Presuppositionalism (commonly known as "presupp") is an apologetic argument and debate tactic used mostly by evangelical, protestant Christians. The general theme of the presuppositional argument is that Biblical Christianity is the only basis for worldview capable of accounting for things like the laws of logic, human reasoning, moral conscience, etc (what presuppers refer to as either "preconditions for intelligibility" or "properly basic beliefs"). This "presupposition" is then used to counter any and all possible arguments brought against any claim made by the presupper by a non-believer (or even non-presupper or non-"born again" Christians), with the demand that the interloper must "justify their reasoning," which they claim cannot be done without "borrowing" from the presupper's worldview. If that sounds like completely circular question-begging, then congratulations, you
would be right HAVE ABANDONED ALL KNOWLEDGE!!!
Presuppositionalism originated with Dutch theologian Cornelius Van Til in the 1930s, and was later refined by his student Greg Bahnsen in the 1980s. However, the form of presupp most often encountered on G+ and within the Great Debate Community was developed by a certain Canadian ultra-troll known as Sye Ten Bruggencate. In the early 2010s, Bruggencate was saved from his dull life as a boiler room mechanic when he was struck by a bolt of noetic lightning and inspired to develop a new method of defending his Christian faith by way of being a complete asshole. Bruggencate "refined" Bahnsen's presuppositional apologetic, turning it from a legitimate (if philosophically unsound) argument into little more than a rhetorical hammer designed to shut down any and all opposing views by absolving the apologist of the need to address the substance of any possible opposing argument. Sye Ten teamed up with creationist apologist Kent Hovind's crotch fruit Eric, and began to market his new "apologetic" all over the inter-tubes and to various Christian churches.
Bruggencate's presupp made quite a splash in the online atheist community around 2013, particularly because it was a rare example of an argument for God which most atheists had never heard before, and (especially for those without philosophical training) didn't know how to respond to. However, it has since been demolished and debunked by numerous people (atheist and Christian alike) both within and outside the GDC, including Matt Dillahunty, Ozymandias Ramses, Karen S, Matthew Steele, Gary Edwards, 13Heathens, Sye Ten Atheist, Cliffjumper24, and virtually every member of the New Covenant Group (where Sye was kicked off the stage during a live show for repeatedly and rudely interrupting atheist Greg Brahe and not allowing him to speak). Even though presupp is little more than a colossal joke at this point and not taken seriously by anyone with a functioning brain, a few Christians will still try to dig up its mangled corpse and attempt to use it on unsuspecting atheists. One of the few people who continues to use presupp in discussions (and throws a temper tantrum when it doesn't work) is Darwins Deity.
G Man attempted to use presupp once in an argument, and it ended with approximately the same result as the Hindenburg disaster... proving that G Man doesn't even have the mental capacity and self confidence to deliver an argument that the average 9 year old could probably handle in their sleep.
Common Claims and Phrases used by Presuppers Edit
- "Is it impossible for God to exist?"
- "Out of all the knowledge in the Universe, how much do you possess?"
- "Could you be wrong about everything you claim to/think you know?"
- "It has been revealed to me in a way that I can be certain."
- "Everyone knows that God exists." (therefore all atheists are either liars or are "suppressing the truth")
- "Borrowing from my worldview."
- "You have abandoned all knowledge."
- "How do you know that?"
- "I know it's true by the impossibility of the contrary."
- "It's either God, or absurdity."
- "Virtuously circular."
- "How do you know the words you're saying will mean the same thing five minutes from now?" (Yes...presuppers have actually said this unironically)
How to Respond to and Shutdown Anyone Attempting to use Presupp Edit
- Pointing out the fact that presupposing that one's correct doesn't mean that that person is actually correct.
- Invoke the problem of hard solipsism by asking the presupper how they can be certain that everything they've ever heard about God, the Bible, or presuppositionalism isn't all part of a Matrix-like simulation being fed electronically into their brain.
- Ask the presupper to prove that you exist.
- In response to "you can't account for knowledge/your ability to reason" challenge the presupper to account for how they are in any better of a position. (Most experienced apologists should be able to weasel their way out of this one, but it has stumped Clown Car Posse members attempting to use presupp on more than one occasion.)
- In response to the question "Could you be wrong about everything you claim to know?" respond with "I know I am not the God you worship." (Alex Botten used this on a number of presuppers to great effect.)
- Shut down the conversation when any presupper attempts to use Bruggencate-style presupp argumentation and refuse to engage them on the topic. It may come off as petty, but the only goal of Bruggencate's style is--by his own admission--to shut down the conversation.
- Alternatively, when arguing with Bruggencate presuppers (aka "Sye clones"), respond with the same level of smug certainty and stubbornness that they employ.
- Grant the presupper their assertion that a "first cause" must exist in order for "properly basic beliefs" to apply, then ask how it follows that this first cause MUST be the God of the Christian Bible (as opposed to some other god like Zeus or Allah, or even an arbitrary inanimate object such as a can of soup).
Known Presuppositionalists ("presuppers") Edit
- Sye Ten Bruggencate
- Eric Hovind
- Bible Thumping Wingnut
- Colin Pearson
- Dustin Seegers
- Andrew Rappaport
- Darwins Deity
- Arcane Logos
- Jimmy Stephens
- Wyatt Mickas
- Matt Slick