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What is the transcendental argument for the existence of God?

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The transcendental argument for the existence of God is the argument that attempts to prove God’s existence by arguing that logic, morals, and science ultimately presuppose the theistic worldview and that God’s transcendent character is the source of logic and morals. The transcendental argument for the existence of God argues that without the existence of God it is impossible to prove anything because, in the atheistic world, you cannot justify or account for universal laws.

Deductive reason presupposes the laws of logic. But why do the laws of logic hold? For the Christian and other theists, there is a transcendent standard for reasoning. As the laws of logic are reduced to being materialistic entities, they cease to possess their law-like character. But the laws of logic are not comprised of matter; they apply universally and at all times. The laws of logic are contingent upon God’s unchanging nature and are necessary for deductive reasoning. The invariability, sovereignty, transcendence, and immateriality of God are the foundation for the laws of logic. Thus, rational reasoning would be impossible without the biblical God.

The atheist might respond, “Well, I can use the laws of logic, and I am an atheist.” But this argument is illogical. Logical reasoning requires the existence of a transcendent and immaterial God, not a profession of belief in Him. The atheist can reason, but within his own worldview his reasoning cannot rationally be accounted for.

If the laws of logic are merely manmade contentions, then different cultures could adopt different laws of logic. In that case, the laws of logic would not be universal laws. Rational debate would be impossible if the laws of logic were conventional, because the two parties could simply adopt different laws of logic. Each would be correct according to his own arbitrary standard.

If the atheist argues that the laws of logic are simply the product of electro-chemical impulses in the brain, then the laws of logic cannot be regarded as universal. What happens inside your brain cannot be regarded as a law, for it does not necessarily correspond to what happens in another person’s brain. In other words, we could not argue that logical contradictions cannot occur in a distant galaxy, distinct from conscious observers.

One common response is, “We can use the laws of logic because they have been observed to work.” However, this is to miss the point. All agree that the laws of logic work, but they work because they are true. The real issue is, how can the atheist account for absolute standards of reasoning like the laws of logic? Why does the material universe feel compelled to obey immaterial laws? Moreover, the appeal to the past to make such deductions concerning the way matter will behave in the future—from the materialistic point of view—is circular. Indeed, in the past, matter has conformed to uniformity. But how can one know that uniformity will persist in the future unless one has already assumed that the future reflects the past (i.e., uniformity)? To use one’s past experience as a premise upon which to build one’s expectations for the future is to presuppose uniformity and logic. Thus, when the atheist claims to believe that there will be uniformity in the future since there has been uniformity in the past, he is trying to justify uniformity by presupposing uniformity, which is to argue in a circle.

To conclude, the transcendental argument for the existence of God argues that atheism is self-refuting because the atheist must presuppose the opposite of what he is attempting to prove in order to prove anything. It argues that rationality and logic make sense only within a theistic framework. Atheists have access to the laws of logic, but they have no foundation upon which to base their deductive reason within their own paradigm.

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What is the transcendental argument for the existence of God?
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This page last updated: January 4, 2022