Colbert’s Apologetic

In a recent interview with theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, Stephen Colbert debated the existence of God, the nature of nothing, and the laws of quantum mechanics. Though he proceeds in his typical humorous fashion, he levies a simple, yet effective presuppositional argument.

One of the tenets of presuppositional methodology (à la Cornelius Van Til) is to stand on the opponent’s philosophical foundation for the sake of the argument. Colbert’s closing line is a prime example of doing just that—all the while demonstrating the untenable foundation upon which his opponent stands. In the end, something ≠ nothing.

Jonathan Brack

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Bob Kirk

7 years ago

Camden, is there another source for this video than hulu? I’m reading from Canada and apparently it won’t stream outside of the US.

Camden Bucey

7 years ago


7 years ago For my Canadian friends is the host site

D. Patrick Ramsey

7 years ago

Nice set up by Colbert for that great last line. Thanks for posting. That was fun to watch.


7 years ago

That was better than the ending of The Matrix.


7 years ago

This is really interesting! Colbert’s satire at some points cross the line from being satire to being a real robust knockout blow to Krauss’ well-funded attempt at explaining away divine creation.

At least Krauss is discussing the question of how can we get something from nothing. He does the work of pushing the atheism (or scientific positivism) to its edge. Why doesn’t he see the lack of explanatory power his worldview holds there? This is great because the audience gets to see it, we get a sense of his delusion. A “priest” of cosmology has such a weak argument for the origin.

God’s eternal power and divine nature can be clearly perceived. This exchange makes it fairly clear.
Props to Colbert for discussing what few take on.


7 years ago

I see absolutely no tie in here to Presuppositional Apologetics as it has been taught to me.
There was not one Bible verse or allusion to a Bible verse made.
I don’t know whether Colbert is Christian or not, but it doesn’t matter, because his argument could have been made by any non-Christian.
Sorry, I didn’t see the connection you’re trying to make.

On the other hand, thank you for posting the video. It was entertaining.

Camden Bucey

7 years ago

I believe Colbert is Roman Catholic. Regardless, he’s putting on a show. Clearly he is not a presuppositional apologist, nor is he expressly standing on the foundation of Scripture. However, there is a prima facie similarity with a certain presuppositional method in that Colbert does take Krauss’ position for the sake of the argument in order to demonstrate its untenableness even on its own terms. For that reason, I thought it was a worthwhile illustration.


7 years ago

Good stuff. Strictly speaking, I’m with DL on this: it’s a sharp internal critique–that Krauss’ hubris prevented him from anticipating–but not presuppositional. DL makes an important point: presuppositions, according to CVT, have (covenantal) content; they are not simple, informal fallacies.
I readily grant that there are formal similarities, and that Colbert demonstrates some presup principles (rational/irrational dialectic, a broadly reductio-like internal critique, that you have to have God and his world [causality, material existence, objective intelligibility of nature, and rough uniformity of nature, e.g. the “laws” of q. mechanics]). I think there will always be such similarities, to the extent that a critique is sober and incisive, but I’d save the rubric of presuppositional for a better day.
Either way, I think this is a great clip. I wish Colbert would have taken the ‘you priests’ line a bit further. He could have played the “this is just as irrational and dogmatic as you claim religion is” card. But he’s certainly right to target Krauss’ refusal to take nothingness and nonbeing seriously.

Camden Bucey

7 years ago

Nate and DL,

You’re both quite right. Strictly speaking, a Van Tilian argument cannot be made by non-Christians. Indeed, one cannot even be made by non-Reformed Christians.

LG Qualls

6 years ago

DOH! The video is unavailable. HULU has pulled the video from it’s database. Thought I’d let you know.


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