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Tag...you're It


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TAG, you’re it…

 

The subject of this essay is to critique the Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God, which is just another lame argument in the Christian arsenal that doesn’t take much to demolish when one looks it over a couple of times. In fact, I think it’s a cruel irony in its own right for the Christian to come up with an argument with the initials of TAG. They get to tag us with a bit of confusion at first, but then we get to tag them back with a heavy dose of rationality.

 

Before I start, I want to be honest with the atheists who read this essay. I am of the position that Christians are rational beings capable of giving reasons for believing in their God quite easily. I personally believe that all humans are not stupid apes incapable of being reasoned beings. If Christians in the past could articulate their case in any arena, then it is quite fair to believe that they are capable of logical critique as well.

 

And now for the critique.

 

The transcendental argument for the existence of God is as follows…

 

1) An objective premise is immaterial.

2) Therefore an immaterial presence must underlie that premise.

3) Therefore that immaterial premise must be God.

 

Granted, that is not the typical formulation of the argument, but this appears to be the boilerplate standard that the argument follows.

 

The first step of the argument is considered to be an empty blank where anything considered to be objective can be placed to fill the need. In most cases, apologists put forth the qualifier that the “laws of logic” are “objective” (in other cases I have read that the laws of science, mathematics, and even thought itself is the choice of objectification). The flaw in this part of the argument is that there are set of laws that are somehow totally objective. Which laws of logic are we talking about here? Are we talking about the basic ones that are dubbed “classical logic”? There are several classical logics like Aristotle’s Organon, Nagarjuna’s tetralemma, and Avicenna’s temporal modal logic. These three logical systems came from very distinct cultures and each system would likely have been deemed objective within that cultural context. But since these logical systems are just one of many, how can somebody really say that there is one set of logical laws that underlies the entirety of human thought? Furthermore, if the laws of logic are objective, why are there different logical systems for different disciplines of study? Do these logical systems also receive the title of “objective”? Since the process of thinking correctly requires several different sets of rules for different disciplines, to say that one particular logical system underlies everything (as is implied by the qualifier “objective”) is confusing and even misleading. Therefore, it is up the apologists presenting the claim that the “laws of logic are objective” to prove the opponent that this claim is firmly based before moving forward.

 

The second step of the argument is a claim of implication. On the surface, I find this claim almost truthful. There is no way to prove something totally immaterial considering that we live in a material realm. Thoughts and axiomatic tenets are alive in a realm called the “intellect”. At the same time, it seems rather disingenuous to me that someone would ponder an immaterial being to be the source of all intellectual processes. To be living in a material sense requires processes that can be observed, tested and measured. Christians may object to this notion by bringing up notions of “The Living Word”, “The Living Christ” and “The Breathing Word”, which are serious contradictions in terms outside of the Christian context. The Christian could contend that the decent actions of believers observed by others are exemplars of these ideas. Yet, reasons for such actions can be derived from material sources. If a Christian acts decently, an observer could say that the action could have been done because of the social contract between all humans. In short, a living being must conceive of something immaterial, not the other way around.

 

Since I am of the opinion that the prior steps are fallacious on their own merits, then the third step implicitly falls away. But, if I am incorrect in my prior assertions, then it is possible that the third step could be correct. This still presents a problem for the Christian apologist. The Christian worldview asserts that it is correct and that all others are flawed. What if a “flawed” theistic worldview used the same argument? Doesn’t that open the door to making the “God” part of the third step an open, empty blank? I think so because there are several others competing deities that could be fit into that place. I could insert Allah, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Zeus, Odin or whoever else that could justify an opponent’s worldview. From what my senses have picked up, people have always held their own divergent worldviews regardless of what other people think about or say to them. This “imperfection” seems to be to have the motivation to why empiricism found its way to the fore when to came to making any kind of investigation. Therefore, historically speaking, the problems of the second step of the argument do not justify leading to the third step.

 

In summary, the transcendental argument for the existence of God is just another in a long line of attempts to prove God philosophically. Since philosophy is not a rigorous, empirical discipline, all the theist and atheist can only posit as to whether or not a God exists. Therefore, a specific context for the existence of God is at best subjective to the observer. Since the observer is free to choose their own context, they are free to posit any argument they want for the existence or the non-existence of God.

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The simple answer to TAG is, "No matter what, that doesn't prove that your god exists, only that possibly A god exists!" Nothing in the argument predicates the Judeo-Christian god, consequently this argument would be a valid argument for a Deist only...LOL - Heimdall (the Deist) :yellow:

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Thanks, Heimdall. I agree with the simple answer as well. From what I've encountered as well, Christians who espouse this argument like to throw in "the immaterial qualifier" and I wanted to see what could happen if I researched the "laws of logic" aspect of it.

