Monday, October 9, 2023

Circular Reasoning

 

Circular Reasoning: Vicious and Virtuous

Bodie Hodge, M.Sc., B.Sc., PEI

Biblical Authority Ministries, October 9, 2023

I received a question that I’ve heard many times because there are quite a few people who don’t realize the intricacies of circular reasoning. I hope this helps clarify, God bless.

Here was the original correspondence:  

 

Sent: Thursday, October 5, 2023 12:06 PM
Subject: Confound the Critics by B. Hodge
 

Good day Mr. Hodge-- 

I have recently completed reading and studying from your book. First--I must thank you and your co-authors for your time and efforts in this writing. Second--I find this book to be VERY helpful and resourceful. 

I for one strongly agree with the Creation concept as God presents in the book of Genesis.

I was baptized 4 years ago and have learn a lot since. It does baffle me to now see what I so badly missed for so very long. (I am 67 years young today:):):) 

In all of the reading of your book I only have one question--Or maybe one ask--Rebuttal to a comment I have heard from a couple of Evolutionist Theory friends-- 

"Circular Reasoning-- Or Circular logic

They are claiming that we are using the Bible to prove our Biblical point of creation theory. 

As I see this somewhat accurate I am left without a concrete response to offer them. Can you educate me on how to respond to this? 

Again--Thank you and your entire team for your many hours of service to God and his word.

Y'all are amazing--Keep up the GREAT work of the Lord. 

With great respect, 

God Bless, 

JB 

 

Response: 

Thank you for reaching out. This is a common claim by atheists back at presuppositional apologists regarding the existence of God and the truthfulness of His revealed Word. However, the atheist has failed to realize there are two forms of circular reasoning. The first is an arbitrary form (often called vicious circular reasoning). The second is non-arbitrary (called absolute circular reasoning or virtuous circular reasoning). The arbitrary form is fallacious. 

In logic, circular reasoning is unique because it is valid. It only becomes fallacious if it is not sound, which is due to the arbitrariness. For instance, if someone asks me where I live and I say, “With my wife”. They respond, “Okay then, where does your wife live?” and I say, “With me”. Again, they respond, “Well where do the two of you live?” I respond, “With our kids”.  “Well, where do your kids live?” “They live with us”. 

This is circular; but notice an interesting fact here—everything that I said was true. But it was arbitrary (not sound) because we never really got anywhere. This would be an example of a vicious circular argument. 

However, consider my dream the other night. I could tell someone all about it. But if they respond, prove it logically; I have no choice but to appeal to myself about my dream as the authority. I must start with myself to tell anyone about the dream; thus, I am appealing to myself, which is circular. The difference is that I am the only one in a position to know my dream (outside of God of course).[1] So, although this was circular, it is non-arbitrary and virtuous. 

It works the same way with God. If God is God, He can only reveal Himself by final and absolute authority—a virtuous circle. This is because God is the absolute authority on all matters—including the existence of Himself as well as the existence of logic, knowledge, truth, love, revelation, and so on.  For more on the two types of circular reasoning please see: 

https://answersingenesis.org/apologetics/circular-reasoning/

https://biblicalscienceinstitute.com/apologetics/bahnsen-on-circular-reasoning/ 

Even so, I can’t help but deal with the elephant in the room though. The evolutionary mindset (which comes out of naturalism and materialism) has no basis for the existence of logic, if their worldview is true. In fact, truth can’t exist in a materialistic and naturalistic worldview either since truth, logic, and knowledge are not material. So, for the evolutionary atheist to acknowledge logic, they must give up their professed worldview to do so. Hence, they are borrowing from a biblical worldview when they admit logic exists. 

I pray this helps, God bless, 

B. Hodge



[1] Consider Pharaoh or Nebuchadnezzar’s dream where God knew them and how to interpret them (Genesis 40-41 and Daniel 2 and 4).

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Date Setters Vs Date Teasers

 

Date Setters Vs. Date Teasers—Equally Guilty?

Bodie Hodge, M.Sc., B.Sc., PEI

Biblical Authority Ministries, July 27, 2023

“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:2-3 NKJV)

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11 NKJV)

When I was speaking at a church, the pastoral staff and few others took me out to lunch. We chatted about all sort of things. One thing that came up was the issue of Jesus’ return. I really wasn’t interested in the discussion because I knew their eschatological position was different from my own. So was it worth a debate over lunch? Probably not.

