Bethrick: A Proof that the Christian God Does Not Exist?

Imaginary

Dawson Bethrick presented an interesting argument against the existence of Christian God, in his awesome blog: Incineration Presuppositionalism. The argument which he believes “theists will have a very difficult time overcoming”, in A Proof that the Christian God Does Not Exist post, goes as follows:

Premise 1: That which is imaginary is not real.

Premise 2: If something is not real, it does not actually exist.

Premise 3: If the god of Christianity is imaginary, then it is not real and therefore does not actually exist.(1&2)

Premise 4: The god of Christianity is imaginary.

Conclusion: Therefore, the god of Christianity is not real and therefore does not actually exist.(4&3)

This is a valid argument and thus if premise 1-4 are true, Bethrick would have succeeded in showing that God, as believed by Christians, does not exist. Are all premises true? Is it a sound case? I think not.

Christians would probably agree that premise 1-3 are true, but 4 is false. Since Bethrick’s case heavily depends on premise 4,  did he succeed in showing that Christian God is imaginary?  Again I think not.

Bethrick offered “no less than 13 points of evidence” to show that premise 4 is true in another article: The Imaginative Nature of Christian Theism. The problem is that even if all 13 points, which are not evidences but assertions, were true, they are irrelevant.

Showing that anyone can imagine supernatural beings, and that followers learn about their gods in written stories, and believe them by faith, and the “failure of religious philosophy to provide the mind with a sound metaphysical theory which securely and reliably allows the adherent to distinguish between reality and imagination” et cetera, even if true, does not show that Christian God is imaginary.

If Christian God exists, then it does not matter if anyone can imagine supernatural beings or that Christians learn about this God from written stories and accept them by faith et cetera, because what matters is not the epistemological status of subjects(i.e. Christian) but the ontological status of an object (i.e. God). It is here where Bethrick, thus, does not offer justification to think that premise 4 is true.

Bethrick went on to contend,

Ultimately, there is a single question that any atheist who encounters a pushy apologist need pose. And that question is:

When I imagine your god, how is what I am imagining not imaginary?

Since we have no alternative to imagining the Christian god when believers tell us about it, this question is most appropriate, especially since we’re expected to believe that it is real. If theists think we have an alternative to imagining their god, what is that alternative, and how is it different from imagination [sic]

I think, even before answering Bethrick’s atheist question, a pushy apologist could simply turn the table around, and reduce the atheist’s question to absurdity with a counter question:

When I imagine there is no god, how is what I am imagining not imaginary?

So, a pushy apologist could contend, since we have no alternative to imagining no god when an atheist tell us about it, this question is also most appropriate, especially since we’re expected to believe that it is real that god does not exist.

Bethrick confuses the verb imagine with its adjective(imagined/ing) thus fails to see that a person could imagine something that is not necessarily imaginary. Imagine as a verb is simply forming a mental image or concept of, while as an adjective is  believing  something unreal exists. Example I can imagine how my wife would react if I forget our wedding anniversary. Does this follow that her reaction, if I forget our anniversary is imaginary? I do not think so, since if I forget our anniversary, I will bear her full anger, which is real and far from imaginary.

I believe, a pushy apologist could reply: “I want you to imagine(forming mental concept of) my God and I will give you a case to think it is warranted to believe that that God does exist. This, my friend, is why what you are going to imagine is not imaginary but real.” With that a pushy apologist may begin to offer a positive case to show that a belief in God is rationally acceptable position thus not imaginary.

Question: What case would you offer for or against the notion that Christian’s God is imaginary?

Bibliography: Blog: Incineration Presuppositionalism. visited last 26th January 2013: Update:  “Bahnsen Burner” is Dawson Bethrick.

Update: Dawson Bethrick lengthly(ca. 8400 words) responded to my case : Prayson Daniel vs. the Imaginative Nature of Christian Theism (January 19, 2013). My ca. 700 words counter response: Bethrick’s Unsuccessful Case Against Christian God

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About Prayson Daniel

Prayson Daniel is a Tanzanian, married to Lea and a father to Eloise. Reformed theology, philosophy of religion, apologetics and church history are areas he enjoy reading, pondering and sharing with a motto "when love comes first, disagreement follows at its right and proper place".

