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1.

The Case Against Presuppositionalism13/10/09

The presuppositionalist apologetic method is being employed by increasingly more Christians. Unfortunately, the apologetic system is dead on arrival.

Authored by: Mitchell LeBlanc.


Authors Note: This post is part of a series which has culminated in a scholarly paper on the topic. As such, I kindly ask that any criticism of the subject matter therein is given with a cognizance of the most recent material on the subject.

Presuppositionalism is a branch of apologetics which, instead of offering the classical arguments in favor of Gods existence, attempts to show that any worldview which does not presuppose the Christian God is internally incoherent. This type of apologetic has been defended by the likes of Van Til, Greg Bahnsen and John Frame. Defenders of presuppositional apologetics with whom I am more familiar include the folks over at Choosing Hats. Presuppositional apologetics have always seemed to be more of a set of debating tactics rather than a epistemic system. However it is pertinent to treat it as what it claims to be for the sake of discussion. Spawning from presuppositional apologetics is an argument known as the TAG, or the Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God. Presuppositionalism produces nowhere else (to my understanding) a formal argument for its claim. As such, if one wants to thoroughly provide a critique of presuppositionalism, it seems necessary that they offer a critique of the TAG as well.
Presuppositionalism Stated

Succinctly, presuppositionalism argues that the Christian God is necessary for the intelligibility of various features of human understanding (logic, morality, meaning). It does so by making a transcendental argument. Transcendental arguments take the following form: A: For X to be the case, Y would have to be the case, because Y is a precondition of X B: X is the case C: Therefore, Y is the case

Contextualized, this argument becomes: A: For there to be intelligibility in the world, God must exist because God is a precondition of intelligibility B: There is intelligibility in the world C: Therefore, God exists The support for A is often a series of claims that non-Christian worldviews cannot make sense of the various features of human understanding coupled with the notion that if it is impossible for non-Christian worldviews to justify intelligibility and intelligibility exists, it must thereby only be justified by a Christian worldview. It is also important to note that presuppositionalists state that their reasoning operates using two axioms. To quote a presuppositionalist with whom I have debated: As a Christian, I have two axiomatic, interrelated foundations for my epistemology, and for everything else I encounter through the grid of that epistemology. The Triune God of Scripture who created the universe and all it contains; who established and even now maintains the laws which govern that creation. That is foundation one.
The self-revelation of that self-existent, self-conscious, self-sufficient,

omniscient, omnipotent, all-wise, immutable, eternal, and sovereign God; The Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, are the self-communication of the extent, nature, and specifics of His eternal properties which are the guarantor of the laws and assumptions which we, as creatures in the image of that God, require to operate rationally and coherently. That is foundation 2.
God as an axiom

For the purposes of this discussion, I will focus on the claim that logic is dependent on the Christian God. Presuppositionalists do not stop merely at logic, but assert that morality, science, etc all presuppose their Christian God. Ive chosen to address only the logic portion of these claims because I see it as the most important issue, and if it can be shown that logic

does not depend on the Christian God it seems that presuppositionalist apologetics are defeated. First and foremost, one should note the peculiarity of the espoused axioms of presuppositionalism. They are in fact, not axioms. My colleague Dawson Bethrick outlines this comprehensively on his blog, but I wish to do so in a slightly different manner. A statement must satisfy three conditions to be considered axiomatic:
It must be irreducible to prior concepts It must be self-evident to introspective and extrospective acts of cognition It must be undeniable without direct contradiction

The concept of God fails to meet each of these:


One can reduce the concept of God to an unembodied mind, thereby rendering the concept of

God as non-foundational
The concept of God is not self-evident to all acts of cognition The denial of God does not lead to direct contradiction, in stating that God does not exist

one is making use of various axioms but not presuming the existence of God. As such, we can reject the notion that God is an axiom.
Logic and God

As stated, the presuppositionalist will say that the very existence of logic (or logical absolutes) depends on the existence of the Christian God. Philosopher Michael Martin analyzes this claim in his Transcendental Argument for the Non-existence of God (TANG). This argument is often dismissed by presuppositionalists, but I have yet to hear a compelling case as to why such a dismissal occurs. The portion of the TANG which deals with logic is as follows: 1. Logic presupposes that its principles are necessarily true. 2. According to the brand of Christianity assumed by TAG, God created everything, including logic; or at least everything, including logic, is dependent on God. 3. If something is created by or is dependent on God, it is not necessary it is contingent on God.

4. If principles of logic are contingent on God, they are not logically necessary. 5. If principles of logic are contingent on God, God could arrange matters so that a proposition and its negation were true at the same time. But this is absurd. How could God arrange matters so that New Zealand is south of China and that New Zealand is not south of it? 6. Hence logic is not dependent on God, and, insofar as the Christian world view assumes that logic is so dependent, it is false. The argument is formally valid, so we must discover whether or not it is sound. Premise (2) is usually called into question as being a misunderstanding. For many Christians God did not create the laws of logic, it is claimed that they exist as part of Gods nature. In taking the statement that Logic exists as an intrinsic part of Gods nature, one can deduce that if God did not exist than there would be no logical absolutes. That is to say if God does not exist, the law of non-contradiction can be denied. But is this the case? We can cite such an argument from Van Til himself in his The Defense of the Faith (pg 256-257): (7) If the Christian God did not exist, then predication would operate against a background of bare possibility. (8) If predication operates against a background of bare possibility, the predication of P to x ( x is P) may be reversed and ~ P might be predicated of x ( x is ~ P) (9) But if the predication of P to x ( x is P) is reversed and ~ P is be predicated of x ( x is ~ P), then the Law of Non-contradiction must be denied. (10) Therefore, If the Christian God did not exist, then the Law of Noncontradiction must be denied For the readers who are not particularly philosophically inclined, the above argument is saying that the law of non-contradiction (which states that someone cannot be X and not X simultaneously) can be denied if God does not exist. Thereby attempting to show that if God does not exist we can say that the apple is orange and that the apple is not orange, because there is no law of non-contradiction. Interestingly enough, (7) makes mention of a background of bare possibility which presumably refers to logical possibility. But in order to have logical possibility, one must have the law of non-contradiction. That is to say, logical possibility is determined by the law of noncontradiction. The premise hinges on being an incoherent notion. (7) further states that if predication operates via logical possibility, then we may reverse the predications completely. The suggestion is to say that we can have an apple be orange at one time and not orange at another time. Granted, but this is no way necessitates that the

apple can be orange and not orange simultaneously. Henceforth, (9) is false. Reversing the predicate does not change the Law of Non-Contradiction. As such, the argument is unsound and we can reject (10). Perhaps the modern presuppositionalist would object to Van Tils formulation, asserting that the mere denial of Gods existence is logically absurd outright. Such an assertion would state that it is incoherent to deny the existence of God because of his very nature (he necessarily exists). Consider the following:
(11) It is not the case that it is not that P and not P (law of non-contradiction denied, meaning it would be possible for your apple to be both orangte and not orange simultaneously) (12) It is not the case that God exists In attempting to affirm (11), one arrives at an obvious logical incoherence. How could an apple be both orange and not orange simultaneously? In this sense, it is logically incoherent to affirm (11). But is it as logically incoherent to affirm (12), as the presuppositionalist states? There is no self evident incoherence in affirming (12) and thereby denying that God exists. The only way there would be such an incoherence is if we applied a premise which stated: (13) It is logically necessary that God exists With the establishment of (13) it becomes obviously incoherent to affirm (12) and deny the existence of God. But how can the presuppositionalist assert (13)? To say that it is logically necessary that God exists is to affirm the conclusion of an Ontological Argument. It is essentially saying that God cannot fail to exist because of his nature. But the presuppositionalist has chosen to forego classical arguments for the existence of God and thereby cannot support this claim! Why should one accept that it is logically necessary that God exists without an Ontological Argument to defend such a conclusion? In effect, the presuppositionalist has shot themselves in the foot by choosing to dismiss classical arguments for the existence of God. The presuppositionalist requires one, but is unable to use one (by virtue of their own apologetic).

