How do we on a street level explain the concept that arguing/reasoning for God by what he has revealed is begging the question(reasoning in a circle) in the correct way?

I will try and copy from another post what I mean.:hugs:. Ok here is one I’ve been working on. Sometimes in an apologetic situation the other person might say “you can’t use the Bible to prove that the Bible is true and that God exists because the Bible says that God exists, you’re begging the question”.
We know that circular reasoning is not right you can’t use the principle of induction to prove the principle of induction that’s begging the question. But everyone who argues/ reasons (with gentleness and respect) for a system of belief, truth, will ultimately argue/reason for their ultimate authority (in a circle). For example we don’t say the Bible is true because the Bible says it’s true, that’s circular reasoning. but in a broader circle it is God’s transcendent revelation that gives meaning and context to reality, knowledge and ethics and so when we say" that without God we can’t make sense of reality, knowledge and ethics", we are using his transcendent revelation (the scriptures) to prove His existence. So when we argue/reason for the existence of God using the scriptures as the authority, that is technically reasoning in a circle but a different broader kind of circle than what is normally thought of because there’s nothing beyond God himself and his word that can be appealed to as a greater authority that would validate him. Therefore God is the ultimate authority and His Revelation to us in the scriptures about Himself are consistent with each other. A correct circular reasoning.
Wow that’s a mouthful for me, again the question is
“How do we break this down for the person who has no background in philosophy but is unaware of their own bias?”
Thanks in advance for your assistance.

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I am not sure that circular reasoning is ever technically correct (unless you are avoiding Russell’s Paradox which threatened to bring down all of mathematics, lol).

I believe you could point to the concepts you mentioned; meaning, morality, knowledge, and reality, to argue for the existence of a God. For instance, free will makes the most sense if there is a dual nature to mankind and this makes the most sense if there is a God. Not necessarily the God of the Bible but a God in general. So once we have established the reasonableness of the existence of God we can then argue for the particulars of monotheism. Then of the monotheistic faiths which has the greatest explanatory power? Of the great holy books which has the most historical and archaeological evidence for its validity? I think down this path you will make an easy argument for Christianity without entering into circular reasoning (so long as you do not stray into radical skepticism).

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Thanks for your involved questiom.

That truth revelation was the reality that showed me He was real and God of all. We know the bible is a historical book about God and mans relationship as seen through different people places, and times. The problem for me was how could I believe what I was reading i told people it was stupid and made no sense. As Paul writes its foolishness to a perishing man. I also bombarded people with a multitude of questions to throw people off. One time someone focused on one question and came back with viable answer and made it simple to understand. Prior to the reformation the church was a complicated mess but as most know today it’s a genuine relationship with Christ. I am not being derogatory but in my early years a boss made a statement that stuck though I didn’t like it but made a lot of sense. KIS keep it simple, you said street level. I guess I am saying dismantle thier wall one brick at a time till you find the foundation thier lies were built on. Most people bought into a lie and we must show them truth with love, i know i bought into it. Hope i shared what will help
Mike

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Joshua thanks for the response, when talking about a worldview it is my understanding that if the worldview does not correspond to reality then it is an incorrect worldview? It is also my understanding please correct me if I’m wrong that Christianity’s internal claim is that it is the only way to understand God, ourselves and everything he’s created? Working from the general to the particular, God being the source of everything, is also the source of all meaning, knowledge, reality and morality. If this is the case, then the proof of Him would have to come from Him wouldn’t it? Where else would we go for knowledge of Him? Thanks for dialoguing with me, it helps me think it through.

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Thanks @mgaplus4 , that’s a good reminder. If we listen long enough people will eventually tell us what’s most important to them and then the door is open.

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Hello R Page, a few years ago I was trying to wake up but dazing back to sleep and I heard an audible voice calling me, Maria. Then He said: It is time to harvest. At the time I did not know the Holy Spirit well and I searched everywhere as to find out what that meant and learned that Jesus prepares the harvest and we as labourers have to harvest. There are many people hungry for God like I was and wanted to go to the streets and preach but it is Jesus who prepares them, and the Holy Spirit who leads you and prepare the way. I’ve seen some of my friends go to the streets and preach to muslims and end up in arguments because the harvest was not ready. When the harvest is not ready then the people don’t receive the word in their heart because it is not heir time and the Holy Spirit has not placed conviction in them, we cannot convince them but only The Holy Spirit. When we go out to preach in the streets we have to pray and be lead by The Holy Spirit and of possible fast. Then God will work in a mighty way.
Blessings!

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Lali thank you for your response, I totally agree .it was more of a philosophical question of how to break it down to a simpler level not a how to do apologetics question. if we are not led by the spirit it won’t work at all

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Amen!

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Hi @rpage,

Thank you for the interesting questions.

