Archive for the Objections to Presuppositonalism Category

Presuppositionalism dismissed

Posted in Objections to Presuppositonalism, Resequitur, Romanism on January 19, 2011 by Justin

Recently, a friend of mine has been conversing with a lady who is on her way across the Tiber River, and it seems as though she has already set her sights back to Rome. In noticing that this friend of mine is a Presuppositionalist in the tradition of Van Til (which is also my position) she posted a link to an interview done with a student of Bahnsen, who converted to Romanism.

That particular article will not be the focus of this post, instead I saw a comment under this same link that caught my attention. It was from another Romish friend of her’s. This is what he wrote

My problem with the presuppositional style of argument is not that it’s totally invalid. In fact it certainly can be valid. However, in my experience, the primary goal of those who used it was to merely dismiss their opponents argument without ever dealing with the merits of the argument. In other words, they attacked any perceived imperfection in the presentation of the argument, rather than dealing with the substance. For every correction offered in the presentation, a whole new set of questions was raised which results in reductio ad infinitum. To me, this style of argument very often risks, and in my experience nearly always does, cross the line into a dishonest form of argument, or put another way, discussing in bad faith. For example, if a scholar were to examine the arguments of an historic figure, such as Augustine, and used the presuppositional method, he would never actually deal with the arguments and thought of the historic figure because he would be trying to eliminate them before even considering them. Any scholar who did such a thing would be laughed out of his profession. Modern controversialists who use this style often end up only demonstrating their inability or unwillingness to deal with the substance of the argument. Then the discussion becomes bogged down in semantics rather than substance.
Now, I’m not sure if it was his intention to provide argumentation against what he dislikes  about presuppositionalism, because there were certainly none provided. For example he says the following:
However, in my experience, the primary goal of those who used it was to merely dismiss their opponents argument without ever dealing with the merits of the argument.
This objection causes me to wonder which presuppositionalist this person has been reading. It certainly cannot be the presuppositonalism (and what is the most consistently Reformed apologetic) of the Late Dr. Cornelius Van Til, or one of his most loyal students Dr. Greg Bahnsen.
Dr. Bahnsen describes Van Til’s presuppositionalism in the following quote:

In the words of 1 Peter 3:15, the personal prerequisite for offering a reasoned defense of the Christian faith is this: “set apart Christ as Lord in your hearts.” Christ must be the ultimate authority over our philosophy, our reasoning, and our argumentation — not just at the end, but at the beginning, of the apologetical endeavor.

If we are to “cast down reasonings and every high thing exalted against the knowledge of God,” said Paul, then we must “bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5.) An ultimate commitment to Christ covers the entire range of human activity, including every aspect of intellectual endeavor. To reason in a way which does not recognize this is to transgress the first and great commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with… all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). In light of this, our thoughts about apologetic method should be controlled by the word of Jesus Christ, not merely our apologetic conclusions.

Very simply, if the apologist is to rid himself of profane audacity, his faith in the greatness of divine wisdom must be championed by means of a procedure which itself honors the same wisdom. After all, in Christ “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are deposited” (Colossians 2:3), no exception being made for the knowledge by which the Christian defends the knowledge of Christ. This means the apologist must presuppose the truth of God’s word from start to finish in his apologetic witness. A “presupposition” is an elementary assumption in one’s reasoning or in the process by which opinions are formed. As used here, a “presupposition” refers not to just any assumption in an argument, but to a personal commitment which is at the most basic level of one’s network of beliefs. Presuppositions form a wide-ranging, foundational perspective (or starting point) in terms of which everything else is interpreted and evaluated. As such, presuppositions have the greatest authority in one’s thinking, being treated as your least negotiable belief and being granted the highest immunity to revision. (1)

To summarize the above quote:

1) Christ must be the ultimate authority over our philosophy, our reasoning, and our argumentation — not just at the end, but at the beginning, of the apologetical endeavor.

2) Our thoughts about apologetic method should be controlled by the word of Jesus Christ, not merely our apologetic conclusions.