It should also be further noted that (13) is often confused for another premise. There is a difference between God necessarily existing and God (if existing) necessarily having no beginning or end. Consider:
(14) It is logically necessary that if at any time God existed, then at every time He existed

While (14) is required in presumably every branch of Christianity, and with good philosophical warrant, (13) isnt.
Conclusion

As such, we can reach a couple of conclusions:


Firstly, God cannot be asserted as an axiomatic concept. Secondly, if logic is created or dependent on God, than it is not necessary and insofar as logic presupposes that its principles are necessarily true, logic simply cannot be based on the Christian God. Furthermore, if one is to say that logic exists necessarily as a part of Gods nature it becomes a logical consequence that denying the existence of God would lead to the denial of the law of non-contradiction. Since it has been shown that such is not the case without assuming the conclusion of a successful ontological argument we can reject this notion altogether. At this point it seems that presuppositionalist apologetics are dead in the water. By its very nature presuppositionalism has rejected the classical theistic arguments and such arguments have become the very thing needed to keep presuppositionalism afloat.

2.

The Case Against Presuppositionalism: Part II 23/10/09

Mitchell LeBlanc gives a succinct reformulation of his Case Against Presuppositionalism and responds to a few preliminary objections.

Authored by: Mitchell LeBlanc.


Authors Note: This post is part of a series which has culminated in a scholarly paper on the topic. As such, I kindly ask that any criticism of the subject matter therein is given with a cognizance of the most recent material on the subject.

I have received some feedback on my previous article, The Case Against Presuppositionalism . I have decided to outline some received objections and deal with them accordingly. If you have not done so already, you should read the previous post before continuing. I presented quite a lengthy criticism of presuppositionalism in my previous post and I am operating under the assumption that you have read the material. As such, I will condense and reformulate my arguments and answer some received objections afterwards:
Argument #1: That logical principles are not contingent on God

(1) Logical principles are either dependent on God or not dependent on God (premise) (2) Logical principles are dependent on God if and only if (i) logical principles are created by God or (ii) logical principles are part of Gods nature (premise) (3) If logical principles are dependent on God they are not logically necessary, they are contingent (premise) (4) It is logically necessary that the principles of logic be necessarily true (premise) (5) Therefore, the principles of logic are necessarily true (from 4) (6) If the principles of logic are necessarily true they are not contingent (premise) (7) Therefore the principles of logic are not contingent (from 4, 6)

(8) Therefore logical principles are not created by God nor exist as part of Gods nature ( from 2,3,4,5,6,7) (9) Therefore, logical principles are not dependent on God The above argument is a summation of many points in my previous article and shows the absurdity in claiming that logical principles depend on God for their existence. The deduction proof is: 1. G(l) v ~G(l) (tautology) 2. G(l) <-> (Cr(l) v Na(l)) 3. G(l) -> (~N(l) ^ C(l)) 4. N(T(l)) 5. T(l) conclusion 6. T(l) -> ~C(l) 7. ~C(1) conclusion 8. ~Cr(l) ^ ~Na(l) 9. ~G(l) conclusion
Argument #2: That presuppositionalism presumes an Ontological Argument

(1) Logical principles are either dependent on God or not dependent on God (premise) (2) Logical principles are dependent on God if logical principles are part of Gods nature (premise) (3) If logical principles are a part of Gods nature there can be no logical principles if God does not exist (premise) (4) If there are no logical principles without the existence of God the proposition God does not exist entails that the LNC fails (premise) (5) There is a possible world, w1, in which God does not exist (premise)

(6) In w1 the LNC must hold as logical possibility is determined by the LNC (from 5) (7) It is the case that in w1 the LNC holds even though God does not exist (from 5,6) (8) Is not the case that logical principles are dependent on God This argument is sound insofar as (5) is true. If the presuppositionalist wants to assert that (5) is false, they MUST present an Ontological Argument which exemplifies that God exists necessarily (that he exists in every possible world), they may not merely assume that conclusion.
Argument #1: Objections and Replies 1. Even if logic is part of Gods nature it is still logically necessary It simply cannot be the case that logic is both contingent upon Gods existence and logically necessary, it MUST be one or the other. It seems to be the understanding of presuppositionalists that nothing can exist independently of God but this is a very elementary mistake in the philosophy of religion as logically necessary abstract objects MUST exist independently.

To quote Keith E. Yandell It is logically consistent with monotheism that there exist abstract objects that possess logically necessary existence. Abstract objects have no causal powers, are not self-conscious or even conscious and exercise no creation of providence. They are of little if any religious interest. It is a necessary truth that if X has logically necessary existence then there is nothing Y such that Y is distinct from X and X depends on Y for Xs existence. So if there are abstract objects that have logically necessary existenceis true, it is also true that there exists something whose existence does not depend on God. Gods status as Creator and any coherent notion of divine sovereignty, does not require that something that cannot depend for its existence on anything else depend for its existence on God or deny that the existence of such things is logically possible. But the only candidates for being something of this sort would seem to be things that exist with logical necessity. (Philosophy of Religion: A Contemporary Introduction pg. 373, Keith Yandell) As Yandell says:

It is a necessary truth that if X has logically necessary existence then there is nothing Y such that Y is distinct from X and X depends on Y for Xs existence As such: It is a necessary truth that if logic has logically necessary existence then there is no God that can exist distinct from logic and it be the case that logic depend on God for its existence One might argue that Yandells statement does not apply here as it was not asserted that logic and God exist distinct from each other but rather that Gods nature is logical. This simply characterizes yet another misunderstanding of logic. Logic is not attributable to one being or concept but rather only to the relationships between two or more concepts or arguments. Thus, whereas it may be possible that when Gods nature is analyzed, it is coherent and orderly this is not to say that Gods nature IS logic. In fact, it is to say something wholly different. Assume a situation where God performs an action, A. Gods action must presuppose the LNC as God cannot do act A and not A at the same time. God cannot also have property P and not P at the same time. In this respect, it is the case that Gods nature corresponds to necessarily existent logical principles. So whereas God MUST presuppose logic, it is not clear that logic presupposes God, rather we have good reasons to reject that logic presupposes God.
Argument #2: Objections and Replies 1. This entire possible world matter is just silliness

Possible world semantics (or modal logic) is simply a form of reasoning to discern logical necessity/contingency. The fact that we say there is a possible world where X does not mean that there is an actual world where X, merely that X could possibly be the case (even though it might not be). For an easy to understand overview: Modal Logic on Wikipedia
2. The premise, (5), can be shown to be false from the mere fact that without God you cannot prove anything!

This is, of course, the precise issue being discussed and so one should not beg this question. However, it is not the case that if without God nothing can be proven, God must exist necessarily. Such an argument: (1) Without God, one cannot prove anything (2) Therefore God exists necessarily

is a complete non-sequitur. Why must God exist in all possible words because without him, nothing can be proven? There can exist a possible world in which there is nothing to be proven and as such, according to the criteria assumed by such a formulation, God would not exist in such a world or his existence would be arbitrary.
Non-argument specific: Objections and Replies 1. You still have not accounted for logic

The notion of justifying logic is a peculiar one. It is clear and evident that logical principles exist as logically necessary abstractions, furthermore, logical principles are axioms and as such they are not subject to any proof or justification outside of themselves. (10) If something needs justification/accounting from an external source that thing is logically contingent and not logically necessary (11) The principles of logic are logically necessary (12) The principles of logic are not logically contingent (from 11) (13) The principles of logic do not require justification/accounting from an external source It is difficult to see what is even meant by justifying/accounting for logic.
3.

