Discussion with a Postmodernist

Discussion with a Postmodernist

Occasionally I get an unsolicited e-mail from a detractor because they read one of my blogs or newsletter articles that they didn’t like. When I receive these, I generally write back and try to engage the person in a dialogue. My purpose in doing this is twofold. One reason is that I believe that the Christian worldview position is the truth and I want to defend it. But more importantly, I want to take the opportunity to share a witness with the individual.

From time to time I publish one of these conversations in order to share it with a wider audience. My reason for this is that I want all Christians to have the tools to do the same thing. Our Christian faith is the truth, and people who challenge our worldview are also challenging God’s revelation to us concerning the purpose of our existence and the means of salvation.

The person who began this conversation got straight to the point – in a rather offensive way. While I don’t allow these kinds of rants to stand, I also do my best to extend the conversation. When someone comes in swinging like that, it usually takes a few rounds to settle them down so that there can be an actual conversation. All the while, I am able to speak truth to the darkness.

Unfortunately, these kinds of conversations don’t generally end in the immediate conversion of the individual. They generally have too much invested in their own point of view to let me know that I have had any influence on them. However, they will never walk away without having their own position exposed as the untruth that it is. It is my prayer that not only this particular individual, but others who have the opportunity to read this conversation will be brought closer to Christ.

I am not quite sure if the individual being dealt with in this conversation was a male or female as the person used two different names – one seemingly male and the other female. But whichever, this individual is a legitimate postmodernist in the sense that he or she truly seems to know the philosophical foundation of this belief system. That is actually not the norm with people who follow a postmodernist ideology.

For our part, the importance of understanding this viewpoint is that even though most Americans could never explain it intellectually, it has a profound influence throughout the entire society. Even most Christians are influenced by it in some way or another. Here is the entire conversation. It is my prayer that you will gain new personal insight and stronger witnessing tools in the process of reading it.

Dialogue with a Postmodernist

Feb 29, 2012
From: D…

You people are ridiculous. God is a primitive bronze age belief. He doesn’t cause thunder and he didn’t “create” the universe. BTW, I’m hedonist because humans are real, and we create truth and morality, not god. The bible is compete garbage; it’s a horribly written narrative with equally disastrous morality thrown in to it. That’s why I have no problem tossing one to the fire where it belongs.

Feb 29, 2012
Hello D…,

Interesting rant, but I don’t see anything that you have written which would back up your claim. How do you know what you have written is actually true? An opinion like that without anything to back it up is fairly useless. Just because you say it doesn’t mean it is true.

Blessings,
Freddy

Feb 29, 2012
I learned it from christians such as yourself. If I can’t find evidence, I just make it up. Plus, it’s all facts anyway. God was invented in the earliest writings from the Torah, which was written in the Bronze Age; therefore, god is a primitive Bronze Age belief. The other thing I said was a preference, but so what? If you don’t use reason, why should I?

N…

Feb 29, 2012
D…? N…? I guess you are the same person. New name here.

So far, your logic is quite strange.

1. First of all, your assumption that I have made anything up is totally unsubstantiated. How do you know that?

2. I find it interesting that you are admitting that you have made up your evidence – though you still have not given anything that I would call evidence.

3. You claim that your assertions are facts, but I have not yet seen any facts. As far as I can tell, everything you have said is opinion based on … well, I’m not sure what you are basing them on. You have given me no reason to take you seriously, yet. How do you know that the idea of God was invented? And just because the writings of the Torah were written in the Bronze Age doesn’t mean that the ideas originated during that time – or even that they originated in the mind of man. Your “therefore” is not based on sound logical principles.

4. You have no way of evaluating my use of reason. That appears to me to be nothing more than a rant.

5. Your claim that you have thrown out unreasonable statements because you personally believe that my position is unreasonable is quite convoluted. Who can take that kind of reasoning seriously?

If you really want to do this, you are definitely going to have to do better than you have. So far, all you have done is attack my beliefs without backing up your assertions. Something is not a “fact” just because you say so.

So, just what do you believe, anyhow? You mentioned earlier that you were a hedonist, but based on what? You seem to be trying to argue from a position that God does not exist. So what are you anyway and how did you arrive at the conclusion that your belief actually corresponds with reality?

Hope you have a blessed day.
Freddy

Feb 29, 2012
Now you understand what it feels like to argue with a christian. I don’t argue whether god(s) are real much like I do not argue whether the sky is blue. God is that which is created to enslave the masses, enforcing the status quo.

