Presuppositional Apologetics vs. Evidential Apologetics
Most know that 1 Peter 3:15 is the biblical mandate for all believers to be equipped and able to defend their faith. What you may not know, however, is the nature of the “in house” debate about the best way to do this. Generally, there are two schools of thought – presuppositional apologetics and evidential apologetics. For a brief introduction to all 5 apologetic methods read Christian Apologetics – 5 Methods.
Presuppositional apologetics takes the view that there is no neutral ground from which a person can evaluate evidence. Evidential apologetics takes the view that there is a neutral ground.
Presuppositional apologetics exposes the fundamental inconsistencies of a materialist, naturalist worldview and argues that only the Christian worldview is consistent. Evidential apologetics concedes an atheistic view of history for sake of argument, and then from within that view of history, seeks to provide evidence that the materialist, naturalist would presumably accept.
I appreciate both methods. However, I have a particular fondness for the presuppositional method. The two, contrary to popular belief, are not mutually exclusive. The presuppositional method does use evidence.
Presuppositional Apologetics Introduction
- R.C. Sproul and Greg Bahnsen Debate – Greg Bahnsen’s Introduction – pdf
- Greg Bahsen vs. R.C. Sproul – mp3
- K. Scott Oliphint on Unbelievable Radio – mp3
- K. Scott Oliphint interview on Reformed Forum – mp3
- James White critique of Paul Copan – video
- K. Scott Oliphint article on Paul Copan – blog
- Greg Bahnsen on Van Tilian Apologetics – mp3
- K. Scott Oliphint speaks on Covenantal Apologetics – mp3
Presuppositional Apologetic Links
Books to Read
A Famous Presuppositional Argument
Alvin Plantiga’s “Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism” uncovers the fundamental problem of the atheist/materialist/naturalist worldview. This worldview can’t account for its claim that our cognitive faculties (mind, reason, etc.) actually produce true beliefs. In other words, the purposeless process of natural selection acting on random, genetic mutations does not account for the reliability of reason. It is a powerful and complex presuppositional argument worth understanding.
For help on this argument, read the following:
- Should You Trust the Monkey Mind – Joe Carter’s summary of Plantiga’s argument
- Naturalism Defeated – Alvin Plantiga’s lecture paper
The Great Debate: Does God Exist? (Greg Bahnsen vs. Gordon Stein)
This is classic Greg Bahnsen from 1985. Banhsen’s focus in this debate is the transcendental argument. You can read the Bahnsen and Stein Debate Transcript. The following is an excerpt:
“Notice the argument doesn’t say that atheists don’t prove things, or that they don’t use logic, science or laws of morality. In fact they do. The argument is that their worldview cannot account for what they are doing. Their worldview is not consistent with what they are doing; in their worldview there are no laws; there are no abstract entities, universals, or prescriptions. There’s just a material universe, naturalistically explained as the way things happen to be. That’s not law-like or universal; and therefore, their worldview doesn’t account for logic, science or morality” – Greg Bahnsen.
As you read this debate, notice that Dr. Stein never does account for the transcendence of reason, logic and laws of nature. All he does is describe them and suggests that the relationship of past to the future accounts for them. Description is not an explanation. Description of a law of nature at work today does not account for how and why it is so and certainly does not account for why it will be so tomorrow. Therein resides the inconsistency; he uses what he can’t account for.