The reason for this introduction, is to point out something incredibly important, which Slick (and his loyal followers) seem to refuse to accept. Before we go through all 11 issues with Slick’s formulation of the TAG, I need to make something clear from the outset. Although it may sound like to Slick, that all I’m doing is picking on the wording of the argument, there are significantly more problems than just the choice of words he uses. That is, Slick (rightly) points out that he is not a philosopher and so he thinks that he has an argument which proves the existence of God, but because he isn’t formally trained in philosophy, he doesn’t know any of the fancy philosophical terminology, but otherwise the argument proves God exists. However, the purpose of the following 11 objections to Slick’s argument, is that the issues with Slick’s argument runs so much deeper than just saying that there is a problem with the choice of words in his argument. Instead, the problem with Slick’s argument is that it simply doesn’t do what he thinks it does. I will go through each of these objections, going through problems with both premise 1 and premise 2 which clearly demonstrate that Slick’s argument does not prove that God exists.

Without further ado, let’s get into the first objection: that Slick’s argument is not a disjunctive syllogism (despite what he claims) and the more serious problem, if this is his first premise, it is not only not true, if we take what Slick says literally… it is not even false! 

Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God: Objection 1 (Incoherence of Premise 1)

When I was first deciding what my first video should be, back as Dave S, I thought to myself, which argument do I wish that apologists would stop using? So when I thought about the one argument that I wish would simply die a death, there was one obvious answer to this question. So I will be going through everything wrong with Matt Slick’s Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God.
In case you are not aware, Matt Slick is a Christian apologist most famous for his formulation of the Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God. And if you’ve watched any of his debates, he has used the argument in various forms, in debates with Dan Barker and Matt Dillahunty, as well as fairly frequently on the Bible Thumping Wingnut show. So how embarrassing would it be if it turned out, that Slick has been using a fallacious argument all these years? Well the purpose of the following 10 objections (and the 11th which will be a reformulation which will include the aforementions objections) will be to show that Slick’s argument simply does not do what he claims it does. While I will explain each individually, before I explain these objections, first objection will will show why the entire foundation of his argument falls at the first hurdle. Then throughout the rest of these objections, I will show why this argument completely and utterly fails from beginning to end. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, first we need to ask: what exactly is the argument?
Well the first thing to point out, is that over the years he has presented different formulations of the argument. But perhaps the most widely used version is accounting for the so-called logical absolutes. And so the formulation of his argument is as a disjunctive syllogism. As simply as possible, a disjunctive syllogism is: if we have two options, if one of the options is negated, the other is validated. A disjunctive syllogism is a valid argument form which has a disjunctive statement for one of its premises. So we can think of the basic formulation of
P1) P or Q
P2) ¬P
C) Therefore Q
Or in a more complete form:
P1) [It is true that either proposition] P [is true], or [it is true that either proposition] Q [is true]
P2) [Proposition] P is not true
C) Therefore [proposition] Q is true
Or in simple terms, the argument holds, that we are told that at least one of the statements is true (either P or Q, whatever they might refer to) and also told that one of the propostions is not true; we can infer that the other is true. To use a real-world example:
P1) The pizzie either has pineapple as a topping, or pepperoni as a topping
P2) The pizza did not have pineapple as a topping
C) Therefore the pizza had as a pepperoni topping
While this is pretty much as complicated as it gets, the final thing to point out about a disjunctive syllogism is that in propositional logic, it involves logical connective or [as in either P or Q].  This can be used in the exclusive sense; as in “either A or B but not both” as in “you may go to the left or to the right.” As we can see from the context you can do one or the other but not both. Conversely, it can be used in the inclusive sense whereby “either A or B or both” for example “either Bob or Steve will turn up to the party.” So as we can see from the context that it is possible that both Bob and Steve could show up to the party, thus, even if one of them arrives at the party, this does not necessarily mean that the other will not also turn up. It is important to note here, that because its not usually made explicit in the argument, you typically have to rely on the context to infer whether the or is being used in the exclusive or inclusive sense.
So as this relates to Slick’s TAG, it is important to note, the way Slick is using the argument, he is using it in the exclusive sense, whereby only one and not both can be true. However, before we get into the first problem, we need to consider how Slick’s argument is usually presented.
When Slick appears on hangouts, he usually invites someone into the the discussion by asking the question: do you accept that either God either exists or it is not the case that God exists, there is no third option? In which case, one may respond by questioning what about deism, polytheism, panentheism or pantheism? Slick then typically responds by saying that he will only be arguing for the Christian God. In which case, the question becomes, do you accept that either the Christian God either exists or it is not the case that the Christian God exists, there is no third option? Obviously, one may accept that it is the case that either the Christian God exists or it is not the case that the Christian God exists, given that is merely an example of the law of excluded middle.
However, while one can easily accept that, Slick then quickly attempts to follow that up by saying that if you accept that, then you must equally accept that either the Christian God can account for the laws of logic, or what he calls not-God can account for the laws of logic. While we will explore the problem of this below (see objection 2: false dichtomy) we now need to carefully examine a fairly typical way that Matt Slick will present the argument:
“If you only have two possibilities to account for something … if one of them is negated the other is necessarily validated as being true … So we have ‘God and not-God’, so that’s called a true dichotomy, God either exists, or it is not the case that God exists, we have the thing and the negation of the thing. So now we have a true disjunctive syllogism … We have, for example, the transcendental laws of logic … Can the no-God position account for the transcendental laws of logic? And the ultimate answer is no it cannot. So therefore because it cannot, the other position is automatically necessarily validated as being true. Because, you cannot negate both options out of the only two possibilities; that’s logically impossible.”
Given the above, the first premise of his argument is something along the lines of:
P1) Either God or not-God can account for the laws of logic
Before we go any further, we first need to consider, given the nature of the argument, it is what is known as a deductive argument. This is an argument which is intended to provide a guarantee of the truth of the conclusion provided that the argument’s premises are true. Therefore, as with any deductive argument, we need whether the argument is either valid or invalid. A valid deductive argument is one that if premises are all assumed to be true, the conclusion would necessarily follow. However, while validity is concerned with whether the premises follow to the conclusion, whether the argument is sound depends on whether the premises are actually true. If a deductive argument is valid, then we need to consider the context of the premise because only then is it possible that the argument might be sound, if the premises are true. An argument is sound if it is valid and the premises are all actually true.
Finally we need to consider whether the argument is a good argument, that the conclusion ought to be believed. And ultimately my objections will be that Slick’s argument is not valid, not sound and also not convincing and an argument that is not valid, sound or convincing should be abandoned. However, the first issue I will be raising today is that Matt Slick’s first premise is not only not true, but in fact, is not even false.
Given the above, his first premise of his argument can be more formally put as something along the lines of:
P1) Either God accounts for the transcendental laws of logic or not-God accounts for the transcendental laws of logic
So what is the first objection to Slick’s argument? Well, the first issue with this formulation of the argument, is that if we take what Slick says here literally then the first premise is not even false and it is not actually a disjunctive syllogism. All of this amounts to the argument being invalid and thus, a terrible apologetic argument! But you might be thinking, hang on a minute Dave, why is that the case? Well to explain this, we first need to go back to the basics and explore what exactly makes up an argument, by considering the difference between terms and propositions.
As Alex Malpass highlights in his blog, Slick has a habit of completely bastardising logic, so much so, that if this is the first premise of his argument, it is a a horrible train-wreck of a sentence which cannot even be considered to be true or false, because it is complete gibberish to begin with. Therefore, if we have a premise which is not true, or in Slick’s case, not even coherent enough to be false, then the argument can never be considered sound. So to explain the first problem with Slick’s argument, we first need to understand that there is a difference between terms and propositions.
As Malpass notes: there is a fundamental difference between logical vocabulary that refers to things directly and those which express statements of fact. The former can refer to things ‘Dave’, London’ or ‘your favourite type of ice cream’, etc. while the latter would be something along the lines of: Dave is in London’, ‘vanilla is Dave’s favourite type of ice cream’, etc. Terms make up propositions which can then be assigned a truth-value, that is they can be true or false. While in contrast, terms cannot be said to be true or false. So, Dave’, ‘London’ or your favourite flavour of ice cream’ isn’t true or false because it is a term; but the proposition Dave is in London is either true or false because it can be assigned a truth-value.
Now you might be thinking, well thats’ all well and good but so what?! What has this got to do with Slick’s argument?
Well the issue with Slick’s first premise, is that the way it is presented is that the term is negated rather than a proposition being negated. That is, we have God and not-God which means we have the term God and the negation of a term not-God. Given that only propositions can be negated, this renders the first premise to be utter gibberish because terms don’t have truth values and so cannot be true or false. It would be like if someone said to you: “London is true”, you would be incredibly confused, given that this is not a coherent idea that expresses any form of meaningful idea. While “Dave lives in London” or “Buckingham Palace is in London” or “London is the capital of England” are all propositions which are either true or false. While in Slick’s argument, when Slick says that “God or not-God” can account for logic, this is not even a coherent sentence that can be labelled as either true or false, given he is negating a term, not the proposition.
Even if Slick wanted to argue that he was in fact negating the proposition, if we take the same blueprint as above, the argument would translate as:
P1) [The proposition] God accounts for logic [is true] or [the proposition] not-God can account for logic [is true]
There are several problems with this. While I will explain below that this commits another fallacy as well (see objection 2) to highlight how ridiculous this sounds, it would be like saying ‘either Mary went to the party or not-Mary went to the party.’ It is difficult to make sense of this because “not-Mary” is not a person and so obviously could not attend a party. What this means, is that phrasing it as not-Mary is literally meaningless and the same thing is true in the case of Slick’s argument. Therefore, in Slick’s first premise, as the negation does not prefix a proposition, but rather just a term and so if we prefix a negation to a referring term, then, because terms don’t have truth values, the outcome is an incoherent sentence that is unable to be considered true.
What this means, is that the first objection to Slick’s argument is that it is completely meaningless and frankly bizarre to say that either “God or not-God can account for logic.” And so, Matt Slick’s argument is refuted before we even get to premise two, as premise one is not true and thus any argument with a false premise cannot be considered sound.
Now while this may be enough to, if not abandon the argument, at least make Slick pause for a moment and make sure that the first premise is at least coherent, this is actually just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to objections to Slick’s argument. So below, I will go through the second objection to Slick’s argument, namely that if we attempt to repair the first premise then it either commits the fallacy of being a false dichotomy, or as we will explore later, if he attempts to change the first premise so it is jointly exhaustive, it then ends up being a trivial argument that is not actually an argument at all but merely an assertion.
So to put it simply, Slick’s argument (if we take what he says above literally) is along the lines of:
P1) God or not-God can account for logic
P2) Not-God cannot account for logic
C) Therefore God can
However, not only is this not a coherent sentence and thus, cannot be assigned a truth value, despite what Slick claims, this is not a disjunctive syllogism. Therefore, if Slick wants to present an argument which has a first premise which is true, he needs to reformulate the first premise so it is not only a disjunctive syllogism (if that is the type of argument he wishes to cite) but also ensure the first premise is not worded in such a way that it is not even false.
Because of the above, it is necessary to reformulate the argument, such that it can stand any hope of being true. Therefore, below, we will consider a potential reformulation which avoids this problem… but ends up commiting an equally important fallacy.

Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God: Objection 2 (False Dichotomy)

The above objection to Matt Slick’s version of the Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God is so fatal that we can think of this as being completely refuted even before we get to the second premise. The reason being, his first premise is completely incoherent and thus, because the first premise is not true, the argument can never be considered to be sound. While this may be enough to abandon the argument, it is possible that Slick could reformulate the first premise such that it is not worded in such a way that it is not even false. Therefore, the purpose of this analysis, is to show that even if Slick attempts to repair the first premise, then we encounter a different, but equally problematic issue.
To begin, let’s say I was being a little harsh on Slick, that I was taking it too literally and so I should be a little more charitable with what he meant. So let’s imagine Slick wished to re-formulate this argument so its something along the lines of:
P1) Either a worldview containing the Christian God or a worldview not containing the can can account for the laws of logic
So let’s say that this is what Slick was originally trying to argue, rather than the incoherent “God or not-God.” That is, what he actually meant was that either a world-view that contains God, in particular, the Christian God or a world-view that does not contain God can give a sufficient account of the so-called laws of logic. The trouble is, even if we grant that this was Slick’s intention, the second objection, is that is an example of jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. This is because, there is still a profound problem with this reformulated first premise. So although the argument is not invalid, but that the way Slick is presenting this argument, is that the first premise commits the fallacy of being a false dichotomy. Which thus, renders the argument to be unsound.
However, you may be thinking to yourself, hang on a second, how is it possible that Slick can be presenting a false dichotomy when the first premise sounds like a tautology? Well in order to answer this, we first need to examine when this fallacy takes place and what impact this has on the argument.
In order to critically examine this reformulated first premise, we must first establish when this fallacy takes place. A false dichotomy occurs when one is presenting two options when it is possible that neither is in fact true. For example, if one were to claim that “you either love me or hate me.” This is a textbook example of a false dichotomy. This commits the fallacy of being a false dichotomy as it ignores the fact that you may have a neutral opinion towards me or have feelings towards me which are neither hate or love. And so, it is logically possible for someone to neither love or hate me. Therefore, when we consider the first premise of Slick’s argument, when we carefully examine this in more detail, the inevitable conclusion must be that it is quite possible that neither a world-view that contains the Christian God nor a world-view that does not contain the Christian God has anything to do with the laws of logic. There is a logical space between these two, such that, it may well be the case that giving an account of the laws of logic is impossible and so the first premise is an example of a false dichotomy because neither worldview  can account for logic. However, before we in this, as I mentioned in the first, the issue arises because of how Slick sets up the argument.
As I mentioned above, often Slick invites someone into the the discussion by asking the question: do you accept that either God either exists or it is not the case that God exists, there is no third option? One may accept that it is the case that either the Christian God exists or it is not the case that the Christian God exists. However, while one can easily accept that, Slick then quickly attempts to follow that up by saying that if you accept that, then you must equally accept that either the Christian God can account for the laws of logic, or what he calls not-God can account for the laws of logic. As Alex Malpass puts it, “Slick dangles the true dichotomy of ‘God or not-God’ in order to gain assent (as nobody can deny a tautology), but then switches focus to the false dichotomy above without conceding that he now needs to justify the new premise. This is the heart of the Matt Slick Fallacy; it is a bait and switch from a true dichotomy to a false one.”
While the claim that an argument commits a false dichotomy is often thrown around, the importance of this is that if it is indeed a false dichotomy this is not a trivial issue. In fact, if an argument commits this fallacy, then the issue is that the premise is simply false and thus, the argument is unsound. The significance of this is that the implicit assumption in Slick’s argument is that that either a worldview containing the Christian God or a worldview not containing the Christian God must account for logic. What’s more, if a worldview not containing the Christian God cannot account for logic then a worldview containing the Christian God must be able to. So given, as premise two of the argument asserts, a worldview not containing the Christian God cannot account for logic then a worldview containing the Christian God must be able to. However, if premise one of this argument does commit the fallacy of being a false dichotomy, then one cannot prove the case that the Christian worldview is the case by eliminating the other option.
What this ultimately means is that we can reject premise one of this formulation of this argument because it is simply false and so, you are more than welcome to reject the foundational assumption of the first premise by pointing out that there is nothing logically contradictory to claim that neither X nor Y can do Z. Even if X and Y are jointly exhaustive. This therefore means that Slick’s argument cannot be considered to be sound because the first premise may well be false. And again, if this is indeed a false first premise, then we can reject the argument before we even examine premise two.
But in case you’re not convinced, to make this as simple as possible, what this objection basically means, is that Slick is trying to claim that X can do Y and not-X can do Y are jointly exhaustive. However, the problem with this, is that these may be a false dichotomy and so not-X can do Y is not the direct negation of X can do Y. In fact, the direct negation is: not-[x can do y]. Now I appreciate these may look similar so to put it simply, what this means is that X and not-X, it is still a false dichotomy when we add the clause “can do y”. Therefore, to ensure we aren’t in danger of being the victim of a false dichotomy then we need to at least, add that neither X and not-X can do Y. This therefore means that the first premise is false because we can consider there being at least three choices – or as we will see later, there are in fact four. But for now, we must consider the fact that three options may well be that:
A) a world-view containing the Christian God can give a sufficient account of the so-called laws of logic
B) a world-view not containing the Christian God can give a sufficient account of the so-called laws of logic
C) It is not possible to give a sufficient account of the so-called laws of logic
The reason for including this third option can perhaps be made clearer when we consider this argument:
P1) Either individual P or Q can high-five a married bachelor
P2) P cannot high-five a married bachelor
C) Therefore Q can.
As you can see, this clearly is not the case because a married bachelor does not exist to be able to high-five, therefore neither P nor Q can high-five a married bachelor. Therefore, is entirely possible that neither are able to perform action Y, which is where we have Slicks false dichotomy. Furthermore, one could also put forward the case that it is equally possible for both a world-view containing the Christian God and one not containing the Christian God can give a sufficient account of the so-called laws of logic.
So we can think of there being four options, these are:
– Either P alone can do Y
– Q alone can do Y
– P and Q can do Y
– Neither P or Q can do Y
It seems as though Slick thinks that because X and not~X are jointly exhaustive, this means that either God or not-God can account for the so called logical absolutes. Or equally, a worldview containing or not containing the Christian God can give an account for logic. However, I have yet to hear him give any argument why this is the case, or any reason to think that it could not be the case that both can give an account or in fact that logic cannot be accounted for. While it is true that Slick has attempted to argue that a world-view that does not include the Christian God cannot give an account of logic, this commits a number of fallacies in order to come to this conclusion.
But before we skip ahead to that, what this therefore means, is that, because this is a false dichotomy, Slick’s argument commits one or both of these fallacies. Either, presenting an either/or possibility, that if one of the options is true that the other one must be false (Affirming a Disjunct). Or claiming that least one of the two conjuncts (antecedent and consequent) is false and concluding that the other must be true (Denying a Conjunct). So hopefully to make this as clear as possible, lets use an analogy, imagine I presented this argument:
P1) Either the current president of England has hair, or the current president of England has no hair
P2) It is not the case that the current president of England has no hair
C) Therefore the current president of England has hair
Because the way premise one in Slick’s argument is presented, as with the example here: in that it has the appeal of being what Slick calls a true dichotomy – one may be tricked into thinking that we cannot deny the first premise under pain of contradiction. After all, you can’t deny a tautology! So if we are presented with what looks like a tautology then it is very difficult to see the fallacy being employed. Because it almost feels as though it must be true because rejecting would seem to seem to violate the law of excluded middle. However, as we can see with my president of England example, even though it has the appeal of being what Slick calls a “true dichotomy” we are still more than entitled to reject the premise as being a false dichotomy. Even though having hair and being bald are jointly exhaustive, it is still a false dichotomy because both are false, as there is no current president of England. And this is exactly the same problem with Slick’s formulation of the argument!
So just as in this example, Slick’s argument is a false dichotomy because he is presenting two options as if they are the only options available when if fact there may be three or even four options. What all this means is, Matt tries so hard to claim these are mutually exclusive, so much so, that people often fall into the trap without realising that one can deny the premise of an argument which is simply not true, even if it looks like it is a tautology. So just as one can deny the first premise of this argument: as there is no president of England, we can also simply not accept that it is the case that either God accounts for the transcendental laws of logic or not-God accounts for the transcendental laws of logic. So to put it simply, the first premise of the argument, despite Slick’s efforts may well be a false dichotomy and therefore as the first premise is false, therefore the argument cannot be considered sound. Now I hope that I have made it clear that Slick’s first premise of his argument commits the fallacy of being a false dichotomy.
But what does this mean?
Well, the significance of this cannot be understated, because, as noted by Scott Clifton, once one rightfully rejects the premise in which Matt’s false dichotomy appears, the burden of proof shifts back where it belongs, onto the proponent of the argument to provide an argument that it is the case that it is only the case that either a worldview containing the Christian God, or a worldview not containing the Christian God can account for logic. Therefore, if one encounters Slick’s argument, one can easily respond by saying that even if we assume that I have no idea how to account for the laws of logic, why should I now accept that my inability to do this lends support to the claim that only a worldview containing the Christian God can account for logic, or ultimately, the claim that God exists? And because the first premise is a false dichotomy, Slick cannot respond by claiming it is the only other option.
This bears repeating because this is perhaps the biggest objection that can be raised against Slick’s argument. Even if you say – I have no idea how to account for the laws of logic – why should I accept that this lends any support to the view that God exists? Slick cannot reply by saying, you have to because that is the only other option. You would then be able to say, well no, these are not the only two options because it could well be the case that no-one is able to offer an account of logic or even that both worldviews can. Because as we have seen, the only options are not merely a Christian worldview and a non Christian worldview can account for logic, because these are not the only two options but in fact there are four. And equally, there is no such thing as the non-Christian worldview and so the apologist cannot simply claim victory by default even if the non-theist cannot account for the laws of logic – which is something we will explore in the fourth video in this series.
Perhaps the obvious conclusion of this, is that, if one does not feel confident that they cannot account for logic, this inability to perform such an action cannot be taken as a victory for the apologist because of the shifting of the burden of proof. What this means, is that the apologist is attempting to prove the argument by claiming that no-one else can offer an account for logic and thus, because if no-one else can someone has to be able to and so they must be able to. The implication of this, is that if the first premise of this argument does commit the fallacy of being a false dichotomy, then one cannot prove the case that the Christian worldview is the case by eliminating the other option, because there is not only one other option. In fact, it gets even worse than this for Slick’s argument.
While I will be returning to this issue later in this series, the ultimate problem is, even if we grant that the Christian worldview can account for logic, which is something I will critically examine later on in this series. Even assuming that it can, it does not follow that the Christian God is the necessary precondition of human intelligibility, as is often claimed. At best, and I really do mean at best, the proponent of the TAG could only argue that the Christian worldview is sufficient in accounting for logic, not that it is necessary. What’s more, any attempt to argue that Christianity alone can account for logic and that this is necessary for intelligibility by pointing at the failure to account for logic by the non-Christian worldview – which itself is nonsensical to claim that there is just one non-Christian worldview – amounts to the committing another fallacy, namely the inductive fallacy. But this is something I will explore in more detail later. So there we have it, perhaps the main objection that can be raised against Slick’s argument is that, as Scott Clifton nicely puts it:
“the atheist may sit back with her arms folded and say, “Why should I think that if I can’t account for the laws of logic, God must exist?” Matt’s usual reply, “Because it’s the only other option,” is no longer available to him here. Rather, Matt now takes on the colossal task of demonstrating everything his argument was designed relieve him of having to demonstrate: Namely, that Slick has to prove that the Christian God is the necessary precondition for logic, not just a sufficient precondition for it. And Slick cannot rely on falling back on the claim that “well if you cannot account for logic, then the Christian worldview must be able to” because as we have seen, this is utterly fallacious.
Now you might be thinking – hang on, doesn’t that mean all Slick needs to do is re-phrase the argument to make the first premise jointly exhaustive? That is, if the first premise is what Slick calls a “true dichotomy” – does this not mean that Slick’s argument is then successful? Well, as we will see, in the next video in this series, I will be critically examining what happens if one attempts to repair the first premise to make it jointly exhaustive and – spoiler alert – we will see why this is merely jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. So below, I will explore how doing this, ends up with there being another fallacy being employed, specifically begging the question.

Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God: Objection 3 (Begging the Question)

Congratulations on making it to the third objection to in my series, all about refuting Matt Slick’ formulation of the Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God. As we have already explored Matt Slick’s formulation of the argument is as follows:
Slick claims that if we have only two possible options, and one of these is negated by default the other option is validated, a principle known as a disjunctive syllogism. With this in mind, Slick tries to make an argument in favour of the existence of God by claiming that either God can account for the laws of logic, or it’s negation not-God can.  He concludes that the not-God position cannot account for the laws of logic therefore God can. Flawless logic right?
Well not quite, despite his assertion that he can prove God exists using this syllogism, that isn’t quite what is going on here. As we explored earlier (objection 1) given that the first premise is not actually even coherent, it is certainly not true (in fact it is not even false) and thus, the argument has been defeated by itself before we even examine premise two. This is because the first premise is not true and thus the argument is not sound. The reason being, the first premise could not be assigned a truth value because it is effectively just gibberish, attempting to imitate the form of a disjunctive syllogism
Beyond this, there is a way to re-formulate the argument so the first premise is at least coherent enough to be assigned a truth value. However, the truth value that was assigned to the premise was that it was simply false. This is because (despite it’s appearance) this reformulated first premise commits the fallacy of being a false dichotomy. That is, Slick has yet to give an argument as to why it is true that either God alone or not-God (whatever that might refer to) alone can give an account for the laws of logic. Thus, Matt needs to give some justification that the first premise is in fact true, that these are in fact the only two options, instead of the four options that I highlighted above. Thus, with this formulation of the argument he is in danger of committing the fallacy of this being a false dichotomy. What all of this means, is that whichever formulation that Slick attempts to present, the first premise of each are not true and thus the argument is not sound. Case closed… right?
Well not quite, because again we can attempt to reformulate the argument so that it has a chance of getting beyond premise one before failing. So now, I will be going through another potential reformulation that Slick could use.
Now, we might have to use a bit of imagination here, but let’s just imagine for a moment Slick has seen the error of his ways and sees that these are in not fact jointly exhaustive and are in fact an example of a false dichotomy. That is, the first premise does not cover all of the possibilities but instead only highlights two of a potential four and claims that these are the only two options. But as I asked earlier, assuming that this is a false dichotomy, doesn’t that mean all Slick needs to do is re-phrase the argument to make the first premise jointly exhaustive? That is, if the first premise is reformulated into what Slick calls a “true dichotomy,” does this not mean that Slick’s argument is then successful? Well now, we can go through exactly what happens if that is the case.
So let’s imagine that Slick sees the error of his ways and acknowledges the first premise is a false dichotomy and so he decides to fix the first premise so it is jointly exhaustive and is no longer a false dichotomy. This leaves the question, does that help case at all?
The simple answer is no and is in fact the case of jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. This is because, instead of committing one fallacy he commits another. So why is that the case?
Well, as we explored above, we need a way to formulate the first premise so it is acceptable because so far, there have been problems with both of the first premises we have already noted. Now there are two ways that we can re-formulate the argument which is able to make the first premise acceptable.
The first way is to merely put it in terms of a valid disjunctive syllogism in which:
P1) Either a worldview containing the God can account for the laws of logic or atheism can
P2) Atheism cannot account for the laws of logic
C) Therefore a worldview containing the Godcan account for the laws of logic
But this has its own problems regarding the fallacy of the allegation of the neglected onus, equivocation, hasty generalisation and being another false dichotomy (see below). All that I will be say for now, is it’s probably best to avoid that. Or the second way we could get around the problem by making the first premise into what Slick calls a “true dichotomy”. For example, we can say that either a worldview containing for the Christian God can account for logic, or it is not the case that a worldview containing for the Christian God can account for logic. Which makes a hell of a lot more sense than Slick’s original God or not-God can account for logic and at least that can be assigned a truth value… kind of. Not only does this make more sense, this would be jointly exhaustive and would not be an example of a false dichotomy.
So Matt’s argument could be as follows:
P1) Either a worldview containing the God can account for the laws of logic or it is not the case that a worldview containing the Christian God, can account for logic
P2) It is not the case that a worldview containing cannot account for the laws of logic
C) Therefore a worldview containing the God can account for the laws of logic
So how does this look? Well again, I would suggest that this is not a wise move for Matt. The reason being, the foundational problem with the argument is that you are endanger of another fallacy, this time it is pretty much a textbook example of begging the question. But you might be thinking, why is that the case?
Well to explain what begging the question is, we first need to consider the difference between the correct formulation of a disjunctive syllogism and what happens when the first premise is jointly exhaustive. To illustrate this, let’s use another example: imagine you’re driving in your car and you’re coming up to a T-junction. Obviously we have the option of going either left or right but are these the only options? Of course, there are any number of things that could happen, you could just drive straight forward into the oncoming building, you could be abducted by aliens before you turn either left or right, you could hit 88 miles per hour and suddenly be transported back in time. Actually, when you think about it, the list of things that could happen is seemingly never ending.
In other words, if you were to present an argument that suggested there are only two options, that you will either turn left or right at the T-junction ahead, it is remarkably easy to point out that this is not necessarily the case that you will turn left or right. That is, someone could turn around and say that this argument commits the fallacy we saw in the second video in this series, that it is a false dichotomy. As we went through above, one can easily reject this premise  as being false and thus, the argument is not sound – because it is not necessarily true that you will either turn left or right ahead. But you might be thinking, what is the significance of this as it relates to Slick’s argument?
Well, of course, I can’t be sure about this, but my guess would be, when formulating the TAG, Slick may have been thinking that there is a potential problem that he wants to avoid. That is, in formulating the argument, he might have wanted to think of a premise that cannot possibly be false, and the easy way of doing this, is having the first premise as a tautology… After all, you can’t deny a tautology! Therefore, he was attempting to avoid the charge that the first premise is a false dichotomy by making premise one jointly exhaustive – that is, covering all of the possible options and so it is not possible for both alternatives to be false. That is, Slick did not want anyone to turn around to say that his first premise was a false dichotomy and so wanted to have it as exhaustive as possible – hence why is always banging about “the thing and the negation of the thing”
