3 AM Philosophy

The Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God…why it isn’t convincing.

The other day Sye Ten Bruggencate wanted me to “review” a video with theologian Dr. James Anderson and Tjump. 90 minutes is too long for me to sit through the entire thing, but within the first 15 minutes they spoke a bit about a Transcendental Argument for God or TAG. It kinda drove me nuts as I didn’t think either Tjump nor Dr. Anderson were actually wrong, but neither seemed to put it all together to show what I think is one of the main issues with this particular TAG argument that is based upon a conclusion that the Laws of Logic prove God. Or at the very least attempt to show some type of independent mind outside of our own.

A transcendental argument generally tries to prove that if X is a necessary precondition for Y, then if Y does exist then it follows that X must exist by necessity.

The TAG argument Dr. James Anderson used in the video, using the laws of logic, was similiar to a type of a priori ontological argument and went something along the lines of:

1) Absolute laws of logic exist as metaphysical necessity in all possible worlds.
2) Laws of logic are non-physical, abstract and conceptualizations.
3) Concepts exist only in minds.
4) A mind must in exist in all possible world to have the concept of the laws of logic.
5) That mind is the mind of God.

As a transcendental argument it to me appears to be valid and possibly even convincing if it was the case that laws of logic existed as metaphysical necessities requiring a mind. The problem is that isn’t what TAG is actually arguing it seems. There seems to be at least some type of equivocation error being snuck in with this type of TAG argument. The equivocation is confusing the descriptive nature of the laws of logic with the actual existence of what the laws of logic are trying to describe.

For example, the equation “a=a” is an identity which describes something about reality. We happen to call this law of logic the Law of Identity. This law can be expressed multiple was such as “For all a: a=a“, “a is a“, or “∀a:(a=a)“, but like most laws they are all merely descriptive concepts expressed using symbols that represent something we perceive to be true about reality. The concept of “a=a” I would agree would require a mind to exist for the same reason that if a thought exists then by necessity a necessary precursor must exist to hold that thought. That necessary precursor to hold that thought would clearly be some type of mind.

However, Tag isn’t really trying to argue the concepts are “non-physical, abstract and conceptualizations” as I would think all would agree concepts are by their very nature conceptual, but TAG is arguing what those concepts represent are “absolute” and “metaphysical necessity in all possible worlds”. There is the equivocation problem. While what the laws of logic represent (a=a) are conceptual and require a mind to hold that concept, the actual reality of what that concept is representing exists independent of mind in reality.

So a rock is a rock holds true regardless if a mind is around to hold that though of “a rock is a rock” or not. The laws of logic themselves do not seem to me to require any mind for them to exist. A mind is only required to describe them.

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