An answer to a refutation of the Transcendental Argument

The Transcendental Argument is the argument that attempts to prove God's existence by arguing that logic, morals, and science ultimately (though unwittingly) presuppose the Christian worldview; and that God's absolute nature is the source of logic and morals.

Some state that the transcendental argument is flawed.  One such argument comes from Michael Martin at, a website which is blatantly anti-Christian.  The following are excerpts from Mr. Martin's paper on that site titled, "The Transcendental Argument for the Nonexistence of God."  Mr. Martin's paper is worth a read, but, in my opinion, is flawed.  He said,

"Consider logic. Logic presupposes that its principles are necessarily true. However, according to the brand of Christianity assumed by TAG [transcendental argument for God], 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 necessary--it is contingent on God . . . "

If God exists, then God has attributes such as thoughts, character, essence, nature, etc.  His attributes would be perfect--since He would be, by default, perfect, the standard of perfection, the omniscient, omnipotent creator.  His thoughts would necessarily be consistent within Himself: perfect.  God is by nature non-self-contradictory since a self-contradictory thing cannot exist.  Logic, then, would not be a created thing but an attribute of God's perfect existence as it relates to His thought processes.  Since God exists eternally in all places, logic cannot have been created but is, so to speak, eternal as well.  In other words, the existence of logic, based upon God's existence, is indeed a necessary thing since it would be a "part" of God's own natural thought processes.  It would then be something innate, natural, and ontologically necessary because God exists and is not contingent upon anything.  Therefore, logic would not be a creation of God but a necessary existence because God exists.

"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 non-contradiction 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 is so dependent, it is false."

As I stated above, logic is a necessary, uncreated, and a non-contingent necessity given God's absolute, perfect, and eternal existence.  Logic would not be changeable because God is not changeable.  This explains why logical truths are always true.  They are absolute and transcendent by nature because God is absolute and transcendent by nature.  Logic is non-self-contradictory because God is non-self-contradictory.

"Consider science. It presupposes the uniformity of nature: that natural laws govern the world and that there are no violations of such laws. However, Christianity presupposes that there are miracles in which natural laws are violated. Since to make sense of science one must assume that there are no miracles, one must further assume that Christianity is false. To put this in a different way: Miracles by definition are violations of laws of nature that can only be explained by God's intervention. Yet science assumes that insofar as an event as an explanation at all, it has a scientific explanation--one that does not presuppose God. Thus, doing, science assumes that the Christian world view is false."

We do not know all the laws of the universe.  God does since He brought the universe into existence and created that which our descriptive laws quantify.  What we would consider supernatural may simply be God's working of unknown natural laws on a level that only God understands.  Mr. Martin's assertion does not necessitate a violation of natural laws, rather, a perceived violation of natural laws now known.

"Consider morality. The type of Christian morality assumed by TAG [transcendental argument for God] is some version of the Divine Command Theory, the view that moral obligation is dependent on the will of God. But such a view is incompatible with objective morality. On the one hand, in this view what is moral is a function of the arbitrary will of God; for instance, if God wills that cruelty for its own sake is good, then it is. On the other hand, determining the will of God is impossible since there are different alleged sources of this will (The Bible, the Koran, The Book of Mormon, etc) and different interpretations of what these sources say; moreover; there is no rational way to reconcile these differences. Thus, the existence of an objective morality presupposes the falsehood of the Christian world view assumed by TAG."

Mr. Martin uses the phrase "objective morality," a phrase that is worthy of a long discussion.  Nevertheless, I see no reason to conclude that moral truth coming from God is incompatible with objective morality.  Furthermore, God's will is not arbitrary.  It is consistent with His own nature and purpose.  In other words, the omniscient God eternally knows all things and works his knowledge in accordance with his immutable/absolute nature.  Therefore, morality could not be arbitrary; that is, God doesn't arbitrarily say that lying is wrong.  It is wrong because God cannot lie.  Morality is not a set of made-up rules.  Morality is based on God's absolute nature.

Mr. Martin further fails to see the philosophical difference between Islam and Mormonism.  In Islam, Allah is capricious.  In Mormonism, God is changeable and not absolute.  The God of Christianity is eternally immutable (absolute and unchangeable).  There is a large difference between the Christian God and the ones of the others he mentioned.

"There are, of course, ways to avoid the conclusions of TANG [Transendental Argument for the Non-Existence of God]. One way is to reject logic, science and objective morality. Another is to maintain belief in God but argue that logic, science and morality are not dependent on God's existence. However, the first way is self-defeating since Christian apologists use logic to defend their position and the second way presumes that TAG is invalid since it assumes that logic, science, and morality do not assume God's existence. Finally, one can object to particular aspects of TANG, for example, the claim that there is no rational way to reconcile different interpretations of the Bible. However, this tack would involve a detailed defense of TAG--something that has yet to be provided."

Mr. Martin is stating that it is the theist who would need to reject logic.  But since Mr. Martin's "TANG" has logical weaknesses, it seems it is he who would need to reject logic in order to retain his atheist position.


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.