As we saw above (and will also see below) he was not actually successful at doing this, because the first premise does in fact commit the fallacy of being a false dichotomy. But imagine he changes the first premise so this is no longer the case and it is no longer a false dichotomy. But before we get into that, you can certainly understand Slick wanting to avoid this charge because any argument that commits the fallacy of being a false dichotomy the argument is unsound because the first premise is false. Therefore, to use the argument from before, assuming that we wanted to reformulate this argument so it no longer commits this fallacy you could simply change the first premise to say that:
P1) You will either turn right at the upcoming junction, or it is not the case that you will turn right.
This is profoundly different from the original first premise because, when it is worded like this, this would include all the other possibles options, not just turning left. Because, as I mentioned before, the amount of things that could potentially happen is not just turning left or right and so this now covers all of the possible options and thus means the first premise is jointly exhaustive. Now if we complete the argument, premise two would be:
P2) It is not the case that, [it is not the case that you will turn right]
C) Therefore you will turn right
With this formulation we resolve both of the problems highlighted above (kind of). The first premise is coherent and thus can be assigned a truth value. Not only that, the truth value that is assigned to this first premise is a huge tick because it is a tautology and thus is true, so it is not a false dichotomy. So assuming that we presented this argument, what is the issue? Well, the problem with this is, when you put it with this formulation then you might start to see the problem.
P1) P or ¬P
P2) ¬¬P
C) P
Because notice premise two, this is what is known as the rule of double negation. This just means that a proposition is equivalent to its double negation and takes the form of “P is equivalent to not not P”. This basically means that premise two is logically identical to simply saying P, because all it is saying is that it is not the case of not-P which just results in saying saying P. In other words it’s like saying: my name is Dave therefore it is not the case my name is not Dave – both amount to saying the same thing, that my name is Dave. One is just a more convoluted way of saying it but amounts to the same thing. Therefore, the important thing with this is that, all the argument is really saying is:
P1) It is either the case you will turn right, or it is not the case you will turn right
P2) You will turn right
Or the logically equivalent
P2) It is not the case that you won’t turn right
C) Therefore you will turn right
Or going back to Slick’s argument:
P1) Either a worldview contaning the Christian God can account for the laws of logic or it is not the case that a worldview contaning the Christian Godcan account for the laws of logic
P2) It is not the case that a worldview contaning the Christian God can account for the laws of logic
Or the logically identical:
P2) A worldview containing the Christian God can account for the laws of logic
C) Therefore a worldview containing the Christian God can account for the laws of logic
When you put it like this then you can see that not premise one is basically redundant as this is just the law of excluded middle
This means we are left with:
P1) A worldview containing the Christian God can account for the laws of logic
C) Therefore a worldview contacting the Christian God can account for the laws of logic
As Alex has said: Slick has presented an argument which commits the fallacy of false dichotomy, and if repaired so as to avoid that ends up committing the fallacy of begging the question instead. Thus, the argument is either unsound or trivial. So what this means in simple terms, is that we have an argument in which it attempts to argue that if we have two options, if one of the options is negated, the other is validated. However, when you begin with a premise like this (which is a tautology) then the second premise where you negate one of the options, this means you will necessarily end up with your second premise being your conclusion. And in the case that the conclusion can be derived from one of your premises, that is a textbook example of begging the question. Therefore, this argument is argument does not actually prove anything – all it is doing is making the assertion that a worldview containing the Christian God can account for the laws of logic. Which not only does not prove that a worldview containing the Christian God can account for the laws of logic, but equally does not validate the claim that God exists
What all of this means, is that, even if Slick attempted to use this formulation of the argument, at best this can show that a worldview containing the Christian God can account for the laws of logic. But this does not show that a worldview not containing the Christian God can account for the laws of logic as well or, as Slick would need to demonstrate that the Christian God is necessary to account for logic. So contrary to what he claims, this does not prove God exists.
Now if Slick did not care about developing an argument that proves God exists that begs the question, then it can be as simple as:
P1) Either God exists or it is not the case that God exists (law of excluded middle)
P2) It is not the case that, it is not the case that God exists (double negation)
C) Therefore God exists
Which again can be simplified to
P1) God exists
C) Therefore God exists
Now before we go any further, it must be noted that there is nothing wrong with offering an argument in favour of not-not P. If Slick wanted to use a version of this argument – I’m not sure why he would – but let’s imagine he did, developing an argument for not-not P is still just an argument for P – that is, that is, it is just an argument that P is the case. So if Slick wants to cite an argument to show that it is not the case that God does not exist then I’d encourage that.
However, the purpose of this objection, is to highlight that trying to do this, as a disjunctive syllogism simply does not work because no-one attempting to argue for anything cannot do this by having a jointly exhaustive first premise because it will inevitably result in begging the question. What this therefore means is that it is not just Slick’s argument that may commit this fallacy but any argument that takes on the form of:
P1) P or not P
P2) Not-not P
C) Therefore P
But there there we have it, when you strip it all away, that is ultimately what Matt Slick’s argument can be boiled down to. In case this isn’t clear enough, the argument is essentially this:
P1) Either whatever is the case, is the case or it is not the case that whatever is the case, is the case
P2) Whatever is the case, is in fact the case
C) Therefore whatever is the case, is the case
When you strip all this away, you soon realise that all the argument is really saying is that whatever is the case, is the case. Which one might imagine didn’t need to be spelled out in such a convoluted way!
Now if Slick made an argument to argue that it is the case that God and God alone can account for the laws of logic – then that would be a good argument to present. However the way he presents it at the moment is simply an example of the worst line of reasoning you can imagine when it comes to a logical argument for the existence of God because it does not do what Slick claims it does, namely prove the existence of God. In fact, the argument can only possibly prove that:
If it is the case that X is true, then X is true
It is the case that X is true
Therefore X is true
But as bad as this is, I’m almost embarrassed to say this, but Slick is not the only person to use this line of reasoning. In fact, there is an entire branch of apologetic arguments known as Ontological Arguments which have arguments which ultimately end up looking like this:
P1) There either exists a being which cannot, not exist [God] or there does not exist a being which cannot, not exist [or God does not exist]
P2) A being which cannot, not exist cannot not, not exist [God’s non-existence is literally impossible: double negation]
C) Therefore God exists
Now while I will be doing a whole series about ontological arguments and their problems, but just to stress this again, when it comes to Slick’s argument, when you have a jointly exhaustive first premise in a disjunctive syllogism then you will inevitably commit the fallacy of begging the question.

Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God: Objection 4 (False Dichotomy Part 2)

As we have seen so far, there are a number of problems with Slick’s presentation of the TAG. So much so, we’ve not even looked at the second premise yet! And there are still more issues with Slick’s first premise. So assuming that Slick does not want an argument that is unsound or begs the question, he needs to reformulate the argument.

Another way to re-formulate the argument would be to say:

P1) Either a worldview containing the Christian God can account for the laws of logic or a worldview not containing the Christian God can

P2) A worldview not containing the Christian God cannot account for the laws of logic

C) Therefore a worldview containing the Christian God can account for the laws of logic

However, as noted above, I would not recommend this because this has a number of problems. So the fallacy that I will go through now, is that this formulation of the argument commits same fallacy we highlighted above, is that this would be another false dichotomy (for a different reason). However, before we explore the specific problem with this formulation you might be thinking… Hang on a minute Dave, where are you getting the idea that Slick’s argument should be interpreted as this, given that Slick does not say this is his formulation anywhere?

Well, as noted above, when we look at Slick’s argument, if we take it literally, his first premise, isn’t really a premise at all, but a meaningless string of words and so is neither true nor false. This is because the phrase “not-God” can account for logic is literally meaningless. Because of this, his argument is not actually a disjunctive syllogism as he claims it is. Therefore, we inevitably have to translate this first premise so it can make some semblance of sense. However, as we have seen, every attempt so far to do this has not exactly ended well for Slick.