56 comments

  1. Hmm, 55 comments and no time to read them all. Sorry if I repeat something someone else has said…
    When the 5-point proposition I had to stop and read it again. That was his argument? That wasn’t an argument, it was an opening statement. He hasn’t proven God isn’t real, just said he thinks he’s not and called it proof.
    The second statement was trickier, but I went along your lines. Imagine a pencil. That pencil is not real. Yet pencils exist even though the one you’re imagining does not.
    And if you want to get really legalistic…I don’t want you to imagine God, I want you to visualize him.
    My buddy tried that in high school. He pointed to a text book and said, “Look. Evolution. Creationism is a lie.” I said, “I could do the same thing with a Bible and you wouldn’t believe it, so why should I?” Simply stating what you believe is not argument, and it’s not going to convince anybody.

  2. Pingback: I’ve grown accustomed to your faith | Thoughts of Sam Isaacson

  3. Lon

    I found that argument, pretty plebeian, something I might here at a Jr high debate club. Premise 1-3 are reasonable because they flow from the definition of words. Premise 4 is a completely a priori statement which can not be proven. BTW – I think Plato might disagree with premise 1, since “imaginary” is pretty close to “ideal,” which for Plato would have been the most real of all.

    (Stop me if I’m getting this all wrong.)

    My only argument against God being imaginary is the record of Christ’s life, words, works, and death. He claimed to be the visible manifestation of the invisible God (Hebrews). He gave signs (gospel of John) attesting to that. Many eye witnesses claims to agree. That’s the only proof I have. For me, it is sufficient.

  4. Pingback: Bethrick’s Unsuccessful Case Against Christian God « With All I Am

  5. CP

    There are so many things we can only imagine as humans and yet feel free to describe and search for. Low and behold, when we do search for them, we often find that which we had previously only imagined. Black holes, atoms, germs, a good acting job by Keanu Reeves… (well, we may still be searching for the last one). And there are other things we believe in now that we can’t see and haven’t “officially” found. A particle that causes fluctuations in C-14 decay, dark matter, a new movie with an original idea, etc… If we treated God the same way, then we should search for Him too. Interesting that He invites us to do that….

  6. Wow, that got ugly. The internet has a way of bringing out the best in people, no? I am afraid I’m guilty of some miscommunication. When I said “mirror image” in regard to the imaginary object and the ontological argument, I meant it in the sense of “paired opposite” rather than “mimic”. My bad. My intention was to point out that both seem to employ a suppressed premise establishing a particular standard of valid knowledge and both equivocate logical necessity with existential necessity. Despite sharing those core methods, they proceed in opposite directions, the I. O. moving from the general to the specific to exclude an object, the O. A. moving from the specific to the general to include an object, the former employing the suppressed premise at the end (only empirical knowledge is valid, so no empirical knowledge of deity = no deity), the latter employing the suppressed premise at the beginning (some conceptual objects – such as the number 2 – have a real – and independent – existence, maximal greatness is one of those concepts…deity is real). Each also has its “black swan”. For the I. O. it is the class of objects that are imagined and real, for the O. A. it is the class of objects which are concepts and not independent and real. I guess I find these arguments interesting the way that Jung found UFO’s interesting – not because they might be real or not, but because people are drawn to them. I think it is symptomatic of a deep-seated aversion to imprecision and uncertainty and an equally profound denial as a primary coping mechanism for that aversion across our species.

  7. Double Helix

    PD,

    And with the waive of a hand, Prayson makes it all better.

    A clever fool indeed.

  8. Double Helix

    PD = An arrogant fool.

    In other words, you’ll evade the question while trying to switch the burden.

    Boy you’re clever.

  9. physics

    vidasdecristo,

    How can you live with yourself being such a liar? Dawson’s profile does not list his interests the way you described. I have seen his profile many times.

    As per your declarations, they are empty rhetoric. Not a surprise if you can deform Dawson’s interests and favorite films into the lie you posted as if they were his interests. Way to defend “The Faith.”

