Captive Thoughts: Defense of Presuppositional Apologetics


It’s tempting to argue with the unregenerate about God. They often level attacks on the very foundation of Christian beliefs–the Scriptures–claiming that our Bible depicts an evil, bloodthirsty dictator or that there are many contradicting passages in Scripture. Many believers are not equipped to deal with the massively growing number of attacks on God’s word and will often feel discouraged. Atheism has developed a mature philosophical thought system, well designed and sophisticated to the undiscerning ear, for the sole purpose of countering a religious, particularly, a biblical Christian worldview. There are plenty of scholarly debaters among the Christian ranks who are well equipped to dismantle even the most refined attacks against the faith, however, the average Christian does not hold a Ph.D. in every imaginable field of study.

But is this even necessary?

Don’t get me wrong, some level of evidential apologetics is good, and can be helpful. However, the most biblical method of apologetics is certainly presuppositional.

Why? We have to understand that the minds of unbelievers are already captive to their sin–they cannot rightly think about the world. In their natural state, the Bible calls them fools.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

Proverbs 1:7

Apart from God, the thoughts of man are captive to vain philosophies that are always reduced to absurdity. God, who has revealed Himself as the one true, triune God, who has infinite and exhaustive knowledge of all things, is the foundation of all knowledge of man, the source of all truth and logic, and the standard of all morality. The atheist will argue that God is not needed for any of these, but the reality is that the atheist, who denies God, cannot even make this claim without God.

For example, the atheist will argue that God is not needed in order for man to have come to a knowledge of the truth and that truth itself is subjective. However, the atheist cannot justify this claim, because, without God, truth is subjective, and ceases to be truth at all. It merely becomes a matter of one’s own opinion and a figment of one’s own imagination. The atheist’s argument is self-defeating for the simple fact that they are making a truth claim with no standard of truth. An atheist who is intellectually honest will usually admit that according to his worldview, he cannot know anything for sure and can be wrong about everything he knows which results in the logical fallacy of reductio ad absurdum (reduction to absurdity), leaving the atheist with no logical argument. The only way to know anything for certain is to either have infinite/exhaustive knowledge of everything or to know someone who does that has revealed knowledge to you.

The reality, however, that must be pointed out to the atheist, is that he doesn’t actually live the way he claims his belief system demands that he live. He actually lives as though he is dependant on a Christian worldview.

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For example, the atheist will claim that he doesn’t believe in God because he “believes in science.” Accordingly, science is dependant on a Christian worldview because the scientific method depends on the laws of logic which transcend the universe. Without God, who has revealed Himself as the creator and sustainer of the universe, the scientist has no valid reason to believe that the laws of logic, for example, will be the same tomorrow as they are today. All scientists assume this, however, because God has revealed this knowledge to His creation.

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;

Proverbs 2:6

Much the same with morality, the atheist will argue that God is not needed for morality–that morality is subjective and moral laws are determined by society. But this argument, as well, is reduced to absurdity, because it suggests that morality can change from person to person, from society to society, and from age to age. With this line of reasoning, it is impossible to assert a standard of morality that is any more than personal preference, and moral laws become products of the evolutionary “fittest.” This, according to their professed worldview, would make historical happenings such as American slavery or the Jewish holocaust simply products of the moral reasoning of these respective societies with no standard of morality against which to judge them as immoral. However, most will denounce these things as immoral, but with no reason to justify their immorality. Why? Because the Scriptures say God has revealed and implanted basic morality within us–that the law is written on man’s heart (Romans 2:15).

The Scriptures say that all men know that God exists, and that all are accountable to Him.

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools.

Romans 1:19-22

So next time you happen across a professing atheist who is hell-bent on discrediting God and His word, remember that his mind is blinded by sin. The reason they deny God is not because they truly don’t believe God exists, they deny him because they love their sinful lifestyle and they want to suppress the truth about God in their unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). So rather than getting in a back-and-forth about Bible “contradictions,” the nature of God, the evil acts of in the name of Christianity, etc., remember that often these people aren’t really interested in the truth and they need to be regenerated by the Holy Spirit to even be able to receive the truth. They need the gospel first and foremost. Show them the futility of their ways and give them the good news.

Law and grace.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1 Corinthians 1:18

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