Anyway, going back to the argument, given that when Slick refers to the argument, he seems to equate not-God with either a world-view containing the Christian God, or more commonly, simply just “atheism.” Now, whether he refers to not-God as either atheism or a world-view not containing the Christian God there are a number of fallacies associated with either interpretation (below I will go through the interpretation that refers to “atheism”). But now, I will go through the issue of taking this interpretation of not-God, is that it refers to a world-view not containing the Christian God. So, if this is what Slick is referring to, then his first premise commits the same fallacy we explored in the second video, namely, that this is a false dichotomy.

The reasoning behind this is perhaps fairly obvious – and that is, there are not merely two world-views of a world-view containing the Christian God and a worldview not containing the Christian God. Therefore, Slick’s argument hangs upon the notion that there are merely two world-views, however, such a notion is absurd. It is like saying, there are only two countries, the American country and the non-American country. (Now, talking to some Americans, I do sometimes feel as though they genuinely feel as though America is the only country – however, I can in fact confirm, there are in fact more countries than America). However, this formulation of Slick’s argument rests upon the notion that there are only two worldviews – namely one containing the Christian God and one not containing the Christian God. But just as England, Iceland and Iran are not the same country because they are all not-America, we can equally say the Islamic, Hindu and atheistic worldview (assuming that there is just one of each worldview) are clearly not the same, just because they are all non-Christian? Obviously, these are clearly not the same worldview.

If we take world-view to mean “a set of propositions believed to be true by an agent” – the first thing to note, there are a number of different denominations of Christianity which do not all agree about the nature of God or hold to the same foundation regarding ontology. For instance, many Christians accept mind-body dualism, others have argued from a position sometimes referred to as “practical realism” which is antagonistic to dualism. So while they may all include in their worldview as one of the propositions that they believe in the Christian God, they may hold to radically different views about ontology and epistemology and ultimately, the nature of God. Therefore, if they hold to a different view about ontology, then they comprise of a different worldview, even within the set of “Christians” even Christians do not all share the same world view

Beyond this, there are many distinct non-Christian positions, including every denomination of every other religious worldview, plus every variation of a worldview that does not contain any Gods, which are simply all lumped together into the category of, a non-Christian worldview. So to imply that there are only two world-views ignores the fact that there are any number of combinations of philosophical positions that form distinct worldviews that both do and do not contain the Christian God. Even setting aside from the fact that there are a number of examples of non-Christian versions of theism, just taking into account those who are non-theists. So if we just look at atheists, they can be a materialist or an idealist, a nominalist or a Platonist, a monist or a dualist, a determinist or an libertarian, an intuitionist or a formalist and so on. Therefore, within the category of those who are within the category of non-Christians, there are not only theists who do not hold to Christianity, who are tarred with the same brush of having the same world-view and equally, those who identify in some way as a non-theist are merely just lumped together, as if they all hold the same worldview.

To put it simply, this argument commits a false dichotomy to claim that there are only two world-views. Therefore, the first premise is false and so the argument cannot be considered sound because, as we saw in the first video, it is perfectly possible to simply deny the first premise. Now all is not lost for Slick’s argument, it must be noted that it is certainly true that if the form of the argument is that:

P1) Either A or B is true

And if we negate B, then A does indeed follow. However, the problem with Slick’s argument, is that it is is unsound because the first premise is not true. The reason being that there are more possibilities than just A and B. With this in mind, a correct first premise would be that:

P1) Either A or B or C or D etc.

However, the negation of B merely entails that C, D E and so on would also need to be negated to finally conclude with A is the case. So the argument as it stands cannot be considered sound, because the first premise is false.

The significance of this cannot be understated, because once one rightfully rejects the premise in which Matt’s false dichotomy appears, the burden of proof shifts back where it belongs, onto the proponent of the argument to provide an argument that either a worldview containing the Christian God alone, or a worldview not containing the Christian God alone can account for logic. However, the importance of this will be explained in more detail later. Therefore, if one encounters Slick’s argument, one can easily respond by saying that, let’s say for the sake of argument, I have no idea how to account for the laws of logic, why should I now accept that my inability to do this lends support to the claim that the Christian God can account for logic, or ultimately, as I will be exploring later on in this series, the claim that God exists?

And because the first premise is a false dichotomy, one cannot respond by claiming “because it is the only other option.” Because as we have seen, the only options are not merely a Christian worldview and an atheist worldview because these are not the only two options. And equally, there is no such thing as the non-Christian worldview and so the apologist cannot simply claim victory by default.

So the perhaps obvious conclusion of this, is that, if one does not feel confident that they cannot account for logic, this inability to perform such an action cannot be taken as a victory for the apologist because of the shifting of the burden of proof. What this means, is that the apologist is attempting to prove the argument by claiming that no-one else can offer an account for logic and thus, because if no-one else can someone has to be able to and so they must be able to.

To use an analogy, it would be like someone watching 10 people attempt to fly and then one person claiming, well one of us must be able to so I clearly must be able to. Obviously, this is patently absurd, one must demonstrate their own ability to fly, not merely relying on the fact that no-one else can. In other words, the proponent of the TAG is setting out their premises for the argument and they have to justify them themselves and this should be able to be completed without requiring anyone else. So if the apologist does not take up the burden of proof, but if merely proclaims victory because no-one else can account for logic, this commits another the fallacy known as denying a conjunct, a formal fallacy in which the first premise states that one of the two conjuncts is false and therefore concludes that the other conjunct must be true. And so, must show, first and foremost that that either a worldview containing the Christian God alone, or a worldview not containing the Christian God alone can account for logic – something that has not been achieved and then secondly, that a worldview not containing the Christian God cannot account for logic.

Then beyond this, to ensure one does not commit a further logical fallacy, one would then have to provide an argument that a worldview containing the Christian God can account for logic. Then, finally, to be a successful apologetic argument, that the worldview containing the Christian God has the concept of God exemplified in the world. In other words, this argument would only be considered successful at proving God’s existence if one can demonstrate more than just that a worldview that contains God can account for logic. Because even if Slick could demonstrate that a worldview that contains God can account for logic, it does not follow that God therefore exists.

Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God: Objection 5 (Fallacy of the Allegation of the Neglected Onus)