3) The apologist must presuppose the truth of God’s word from start to finish in his apologetic witness

This adequately describes the goal of the Reformed and Biblical apologetic, which should be consistently presuppositional. As Bahnsen defines in the above quote. This being the case let’s take another look at what our objector stated.

Modern controversialists who use this style often end up only demonstrating their inability or unwillingness to deal with the substance of the argument. Then the discussion becomes bogged down in semantics rather than substance.

What I find immediately interesting in what he says (and you can look at the full post above) is that he provides no examples of where a presuppositionalist argues like he is asserting. Rather, he is like the pot calling the kettle black, especially in what he says at the end:

Then the discussion becomes bogged down in semantics rather than substance.

Has there been any substance to his argument above? The only thing I saw  come close to it was the following quote here:
For example, if a scholar were to examine the arguments of an historic figure, such as Augustine, and used the presuppositional method, he would never actually deal with the arguments and thought of the historic figure because he would be trying to eliminate them before even considering them.
This is a very bold claim. Because even Bahnsen, in his debate with George Smith, defines our apologetic method as “Augustinian”, due to Augustine’s realization that to reason properly, one must start with faith in Christ  in Whom “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are deposited” (Col. 2:3)  , which is not from ourselves, but  a gift from God (Eph 2:8).
I will contend that this person falls into the same category of errors made by objectors to presuppositionalism, due to the lack of homework done on their side.

(1) Dr. Greg Bahnsen Penpoint Vol. VI:1 (January, 1995) © Covenant Media Foundation, 800/553-3938

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A Dialogue on Epistemology and Christ’s Lordship

Posted in Objections, Objections to Presuppositonalism, Presuppositionalism on August 12, 2010 by fisher219

This is a recent dialogue that I had with a person who professes to be a Christian yet whose reasoning is grounded upon humanistic principles. This is an example of what happens when a person’s thinking is based upon worldly ideology rather than the self-consistent word of God.

Much of the dialogue has been left unedited. I only removed some superfluous comments and took out our names. The other person shall be known only by the initials “C.D.H.”

C.D.H:

If we are to forfeit reason at the foot of the cross then all is lost and I’m out.

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect, has intended us to forgo their use.

– Galileo Galilei

Wise words from a man of God who was ironically imprisoned by the Catholic Church for challenging the geocentric model of astronomy in favor of a heliocentric one. Should we learn a lesson from him or are we doomed to repeat the Catholic Churches mistake? If we find that Faith, and I mean the concept of ” accepting things blindly,” type faith, takes off where reason leaves off… then we find ourselves in a dead end. Only confirming what the “new atheists” think of Christians. How sad.

Fisher:

There’s a difference between abandoning reason and having a self-consistent foundation on which we are able to reason from.

By all means, come let us reason, but let’s not come with this ridiculous notion that our ability to reason is somehow autonomous.

So what do we base our reasoning upon? In other words, what should be our final authority?

‎C.D.H:

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.

-Siddhārtha Gautama

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.

– Buddha

I’m unsure what the final authority ought to be, but how can something be true if I can poke holes in it with my own common sense? I have had no reason to doubt the authority of the bible thus far, but establishing it as the objective frame of reference is an entirely different story. If the laws of logic are contingent upon God’s personal revelation, then I will have no problem establishing it as my objective frame of reference. But if this position is bankrupt, then using the Bible as an objective reference is… utter foolery.

Fisher:

So, fallible human reasoning is the measure of all things? How very… humanistic…

The buddha quotes tell all. Your own reason, and your own common sense. With all due respect, good sir, men are not gods; our reasoning is fallible and thus cannot be the basis on which we can establish what is ultimately true and what is not.

Please note, I am not picking at you for the sake of theological nitpicking. It is just that if you are to confess Jesus as Lord, you ought to confess that He is Lord over our epistemology as well. After all, it is in only Christ “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3, NIV)

So regarding what you said: How do you know if the divine revelation is bankrupt or not as an objective frame of reference? Easy: Verify its consistency. If the Bible is what is says it is, then it will not only be consistent with itself, but will also give us a consistent way of interpreting all facts (as opposed to interpreting the facts using our own fallible reasoning as the final frame of reference).

I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments… Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.

