In a podcast on presuppositional apologetics, I noted that it does in fact contain the kernel of a significant type of argument for theism. But what I have never appreciated is the combative “all or nothing” approach that many presuppositionalists take. Unfortunately, some of them see all arguments for God’s existence – all arguments apart from their own transcendental argument – as intellectual treachery, as selling out, and as borderline sinful. This has a couple of harmful consequences: It creates needless squabbling between Christians who are really serving the same end, and it frankly makes Christian apologists look crazy in the eyes of onlookers.
Here’s an example. A presuppositionalist apologist with no time for any method of defending Christianity other than by using presuppositional apologetics recently wrote a brief blog post called “Pascal’s wager is a bad bet.” In it, he takes a line used by a number of other presuppositionalists, charging that any conventional (i.e. non-presuppositional) argument for God’s existence takes the stance that God is only probable, and not certain. This time he has Pascal’s wager in his sights:
Is God a probable God or a certain God? In church we know the answer: “The Heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 14:1) It’s not “The Heavens might declare the glory of God–if he exists, and the skies might proclaim the work of his hands–if he exists.” Could we really say that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39) if we worshipped a probable God? Of course not! In Church, we worship a certain God, yet what do we do? – We go out into the world and tell unbelievers that we could be wrong! We give them “Pascal’s Wager.”
Brothers and sisters God is not a good bet, God is not even the best bet, God is the certain God that has revealed Himself to us, such that we are certain of His existence (Romans 1: 18-21). Blaise Pascal said some wonderful things, but his wager is a terrible bet.
I looked up Pascal’s Wager on a search engine, and could not find one thing written negatively about it by Christians. What are we doing?!? We worship a certain God, yet defend a probable ‘god!’ Folks, a probable “god” is not God–a probable ‘god’ does not exist.
Unfortunately, in his zeal for presuppositional apologetics, Sye has misconstrued Pascal’s wager. Pascal’s wager does not amount to the claim that Christianity might be false, nor does it make the claim that God’s existence is merely probable. In fact, the argument contains no premises or conclusions about whether or not God exists! Presuppositionists of this ilk (and I have to say, not all presuppositionalists do this) need to lift their game and realise that we are actually on the same team.
I left this comment at the above blog:
Sye, Pascal’s wager does not claim that God’s existence is probable or improbable. That is not the point. It is not an argument about whether or not God exists, or about how likely God’s existence is. It is an argument that you definitely should live as though God exists.
It is not fair to accuse it of being an argument for a “probable God,” no matter how catchy that phrase might be.
At the moment my comment is still awaiting moderation over at that blog.
- Episode 011: What is Presuppositional Apologetics?
- Lest we Forget, Loftus
- When the Christian Brain Ceases to be Relevant
- Episode 012: Plantinga and Presuppositional Apologetics
- The Little Prince and Psalm 19