In my previous article, I attempted to make a rather modest defense of the most basic or mere Presuppositionalist framework that I think all Christian apologists should accept. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and so many who had been “anti”- Presuppositionalist stated that they were much more amenable to it now that they realized it was not identical to a tactic of forever asking “how do you know for certain?”
I ended that article by saying that I would continue on by writing about how Presuppositionalism frees the Christian to play on our own turf, so to speak. That we do not need to abandon Biblical beliefs or try to start on some supposed neutral ground with the unbeliever and attempt to prove God from the bottom up (e.g. from contra-naturalism, to general theism, to Christian theism). However, while I was discussing the article with others I realized that a lot of people were having a hard time moving from the moral argument not having a direct implication in how we think about the argument itself, to the transcendental argument which does. That is, with the moral argument, the conclusion of the argument itself does not have direct implication for how we interact and understand the moral argument itself. However, with the Transcendental argument, rationality itself is what is needed to interact with the argument. This means that the soundness of the argument has a certain entailment about how we interact with the argument – in order for the unbeliever to attempt to even engage the argument, they must use their God-given rationality to do so.
This difference caused some comprehension problems for people who were initially opposed to the Presuppositionalism generally, and who were rather hostile to the stance that I took in the article – that all Christian apologists just are mere Pressupositionalists. While I was planning the next article, I was reminded of an argument that Alvin Plantinga developed and William Lane Craig himself has used in debates – the argument from intentionality, or the argument from “aboutness.” Craig presents the argument as follows:
1. If God did not exist, then intentional states of consciousness would not exist.
2. Intentional states of consciousness do exist.
3. God exist.
Here Craig points out that given atheism, intentionality (the property of being about something or of something else; that our thoughts are object directed) is an incoherent concept. He argues a reductio ad absurdum that if atheism is true, then we should not be in a position where we could even think about the truth or falsity of atheism. I'm not here going to defend the soundness of the argument as, again, I think it should be a trivial fact that nearly all Christians would grant the truth of the argument and I'm here writing to Christian apologists, not trying to present the argument to unbelievers as a defense of Christian theism. It seems to me that the argument from intentionality just is yet another kind of transcendental argument – it establishes that one of the necessary preconditions for rationality (intentionality) is only possible given the existence of God (i.e. God is the necessary precondition for rationality).
I like this argument from intentionality for the purposes of demonstrating mere Presuppositionalism because it has the exact entailment that the argument I presented in the last article does - mainly because intentionality just is one of the transcendental facts of reality used as evidence in my version of the argument. That is, if Craig's argument is sound, then for the unbeliever to even think about the argument from intentionality, God must necessarily exist as the necessary precondition for rationality (which requires intentionality). This means that for the unbeliever to even attempt to engage the argument, they must first unwittingly presuppose the truth of the very argument that they want to deny in order to have a foundation from which to try and launch their assault. In order for them to deny that God is the necessary precondition for intentionality, they must employ their God-given intentional ability to think about the argument. As the cliche goes, they cannot try to slap God's face without first needing him to let them climb into his lap.
Ultimately, the unbeliever does not stand on neutral ground. He is a creature in God's creation, made imago dei, trying to use his God-given reason in order to deny these fundamental features of his own being and existence.
This kind of framework just is mere Presuppositionalism. The question for the Christian apologist then becomes, given the fact that the unbeliever is not neutral, that they cannot reason coherently from within their own worldview, and cannot help but involuntarily presuppose the existence of the very God that they seek to deny, what impact (if any) ought this have on the methodology and tactical decisions we make in an attempt to provide a consistent and rational defense of the Christian faith?
We will discuss this in the next article.