Thursday, May 22, 2014

Inaugural Guest Post - Robert Baty On Presuppositionalism

Robert Baty is a retired IRS appeals officer.  On, I have dubbed him my most constant commenter. He and I share an interest in the clergy housing allowance (Code Section 107), also known as parsonage.  The section allows the mega pastors of the mega churches to receive mega tax free housing allowances for their mega mansions.  Bob has a particular interest in , well frankly something of an obsession with,  a peculiar twist of Code Section 107 embodied in Revenue Ruling 70-549 (You can read about that here.) I have also dubbed him "bane of the basketball ministers".

He tried to get me interested in Young Earth Creationism, a challenge to "establishment science" (or what most of us would call "science") that seeks evidence supporting a highly literal reading of Genesis. I resisted until Jo Delia Hovind found her way into Tax Court.  The tax travails that her husband, Kent Hovind, created out of his Dinosaur Adventureland (One of the implications of YEC is that people and dinosaurs must have been running around at the same time) have been a staple of my blog ever since.

The one thing that Bob could not get me to cover was Presuppositionalism, which I will not even attempt to explain, since it is the subject of the inaugural guest post of this blog, which hereby commences.

There's A Great Day Coming!

By Robert Baty

Mark your calendars!

Date: Saturday May 31, 2014
Time: 7:00 to 9:00 PM
Place: Memphis, TN

For more information, see:

It's Matt Dillahunty v. Sye Ten Bruggencate!

The parties and their constituents have been posturing for months to try and make this happen.
Maybe it will.
Maybe it won't.

Matt is an up and coming atheist celebrity.
Sye is an up and coming Presuppositional celebrity.
They are both a little nuts, which should make for an interesting encounter.

It appears neither side was very good at negotiating for what they came up with to chat about is the question:

- "Is it reasonable to believe God exists?"

Despite that question set forth for discussion, it is expected to be a battle of wits over Sye Ten Bruggencate's Presuppositional "proof God exists" claim or something directly related to it.

Sye's famous "proof God exists" claim can be found at the following website if you answer his questions correctly.  I'll save you the trouble of trying to second guess Sye.  Here's his "proof God exists":

- The proof God exists is that
- without Him you could not
- have peanut brittle.
-- Affirmed: Sye Ten Bruggencate

I have slightly edited what's found on that website for clarity and this article.  I used peanut brittle for simplicity, but you can use just about anything.  Sye and his people like to use such things as "knowledge", "proof", "logic", "uniformity of nature", and such because they can more effectively confound their unsuspecting opposition by thrashing about in deep philosophical waters where just about anything goes.

Being simple-minded, I prefer to stay with such things as "peanut brittle", and "speed limit signs" and such.

What Sye is doing is building a career as a Presuppositional preacher and he's been doing a pretty good job of it.  The Internet is full of accounts of his antics which involve street preaching to get some experience and many an encounter with some relative heavy hitters from the atheist side of things.

(Sye has been running from an engagement with me, a theist, for a long, long time.)

Presuppositionalism is basically a Calvinistic conversational gimmick wherein the proponent presupposes he is right and everyone else is wrong and, therefore, he is only interested in criticizing the opposition viewpoint.  The Presuppositionalist will, when pressed, typically admit that he is not out to establish the truth of his presuppositions.  

One common refrain heard from the Presuppositionalist when dealing with his opposition, such as I am, is that the opposition does not understand Presuppositionalism.  Of course, for the uninitiated it is quite easy to misunderstand Presuppositionalism and the criticism often times will be found to be reasonable.

However, I propose that when it comes to my analysis of Presuppositionalism, as simple as it is and is intended to be for us tyros, the problem is not a misunderstanding but the Presuppositionalist simply does not like to admit to and deal with my understanding of their gimmickry.

Of course, there are different sects of Presuppositionalists and Sye Ten Bruggencate is the current, leading celebrity as to a particular brand of the methodology.  

So, you ask, what is with that "proof God exists" that Sye claims to have?

That's a good question and that alleged proof is commonly seen to form the "bait" used to engage the unsuspecting in conversation.

