Opening line, "Human Minds" and an Equivocation Fallacy
I would change
The transcendental argument for the existence of God (TAG). Wikipedia defines the argument as follows:
"The Transcendental Argument is an argument for the existence of God that attempts to show that logic, science, ethics (and generally every fact of human experience and knowledge) are not meaningful apart from a preconditioning belief in the existence of God."
The transcendental argument for the existence of God (TAG) attempts to show that logic, science, ethics (and generally every fact of human experience and knowledge) are not meaningful apart from a preconditioning belief in the existence of God."
Or similar. But the opening sentence "The transcendental argument for the existance of God (TAG)." isn't really a sentence yet, but I don't want to change it since it's a work in progress and the author(s) might have other things in mind.
The counter argument to 4.3 should be added: logical absolutes shouldn't be dependent on any mind, however Slick is sneaky and specifies it only applies human minds. And I believe Matt said on AETV 6.1 contains an equivocation fallacy where logic is equivocated to be the same as logical absolutes, and I believe Matt gave an example of something else to demonstrate the silliness of what Slick is trying to say here, but I forget. While these may specifically focus on the CARM version I feel they are important as various combinations of the argument can be presented, and being able to spot out the possible flaws is always useful. --Aardvark 08:01, 17 June 2009 (CDT)
Counter to Section 6 of Carm.org's TAG
Possible counter-arguments to section 6:
• If the physical/conceptual dichotomy is true, then God must be either physical or conceptual. If God is physical, then he would necessarily be part of the universe, and couldn't have created it. If God is conceptual, then he is the product of another mind, which is then subject to the same dichotomy, leading to an infinite regress of minds.
• If the physical/conceptual dichotomy is not true, then Logical Absolutes are not necessarily conceptual in nature, and thus do not require a mind. If they do not require a mind, then God does not necessarily exist.
• Further, the Logical Absolutes, being absolute, would apply to God. God cannot be God and not God at the same time and in the same sense. Therefore the Logical Absolutes could not be the product of God's transcendent mind since they are necessary for that mind to be able to exist in the first place. --Denada 14:22, 17 June 2009 (CDT)
Needs to address what is meant by "logical absolute"
Logical statements are only meaningful within a specified system of logic. It is not justified to appeal to some "ultimate" or "universal" logical system that exists independent of human minds, which is the unstated major premise at the heart of TAG. Logical absolutes are only absolute within a system, which can be defined however one chooses (although there are no guarantees that an arbitrarily defined system will be useful). The wikipedia article on formal systems  gives a good (but rather technical) overview of how logic is developed.
Response from Set Theory Axioms
I just got handed the trascendental argument by an old friend on facebook, here's the response I came up with after consulting with after consulting some friends, do with it what you will:
Logical absolutes exist only in the systems for which they are defined. The law of Identity, that is A=A, is a mathematic axiom that is used (among others) to define what numbers can and can't be.
I believe that you were going to argue that logical absolutes have to exist, and that since they were discovered by man, they predate him and exist in nature. Therefore *something* must have made them. This argument stems from a misunderstanding about the nature of logic and math.
The law of contradiction, which you are using (that is that "A=A" and "A=NOT A" cannot both be true at the same time) is an axiom added to make sure that A=A never breaks.
So: sure, there can be things that are absolutely consistent with one another, but they have no truth value outside of their internally-consistent context. There is nothing further involved.
There are no "Logical Absolutes"
The basic flaw in Matt Slick's argument is that largest component does not exist. Forgive me for repeating the previous 2 posts a little, but this needs emphasis. I have observed and participated in CARM's discussions on Transcendental Argument for God [TAG] and will sum up its largest flaw.
In mathematics, there is no term of "Logical Absolutes" [LA], and a quick search will reveal that Matt Slick is the only person using this term. Previous versions of TAG the came from Calvinists and then Reformed Christians using the term, "Laws of Logic". This term does exist and refer to the same three axioms that LA refer to; just they were labeled the "Laws of Logic" by Aristotle and it stuck. To mathematicians they are the "Laws of Classical Logic", because that is close enough to what they are. So there is the short version of the history, and now on to the present.
