Wednesday, September 18, 2013


One of the stupidest ideas in the Christian apologetic handbook is that the ability to construct self-defeating statements says something about the nature of reality. For example, I’ve seen posted twice this last week (here and here) the claim that truth can be known because the statement “truth cannot be known,” is self-defeating. Yes, that particular statement is self-defeating, but to say the opposite must then be true is willfully ignorant. I shouldn’t have to explain why, but I will.

If “truth cannot be known” is a known statement of truth, then it shows truth can be known making the statement wrong. The statement renders itself nonsensical by its own claim, hence self-defeating. However, if a internally consistent statement is all that is needed to ascertain the nature of valid knowledge, how about “we may or may not be able to know truth.” There is nothing self-defeating here. The two reasonable answers to the question of whether or not we can know all truths is not “yes, we can” and “no, we can’t;” it is “yes, we can” and “it’s unknown.”

That’s it. That’s the post. I’ve previously said that evidence and experience inform essential truth while philosophical ideas make absolute truth hard if not impossible to see. It's worth pointing out that our ability to know one truth doesn't mean we can know any or all truths. I've also talked about the one truth that comes to mind that can be objectively determined evidentially by the relational language of math. If you want to know about that, go read those posts. Here I’m only making clear that apologists expose their ignorance by presenting the linguistic straw man of a self-defeating statement. If you are an atheist, please let every apologist know it’s BS. If you are an apologist, stop it. Just stop. You make it hard for us to take future arguments seriously with this crap. I know apologists you respect came up with this line of reasoning, but they shouldn’t make you respect a shitty argument more than it is worth. If anything, their shitty argument should make you respect them less.


  1. To say “We may or may not be able to know truth," is to propose that statement as a known truth. So once again it drives you to the conclusion that truth can be known.

    You might possibly argue that it is a logical truth rather than a synthetic truth (i.e., a truth of language rather than a truth of fact). Nevertheless, the Xian Apologetic argument still works. (Full disclosure: I'm a non-Xian, giving the devil his due.)

    1. *Sigh.*

      No, it proposes that the statement may or may not be true, a perfectly valid statement.

    2. It is saying that the statement “We may or may not be able to know truth" is a *true* statement. So truth exists.

    3. Yes, truth exists, but that's not what the apologists claim with their self-defeating statement or what you defended in your first comment--that was that we can know the truth.

    4. I hope I am not off topic here, but also we should realize that if its either A or B, then it is possible that everything is in group A.

    5. Yeah, could be, don't know. :-)