Manfully, I continue to work through The Next Reformation by Carl Raschke. In the course of my reading this morning, I came across this. “The philosophical quest for unfailing presuppositions is not Christian; it is outright paganism” (p. 113, emphasis his).
Presuppositions are not something you go off and hunt for, like the Holy Grail. Presuppositions are not something you “don’t have” until you find some. Presuppositions are only acknowledged or unacknowledged, coherent or incoherent. They are always present. You have never had a conversation with a man who did not have all his presuppositions banging away on all eight cylinders. Raschke is trying to tell us a story of the man who went off hiking on a quest to find his feet. So let us have no more of this questing for our presuppositions. Let us simply ask (and honestly answer) what it is we are assuming in whatever it is we do.
I happen to agree with Raschke that questing for presuppositions is pagan. The pagan wants to go off to search for God, when our God is actually near to us, in our hearts and in our mouths. The pagan quest is actually an attempt to get away from the omnipresent triune God of the Bible. His image in us in not entirely defaced by sin, and that standing reminder of His holiness is too much for us. And so the pagan quest begins — not to find presuppositions, but rather to find different presuppositions, presuppositions more to our sinful liking.
The problem with paganism is not that it is in this desperate hunt for certainty, but rather that it wants a different kind of certainty, an idolatrous certainty. In order to achieve this, rebellious man must escape from the God-given creational certainty that afflicts him in every thoughtful moment. “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:19-20). The problem of sinful man is not that he wants certainty. He already has it and he doesn’t like it. The problem is that he wants his own certainty, or, failing that, his own uncertainty. But at whatever cost, short of repentance, it must be his own.
But on Raschke’s stated principles, what is wrong with such outright paganism? Is this rejection of outright paganism an infallible presupposition of Raschke’s? Is his rejection of foundationalism at a presuppositional level? If not, what is? Are his presuppositions, whatever they are, fallible? Infallible? If he is saying that to pursue presuppositions is idolatrous, then I agree. But if he is saying that merely to have them is the problem, then he is spiraliing downward into incoherence, because he is urging upon us the presupposition that we are to have no presuppositions.