Many attempts were made to explain to Matt Slick that the specific three axioms that he labeled "Laws": the law of identity, of excluded middle, and of non-contradiction; are not laws and are not absolute. That they are not absolute was covered in a previous post. To sum up... Different axioms exist for different formal systems of mathematics and while these three axioms (a=a, a!=b, a!=~a) exist in many formal systems, they do not exist in all. Many references were made to trivalent logic, to fuzzy logic, and to quantum mechanics; which between the three exclude each axiom at least once.
Another topic of discussion centered around the fact that the 3 axioms are not laws. Therefore, Matt attempted to assert that the existence of axioms supported TAG. However, axioms are not what they used to be. An axiom by definition is something that is assumed to be true or obvious to be true. Since the start of the 20th century, mathematicians have endeavored to actually prove axioms. A major breakthrough came when Godel coding demonstrated a uniform method to prove nearly all axioms in nearly all formal systems (it is very abstract and difficult, like post doctoral difficult). As such, an axiom is no longer an 'axiom' as previously defined, but rather a proven conclusion that we use as a basis for common understanding. Another part of Godel's work was his incompleteness theorem which stated (warning, I am not a professional mathematician) that the axioms of a given formal system could never completely account for the formal system. In other words, axioms are not even absolute within their own formal system. This is easily demonstrated in Classical Logic aka the logic of everyday speech and reasoning: "The statement is a lie"; and is commonly known as a paradox (my favorite is Russell's Paradox).
The obvious conclusion is that TAG is based on something that does not exist and the supporters of TAG have no clue about the principles, language, or history of mathematics. Matt Slick demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of the existence of formal systems and of the translation of "law of identity" into "a=a". His language/terms surrounding LA; like absolute, transcendent, universal, etc. are either mis-uses of actual terms or fictitious terms. And finally, his formulation of TAG does not continue the tradition of his Reformed and Calvinist forefathers, on the contrary it is entirely of his own invention excepting the 3 axioms of classical logic.
maconnor34 27 Dec 09
PS. I'd like to see something like this in the main article, but don't have the cojones to attempt that.
Just to raise some points here; The article seems to lack a rebuttal of the first and second 'versions' of the transcendental argument, and the following rebuttal should be considered (in my opinion);
For god to exist, existence being that one consists of matter or energy, he must consist of matter or energy for god to be transcendant, he must not consist of matter or energy. Therefore, as a transcendant being does not consist of matter or energy, a transcendant being cannot exist.
Can anyone see any flaws in that rebuttal, or any reasons why it shouldn't be included? --Daemonowner 07:36am 11/07/10 (UTC)
- Yes, I see a flaw in it:
- "Existence being that one consists of matter or energy."
- But if God actually does exist, then existence is not limited to things consisting of matter and energy. Thus, the theist has no reason to accept this premise unless you've already proven that God doesn't exist.
- You can't make your premises depend on the conclusion being true. It's basically a circular argument. --Jaban 03:32, 11 July 2010 (CDT)
Reduction Ad Absurdum
I have argued against a version of this argument in secondlife as Dar Innis against Shotgun Smythe, a presuppositionist dominionist. In such a forum, the counter arguments currently provided here are cumbersome and hard to pull off.
Much easier to pull off, and humorous, is a simple reductio ad absurdum.
If the laws of logic depend upon God to exist, they come after God and cannot apply to God. As such:
Since non-contradiction does not apply to God, God must both exist and not exist.
Since the excluded middle does not apply to God, any statement made about God, as well as its negation, must be true. So, God did and did not write the Bible.
Since identity does not apply to God, God cannot be God.
For God to transcend the laws of logic, God must become a complete absurdity of which no rational discussion is possible.
One response to this line was to claim that God could produce the laws of logic and still have them apply to himself. I replied that this would be like a rock supporting itself in the air, or a mother giving birth to her mother. If the laws of logic did not exist, then God made them exist, the the laws of logic could not have applied to God at the time God would have made them. Therefore, God both made the laws of logic and did not make the laws of logic and God was not God. If the laws of logic always existed, then they have no need for God to make them.
The next response was that the laws of logic are somehow identical with God. I replied, if you want to define God as the laws of logic... fine, that's a God I can accept. Still, I don't see that this God has anything to do with the Bible... especially since the Bible begins with a contradictory statement.
After that, he simply resorted to ad hominem.
I wanted to share this on the discussion page before including this response on the main page.