Presuppositionalism

Mascagni, Joseph sold into slavery by his brothersGod has inspired the Bible, which is literal truth. True Christians believe the Bible, and therefore have the basis for understanding life and reality. Atheists do not, and therefore are incapable of rational thought or argument. This understanding is called “Presuppositionalism”. From false presuppositions atheists will draw random conclusions.

How wonderful! If not everyone, a huge number of those who disagree with me are merely wrong, not even in an interesting way. This is not how I think. It helps to explain Tim, the Creationist I invited here in July. What day of the week was the Last Supper? Did God create animals then humanity, or man, then animals, then woman? A lot of people maintain their are contradictions, but honestly I’ve never found a truly provable one, he wrote. He came up with arguments, rather than mere assertion, but I did not feel they were sufficient.

Octavia Butler, in Parable of the Talents, brings together the worst possible characteristics of the worst possible Christianities to imagine “Christian America”. Andrew Jarret, elected US President in 2032, at his inauguration preaches on “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land. But if you refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword” (Isaiah 1:19-20) neatly blaming all the problems of the country on “traitors and sinners, those destroyers in our midst”. “Decent, ordinary men,” writes Butler, can guard slave camps, believing that interning minor criminals there is necessary for the good of the country. Milgram and Zimbardo again.

All of CA is based on lies. The seminary dining room works hard at being as dreary and cheerless as could be managed, and the “hot cinnamon-apple tea” is tepid, slightly sweet water. If all the wickedness is in the Other, then my anger must be Righteous Love.

The book has a moment of self-abnegating love which made me weep. The mother finds her daughter, stolen from her in infancy, and addresses her by her birth name.

-My door is open to you, Larkin, always.
-Asha. My name is Asha Vere.
-Asha, she whispered. My door is open to you, Asha. Always.

“Think it possible that you may be mistaken” says Advices and Queries, quoting Cromwell. CA creates impossible contradictions, which must be denied- “Stupid faith was good. Thinking and questioning were bad.” “The working poor who love Jarret need to be fooled. They scratch a living, and they need a savior.”

Think it possible that you may be mistaken, and possibly I think that too much. It opens me to greater understanding, and makes me incapable of decisions. But the choice is between asserting you are Right, and seeking the truth. As Timothy Garton Ash wrote of the Velvet revolution, a great deal of what is happening is about words: about finding new, clear, true words rather than the old, prefabricated, mendacious phrases under which they have lived for so long.

2 thoughts on “Presuppositionalism

  1. Well, of course your presuppositionalist friend cannot see contradictions in the Bible. Those who do not wish to see them, will not. None so blind as those who will not see. But without boring you by going too deeply into it, I can assure you that I can find glaring contradictions, inaccuracies and downright falsehoods from the first chapter of Genesis, right through to the final chapter of Revelation.

    I know of course, you do not think like that, Clare, and neither do the majority of rational, truthful and honest Christians. I have a lifelong passion for evolution. That passion was started off by my mother, who was very devout, but who recognised that the Bible, far from being the word of God, is the words of men, and as such, imperfect and flawed – just as mankind is imperfect and flawed (Yes, I know, I would make a good Christian – I don’t need you to tell me that dear 😉 ). That however did not shake her belief in God nor life eternal through Jesus Christ for one moment. Mum didn’t need a perfect Bible to believe all things are possible with God – Mum had FAITH.

    And therein lie the problems with presuppositonalists. If they maintain that the Bible is the unerring, unchanging, unquestionable, word of God, then they have no recourse but to ignore the inaccuracies, which is lying to themselves. And if they attempt to argue that point, then they must lie to others. In both instances they are being hypocritical and actually blaspheming their own faith. It seems to me therefore that the “faith” of the presuppositionalist is actually very shallow.

    And if they believe that atheists are “are incapable of rational thought or argument”, I really wish the presuppositionalists would bugger off and stop arguing with me.

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    • Here is the interactive Bible Contradictions chart. Go and have a play. It also gives a guide to verses against women and gays, or showing scientific absurdities and cruelty. There is a great deal for the presuppositionalist to block out, which is why presuppositionalism is such a handy tool. It blocks out it all. I find openness to others’ understanding of truth more to my taste, though whether it helps me be more effectual is an open question.

      That site is a good game for ex-fundamentalists, but I embrace the contradictions. I want different answers to “Why is there suffering in the world?” Job- I am God, I can do what I like; Habakkuk- it is all God’s plan. It may take some time; Jesus- God coming into the midst of suffering and transforming it. The different answers help me at different times, or provide different facets for my greater understanding.

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