By Eli Ayala
Super Mario & Presuppositional Apologetics: Unlikely Friends
What on earth does Super Mario Bros have to do with presuppositional apologetics. Well, not much except that there are some great analogies to draw from that might be helpful in explaining its principles to young people. I get this question all the time: How do I explain this method to teenagers or small children? This can be challenging since discussions which utilize presuppositional apologetic methodology can get deep and philosophical fast. So, let’s see if we can use some analogies from the world of our favorite pixilated Plumber from Brooklyn.
Just as Mario navigates through various levels of the Mushroom Kingdom, individuals navigate life with distinct worldview perspectives which are shaped by their upbringing, influences and beliefs. Let us take the famous warp pipes in the Mario video game for example, which help him traverse the vast Mushroom Kingdom as well as other realms that are available and open to him. If we can liken a warp pipe to a worldview, it is easy to see how a worldview can help us see the world in a particular light. It can impact where we go in our belief system. Depending on which pipe we use, our destination will be different. For instances, utilizing an atheistic warp pipe would take us to a very different place then if we took the warp pipe of the Christian worldview. The pipe we use will impact our destination, hence if we take the wrong pipe, we might end up somewhere we don’t want to be. So, it’s key to understand how important worldviews are when navigating the Mushroom Kingdom…um…I mean, when navigating life.
Now, when considering worldviews, we will also need to consider the fact that every worldview has a foundation. Every worldview has that which grounds everything else in our belief system. In like fashion, the Super Mario video games features countless bricks and blocks which help Mario progress through the levels. In the game it’s just a given; without the bricks you won’t be able to complete the levels. Either the bricks are required to use so you can jump from one platform to the other, or they will provide special power ups that make the journey a bit easier to traverse. Likewise, the presuppositional approach recognizes better than most, the importance of foundations. Without the basic bricks of our worldview foundations, one will not be able to have a stable foundation upon which to build the rest of our belief system.
Inherent in the presuppositional approach is an emphasis upon worldviews and foundations, but I would be remiss to leave out a discussion on “ultimate foundations.” Yes, we have presuppositions. Yes, we have foundational blocks upon which we build all else. But it’s important to mention the issue of the ground zero if you will of our presuppositional commitment, that ultimate commitment upon which all else is built; that commitment which stands as the non-negotiable within the Christian worldview. That is the ultimate and unquestionable presupposition of the triune God and his revelation. A good parallel here would be the famous invincibility star in the Mario game. Boy oh boy that star has helped me complete many a difficult level; especially when using it in the Super Mario Kart game in which it becomes particularly useful when you are trying to catch up from last place. That star would prove useful when in a traffic jam, but I digress. When Mario uses the invincibility star, he is untouchable and unbeatable (except when he falls in a ditch, but hey, it’s just an analogy). In like fashion, the invincibility star in the presuppositional apologetic method is the triune God and his revelation. When we are standing on such a firm foundation, the unbeliever has nothing to thwart the strength and force of the Christian worldview and its ability to deal with the tough philosophical issues.
So, we have our worldview, we have our firm foundation, but things don’t end there. We are of course called to interact with the world. The kingdom of God must clash with the Kingdom of darkness. Just as Mario must storm Bowser’s castle, we too must storm the gates of the enemy. The difficulty however comes when we encounter the inhabitants of the castle. In the Super Mario games, Mario must confront all sorts of enemies, each with distinct characteristics. Similarly, we must face the enemy arrayed with diverse worldviews and commitments. As we clash with these diverse array of worldview perspectives, and confront the many challenges along the way, we can take courage that God has not left us alone. He has provided many power-ups along the way (wink, wink…see what I did there)? Be brave, be strong, and trust in the Lord because the victory has already been won.
Alright, now of course the Super Mario games were never meant to purposely convey all of this but perhaps using the analogy of some popular video games can be a useful conduit for explaining the profound principles inherent within the presuppositional apologetics approach. Let us be flexible and relatable in how we convey important truths to the young people of our generation, but of course, never at the expense of the truth.