The transcendental Argument for God’s existence

Apologist Matt Slick of the CARM (a Conservative/Fundamentalist think-tank) used this argument in this short talk.

transcendence

Basically, it is as follows:

1)      If logic exists objectively, God exists

2)      Logic exists objectively

3)      Thus God exists

Of course, anyone knowing the history of philosophy knows that the conclusion does not follow from the premises since godless forms of Platonism are clearly possible.

But let us reformulate the argument in that manner:

1)      If logic exists objectively, materialism is wrong

2)      Logic exists objectively

3)      Thus materialism is wrong

I believe that a (consistent) materialist can only avoid the conclusion by denying premise 1)
Logic is just a construction of our mind, a concept invented for making sense of many properties of the real world, such as the fact that a rock is either black or non-black.

But this has a huge implication: a materialist has no way to know whether there could be a world where the law of non-contradiction does not hold, that is a world where A and non-A are true at the same time.

For saying that two contradictory propositions can never simultaneously hold is akin to asserting the objective existence of the law of non-contradiction.

And I truly don’t see what interacting particles this universal law could be IDENTICAL to.

Image

I have looked everywhere in the whole universe but could not find them, but maybe I missed something.

 

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28 thoughts on “The transcendental Argument for God’s existence

  1. “Logic is just a construction of our mind, a concept invented for making sense of many properties of the real world, such as the fact that a rock is either black or non-black.”

    as a lay logician, from my perspective, d’accord. Logic, for me, is a tool like a screwdriver is a tool.

    “But this has a huge implication: a materialist has no way to know whether there could be a world where the law of non-contradiction does not hold, that is a world where A and non-A are true at the same time.”

    the law of non-contradiction, the second law Logic, like the third law, the law of the excluded middle, are related generally to first law of identity: i.e. A is A and not-[non]A.

    is it only a materialist has no way to know whether there could be a world where the law of non-contradiction does not hold? are there those that are not materialist that would know this?

    how would those that are not materialist come to know this?

    now, if there may exist such a world where A is not-A, then i believe that the definitions for A and not-A may not be as we have defined them in this, our world. in this, our world, as far i can tell, we defined that A is A and not A.

    “I have looked in the whole universe but could not find them, but maybe I missed something.”

    did you check inside Betelgeuse recently? or, what about the lower left of the Magellanic Cloud–or was that the upper right?

    cheers

    • Hello Vernon,

      you are entirely right that definitions are extremely important for such matters.

      “is it only a materialist has no way to know whether there could be a world where the law of non-contradiction does not hold? are there those that are not materialist that would know this?
      how would those that are not materialist come to know this?“

      Here I wasn’t speaking about epistemology but about ontology, hence the question: to what particles is this law identical?

      “now, if there may exist such a world where A is not-A, then i believe that the definitions for A and not-A may not be as we have defined them in this, our world. in this, our world, as far i can tell, we defined that A is A and not A.”
      You seem to be saying that the law of non-contradiction is akin to saying that A is different from non-A, right?
      But why could A and non-A not be true at the same time, even if they are different?
      If you are a materialist, you cannot (generally) say that A has to have a contrary which exludes it.

      Let me give you a concrete example.

      If I remember correctly, you strongly disagree with Randal Rauser’s suggestion that the trinity might not be such a problem on the grounds that the law of non-contradiction cannot be applied to God in that respect.
      But if the law of non-contradiction is just a matter of definition, it has hard for me to understand where the problem lies.

      Friendly greetings, Marc.

