence without filtering everything through the Bible.


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bngbuck
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USA
2437 Posts

Posted - 02/08/2010 :  12:33:40   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send bngbuck a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Filthy

A well written and incisive reply to Wright's nonsense of "presuppositional apologetics". However, without presuming to correct you, I might point out that your general statement:
You can neither prove nor disprove a negative, Bible or no Bible.
may not be completely accurate.

There are many proofs of "negatives" (proofs of impossibility) in mathematics. You cannot square the circle (cannot construct a circle that has the same exact area as a given square} because pi has been proven to be a transcendental number. For that matter, you cannot write out the full number that completely describes pi. These statements have been rigorously mathematically proved. There are many other examples in mathematics.

I understand that what you were referring to was the logical shorthand of
X is true because there is no proof that X is false.
which is obviously a logical fallacy often used to demonstrate the existence of flying spaghetti monsters, pink unicorns, and other imaginary constructs.

However, if I say there is no pink unicorn in my closet, it is a negative statement that can easily proved true by merely opening the closet door.

The issue can be compounded if you specify that that there is not an invisible pink unicorn in your closet. Opening the closet door no longer demonstrates the truth of the specific negative you have stipulated.

It follows that one had better tightly define what does and does not constitute proof when choosing to go down this road.

Germane to these ideas is the famous teapot described by Bertrand Russell:
"If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes."
He states what "common sense" would probably dictate.
But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense.
Russell then goes on to cast some light on the unblinking acceptance of questionable hypotheses by a majority of the people.
If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.
Hopefully, the reference to the psychiatrist applied with a little more force in Russell's time than it does today. But I fear the Creationists would likely favor the Inquisitor.
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 02/08/2010 :  14:08:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by bngbuck

Filthy

A well written and incisive reply to Wright's nonsense of "presuppositional apologetics". However, without presuming to correct you, I might point out that your general statement:
You can neither prove nor disprove a negative, Bible or no Bible.
may not be completely accurate.

There are many proofs of "negatives" (proofs of impossibility) in mathematics. You cannot square the circle (cannot construct a circle that has the same exact area as a given square} because pi has been proven to be a transcendental number. For that matter, you cannot write out the full number that completely describes pi. These statements have been rigorously mathematically proved. There are many other examples in mathematics.

I understand that what you were referring to was the logical shorthand of
X is true because there is no proof that X is false.
which is obviously a logical fallacy often used to demonstrate the existence of flying spaghetti monsters, pink unicorns, and other imaginary constructs.

However, if I say there is no pink unicorn in my closet, it is a negative statement that can easily proved true by merely opening the closet door.

The issue can be compounded if you specify that that there is not an invisible pink unicorn in your closet. Opening the closet door no longer demonstrates the truth of the specific negative you have stipulated.

It follows that one had better tightly define what does and does not constitute proof when choosing to go down this road.

Germane to these ideas is the famous teapot described by Bertrand Russell:
"If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes."
He states what "common sense" would probably dictate.
But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense.
Russell then goes on to cast some light on the unblinking acceptance of questionable hypotheses by a majority of the people.
If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.
Hopefully, the reference to the psychiatrist applied with a little more force in Russell's time than it does today. But I fear the Creationists would likely favor the Inquisitor.

Everybody has a pink alligator (unicorns are fictional creatures except in the Bible and various picture shows) in their closet; it's just that nobody can see them 'cause they're, well, invisible. Prove me wrong.

There. See how it works in the real world?

Sir Andrew Wiles proved Fermat's Last Theorem -- A squared + B squared = C squared. It took him something like seven years and in the process, he invented a new field of geometry. And yet, Fermat's own proofs eluded him. That's mathematical rocket science that no one but another mathematical rocket scientist would understand. Me, I know a little shop math and that's it. I even let the computer figger my check book lest I screw it up. And I've not the faintest idea of what the esteemed Fermat's proof might have been. Perhaps Fermat's famed correspondent, the genius Blase Pascal, might have, but he ultimately drank the Kool Aid.

Anyhow, complicated maths aside, there's still no proofs for nor against the negative in any sort of a physical manner. The alligator remains in the closet, unseen, unknown. Fortunately, it doesn't eat much.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


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dglas
Skeptic Friend

Canada
397 Posts

Posted - 02/08/2010 :  15:56:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dglas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, it is not the case that an empirical mindset does not have presuppositions. Sorry, Filthy, but saying such, and you SEEM to be saying such, is simply an error. We all base our understandings on something which is beyond verification. The idea that empiricism is to be our standard of evidence is one such presupposition. We are realists (in the philosophical sense) which is, in itself, not intrinsically defensible. The trick is whether we design these "axiom" sets so that they incorporate referents to reality. If so, we get a realm of presuppositions that lead to efficacy. If so we can develop a methodology for explorations of the external world. If not, then we have lots of attitude, logical relations and fluffy, entirely internal world nonsense, with no relation to the world.