The act of working from the general to the particular is deductive logic. When using deductive logic your premises must be properly basic beliefs (a properly basic belief is one which needs no further argumentation, excepting radical skepticism). Or at least beliefs which are so well argued they approach the point that they are nearly universally accepted. Such as

All men are mortal
Socrates is a man
Therefore, Socrates is mortal

You work from the general universally accepted principle, “All men are mortal” to the particular universally accepted principle “Socrates is a man” to conclude deductively, “Socrates is mortal.”

The syllogism you are setting up seems to be saying

God is the source of everything
Knowledge is a part of everything
Therefore, God is the source of all knowledge

This doesn’t work, logically, for two reasons. The first is that the premise “God is the source of everything” is not a properly basic belief and it is not universally acknowledge as being true. Perhaps you could build a syllogism with properly basic beliefs with “God is the source of everything” as a conclusion which could then be used as the premise in a subsequent logical argument. But, an argument could not start here because your fellow interlocutor could deny your first premise very easily requiring you to argue your first point.

Secondly, your conclusion is implicitly in your premise. You have assumed your conclusion to be true at the arguments outset. You assumed God is the source of all knowledge in order to conclude he is the source of all knowledge (knowledge being a part of everything).

While I agree with you that if God created everything then all truth and all physical things come from him (I would argue that not all knowledge, meaning, and (gasp) morality come from him, these can be developed apart from God, even though establishing a grounding doesn’t really work). But, as we do not have the being of God that we can point to, we have to point to evidence and build arguments on that evidence. If we are going to do that then we should build a strong case. Assuming the conclusion in your premises would not amount to a strong case unfortunately.

I am not saying that the statements you have made are untrue, I agree with them. I am claiming that these do not amount to a logical argument that should be accepted by someone for whom you are building a case.

Does this make sense? Am I missing anything?

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Hi back @Joshua_Hansen , thanks for your response.(God is the source of everything
Knowledge is a part of everything
Therefore, God is the source of all knowledge). No that is not the premise, it’s probably my fault :hugs: this is the process I’m working through. Let’s see if this works. (The God of the Bible is the Creator of all things. And as such it would follow that only He could be source for the context/ meaning of all things. and if no other worldview or system of belief can give true context/ meaning to our human existence then God would be proved. . Not a god but the triune God). This is a really fascinating discussion for me because the world as Romans puts it suppresses the truth in unrighteousness and they won’t admit to the original premise even though it’s true. I’m beginning to realize the need to logically work in a progression, the hard part is doing it without surrendering Jesus as Lord in my heart. What I mean by that is not relying simply on my own reason but letting my method of knowing be controlled by Him.

Hi @rpage! Thanks for responding.

I do not see a material difference between the statement “God is the source of all things” and “God is the Creator of all things.” Those two things, to me, are equivalent. If there is a difference I am missing, please let me know.

I do agree that your second premise, “He could be source for the context/ meaning of all things,” would flow from the first, but the argument is missing a middle, minor, premise. Something like, “a creator infuses his creation with meaning.”

I am not sure if you can say that all meaning comes from God. I know this ruffles some theological feathers for some. But, if I am made in the image of God, can I not, also, be a source of meaning. As an example, if I write my wife a love letter, does the content have its source in God? Does my wife think that God wrote her a love letter? I think the meaning in the letter would be my own, as a mini-creator made in the image of the Creator.

Perhaps, we could talk about the possibility of meaning and ultimate meaning only being found in a Creator. This is actually something I have been thinking about a lot lately as I have been reading Thomas Nagel. He has an essay on the absurdity of life, which talks about ideas along these lines.

I do agree that no other worldview can approach the explanation of life that Christianity can. What fascinates me is how many other worldviews have to be cobbled together to try and equal Christianity. You need a little stoicism, a little science, a little Buddhism, a scoop of Judaism, a slew of other philosophies, with the cherry on top being a heap of indefensible assumptions.

Christianity, to me, makes the most sense out of life. It is not true for that reason, the causality goes the other way. It is true, therefore… That is an important order to keep in mind, this is where the faith part comes in. I, like you, do not want to reason my way to God. I want to stand beside him and see how his presence illuminates creation, not the other way around.

I would be careful when talking about “proofs” for God. I do not believe there to be such a thing. I am with Pascal, there are enough reasons on either side of the God debate for people to rationally conclude their position either way. Faith in God, then, comes down to a choice of what you are going to believe.

There are some who look at the universe and conclude we are alone in a purposeless, meaningless universe. There are others who find he can be known by the things which exist (Romans 1). It is up to us to choose, in faith by the Holy Spirit, which of those things we are going to believe.

I believe that reason, and by extension apologetics, is there to remove barriers to belief. This is why apologetics falls under the toolset of evangelism. It is the Word and God and the Holy Spirit which move a person to salvation. It is ultimately their work and not ours.

