Greg Bahnsen & the "crackers in the pantry fallacy"
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19-06-2015, 10:38 AM
Greg Bahnsen & the "crackers in the pantry fallacy"
When I was a believer, I remember all the presuppositionalists love Greg Bahnsen (who was one of their top debaters years ago), and especially his debate with Dr Gordon Stein (atheist) on the existence of God. In Bahnsen's opening address, he denied that the question of the existence of God is a factual question. I hear this kinda crap sometimes from believers about how they see no problem that there's no evidence for God because God is immaterial. (So obviously the burden of proof is on them with their claim that immaterial things exist.) How would you respond to that claim, or something like what Bahnsen said below in his opening address?

Quote:How should the difference of opinion between the theist and the atheist be rationally resolved? What Dr. Stein has written indicates that he, like many atheists, has not reflected adequately on this question. He writes, and I quote, "The question of the existence of God is a factual question, and should be answered in the same way as any other factual questions."

The assumption that all existence claims are questions about matters of fact, the assumption that all of these are answered in the very same way is not only over simplified and misleading, it is simply mistaken. The existence, factuality or reality of different kinds of things is not established or disconfirmed in the same way in every case.

Quote:We might ask , "Is there a box of crackers in the pantry?" And we know how we would go about answering that question. But that is a far, far cry from the way we go about answering questions determining the reality of say, barometric pressure, quasars, gravitational attraction, elasticity, radio activity, natural laws, names, grammar, numbers, the university itself that you're now at, past events, categories, future contingencies, laws of thought, political obligations, individual identity over time, causation, memories, dreams, or even love or beauty. In such cases, one does not do anything like walk to the pantry and look inside for the crackers. There are thousands of existence or factual questions, and they are not at all answered in the same way in each case.

Quote:Just think of the differences in argumentation and the types of evidences used by biologists, grammarians, physicists, mathematicians, lawyers, magicians, mechanics, merchants, and artists. It should be obvious from this that the types of evidence one looks for in existence or factual claims will be determined by the field of discussion and especially by the metaphysical nature of the entity mentioned in the claim under question.

Dr. Stein's remark that the question of the existence of God is answered in the same way as any other factual question, mistakenly reduces the theistic question to the same level as the box of crackers in the pantry, which we will hereafter call the crackers in the pantry fallacy.
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19-06-2015, 11:47 AM
RE: Greg Bahnsen & the "crackers in the pantry fallacy"
I would call it a case of special pleading. In all those cases: «barometric pressure, quasars, gravitational attraction, elasticity, radio activity, natural laws, names, grammar, numbers, the university itself that you're now at, past events, categories, future contingencies, laws of thought, political obligations, individual identity over time, causation, memories, dreams, or even love or beauty.» evidences tells us if they are real or not. We have no evidence of the existence of any deity outside of our imagination. Unless Bahnsen was arguing for an imaginary God, his crackers in the pantry fallacy doesn't hold water.
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19-06-2015, 12:00 PM
RE: Greg Bahnsen & the "crackers in the pantry fallacy"
Yet it iss the same system. It's starting with some observation, going to hypothesis, and testing it... and repeating and having others confirm it.

You start by observing in the pantry if you see a box of crackers. Hypothesis that there is crackers in the box of crackers, then test to see if that is the case. Then if needed, try having another test if these are indeed crackers so you can confirm eachothers observations.

"Allow there to be a spectrum in all that you see" - Neil Degrasse Tyson
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19-06-2015, 12:05 PM
RE: Greg Bahnsen & the "crackers in the pantry fallacy"
The problem with this tactic of the believers is it opens up the door for any claims....like my favorite hollow Neptune filled with little blue men assertion. When we sit around philosophically and smack our lips together while expressing neurological farts of fantasy there is no end to the shit we can make up. As a thought exercise of "wouldn't it be cool if unicorns farted fairy dust"..or some other shroom laced mind fuck...it is an entertaining game, but clearly not the litmus test for truth or reality.

To posit, "god doesn't have to be proven because he exists outside the physical realm" is a BS sidestep of the real issue. We wouldn't know of "god" if it wasn't for the four Fs of religion; Fabrication, Fiction, Forgery, and Fantasy. We can trace the lies back to their inception, creation, and assimilation. What we can't trace is the myth back to the miracle. If corpses were bursting out of the ground, and the earth going dark upon self proclaimed prophet son of god number 137 being executed...someone would have written that shit down AT THE TIME.