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In summary, the transcendental argument for the existence of God is just another in a long line of attempts to prove God philosophically. Since philosophy is not a rigorous, empirical discipline, all the theist and atheist can only posit as to whether or not a God exists. Therefore, a specific context for the existence of God is at best subjective to the observer. Since the observer is free to choose their own context, they are free to posit any argument they want for the existence or the non-existence of God.
I think this is a good point to bring up. These pseudo-philosophical arguments Christians use can never actually prove the existence of God because all they really are is just fancy word games designed to trap the non-believer into buying into them. It's all just a competition of who can make the fanciest argument. The only thing that can truly count as proof for the existence of God is evidence but none such evidence exists. Until such physical evidence is shown to exist, all it really amounts to is how likely it is you think God exists but I don't see the point myself in believing things for which there is no evidence for when going by the logic of Christians, it's just as likely that Zeus or Apollo could exist as any other god.
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I don’t understand the argument as you’ve outlined here MG. But the thrust of my criticism would probably center on the concept of “objective”. It’s not clear to me what is meant or intended by the phrase “objective premise”.

 

I do have faith that there is an objective world, a world independent of anyone’s perception of it. But I also think that we have never known it, and will never really know it. I believe everything that we “know” is subjective. Now I do believe we can model the objective world. I think it’s fairly clear that we routinely anticipate what the objective world is doing. But our models themselves are subjective artifacts.

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But the thrust of my criticism would probably center on the concept of “objective”. It’s not clear to me what is meant or intended by the phrase “objective premise”.

 

The audience this critique is for is mainly for the committed Christian, mainly of the presuppositional sort. They believe that any established laws of science, philosophy or mathematics (at least in a Christianized, Western mindset) are objective, therefore it can only come from the God of the Bible. When I mean objective, I mean seperate from tangible (sensory-input) reality. They argue that since the atheist can't justify where ideas and scientific laws derive from within the context of their "worldview", then God is the reason for why they exist. Therefore, any deemed objective from the context of presuppositional Christianity is God-derived. That's why I mean.

 

Your views on subjectivity/objectivity are almost like mine to a great degree.

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I think this is a good point to bring up. These pseudo-philosophical arguments Christians use can never actually prove the existence of God because all they really are is just fancy word games designed to trap the non-believer into buying into them. It's all just a competition of who can make the fanciest argument. The only thing that can truly count as proof for the existence of God is evidence but none such evidence exists. Until such physical evidence is shown to exist, all it really amounts to is how likely it is you think God exists but I don't see the point myself in believing things for which there is no evidence for when going by the logic of Christians, it's just as likely that Zeus or Apollo could exist as any other god.

 

I agree with you here, Neon. Yet, the way some Christians talk about how the Bible is a "living and breathing Word", you'd think that these Christians could demonstrate that God exists through some kind of empirical experiment. Design it, set up some controls, ensure that it's double-blind and all that but certain verses ensure that "God will not be put to the test". Therefore, the Christians of this ilk ultimately screws themselves over by default.

 

The skeptic wins hands-down.

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So the argument is basically that “law” implies a “law giver”?

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So the argument is basically that “law” implies a “law giver”?

 

I think so. It seems to be a reworking of that basic premise into something that is supposedly more potent. Cornelius Van Til was the first Christian theologian to come up with the TAG. William Lane Craig and Greg Bahnsen are known to have used it as well.

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TANG, the counter argument.
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The audience this critique is for is mainly for the committed Christian, mainly of the presuppositional sort. They believe that any established laws of science, philosophy or mathematics (at least in a Christianized, Western mindset) are objective, therefore it can only come from the God of the Bible. When I mean objective, I mean seperate from tangible (sensory-input) reality. They argue that since the atheist can't justify where ideas and scientific laws derive from within the context of their "worldview", then God is the reason for why they exist. Therefore, any deemed objective from the context of presuppositional Christianity is God-derived. That's why I mean.

 

Your views on subjectivity/objectivity are almost like mine to a great degree.

One response to arguments like these is if you have to have an outside source like God to create whatever the flavor of the month is in order to exist, then who created God's flavor of the month? And if God can exist without having the flavor of the month given to him by some other outside source, why can't the universe? Which is a question Christians have no answer to and it all comes back down to faith.
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I see TAG being thrown around less and less these days, which is not too surprising. TAG is retarded and could be used to "prove" the existence of a magical flying pink invisible elephant by asserting that helium is left over droppings from said magic elephant just as much as a God...let alone the xian god. The only thing TAG proves is just how far fundies are willing to crawl into the realm of blind assertions, pressupositional cycle logic, and nonsense in their pathetic attempts to scavenge proof for the existence of their clearly nonexistant skydaddy.

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