Transcendental Argument For The Existence of God
The Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God (TAG) is the argument that attempts to prove the existence of God by arguing that logic, morals, and science ultimately presuppose a supreme being and that God must therefore be the source of logic and morals.
A version was formulated by Immanuel Kant in his 1763 work The Only Possible Argument in Support of a Demonstration of the Existence of God, and most contemporary formulations of the transcendental argument have been developed within the framework of Christian presuppositional apologetics.
Transcendental arguments should not be confused with arguments for the existence of something transcendent. In other words, they are distinct from both arguments that appeal to a transcendent intuition or sense as evidence, and classical apologetics arguments that move from direct evidence to the existence of a transcendent thing.
They are also sometimes said to be distinct from standard deductive and inductive forms of reasoning, although this has been disputed, for instance by Anthony Genova and Graham Bird.
The TAG is a transcendental argument that attempts to prove that God is the precondition for logic, reason, or morality. The argument proceeds as follows:
- God is a necessary precondition for logic and morality (because these are immaterial, yet real universals).
- People depend upon logic and morality, showing that they depend upon the universal, immaterial, and abstract realities which could not exist in a materialist universe but presupposes (presumes) the existence of an immaterial and absolute God.
- Therefore, God exists. If He didn’t, we could not rely upon logic, reason, morality, and other absolute universals (which are required and assumed to live in this universe, let alone to debate), and could not exist in a materialist universe where there are no absolute standards or an absolute Lawgiver.
Cornelius Van Til likewise wrote:
We must point out … that univocal reasoning itself leads to self-contradiction, not only from a theistic point of view, but from a non-theistic point of view as well… It is this that we ought to mean when we say that we reason from the impossibility of the contrary. The contrary is impossible only if it is self-contradictory when operating on the basis of its own assumptions.— (A Survey of Christian Epistemology [Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1969], p. 204).
Therefore, the TAG differs from thomistic and evidentialist arguments, which posit the existence of God in order to avoid an infinite regress of causes or motions.
Some reject the validity of the argument pointing out various flaws, such as a category error involved in the first premise of the argument, namely that just because there’s a statement that’s universally true it won’t make that statement a part of reality in itself. Another issue pointed out is that it’s not needed to have a god to have logic or morality. In particular the existence of multiple logic systems with differing axioms such as non-classical logic as well as multiple radically different moral systems constitutes evidence against the idea that logic and morality are actually universals. Furthermore, the existence of theorems like Goedel’s completeness theorem and the soundness theorems for classical logic provide justification for some logic systems like classical propositional logic without using any god hypotheses thus contradicting the first premise of the argument.
- Christian apologetics
- Argument from morality (some forms of which are TAGs)
- Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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