(Colossians 2:4,8, NLT)

C.D.H:

Okay then… then what is to happen should scripture say something incoherent?

Fisher:

Then it is not a self-consistent objective frame of reference, and would thus prove not to be of God.

Here’s my question: When you ask whether scripture can say something “incoherent,” on what grounds can we say whether something is coherentor not?

C.D.H:

I really am unsure as to how it logically follow that finding one flaw in Scripture = the entire thing is not of God. And to answer your question, simple common sense really…

‎Fisher:

“Your own reason and your own common sense” again?

Since you quoted Buddha, allow me to quote some Christian writers:

Do not, I beg you, bring in human reason. I shall yield to scripture alone.

(Theodoret of Cyrus. Eranistes. Ch. 1.)

In regard to the divine and holy mysteries of the faith, not the least part may be handed on without the Holy Scriptures. Do not be led astray by winning words and clever arguments. Even to me, who tell you these things, do not give ready belief, unless you receive from the Holy Scriptures the proof of the things which I announce. The salvation in which we believe is not proved from clever reasoning, but from the Holy Scriptures.

(Cyril of Jerusalem. Catechetical Lectures. 4:17.)

C.D.H:

*sigh* Warning: hypothetical situation… if the Bible clearly said 2 + 2 = 5, would you believe it? I wouldn’t, and yes, my own reason, and my own common sense. What I know for a fact is that axioms exist and I am capable of comprehending them to some degree. Do I understand or know how they are here? No, they may be metaphysically necessary for all I know. But if they themselves disagree with what you hold to be their source, then what source is left?

Fisher:

That’s precisely the point: Since truth is one, and is entirely self-consistent the Bible would never make a false claim such as “2 + 2 = 5.” Once again, I would like to ask that you not turn the doctrine of divine Revelation into a caricature of itself.

Simple question: If Christ Jesus is Lord over all things, is He Lord over your epistemology and rational thought as well?

C.D.H:

I’m ending this for the night… This is all going to go into pointless circles until I make up my mind on presuppositionalism. To be honest with you, right now.. it looks really, really dumb. If logic is metaphysically necessary, then no — but if they are contingent upon the Lord himself, then yes.

Fisher:

I’m done for the night as well. We shall continue this some other time. But as for your last comment: Christ’s Lordship admits of no exceptions. That includes logic and reasoning. We submit mind, body and soul to Him, and we ought not to allow any part of our life and thought to remain autonomous.

Here is my final exhortation to you: Think biblically, since “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, NASB)

That is all. God bless.

Objections in Context

Posted in Objections to Presuppositonalism, Resequitur on July 22, 2010 by Justin

Since posting my response to my good friend who is agnostic, not atheist (my mistake), he let me know that he wanted to provide more context to the problems he had with presuppositionalism, Which is more than welcome here at Grassfire Apologetics =)

Objections

1. I think our different perspectives can be described as follows: I search for the “big picture” by looking at the little pieces and attempting to put them together (reductionism). You assume a specific “big picture” and see that the little pieces fit, and conclude that this picture is the correct one (holism?). However, your method of looking at the world has several problems:

A: Your system fails to distinguish itself from the other hypothetical “big pictures” in which the little pieces fit just as well. This problem is caused by your negative argument. Your negative argument is the argument that by disproving all other current hypotheses, you are proving your own. Even in principle this is false; disproving all other systems, says nothing whatsoever about the truth of your own.

There are at base two worldviews : Christian Theism, and the negation of Christian Theism.

Proving the negation of Christianity  to be false proves Christianity to be true.

You said :

“disproving all other systems, says nothing whatsoever about the truth of your own.”

1) If I am correct you seem to be saying it  is possible for there to be no true system.

2) If I am indeed correct that this what you seem to be hinting at, what if I did disprove all other systems and your system were false?

3) it would mean there was no true system

4) so if it were the case I am doing what you said I was doing (which I’m not), your conclusion is still false per your accusation

B: Your system invites bias when evaluating the little pieces. This is because your system assumes the big picture, whereas a reductionistic system seeks the big picture.

Your view assume a big picture as well. Otherwise you would  not be able to seek a big picture.