The Case Against Presuppositionalism: Part III 30/10/09

In his most comprehensive post in the series, Mitchell LeBlanc further refines his previous arguments and presents new critiques of the Presuppositional apologetic approach.
4.

Authored by: Mitchell LeBlanc.


Authors Note: This post is part of a series which has culm inated in a scholarly paper on the topic. As such, I kindly ask that any criticism of the subject matter therein is given with a cognizance of the most recent material on the subject.

In my previous posts, The Case Against Presuppositionalism and The Case Against Presuppositionalism: Part II, I have outlined a couple of arguments against presuppositionalism and answered some objections. In this article, I would like to further refine my previously presented formal

arguments (thanks to the help of the UrbanPhilosophy user VazScep), present two additional arguments, including one from Jason Streitfeld. I have previously presented two main arguments against the claim that logic depends on Gods existence, the following are the same arguments with minor revisions to presentation:
Argument #1: That logical principles are not contingent on God

(1) If logical principles are dependent on God, they are not logically necessary (2) (3) But logical principles are logically necessary Therefore, logical principles are not dependent on God

The key premise is, of course, (1). In my previous article I have outlined a brief defense against the claim that though logic is part of Gods nature, its still logically necessary. Ive seen no reason to abandon (1) as most of the objections are bare assertions that something can be both logically contingent/necessary.
Argument #2: That logical principles are not contingent on God (and that presuppositionalism presumes an Ontological Argument)

(4) If logic depends on God, then if God possibly doesnt exist, then some law of logic possibly fails (5) (6) (7) (8) No law of logic can possibly fail So God necessarily exists But there is a possible world in which God does not exist Therefore, logic is not dependent on God

The key premise here is (7). Surely the presuppositionalist will state that there is no possible world in which God does not exist, and thus, God is logically necessary. A defeater of (7) must be some type of Ontological Argument, showing that God exists necessarily because of the type of thing that he is. In the absence of such an argument one should not be expected to accept a denial of (7). The presuppositionalist may assume the falsity of (7) but this refusal

should be rejected if it is not established soundly. That is to say, if (7) cannot be negated by virtue of anything other than presuming that it is false, it must hold. If the presuppositionalist wishes to simply presume that (7) is false by virtue that God is a necessary precondition for logic, they have in effect committed a vicious circularity; God being a necessary precondition for logic is precisely what is at issue and they should therefore not beg that question.
Argument #3: The absurdity of Christian logical necessity

As we should all understand by now Christian presuppositionalism states that no other worldview can account for the laws of logic. Their approach to suggest such is twofold. The alleged proof of this statement is the impossibility of the contrary, which states that if all non Christian worldviews fail at accounting for X, the Christian worldview is able to account for X. Of course this in itself does not follow as it may simply be impossible to account for X, that is to say the presumption of justification may not be valid. But in this respect, it is a peculiar notion and indeed a bold claim which suggests that all nonChristian worldviews are illogical. Let C be standard Christianity. Consider worldview C1 which matches Christianity point for point sans the fact that the second person of the trinity became incarnate. Consider worldview C2 where the Godhead is quadripersonal rather than tripersonal. Lastly, consider C 3 where Jesus had an extra disciple. It is clear that C1, C2, and C3 differ from C in ways that make the definitionally non-Christian. They are, in effect, non-Christian worldviews that match Christianity point for point in every regard, save for one difference. Is one to understand that the differences, however seemingly minute, cause a collapse of rationality? Is it true, then, that all the truths of Christianity, every single line of the Bible is a necessary truth; that is to say that in all possible worlds C must obtain? That is to say that it is logically impossible that Jesus was born elsewhere, that is logically impossible that the Godhead be quadripersonal and that it is logically impossible that Christ have had one more disciple. Even the most seemingly trivial facts become logically necessary, consider all the Bible stories, it is not the case that they could be any other way, such is logically impossible. But the implications of this view are grave, for if it is logically impossible that things have occurred in a manner other than what is reported to have occurred through the Bible this entails that not even God could have made them so. General understandings of Divine Omnipotence state that God can produce any conceivable thing or arrangement of things. And it follows that since such deviations from our current state of affairs are logically impossible, they are as inconceivable as a square circle.

But this entails that God could not have made it so that Peter denied Jesus twice, or four times. God could not have made it so that Mary was named something else. God could not have made it that there was one more guard at Jesus tomb. This seems to be an absurd notion: (i) why should one accept these as logically necessary facts, (ii) why do they directly affect the ability of God to account for logic? The Christian presuppositionalist, to defend their position, must argue for the following: (9) All non-Christian worldviews are not even possibly true To analyze whether or not the presuppositionalist meets this challenge, let us bring forth a version of the Christian TAG to analyze (This is Sean Chois reformulation of Bahnsens argument as
espoused in the Bahnsen vs. Stein debate and subsequent analysis the full version can be found in Reasons for Faith: Making a Case for the Christian Faith):

(10) There is a rational justification for the laws of logic (11) It is necessary that: if Christian theism is false, then there is no rational justification for the laws of logic (11a) If there is a non-Christian theistic way to justify the laws of logic, then it will be either the a priori way or the a posteriori way or the conventionalist way (11b) Neither the a priori way nor the a posteriori way nor the conventionalist way will justify the laws of logic (11c) So, there is no non-Christian theistic way to justify the laws of logic At this point, one can grant for the sake of argument that (11a) and (11b) are true, but such a grant does not seem to establish the truth of (11). It has been proposed that one could establish the truth of (11) via: (11d) Necessarily: if there is a rational justification for the laws of logic, then it will be either Christian theistic or non-Christian theistic.

The claim is that the addition of (11d) to (11a)-(11c) may appear to allow the valid derivation of (11), but this is mistaken. It is the case that (11c) follows from (11a) and (11b) by modus tollens(if p then q; not-q, so, not-p), but the inference from (11a), (11b), (11c), and (11d) to (11) is logically invalid. Even with (11d) which is plausibly true, one cannot derive the necessary proposition (11) as a conclusion because (11a) and (11b) are contingent. This is a clear modal defect and to solve it one must take (11a) and (11b) to be necessary truths: (11a*) It is necessary that: if there is a non-Christian theistic way to justify the laws of logic, then it will be either the a priori way or the a posteriori way or the conventionalist way (11b*) It is necessary that: neither the a priori way nor the a posteriori way nor the conventionalist way will justify the laws of logic It now follows from modal modus tollens (it is necessary that: if p then q; it is necessary that not-q; so, it is necessary that no-p) that: (11c*) Therefore, it is necessary that there is no non-Christian theistic way to justify the laws of logic Thus, from (2a*), (2b*), (2c*) and (2d) it validly follows that (11) and given the granted premise (10), which in itself may be assuming to much, and the new transcendental premise (11), it follows that: (12) Christian theism is true So, now that there exists a logically valid formulation of this argument, the question falls onto the reasons to accept (11a*) and (11b*). If there are such reasons, the Christian TAG will be valid and sound. Let us consider (11b*) once more: (11b*) It is necessary that: neither the a priori way nor the a posteriori way nor the conventionalist way will justify the laws of logic Even if one is to grant that this premise is not a false trilemma (for the sake of argument), (11b*) might still be false. As mentioned earlier, it is not the case that the presuppositionalist

has exhaustively examined and refuted every possible a priori, a posteriori and conventionalist way or justifying the laws of logic! As such, the only sound premise to make would be: (11b**) All the a priori, a posteriori, and conventionalist ways of justifying the laws of logic thus far examined have failed But this premise is wholly coherent with (11b*) being false, ergo (11b**) does not entail (11b*) and insofar as this argument relies upon the truth of (11b*) it cannot establish its conclusion. As such, there is a need for an argument from the presuppositionalist that shows that every possibly a priori, a posteriori, or conventionalist way of justifying the laws of logic must fail. This argument would have to establish that these systems not only fail, but fail necessarily. I am not presently aware of any such argument. To quickly recap, the Christian presuppositionalist TAG takes the following form: (10) There is a rational justification for the laws of logic (11) It is necessary that: if Christian theism is false, then there is no rational justification for the laws of logic (12) Christian theism is true Premise (11) is the key premise insofar as (10) is granted and (12) follows logically from (10) and (11), which it does. Much work was needed, however, to support (11), so that the argument became: (10) There is a rational justification for the laws of logic (11) It is necessary that: if Christian theism is false, then there is no rational justification for the laws of logic (11a*) It is necessary that: if there is a non-Christian theistic way to justify the laws of logic, then it will be either the a priori way or the a posteriori way or the conventionalist way