As we’ve seen so far, we can’t even seem to be able to generate a first premise that does not seem to be immediately false or merely trivial. Both of which aren’t great for developing a sound argument or convincing argument and neither proves that God exists. But the primary issue with Slick’s argument, is that the first premise isn’t even strictly speaking a proposition that can be assigned a truth value and thus is not even false. Not only is it not a proposition, there are also words in the argument which Slick seems to have just made up – like “the no-god position” or “not-God.” Therefore, trying to make sense of his argument requires us to ask ourselves… Okay, Slick is talking about something he calls the “no-god position”… what on earth does that mean?
The trouble is, when Slick talks about “either God or not-God can account for logic” or the “no-god position” this can easily be interpreted in one of two ways. The above showed that we could interpret this as:
P1) Either a worldview containing the Christian God can account for the laws of logic or a worldview not containing can
Which has the problem of being a false dichotomy. However, there is another potential way of interpreting the phrase “not-god.” So another potential formulation of the argument is to look at the first premise not as a worldview not containing the Christian god, but as simply “atheism.” Thus, the first premise would be that:
P1) Either a worldview containing the Christian God can account for the laws of logic or atheism can
Again, you might question why this interpretation is what Slick was alluding to, given that he does not specifically mention this in his argument. However, when you hear Slick defending his argument, he often refers to the “failure of atheism to account for rationality” and claims “atheism is intellectually bankrupt and is wrought with philosophical problems.” Therefore, this analysis might be the closest rendering of the term “not god” in his argument
The issue for Slick however, is this is perhaps the weakest version of the argument because there a profound problem with this formulation. But to begin, we need to make sure that we know exactly what Slick is trying to argue. So Slick claims: atheism is defined as “not believing in a god or actively believing there is no God or choosing to not exercise any belief or non-belief concerning God.”
Now when we substitute this into Slick’s argument, what he is effectively saying, is that one who does not believe in God, one who believes there is no God or one choosing to not exercise any belief or non-belief concerning God cannot account for logic from within their own worldview. Or as he puts it: “Atheism has no way of accounting for these universal truth statements [the laws of logic].”
Now as we explored last time, there is no one single non-theistic worldview, given that atheists can and indeed do hold different worldviews. Although all non-theists all share one component of their worldview, that they do not believe in God – they can believe in pretty much anything else which would then make up their worldview.
For instance, as noted above, atheists can hold to materialism or idealism, they could hold to monism or dualism, determinism, free will or compatibilism, they could be a rationalist or an empiricist, and then when it gets into the issue of logic itself, they might hold to different systems of logic, including classical or fuzzy logic. So obviously, in claiming that atheists cannot account for logic from within their own worldview, this is very close to claiming that atheists all hold the same worldview, which of course they don’t.
Now I’ll explore this in more detail later on, but for now, the issue is, when taking this interpretation of Slick’s argument, in claiming that atheism is not viable because it cannot account for logic, this commits a fallacy known as the allegation of the neglected onus.
While this may sound like a complicated fallacy, all this is really saying, is that the problem with this argument is that it attempts to discredit a position by accusing it of not sufficiently dealing with an obligation or resolving a problem that does not have anything to do with that position. In other words, we can consider this to be a form of strawman fallacy because it claims that a position is not viable because it cannot account for something or solve a problem that the position never intends to solve. What this means, is that the inability to do so, does not constitute to a legitimate failure of that position because it was never trying to solve that problem to begin with. Therefore, trying to claim that atheism is not viable because it cannot account for logic, commits this fallacy. Now, that is the reasoning behind the fallacy, but let’s see it in action
Although you might be thinking to yourself that this fallacy is something you’ve never heard before, but you might actually be aware of it and just not know the name for it. Perhaps the easiest example to highlight this is an incredibly common claim made by creationists, which would be something along the lines of “evolution can not explain the how the DNA code was first formed – therefore evolution is not a viable scientific theory.” While this is indeed incredibly common, this is a textbook example of the fallacy of the allegation of the neglected onus. The reason being, evolution does not attempt to explain how DNA first formed, therefore to claim that evolution is not a viable scientific theory because it doesn’t explain the origin of DNA or life, is a manifestation of this fallacy. This is because, however the first DNA came to be is irrelevant to the functioning of evolution. Therefore, evolution’s inability to explain this does not constitute a failing on the part of evolutionary theory.
What this means, is that if someone attempted to argue that because evolution cannot explain the origin of DNA, this falsifies or in some ways detracts from evolution as a scientific theory, this would be an example of the fallacy of the allegation of the neglected onus. Obviously, there are any number of scientific theories which do not attempt to explain the origin of DNA (evolution being just one of them). However, it would be absurd to claim that because the theory of plate tectonics or the germ theory of disease cannot explain the origin of DNA, they therefore are not viable theories. Of course, the theory of plate tectonics or the germ theory of disease cannot explain the origin of DNA. But not being able to do so, does not detract away from what they can do as scientific theories. And although it may not be as clear to the lay person, to claim that evolution must account for the origin of DNA is equally absurd. (I mean, even Darwin’s title of his work itself should give you a clue, that he was attempting to explain the origin of species and not of DNA or life itself). So while that’s all well and good, you might be thinking – Dave, what has this got to do with atheism and the laws of logic?
Well the same reasoning applies here. To try and claim that atheism is not a viable or as Slick claims: “deficient as a worldview” because it cannot account for logic, is just an example of the same fallacy. In saying that atheism cannot account for the laws of logic, Slick an attempt to discredit it by claiming that atheism cannot solve a problem that it doesn’t even attempt to address.
Atheism does not attempt to provide an account of the ontology of logic, nor we can also add, a foundation of morality or an explanation regarding the origin of the universe – among any number of other things. Atheism is merely one part of an overall worldview, which is specifically based on beliefs about God. As I mentioned before: a worldview is “a set of propositions believed to be true by an agent” and so atheism, however one wishes to define it, is merely one specific proposition believed to be true about the existence of God. However, it is the other components of the atheists worldview give can account for logic, or morality or whatever.
As I have already gone through, all atheists merely agree on one thing, that they are not theists – and in fact, atheists don’t necessarily agree on what atheism should be defined as. But everything else for the atheist is up for grabs and so Slick is trying to lump all non-theists together, as if they all hold the same worldview which is obviously not the case. Not only do they all apparently share the same worldview according to Slick’s reasoning here, but the specific position of atheism within their worldview cannot account for logic. However, both of these are problematic because, not only as I mentioned last time – do all non-theists not share the same worldview but beyond this, given the fact this is the fallacy of the allegation of the neglected onus, to claim that atheism cannot account for logic is trying to discredit atheism, when it doesn’t even attempt to account for logic. So to use this line of reasoning is either dishonest or ignorant (although knowing Slick, I’m not ruling out both of the above).
What all of this means, if Slick wished to present this argument – then the problem that could immediately be raised is to say that atheism does not attempt to provide an explanation for the ontology of logic therefore, not being able to provide it does not constitute a failure on the part of atheism. In fact, the main problem with this argument, is this inability to provide an account of logic provide does not provide justification that a world-view containing God can (which is something we will explore in more detail later).
So to put it simply, if one did attempt to argue that “atheism” does not account for anything, whether that be logic, morality or anything else, then this is an example of either the fallacy of the allegation of the neglected onus.
Now as I mentioned earlier, this is the last objection raised against premise one – at least for now. So if we ignore the issues with these formulations of premise one of Slick’s argument, let’s assume Slick’s first premise doesn’t suck the big one and let’s finally move on to the problems associated with premise two. What this means, is that we now need to consider the justification for premise two of the argument, that a world-view that does not contain the Christian God cannot give an account of logic. Because this is where the rubber hits the road when it comes to problems with Slick’s argument.

Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God: Objection 6 (Inductive Fallacy)

The above objections have shown that there are a number of problems with Matt Slick’s TAG and thus far, these have largely centred on coming up with a coherent first premise that does not commit one or more fallacies. So while I have gone through a number of attempts to create a coherent first premise, as I mentioned before, we now need to consider the justification for premise two of the argument and the claim that a world-view that does not contain the Christian God cannot give an account of logic. So ignoring the objection that there is a false dichotomy being employed with Slick’s first premise, we will simply skip to premise two to see if Slick’s defence of this is sufficient. Therefore, we now need to consider the justification for premise two of the argument and the claim that a world-view that does not contain the Christian God cannot give an account of logic.

However, before we get into this second premise, we need to quickly remind ourselves of Slick’s objective for his argument. Now, although it may not seem like it, this is actually very different to most apologetic arguments. That is because Slick is not trying to prove that Christianity is merely just true or more reasonable than any alternative explanations – but that Christianity is necessarily true. Specifically, that Christianity is the the Christian worldview is the necessary precondition of intelligibility. So, what exactly does this mean?

Well to understand this, we first need to understand the difference between necessary and sufficient conditions and what impact this has on the argument. In simple terms, to say that the Christian worldview is the necessary precondition of intelligibility, this means that this is the case, if and only if there are no other accounts of the laws of logic. While it would be merely sufficient if there are other accounts of the laws of logic.