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@Joshua_Hansen I have been busy all day and I have not been able to formulate a response yet but you have me thinking and this is good I’m really enjoying this dialogue it probably won’t happen until tomorrow I have to go to bed now its 8:17 where I am in California and I’m up at 4 a.m. blessings to you brother and I appreciate you.

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@Joshua_Hansen, you are correct,there is no difference between the two. I changed my opening to exclude diesm.
Thanks for the missing premise call.
If I understand you in regards to us as being the source of meaning, you are talking about the communicable attributes of God ( mini creator). I agree.
What I am trying to convey is that behind all that we do or say is an ultimate authority (God) that provides the ultimate meaning/context for those things.
This is the Crux (I think) to apologetics.
I would love to focus on this aspect.

The internal claim of Christianity is that is the only way. If that is true then I don’t see how Christianity can make more sense than another system of thought because that would imply that the other system of thought is making some sense. Granted other systems of thought do make sense but only because they borrow from the Christian worldview they cannot make sense on their own which is why as you said they have to cobbel a bunch of things together and then support it with indefensible premises. Breaks over I’ll have to revisit this

@rpage, I am so grateful you are taking the time to continue this conversation!

We are getting somewhere! I absolutely agree that meaning has to have a buck-stop in God. He provides the context in which meaning itself takes on meaning. I also agree that this is the goal of evangelism which most often uses the tool of apologetics to achieve that goal (sorry for the nuance, I am a stickler).

I agree that other systems can make some sense, but, as you mentioned, only to the extent that they are tapping into something that is ultimately true. That ultimate truth being found in God.

Two examples:

  1. the scholastics believed that there was much truth to be found in philosophy. Specifically the philosophy of Aristotle. They found that they were not able to refute some of his arguments and, therefore, they must be true. One idea Aristotle argued to was that there is only one God. He arrived at this conclusion by reason alone and not the Bible. The scholastics believed there were truths which could be attained by reason, but other truths which had to be revealed such as that one God having a triune nature.

In this way Aristotelian metaphysics makes sense. But, it only does so to the extent that it participates in the ultimate truth. There is much else that Aristotle said that emphatically does not conform to the ultimate truth.

  1. I was reading Copleston’s History of Philosophy Volume 3 the other day. I want to say he was talking about William of Ockham but it could have been someone before him. I found a thought he shared interesting. The philosopher he was talking about believed that you could come to an understanding of morality through an understanding of humans. The more you knew about humans the more you would understand about morality. So, a person could come to a knowledge of morality “apart from God.”

I found this compelling in a certain sense. Just as we can discover the “laws of nature” by understanding and increasing our knowledge of the universe, can we not also grow in our knowledge the “laws of morality” by observing and growing in our understanding of humans.

The point at the end of the day being, there do seem to be truths accessible apart from the Bible in which other worldviews can participate. Then there are things which must be revealed, which cannot be arrived at through reason alone.

To circle back to your original post, I still believe that the initial premise, that God is the creator of everything, has to be argued to in the sense that it is not observationally verifiable. It would not qualify, to me, as a properly basic belief which should be accepted without further explanation. But, I do believe that it can be defended and argued to.

@mgaplus4 Mike thanks for the response.

@Joshua_Hansen , I’ve been thinking about Aristotle in terms of what is called general Revelation vs. Special revelation I can see how Aristotle could prove that only one God exists.( with general revelation) I would like to posit that Aristotle would not have been able to prove that God exists without the general revelation of God and as such it was not his reason alone that allowed him to do this, it was his reason with the general revelation of God. Romans talks about this that they know (The God) in their hearts But it is special revelation that says there is only one true God, gives Him a name they’re by naming us.
Ask to Ockham I’m not sure his premise is logical. It would need a bridging premise?
He would have to prove that morality itself the concept and standard of right and wrong evil and justice were solely sourced within the human being. Seems to me that like the laws of nature which are transcendent(? I hope that’s the right word) to us and can only be discovered so the laws of morality or transcendent as well but are of a different kind of law I’m not so sure that they can be discovered, I think that they would have to be revealed because we can only measure ourselves against the laws of morality we don’t make them. That was a good question though!
While I would agree that some truths are accessible apart from the Bible I would add to that, it is the Bible that explains the origin or meaning of the truths that are discovered. And so in a sense those truths are not completely accessible apart from the Bible it would only seem so on a surface level.
I’m still thinking about the last paragraph I have to give that some more thought. Thanks so much this is really helping.

You are welcome have a great day.

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Another way to address the question without referring to the Bible is the fine tuning argument, the cosmological argument, the ontological argument and wrapping it up with the cumulative case being strong evidence for God as creator.

Thanks @Jesse_Means_God_Exists, the problem I struggle with is those arguments alone from reason alone can only lead to Christianity being the most reasonable answer.

Sure, but it opens the floor for giving your testimony.