    • from his site bahnsenburner.blogspot
      and profile link http://www.blogger.com/profile/11030029491768748360

      ” My Wife, Enjoyment of life, Ideas, Achievements, Serialism, imported beer, JFK, Elephant Man, Unforgiven, Tess, Another Woman, Manhattan Murder ”

      I still pass no judgment on the man, neither will I call him a liar. He believes what he believes and I believe what I believe. Everyone is free to pursue their own bliss, just don’t hurt anyone in your journey..

      • physics

        Still deforming. Under interests he has:
        “My Wife, Enjoyment of life, Ideas, Achievements, Serialism, imported beer”

        Under movies he has:
        “1984, JFK, Elephant Man, Unforgiven, Tess, Another Woman, Manhattan Murder … [and more]”

        Yet you misrepresented his interests as follows:
        “My wife, Another women, import beer, and Elephant Man”

        You were thus lying by deforming what you saw in the profile.

        I didn’t “call” you a liar, I described you by your actions (by their fruits you shall know them). Part of not hurting anybody in your journey would be not to misrepresent them, right? Isn’t there in your bible something against false witness? (I am not Dawson, if I were I would say so.)

      • OK, I see my mistake now. I was just making an observation, not trying to convict. Thank you, I see now Interests is one line then comes Favorite Movies. No ones perfect.

  10. Update: Dawson Bethrick lengthly(ca. 8400 words) responded to my case : Prayson Daniel vs. the Imaginative Nature of Christian Theism (January 19, 2013)

    I will respond to his respond in near future. I will encourage you to read and reread it. Thank you Bethrick.

  11. Hi Prayson,
    I’m going to give you an answer kind of like Maverick’s except I don’t kind of agree with the premise of Bethrick’s argument. I’m not qualified to give an answer strictly in terms of modal logic, but the ontological argument relies on modal terms – it is possible to conceive of a perfect being, to actually be a perfect concept, such an entity should have the quality of being real or it would be less than perfect, therefore a perfect being necessarily exists. Just as the “imaginary object” argument simply sets aside a whole group of objects – mental constructs which also happen to be real – the ontological argument includes a set of objects – perfect qualities – as real, just because we can use the term “perfect quality” in a sentence. We can talk about imaginary numbers, infinite sets, and the fact that .999…= 1 coherently in mathematics, but all that shows us is that math is self-consistent, not that actual infinites exist or imaginary numbers necessarily represent something outside of mathematical concepts. What does it mean, for example, for a being’s perfection to be completed by the addition of the single quality of being real (ignoring the question of what constitutes reality for the moment)? I rarely find myself saying this, but I find W. L. Craig’s arguments regarding infinite sets and actual infinites pretty sound, and I think they apply here.

    • Hej Keith.

      Thank you for the explanation. I can now see where the problem is. But before I address your comment, I will encourage you to watch: Plantinga’s Ontological Argument Simplified, so that you can understand both the terminologies and what I am going to say as I show why the mirror does not work and try to correct some of your understanding above.

      Do let me know when you have do that.

      Yours,
      Prayson

      • Yeah, I saw that, not any different than I understood prior to the video. Equivocation begins at approximately 8:25 in the first video. It all holds given Realist ontology, and that is what gets slipped in right there. If you disagree on that point, not so much.

      • Keith, remember my aim is not to show that validity of ontological argument but to show the notion that Bethrick’s case mirrors the modal ontological argument is not true.

        This is Plantinga’s case:

        1. It is possible that a greatest conceivable being exists.
        2. If it is possible that a greatest conceivable being exists, then a greatest conceivable being exists in some possible world.
        3. If a greatest conceivable being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.
        4. If a greatest conceivable being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.
        5. If a greatest conceivable being exists in the actual world, then a greatest conceivable being exists.
        6. Therefore, a greatest conceivable being exists

        A greatest conceivable being is a being that has maximal greatness[omniscience, omnipotence, moral perfection and necessary: necessary existence is a great-making property].

