Our feedback this week once again comes from Peter who is still convinced that I have misrepresented the presuppositional method.  Peter claims that (1) all forms of circular reasoning are fallacious and (2) that the presuppositional method as advanced by Bahnsen and Van Til does not involve any circular reasoning.  In a previous article, I showed that some types of circular reasoning are “virtuous” in the sense that they validly establish their conclusion without committing any fallacy.  This is often hard for people to accept if they have not studied the issue, so I was expecting pushback on this point.  However, I am genuinely surprised that anyone would claim that Bahnsen and Van Til rejected all forms of circular reasoning or that the presuppositional method has no element of circular reasoning.  This surprises me because Bahnsen and Van Til were adamant that the transcendental approach does involve circular reasoning, albeit not of the fallacious or “vicious” variety.

What is really surprising to me is that Peter continues to claim that Bahnsen did not advocate the use of (non-fallacious) circular reasoning, even after I showed Peter some of Bahnsen’s quotes to the contrary.  This is a splendid example of how a person’s presuppositions control their interpretations of the evidence.  Peter is somehow able to take Bahnsen’s statement that “The method of implication as outlined above is circular reasoning” to mean its opposite, that “The method of implication as outlined above is not circular reasoning.”  Amazing.

Bahnsen has stated that “circular reasoning is the only reasoning that is possible to finite man.”  I suspect that Peter misinterprets “finite” to mean “sinful/unregenerate,” because he seems to think that the believer’s acceptance of divine revelation somehow allows us to escape circularity in our reasoning.  But Bahnsen is clear that it doesn’t.  Both Christians and non-Christians are finite, and therefore must defend their ultimate standard in a circular (transcendental) way.  Although revelation is non-circular, the way we know and demonstrate that the Bible really is revelation from God will necessarily entail circular reasoning of the “virtuous” or “transcendental” type.  This is because we must accept the Bible as revelation from God in order to justify the very rationality we use to prove that it is revelation from God.  The circularity is inescapable, and yet rationally necessary.

I have provided some additional quotes from Bahnsen and Van Til in this response.  These may prove valuable because most of Bahnsen’s teaching was in the form of lectures rather than written, which can make tracking these quotes down rather difficult.  Enjoy!

 

Dr. Lisle: Hi Peter,

Before responding to your specific claims, I have to point out two things.  First, your argument that all circular reasoning is wrong/fallacious is itself circular reasoning.  Namely, your only reason for thinking that circular reasoning is always fallacious is simply to assert that it’s a fallacy.  But that is the very point in question.  I have made an argument that some types of circular reasoning (namely those in which the premise is rationally necessary and makes knowledge of other things possible – as in the transcendental argument) are not fallacious.  And you have not, as yet, provided any rational counterargument to my original argument.  I affirm that it is not wrong to presuppose the truth that the Bible is God’s infallible Word as the precondition of intelligibility by which I rationally analyze all truth claims, including the truth claim that the Bible is God’s infallible Word.  Now this is definitely circular reasoning, but what principle of logic does it violate?  You haven’t provided any rational reason to reject my argument.

Second, you have not been able or willing to answer any of the questions I have put to you, or engage in any of the points I have made previously.  This is very telling.  For example:

In response to your claim that circular reasoning is always wrong, I have asked, “Can you prove that all types of circular reasoning are fallacious without first assuming it, and thereby begging the question?  If so, then I am going to ask you how you can prove that laws of logic exist.”  I have asked you, “Can you please demonstrate this [that circular reasoning is always a fallacy] without begging the question?  If you can, then can you please prove that laws of logic exist (without using them)?”  I have asked you if an argument is valid and has true premises, “how can it possibly be ‘badly formed’ if it violates no principles of logic?”

