Board index Specific Bible verses, texts, and passages 1 Peter

Presuppositionalism is a violation of 1 Peter 3.15

Postby Oleg » Tue Aug 08, 2017 1:53 pm

1 Peter 3:15: "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect."

The Greek word that is translated to "answer" is "apologia".

[apología (from 575 /apó, "from" and 3056 /lógos, "intelligent reasoning") – properly, a well-reasoned reply; a thought-out response to adequately address the issue(s) that is raised. [An "apology" in classical times had nothing to do with saying, "I'm sorry," but rather was a reasoned argument (defense) that presented evidence (supplied compelling proof)]

To give a reason for a conclusion is to provide some claim that is not identical with the conclusion, that supports the conclusion. For example, if someone asks me why I believe the Cubs are going to win the world series again, I would not be giving a reason if I said "The Cubs are going to win the world series again because the Cubs are going to win the world series again". That's not a reason for the conclusion, that's just a repeating of the conclusion. A reason would be "The Cubs are going to win the world series again because they have the same stellar core players with some key additions that strengthen them even further". That may not be a very detailed or good reason, but it is a claim that is not identical with the conclusion, so it's a reason.

Notice that 1 Peter 3:15 does not say "Always be prepared to presuppose Christianity when anyone asks you why you believe in Christianity". People like Sye Ten Bruggencate constantly say things like "You already know the Christian God exists". That is a blatant violation of 1 Peter 3:15. That verse doesn't say "Always be prepared to just assert that everyone already knows Christianity is true when people ask you why you believe Christianity is true". That is not an apologia.

Re: Presuppositionalism is a violation of 1 Peter 3.15

Postby jimwalton » Thu Oct 19, 2017 3:11 pm

In all of my discussions and research, I am learning that I am not a pure presuppositionalist or a pure evidentialist. In my thinking, they both have their place.

For instance, unless I presuppose the possibilities of things like truth and knowledge, I can't expect my reason or my conversations with you to go anywhere. We both have to presuppose something to get off the starting blocks.

For instance, all questions of existence—or, more accurately, knowledge of existence—are fundamentally circular. In order to know a thing, we have to know what it is, and we also have to know HOW we know what it is. To know whether things really are as they seem to be, we must have a procedure for distinguishing appearances that are true from appearances that are false. But to know whether our procedure is a good procedure, we have to know whether it really succeeds in distinguishing appearances that are true from appearances that are false. And we cannot know know whether it really does succeed unless we already know which appearances are true and which ones are false. And so we are caught in a circle.

You can't verify your procedure without first having knowledge, but you can't get any knowledge without first verifying your procedure. Kant would say the only option is to pick one or the other and run with it (choose a procedure that you assume but cannot prove will yield true knowledge, like positivism does with science; or choose some tenets of knowledge that you assume are true even though you can't verify them, which is called foundationalism and is the process used in nearly all of philosophy). The way to verify (or contest) truth in a Kantian system isn't to verify (or contest) the first principles, but to test for coherence: a system based on faulty assumptions (or an inaccurate procedure) will eventually either contradict reality, or contradict itself.

So there seem to be some first principles (there is such a thing as truth and we can know it) that we have to assume before we can have a rational conversation or even assume that truth and knowledge exist.

But I'm convinced there's also a great place for evidentialism. We don't just assume stuff, we also prove it. We don't just assume, we observe, debate, weigh, measure, corroborate and conclude.

So I think that presuppositions and evidences are both necessary to have a complete and balanced epistemic picture. And if what I am saying has any credence, then 1 Peter 3.15 has its place, but its not the total picture of what knowledge, faith, and reason are all about. He is explaining one important aspect how to cope with life and to fall back on things that we know to bear us through difficult times—and to help others bear through them as well. These are the evidences of what we believe, and those evidences are valid.

But that's not all there is to our epistemological picture. We all have presuppositions, as I explained, or we couldn't function in a forum like this.

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