        The mirror fails because no-existence is not a great-making property. I do not see how you think it mirrors modal ontological argument. Could you help me understand Keith?

  12. After a few good years of arguing, debating, radioing, tving, filming, faithing and recently agnosting, I’ve realised that the christian jesus provided the absolute argument for either the utter evillness of god, or his/her/its utter ignorance, both scenarios awful… All this arguing does no other good than sharpening one’s writing skills, very much needed by some:-)
    To make sure I’m not totally off-topic, the presented argument is as dumb as Dumber’s mate, not worth the carbohydrates dealing with it.
    As for my little exposé, could you please consider the Tree in light of its fruit(s), and also viceversa?
    Have you sweet christians got laws and legislated social services in your countries? Have you got family legislations? What would they do if being informed of a Father or Legal Guardian leaving their children be tortured, mutilated, starved, raped, burnt, assasinated and all the rest of imaginable horrors?
    What would you do if you’d know anyone commiting these CRIMES against ALL humans through NEGLECT? The Heavanly Father gives rain to the unjust? Hello, ever heard of Africa’s fly eaten starving children just to name something you could easily Google…
    I have heard of Earthly fathers selling their kidneys and eyes in India and other places to FEED their children! For whose sins are they paying? Where is the glory of any god to be found in it? Glory? No, Gory!
    Believe your god not for what he has said, but for what he has done, as jesus teaches you…
    I grew up in Ceasescu’s Romania… Have you seen where they kept the little orphans?
    “Let the children come to me!” said jesus?
    WHY DOESN’T HE GO TO THEM as any loving father would do?
    And please spare me, and yourself of quoting C. S. Lewis and others about suffering…
    Oh yes, my argument is not as much theological as emotional… as pain and suffering are!

    With all the love and respect I am capable of…

    (Rev.) Rom…

    • Thank you so much Rom. As long you agree that “the presented argument is as dumb as Dumber’s mate, not worth the carbohydrates dealing with it[sic]“. then I believe I have fulfill my aim in this article.

      I cannot even begin to understand the weight that you bear of the emotional problem of pain and suffering. But I believe your case is another worthy looking topic. I have presented elsewhere but , interesting, Robert Nielsen, a brilliant thinking atheist blogger, and I are having a discussion on this issue at his awesome blog. You are welcome to join us: 10 Questions For Christians

      Thank you so much Rom.

      Yours,
      Prayson

  13. Peter B.

    He seems to be equivocating on what “Imagining” and “thinking of” means. If he really intends on this argument, he’s left with Cartesian scepticism without ever reaching the cogito. It seem like it reduces down to Pyrrhonian Scepticism.

  14. Prayson, I have read the two blog posts you referenced and looked at the 13 reasons which you dismiss as irrelevant without showing cause why. I think it would be fair if you can respond to why each argument taken singly, then all of them treated collectively do not argue for a case of the christian god being imaginary.
    There are questions you ask that I think are word play and are in the group the Buddha said said shouldn’t be asked.

    When I imagine there is no god, how is what I am imagining not imaginary?

    What do you intend to achieve with such a line of thought? The question appears tricky but it is useless, it does not help in dealing with the imaginary nature of god belief.

    • I granted even if they are all true, they are irrelevant, thus I do not have to deal with them and I gave the reasons above. I could simply agree that all 13 points are true, but sadly they do not show that Christian God is imaginary.

      I think Dawson Bethrick’s atheist question is not tricky but absurd. Here is how: I am imagining that I am imagining that I imagined. Is my imagining that I am imagining that I imagined, imaginary? I do not think so because I really imagine that I am imagining that I imagined.

      • physics

        There’s nothing absurd about the question. You gave an example in your entry where you clearly could establish that something you were imagining is not imaginary:

        “Example I can imagine how my wife would react if I forget our wedding anniversary. Does this follow that her reaction, if I forget our anniversary is imaginary?”

        Of course not. But you are making the point for Dawson. How comes that you can establish the reality of what you were imagining in your wife’s example, but you can’t do the same for your god’s case? Wouldn’t it be much more relevant to point to something just as obvious showing your god to be something else besides a figment of your imagination? Dawson never said that everything you might imagine is imaginary. He asked the specifics, how can we tell that a god we can only imagine is not imaginary.