2. You defend the use of presuppositions by claiming that all epistemological systems have overarching presuppositions. Axiomatic systems either remove the presuppositions or explicitly define them as axioms or as logically derived from axioms. Thus, you cannot excuse your presuppositions on the basis that all systems have presuppositions.

Axioms rely upon a variety of epistemological and metaphysical presuppositions in order to be intelligible in the first place.

3. You have identified your presupposition about the nature of reality as this; the Christian worldview is objectively real. Thus, when attempting to prove the existence of God, your argument assumes the conclusion in a premise. You cannot, use the existence of God to prove that God exists. Because of the way your argument uses presuppositions, your argument is begging the question.

a) We presuppose the Triune God of Scripture. We are not proving He exists. This is self-evident, and even the unbeliever knows it. What we are doing is demonstrating that what is the case, is necessarily the case.

b) It is a proof  but it’s an indirect proof  and proof is being used as “show to be the case”, not “deductively build a case”.

We are arguing from the presupposition of the existence of the Triune God of Scriptures,we must do this  because that is the only epistemological basis from which to argue anything at all.

It is impossible for it to be other than the case that the Triune God of Scripture exists – and any argument advanced against it is invalid – because the argument is based upon:

1) Faulty presuppositions and

2) Inconsistency.

Since this is the case for the contrary – any contrary – it is necessarily true that the Triune God of Scripture exists.

So actually I argue to and from The Triune God of Scripture, and The Impossibility of the Contrary.

The impossibility of the contrary is both a positive and negative argument – and God’s existence, being necessary, is required for the argument to be made at all, as well as being the conclusion, indirectly.

4. As shown above, your arguments are ultimately circular. This is not necessarily a bad thing, except that your system uses the accusation of eventual circularity in an attempt to discredit other systems and show your own to be more “intelligible”. This circularity in your own system demonstrates that your system is not more intelligible than others.

1) Circularity isn’t bad. I agree.

2) Vicious circularity is bad.

5. You admit to a failure in demonstrating the (supposed) rationality of your system except to people that believe in God. You might say, “You don’t see him until you believe he is there.” You cannot convince rational people unless they want to believe it, before the convincing even begins. This implies that the people that are convinced are affected by a strong belief bias rather than by logical truth.

1) I don’t believe that you can see Him in the first place being that He is Spirit and Jesus has ascended. The Holy Spirit cannot be seen either.

2) I don’t intend to convince people per se, I do intend to demonstrate the foolishness of thinking autonomously

3) Rationality presupposes the Triune God of Scripture. Unless you decide to propose another standard that isn’t yourself.


6. You assert that we cannot be our own standard. You assert that God’s perception is your standard. I assert that you can only assess the world from your own standard. You can’t argue from God’s standard because you are presupposing God. Let me put this into question form: Who is it that is presupposing God? It is you, not God. Thus, you are the observer (final standard); not God.

1) we receive revelation

2)we reconstruct it and think in accordance with it

3) we are renewed by the transforming of our mind (Romans 12:2)

7. Your claim of seeing reality through the eyes of God does not make sense. By claiming this you are not distinguishing between yourself and God, as observers, unless you are implying that multiple identities can share perception. I assert that perception is singular.

This goes along with the above objection. The Christian think analogous to God’s thinking via the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit. So we start with His commands and reasoning in the Scriptures by faith and conform our thinking accordingly.

8. You claim to use an ultimate standard that is not yourself. You assert that through prayer and divine revelation, you perceive reality through an ultimate standard; God. There is evidence that such things can be perceived without being real (i.e. hallucinations, delusions). You have not shown evidence that your perception through God is more than a deluded perception of reality through yourself. In other words, until you can prove the existence of God and the objective truth of Christianity rather than using them as presuppositions, many rational people will use the accusation of delusion against you and with good cause.