I have asked you, “Is God wrong when He defends Himself by appealing to Himself, thereby reasoning in a circle?  (Hebrews 6:13). … So, is God wrong when He swears by Himself?  (Hebrews 6:13; Genesis 22:16; Isaiah 45:23; Jeremiah 49:13).  Is God wrong when He defines Himself by Himself (Exodus 3:14)?  Is God wrong to command us to reason (Isaiah 1:18), knowing that ‘circular reasoning is the only reasoning that is possible to finite man?’”  I have asked you “if God’s thinking is circular, how can that be a fallacy?”

In regard to God’s revelation, I have asked “how do you know that these thoughts [revelation] are from God?  How do you justify them?”  I have asked you, “How you know that the Bible is revelation from God? Can you answer this without any degree of circularity?”  When you say, “Our reasoning is always faulty”, I have asked you “Is your reasoning here faulty?”  I have asked, “How do you know that the Christian worldview is not based on a virtuous circle that is not fallacious?”  Regarding your claim that “presuppositionalism is not circular reasoning” and in light of Bahnsen’s many statements that presuppositionalism is circular reasoning”, I have asked you “Do you believe that Bahnsen was mistaken about the presuppositional method?”

I have carefully read and responded to each one of your claims and provided evidence to the contrary.  But rational dialog requires you to respond to mine with evidence and reasons.  Otherwise, I have no reason to take your claims as anything more than unsupportable and arbitrary assertions.

Okay, now on to your specific claims.

Peter: No. Neither Van Til nor Bahnsen say that circular reasoning or any other fallacy is “virtuous.”

Dr. Lisle: Here you have committed the question-begging epithet fallacy because you have tacitly assumed and arbitrarily implied (“any other fallacy”) that circular reasoning is (always) a fallacy, which is the very thing you are supposed to be proving.  Neither Bahnsen, Van Til, nor I call any fallacy virtuous.  Rather, it is the non-fallacious variety of circular reasoning (namely, transcendental reasoning) that I hold to be virtuous because it is biblical.  Bahnsen and Van Til did indeed distinguish this type of virtuous or “transcendental” circular reasoning from fallacious or “vicious” circular reasoning.  They affirmed the former and denounced the latter.

Van Til states, “We are happy to accept the charge of circular reasoning.”  (Van Til, Survery of Christian Epistemology, emphasis added).  Clearly, he is not condemning all circular reasoning.  Rather Van Til points out that this is rationally necessary and appropriate because of our nature as creatures, and God’s nature as the Creator.  He states, “Our reasoning frankly depends upon the revelation of God, whose ‘reasoning’ is within the internal-eternal circularity of the three persons of the Trinity. It is only if we frankly depend for the validity of our reasoning upon this internal circular reasoning in the triune God that we can escape trying in vain to reason in circles in a vacuum of pure contingency.” (Van Til, Survey of Christian Epistemology, emphasis added).  Yes, Van Til argues that since God’s reasoning is inherently circular, and since our reasoning depends on God, we should not be ashamed of circularity in reasoning – providing that such circularity is not “vicious.”

Bahnsen explains it this way.  He states, “God is the framework that makes intelligible all the other reasoning that you engage in.  And about that kind of thing, all you can do is reason in a circle.  Randy earlier brought up the illustration (and I’ll remind you again) when people argue about logic, they’ve got to assume logic while they argue about it.”  (Bahnsen, Transcendental Arguments, disk 11).  Bahnsen is pointing out that when reasoning about transcendentals, circular reasoning is the only option available, for we must assume (of rational necessity) the thing we are attempting to prove (such as the Bible or laws of logic).

Nor did Bahnsen condemn the transcendental argument for being circular.  On the contrary, he thought that it was absolutely, rationally conclusive.  He states, “Why, as a Christian, do I care about transcendental reasoning in general?  I thought I would explain that to you in terms of arguments for God’s existence.  I’m convinced that the existence of God not only is objectively true, but it’s also objectively provable.”  (Bahnsen, Transcendental Arguments, Disk 1).  Yet, the transcendental argument is necessarily circular.  Bahnsen states, “Hence a Christian’s apologetical argument (working on a transcendental level) will finally be circular; what he knows and how he knows are both tied up with God’s revelation.”  (Bahnsen, Presuppositional Apologetics Stated and Defended, p. 86).