        I also think that you should read much more carefully those 13 points.

        You talk somewhere else about reading and understanding properly atheist’s blogs before interacting with them, yet you did not pay too much attention to Dawson’s. Of course, you are free to dismiss my comment and not read what Dawson wrote carefully enough. But be aware that people notices such things.

      • physics, I agree with you here and it is the same thing I told him. He can’t dismiss the 13 points as irrelevant without showing why.

  15. I was alright until I saw premise 4. At that point I verbally said “Oh, come on!”

    • It was premise 4 that I also firstly said, no! no! no! :) I salute Dawson Bethrick though for thinking logically and contending for atheism. Sadly many atheists, like theists, take for granted what they believe to be true.

  16. Maverik Norman

    As an atheist, I’d argue that your distinction between the epistemological status of subjects and the ontological status of an object is not always as clear cut as you’re trying to make it out to be.

    First, as atheists, we find many theists in real life who take their epistemological status to be proof of the ontological status of the Christian god: “If I can feel Jesus in my heart, then the Christian god exists. I feel Jesus in my heart. Therefore, the Christian god exists.” Another popular one is “If the Bible says the Christian god exists, then the Christian god exists. The Bible say so. Therefore, the Christian god exists.” Of course, people can err when arguing but it shows that theists intuitively make a genetic fallacy as well. So, commentators here shouldn’t be as judgmental as they seem to be, unless they want Christians to be called hypocrites.

    Second, we as atheists also find professional theists to use the jump: Consider Platinga’s warranted belief, for instance. Of course, he doesn’t argue that God exists because we have warranted beliefs, but that belief in God is possible. Likewise, we can argue that belief in God’s non-existence is possible, based on epistemological grounds. And, in fact, the blog post you referenced starts by summarizing the common objection that belief in God’s non-existence is not justified (because we’re no omniscient).

    Third, atheists and theists alike sometimes argue their case by using an interference to the best explanation. Since our observations about the world is somewhat ambiguous – you’re likely to point to cosmological, teleological, and transcendental ‘observations’, we’ll point to ‘observations’ of evil, divine hiddeness and rational non-belief –, we have to compare theories, and not just two single hypotheses. “The Christian god exists” fails to explain all the observations, so you need additional hypothesis (free will is morally significant, people are sinners) to make your theory the better explanation. This may include hypothesis about the atheist’s epistemological status, so we are also justified to add hypotheses about the Christian’s epistemological status as well.

    Forth, and maybe most importantly, there’s a well-known gap in the justification of the existence of the Christian god. Traditional philosophical arguments – even when taken at face value – do not justify your beliefs, but merely argue for a generic god. You might as well be a Muslim or a Jew based on the arguments. Therefore, you need an additional, confessional argument. Most of them are either those mentioned in my first argument. But even those used by professional apologists are based on the epistemological status of subjects, for they all merely boil down to an argument from miracles (the Kuzari Argument for Jews, Jesus’ resurrection for Christians, or the perfection or the Koran for Muslims.) In all of them, the epistemological status of the witnesses of these miracles matters very much. Without these miracles, the epistemological status of God’s supposed messengers – Moses, Jesus, Mohamed – matter very much. The well-known argument about Jesus being either a lunatic, liar, lord, or legend is nothing but an argument about the epistemological status of the messenger of the witnesses.

    So, as far as I can see, you can’t argue for the existence of the Christian god without assumptions about the epistemological status of the subjects.

    And just to be clear: I am not saying the argument above is sound. I’m merely saying, if Christians can’t do without the genetic fallacy, why should atheists feel obligated to argue without it?

    • Thank you, Maverik, for a robust and length input. I treasure your thought. Since we are on the same page in deeming the argument above as unsound, then I believe I have fulfill my goal Maverik.

      I will love to address your four points, but I think it will be going beyond what this article mainly aimed, namely to show that Bethrick case is unsound. You rock Maverik and thank you for taking your time reading and commenting while there are thousands other worthier things you could read and comment. Dearly thank you.