Remember the objective standard is God, and His revelation (special and natural). The subjective standard is The Holy Spirit. You keep asking for evidence for these things, when I’ve already said many times that the evidence is there you just reinterpret it to fit your worldview. So the best I can give you is the impossibility of the contrary. So the Christian understands the world via Special revelation as per above. God has revealed that He has made man in such a way that we can understand the world, through tools such as reasoning to draw true conclusions about reality as He has created it, and that He created everything for One set purpose and that is to Glorify Him. Since this is the case, all facts are created and preinterpreted by Him, and relate to each other. If the contrary were true, you could have none of the above. Predication would be impossible because one fact would not relate to another fact. It could be likened to trying to string beads together that have no holes on either end.  This is what we mean when you borrow from our worldview instead of remaining consistent with yours.

9. You use the Bible as a source of information. This requires you to show that the Bible is a reliable source of information. You have not done that.

I do so by the impossibility of the contrary.

10. You say that logic is transcendent and therefore it requires a transcendent cause.

A: You have not proven this

B: There is a better (i.e. natural) hypothesis:

Some aspects of quantum mechanics seem illogical. It has been proposed that they are inherently illogical. This shows that logic may be evident only in the macro-world and implies that logic is a product of the universe.

So this is a  claim that the micro world is illogical in how it operates. So even the Law of non-contradiction would not apply  in the case of really small things. If it is how he says it is, then we can forget trying to draw any logical conclusion about really small things (as he just did above contradicting himself. But this isn’t his biggest problem.  If the logical law of non-contradiction does not apply, then it could be the case that the law of non-contradiction does apply (as that would be a contradiction).

Given your failure to provide proof of the transcendence of logic, and given that the universe itself implies that logic is a natural result, parsimony dictates that we accept logic as natural and non-transcendent.

  • This is a non-sequitur, even if it were the case that I didn’t provide proof for the transcendence of logic, it would not necessarily follow that it happens as a natural result.
  • Also In my worldview God is necessary, therefore it would be violation of parsimony to accept logic as natural and non-transcendent

First and Second Objections: “Your axioms are not Testable” and “You claim to be God”

Posted in Objections to Presuppositonalism, Resequitur on July 17, 2010 by Justin

This past week I was having a discussion with an atheist, who accused my position (Presuppositonalism) of saying the following:

Your axioms are not testable
You claim to be God
You cannot prove God
You claim to know everything
Your system is logically invalid
Your system is non-parsimonious
You imply that logic can be dismissed
Your system is subjective
Your system does not supply acceptable evidence
Your system requires belief in order to be believable
Your system is not consistent with perceivable reality

The second obection is very shocking, being that:

1) I’m a Christian, and claiming to be God would be considered blasphemous

2) I didn’t at all claim to be God.

My argument has always been That the Triune God exists and has revealed Himself not only in Natural revelation(the universe, man, our conscience) but through Special Revelation (The Scriptures, and Jesus Christ). I can know Him objectively through the Scriptures, and Christ, and subjectively through the witness  of The Holy Spirit upon regeneration. So in starting from this solid epistemic basis, I can know reality truly as opposed to starting from myself subjectively, and not getting to the outside, objective reality.  This also gives me the  basis to do an inward critique of his position. This may be where his confusion of my position is.

First objection: Your axioms are not testable.

In traditional Logic an axiom or postulate is a proposition that is not proved or demonstrated but considered to be either self evident, or subject to necessary decision making. Therefore, its truth is taken for granted, and serves as a starting point for deducing and inferring other (theory dependent) truths. {1}

This being the case, neither  the objector’s axioms are testable. So this objection cuts his way. As I myself do not argue axiomatically. In fact, he just gave me the very basis on which to reject his position.

In the next few posts I will be dealing with each of his objections.

– Resequitur

What better way

Posted in Objections to Presuppositonalism, Presup 101, Resequitur on July 12, 2010 by Justin

What better way to kick off a blog on Calvinistic Vantillian Presuppositionalism  (Covenantal Apologetics) than to respond to an objector who (judging by his comment) has misunderstood it. Then again, aren’t we all learning 😉

A.M. Mallet said

Dan, it is my opinion that presuppositional apologetics is the leaven that fuels the advancement of Calvinism’s carnal flavor. It’s premise is founded on the ability to dissuade the merits of other belief systems rather than relying on the scriptural evidences of God’s power and truth. The LORD did not instruct us to go out and argue against the merits and beliefs of other systems. He tells us instead “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isa 55:11 AV). He tells us again “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (1Co 1:18-21 AV)
I do not believe presuppositionalism has any ground in scripture. (source)

So this individual has not only made clear his distaste for Presuppositionalism, but also his distaste for Calvinism. Lets see If we can follow his line of argumentation:

Dan, it is my opinion that presuppositional apologetics is the leaven that fuels the advancement of Calvinism’s carnal flavor.