He continues, “Therefore, all argumentation over ultimate issues of truth and reality will come down to an appeal to authorities which, in the nature of the case, are ultimate authorities.  Circularity at this level of argumentation is unavoidable.” (p. 87)   “Therefore, all argumentation between non-Christian and believer must inevitably become circular, beginning and ending with some personal authority (and not a question of epistemology or metaphysics abstracted from the other).  Since this is the case the Christian should not be ashamed of his admittedly dogmatic apologetic, a system of interpretation which starts ‘from above,’ from the authoritative Word of the self-contained, triune God who speaks in self-attesting Scripture.”  (Bahnsen, Presuppositional Apologetics Stated and Defended, p. 88)

Peter:  That would be a breach of the Ninth Commandment, since a fallacy is by definition a “false witness.”

Dr. Lisle: Actually, the definition of a fallacy is an “error in reasoning.”  False witness is claiming something about a person that is not true.  For example, claiming that Bahnsen did not believe the presuppositional method to be circular reasoning would be a false witness, because Bahnsen directly stated that it is circular reasoning” in Van Til’s Apologetic (p. 518) , and throughout his articles and lectures.  Again, you have arbitrarily assumed that circular reasoning is always a fallacy as the sole basis for your belief that circular reasoning is always a fallacy.  You are reasoning in a circle to argue that it’s wrong to reason in a circle.

Peter: What Van Til, Bahnsen, etc. wrote contradict what you have been alleging against the faith.

Dr. Lisle: Ironically, that’s what I am going to say to you.  You have alleged that (1) circular reasoning is always wrong and that (2) the transcendental method is NOT circular reasoning.  Bahnsen disagrees with both of your claims.  After having described the transcendental argument, Bahnsen states, “The method of implication as outlined above is circular reasoning. …  Unless we are larger than God we cannot reason about him any other way than by a transcendental or circular argument.”  (Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic, p. 518, emphasis added).  This of course directly contradicts your claim that the transcendental argument is not circular.

And what of those people who refuse to allow the Bible to prove itself in a circular fashion?  Bahnsen says, “The refusal to admit the necessity of circular reasoning is itself an evident token of opposition to Christianity.” (p. 518)  So, Peter, when you deny the necessity of circular reasoning, according to Bahnsen, you are in opposition to Christianity.

It is the opponent of Christianity that will not allow the Bible to justify itself (which is circular).  But the alternative is that rationality could never be justified.  Bahnsen states, “Can this rational procedure that you’ve been using itself be justified?  And the answer of the skeptic is ‘No.  Fundamental assumptions cannot be rationally justified and therefore all belief systems are ultimately arbitrary.  Because the standards of justification also need justification if you’re going to be rational, you’ll either have an infinite regress of justifications, or you’ll reach some level of commitment that is not rational.’ So that’s the horns of the dilemma.  The skeptic’s argument is: ‘You’re either going to have an infinite regress (rational justification with another rational justification behind it and then another rational justification and that’s going to go on and on and on) in which case nothing ever gets rationally justified, or you’re going to stop your appeal to rational justifications and you’re going to have a commitment that’s not rational.  And therefore, rationality itself is not justified.’”  (Bahnsen, Transcendental Arguments, disk 4).

Note that Bahnsen is careful to distinguish the appropriate “virtuous” (my word) or “spiral” (his word) type of circular reasoning from the fallacious or “vicious” variety: He states (quoting Van Til), “Reasoning in a vicious circle is the only alternative to reasoning in a circle as discussed above.” (p. 518) Both believers and unbelievers must reason in a circular fashion because we are finite.  However, the believer’s circle is based on the self-attesting revelation from God and makes everything else intelligible and is therefore not a fallacy.  The unbeliever’s circle cannot account for the preconditions of intelligibility, and is therefore fallacious or “vicious”.