      • Maverik Norman

        Hey, you’re welcome. :)

        In hindsight, the grammar and some formulations could have been better in some sentences. Sorry about that; I’m not a native English speaker. Unfortunately, there are also a few typos.

        You know, the most interesting aspect of the above argument is that I sort of agree with the premises. I think I have a feeling what he’s trying to say. Even so, I think there’s something wrong with the argument.

        In the end, it hangs on the word ‘imaginary’ I believe. My dictionary suggests quite a few slightly different meanings. For instance, if the author meant ‘unreal’, the argument is begging the question. If he meant ‘invented’, the support for premise (4) is almost completely besides the point. If he meant ‘exist in the mind’ as some other commentators here suggested, premise (1) would be rejected by every sane person.

        The most charitable reading is probably ‘invented’. Or maybe, ‘not discovered’. Even so, the attempt to use it in an argument appears to be hardly convincing:

        1. That which humans have invented (and not discovered) probably does not exist.

        2. Object X was invented (and not discovered) by humans.

        3. Therefore, probably, object X does not exist.

        Hopefully, the formulation makes clear that this is at best an inductive argument. We may accidentally invent something that (already) exists somewhere. It’s just very, very improbable (ie. the ratio of actually existing objects and potentially thinkable objects is very, very small).

        Then, there’s the problem of finding good support for premise (2). Whether the Christian god was indeed invented and not discovered is obviously a historical proposition, and historical sources are usually rather ambiguous. They require interpretation, and experience tells us that people usually cannot agree on one ‘correct’ interpretation of a text.

        However, I (obviously) think there is good support today that the Christian god is an invention of Jews and people like Jesus, Paul and the gospel authors. Observations (and, sometimes, the lack thereof) in archeology and textual criticism are better explained, in my opinion, by assuming that the Jewish god was indeed invented, and the Christian god is merely a small advancement thereof.

        Of course, this won’t persuade a Christian. But it may persuade somebody sitting on the fence. ;)

      • Worry not about English grammar, Maverik, I bet you cannot be worse than me :) I am terrible. Sadly I am terrible even in my own native Swahili language. I am even worst in Danish. We keep trying, we keep trying Maverik.

        Your modification of Bethrick’s case would probably be stronger this way:

        1. That which humans have invented (and[thus] not discovered) does not exist.

        2. Christian God was invented (and[thus] not discovered) by humans.

        3. Therefore, Christian God does not exist.

        As you noticed, showing 2 is true, is quite challenging, as I contended, that even if “there is good support today that the Christian god is an invention of Jews and people like Jesus, Paul and the gospel authors“, if Christian God exists, then it does not matter what they invented, because it is not about the epistemology of subjects[Christians] but the ontology of the object[God].

        We should be careful not to fell into genetic fallacy. IEP explained: “[a] critic uses the genetic fallacy if the critic attempts to discredit or support a claim or an argument because of its origin (genesis) when such an appeal to origins is irrelevant.” and FF expounded that it “is the most general fallacy of irrelevancy involving the origins or history of an idea.”

        Rejecting existence of God because of its source[Christians], rather than its merit, is a classical text book example of this fallacy.

        For one to show that Christian God was invented by humans thus does not exist, one has to contended against the existence of the Christian God(merits). She/he need to give a successful positive case to show that Christian God does not exist. Unless she/he does that, Christians and atheists, alike, should find this argument unconvincing.

        Thank you again Maverik

      • Maverik Norman

        Hi Prayson,

        I’m glad to hear you give me some slack concerning grammar.

        I’m well aware of the genetic fallacy. After all I mentioned it in my first post, already. Note, however, the qualification in your quote of the IEP: “[a] critic uses the genetic fallacy if the critic attempts to discredit or support a claim or an argument because of its origin (genesis) **when such an appeal to origins is irrelevant.**”

        Also FF qualifies: “It is fallacious to either endorse or condemn an idea based on its past […] merits or demerits, **unless** its past in some way affects its present value. For instance, **the origin of evidence can be quite relevant to its evaluation, especially in historical investigations.** The origin of testimony—whether first hand, hearsay, or rumor—carries weight in evaluating it.”