What am I other than one who is disgruntled and disillusioned with the world and sees past this? There is only what truth I make for myself as far as I may control it and as far as my social mind will allow.

Feb 29, 2012
N…,

I’m sorry, but do you realize what you are saying? You don’t argue whether god(s) are real? Yet, you verbally assaulted me, without any provocation, that the very concept of God is “invented” (to use your own word). Then you go on to say, here, that “God is that which is created to enslave the masses, enforcing the status quo.” How do you know this is true? You obviously are disgruntled and disillusioned, but your personal happiness or unhappiness does not figure into what is real and not real.

I hate to tell you this, but your postmodern assumption that you get to decide what exists as Truth (the way reality is structured) is simply nonsense. Reality does exist in some objective way, and nothing you assert will change that. You can’t back up your claim empirically, and you cannot give any logical basis for how that would even work. You simply are not making logical sense when you say stuff like that.

I think you need to think more carefully about the implications of what you are saying before you make claims like you are trying to do. I would be glad to help you work through some of that if you like. You might start by actually reading some of the things on our website. Even if you don’t want to become a Christian, you should at least understand the worldview possibilities before you assault other people.

God bless,
Freddy

Feb 29, 2012
My god, you are fast! You are simple, however, and will never understand postmodernism. It’s not even a definable ideology or worldview, so what good would it do to read what you people have to say about that “worldview?” You describe “reality” as if it existed outside of the mind. The world, whatever that is, does exist in some form, but it is not reality. Reality consists of the linguistic representations of the “universe”. What is language other than the hegemonic and coercive relationship between individuals and society? Logic, math, English, German, Greek are all languages that create specific representations, nothing more and nothing less. Pick any word and you will find that it is only a representation of a specific object or relationship. It is only true that I sit here in a chair because the representation of a chair exists in my mind. The world exists, but how we understand it is chaotic and ever changing.

March 1, 2012
N…,

That is a pretty condescending remark about my understanding of postmodernism. Though I did not give a full description of it (since that was not my purpose), I certainly didn’t mischaracterize it. You keep making assumptions about me and my understanding of things that you have no idea about. How do you know what I know? You are making many assertions based on nothing more than your own uninformed assumptions. Those things mean nothing unless you can back them up.

Your description of postmodernism is actually pretty good for a short definition. But a good description of an ideology does not make it true. You describe reality as something that only exists inside the mind. How do you know that is true? Upon what basis do you make that statement? It is not true just because you say it is.

Your assertions about reality have no basis in reality. You have latched onto a set of presuppositions about how reality exists, but the presuppositions have no foundation. How do you know that reality only consists of the linguistic representations of the universe? How do you know that language is nothing more that hegemonic and coercive relationship between individuals and society? How do you know that it is only true that you sit in a chair because the representation of a chair exists in your mind? How do you know that the relativistic approach to understanding based on chaos and change is a valid filter?

The truth is, you have made many assertions and there is no basis for making them other than as a statement of your opinion. Your Naturalistic worldview foundation has no means of explaining its own existence.

I will be happy to engage you in a discussion of the relative merits of your faith and mine, but at some point you need to understand your own faith in order to adequately engage the discussion. I keep asking you to give evidence that your way of believing actually represents reality. All you have done so far is to come back with new unsubstantiated assertions about what truth looks like. I am still waiting for you to back up your beliefs.

Blessings,
Freddy

March 1, 2012
Who said I was a naturalist? You’re making many assertions based on nothing more than your own uninformed assumptions. I would think that in our modern world that the dominate perspective, science, would incorporate anything that it discovered into a natural framework. Application would then follow. Nature is a representation and one that is indeed difficult to actually define. Furthermore, I could think of more plausible explanations of why some may invoke the supernatural. That’s all beside the point.

How do I know that reality only consists of the linguistic representations of the universe? Certainly, I must admit that I am only one insignificant mind in a universe that is seemingly filled with much more than I could ever possibly conceive. I have no problem with that, however. With that said, I know this because of evidence from linguistics, including how language is structured and how it evolves overtime, and compelling arguments in philosophy over the past fifty years or so. I did not make mere assertions. There was indeed an argumentative structure, of which you have completely failed to address. Asking how I know these things is important, but in no way invalidates my argument.

