It seems that the question of presuppositionalism vs evidentialism does get people, well, excited. The presupps don’t like being told they are taking a “leap of faith” and the evids don’t like being told that their work is insufficient. My question goes to the arguments from evidence and the steps taken to arrive at the conclusion — the proof of the assumption. Even so, I would like to explore one aspect of evidentialism. That aspect is the evidentialist’s supposed sufficiency of evidence, and my criticism is that inductive reasoning makes any claim of sufficiency suspect. < Flame Resistance ON >
It is the nature of inductive reasoning that conclusions are arrived at by way of probability. That is, the greater the accumulation of evidence, and the greater the percentage of evidence, to meet an end requirement, the more likely that requirement is true. For instance, there is a very high probability that 1+1 will always equal 2. Quite high, in fact. Yet because this approach inductive, it is not a necessarily absolute conclusion. Of course, nobody doubts that the accumulation of two singular elements amounts to the sum of two singular elements, though the nature of those elements is always assumed. That assumption can account for the low level of improbability, which makes the formula less than absolutely certain.
And though this is a point of minutiae, it goes to the leap needed to arrive at an inductive conclusion. There is an assumption which must be made regarding the nature of the elements. When the evidential apologist build his(/her) case that the evidence must lead to the conclusion that, for example, God exists, then I have to step back. Is there not an assumption being made that the evidence is either sufficient or even adequate? Is this assumption not the bridge between the evidence and the conclusion? It seems that the evidentialist, even in fields outside of Christian apologetics — like AGW — cannot provide the level of certainty necessary for the final conclusion. Evidence is not sufficient in and of itself, not in an inductive environment.
Even apart from interpretation and the human sense of knowledge, the logical character of induction seems to leave the evidentialist with that small lack. Still, it has its place, though the presuppositionalist here has an advantage. The assumption of the evidentialist i the real”leap of faith” from the evidence to the conclusion because it requires that a presupposition about the contextual reality be made. It is necessary for the assumption of sufficiency to have a base from which it is drawn, and that is the presupposition of the right character of the conclusion.
Let’s pretend that pi has not yet been resolved. (That happened only recently. But let’s ignore it, just for the sake of the argument.) With pi unresolved, pi R squared was not absolutely discernablebecause it was always inaccurate. (If you are dealing with an inaccurate representation of pi, then you were not really working with the real pi.) There is (was) a mathematical assumption made with regard to the relationship of pi to the circle, and the leap from the formula to the calculated area of a circle was assumed to adequately accurate for the given purposes. It was always less than 100% accurate, and even with today’s calculators, which do not fully resolve pi, the inaccuracy is automatic. Likewise, the assumption of adequacy must always be present.
The induction of the evidentialist must therefore not be taken as though it is a deductive conclusion. It is not automatic that there is a God. The Bible comes with that both as an assumption (Genesis 1:1) and as a presupposition (Heb. 11:6). The existence of God is not finally proved by any formulaic solution. Interestingly, though, one evolutionist has noted the necessity of some sort of creator. Hubert Yockey has noted:
The origin of matter occurred in the Big Bang 13.4 +/- 1.6 billion years ago (Cayrel et. al. 2001; Freedman and Feng, 1999; Krauss and Chaboyer, 2003; Lineweaver, 1999). Astronomers and physicists can trace the origin of matter to within the Planck time, about 10 -34 seconds, after the First Cause that originated the fire ball of the Big Bang. (1)
The probability of God is very high. High enough that even an evolutionist might support the premise, at least to a small degree. But the formulas of the evidentialist are not so automatic. God is not to be deduced. It seems that the evidentialist is, after all is said and done, just another type of presuppositionalist.
(1) Yockey, Hubert P., Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life, 2005, Cambridge, p. 133