(11b*) It is necessary that: neither the a priori way nor the a posteriori way nor the conventionalist way will justify the laws of logic (11c*) So, it is necessary that there is no non-Christian theistic way to justify the laws of logic [from (11a*) and (11b*)] (11d*) Necessarily: if there is a rational justification for the laws of logic, then it will be either Christian theistic or non-Christian theistic (12) Christian theism is true We have already seen that the truth of (11b*) has not been established, but what of premise (11a*)? We can begin to analyze whether or not (11a*) is true by looking at a negation of it: ~(11a*) It is possible that: there is a non-Christian theistic way to justify the laws of logic and it is neither the a priori way the a posteriori way nor the conventionalist way There are not, to my knowledge, any reason to reject this possibility, and in fact, if ~(11a*) is merely possible then (11a*) must be false. As such, we must find discern whether or not there is a reason for thinking that ~(11a*) is impossible. The first glaring example that this is not the case would be the absence of evidence against the following proposition: (A) It is possible that: there is a worldview distinct from Christian theism and which is such that if it were true, it would provide a sufficient justification for the laws of logic Consider my previous example of worldview C2 wherein is it identical to Christianity in every respect sans the fact that the godhead is quadrinitarian rather than trinitarian. This means that in whatever way Christianity accounts for the laws of logic, C2 does so in like manner. Perhaps the presuppositionalist will argue that C2 is not an actual worldview. But this is besides the point, the presuppositionalist seeks to establish the rational necessity of Christian

theism. To defeat such a necessity claim, possible worldviews are fair game. To argue otherwise is simply to make an act of special pleading that one side may use modal logic whereas the other may not, this would be absurd. Michael Butler has offered an argument against the notion of C2 or what he calls Fristianity (due to the fourth person of the Godhead being posited as Mr. Fred). The presuppositionalist will be quick to say, again, that they need not refute every opposing worldview as they can simply be sorted in terms of Christian worldviews and non-Christian worldviews; those that presuppose Christ and those that reject him. This is simply far too absurd and juvenile of a claim. For the hypothetical Fristian could argue: There are only two worldviews, Fristian theism and theunbelieving one which is to say that any worldview that has as its presupposition the rejection of Fristian theism. All of these worldviews (which would include Christian theism) are just variation on a common presuppositional theme that Fristian theism is false. As such, this criteria cannot be rationally held to absolve the presuppositionalist of the need to address worldviews. But with further regard to Fristianity, Butler states: that the only way we know that God is a Trinity is that He revealed it mere speculation or empirical investigation would never lead to this conclusion. But for the Fristian, which is, ex hypothesis, identical to Christianity in every other way, asserts that its God is a quadrinity. But if Fristianity is otherwise identical to Christian, the only way for us to know this would be for the Fristian god to reveal this to us. But there is a problem with this. Supposing Fristianity has inspired scriptures they would have to reveal that the Fristian god is one in four. But notice that by positing a quadrinity, the Fristian scriptures would be quite different from the Christian Scriptures. Whereas the Christian Scriptures teach that, with regard to mans salvation, God the Father ordains, God the Son accomplishes, and God the Spirit applies, the Fristian scriptures would have to teach a very different order. But exactly how would the four members of its imagined godhead be involved in mans salvation? ore fundamentally, whereas in the Christian Trinity we read that the personal attribute of the Father is paternity, the person attribute of the Son is filiation, and the personal attribute of the Spirit is spiration, what would be the person, distinguishing attributes of the members of the Fristian quadrinity? What would their relationship be to each other? Further questions flow out of this. How would the quadrinity affect the doctrine of mans sin? How would redemptive history look different? What about eschatology? This all needs to be spelled out in detail. This illustration reveals a general problem. One cannot tinker with Christian doctrine at one point and maintain that other doctrine will not be affected. It does no good for the proponent of

Fristianity to claim that the only difference between his worldview and the Christian worldview is over the doctrine of the Trinity. Christian doctrine is systemic, and a change in one area will necessarily require changes in other. It is necessary, therefore, that the advocate of Fristianity spell out how this one change in doctrine affects all other doctrines. But once this is done, there is no guarantee that the result will be coherent. Thus, without providing the details of Fristian theology, this objection loses its punch. It can only be thought to be a challenge to Christianity if it, like Christianity, provides preconditions of experience. But without knowing the details, we cannot submit it to an internal critique. Until this happens, we can justifiably fall back on the conclusion that there is no conceivable worldview apart from Christianity that can provide the preconditions of experience. (Butler, The Transcendental Argument, 118-119) Is it the case that Butler has disposed of the Fristianity objection? Not quite. Consider Butlers claim: (*) If Fristianity is otherwise identical to Christianity, the only way for us to know [that its God is a quadrinity] would be for the Fristian God to reveal this to us Butler proposes that (*) is true, but there seem to be good reason to accept it as false. That the Fristian God is a quadrinity is something we know to be true in virtue of stipulation. It is such by the very virtue that it was introduced as such. Whereas when one says: consider Fristianity, which is a theistic worldview that holds to the doctrine of the quadrinity (one God in four persons) and is otherwise identical to Christianity, or as similar to Christianity as possible (given its quadrinitarian tenet) there can be no question as to what Fristianity is. Its come to mean what it does precisely because in offering a possible defeater to presuppositionalism, Fristianity was defined as a possible worldview that includes a quadrinitarian God. There is no need for a mysterious revelation to teach us that the Fristian God, a God of a merely possible worldview Fristainity, is a quadrinity. Also, insofar as the content of Fristianity is identical to the content of Christianity (sans the quadrinity), this does not entail that the means by which we know about

God in one worldview is the means by which we know about God in the other. Christianity is actual, in that it is a worldview that exists and Fristianity is possible and our methods for knowing about actual states of affairs are different from knowing about a possible state of affairs. Also, the numerous unaswered questions that Butler espouses is not an argument for anything. Many of his questions erroneously assume that worldviews need revelation and are as such, irrelevant. But what about this notion that once Fristianity is spelt out, it might be incoherent? This isnt quite the issue. Its the job of TAG to show that all worldviews (actual and possible) incompatible with Christian theism are incoherent. If TAG is successful there should be a guarantee that Fristainity (and every other possible worldview) will be incoherent. The proponent of TAG must show that all possible ways of tinkering with the contents of Christian theism, to create Fristainity are bound to fail, and must fail, necessarily. As such, the Fristian objector to TAG needs not provide a positive proof for the coherence of Fristianity as all that is needed to defeat TAG is to argue that for all we have reason to believe, a fully developed Fristianity seems coherent. Of course, it may sound odd and bizarre but judgments about oddness and such are governed by ones presuppositions and are not reliable indicators of incoherence. I am currently only aware of an objection to Chois criticism from Josh Walker of Bring the Books. Though, it is difficult to see the appeal of his objection. Josh Walker states: Thus, Choi offer Fristianity as an alternative worldview to Christianity that, as he claims, would account for the preconditions for intelligibility. This argument is not substantial to the TAG for at least two reasons. First, we are not concerned about hypothetical worldviews that can be made up to fit the preconditions; rather, we are interested in actual worldviews. In other words, the TAG is concerned with actual worldviews that can stand this criticism. If no one holds to Fristianity, at the end of the day, it is really irrelevant to the presuppositional project. But clearly, as Choi himself has said, in order for the TAG to succeed it must show the impossibility of any worldview contrary to Christ. This must include hypothetical worldviews as TAGs claim attempts to establish supremacy over such hypotheticals. To be as bold to say that the TAG does not deal with hypotheticals is to offer a defeater on that very premise. If the TAG is not making a modal claim, then it becomes largely useless even if we grant that the laws of logic actually need accounting. This uselessness arises by virtue of the fact that there would be no basis to make the claim that Christianity is the only worldview which can account for the laws of logic without modality.