      • firstly, let me correct my law of identity: A is A and not not-A.

        so, yes, A is not the same as non-A.

        i’m not quite sure what it is you mean by “a materialist cannot (generally) say that A has to have a contrary which excludes it.” expand on this a little please.
        (melikes when you qualify–re ‘generally’–your assertions)

        on RR and the Trinity, i do not have his book with me presently. this evening i can check on his Trinity apologetics and revert. the book in question is “Faith Lacking Understanding: Theology ‘Through a Glass, Darkly.'” it is a good book. he countenances honestly the issues with the Apostle’s Creed in light of modern day understandings of the world about us; and, in facing the various apparent contradictions, schools us on some of the primary christian theologies and apologetics that essay to answer the issues.

        on the application of the law of non-contradiction to your god: i am not sure how to apply such a law to your god–in this respect. can we apply the law of non-contradiction to your omni*-god, in this respect?

        enjoy your Friday
        vernon

      • ok, i went over RR’s apologetic for the Trinity. actually, it’s easy to agree with RR ON this Trinity thingie. in his conclusion to Chapter 2:

        “and yet, we must admit that in our finitude this enquiry [into the mystery of the Trinity] is likely to end in failure, but it should not end in despair.”

        in the chapter, RR laboured through the dilemma of the Trinity, the biblical support for the Trinity, his clarification of the paradox of the Trinity, thence to describe three explanatory frameworks (apologetics, if you wiil) for the Trinity.

        though it was an edifying read, i was not surprised by the conclusion to which he came.

        what mental gymnastics must i do to make three into one, and, one into three? –> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyF2LuSbvk0

        • According to nominalism, three and one are just words, conventions we use to describe different things in the real world, there are just no UNIVERSAL.

          We observe that one cat is never identical with three cats.
          We observe that one rock is never identical with three rocks.
          Sadly, we also observe that one beer is never identical with three beers.

          But there is just no way we can say this about God, PROVIDED that nominalism ist true.

      • “But there is just no way we can say this about God…”

        perhaps.

        how do we know what to and what not to say about your god?

        how does this religious experience of god make itself known that the “experiencer” knows this is the holy spirit descending upon her (Catherine of Sienna)?

  2. Wait a minute. This is just as valid, or invalid, as your first statement. Because 1) is not valid.
    “1) If logic exists objectively, God does not exists

    2) Logic exists objectively

    3) Thus God does not exists

    • Hi Gary, what do you mean by that?

      There is a tension between abstract objects and classical theism so that someone might indeed argue as you just did.
      By the way Christian apologist William Lane Craig adopted a nominalist philosophy for this very reason.

      • I do not agree. With logic, the world does exist. I am no expert, but my basic logic 101 class says logic is made up of “if, then” statements. If the initial statement is “if unicorns are pink”, then any “then” statements make no sense, since unicorns do not exist. The world does exist, since it can be measured. Your statement “Btw strictly speaking, with logic alone the world does not exist either”, makes no sense. Logic doesn’t make the world, it defines the real world only.

      • perhaps what lotharson means by ” with logic alone the world does not exist either[,]” is that by use of logic, as we see clearly in this thread, you can prove several things–whether or not such things exist or not.

        IMHO: the “philosophers’ god” is nice and intellectually stimulating; gives us something over which to have a good and lengthy discussion. however, even if by some clever logical gymnastics we were to prove that some god exists, does that mean that this god exists?

        pour moi, as a William of Ockham fanboy, what’s the point of the “Logic” in the TAG argument? if logic exists objectively, how doth we arrive at god exists?

        suppose we try to simplify the TAG argument:

        1) If [God] exists objectively, God exists

        2) [God] exists objectively

        3) Thus God exists

        which resolves to:

        1) If God exists

        2) God eixists

        perhaps i should read the TAG argument before trying to simplify, right.

  3. Of course, anyone knowing the history of philosophy knows that the conclusion does not follow from the premises since godless forms of Platonism are clearly possible.

    What you’ve just said is logically equivalent to this absurd claim — “Of course, anyone knowing the history of philosophy knows that the conclusion does not follow from the premises since [Unthought Thoughts] are clearly possible.

    Really?! Unthought Thoughts are clearly possible?!

    • Helllo, could you please explain us why the law of non-contradiction or the theorem of Pythagora HAVE to be thoughts?

      For me this is far from being clear.

      I’m looking forward to your answer.