I should point out, however, my definition of reality is much different than yours. You conceive of reality as external from the mind. The problem with this is that it cannot be understood to actually mean anything because the external world cannot be understood without language or semiotics. Reality is the representation of the external world, hence your confusion, and it fluctuates overtime. That is the historical nature of thought and knowledge.

Without minds, the world is void of any meaning or classification. There are no identities without minds and, therefore, no logical principles to follow.

March 1, 2012
N…,

Actually, it seems that you don’t know the definition of Naturalism. It is the belief that nothing exists but the natural universe (no supernatural). So, I was not making uninformed assumptions, I was merely giving a name to what you have said you believe – and you have spelled that out even more specifically in this e-mail.

You also seem to be having a problem understanding science. You are mixing definitions between science and Naturalism. Science is a methodology. Naturalism is a belief system. The use of the scientific method is not limited to one particular worldview platform.

I find your argument about how you “know” to be very revealing, but you have not shared any valid evidence. You have done nothing more than express your opinion without anything to base the opinion on. There is no such thing as evidence from linguistics and how language is structured and how it evolved which proves that your presuppositions are valid. Philosophy is merely the history of human ideas. It is in no way proof that any particular point of view is valid. And the reason it is important for me ask how you “know” the things you are claiming is because you are asserting things that are impossible to know in the way you are asserting them.

I completely understand that your definition of reality is different than the way I believe reality to exist. What I am saying, though, is that you cannot give evidence that your definition corresponds with reality – the Truth about the way things really exist. What you have expressed is a philosophy which has no empirical evidential basis. Just because you assert it and believe it does not mean that it is actually true. I am not disputing the existence of “minds.” What I am disputing is your understanding of the nature of thought and knowledge.

Now, one more time. You have claimed that you believe that all of reality exists as a part of the natural universe. That means that there must be an empirical way to prove, or at least get at, what you are asserting about the nature of reality. I want your empirical base. So far all you have given me is your opinion.

You might want to go back to my website and get up to speed on the meaning of worldview and learn the worldview possibilities. It might help you form your arguments a little more cleanly.

I truly hope you are not taking offense at what I am writing. But you made a pretty strong unprovoked attack on my beliefs which I believe was not only unjustified, but wrong. I am merely trying to help you understand why that is the case.

Blessings,
Freddy

March 1, 2012
You clearly do not comprehend intellectual history, that is, science and naturalism are formed hand-in-hand. I never said they were the same, only that they constitute the dominant scientific and epistemological perspective. Furthermore, I did not say reality exists as a part of the natural universe in the sense that it is external. Reality is an abstract concept created by humans, not a natural object outside human understanding. There is a world outside of us, but it is comprehended only through abstract representations (language). You will never understand because you are limited by archaic beliefs such as “objective truth.” There is no evidence to support the claim that objective truth exists.

Each time I hear a rebuttal to “postmodern” arguments, they include something about the arguments being self-refuting, that is, it is an objective truth that there is no truth. This is entirely misunderstood. Of course, it is not objectively true that there is no objective truth because objective truth does not exist. Reality depends on the Subject’s perceptions of the Object, not the other way around, and therefore cannot be objective.

I question your understanding of epistemology. You falsely criticize me for the very same conduct that you have demonstrated throughout your website and in your false beliefs. Every argument produced by your website is completely bunk, and has been so for quite some time.

March 1, 2012
N…,

You sell me way too short. Just because I am convinced that reality is structured in a different way than what you believe does not mean that I don’t comprehend your argument. It means that I believe your argument is wrong.

You can question my understanding all you want, but it does not help your argument. Your assertion that objective truth does not exist cannot be supported. It is nothing more than your opinion. All I am asking is that you back it up. Continuing to repeat the same mantra does not make it actual fact.

You have actually made numerous objective claims in your retort:
1) Science and Naturalism are formed hand-in-hand. – This is only true if your postmodern presuppositions are true, which you have yet to demonstrate.
2) Reality is an abstract concept created by humans. – Unsupported assumption. Prove it.
3) The world outside of us is comprehended only through abstract representations. – Unsupported assumption. Prove it.
4) There is no evidence to support the claim that objective truth exists. – What evidence do you have that it doesn’t exist? This is another objective claim based on an unsupported assumption. Prove it.
5) Reality depends on the Subject’s perceptions of the Object – Unsupported assumption. Prove it.
6) A claim that my beliefs are false (Interesting that you are denying the validity of my perceptions. I guess only your perceptions are valid).
7) Every argument produced by my website is completely bunk. – So, tell me, what do you base this opinion on?

