The "Transcendental Argument for the existence of God"

Discussion in 'On Topic' started by Harriet Tubgirl, Jul 26, 2007.

  1. The "Transcendental Argument for the existence of God" (TAG) is basically an argument for the existence of God that piggy-backs on David Hume's "problem of induction" (which asks "how do we know the future will be like the past", and the knee-jerk answer "because it has been consistent in the past" begs the question).

    God is wedged in as a basis for the laws of logic, and for the uniformity of the universe. The "presuppositional christian" answer to Hume's problem is "because God wants it that way". An encounter with a christian versed in this argument will be filled with the phrase "how do you know the future will be like the past?" repeated ad nauseum.

    Other interesting tidbits I've pulled from encounters with the TAG...

    -According to the TAG, God is "uncreated" and eternal in the same way that the laws of logic are.

    -According to the TAG, the laws of logic are separate from everything except God, of which they are a part of "His divine nature".

    -According to the TAG, to be consistent, the laws of logic have to be held constant by an infinite being capable of holding them constant, and has the desire to hold them constant.

    -According to the TAG, God is infinitely logical, and therefore could not do anything other than what he does, and therefore has no free-will. Despite this, he is still said to be omnipotent (with the definition of omnipotence changed to fit this type of god).


    I'd like to see this argument debated (for or against) by some of the prime members of this forum (JJJ, etc.); and if necessary, I will play devil's advocate (since I am atheist, I mean I will be arguing for the theist position).

    I will do my best to clarify the argument as much as possible, but here's an overview of the TAG by Michael Martin...http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/michael_martin/logic.html
     
  2. nebulous

    nebulous all it took was a blow to the head OT Supporter

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    I'll bite, just by saying that the statement that "The laws of logic require that a God sustains them" seems to be a large logical leap in this argument. Maybe it is a god, maybe the laws sustain themselves, maybe the laws are not absolute and could vary from universe to universe, maybe there is a giant machine that sustains them, maybe we live in a panpsychic realm and the consistency (the fact that it is constant) of logic is only a delusion. At any rate, as you can see, there are numerous possibilities besides a God sustaining the logic.

    Anyway, I feel like this statement needs more examination
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2007
  3. Thislin

    Thislin New Member

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    I like that one, as it would also "explain" a lot of other things.

    I want, however, to make a distinction between what we may call "physical laws" and logic. Physical laws are inferred from observation--we measure the force of gravity and then infer the "laws" (a modern scientist would say we infer a theory) from what we measure. It is entirely reasonable to think that in another time and place what we measure could be different.

    Logic is something else, and assent on a principle of logic depends on our ability to "see" that it is logical--something we seem to innately possess.

    We don't measure things and conclude that whenever A = B and B = C then necessarily A = C. We just know it. In fact, in the "real world" this is generally only approximately true, and we can construct situations where it is false. Still, that does not deter us from agreeing that logically it is necessarily true--so long as it is kept abstract and not applied to anything real.

    School exercises in "proving" a theorem are a more complex example. A long proof can be on the blackboard and a discussion may ensue whether the presenter has made a mistake or not "in the logic," and eventually either the presenter will "see" the mistake or the questioner will "see" that it is not a mistake after all, and both will then "see" that the theorem is either successfully proved or not.

    I have to wonder what is going on in our heads here--but a more fundamental issue is whether logic could be other than what it is. I strongly doubt it.
     
  4. nebulous

    nebulous all it took was a blow to the head OT Supporter

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    I actually think this is very difficult to answer, I think maybe impossible. Could it be that as we are a part of this universe, these laws, based on the structure and nature of this universe, are so inherently ingrained in us, that it seems as though there could be no other way?

    I think it might actually be impossible so say if this is or isn't the case, being unable to say that a. there are other universes in the first place, or b. whether we could detach ourselves enough to remove our perspective from the framework of this universe (probably an insurmountable task!)
     
  5. Thislin

    Thislin New Member

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    This is a remote--extremely remote--possibility. Far more likely logic is inevitable--even an omnipotent God could not change them.

    This is because, while we invent symbols and procedures, we do not invent logic but discover it--and the discovery is not through experiment and the assumption that the future will repeat the past (induction) but by what we have deigned to call "deduction." We know when a logical argument is valid and when it is invalid entirely by the seat of our pants.

    (Of course our capacity to reason evolved, since the ability to deduce things has obvious survival value--I understand that--but logic itself is not our invention--it exists on its own.)
     
  6. AO

    AO New Member

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    When I read "The 'Transcendental Argument for the existence of God,'" I was thinking that it might be of interest to me. Alas I was wrong and it is the same old dribble (philosophy.)

    My position:

    To me, the "Transcendental Argument for the existence of God" means that God is beyond the mind, beyond the knowing of the mind. Once the mind is transcended then God is found. But having transcended the mind, when one comes back to the mind, what it experienced cannot be put into words, just as no experience can be put into words. Transcending the mind is an experience, it is a state of being.

    The "Transcendental Argument for the existence of God" lies within the context of a state of being, one where the mind cannot articulate. As such it is moot to discuss it, although one can encourage others to experience it themselves. It therefore has no basis within the field of Philosophy and every basis within the field of religion.
     
