Some time ago, AiG posted a piece titles Answering The Skeptics (https://answersingenesis.org/apologetics/answering-the-skeptics/).
It’s one of many they’ve posted that address the question of how the Christian should respond to challenges from those who will identify, and draw attention to, consistency issues in the bible.
The opening paragraph identifies Proverbs 26 vs 4-5 as an often quoted source of such contradiction. It says:
Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.
Personally, that’s not been on my radar as somewhere to go to critique the bible, there are much better places. Searching on the reference and using the key word ‘contradiction’ reveals more pages of christian responses then there are pages of critiquing sceptics. My problem with those verses is when they are used to justify calling the religious sceptic a fool rather than any perceived contradiction.
“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him.” Presuppositions play an important role in apologetics. Everyone has starting assumptions (presuppositions) that they assume to be true at the onset of an argument. For example, an atheist has the presupposition that God does not exist and that the universe and life arose naturalistically. Bible-believing Christians, however, have the presupposition that God exists
Presuppositions are fatal. One should never presuppose anything before an argument because that makes the whole point of the argument moot. You’ve already decided the result so why bother at all. Unless by argument AiG means those things where spouses shout at each other and throw things. What has happened here is that the non believer has been framed to be just as bad as the believer because ‘they believe we’re wrong’. The correct way to this to have no presupposition and to weigh each option on the evidence available and then test the claims that are produced. AiG can’t do this though because as christians they have to assume and assert their god and in their attempt to balance the scales they project onto those who are sceptical of their claims the opposite presuppositions. That’s deceitful and dishonest.
when a Christian is debating with a skeptic, the skeptic will want the Christian to give up their presuppositions and approach the debate “neutrally.” For example, the skeptic may ask the Christian to “prove” that there is a Creator without using the Bible.
That is a very fair thing to do, you want to assert that something exists, demonstrate it. Opening a book and saying ‘it says so here’ isn’t good enough. You need to show your workings and then demonstrate why the conclusion is valid. Don’t do it and you won’t be taken seriously.
But Christians cannot give up their presuppositions because this results in adopting the skeptic’s presuppositions
If you can’t give up your presuppositions, then you are not being honest with yourself. Claiming that the opposite view has their own does not get you out of that.
There is no such thing as achieving “neutrality” in an argument. Jesus makes this clear when He says, “He who is not with Me is against Me”
I think by “neutrality”, AiG means something akin to the Null Hypothesis (http://psc.dss.ucdavis.edu/faculty_sites//sommerb/sommerdemo/stat_inf/null.htm) in experiments. In an argument context this will mean to take no position and weigh each argument. If the Christian can’t, won’t, or is incapable of doing that, then they have already decided their answer and the argument is pointless. If the only correct conclusion to an argument is to conclude your starting position then you are not being honest with yourself or to your sceptic. This why a Christian should be challenged to prove their god claims using something other than the circular activity of opening the self referencing bible.
Don’t Accept Atheist Presuppositions
But christian presuppositions are all fine and dandy! Really? The correct sub heading should be don’t accept ANY presuppositions.
there’s lots of evidence for a Creator in the universe
Is this using unbiased testable methods or is this a claim that springs from specifically christian presuppositions? Oh dear!
Just as a soldier would not put down his weapon because his opponent doesn’t believe his weapon is real, a Christian should never lay aside the Word of God, which is a powerful sword given to us by God
The skeptic knows that God exists because God has made it plain to everyone through the general revelation of creation.
If that was true they wouldn’t be sceptical.
After we explain that we will not give up our presuppositions but will use the true history recorded in Scripture to interpret the evidence and present arguments, we can “answer a fool according to his folly” by showing him the logical consequences of his presuppositions.
If there was any doubting as to just how dishonestly AiG wants the christian to argue, there it is, decide you’re right and then tell them you’re right because they are already wrong because they have presupposed the wrong presupposition. Awesome!