Bahnsen argues that circular reasoning is appropriate and rationally necessary when dealing with any ultimate standard.  He states,

“Hence a Christian’s apologetical argument (working on a transcendental level) will finally be circular; what he knows and how he knows are both tied up with God’s revelation.  …   Therefore, all argumentation over ultimate issues of truth and reality will come down to an appeal to authorities which, in the nature of the case, are ultimate authorities.  Circularity at this level of argumentation is unavoidable.” (Bahnsen, Presuppositional Apologetics Stated and Defended, p. 86-87, emphasis added.)

Bahnsen did not apologize, condemn, or try to hide the fact that the presuppositional method entrails (non-vicious) circular reasoning, since this is the only option available to finite men.  He is very up front about it.  He states:

“Somebody says, ‘Well you Christians, when you talk about, when you argue about the preconditions of intelligibility, are assuming your answer to the question.’  To which we say, ‘of course.  If we didn’t assume that God is the precondition of intelligibility while we’re arguing with people about the precondition of intelligibility then God would not in fact be the precondition of intelligibility, would He?’  …  [The unbeliever] says ‘Oh, well then you’re reasoning in a circle.  We don’t allow that.’  Well by now, this has become old hat to you, say, ‘when you’re talking about ultimate authorities, what’s the alternative?  You either assume your ultimate authority is ultimate, or it’s not your ultimate authority.  Of course we reason in a circle, and so do you.  (Bahnsen, Defending the Christian Worldview against all Opposition, disk 10: “Circular Reasoning”).

He continues, “By the way, when people argue in favor of logic, don’t you think they assume the laws of logic while they’re arguing about the laws of logic?  Yeah, they do.  When people try to demonstrate the reliability of the human eye, do you think they do that with their eyes closed?  No, they use the human eye even while they’re trying to demonstrate the usefulness of the human eye, which is just to say they assume the very thing that’s in question.  That must always be the case.”  (Bahnsen, Defending the Christian Worldview against all Opposition, disk 10: “Circular Reasoning”).

How would you answer Bahnsen here?  How do you argue for laws of logic without circularity – without using laws of logic?  How do you defend the absolute authority of God’s Word without presupposing it?

Now, you don’t have to agree with Bahnsen (although I don’t think you can provide a rational counter-argument).  But you do not have the ethical right to misrepresent his view.  If you continue to claim that Bahnsen did not endorse the use of at least some varieties of circular reasoning, then you are bearing false witness, because he clearly did and says as much throughout his writings and lectures.

Peter: I hope you do understand that calling divine revelation a fallacy is no good thing, especially when one calls any fallacy “virtuous.”

Dr. Lisle: (1) Neither Bahnsen nor I have ever called divine revelation a fallacy (rather this is in fact what you are unwittingly doing as I will show below).  (2) Neither Bahnsen nor I have called any fallacy virtuous.  Perhaps you have drawn this incorrect inference because you don’t know what a fallacy is.  Bahnsen and I recognize that not all circular reasoning is a fallacy.  And we recognize that God necessarily uses circular reasoning:  Bahnsen quoting Van Til states,

“Our reasoning frankly depends upon the revelation of God, whose ‘reasoning’ is within the internal-eternal circularity of the three persons of the Trinity.  It is only if we frankly depend for the validity of our reasoning upon this internal circular reasoning of the triune God that we can escape trying in vain to reason in circles in a vacuum of pure contingency.” (Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic, p. 520)  Yes, according to Bahnsen and Van Til, God uses circular reasoning.

Since God’s reasoning is necessarily circular reasoning, and since you have claimed that all circular reasoning is fallacious, then does it not follow logically that you are claiming that God’s reasoning is fallacious?

Peter: Now what I presented to you was meant to help.