  7. up|dn

    up|dn ಠ_ಠ

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    Debating transcendence is pointless, quite honestly, because every argument can be reduced to: 'God transcends your logic!!!11'

    I will admit that this is probably the best position to hold if you want to avoid contradictions.. it just can't really be debated.
     
  8. Thislin

    Thislin New Member

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    Maybe you like good ol' St. Anselm:

    1. If God exists then nothing more perfect than God could exist.

    2. Something that exists is more perfect than something that doesn't exist.

    Therefore God exists.:x:
     
  9. up|dn

    up|dn ಠ_ಠ

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    :rofl:

    methinks Kant destroyed this argument fairly well by saying 'existence is not a predicate'.

    Either way, it might still be the best argument for God's existence, if we define God as "a being than which none greater can be conceived", which is how Anselm defined it. It might just mean that God is nothing more than the universe itself.
     
  10. Thislin

    Thislin New Member

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    I never quite understood Kant's argument--why isn't existence a predicate?

    Everything is a perfect example of itself--and if it changes it is a perfect example of its changed self.

    So something that exists is a perfect example of things that exist and something that doesn't exist is a perfect example of something that doesn't exist.
     
  11. up|dn

    up|dn ಠ_ಠ

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    I'm not sure if I understand you, but here's my take (stolen from Kant, of course).

    I think the whole ontological argument for God's existence is semantic masturbation (I love saying that). "Existence" is not a property that something can be said to possess or to lack. Just because you say something exists doesn't make it so just because you've said it. It's not like saying something is 'blue' or 'round', you're essentially saying something is is. Verbal trickery.

    Here is Anselm's argument: "God must exist, because God is 'the being greater than which nothing can be conceived' and if God doesn't exist, then we can conceive something greater, that is, something which does exist. Voila, God must exist". Necessary Existence can't be used like this because it's not a property of a thing like 'blue' or 'round'.
     
  12. Thislin

    Thislin New Member

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    All I did was put the argument in a more concise form.

    I don't see where "existence" is not a property like "blue" or "round." It is a more difficult aspect of something, but it is like the "number" zero that people had so much trouble seeing was a number. Therefore I don't see where Kant's assertion successfully refutes it.

    Let me elaborate on the problem that I see with Anselm's argument--it is in his use of the idea of perfection. The reality is that we say something is more or less "perfect" as compared to some standard. A certain cocker spaniel wins a blue ribbon because it comes closest to the standard for cocker spaniels as set by the kennel club. It is "more perfect" because it better matches the standard.

    If we set the standard for perfection at whatever something is, then that something cannot help but be a perfect "what it is." On this basis there can be no absolute scale of perfection--things are more or less perfect based only on what standard we are applying.

    If existence of part of our standard, then things that don't exist are not perfect. However, the standard could be that non-existence is required for perfection. In that case things that exist are not perfect.

    This makes Anselm's second premise, that existence is more perfect than non-existence, a false premise. It also makes his first premise, that nothing can be more perfect than God, a meaningless bunch of words, since it does not specify the standard of perfection to be applied.
     
  13. Jack Horner

    Jack Horner Guest

    :werd:

    Kant essentially destroyed the ontological argument. Of course, I'm not sure it matters; I don't believe anyone has ever been legitimately brought to faith through logical argumentation. I don't put much stock into "natural theology." It is through Grace that we come to God. Although, if you're going to make any argument, I think the most interesting are those derived from Aristotilian notion of an unmoved mover -- although it's kind of a jump from there to the God of Christianity.

    The Christian God is transcendental. A transcendent reality can never, by very definition of the word, be proven. It is beyond the capacity of human knowledge. It is only through our human capacity to recieve grace -- what Karl Rahner calls the supernatural existential -- and the grace of God Himself that we come to know Him. Any imminance attributed to God is by way of grace.
     
  14. Grouch

    Grouch Guest

    so whoes AE was this? Inept?
     
  15. nebulous

    nebulous all it took was a blow to the head OT Supporter

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    I agree with you of course, and my feelings are that you are probably right, but then again I am limited in my ability to make this statement based upon my own ability to step outside myself, so I am hesitant to share your opinion in the absolute sense, just to say, that as far as I am able to observe, I agree with you.
     
  16. nebulous

    nebulous all it took was a blow to the head OT Supporter

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    :werd: I feel a little bit like Sophie in some of these threads lately
     
  17. Man Bear Pig

    Man Bear Pig Banned

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    Probably not, notice the lack of ..., as punctuation.
     
  18. Simius the Sheriff

    Simius the Sheriff #2016 OT Supporter

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  19. Thislin

    Thislin New Member

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    How "right" is "probably right"? :)

    And I agree with you: we can never be sure. Maybe when we come across super-advanced aliens, if we survive the experience, we will learn otherwise, or maybe not.
     
  20. Barky

    Barky woof

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    Kant makes my head hurt. I'm pretty convinced he was a genius but his stuff is hard as hell to read.
     
  21. Simius the Sheriff

    Simius the Sheriff #2016 OT Supporter

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    I think his first post makes it pretty clear that he isn't your AE. I was just kidding. I guess I should have put smiley in my post indicating that, however.
     
  22. AO

    AO New Member

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    Eastern religion would also agree with that sentiment.
     

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