It is interesting that he begins his observation with a genetic fallacy. He doesn’t at all explain why Calvinism is “carnal”. One can only imagine what he means by it.  He goes on to say :

“It’s premise is founded on the ability to dissuade the merits of other belief systems rather than relying on the scriptural evidences of God’s power and truth.”

As Christians, our presupposition should be The absolute authority of Scripture. We should not for one second be convinced to step over into supposed “neutral ground” as the unbeliever sees it. For that would be reasoning apart from scripture, and would undercut the very foundation for our apologetic, which is ultimately the Word of God. The reason we do not start with ourselves is because Scripture would not have us to. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7 ESV. This fear is not one of terror only but a reverence to God. One that comes only by regeneration. It is only by the bowed knee to Jesus Christ “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3)  that one can know things as they truly are, and we accept them by faith in His Word. We should think God’s thoughts after Him, He is the One who knows things truly, and we do this by means of the Holy Scriptures, and by regeneration of The Holy Spirit. Since We believe God to be the Creator and Sustainer  of the Universe and everything under it (Acts 17:24; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16) it should follow that we would also acknowledge that all ground is God’s ground. So the common ground that we have with unbelievers is the “Imago Dei” that is, the Image of God. We should not reason neutrally, the unbeliever isn’t and we shouldn’t be. The unbeliever’s so called knowledge goes directly against the reality that God created and sustains the universe (as mentioned above). The unbeliever would have you to step into his worldview and reason autonomously. Peter says in 1 Peter 3:15 “but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;”. So when we approach an unbeliever or vice versa, we should regard in our heart of hearts Christ the Lord as holy. That is, take Him at His Word that He is God and He has spoken and reason from there as our starting ground.

So after a brief summary of the task of a Christian apologist (to clear any misconceptions)  lets look again at what Mallet says :

“It’s premise is founded on the ability to dissuade the merits of other belief systems rather than relying on the scriptural evidences of God’s power and truth.”

It seems as though he is setting up some kind of false dichotomy for our position. If I understand him correctly he is positing that

a) If you go about proving other belief systems wrong,

b) it must therefore follow that you are not relying on the scriptural evidence of God’s power and Truth

Now after setting up some groundwork above about the Presup. apologist’s task, I can simply say here that the Presup. apologist is doing both. Lets look briefly at 2 Corinthians 10, as it speaks directly to Mallet’s objection:

4.For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
5.We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, ( 2 Cor 1o:4,5) ESV

The divine power that Paul is referring to is God’s truth revealed to us via the Scriptures and ultimately Christ. So through the Scriptures we know things truly as they are. What does that say about the unbeliever’s knowledge? It doesn’t say that the unbeliever can’t know anything, It says that the unbeliever can’t know anything intelligibly. Remember that we have to think our thoughts after God (via the Scriptures)  as He is the only One who knows things as they truly are. We use Special Revelation (the Scriptures) to interpret General revelation (The universe, Earth, man, and nature). So we are able to destroy strongholds with this knowledge that God has revealed to us through the Scriptures. We demonstrate the unintelligibility of other worldviews (which are these demonic strongholds that flow from worldly wisdom ) by the impossibility of the contrary. As Christians we are to take every thought captive to bow the knee to Christ, the fount from whom all blessings flow including true knowledge and wisdom.  So to answer Mallet, we can do both.

The LORD did not instruct us to go out and argue against the merits and beliefs of other systems.

Now after telling us this Mallet goes through a long list of Scriptures without explaining any of them to us. And as I’ve demonstrated above, The LORD did instruct us via His inspiration of the Apostle Paul to demonstrate the impossibility of other demonic strongholds and worldly presuppositions

– Resequitur