The Sye-kind of Presuppositionalist presupposes that there is really no aspect of this present world that could be possible except God exists (this should not be confused with the similar sounding claim that if God did not exist there would be nothing), so his proof works out logically something like this:

Major Premise:

- If God did not exist,
- then you could not:
- prove anything,
- know anything,
- reason,
- expect the sun to rise,
- have peanut brittle,
- ad nauseum.

Minor Premise:

- You can:
- prove something,
- know something,
- reason,
- expect the sun to rise,
- have peanut brittle,
- ad nauseum.


- Ta da, God exists.

Since the argument is constructed in such a way that if its premises are true the conclusion will follow as true therefrom, we need only to establish the truth of the premises to "prove God exists".

That's where it gets easy.

Just about everyone already accepts the minor premise as true, so we only have to consider the truth of the major premise.

Well, maybe that is not so easy.

It seems the Presuppositionalist presupposes the major premise and has no intention to actually establish the truth of the major premise.  You are told that is just the way it is and if you press a Presuppostionalist of the Sye-kind on that he is apt to tell you that you don't need the proof anyway since everyone already knows that God exists.

Did you get that?

One of the foundations of Presuppositionalism is an interpretation of the Bible that claims everyone knows that God exists and some just "suppress that truth in unrighteousness".

The Presuppositionalist is also seen to be fond of challenging opponents by claiming they cannot falsify the major premise; which may be correct but quite beside the point.

It's not about being able to falsify the major premise.  After all, any more most atheists simply claim they don't believe any God exists.  They typically are willing to entertain the possibility and ask for evidence which the Presuppositionalist refuses to provide.

Did you get that?

The Presuppositionalist of the Sye-kind typically considers "evidential apologetics" as heresy, so they have come up with Presuppositionalism which is simply a conversational gimmick that they think allows them to successfully go out into the marketplace of ideas and complain about what they call other folks' "worldview".

And so they do, and they do have a tendency to put on a good show; at least until you've seen it a couple of times.

My own extended history with Presuppositionalists may be found archived on the following FaceBook pages:


It caught my attention and there does seem to be a certain fascination, at least to me, regarding some of the popular personalities and the trouble atheists have exhibited when trying to deal with it.

I'm looking forward to seeing if the Dillahunty v. Bruggencate engagement in Memphis later this month turns out to be worth the effort or just another public relations coup for Bruggencate and his video crew (Sye's already got his script and the raw video for his "movie" will be captured in Memphis by Crown Rights, subject to funding which is under way).

Hasten the day! :o)


  1. Good stuff. I had a long talk with a Presuppositionalist the other day about whether his God needed a hug or not.

    Also, you may want to make it easier for people to log in to comment.

  2. Thanks I will work on that. My other blog got spam bombed and it was quite a task to clean it up, so I may have gotten carried away with the security settings

  3. I'm a bit surprised that Christians are taking presuppositionalism seriously, let alone atheists.

    1. One of my YAHOO! group members mentioned Presuppositionalism a couple of years ago.

      I didn't know what he was talking about and so let it pass.

      Later it caught my attention and the rest, they say, is history.

      One might also opine as to being surprised that atheists have taken presuppositionalism so seriously.

      It's a wonder to me to see how Sye Ten Bruggencate has risen to fame amongst the Presuppositional commoners.

      I don't know that theists or atheists generally take it all that seriously, but, given the Internet and YouTube and all, it looks like Presuppositionalists (Sye and his people) and atheists (Matt and his people) don't do much more than go round and round over Presuppositionalism.

      I have tried to engage in that popular public debate, though being but a tyro, and I think I've got a lot better angle on the fundamental issues than is evident by all the banter between the Presuppositionalists and Atheists.

      As I have often suggested, until the parties are ready to negotiate how the conversation might be seriously advanced, it ought to end after the following exchange:


      - "Let's start with God."


      - "Let's not."

      Where my advice is not taken I think you will see that while there is considerable banter there is no substantive advance in the conversation as to the fundamental issues in dispute.

  4. Sye Ten Bruggencate has indicated the same approach when dealing with his adversaries. It's another fundamental point to remember as one might observe the public antics of Presuppositionalists; they are not really intending to engage in meaningful dialogue with their adversaries.