        As I said earlier, I do think the origins of the Christian god are very relevant.

        Note also that you as a Christian have no other means to establish many of your beliefs (ie. Jesus’ resurrection) other than by arguing to the reliability of the authors of the Bible, or by appealing to some sensus divinitatis.

        In other words, you must appeal to the origins of the claims, as far as I can see.

        So, beware of Matthew 7:3, 7:5, and Luke 6:42. ;)

      • Thank you Maverik

        Yes, I do know that unless its past in some way affects its present value. That is why I contended we should be careful not to fell into genetic fallacy.

        If one can show that early Christians affects the case that God exists or not, then I believe one will not fell into genetic fallacy. The problem I have, as I defended, that if God exists, then the merit of this case, cannot be dismissed because of the first Christians holding such a belief.

        I would love to address your claim that “Christian have no other means to establish many of your beliefs (ie. Jesus’ resurrection) other than by arguing to the reliability of the authors of the Bible, or by appealing to some sensus divinitatis.[sic]” but that will be going beyond this article.

        Yours,
        Prayson

  17. Ah, a mirror image of the Ontological Argument, and just as great a waste of time, as you ably point out :) Can’t we just admit that there are not truly irrational positions here? There are people with more or less well-considered models, but the ontological differences at the bottom are not resolvable. If you wish to have faith, have faith and leave it at that. Evangelism in this form (apologetics) is misguided.

    • Thank you Keith. How is Bethrick case a mirror image of the ontological argument?

      • One tries to imagine something out of existence, the other tries to imagine something into existence. Modal statements can tell us how we may logically speak of an object as defined, but as you point out, they cannot define the object. (imagining an object does not make it imaginary, positing a superlative object does not necessitate it or even establish a coherent concept of absolute superlatives)

        • Which version of modal ontonlogical argument imagine God into existence? How does it mirror Bethrick’s? And could you show how ontological argument or Bethrick imagine God in/out of existence?

  18. Goes to show: NO ONE is objective and EVERY ONE holds presuppositions, the theist and atheist.

  19. I haven’t read his post but even from the first few lines i can see its tongue in cheek. He’s making a mockery of the weakness and silliness of the arguments presented by Christian apologists. All he’s done is take Christian thinking “for god” and changed the words around. Did you really miss that?

    • I would encourage you to read his posts first John and then we move from there :)

      • No point. It’s a dead issue. If he was serious (which i truly doubt) then he’s an idiot just using the same incredibly weak arguments presented by theists.

      • I wonder how one can doubt what one does not know? :) We should at least try to know what we doubt.

        He is very serious. He went through in great length to offer his 13 points, and defend each premise and if you follow the exchange in comment area, then you will know that it is not a tongue in cheek. Sadly :) Dawson Bethrick truly believes that “theists will have a very difficult time overcoming” this case.

      • Well, I don’t think I could manage 8400 words but I’m sure I could manage a page or so and STILL take the piss out such a silly argument.’But it probably wouldnt be worth the effort in the long run.’

        I have never come across an atheist argument that ever convinced a theist or Christian that what they believed is rubbish.
        However, of all those that have begun the journey to true enlightenment and managed to survive the trauma of deconversion they have, without exception wondered how the hell they managed to hold on to such crap for so long, and every single individual I have encountered has stated in so many words that the moment they realised what they had believed in was lies they experienced true freedom.

        What you believe in is as a result of inculcation, and each and every deconvertee will attest to this.

    • Thank god…I thought it was just me that thought he was taking the piss. Well spotted, John

  20. … is this guy legitimately serious about this argument?

      • Wow…. I’m gonna have to read it for myself and give it the most sympathic view I can… cause it’s just like…. wow.

