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0 comments | Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Over at The Evangelical Atheist, I AM has posted an argument against TAG. I have never really been a strong proponent of TAG, simply because I have read about it, but never thoroughly used it. I have heard some criticisms of TAG by well known Christian philosophers such as Geisler and Habermass. However, I don’t think I have given enough study of the critics to totally discount the TAG argument.

With that said, I think I AM failed to give an adequate rebuttal of TAG. Additionally, through the comment section, there is some obvious confusion about TAG. I suspect that TAG has not been given its fair shake because I AM gave a “nutshell” synopsis of TAG consisting of only a few lines (though he did link to wikipedia).

I AM gives the following argument against TAG:

The transcendental theist apologist claims that we only have logic on which to rely because it was provided for us by god. In laying out this case, the apologist is accepting the validity of logic by trying to construct an argument. However, in stating that logic is the creation of god, it is implied that god would not be bound by logic. In other words, logic is contained within god instead of the other way around. Therefore, based on this assumption, it is impossible to prove the existence of god through logic. If god is bound by logic, and was preceded by it, then there is no need for him to explain its presence and necessity.

In my response to I AM’s refutation to TAG, I made the following claim:

Logic is neither higher than God nor arbitrarily commanded by God. Logic is grounded in God’s eternal nature. God is necessarily a rational God.

This statement shows that attributing logic as either superior of arbitrary of God will not refute TAG because it is neither.

I AM’s second line of argument against TAG is the following:

Similarly, in studying the universe, we must accept that there are laws of nature. Without that assumption, it is pointless to try to understand anything at all from a scientific perspective. […] First of all, this “reducibility” is based on our scientific observations of nature. So, as with the logical argument, if we take the laws of nature as creations of god, then we can’t use them to make any kind of statements about him because he would not be bound thereby. However, if the laws of nature are bigger than god or bind him, then we have no need for him to explain them.

Furthermore, if we use laws of nature in any kind of argument about god, we accept that said laws exist. Scientific laws are laws. If there is an exception, then we have the laws wrong. So, if there are laws, then nothing can occur outside them. This precludes miracles. It takes god’s omnipotence and makes him no more powerful than any other particle in the universe. As with any given electron, he must follow the rules, and he is therefore impotent if he exists at all. Does that sound like a god to you?

There is a lot packed in here, but clarification is needed. I asked I AM:
Are you arguing for an *absolute* uniformity of nature? It’s
not clear in your post.
I never did get an answer, but I ask this question because I don’t think that his second objection necessarily follows. Furthermore, I don’t think anyone has give an adequate account of it (epistemologically) within the Atheist worldview. For example, take what Greg Bahnsen has to say about giving and adequate account of our presuppositions:

Because all autonomous perspectives take man's interpretation of the world to be "original" - to be the primary ordering of particulars or "rationalizing" (making systematic sense out of) the brute facts, it puts man at the center of the knowing process - and pays the price for doing so by slipping in subjectivism and skepticism ultimately (when consistent and driven to the logical outcome of his presuppositions). The only alternative - the Christian worldview - places the creative and providential activity of the Triune God "back of" all of man's experiences and intellectual efforts, thereby solving the fundamental problems of epistemology which leave the unbelieving critic nowhere to stand. Only Christianity can account for or make sense of the intellectual accomplishments of the unbeliever. The critic of the faith has been secretly presupposing the truth of the faith even as he argues against it; his own arguments would be, upon analysis, meaningless unless they were wrong and Christian theism were true.

It appears that given the Atheist worldview, one cannot satisfactorily account for our presuppositions (reason, certainty, universals, cause, substance, being, or purpose, counting, coherence, unity, or system in experience or in a conception of a "universe," logic, uniformity, etc). Atheism cannot account for them because in their world view, there is nothing *higher* than man. Thus, if there is nothing higher than man, then there is no justification for our presuppositions— there aren’t any better than ones subjective opinion. Furthermore, once one posits a universe that has contingency at its very root (i.e. the big bang lottery), how can a universally valid law fit at all?

Following, my comments to I AM, a commenter attempted to refute my objection. He states:

Either we look at what god does, and see that it is rational, by some independent criteria - in which case we have an independent criteria of rationality that cannot be explained through resort to god. Or else we say that since god is doing it, it’s necessarily rational - in which case we have no way of knowing what’s rational or not, and it is indeed at god’s whim.

The statement that ‘god is necessarily a rational god’, like ‘god’s commands are necessarily good’, is not actually a third option in the dilemma. It is simply the starting point which the dilemma makes untenable, restated.

In response, I stated the following:

God could not do anything irrational because it would violate his nature. For example, he cannot make a square circle. This is why I said God is necessarily rational because we can not possibly picture a universe with logical contradictions.

If you want to call “Euthyphro shenanigans” on my objection, then you will have to demonstrate that logic cannot be an essential part of Gods character […] Perhaps you should try and turn the dilemma on yourself and see what happens…

What the commenter will find out is that he cannot justify his presuppositions.

The commenter continues with additional objections; however, his argument does not demonstrate that logic cannot have its source in God, but rather the argument itself precludes any notion of God from the outset. Whatever the case, It seems the commenter wants to maintain that logic cannot be contingent or in any way dependent on anything. I assume that this leads to the notion that if logic is dependent, then it is possible that it be changed. And if it is possible that logic be changed, then, God could make the law of non-contradiction false! But again, this is why I say God is *necessarily* rational.

As for the rest of the comments that posted after my departure, their conclusion(s) only states explicitly what has been implicit all along. It provides no rationale for the position attempted. That’s all I want to hear: a justification to these presuppositions with the exclusion of God.

I have never actually used the transcendental argument myself, simply because I have never had the opportunity. However, the post by I AM and the interaction in his comments have helped me to better appreciate TAG. Nevertheless, I don’t think I am ready to die on a hill over it just yet or at least until I have studied it more.

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