Dr. Lisle: I appreciate constructive criticism.  But in order for such criticism to be helpful, it has to be both accurate and backed up with reasons/evidence.  Your comments so far have been neither.  My replies were meant to help you.  And I backed them up with evidence. Namely, I showed how Bahnsen affirmed that the transcendental argument is circular reasoning, contrary to your claim, and that he distinguished this type of circular reasoning from the fallacious or “vicious” variety, contrary to your assertion that all types of circular reasoning are wrong.

Peter: Creationists are constantly updating their presentations. That takes humility and a teachable spirit. And it is easy to integrate corrections, which a Christian audience always appreciates.  But unwillingness to do so might be a sign of bad faith and hypocrisy. On the other hand, if you are really unable to understand Van Til and Bahnsen, then please stop mentioning their work.

Dr. Lisle: That’s exactly what I would say to you.  If you think that Bahnsen’s statement that the presuppositional method “is circular reasoning” actually means “is not circular reasoning”, then you probably shouldn’t be attempting to correct others on what Bahnsen believed.  If you think that Bahnsen is condemning the very method of apologetics that he endorses, then again, you probably should not be criticizing others for correctly representing Bahnsen’s position.

When I pointed out that Bahnsen has directly stated that the presuppositional method is circular reasoning,” I was expecting you to have a teachable spirit and accept that correction with humility.  You don’t have to agree with him of course.  But it is not ethical to continue to say that Bahnsen did not believe that the presuppositional method is circular reasoning when he directly wrote that it is circular reasoning” – multiple times and in multiple ways.

Peter: However, reading your replies, I suspect that your spreading of falsehoods may be intentional.

Dr. Lisle: Well, first you would have to establish that I have written something that is false.  And you haven’t been able to do that.  You have alleged that I am mistaken in my belief that Bahnsen believed that the transcendental argument is a type of circular reasoning, but you provided no evidence to back this up.  However, I have shown you direct quotes where he indeed asserts that “the method outlined above is circular reasoning.” (Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic p. 518).  Amazingly, you even cited those quotes back to me and therefore you are clearly aware of them.  So, what am I to conclude?

Peter: Furthermore, alleging that the Bible is a fallacy—a falsehood—and even worse, that such lying is “virtuous,” is a wicked thing to do.

Dr. Lisle: Yes, it is.  So please stop doing it.  I have shown you that God employs circular reasoning in the Bible (e.g. Hebrews 6:13, Genesis 22:16; Isaiah 45:23; Jeremiah 49:13; Exodus 3:14).  Yet you claim that all circular reasoning is a fallacy – hence you are tacitly calling the Bible a fallacy.  This is indeed wicked.  I claim that everything God affirms is right, true, and virtuous; hence when God reasons in a circular fashion it must not be a fallacy, but is in fact, right, true, and virtuous.  Since circular reasoning is the only option available to finite man, since God commands us to reason, and since God would not command us to do something fallacious, it must not always be an error to argue in a circular fashion.  Indeed, the way I know that the Bible is revelation from God is because it claims to be revelation from God and makes knowledge possible.  This is certainly circular, but it is rationally necessary, biblical, and therefore right.  Bahnsen states it this way:

“And so the Bible has the final authority.  The Bible is the decisive consideration for every Christian doctrine.  And one of the Christian doctrines is the doctrine of biblical authority.  And so you see how we’re automatically now trapped in circular reasoning.  Aren’t we?  Why do you believe the Bible to be the Word of God?  That’s what the unbeliever wants to know.  Well, as a theologian, you know what the answer is – it’s inescapable.  I believe it because the Bible says so.

“Now the unbeliever will say, ‘That’s circular reasoning!’  But consider the alternative.  Let’s back up a step in our thinking here.  If the Bible didn’t claim to be the Word of God and we didn’t believe that on the basis of the Bible itself, what would be the basis for believing it?” (Bahnsen, A Seminary-Level Course in Apologetics, disk 6 “Antithesis and Self-Attestation of Scripture”).