    I just ran across the following in the comments section of the YouTube video referenced.

    Siri is a former Presuppositional adversary of mine.

    From: Siri Halston Bright
    To: John Doe
    Date: May 18, 2014


    I won't have bible study with a non-christian.

    Your opinions are meaningless about the
    Scripture because you can't understand it.

    We are all told not to have bible study with

    Where did you ever get the idea I'm open
    minded to what you have to say? 


  5. I first (digitally) met Robert Baty over a year ago, due to some mutual interests and friends. It was he he prompted me to start delving into the nonsense of presuppositional apologetics, which is a sort of last-ditch effort of fundamentalist Christianity.

    Every partaker of any particular worldview has their own take on things, but presuppositionalist Christianity is nothing more than a "stolen concept" of logic. It employs the lowest levels of abductive reasoning, and seeks to redefine that as the highest levels of deductive reasoning (or, at least, inductive reasoning).

    Robert is a Christian, and I am a vocal atheist. But we both share the same disdain for stupidity and willful ignorance of evidence.

    (Disclaimer: For the record, Robert did alert me to this blog post - I would not have known of it otherwise - but did not specifically ask me for my comments.)

    1. It's a small, small world, thanks, in part, to the Internet, FaceBook, etc.!

      Dave Foda and I do happen to share some interests and our paths have crossed a number of times over the last year or so.

      If it wasn't for Dave Foda, the RationalWiki folks would probably not yet be aware that Kent Hovind is trying to sue them for libel (Kent has yet to affect "service" in that case), and Stuart Watson might not be the FFRF "Freethought in the Media" 2014 award recipient.

      Kinda funny how things like that work out sometimes!

  6. Siri has not yet made her appearance here, but she has been carrying on elsewhere about my posting above regarding her Presuppositional comments:


    From: Siri Haston Bright
    To: Robert Baty
    Date: Friday, May 23, 2014
    Time: About 3:30 PM MT

    Praise be to God.

    But you're not quoting me,
    just re-quoting Scripture that I already have.

    Read it and repent.


    From: Robert Baty
    To: Siri Haston Bright
    Date: Friday, May 23, 2014
    Time: About 3:40 PM MT

    Funny, Siri, funny you are.

    You didn't quote me or quote me quoting
    you and you didn't quote scripture you were
    allegedly quoting with book, chapter and
    verse references.


    From: Siri Haston Bright
    To: Robert Baty
    Date: Friday, May 23, 2014
    Time: About 4:00 PM MT

    Well darlin, you have a couple of problems.


    Your links you posted, don't link. and


    You misspelled my name.
    Now how will they ever find the ENTIRE
    conversation that way?!

    You can do better than that.

    Also, like you said in your comments on your
    strawman attack of the PA, you said we are
    FORMER adversaries.

    Let's keep it that way, shall we?


    From: Robert Baty
    To: Siri Haston Bright
    Date: Friday, May 23, 2014
    Time: About 4:20 PM MT

    Siri, Siri, Siri, seriously?

    The links work just fine if you copy them into
    your browser, and the YouTube link will bring
    folks right over here for those interested.

    It's real simple.

    No problems at all on this side of the monitor.

    Siri, you should not make false accusations such
    as you did and then propose to run off.

    There was no "strawman attack" in my postings there:

    If you think so, just "man-up", show up, and state
    your case over there for my consideration. You can
    also tell the folks how you spell your name and
    whatever else you may want them to know about
    you and your Presuppositional sympathies.


  7. Zack Martin


    Robert Baty

    Subject: Presuppositionalism

    Venue (closed group):


    Zack indicated a short time ago that he may wish to
    discuss certain aspects of Presuppositionalism with me.

    We will see how that prospect develops.

    The ball is now in his court to advance the discussion,
    or not.

  8. Why Presuppositionalists Won't Seriously Talk With People!

    - From: JC Rooney (Presuppositionalist)
    - FaceBook:
    - Date: Saturday, May 24, 2014
    - It is not the Christian's job to convince.
    - It is to proclaim.
    - God does the rest.