There is a time to sit and listen and a time to speak. This time I wanted to sit and listen to what they had to say so I could better understand their position.

Meanwhile, a teen in the church was sitting with us—diagonally across from me. I asked her what she liked to do. She said she liked basketball and was going to focus on that. I asked how she was doing in school; she said she really wasn’t worried about school or getting good grades because she said it was pointless.  She continued to say that since Jesus is coming back “probably later this year or early next year”, that there was no reason for her to exert herself in her studies. So she was just going to play some basketball until Jesus comes.

When she said this, I was shocked, but what came next shocked me even more. Nearly the entire table of 12 people or so started giving her an “amen” and joined in the chorus with things like, “Jesus is coming back any minute now”, “I really doubt we will make it to next year—the time is ripe”, and “that’s right girl, Jesus will be coming back shortly”.   

There was so much affirmation for her and each other’s testimonies that I was really taken back. This brings me to Date Setters and Date Teasers.

Date Setters

 

The sad thing about many Christians—especially in more recent times (1800 to the present) is that far too many people have tried to guess a precise date for the return of Christ. These are called Date Setters and so far every date in history that has been selected by a Date Setter has been wrong. This means they made false predictions.

But some people just keep trying! Usually when a failed predictor’s date comes and goes—if they are still alive—they make an excuse and then adjust their date to something else in the future (e.g., William Miller, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or Harold Camping).[1] 

Some of these Date Setters try to work out some sort of calculation with some wild interpretations from Scripture or odd theological positions to arrive at their date (e.g., Clarence Larkin predicted AD 2000 in his book Dispensational Truth in 1918).[2] Others say that the Holy Spirit spoke to them like the prophets or apostles of old.

When their date failed to come to pass, it should have been obvious that the Holy Spirit was not their source! Was it demonic, did they simply deceive themselves, or was it something else? That too is a great question.

Date Setters are abundant and they can be found giving false dates for millennia now (see the lists in Reference 3 for example.[3] )

Date Teasers

 

When someone toys around with the timing of Jesus’ return without putting a specific date on it, they are called Date Teasers. Due to the bad name Date Setters get because of their consistently failed claims, Date Teasers try to be a bit more coy.

Instead of putting a precise date, they sometimes use vague terms or indefinite time referents like Christ’s return “is imminent”, “very soon to take place” or “in my day”. But when you look at what they are claiming, they still have a prediction that is bound in a specific range. 

So although Date Teasers are unwilling to make commitments on specific dates, they are still giving a date range. Essentially, they too have made a prediction about the timing of the return of Christ. For some reason, Date Teasers seem to think this is a much better position—but is it?

The reality is that date teasing is no better than the date setting. They have both made a definite prediction about the return of Christ where one names a specific date and the other a date range. The main difference is that you usually won’t have your name listed on these long lists of failed predictors and get called out by name as a false prophet.

Conclusion

 

Yes, I was shocked at the response from that young teen and those at the table with her. And just so you know, this was about 10 years ago. So these predictions didn’t come to fruition.

The truth of the matter is that both Date Setters and Date Teasers are equally guilty. They have both given false predictions and they both have consequences. And sadly, this young lady was on a trajectory to ruin her school opportunity because of date teasing into which she also bought. I prayed for her of course.

For those who disbelieve in Christ’s return altogether—they have also made their wager too and when Christ does return, their false predictions will be made complete. In those instances, they will have eternal consequences for their rebellion against God if they do not repent. But Date Setters and Teasers need a wakeup call as well. 

When will Jesus return? The answer is simply that Jesus will come back when Jesus comes back. We should be doing the Lord’s business until He comes.



[1] Tim Chaffey, Are You Ready for the End of the World?, Answers in Genesis, December 20, 2012, https://answersingenesis.org/christianity/are-you-ready-for-the-end-of-the-world/; Editors, Changed Dates: Failed Predictions, Facts About Jehovah’s Witnesses, January, 2019, https://jwfacts.com/watchtower/1800s.php.

[2] Clarence Larkin, Dispensational Truth, Rev. Clarence Larkin Est. Publishers, Philadelphia, PA, 1918, p. 16.

[3] With caveats, see for instance: https://www.bible.ca/pre-date-setters.htm and (although I’m not a fan of Wikipedia) see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dates_predicted_for_apocalyptic_events.

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