Peter: The sad fact is that many Christians have been influenced by and have adopted the error that the Christian worldview is a fallacy and worse, a “virtuous lie.”

Dr. Lisle: That would follow logically from your stated position, wouldn’t it?  Since God uses circular reasoning, since the way we know that Christianity is true is ultimately circular, if your stated position were correct – that all circular reasoning is fallacious – then it would follow that the Christian worldview is based on a fallacy.  Bahnsen and I understand that not all circular reasoning is fallacious – and in particular the way in which we defend the Christian faith is necessarily circular, yet not fallacious.  So in our apologetic method, the Christian worldview is not based on a fallacy, but is in fact virtuous and rationally necessary.  It proves itself (that’s necessarily circular) and allows us to prove other things as well.  All other worldviews (which must also be defended in a circular fashion) turn out to be vicious circles which do not provide the preconditions of intelligibility.

Peter: You have flipped presuppositionalism on its head, setting apologetics back years.

Dr. Lisle: Wow!  I’m flattered that you think I have so much influence!  But I must ask, how is it “flipping presuppositionlism on its head” to affirm exactly what Bahnsen did?  After all, Bahnsen is the one arguing that the transcendental method is circular reasoning,” and that “Circular argument is unavoidable when it comes to any ultimate authority” (Bahnsen, A Seminary-Level Course in Apologetics, disk 6 “Antithesis and Self-Attestation of Scripture”).  Bahnsen argued that the circular reasoning of the transcendental method is “not at all the same as the fallacious ‘circularity’ of an argument in which the conclusion is a restatement (in one form or another) of one of its premises.” (Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic, p. 518).  He clearly understood that not all logical circles are fallacious.  This is exactly what my article explained.  How is it an error for me to summarize his writings on this topic?

Peter: Bahnsen and Van Til say that sinners’s reasoning is flawed, that without an ultimate standard, all human thinking is circular reasoning.

Dr. Lisle: No.  Bahnsen and Van Til say that even with an ultimate standard, all human thinking is ultimately circular reasoning because the ultimate standard must be self-attesting which is circular.  It proves itself by itself.  Bahnsen states, “Circular argument is unavoidable when it comes to any ultimate authority” (Bahnsen, A Seminary-Level Course in Apologetics, disk 6).  He does not exempt the Bible.  For the Bible has ultimate authority, and therefore must be defended circularly.  Bahnsen states, “Everybody’s approach to evidence is controlled by presuppositions.  And in the end, everyone’s ultimate criterion, everyone’s ultimate presupposition, is defended in a circular fashion.  If it weren’t, it wouldn’t be ultimate” (Bahnsen, A Seminary-Level Course in Apologetics, disk 6).  Circular reasoning is the only option in which finite man can defend any ultimate standard.  Both Christians and non-Christians are finite, therefore both must defend their standard in a circular (transcendental) way.

Bahnsen recognizes that the Bible must be defended in a circular way – it must be presupposed in order to be proved. He states, “And that’s why in the apologetic that I’m going to be teaching you in this course, I’m going to assume what the Bible says about itself: that the ultimate reason for believing it, the ultimate authority that it has going for it is that it is the Word of God and claims that it’s the Word of God.   Those who reject that circularity are really saying, ‘I will not allow anything to be ultimate authority besides me.’” (Bahnsen, A Seminary-Level Course on Apologetics, disk 6).

It is the sinner, and not the Christian, who refuses to accept the Bible’s self-attesting, circular claim.  Bahnsen states, “The sinner wants to test that which presents itself as the revelation of God by a standard not itself taken from this revelation.  He complains of the circular reasoning that would be involved in accepting the word of Scripture about the nature of Scripture” (Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic p. 218).

Peter: You say that, ALL including the divine revelation is circular reasoning, and suggest that sinners can reason themselves to faith.

