Monday, December 7, 2009

The Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God

“Religious faith is simply foolish!” Bill insisted.

“By what standard of rationality can you make such a judgment,
” I responded.

I was leading Bill into a discussion of the Transcendental Argument for God’s existence. It goes like this:

1. Logic and reason exist.
2. Logic and reason can’t exist without God.

Conclusion: God must exist!

Premise #1 doesn’t require any proof. It is self -evident. We all agree that reason and logic exist. In order to deny them, we must use reason and logic, the very things we are denying!

Premise #2 involves only two possible choices: logic and reason are either the result of natural, unintelligent force(s) or an intelligent, transcendent Being. If we can rule out the first possibility, we are left with God.Here are some considerations that would tend to rule out the first option:

1. There is no evidence that natural, unintelligent forces exist. Although we all agree that objects are subject to laws and respond in formulaic and predictable ways, there is no evidence whatsoever that these laws are natural, unintelligent and independent of one another. It is more likely that they find their origin and unity in the single Mind of God.

2. Reason and logic are unchanging. In an ever expanding universe of molecules-in-motion, naturalism can’t account for unchanging laws or principles.

3. Reason and logic are uniform, wherever we look and in whatever historical period. However, for a force or law to be natural, it must have a location from which it exerts its influence. (At least, that’s our experience with the “natural.”) The sun attracts the earth because it is in proximity to the earth. We find that this gravitational influence diminishes as the distance increases. Likewise, I’ve found that I can’t pick up the WQXR radio signals, which beam from a station in NYC, when I’m in Pennsylvania. However, the laws of physics (and reason and logic) seem to operate uniformly and universally, transcending the material considerations of location, matter and energy. Naturalism can’t seem to make such a leap.

4. Reason and logic require an adequate cause. There are so many other things that naturalism can’t adequately explain (life, DNA, fine-tuning of the universe, freewill, consciousness, moral absolutes, the unchanging physical laws). Therefore, there is no reason to believe that naturalism is adequate to account for reason and logic.

5. Our experience with causal agents informs us that the cause is always greater than the effect. If the effect was greater than the cause, it would suggest that some part of the effect is uncaused - a scientific impossibility!

If we can't account for reason and logic naturally, then we are only left with a super-natural explanation! God must exist!

Bill retorted, “Reason tells us that the Garden of Eden and talking snakes couldn’t exist!”

“But how can you put any trust in your reason in a world of molecules-in-motion?”
Bill was stuck. He could only account for his use of unchanging reason by appealing to an unchanging, transcendent God, the very God he was denying.

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