Platinga on Proper Basiciality of Belief

What do we know? What is the proper relationship between faith and reason?

Platinga on Proper Basiciality of Belief

Ask Mr. Religion
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15 Aug 2008, 19:20 #1

To motivate some discussion in this forum, I refer the reader to the following as background:

1. Intellectual Sophistication and Basic Belief in God, Alvin Plantinga

2. Plantinga: Religious Belief as Properly Basic, Allen Stairs

The non-believer will confront the Christian with an argument that their faith, not based on some irrefutable physical evidence, is a faith built atop irrationality. Platinga argues, as did Calvin, that belief in God is properly basic, that is, foundational to all other beliefs, and therefore is a defeater of the claim of irrationality by the non-believer.
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freshmao
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20 Dec 2009, 22:47 #2

Hello AMR,

I have intended to respond to your post many, many moons ago but haven't till now.

I have been pondering deeply :AMR4: the foundation for human knowledge lately and have come to the conclusion that belief in God can be a properly basic belief for anyone who is willing to accept the logical deductions of what this axiom necessarily and logically concludes.  What I mean by a properly basic belief is what would traditionally be called an axiom in philosophy or mathematics.  It is a starting point which is useful to deduce other things logically (i.e. objective morality is logically deduced from the axiom of God existing and His nature axiomatically defined as being the greatest conceivable being).

For more, courtesy of Wikipedia, on what the nature of an axiom is:
In traditional logic, an axiom or postulate is a proposition that is not proved or demonstrated but considered to be either self-evident, or subject to necessary decision. Therefore, its truth is taken for granted, and serves as a starting point for deducing and inferring other (theory dependent) truths.

In mathematics, the term axiom is used in two related but distinguishable senses: "logical axioms" and "non-logical axioms". In both senses, an axiom is any mathematical statement that serves as a starting point from which other statements are logically derived. Unlike theorems, axioms (unless redundant) cannot be derived by principles of deduction, nor are they demonstrable by mathematical proofs, simply because they are starting points; there is nothing else from which they logically follow (otherwise they would be classified as theorems).

Logical axioms are usually statements that are taken to be universally true (e.g., A and B implies A), while non-logical axioms (e.g., a + b = b + a) are actually defining properties for the domain of a specific mathematical theory (such as arithmetic). When used in the latter sense, "axiom," "postulate", and "assumption" may be used interchangeably. In general, a non-logical axiom is not a self-evident truth, but rather a formal logical expression used in deduction to build a mathematical theory. To axiomatize a system of knowledge is to show that its claims can be derived from a small, well-understood set of sentences (the axioms). There are typically multiple ways to axiomatize a given mathematical domain.

Outside logic and mathematics, the term "axiom" is used loosely for any established principle of some field.
In my mind's eye, even if you are Agnostic, then belief in God is a fundamental axiom upon which an Agnostic should build their beliefs upon just because of the coherence to one's life that the axiom of "God exists" entails.  I strongly believe that from the axiom of God exists that Theism is a far more coherent belief system than Atheism.

Mark  :D
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21 Dec 2009, 00:31 #3

freshmao wrote:In my mind's eye, even if you are Agnostic, then belief in God is a fundamental axiom upon which an Agnostic should build their beliefs upon just because of the coherence to one's life that the axiom of "God exists" entails. I strongly believe that from the axiom of God exists that Theism is a far more coherent belief system than Atheism.

Mark :D
Mark;
I agree to some extent, but having (especially recently) debated with certain Atheists, I am more of the opinion that Theism as "a fundamental axiom" is owing more to one's Presuppostional approach. Epistemology is the study of knowledge and justified belief. Can belief in God be justified on the basis of observable knowledge or science? Perhaps. But for the most part the belief in the existence of God (for the theist) and the lack of belief in His existence (for the Atheist), in both instances seem to come down to be a matter of faith in one's presuppositional starting point, not in any objective epistemological verity.

For more, see my remarks in the Opening Post of this thread
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freshmao
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21 Dec 2009, 02:18 #4

Presbyterian Deacon wrote:
freshmao wrote:In my mind's eye, even if you are Agnostic, then belief in God is a fundamental axiom upon which an Agnostic should build their beliefs upon just because of the coherence to one's life that the axiom of "God exists" entails. I strongly believe that from the axiom of God exists that Theism is a far more coherent belief system than Atheism.