These pseudo intellectual theist debaters do what snake oil salesman and magicians do best.....sidestep, while making a motion with one hand, and pulling the rabbit out from behind the box with the other. Nothing to see here...just BS artists doing what BS artists do best, change the angle, create a straw man, and chop it down while pretending they made a brilliant, eviscerating declaration.

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

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19-06-2015, 12:34 PM
RE: Greg Bahnsen & the "crackers in the pantry fallacy"
(19-06-2015 11:47 AM)epronovost Wrote:  I would call it a case of special pleading. In all those cases: «barometric pressure, quasars, gravitational attraction, elasticity, radio activity, natural laws, names, grammar, numbers, the university itself that you're now at, past events, categories, future contingencies, laws of thought, political obligations, individual identity over time, causation, memories, dreams, or even love or beauty.» evidences tells us if they are real or not. We have no evidence of the existence of any deity outside of our imagination. Unless Bahnsen was arguing for an imaginary God, his crackers in the pantry fallacy doesn't hold water.

In disagreeing with Bahnsen, I don’t see how the question of the existence of God is NOT a factual question, except by special pleading on his part. It amazes me how virtually all religious reasoning boils down to some basic fallacies…special pleading, burden of proof, god of the gaps, etc. When I was in the process of deconverting, one of the standards I held myself to and I continue to try to hold myself to…is to not just rely on “kitchen-table level apologetics” but to use rigorous critical thinking and studying the issue from all sides. Meaning, as a believer, I saw myself relying on very basic ideas…the level of intellectual rigor of reading one apologetics book and then having discussions…and I wanted to ensure I was using rigorous study and critical thinking about anything I’ve formulated an opinion on. So…where I’m going with this digression is to say that now as an atheist, I try to be careful to not be too simplistic in my thinking,…but it really is true that the issue with religious folks is really that simple…special pleading, burden of proof, god of the gaps. No matter what arguments I see religious folks bring back, it most always comes back to a handful of fallacies. But that’s not surprising since the reality of the situation is that religious folks are trying to bend over backwards to prove their case, when just a simple line of thinking (exposing basic fallacies) shows the reason they’re having to work so hard is because the burden of proof is on them and there’s no way to prove unfalsifiable ideas/concepts.

So, yes, I see “special pleading” written all over Bahnsen’s opening statement. He tries to make an argument that “existence, factuality, or reality…is not established or disconfirmed in the same way in every case.” This seems like forthright special pleading to me…for him to then go and basically say that God is proved by the way that God wants to prove Himself, which automatically means my Bible is true and proof of God’s existence. (*rolling my eyes*) No, Bahnsen, maybe I’m misunderstanding…but if you want to say God’s existence is a fact, then you need to provide evidence or reasoning that would prove God just as any of the other things you mentioned in that long list do have evidence proving them. So it seems he’s moreso actually saying, “Not everything is proved the same way…there’s the way we prove everything in the real world, and then there’s the way I prove my deity.”
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19-06-2015, 12:59 PM
RE: Greg Bahnsen & the "crackers in the pantry fallacy"
(19-06-2015 12:05 PM)goodwithoutgod Wrote:  The problem with this tactic of the believers is it opens up the door for any claims....like my favorite hollow Neptune filled with little blue men assertion. When we sit around philosophically and smack our lips together while expressing neurological farts of fantasy there is no end to the shit we can make up. As a thought exercise of "wouldn't it be cool if unicorns farted fairy dust"..or some other shroom laced mind fuck...it is an entertaining game, but clearly not the litmus test for truth or reality.

Very true! (And great example!) If everything, according to Bahnsen, is proved differently, I can just pull out my made-up book that "proves" Neptune is filled with little blue men. In any reasonable discussion between two intelligent people, I'd imagine we'd both agree on defining that "proving" something's existence would mean that if one person claims something X exists, the other person could go determine if that claim was true or not. Meaning, "proving" assumes basic methods of verification we all can agree upon. It's only then that religious people try to slip in the idea that they can "prove" things that are untestable and unfalsifiable. This neither accomplishes nor proves anything.

(19-06-2015 12:05 PM)goodwithoutgod Wrote:  To posit, "god doesn't have to be proven because he exists outside the physical realm" is a BS sidestep of the real issue. We wouldn't know of "god" if it wasn't for the four Fs of religion; Fabrication, Fiction, Forgery, and Fantasy. We can trace the lies back to their inception, creation, and assimilation. What we can't trace is the myth back to the miracle. If corpses were bursting out of the ground, and the earth going dark upon self proclaimed prophet son of god number 137 being executed...someone would have written that shit down AT THE TIME.

That's a good point that we wouldn't know of this god-concept if it wasn't for the four f's of religion that we can trace back to their inception, creation, and/or assimilation.