Walkers second objection is largely similar to Butlers: Second, and much more substantial, Choi has failed to provided acoherent worldview to account for intelligibility. The worldview that Choi sets forth is identical to Christianity with one major alteration, the Trinity is gone. But what Choi does not understand that worldviews are not disconnected propositionsas if one doctrine can be changed and the system remains largely in tack. Instead, worldviews are organic. One part flows into the other. By changing one part the whole system will change. Thus, if the doctrine of the Trinity is changed the entire worldview is altered. Take for instance the doctrine of the Scripture. The Christian worldview teaches that the Bible is the final and complete revelation from God about himself. If the Trinity were altered, the Christian Bible would have to be altered significantly to make room for the quadrinity. At the very least, sections would have to be added introducing us to this fourth person. Or take the doctrine of salvation; it would have to be changed. As it stands, Christianity holds that all three person of the Trinity are directly involved in the salvation of Gods peoplethe Father chooses his people, the Son dies for his people and the Holy Spirit sanctifies his people. If a fourth person were added to the Godhead, a role for this person would need to be added to the doctrine of salvation. These are but a few of the many examples that could be given to show that adding the quadrinity is not as nice and neat as Choi would like it to be and as such, Choi fails to understand the organic nature of worldviews. Again, of course Fristianity might be incoherent, but it is the duty of the TAG to establish this outright. Should the TAG be wholly successful, one could establish today that all future worldviews will fail. If the TAG cannot make this claim, it can be dismissed by mere pragmatism and a denial of its claim to omnipotence.

Argument #4: Argument from Invalidity

Jason Streitfeld, in 2008, published an argument against presuppositionalism. For the purpose of this argument validity does not refer solely to formal validity as petitio principii is an informal fallacy, but no less an egregious error of reasoning. With that said, valid argument refers not only to the formal validity but the informal validity as well: (13) All valid arguments do not beg the question (14) All knowledge presupposes the existence of God [Presuppositionalist premise]

(15) If one presupposes the existence of God in an argument, one begs the question against atheism (16) (17) (18) (19) All valid arguments presuppose knowledge All valid arguments beg the question against atheism But then, all valid arguments beg the question But this is absurd and either (13) or (14) must be rejected

To this argument Paul Manata, a defender of the presuppositionalism offered an objection. Primarily, the objection was a series of parodies which replaced that which was claimed as being presupposed (note that I have replaced valid with sound for specificity): (13*) All valid arguments do not beg the question. (14*) All knowledge presupposes the existence of knowledge. Global skepticism (e.g., the former Unger) may here be defined as any explicit or implicit denial of the existence of knowledge. Thus, if one presupposes the existence of knowledge of in an argument, one begs the question against global skepticism. Now consider that all valid arguments presuppose knowledge. Combining this with the second claim above, we find that all valid arguments presuppose the existence of knowledge. Therefore, all valid arguments beg the question against global skepticism. Therefore, all valid arguments beg the question.

This contradicts Streitfelds first claim. Therefore, at least one of the two claims is invalid. To avoid contradiction, Streitfeld must abandon one of his two claims. To this objection Streitfeld replied: It does not make sense to say all knowledge presupposes knowledge. A proposition cannot presuppose itself. That is, if X presupposes Y, then Y does not equal X. So the statement knowledge presupposes knowledge is just wrong. Perhaps the idea you had in mind was more like this: For every true proposition X, there exists some true proposition Y, such that X presupposes Y. Lets call this idea A. Maybe you dont want to postulate A. Maybe you do. But lets say you do, for the sake of argument. I could list a number of reasons why A is not a valid defeater for my argument, but I will mention only oneone which your own position binds you to accept First, lets go over the logic of presuppositions for a moment. Again, as I noted, a proposition cannot presuppose itself. That is, if X presupposes Y, then Y does not equal X. Furthermore, if (X presupposes Y) and (Y presupposes X), then X and Y are identical. As a presuppositionalist, you maintain that all propositions presuppose that God exists. In other words, for all propositions X, X presupposes that God exists.

Of course, X cannot contain the proposition God exists. So, we can restate it as follows: For all propositions X (such that X is not God exists), X presupposes that God exists. We can also add that the proposition God exists does not presuppose any other proposition. For, if it did, it would be equivalent to that proposition, and so would presuppose itselfan impossibility. Now, you say that you know God exists. This means there is some proposition, the knowledge of which does not presuppose any other proposition. This means you cannot use A as a defeater for my argument. I agree with this analysis from Streitfeld though I do not think that Manata has come to accept it. Of course, the presuppositionalist will perhaps state that all arguments for epistemologies beg the question. Then surely it stands to reason that there can be no sound arguments for epistemologies. That entails then, that there can be no sound argument for presuppositionalism and no, non-question begging way for the presuppositionalist to argue against atheism. Of course, one can claim that such an argument can be used on atheism and state that all arguments beg the question against presuppositionalism (insofar as they assume that God does not exist). But as Streitfeld accurately notes, the atheist is not solely committed to the denial of God as traditionally understood. Should an atheist be more accurately defined as an Ignostic (theological non-cognitivism) and accept that a coherent definition of God must be presented prior to meaningful discussions on God and that such has not yet been accomplished, then the Argument from Invalidity as applied to Ignosticism (and any atheists within) fail.
Conclusion

If any of the above arguments are sound one can safely conclude that Presuppositionalism has been defeated and subsequently that logic does not presuppose the existence of God in the manner espoused by presuppositional apologists.

5.

The Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God08/12/09

Is the Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God sound? In this paper I contend that it is not, for various reasons.

Authored by: Mitchell LeBlanc.


Draft version of a paper submitted for publication. The final version may include changes not present in this version. Abstract:

I briefly trace the origin of the Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God and present both an informal and formal version of the argument. The argument suggests that the Christian God is a necessary precondition of logical principles. I present a couple of objections formulated by Sean Choi and Michael Martin and develop three of my own. I propose firstly that a Euthyphro-like dilemma regarding the principles of logic reveals an insufficient, or at least, arbitrary justification. I then show that the symmetrical relationship between logical principles and the existence of God is a severe problem for Christian theism which must either reject the necessity of logical principles, or Christian theism altogether. I conclude that the existence of logical principles cannotdepend on the Christian God. Lastly, I show that the mere possibility that God justifies logical principles in any of the ways criticized by the Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God requires further explanation from the Christian theist as to how divine justification differs from human justification. My conclusion is that the Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God is not sound. Introduction[1] Cornelius Van Til set the foundation of an argument for the existence of God that focuses on certain tenets. Van Til believed that (i) everyone has knowledge of God, some just suppress it (ii) Natural theological arguments are ineffective because they do not prove the Christian God uniquely over any other, (iii) we all have presuppositions which either assist or defeat our truth-seeking intentions (all non-Christian presuppositions defeat such intention), (iv) it can be shown that without Christian theism as an adopted worldview, the intelligibility of the world is lost, that one cannot make sense of logic, morality, or science. Van Tils system became known as presuppositionalism and the modern scholars which have taken up a defence of his position include Greg Bahnsen and John M. Frame. The most intriguing part of presuppositionalism is the assertion that there is, and only can be, one argument for the existence of the Christian God. With the exception of Frame, presuppositionalists largely reject traditional arguments for the existence of God claiming, as Van Til, that they offer only the mere probability of Gods existence and not the certainty that a Christian requires[2].