  4. I don’t see any problem being a materialist and accepting logic. As xon-xoff says, logic is a tool. It’s not physical in the way jugs of old ale and cannabis tea are, but neither are numbers or other abstractions, such as this text I’m typing, reduced to ASCII code: they are descriptions of the way things behave in our universe. I don’t know if there are universes where logic does not apply, or works differently, but I have a hard time imagining what such a universe could look like, and I have a feeling life could probably not evolve where, say, the law of non-contradiction doesn’t hold.

    • I must confess I am a normal human being (well only in that respect…) and thinking about such problems makes me dizzy.
      My (modest) claim was just that a materialist cannot know if there are worlds where the law of non-contradiction does not hold.

      I have just the impression that if materialism is true, the law of non-contradiction is just something we invented to describe many situations where states of affairs are never two “things” at the same time.

      To mention the example of the trinity, can in this case “1” and “3” be simultaneously true?
      If Platonism is true, the answer is no because the law of non-contradiction exists objectively.
      But if nominalism is true, the law of non-contradiction is just a human convention as is everything else such as numbers.
      Ockham was a nominalist because he thought that holding fast to the existence of abstract ideas limits God’s power and freedom.
      But frankly speaking, my mind cannot comprehend the implications of nominalism if it is true.

      • Not that I’m any sort of authority on the Trinity, but I don’t really see that the idea of God being simultaneously being three and one is logically the same as saying that the number three equals the number one. Thus, it’s not violating the law of non-contradiction.

        I do see a problem, though, in the fact that two does not equal three or five- or rather, that no power of two is also a power of three or five. This means that there will be no way for us to perfectly tune our harps in heaven, without restricting them to hexatonic scales, which would of course make all the hymns in most hymnals unplayable and unsingable- if we want perfect harmony.

        • I think you truly have a very limited and narrow view of heaven.

          My omni-God told me that in heaven I would worship him by smoking weed in His Name, hiking through snowy mountains looking like the Austrian Alps and having fun while trying to convince nice atheists of His ultimate goodness (and first of all of His existence).

      • ok, sounds kinda cool. but, if in addition he allows us to have a state-of-the-art audiophile sound system, the entire London/Decca Catalogue, open access to the British Library, an apologetics-free zone, and no mo’ religion and religious “shtuff,” well, perhaps heaven may not be a state/zone of infinite ennui after all.

        a scene on cloud 9, in the apologetics/religion-free stratosphere, sometime in the future, as Handel’s Messiah wafts gently from a pair of plus-perfect sounding B&W Nautilus:

        lotharson: you see, told you my omni*-god was real

        zilch: shut up–er, sorry, would you kindly desist from speech, and please pass the roach

        xon-xoff: shut up the both of you. listen to the music. what! it’s Handel, i don’t have to be polite

        lotharson: hark, i doth espy on the horizon afar some saintly cherubim approacheth. sacre bleu! it’s WLC

        zilch: (exhaling, smiling, inhaling) who?

        lotharson (the garrulous): and lo, he doth carry with him his venerable tome, “Unreasonable Blather.” perhaps he discovered some new truth about Christianity that he wishes to discuss with us

        xon-xoff: oh FFS! hey, where’s Saint Christopher?

  5. This may be a silly question, but I wonder why Schrodinger’s Cat does not violate the law of non-contradiction. It’s not that the cat is half alive and half dead, and it’s not that we just don’t know yet. The cat really is in a nebulous state of both living and dead. You must have some explanation – please educate me.

    • Hello,
      if your question is silly, then you are in very good company for it has puzzled and keep puzzling the most brillant minds in the world :=)

      One (very counter-intuitive) answer is that the difference between death and life is illusory so that the contradiction is only apparent.
      Another answer is that this situation could never happen because the device used to randomly kill the cat would ALREADY be itself an act of measurement.

      I hope that helps…

  6. God -both- exists and doesn’t exist. He will always be more than a finite mind can define or comprehend.
    The only response, is the human one, for out of necessity we will be defined by either of those realities in eternity.
    The sum total of our choices being governed by his existence in earthly relationship with him, or in rejection and denial of him. The argument is meaningful by the consequence of our choices (heaven/hell) , for if abstract reasoning has no consequence it is pointless and vain.

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