Maybe I am limited by “archaic beliefs” in my understanding – though it is interesting that you would characterize my beliefs that way since that is this Subject’s perceptions of the Object. But the truth is, I understand exactly what you are saying. My point is that your attempted explanation of a reality that cannot be objectively perceived based on common human experience is double-talk based on unsubstantiated opinion.

Whether you like to admit it or not, your objective truth claim that objective truth does not exist is an objective truth claim. No matter how you try to spin it, you still have a contradiction that you can’t get around. But more to the point (again), how do you know that is true?

Truly, though, the insults are not necessary. All you need to do is prove your position and I will willingly back down.

Hope you have a terrific day.
Freddy

March 1, 2012
1) Science and Naturalism are formed hand-in-hand. – This is only true if your postmodern presuppositions are true, which you have yet to demonstrate.

It’s history. Both formed with each other and continue to form with one another. Science assumes naturalism to work-natural phenomena and natural explanations.

2) Reality is an abstract concept created by humans. – Unsupported assumption. Prove it.

Reality is a word that points to an idea. Words are created by human minds. Reality is a word; therefore, reality is created by human minds.

3) The world outside of us is comprehended only through abstract representations. – Unsupported assumption. Prove it.

The statement is passive referring to the Subject comprehending the world through language. What else other than a mind can comprehend the world?

4) There is no evidence to support the claim that objective truth exists. – What evidence do you have that it doesn’t exist? This is another objective claim based on an unsupported assumption. Prove it.

If truth is dependent on the Subject, it then cannot be based in the objective world. Truth like reality is a word that points to an idea and is formed by the Subject.

5) Reality depends on the Subject’s perceptions of the Object – Unsupported assumption. Prove it.

So what else will describe or comprehend the universe other than a Subject? That’s what reality is: a word that describes the universe, the world, whatever you want to call it.

6) A claim that my beliefs are false (Interesting that you are denying the validity of my perceptions. I guess only your perceptions are valid).

That’s what we would expect in a chaotic world: much disagreement. That’s certainly what we do see in all aspects of the academy and in society.

7) Every argument produced by my website is completely bunk. – So, tell me, what do you base this opinion on?

I read your site and it invoked old arguments that have been shown over-and-over to be invalid. One example: Jesus believed he was the Messiah. He was either crazy, lying or truthful. The strongest evidence is that he was telling the truth. The evidence of eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life strongly backs this up. People who knew Jesus and were present are the ones who wrote the gospels and other New Testament writings.

This discounts other possibilities such as misguided, mistranslated, mistaken, the list can go on. Plus, the biblical evidence and the extra biblical evidence are completely lacking. Eyewitnesses did not write the gospels (even christian authors are willing to admit this). The evidence that does exist could only be invoked to answer very limited questions such as the movement of early christians, not the veracity of their beliefs. Other “evidences” are forgeries.

I must maintain that you are still limited by primitive beliefs. There are people that I disagree with, then there are people like you: lost to asininity.

March 2, 2012
N…,

You’re not serious, right? I mean, most of your replies totally defy logic to the point of being laughable. And rather than give any kind of evidence, you just repeat your platitudes.

1) Your assertion that science and Naturalism formed hand in hand is simply not factual as you think. Modern science was initially formulated specifically by Christians who held a Theistic worldview. Naturalism assumes chaos which does not point people toward the idea of an ordered universe. There is a reason that the first modern scientists were Christians. And, once again, science is a methodology, not a point of view. You are factually wrong on this assertion.

2) You have not given any kind of proof. All you have done is make another unsubstantiated assertion. And on this one, your logic simply doesn’t hold. You make the naturalistic assumption that matter existed before mind. I keep asking you to prove it, but all you do is repeat your mantra. How do you know God doesn’t exist and created mankind with the capability of mind that first existed in him?

3) Again, you have made the unsubstantiated assumption that there is no mind outside of material existence. Making a statement does not constitute evidence. You still have not proven your point.

4) Once again, this argument is built an your unsubstantiated assumption that material reality is all that exists, yet have not given evidence. Saying it does not make it true.

5) So, you think reality does not exist outside of the human mind? Your assumption that there is no reality outside of “words” is simply not supportable. Give your empirical evidence to show it is true. Simply saying it again does not prove your point.