As such, Van Til proposed a transcendental argument. Transcendental arguments have origins which trace back to Immanuel Kant and generally take the form of modus tollens: P If not-Q then not-P Therefore, Q We can find an example of such an argument in Descartes Cogito: I am thinking If I do not exist, then I am not thinking Therefore, I exist The unique purpose of transcendental arguments is in many ways geared towards addressing the skeptic[3]. The arguments begin with a premise with which even the most hardened skeptic will agree and move to show that there is a precondition of that premise which cannot, thereby, be denied. In the above example of Descartes Cogito, existing is found to be the necessary precondition of thinking. In the case of Christian theism, the transcendental argument employed is one which asserts that God is a precondition for the existence, and intelligibility of logic, morality, and science (amongst other things). For the purpose of this paper, I will focus on the claim that the existence of the Christian God[4] is a necessary precondition of the existence of logical principles[5]. I will present a formulation of such an argument, but first I would like to clarify what the TAG is asserting. Throughout presuppositionalist literature is this notion of needing to account for logical principles. To be sure to understand what is meant by this, it would be prudent to present an excerpt from presuppositionalist Greg Bahnsen in his debate with atheist Gordon Stein[6]:
What are the laws of logic, Dr. Stein, and how are they justified? Well still have to answer that question from a materialist standpoint[7]. From a Christian standpoint, we have an answer obviously they reflect the thinking of God. They are, if you will, a reflection of the way God thinks and expects us to think.

With the argument presented informally, I now introduce a formal version.


The Transcendental Argument Stated:

Sean Choi, in his criticism, offers us the following formulation of the TAG[8]: (1) There is a rational justification for the laws of logic (2) It is necessary that: if Christian theism is false, then there is no rational justification for the laws of logic (3) Christian theism is true In support of (2), Choi observes the justification as being: (2a) It is necessary that: if there is a non-Christian theistic way to justify the laws of logic, then it will be either the a priori way or the a posteriori way or the conventionalist way (2b) It is necessary that: neither the a priori way nor the a posteriori way nor the conventionalist way will justify the laws of logic (2c) Therefore, it is necessary that: there is no non-Christian theistic way to justify the laws of logic
Initial Objections

There are a number of criticisms which Choi makes in his paper. He chooses to grant premises (1) and (2a) though with regard to (2a) while he does grant the premise for the sake of argument, he notes that it may be a false trillema. I am inclined to agree with Chois analysis. It seems to me that some hybridization of any of the mentioned means of justification may bring about a new means of justification. For example, a hybridization of an a priori and conventionalist system may succeed in providing the justification of logic sought by Bahnsen, but in a manner wherein the new system may be thought of as unique to both previous a priori systems, and forms of conventionalism. Elsewhere in his presentation[9] Choi presents a criticism of (2b) by outlining the sheer impossibility of a TAG defender showing that every possible a priori, a posteriori or

conventionalist way of justifying the laws of logic fail. Of course, the TAG defender may succeed if they show that all defences of either an a priori, a posteriori or conventionalist justification depend upon a particular claim that can be shown to be false. Bahnsen seems to think that any a priori, a posteriori or conventionalist justification of the laws of logic is incompatible with Christianity. That is to say, if one is justifying the principles of logic in any of these manners, they are employing tenets rejected by Christianity. In other words, Bahnsen believes that it follows from Christianity is true that the a priori way, a posteriori way and the conventionalist way fail to justify the laws of logic for if Christianity is true, the laws of logic can only be justified in the manner he presents[10]. By doing so, Bahnsen asserts that non-Christian justifications operate on the presupposition that Christianity is false. As such, in an attempt to avoid the arduous task of showing that all flavours of the aforementioned possible justifications are false (and thereby that any worldviews that employ them are false), he seeks only to show that they all depend upon a particular claim, that Christianity is false, and that this claim renders everything unintelligible. Clearly, Bahnsen has drawn a dichotomy wherein one either accepts Christianity, or wholly rejects it; no middle ground is possible. As Bahnsen states[11]:
It is absolutely crucial that transcendental argumentation begin by positing that Christian theism is either true or false. Van Tils defense of the faith does not require the apologist to be aware of and refute every single variation of unbelieving philosophy, but only the presupposition common to them all (namely, the rejection of Christian theism). Many apologists mistakenly imagine that there are really three options available: one may accept Christianity, reject it, or be undecided. But, as Van Til recognized, to be undecided about the claim that Christian theism is the presupposition necessary to make sense out of any reasoning whatsoever is to begin ones reasoning on the operational assumption that this claim is false (and can be laid aside as one proceeds to research and develop ones views). Since there are only two options at the most fundamental level the truth or falsity of Christian theism as a presupposition the refutation of the unbelieving one (in whatever illustrative variation it appears) is an indirect proof of the other.

But what might this mean for our discussion? If Bahnsen is permitted to carry on with his criteria, then if any a priori, a posteriori or conventionalist justifications of logic are shown to be false (and subsequently, the worldviews that house and depend on them) all other formulations which properly fall under those headings will also be false (worldviews included) since they employ the same proposition, namely, Christianity is false. Of course, this is not sound reasoning unless the shared proposition is what is causing the justification to be false. Bahnsen needs to show that Christianity is false is the false-making proposition of all nonChristian worldviews, and it doesnt seem that this is possible by any means other than (i) showing that all possible non-Christian justifications will have Christianity is false as the only proposition in common (for if there is even one other proposition shared by these worldviews, how might one disqualify that proposition as possibly being the false-maker?), and (ii) showing that Christianity is not false. The obvious problem is that if (ii) is shown, the

TAG becomes superfluous as it is no longer needed; one has already arrived at the truth of Christian theism, and for (i) to be shown, one still has to have an awareness of every single variation of unbelieving philosophy. Further, Choi rightly points out that this criterion for distinguishing between the Christian worldview and all others is insufficient. He shows the absurdity of the criteria when applied to another worldview, namely, Fristianity[12]. Fristianity is a worldview adopted by Choi, which is identical to Christianity with the exception of the triune godhead, to make the point that the claim that non-Christian worldviews cannot account for X is false, since in whichever way Christianity accounted for X, Fristianity would do so in the same manner. The distinguishing feature of Fristianity is that its godhead is a quadrinity rather than a trinity, it is essentially a Christianity + 1. Michael Butler, a defender of TAG, has responded to the Fristianity objection by stating that there is no guarantee that Fristianity will be a coherent worldview after it is laid out and thus cannot be an objection to the TAG[13]. Chois reply is that this is simply besides the point as the TAG, if successful, should prove that Fristianity will be incoherent outright and that there is no burden on the Fristian to exemplify coherence. Further, in response to Bahnsens statement that there can only two worldviews, the believing one and the unbelieving one, Choi notes:
on the same basis the hypothetical Fristian could argue as follows: There are only two worldviews, Fristian theism and the unbelieving onewhich is to say, any worldview that has as its presupposition the rejection of Fristian theism. All the alleged worldviews (and here we would have to include Christian theism) are really just variations on a common presuppositional theme that Fristian theism is false