So very much relies on stipulations, and yet so many people write stipulations off as "mere semantics."

Now don't get me wrong; I'm not defending the article you are critiquing. The article attempts to justify making no references to reality in apologizing for religious mystical thinking, and I think the justification leaves, well everything, to be desired. One can easily ask which presuppositions are the ones to choose and on what basis. But I do not think we are doing ourselves any favours by pretending our presuppositions are intrinsically more true than anyone else's. That said, presuppositions that move beyond our private, internal realms allows for so much that others that do not reference anything beyond our private internal realm, do not allow.

--------------------------------------------------
- dglas (In the hell of 1000 unresolved subplots...)
--------------------------------------------------
The Presupposition of Intrinsic Evil
+ A Self-Justificatory Framework
= The "Heart of Darkness"
--------------------------------------------------
Edited by - dglas on 02/08/2010 16:09:44
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 02/08/2010 :  16:50:55   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by dglas

Well, it is not the case that an empirical mindset does not have presuppositions. Sorry, Filthy, but saying such, and you SEEM to be saying such, is simply an error. We all base our understandings on something which is beyond verification. The idea that empiricism is to be our standard of evidence is one such presupposition. We are realists (in the philosophical sense) which is, in itself, not intrinsically defensible. The trick is whether we design these "axiom" sets so that they incorporate referents to reality. If so, we get a realm of presuppositions that lead to efficacy. If so we can develop a methodology for explorations of the external world. If not, then we have lots of attitude, logical relations and fluffy, entirely internal world nonsense, with no relation to the world.

So very much relies on stipulations, and yet so many people write stipulations off as "mere semantics."

Now don't get me wrong; I'm not defending the article you are critiquing. The article attempts to justify making no references to reality in apologizing for religious mystical thinking, and I think the justification leaves, well everything, to be desired. One can easily ask which presuppositions are the ones to choose and on what basis. But I do not think we are doing ourselves any favours by pretending our presuppositions are intrinsically more true than anyone else's. That said, presuppositions that move beyond our private, internal realms allows for so much that others that do not reference anything beyond our private internal realm, do not allow.

I think that you might have misread me, or perhaps I wrote poorly. I am fully aware that we all have presuppositions and act upon them constantly. The difference is that some presuppositions are more worthy than others, notably those used by scientists in the study of evolution, et al. One of my own presuppositions,often incorrect, is that I'm going to catch fish when I go fishing. This one is shared by many and it is supported by the presence of -plenty of fish in the lake. A presupposition is usually based upon experience and a grasp of the facts surrounding given situation -- I'm afraid I'm not explaining this as well as I'd like.

Anyhow, spiritual presuppositions can't work unless there is solid evidence of a spirit -- other than the bottled kind. At this writing, there is none beyond unsupported literature and imagination. Of course, that can't be taken to mean there will never be, as unlikely as we might find that.

All too often, we must put our presuppositions aside as new information comes in. Of course, as soon as that happens, we begin to form new ones, but the wise student and the experienced catfisherman does not cling too firmly to them.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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dglas
Skeptic Friend

Canada
397 Posts

Posted - 02/08/2010 :  20:10:46   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dglas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think you explained it well.

Perhaps I misread you. I might have said "some are more useful" than others, but generally I think we are on the same page.

--------------------------------------------------
- dglas (In the hell of 1000 unresolved subplots...)
--------------------------------------------------
The Presupposition of Intrinsic Evil
+ A Self-Justificatory Framework
= The "Heart of Darkness"
--------------------------------------------------
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 02/08/2010 :  22:45:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It seems to me that beginning with just two axioms (or presuppositions), "I exist" and "that which is useful is 'good'," we can logically escape from solipsism and create a valid basis for an objective reality, thus building empiricism, evidencialism and modern science, and even justify moral codes like the Golden Rule which tend to be considering immune from rational inquiry.

Most people don't go so far, though, and so think that (for example) an objective reality is an assumption, and not the conclusion of a well-thought-out argument (like I once did). In that way, they fall into the "presup" trap of not being able to provide a justification for a position when challenged on it, which, in my experience, is the bread-and-butter of presup argumentation. "That's just another presupposition," they cry triumphantly, trying to show that science (or atheism, or naturalism) uses more presuppositions than their religion, as if philosophy were like golf.

So to have the slightest chance against these guys in a discussion or debate, one has to know one's crap, deeply. But even then, nothing will ultimately work, because their number-one, (mostly) unspoken presupposition is that if someone says something with which they disagree, that person must be wrong.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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bngbuck
SFN Addict

USA
2437 Posts

Posted - 02/09/2010 :  02:27:10   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send bngbuck a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Filthy.....

