The Use of Evidence in Defending the Faith–A Comparison

A good friend of mine at The Domain for Truth blog writes a lot about presuppositional apologetics. Below is a really good comparison between two schools of apologetics concernnig the use of evidence in defending the faith.

Presuppositional Apologetics Believes in Evidence: Yet Five Ways its Different than Evidentialism

I hear too often people say Presuppositional apologetics don’t believe in evidence.  That’s not true.  Presuppositional apologetics does believe there’s a role for evidence in Christian apologetics.

But first off some might need to know what is Presuppositional apologetics in the first place.  It might be helpful to listen to various different lectures on Presuppositional apologetics; check out our “Ultimate Collection of Free Presuppositional Apologetics Lectures.”  Among the many lectures the ones I recommend would be Greg Bahnsen’s Van Tillian Apologetics and Jason Lisle’s one shot “Jason Lisle “The Ultimate Proof of Creation” Lecture at The Master’s Seminary

Yet if Presuppositional Apologetics believes there’s a place for evidence how is a distinctly Presuppositional Apologetics’ approach different than the typical Evidentialism?

I can think of five ways.

Difference 1: There is no neutrality.  This is a distinctive of Presuppositional apologetics: There is no religious neutrality.  I’ve argued for this point in our “A BRIEF OUTLINE AGAINST RELIGIOUS NEUTRALITY.”  I’ve met some traditional evidentialist or proponents of Classical Apologetics asserting that they approach the defense of the faith in a neutral fashion.  Even before I was into Presuppositional Apologetics I felt that this might not always be true in practice; the apologist does have a bias of believing in the Bible.  Yet when the skeptics say the Christian is bias in handling the evidences the Presuppositional apologists can point out the skeptics are also bias.  They are not neutral.  Far from it.  In their state of not believing God’s Word they are rebelling against God our Creator.   A Presuppositionalist talking about evidence with an unbeliever will expose the skeptics’ pretended neutrality in how they handle the evidence.  Yet when a skeptic merely dismiss a Christian handling evidences as being bias the Presuppositionalist can argue that there is no neutrality.

Difference 2: Philosophy of evidence matters more than evidence per se.   In the past I have mentioned this point in our blog that one’s philosophy of evidence matters more than evidences per se.  That is because one’s philosophy of evidence will shape how one interpret the evidence.  In other words one’s criteria of evidence will either dismiss something as evidence or accept something as evidence.  If someone has a messed up criteria of evidence it might be better to first deal with the philosophy of evidence before you present any evidence.   See Van Til, Evidence, and Philosophy of Evidence.

Difference 3: Even the prerequisite for talking about evidences such as the laws of logic, uniformity of nature, nature of truth, etc., requires the existence of God. This is a powerful argument.  It is also a big claim.  I am aware of that.  Space doesn’t permit me to talk about this as much as I would like but I highly recommend Jason Lisle’s “Jason Lisle “The Ultimate Proof of Creation” Lecture at The Master’s Seminary” that develop this point further.  An apologist conscious of Presuppositional apologetics when talking with an unbeliever about evidences will be on the look out for self-refuting presuppositions that makes nonsense of the tools necessary for discussing evidences.   An apologist conscious of Presuppositional apologetics will also make a powerful argument that the skeptics’ own reasoning ability requires the existence of God.

Difference 4: Presuppositionalism believes in more evidences than the evidentialists.  This is rather ironic.  For instance the Presuppositionalist looks at the Bible and discover that Scripture is self-attesting according to Luke 16:31 and is thus another “evidence.”  Actually the Bible is “the” evidence(s).  Scripture also talks about the doctrine of the self-authorizing Christ.  So instead of dismissing anything that is self-evidencing the Presuppositionalist sees these self-evidencing evidences must be in the apologist’s aresenal. That’s because that which is self-evidencing still has evidential value!

Difference 5: Presuppositionalism believes Romans 1:18 onwards that all people already know God but suppresses the truth. Which means the Presuppositionalist is not naive in how he handles evidences and is aware that very likely the skeptics will not accept Christian evidence as evidence.  Instead when a Presuppositionalist discusses any evidences with a nonbeliever he will presents the argument in a stronger and more robust Presuppositional fashion.  One should read “A Proposal on the Occasion and the Method of Presenting Evidence within a Van Tillian Framework” that is linked in this post “Van Til, Evidence, and Philosophy of Evidence.”

Used with Permission.

To read The Domain For Truth blog, go here. If you want a simpler look at the topic of apologetics, go here.