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Pop Warner Apologetics on Superbowl Sunday: Answers in Genesis Punts

February 7, 2010

How does Answers in Genesis dupe rubes into building and visiting its 27 million dollar Creation Museum with nonsense like this?  Setting out to explain presuppositional apologetics, author David Wright says:

If we start off believing the Bible is the Word of God…then we use it as our axiom. An axiom (often used in logic) is a proposition that is not susceptible to proof or disproof; its truth is assumed.

Webster’s doesn’t exactly agree, but let’s not get hung up on the definition of “axiom” right now.  Wright is saying that any conversation about the Bible must begin with its truth already assumed,  explicitly advocating for believers to commit the logical fallacy of petitio principii.  Also known as “begging the question,” the fallacy is that the proposition’s validity is assumed in the premise. 

He believes this is the proper way to understand the Bible because as an axiom it is not “susceptible to proof or disproof.” The definition of susceptible is really important; saying that the Bible is not susceptible to falsification is saying that it is impossible to submit any of the Bible’s claims to any type of fact-checking. He clarifies:

The battle is not over evidence but over philosophical starting points: presuppositions. As Christians, we should never put away our axiom—the Bible—when discussing truth with others.

When he says “the battle is not over evidence”, what he means is “I won’t accept any evidence that could falsify my premise.” Consider the source: Answers in Genesis is devoted to sustaining its Biblical literalist worldview with what it perceives as evidence for a 6,000-year-old earth, a 4,000-year-old global flood, and a 6-day creation. It supports these Biblical assertions by displaying its inventions (they’re certainly not discoveries) in pseudoarchaeology, pseudophysics, pseudochemistry, pseudoanthropology, pseudobiology, and pseudopaleontology. If Wright had the courage of his convictions, he would reject the Creation Museum because the Bible’s accuracy is axiomatic and “the battle is not over evidence.” Rather, AiG does (or goes through the motions of doing) to the Bible precisely what it says the Bible is not susceptible to – it engages in evidentiary support of its “axiom”.

But logical fallacy and hypocrisy aside, there’s one more issue that must be dealt with: why in the world does he think it’s appropriate to take the Bible’s accuracy for granted? I do not know of an explanatory filter that reveals when it’s ok to take a claim for granted, but I would imagine it has something to do with the claim being either definitional or trivial. It’s one thing to say that 440Hz is concert A or that the sky is blue; it’s entirely different to say that a book that purports to describe the history and future of the universe is a no-questions-asked proposition.

Frankly, Wright comes off like a child yelling out “time out!” whenever he’s about to get tagged. One is not exempt from the rules of the game simply because he’s losing.

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