Filthy posted:
Everybody has a pink alligator in their closet; it's just that nobody can see them 'cause they're, well, invisible. Prove me wrong.
Well, I guess I'd just open your closet door and spray a big can of black aerosol paint in there. Alligator would show up pretty quick if he was there but he wouldn't be pink!

However.....

bngbuck posted :
If you specify that that there is not an invisible pink unicorn in your closet, opening the closet door no longer demonstrates the truth of the specific negative you have stipulated.
Spraying a big can of paint in there might be seen as proving your negative statement.
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welshdean
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United Kingdom
172 Posts

Posted - 02/09/2010 :  05:39:16   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send welshdean a Private Message  Reply with Quote
"Asking a Christian to abandon the Bible for the sake of discussion is like asking an atheist to prove there is no God by using only the Bible."

I may not prove there is 'no' god, but the bible is a fantastic tool to demonstrate that the god of the bible does not exist. I.E. If omniscience and/or omnipotence can be proved to be lacking, than the god as described does not exist.


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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 02/09/2010 :  05:41:20   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by bngbuck

Filthy.....

Filthy posted:
Everybody has a pink alligator in their closet; it's just that nobody can see them 'cause they're, well, invisible. Prove me wrong.
Well, I guess I'd just open your closet door and spray a big can of black aerosol paint in there. Alligator would show up pretty quick if he was there but he wouldn't be pink!

However.....

bngbuck posted :
If you specify that that there is not an invisible pink unicorn in your closet, opening the closet door no longer demonstrates the truth of the specific negative you have stipulated.
Spraying a big can of paint in there might be seen as proving your negative statement.

Then the alligator would get pissed and bite you. Also, you would ruin my shoes.

We both know that there is no alligator, pink or otherwise, invisible or obvious, in either of our closets, at least not lately. It is a perfectly reasonable and safe presupposition that we can open the door without even the danger of being hissed at. We may also be confident that the Boogie Man is not in there as well, although some children, and even a few adults might take a little convincing.

A presupposition in and of itself does not require any sort of a factual base: The earth is 6,000 years old, the Q-Ray bracelet works miracles, girls will give you cooties, and so forth. This is the sort of presuppositions that we come across every day and they are of value only to their owner and anyone he/she an convince to follow along. We have seen this in the AiG article I just finished chainsawing. However, some years back, had you opened my bathroom door, you would have found an injured and very angry, and very real, thirty pound snapping turtle in the bath tub whilst I was setting up more suitable quarters for her. Presuppositions are not always safe.

As to proving/disproving the negative, it is not possible to prove God unless that gentleman actually exists and decides to let us in on his riff. And you cannot disprove God for the simple reason that you cannot find the rascal. This also holds true for other interesting myths and the thing they all have in common are the unfounded presuppositions of their believers.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

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and Crypto-Communist!

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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 02/09/2010 :  06:10:40   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by welshdean

"Asking a Christian to abandon the Bible for the sake of discussion is like asking an atheist to prove there is no God by using only the Bible."

I may not prove there is 'no' god, but the bible is a fantastic tool to demonstrate that the god of the bible does not exist. I.E. If omniscience and/or omnipotence can be proved to be lacking, than the god as described does not exist.
Hey welshdean! Long time, no hear from; welcome back!

The problem(s) with using the Bible as any sort of proof for anything is that you must first at least tentatively accept all of the angels, demons and the rest of the magical crap it presents. This the atheist/skeptic cannot do, therefore AiG's minion is safe in proposing it for disproving God. We would indeed, be giving up our axiom -- whatever that might be. As Dave pointed out, the only axioms set in stone are the religious ones. Others come and go with the changing conditions surrounding a given situation. Produce God, or just an angel, and we'd be forced to give up our axioms (whatever those might be). I have a presupposition that this ain't gonna happen.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9677 Posts

Posted - 02/09/2010 :  07:52:35   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by bngbuck

Filthy

A well written and incisive reply to Wright's nonsense of "presuppositional apologetics". However, without presuming to correct you, I might point out that your general statement:
You can neither prove nor disprove a negative, Bible or no Bible.
may not be completely accurate.

There are many proofs of "negatives" (proofs of impossibility) in mathematics.

You can prove a negative, if you can find a positive that is mutually exclusive with the negative you were trying to prove.

"England hasn't the best football team in the world" is unprovable by itself, but if you can find a team that beats them (like Germany), then a simple syllogism solves proving the negative.

Prem.1 England hasn't the best football team in the world, if another team can beat them.
Prem.2 Germany can beat England
Conclusion: England hasn't the best football team.



(Edited spelling)

Dr. Mabuse - "When the going gets tough, the tough get Duct-tape..."
Dr. Mabuse whisper.mp3

"Equivocation is not just a job, for a creationist it's a way of life..." Dr. Mabuse

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Send them unarmed civilians for target practice..
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Edited by - Dr. Mabuse on 02/09/2010 11:42:24
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