Dr. Lisle: Peter, with respect, here you are bearing false witness against me.  In my previous response I directly said that “revelation is not circular,” yet here you claim I say the opposite!  Nor have I ever said that sinners can (autonomously) reason themselves to faith.  Can you please cite a source where I allegedly said this?  On the contrary, sinners are motivated to not believe the Bible because it interferes with the way they want to live.  Their hardened heart will not allow them to reason rationally about the Scriptures (Ephesians 4:18), and they require the Holy Spirit to regenerate their heart so that they can reason correctly and recognize the self-attesting authority of the Bible.  We reason with unbelievers because the Holy Spirit can use our arguments as part of the means by which He draws people to Himself.

Second, I notice that you are again confusing revelation with reason.  These are different.  I specifically said in my previous reply that “Revelation is not circular” in contrast to your claim here.  No, revelation is quite linear; it is one-way communication from God to man.  However, the way we reason about Scripture is necessarily circular because we must presuppose the truth of Scripture in order to justify rationality by which we conclude the truth of Scripture.

As Bahnsen put it, “And so the Bible has the final authority.  The Bible is the decisive consideration for every Christian doctrine.  And one of the Christian doctrines is the doctrine of biblical authority.  And so you see how we’re automatically now trapped in circular reasoning.  Aren’t we?  Why do you believe the Bible to be the Word of God? …  I believe it because the Bible says so.  … Circular argument is unavoidable when it comes to any ultimate authority.  (Bahnsen, A Seminary-Level Course in Apologetics, disk 6).

Peter: The Bible is truth and not a lie. This is not debatable.

Dr. Lisle: Agreed!

Peter: You say the revelation from God is a lie, the fallacy of circular reading [sic],…

Dr. Lisle: Wow, Peter.  Not only are you once again bearing false witness against me, but you have managed to pack four errors in to this short segment.  First, I have never said that revelation from God is a lie; rather I affirm that everything God reveals to man is true.  Second, I have never said that revelation is a fallacy, nor can it be.  The word “fallacy” is applied to arguments/reasoning – not revelation.  Third, I have never claimed that revelation is circular reasoning.  On the contrary, revelation is linear – from God to man.  Fourth, I have not claimed that the transcendental circular reasoning involved in reasoning about Scripture is a fallacy.  Rather, that’s your claim – one that you have not been able to prove as yet.

Peter: …which lie you worsen by slandering presuppositionalists and claiming the fallacy is “virtuous.”

Dr. Lisle: Again Peter, you bear false witness against me perhaps because you are unable to escape your unproved presupposition that all circular reasoning is fallacious.  I have never claimed that a fallacy is virtuous.  Rather, I maintain that those types of circular arguments that are virtuous are not a fallacy.  You have arbitrarily assumed as an unproved presupposition that all types of circular reasoning are fallacious.  I have asked you to prove this without begging the question, but you haven’t been able to do so.

Hypothetically, if you were correct that all circular reasoning is fallacious, then human beings could not reason rationally.  Here’s why.  “Circular reasoning is the only reasoning that is possible to finite man.” (Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic, p. 518).  All of us are finite.  Hence, circular reasoning is the only reasoning that is possible for us.  And if all circular reasoning is fallacious, then fallacious reasoning is the only reasoning possible for us.  In that case, all our arguments are fallacious/irrational (including this one ironically).  So you see, the position that “all circular reasoning is fallacious” leads inevitably to absurdity.  We would not be able to reason correctly / rationally about anything!

Peter: I have blocked your page.

Dr. Lisle: I think that’s for the best.  Since you haven’t been able or willing to answer any of my questions, or engage rationally with any of my points, and since you take Bahnsen and Van Til to mean the opposite of what they say, I doubt further dialog would be fruitful.  I do appreciate you posting though.  I think this dialog will be beneficial to others who may read this.  Thanks again.  God bless.

– Jason Lisle