Ultimately, I guess the idea religious folks have that an immaterial god's existence can't be proven by evidence because god is immaterial...should just show, then, that there's no basis for claiming they can know or prove this god exists. I mean, speaking purely hypothetically, maybe if there is/was some immaterial god or first-cause of the universe that's not logically contradictory...sure, that immaterial god could maybe exist without any evidence proving its existence...but this line of thinking still just keeps falling into the "hollow Neptune filled with little blue men assertion" problem. So an intellectually honest person should just admit that while they believe in a god, there's no way it's possible to prove this god exists and so there's no reason to expect anyone else should think it too.

Those are just a few thoughts as I still wrestle with some of these ideas in my mind. Thanks for your input.
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19-06-2015, 01:11 PM
RE: Greg Bahnsen & the "crackers in the pantry fallacy"
(19-06-2015 10:38 AM)Learner Wrote:  How would you respond to that claim, or something like what Bahnsen said below in his opening address?

I'm going to coin a phrase right now and call it the leprechaun test. I've brought this up before, but this is the first time I've named it. The idea is, if I can take anything they say, and apply it directly to "prove" the existence of leprechauns, their apologetic approach probably leaves something to be desired.

Lets test it out!


"The question of the existence of leprechauns is a factual question, and should be answered in the same way as any other factual questions."

The assumption that all existence claims are questions about matters of fact, the assumption that all of these are answered in the very same way is not only over simplified and misleading, it is simply mistaken. The existence, factuality or reality of different kinds of things is not established or disconfirmed in the same way in every case.

We might ask , "Is there a box of crackers in the pantry?" And we know how we would go about answering that question. But that is a far, far cry from the way we go about answering questions determining the reality of say, barometric pressure, quasars, gravitational attraction, elasticity, radio activity, natural laws, names, grammar, numbers, the university itself that you're now at, past events, categories, future contingencies, laws of thought, political obligations, individual identity over time, causation, memories, dreams, or even love or beauty. In such cases, one does not do anything like walk to the pantry and look inside for the crackers. There are thousands of existence or factual questions, and they are not at all answered in the same way in each case.

Just think of the differences in argumentation and the types of evidences used by biologists, grammarians, physicists, mathematicians, lawyers, magicians, mechanics, merchants, and artists. It should be obvious from this that the types of evidence one looks for in existence or factual claims will be determined by the field of discussion and especially by the metaphysical nature of the entity mentioned in the claim under question.

The question of the existence of leprechauns is answered in the same way as any other factual question, mistakenly reduces the question to the same level as the box of crackers in the pantry, which we will hereafter call the crackers in the pantry fallacy.

So, we'll say that we have to look for leprechauns in a different way in that we'd look for crackers, refuse to state how exactly we're supposed to find these leprechauns, and then go on happily asserting that they exist!
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19-06-2015, 01:26 PM
RE: Greg Bahnsen & the "crackers in the pantry fallacy"
(19-06-2015 01:11 PM)RobbyPants Wrote:  
(19-06-2015 10:38 AM)Learner Wrote:  How would you respond to that claim, or something like what Bahnsen said below in his opening address?

I'm going to coin a phrase right now and call it the leprechaun test. I've brought this up before, but this is the first time I've named it. The idea is, if I can take anything they say, and apply it directly to "prove" the existence of leprechauns, their apologetic approach probably leaves something to be desired.

Lets test it out!


"The question of the existence of leprechauns is a factual question, and should be answered in the same way as any other factual questions."

The assumption that all existence claims are questions about matters of fact, the assumption that all of these are answered in the very same way is not only over simplified and misleading, it is simply mistaken. The existence, factuality or reality of different kinds of things is not established or disconfirmed in the same way in every case.

We might ask , "Is there a box of crackers in the pantry?" And we know how we would go about answering that question. But that is a far, far cry from the way we go about answering questions determining the reality of say, barometric pressure, quasars, gravitational attraction, elasticity, radio activity, natural laws, names, grammar, numbers, the university itself that you're now at, past events, categories, future contingencies, laws of thought, political obligations, individual identity over time, causation, memories, dreams, or even love or beauty. In such cases, one does not do anything like walk to the pantry and look inside for the crackers. There are thousands of existence or factual questions, and they are not at all answered in the same way in each case.

Just think of the differences in argumentation and the types of evidences used by biologists, grammarians, physicists, mathematicians, lawyers, magicians, mechanics, merchants, and artists. It should be obvious from this that the types of evidence one looks for in existence or factual claims will be determined by the field of discussion and especially by the metaphysical nature of the entity mentioned in the claim under question.