In other words, we may not simply claim that all worldviews which share a certain proposition are false because some worldviews which share a certain proposition are such. It needs to be shown that the worldviews are false because of the shared proposition. Under Bahnsens proposal, an atheist could show one theistic worldview to be incoherent, and reason from this that all theistic worldviews, including Christianity, are incoherent since they all share the same presuppositional theme, that atheism is false. Clearly, an exhaustive examination of possible worldviews is still required if one wants to make the strong claim made in (2b).
The Transcendental Argument for the Non-Existence of God

I would like to call attention to a statement made by Bahnsen in the excerpt taken from his debate regarding the Christians justification for logical principles: From a Christian standpoint, we have an answer obviously they reflect the thinking of God. They are, if you will, a reflection of the way God thinks and expects us to think. [14] This is supposed to be the factor that separates Christian worldviews from non-Christian worldviews, but the claim seems rather vague. What does it mean to say that the justification for logical principles is the fact that they reflect the thinking of God? Michael Martin asks a similar question and formulates a Transcendental Argument for the Non-Existence of God (TANG) which he defended against criticisms from John Frame.[15]

Martin stated[16]:
How might TANG proceed? Consider logic. Logic presupposes that its principles are necessarily true. However, according to the brand of Christianity assumed by TAG, God created everything, including logic; or at least everything, including logic, is dependent on God. But if something is created by or is dependent on God, it is not necessaryit is contingent on God. And if principles of logic are contingent on God, they are not logically necessary. Moreover, if principles of logic are contingent on God, God could change them. Thus, God could make the law of noncontradiction false; in other words, God could arrange matters so that a proposition and its negation were true at the same time. But this is absurd. How could God arrange matters so that New Zealand is south of China and that New Zealand is not south of it? So, one must conclude that logic is not dependent on God, and, insofar as the Christian world view assumes that logic so dependent, it is false.

Frames response[17] stated that:


Logic is neither above God nor arbitrarily decreed by God. Its ultimate basis is in Gods eternal nature. God is a rational God and necessarily so. Therefore logic is necessary. Human logical systems dont always reflect Gods logic perfectly. But insofar as they do, they are necessarily true.

Bahnsen and Frames defence of the TAG depend upon two claims: (A) Logical principles (such as the Law of Noncontradiction) exist because God exists and the principles are reflections of his thinking[18] (B) Logical principles cannot be changed by God as their ultimate basis is in Gods nature, and God is necessarily a rational God.
A Logical Euthyphro Application

In analyzing both (A) and (B) it seems that the famous Euthyphro dilemma can be applied to the TAG, substituting notions of goodness for logical principles. The dilemma could perhaps be expressed as the following: does God think in a certain way because it is logical to do so, or is thinking in a certain way logical because God does it? If the first horn of the dilemma holds it seems clear that logical principles exist independently of God. If the second horn of the dilemma holds logical principles seem to be under the whim of God, meaning that God could change them. A TAG defender might respond by saying that this dilemma is a false one, and advocate similar to Frame that logical principles have their basis in Gods nature and are thus neither external, nor arbitrary. Firstly, this seems to add some confusion: are logical principles based on Gods thinking, or on his nature? Frames above statement in response to Michael Martin seems to indicate that both are true: logical principles reflect the thinking of God and the thinking of God has its basis in Gods nature.[19]

Frame essentially makes the claim that it is logically impossible for the nature of God to change. But the standard Frame is using to identify logical possibility is allegedly the nature of God. As such, his claim appears to be represented more accurately as: (C) Based on Gods nature it is logically impossible for Gods nature to be different because God is necessarily a rational God This does not seem to assist in any regard as what is rational is allegedly determined by Gods nature. So to argue that Gods nature must be the way it is because God is necessarily rational seems to only appeal to a standard of rationality that is separate from God, otherwise it is clearly circular. In what manner would it be the case that Gods nature was not rational? It does not seem that a God who forms the basis of logical principles and thereby is the standard of rationality can ever be irrational (though he may certainly appear irrational when judged by a foreign standard). That is to say, if one wants to state that the Christian God forms the basis of rationality and the logical principles thereby in effect cannot be anything other than what they are, they must be appealing to a standard of logic that is separat e from Gods nature as to appeal solely to Gods nature does not sufficiently answer the question; it is a non -answer.
God and the Abstract

In his TANG, Martin stated that if logical principles depend on God in any way, they lose their logical necessity and become contingent. Frame countered by making the claim that though dependent on God, the principles of logic have their basis in the nature of God and because the nature of God is necessary, so too are the logical principles. An obvious defeater to Frames claim, and subsequently the TAG, would be to show that not only are logical principles not dependent on God, but they cannot be so dependent. The dependence relationship between God exists and logical principles exist seems problematic. If God is the source of all things other than himself, and he depends on nothing for his existence, surely the relationship must be asymmetrical (with primacy granted to God), but it appears not to be. It can be shown, in fact, that God depends on logical principles for his existence. Consider: (4) Necessarily, x depends on y for its existence iff y were not to exist, neither wouldx[20] Lewis counterfactual semantics tell us that any proposition is counterfactually implied by a necessarily false proposition. Since logical principles do not exist is a necessarily false

proposition, it counterfactually implies any proposition whatsoever.[21] So it is also true that if logical principles did not exist, neither would God. Thus, God depends on logical principles for his existence. The relationship between the existence of logical principles and the existence of God would be asymmetrical iff God depended on nothing for his being and logical principles depended wholly on him. In this regard, the relationship of dependence is one-way; logical principles depend on God but not vice versa. If dependence is asymmetrical, then logic cannot depend on God as it has been shown that God depends on logic. The asymmetrical relationship can be depicted further: where P refers to logical principles and Qrefers to God. If P depends on Q asymmetrically, then the worlds in which P is true must be a proper subset of the worlds in which Q is true. Since it is the case that the principles of logic hold in every world, and the set of all worlds is not a proper subset of any other set of worlds, the laws of logic cannot depend on anything, including God. In order to overcome this problem, one could deny the necessary existence of logical principles. This seems antithetical to the presuppositionalist position which seeks to show that the only way to make sense out of logical necessity is through the existence of the Christian God. Indeed, the opposite becomes true; the only way that logical principles can be necessary is if logical principles depend on God is false. One could further deny the claim that God depends on nothing else for his existence, but this seems incompatible with Christian theism and perhaps even with a more general notion of God. Another possible solution is twofold. One must first accept that abstract objects are the thoughts of God. This is not problematic for the TAG proponent as they have already explicitly stated that this is the case. One must then further embrace the Doctrine of Divine Simplicity (DDS) and accept that God is identical with each of his attributes and thoughts. Under this view, the statements God exists and Logical principles exist express the same proposition. This eliminates the problem because any proposition is counterfactually dependent on itself. But it is not clear that DDS is a coherent option[22]. Indeed it is not clear that the principles of logic can be thought to be attributes of God, in any capacity. This problem seems even more severe for the Christian. If the proponent of the TAG attempts to establish the conclusion that the Christian God exists, but has to accept the DDS to do so (as per the above objection) it is unclear as to how they would reconcile the fact that God is identical with his attributes and the belief that he is internally distinct as a Trinity. Indeed, if DDS is coherent, how can there be any distinction whatsoever between God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit? The DDS seems wholly incoherent with Christian theism.