Mark :D
Mark;
I agree to some extent, but having (especially recently) debated with certain Atheists, I am more of the opinion that Theism as "a fundamental axiom" is owing more to one's Presuppostional approach. Epistemology is the study of knowledge and justified belief. Can belief in God be justified on the basis of observable knowledge or science? Perhaps. But for the most part the belief in the existence of God (for the theist) and the lack of belief in His existence (for the Atheist), in both instances seem to come down to be a matter of faith in one's presuppositional starting point, not in any objective epistemological verity.

For more, see my remarks in the Opening Post of this thread
Hello PD,

Gen 1:1 does presuppose the axiom "God exists", and we can logically deduce that God is the greatest conceivable being, otherwise "God" would be "god" with a little "g".  All human knowledge is based upon axioms of faith or belief.  I believe the reason why "God exists" is rejected as the coherent and ration axiom that I think it actually is, is because the Atheist wants nothing to do with a God to whom they have to be held morally accountable.  The Atheist would rather be their own "god" instead of holding onto a coherent and rational axiom that "God exists".  This is the heart of humanity's depravity in my view.

Mark
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freshmao
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21 Dec 2009, 03:38 #5

A few more thoughts...

I also believe that the axiom, "God exists" is what a rational person, which is how God created man to be...to be rational, a rational person would logically conclude God exists if open to faith/trust in God and all that it logically entails.  This is the "natural revelation" which Paul speaks about in Romans 1 to which all men are held accountable, with the Scriptures as the additional revelation of God's existence and nature.

Mark
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freshmao
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07 May 2014, 02:42 #6

I just recently encountered a discussion initiated by a theist who opened dialogue with non-theists using Alvin Plantinga's Properly Basic Belief (PBB) in God as the starting point.  I quickly pointed out that just because a theist may have a PBB in God, that the same God-given faculties we have also produce other PBBs that are now known to be false.  One example of a PBB that our faculties would generally make us believe to be true, according to our natural human perspective and especially to ancient man, is the belief that the sun revolves around the earth.  It is only because of man's God-given faculties aided by modern instruments and deep reflective thought that we now know that the earth revolves around the sun and not vice versa.  Just because our God-given faculties produce a PBB, it does not logically and necessarily follow that our PBB is necessarily true or actually true.  Like all human knowledge, PBBs are part and parcel of our finite human nature and as a result are fallible.

PBBs are not a beginning point for apologetics in the sense of demonstrating that belief in God is true.  The argument for a PBB in God is very limited in just showing that a person may, in their limited perspective, have what they believe is a rational belief in the existence of God.  This is a far cry from "knowing" your PBB is actually true.  
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desmith
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28 May 2014, 00:03 #7

I am probably about to wade into educational/intellectual waters in which I am not qualified to wade, but here goes . . .

I just don't understand what the point is to presuppositional apologetics. Now, don't get me wrong. I do accept that God and His revelation to us is the foundation for all knowledge. However, how could an atheist ever come to accept those presuppositions without first being regenerated by the Holy Spirit? Additionally, if he must be regenerated in order to accept those presuppositions, what is the point to doing apologetics at all?

While I have read Plantinga and have listened to lectures on him, I don't understand him -- at least, not yet. I like his idea of a PBB, but I guess I sort of apply it in terms of the Ligonier approach. For example, it seems to me that logic and rationality is a PBB -- if nothing else, because everybody must live by those laws, especially the law of non-contradiction. No one can consistently live in violation of the law of non-contradiction. From there one must acknowledge that something/someone must have always existed. There was never a time when there was nothing, otherwise all there would be now is nothing. Obviously, I could go on, but there's no point since most here are already familiar w/ the Ligonier approach.

I guess I can see that belief in God is properly basic, but persuading someone else of that is another story altogether.
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28 May 2014, 04:24 #8

With presuppositionalism you adopt the viewpoint of the person you are discussing your faith with and show them the absurdity of their worldview. This is very different than assuming neutral ground exists, as does evidential apologetics, between the believer and non-believer.
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