The question of the existence of leprechauns is answered in the same way as any other factual question, mistakenly reduces the question to the same level as the box of crackers in the pantry, which we will hereafter call the crackers in the pantry fallacy.

So, we'll say that we have to look for leprechauns in a different way in that we'd look for crackers, refuse to state how exactly we're supposed to find these leprechauns, and then go on happily asserting that they exist!

Great points! I like the idea of the "leprechaun test." I think substituting "leprechaun" in situations like that is a helpful way for believers to best understand the point we're getting at. Like when the atheist says, "I don't believe God exists" (rejecting a claim), believers seem to always understand that as "I believe God doesn't exist" (making a claim). But when substituting in "leprechaun," it seems to make what is being said a little more understandable. For instance, I can't prove leprechauns don't exist, but I don't see any evidence or reasoning to make me believe they exist.

You also brought up a really great point that I'd totally missed: Bahnsen says we have to prove things in different ways...and then doesn't say one word about how we're supposed to prove God's existence, but just asserts it! In terms of a debate, that's a big failure on his part. Great catch.
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19-06-2015, 02:39 PM
RE: Greg Bahnsen & the "crackers in the pantry fallacy"
(19-06-2015 01:26 PM)Learner Wrote:  
(19-06-2015 01:11 PM)RobbyPants Wrote:  I'm going to coin a phrase right now and call it the leprechaun test. I've brought this up before, but this is the first time I've named it. The idea is, if I can take anything they say, and apply it directly to "prove" the existence of leprechauns, their apologetic approach probably leaves something to be desired.

Lets test it out!


"The question of the existence of leprechauns is a factual question, and should be answered in the same way as any other factual questions."

The assumption that all existence claims are questions about matters of fact, the assumption that all of these are answered in the very same way is not only over simplified and misleading, it is simply mistaken. The existence, factuality or reality of different kinds of things is not established or disconfirmed in the same way in every case.

We might ask , "Is there a box of crackers in the pantry?" And we know how we would go about answering that question. But that is a far, far cry from the way we go about answering questions determining the reality of say, barometric pressure, quasars, gravitational attraction, elasticity, radio activity, natural laws, names, grammar, numbers, the university itself that you're now at, past events, categories, future contingencies, laws of thought, political obligations, individual identity over time, causation, memories, dreams, or even love or beauty. In such cases, one does not do anything like walk to the pantry and look inside for the crackers. There are thousands of existence or factual questions, and they are not at all answered in the same way in each case.

Just think of the differences in argumentation and the types of evidences used by biologists, grammarians, physicists, mathematicians, lawyers, magicians, mechanics, merchants, and artists. It should be obvious from this that the types of evidence one looks for in existence or factual claims will be determined by the field of discussion and especially by the metaphysical nature of the entity mentioned in the claim under question.

The question of the existence of leprechauns is answered in the same way as any other factual question, mistakenly reduces the question to the same level as the box of crackers in the pantry, which we will hereafter call the crackers in the pantry fallacy.

So, we'll say that we have to look for leprechauns in a different way in that we'd look for crackers, refuse to state how exactly we're supposed to find these leprechauns, and then go on happily asserting that they exist!

Great points! I like the idea of the "leprechaun test." I think substituting "leprechaun" in situations like that is a helpful way for believers to best understand the point we're getting at. Like when the atheist says, "I don't believe God exists" (rejecting a claim), believers seem to always understand that as "I believe God doesn't exist" (making a claim). But when substituting in "leprechaun," it seems to make what is being said a little more understandable. For instance, I can't prove leprechauns don't exist, but I don't see any evidence or reasoning to make me believe they exist.

You also brought up a really great point that I'd totally missed: Bahnsen says we have to prove things in different ways...and then doesn't say one word about how we're supposed to prove God's existence, but just asserts it! In terms of a debate, that's a big failure on his part. Great catch.
So often it's just a rhetorical game of shifting the burden of proof. They use a lot of words, but they're saying the lack of proof isn't a problem and it's up to atheists to prove god isn't real.

Of course their position is so weak, they've gotten really good at and-waving away things in the bible. Watch Q's hand-waving hermeneutics if you bring up that the bible says humans were made out of dust.

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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20-06-2015, 07:21 AM
RE: Greg Bahnsen & the "crackers in the pantry fallacy"
If you say that god interacts with the material world, that's a physical claim that requires physical evidence.

If you want to assert that god is immaterial and doesn't or can't interact with the physical world then this being is a non being. Not material, not powerful, not intelligent and non existing.

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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