Most atheists assume several things to be true.
they assume the existence of morality, logic, and the consistency of the laws of nature
Odd choice of assumptions to list and it depends how existence is defined. I’m pretty sure this is wrong about morality and logic, while the laws are nature are demonstrated facts so assume is a redundant option.
Let me explain why their assumptions are inconsistent with a worldview that assumes only matter and energy exist
This’ll be fun.
Most skeptics believe in the existence of morality
Blatant assertion with no reference to source. Also still missing key definitions to determine context and meanings.
they will often argue against the biblical God by claiming that God is an immoral monster for acts of judgment like the global Flood
True, they do, and for good reason.
But what standard do they have to claim that God is immoral
Any standard that says it’s wrong to eliminate those whom you don’t like. People who take that view normally get their moral values from themselves, or they conform to the value as a socially accepted norm. I think that the bible also holds that not killing those you don’t like is a good value. How come god gets a pass on that? Isn’t it supposed to be his perfect rules of conduct or something?
If life just evolved naturalistically from matter and energy, then where do immaterial laws of morality come from? And who establishes these laws? Government? Society? The individual?
One wonders if these are genuine and serious questions or if they are being used as rhetoric to shore up the aforementioned christian presuppositions. Giving AiG the benefit of the doubt, the answers are: natural selection, ourselves and societal norms, all three.
If this is the case, and murdering and stealing are right for me, then why shouldn’t I murder and steal from you?
So not serious question then. Is the only thing keeping them from doing bad stuff the belief that god said you can’t? How come so many people who don’t accept the christian god do not do this? Could it possibly be that natural selection has already dealt a dealth blow to the DNA encoding that brings about those characteristics? I wager that a society that finds those actions acceptable is one that would not last very long.
They can’t tell me it’s wrong! It’s just wrong for you.
And wrong for pretty much everybody else, thanks to our evolutionary heritage.
Each of these scenarios is ultimately inconsistent, and the world cannot operate based on such arbitrary standards of morality.
Yet that’s exactly what it does.
We all intuitively know that these things are wrong because God has written His law on our hearts
What font and point size?
in an evolutionary worldview, there is no absolute standard for morality and no reason why anyone should even have a sense of right and wrong since morality is immaterial
And yet, despite morality being immaterial and not absolute, we manage.
And if murdering and stealing helps me survive better, why shouldn’t I murder and steal?
Because individual survival depends on the group and if the individual acts against the needs of the group, they don’t survive very well.
in a random, naturalistic universe, why should immaterial laws of logic exist?
Another faux question I fear.
In a naturalistic universe there is no explanation for laws of logic
As I suspected. The laws of logic are man made by the way (https://www.britannica.com/topic/laws-of-thought)
Skeptics face yet another problem. They assume that the laws of nature exist
Uh oh, I’m getting a bad feeling about what’s coming next.
you have to assume that the laws of nature won’t change tomorrow.
That’ll explain why I have trouble walking straight when I stay a bit late after work. Those damnable laws of nature always changing when I need them most.
They are immaterial and constant throughout the universe.
That’ll be because they are dependent on the properties of the matter that makes up the universe. Take away the matter and you lose the lawful nature.
Secularists have no logical explanation for the existence of these laws
Natural laws are consistent because there is a Creator
That’ll be why my prayers never got answered, it was because his godliness was too busy keeping all that nature stuff in order.
There is no explanation for these immaterial laws in a naturalistic worldview.
Says whom and how can they show this?
And yet an atheist must assume these things in order to argue against the Christian worldview. This is like someone who doesn’t believe in air arguing against the existence of air.
Yep, totally comparable.
they are assuming that Christianity is true in order to argue against it
Don’t be knocking those incontrovertible god inspired laws of logic.
we can apply the “don’t answer/answer” strategy found in Proverbs 26:4–5.
I’ll write my own new version, ‘answer with folly and be treated like a fool’.