As such, in order to avoid the consequence of conceding that God is not entirely sovereign, one must either (i) deny that logical principles are necessary (ii) deny Christian theism. Both are unacceptable consequences for the proponent of the TAG.
The Mind of God

There is yet another respect in which the TAG is vague. It states that the Christian worldview can account for the laws of logic because they have their basis as reflections of Gods thought. Presumably, this means that the reason why the Law of Non-Contradiction (LNC) is the way it is depends on the fact that God cannot avoid thinking in accordance with it due to his nature as logical. Even temporarily disregarding the previous objections, this claim seems dubious. This justification or grounding of the principles of logic does not seem to necessitate any transcendental reference. Consider Bob the Conventionalist[23]; he is a normal human being. Even as a conventionalist, Bob cannot help but think in accordance with the LNC, for how could Bob visualize the effects of a proposition that is both true and false simultaneously? If, as per Bahnsens statement, logical principles are reflections of the way God thinks and further if it is true that the LNC exists and holds because God cannot think that p and not-p, surely Bobs own inability to think that P and not-P fulfills the same justification requirement. One foreseeable objection is that Bobs self -grounding does not explain the seeming universality of the LNC. However, it is impossible to think of anyone in existence who could visualize the effects of a proposition which violated the LNC[24] and in this regard the LNC is universally self-grounded. In the aforementioned debate, Bahnsen criticized conventionalism for being arbitrary and potentially giving way to people with contradictory logical systems. Though it is hard to imagine someone who has adopted a logical system in which there is no LNC or equivalent mechanism. Such a system would be as trivial as a magic eight-ball that answers yes to every question[25]. It is difficult to see why Bob or any of his friends would adopt a system with no mechanism to differentiate between any propositions. On pragmatic grounds, it is entirely useless. One may make the case that Bahnsen has misunderstood conventionalism[26], and one might further make the more interesting point of asking how God accounts for the laws of logic. If it is even possible that God justifies his use of logic in either an a priori, or conventionalist manner[27] premise (2b) of the TAG can be further rejected. What might it mean to say that God justifies logic in an a priori manner? Bahnsens criticisms of an a priori justification can be found in his debate with Stein:

But if you dont take that approach and want to justify the laws of logic in some a priori fashion, that is apart from experience, something that [Stein] suggests when he says these things are self-verified. Then we can ask why the laws of logic are universal, unchanging, and invariant truths why they, in fact, apply repeatedly in the realm of contingent experience.

He argues that an a priori justification of the laws of logic does nothing to explain their universality. But, the fact that the laws of logic would be known a priori to be logically necessary does seem to explain the universality in a self -verifying manner; they are necessarily true. One might further press to ask why it is the case that they are necessarily true rather than not and one possibility is that they are justifiable in some Platonic manner, existing as brute, primitive facts. In essence, this is presumably how God would view his a priori justification. For God, these logical principles are just there even if necessarily just there. It may also be possible that God justifies logical principles conventionally, assuming them for a purpose. One possible objection is that if this is the case, God could have done otherwise (chosen a different convention). It seems that if there are multiple sufficient conventionalist justifications of logical principles, God certainly would possess the capability to select the best possible and employ it on pragmatic grounds. If these justifications are even possible, then (2b) in its current form becomes demonstrably false. Of course, it may be reworded to state: (2b*) It is necessary that: no human forms of either a priori, a posteriori or conventionalist justification will justify the laws of logic It would be the duty of the TAG proponent to develop an explanation as to why it is either impossible that God justify logical principles in the aforementioned two manners or why a human version of the same justification must necessarily fail. One might object to (2b*) stating that a divine form of a priori justification or conventionalism would not differ sufficiently from a human form but space does not permit a treatment of this claim here.
Conclusion

Given (i) the initial objections, (ii) the vague and troubled explanations of what it means for Gods nature to be logical, (iii) the lack of asymmetry in the relationsh ip between logical principles and Gods existence, and (iv) the possibility that God accounts for logic with the same justifications criticized by the TAG, it is my proposal that, pending further defence, the

Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God be considered unsound and unsuccessful in its goal of establishing the existence of the Christian God[28].

[1] Every time the term God is used, unless otherwise specifically noted it is to refer to the Christian God [2] Not all Christians may agree that they require certainty of their position. [3] Baggini, Julian and Peter S. Fosl. 2003. 2.10 Transcendental arguments. In The Philosophers Toolkit: A compendium of philosophical concepts and methods . Oxford: Blackwell Publishing [4] Many will be confused as to why the Islamic or Judaic God cannot satisfy the requirements put forth by the TAG. A good discussion of this is available in the section of James Andersons paper If Knowledge Then God entitled Argument #1: The One -Many Argument published in the Calvin Theological Journal, Vol.40, No. 1 (2005), 49-75 [5] This may entail some overlap as to the precondition of intelligibility. [6] A transcript of the debate is available at: http://www.bellevuechristian.org/faculty/dribera/htdocs/PDFs/Apol_Bahnsen_Stein_Debate_T ranscript.pdf (the spaces in the PDF title are underscores) [7] Bahnsen erroneously assumes that if one is an atheist, they must be a materialist. [8] Choi, Sean. The Transcendental Argument. Reasons for Faith: Making a Case for the Christian Faith. Illustrated. Geisler, Norman L., and Chad V. Meister. Good News Publishers, 2007. 238-243. Print. [9] Ibid. 241-244 [10] As is usually the case with religion, there may be disagreements within a tradition. Many who identify as Christians may disagree with what Bahnsen believes are tenets of Christianity. In this respect, one may not agree, for example, that a conventionalist justification of logic is a non-Christian justification. For the purpose of this paper, I will assume, with Bahnsen, that if Christianity is true then the laws of logic are justified in the manner he has stated. [11] Bahnsen, Greg L. Van Tils Apologetic: Readings and Analysis. P & R Publishing, 1998. 277. Print. [12] I do not seek to offer a defense of the Fristianity Objection; I only seek to utilize it to demonstrate the shortcomings of Bahnsens criterion.

[13] See: http://butler-harris.org/tag/ [14] This quotation is taken from the aforementioned debate. [15] Their online discussion can be accessed at http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/michael_martin/martin-frame/ [16] http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/michael_martin/martin-frame/tang.html [17] http://www.reformed.org/master/index.html?mainframe=/apologetics/martin/frame_contra_mar tin.html [18] It is difficult to understand precisely what is meant by reflections of his thinking. Presumably, the TAG defender is claiming that the reason the Law of Non-Contradiction (LNC) holds is that God thinks in accordance with the law, or rather, the manner in which God thinks is such that the LNC can be derived from his thinking processes. [19] One way to make sense of this claim is that Gods thinking is a property/attribute indistinguishable from God himself. I will explore this idea, and offer some objections shortly. [20] Davidson, Matthew, God and Other Necessary Beings, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.) [21] Ibid. [22] See: Plantinga, Alvin. Does God Have a Nature? Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 1980. [23] Conventionalism, as applied to logic, is the philosophical attitude that logical principles are grounded on agreements in society rather than any external reality. This agreement is not necessarily voluntary (and perhaps is necessarily not-voluntary); of course, logical conventions may have very well arisen via evolution, giving us a neurological predisposition to the conventions we do hold. Another possibility is that we acquire logic at around the same time we acquire language, and once its in our minds, it cant be changed. [24] Surely if I could, Id be one example of such a person. Id need to conceptualize a person conceptualizing the contradiction, thereby conceptualizing it myself.

[25] Such a demonstration is beyond the scope of this paper. For a proper treatment of conventionalism, see: Syverson, Paul F. Logic, Convention and Common Knowledge: A Conventionalist Account of Logic. Stanford, California: Center for the Study of Language and Information, 2002. Print. [26] Martin lays this charge on Bahnsen in his article, Does Logic Presuppose the Christian God? (http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/michael_martin/logic.html) [27] I have excluded the possibility of an a posteriori justification as Im unsure how this would apply to God [28] Special thanks to Phil Scott, Research Postgraduate Student at the Centre for Intelligent Systems and their Applications at the University of Edinburgh, and Dr. Klaas J. Kraay, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Ryerson University for their invaluable assistance in this paper.