      • I never heard of Dawson Bethrick so I went to Yahoo search and typed “Dawson Bethrick Blog” and nothing. Turns out his article dump is katholon(.)com and his blog is http://bahnsenburner.blogspot.com/ His last name is nowhere to be found, even on his free Blogspot profile page. Yet he tells us his interests, “My wife, Another women, import beer, and Elephant Man”.

        The site is white on black, very tedious to read.
        The header image reads, “INCINERATING PRESUPPOSITIONALISM”.

        Presuppositionalism is a school of Christian apologetics that believes the Christian faith is the only basis for rational thought. It presupposes that the Bible is divine revelation and attempts to expose flaws in other worldviews. It claims that apart from presuppositions, one could not make sense of any human experience, and there can be no set of neutral assumptions from which to reason with a non-Christian.

        The above definition of Presupposesitionalism is a type of derogatory definition used to put us in a box, a box that atheist think they can crush, but I’ll take ownership of it and make it my word. When I do that God will show me the words to write and it will be His word.

        *******

        Presuppositionalism or the Classical Approach? Either one wins. Charles Spurgeon remarked once that defending the Bible is like a defending Lion. Scripture is its own defense. Nevertheless, we must obey Scripture where it teaches us to defend our faith, and part of that faith is the belief in the inspiration and authority of the Bible.

        The general presuppositional apologetic is grounded in a Calvinistic view of salvation and, the Calvinistic view of history. God is the absolute monarch and predestinating king over every realm of reality. Second, the presuppositionalist believes that there are three basic consciousnesses of man: Adamic, Unregenerate, and Regenerate.

        Adamic Consciousness–This does not exist now, but was the original state of man’s reason, will, and emotions that were in total submission to God and receptive to God.

        Unregenerate Consciousness–This was, of course, due to Adam’s willful transgression of the law of God. This state is characterized by man’s rebellion and unwillingness to accept the revelation of God. Now man represses the revelation and law of God rather than receiving it.

        Van Til makes these implications concerning this state of man’s consciousness: (1) man sets himself to be judge (2) man denies God’s control of the universe (3) man’s thoughts and ideas are not “thinking God’s thoughts after Him,” but are claiming pure originality and truth in their interpretation of the external world (4) man views the external factual world as brute facts without their interpretation in God and thus, the universe is controlled by chance. The unregenerate consciousness is viewed as the abnormal state, biblically. All unregenerate reasoning reflects these implications.

        Regenerate Consciousness–This is the renewed state of believers in which the mind, will, and emotions seek submission under their Creator. The intellect no longer assumes the ultimate place, but seeks revelation that it might be brought to total submission (Halsey, 1978, pp. 28- 30).

        This view of three different consciousnesses is fundamental to the presuppositional apologetic. There are many references in Van Tillian literature to the autonomy of man and the independent reasoning of man. That is simply a term referring to the unregenerate consciousness and all its implications. The most important implication is that fallen man cannot reason aright or seek the God of Scripture by his unregenerate assumptions (the autonomy of reason).

        Man’s intellect, will, and emotions were affected by the fall in such a way that no amount of empirical or rational argument or evidence of any nature can effectively lead him to believe in the God of Scripture. Unbelieving man will distort any such argument simply because he is a rebel against God. That’s why you may have read me saying that all logical arguments fail to convince the unbeliever. They will always have a counter, always have logical arguments against God. Although we evangelize and defend our faith it is not until the unbeliever surrenders his will and consciously asked that the door be opened, will the door open. God uses our words to do his will. It isn’t our will, or our logic, that moves the unbeliever.

        According to the presuppositionalist, there are two main presuppositions that Christianity entails: the (personal and infinite God) and (Scripture as His authoritative revelation). These two foundations are necessary for what is (metaphysics) and what we know (epistemology). Van Tillians argues that only the Triune God of Scripture is adequate to account for what exists. God must be infinite to be ultimate and Triune to be personal. To have knowledge, we must have a Word from God to know reality. The Bible is thus authoritative since it interprets reality giving us truth about the world and absolute moral, medical, and psychological prescriptions. Just imagine where we would be if every man had wrote upon his heart to love his neighbor has he loves himself.

        Does Dawson Bethrick Incinerate Presuppositionalism? No

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