6) ??? This response is not surprising coming from your worldview perspective, but you have still given no evidence that it is an accurate statement. How do you know that the source of the universe is ultimately chaotic?

7) You say these arguments have been shown to be invalid, but you are simply wrong. They have not been shown to be wrong. And, in fact, the examples you have tried to give in order to demonstrate your point are, themselves, factually inaccurate. There is no credible evidence whatsoever to support your assertion that eyewitnesses didn’t write the gospels or that the documents we have are forgeries. Your knowledge of actual facts on this topic is obviously seriously lacking.

It is interesting that you still want to maintain that my beliefs are primitive and limited, when you do nothing but speak in tautologies. You still have not given one shred of evidence that anything you are saying corresponds with reality. All you do is repeat your beliefs. Beliefs are great, but you must have something to back them up. You have given nothing – absolutely nothing – to demonstrate that your postmodern approach has any validity to it. It is nothing more than a figment of your own imagination.

I am sorry that you feel you have to keep throwing out insults. It really is not necessary. Even though it seems to be beyond your own personal experience and ability to comprehend at this time, I truly hope that at some point you are able to come to a place where you are able to connect with the Creator of the universe who loves you and wants you to know him.

Hope you have a terrific day.
Freddy

March 2, 2012
If you think it’s laughable, I’ll take that as a complement. You’re an idiot. Go ahead and believe in your fairytale. Nothing you say has any truth, and you are not even a hypocrite. You’re worse than that. You falsely accuse people of behaviors that you commit and clearly have no idea what you are talking about. Stay on your knees with your head down and eyes closed. You’ll be much happier that way. You won’t even know you’re being ripped off. I bet that feels good doesn’t it? Living in a fairytale. One day, I hope that you can come to know reason and abandon these primitive beliefs.

March 2, 2012
N…,

I don’t understand why you keep making these unsubstantiated claims that have no basis in reality. For instance, I am not really sure what you think I have accused you of. The only accusations I have made toward you is that you have not given any evidence that what you are saying represents realty. Your only reply to that is to verbally assault me on a personal level. That is usually a good indication that you don’t have anything of substance to say. What is the point in shooting the messenger? All I am doing is pointing out the weakness of your approach. Honestly, I would truly love to the hear something other than “this is what I believe because this is what I believe.” That really is not a very rational approach to defending your position.

You keep saying I live in a fantasy world and don’t even know it. How do you know that? How do you know that you are not the one living in a fairytale? You are the one who doesn’t seem to be able to give any evidence that what you believe represents reality. It seems to me that yours is the fantasy world.

Here’s hoping that your life can find meaning and fulfilment that is truly grounded in reality.

Blessings,
Freddy

What We Can Learn from this Dialogue
At this point, N… decided not to continue the conversation. I have not heard from him/her again. In spite of the fact that the conversation was cut short, I believe that there are several very important lessons that we can glean from this dialogue.

1. People who truly hold other worldview beliefs actually do believe that their beliefs represent reality. It is quite evident from N…’s conversation that he/she really believed it.

2. Worldview beliefs are completely unconscious until we make the effort to understand them consciously. N… was not aware, in any respect, why his/her beliefs should be taken seriously. It was a baseline, default belief that everything was filtered through. When challenged on this, N… had no idea how to respond.

3. N…’s beliefs were 100% based on faith presuppositions. Every time I challenged N… to give evidence that his/her beliefs were valid, all I ever got was a statement of belief (no valid evidence whatsoever).

4. When challenged by other worldview beliefs, Christians do have a leg to stand on. Our Christian faith is the truth about the nature of reality. And if we make the effort to understand that truth, we can use this to expose the non-truth beliefs of the challenger.

5. Since our Christian faith is the truth, we can use our understanding of worldview to share a witness with virtually anyone. As can be seen in this dialogue, the ability to share my faith was limited by the person I was attempting to share with. We can only proceed at the pace and to the degree the challenger understands our point. Sharing knowledge based on an entirely different worldview requires that a bridge be created to get from one understanding of reality to the other before the gospel message will even make sense. In this dialogue, I was not able to put in an entire gospel presentation, but was able to insert a witness to the truth of the Christian faith. Had the dialogue been able to continue, I would have been able to do more.

You have non-believers that you interact with all around you. By putting forth the effort to become knowledgeable about the worldview perspective of those people, your ability to be used by God as a witness expands.

© 2012 Freddy Davis