To use an analogy, one could say that it is necessary to have two arms to play the drums, that it is only possible to play the drums if you have two arms, no more, no less. However, if there is a way of playing the drums with more or less than two arms, then this would mean that playing the drums does not necessarily require two arms, but having two arms is merely sufficient. What this would therefore mean, is that having two arms is no longer a ‘necessary precondition’ for playing the drums. And so, if there is indeed more than one way to play the drums, with more or less than two arms, then the claim that it necessarily requires two arms is falsified.

Now we have considered what it means to say that something is merely necessary and sufficient, we can now think about his this relates to Slick’s formulation of the argument.

So Slick is attempting to argue from a presuppositionalist approach, which would be something along these lines:

P1) The Christian presuppositional argument holds to the notion that the Christian worldview is the necessary precondition of intelligibility [definition of Christian presuppositionalism]

P2) The Christian worldview is the necessary precondition of intelligibility iff there are no other accounts of the laws of logic [definition of necessary precondition of intelligibility]

P3) The Christian worldview is sufficient iff there are other accounts of the laws of logic [definition of sufficient precondition of intelligibility]

P4) If the Christian account of logic is merely sufficient, then the notion that the Christian worldview is the necessary precondition of intelligibility is falsified [implication from P1 & P3]

C1) Therefore, for the presuppositional argument to be successful, it must be demonstrated that the Christian worldview is the necessary precondition of intelligibility [From P1, P2 & P3]

Now we have this in mind, we now need to consider what Slick is ultimately attempting to do. This leaves the question, where do we go from here?

Well, if you read or watch Slick’s defence of his argument, you will have no doubt seen that he spends a significant amount of time trying to claim that atheism or the no-God position cannot account for logic. During which time, he often goes through a number of examples of responses that are given by atheists to account for logic, including that: the laws of logic are: the result of natural existence, axioms, conventions, eternal, uncaused, self-authenticating or that they simply exist.

And then he then offers a number of different objections to each of these, to ultimately conclude that “the no-god position, atheism, clearly fails to account for Logical Absolutes from its perspective…Therefore, it is invalidated as a viable option for accounting for the laws of logic.” Consequently, we can complete this argument from before to say that:

P5) If no sufficient account of intelligibility from within an atheistic worldview has been presented, then atheism is falsified

P6) No sufficient account of intelligibility from within an atheistic worldview has been presented

C2) Therefore atheism is falsified

P7) If atheism is falsified, then Christianity is validated

P8) Atheism is falsified

C) Therefore Christianity is validated

However, the problem with this, is that this commits another fallacy.

Now let’s ignore the fact for a moment that if atheism (whatever that might refer to) is unable to account for logic then Christianity, or at least a worldview containing the Christian God, can account for logic. Obviously, if this was Slicks argument, it could be immediately dismissed that if atheism cannot account for logic then it of course does not follow that Christianity can. The reason being, as we have seen in this series before, this is simply not the case because such a claim commits the fallacy of being a false dichotomy (see above).

Beyond this, as we saw earlier, these are not the only two options and thus, even if Slick could demonstrate a worldview not containing the Christian God cannot account for logic, it doesn’t necessarily mean a worldview containing the Christian God can (see objection 2).

But let’s move on from all of that, instead today I’m going to focus on premise 6 of this argument or the defence of premise two of Slick’s argument, because both of these commit the fallacy known as a hasty generalisation, or what we can think of as the inductive fallacy.

But you might be thinking, Dave – what on earth are you on about?

Well, although this may not be immediately obvious from the argument, premise 2 of Slick’s argument, or premise 6 of my argument here, this is actually where the heavy lifting occurs in the argument. This might seem surprising, given that I have spent so much time on premise one, but in fact premise two is where the argument stands and falls. Obviously, you need premise one to be coherent and ultimately true for us to even get on to premise two (hence why I’ve spent so much time trying to come up with a first premise which cannot just be dismissed from the outset). But, and I can’t stress this enough, premise two is where the argument stands and falls.

The implication of this, is that the conclusion of both Slick’s argument and mine here, is that because none of these can account for logic, the other option (Christianity) is validated. Ignoring this false dichotomy, the entire case of both arguments rests upon the notion that no sufficient account of intelligibility from within an atheistic worldview has been presented. However, when he concludes that the atheist position cannot account for the existence of logical absolutes, this commits the inductive fallacy.

Now, even if we grant Slick is correct in his assessment of the ability of atheists to account for logic from within their world-view, even simply assuming that Slick is correct and that none of these can give a sufficient account of the laws of logic (even granting this debatable point) this does not necessarily mean that a world-view not containing the Christian cannot account for the existence of logical absolutes, only that such accounts so far have failed.

What this ultimately means, is that, even if we grant that Slick is completely right about not only the nature of logic and that none of these can give a sufficient account of the laws of logic, the problem with Slick’s argument, is that he is trying to claim that because there have been no sufficient explanations to account for logic which can been proposed, therefore no account can possibly exist. What this obviously means, is that the argument goes far beyond the claim that no account has been presented, but instead claims that no such account exists. The problem for Slick, is that, even assuming the Christian worldview can account for logic (something I’ll explore later on)  therefore one is to conclude that the Christian worldview is able to offer a sufficient account for the precondition for intelligibility. And then, not only this, but this Christian account is the necessary precondition of intelligibility.

Now I will explain this in more detail later, but for Slick’s argument to be successful he needs there to be no other possible account of logicWhat this means, is that if there were even one possible non-Christian worldview that could account for logic, then the Christian view would lose its status as a necessary condition on the intelligibility, assuming that the Christian worldview can account for logic to begin with. However, the problem for Slick’s argument here, is that all he is basically doing, is saying that there is not a non-Christian worldview which cannot account for logic, because I have not seen one before. And this problem should be obvious to; just because Slick has not seen a sufficient account for logic, this does not mean that such an account can possibly exist.

To use an analogy, imagine you were to ask 5 people the answer to the question: what is 46 multiplied by 39 and none of them could provide the correct answer – you could not then conclude that that it is impossible for someone to calculate this. Even if we go beyond this and say that no human you have ever met can answer this question – this is not enough to conclude that it is impossible for this to be done. And the same problem applies to Slick’s line of reasoning here (even if we accept that none of the accounts Slick mentions have been refuted and cannot provide an account of the laws of logic) that does not necessarily mean that no possible account exists, only that the accounts that have been offered so far have failed. However, this does not prove that no such account exists, given that Slick and other apologists can only attempt to refute a few attempts of account for logic. Therefore, even if Slick has falsified every account that has seen from a non-Christian attempting to give an account of logic, this is insufficient to prove that there is no other worldview that could.

As I mentioned before, this can be viewed as an inductive fallacy, which manifests as a hasty generalisation. Just as we could say that all observed swans being white does provide some reason to think that they are all white. Or if we arrive at a new place and the first 10 people you are see, this is not sufficient reason to believe the entire town is populated by children. All of these are manifestations of the same fallacy And in the the specific case of Slick’s argument, because Slick’s attempt to refute all of these attempts to account for logic, he is trying to go from the inductive to support of a failure to offer such an account so far – to then go to the case that such an account is impossible.

Now this is the basic theory behind the hasty generalisation, but to explain why this is profoundly problematic for Slick’s argument, we now need to consider the difference between an inductive and a deductive argument and how Slick’s argument must rely on being deductive to be successful.

So, to use another analogy, imagine the world-record holder for arm-wrestling attempted to claim that he was unbeatable after defeating all challengers at arm wrestling. One simply cannot claim that the unbroken record of success so far can be interpreted as being unbeatable, as no inductive argument could reach such a strong conclusionThe conclusion that one is unbeatable requires the strength of a deductive argument, rather than the inductive support of being unbeaten so far.Therefore, an inductive argument is merely one which reaches a probable conclusion, such that, if the premises were to be true, then it would be unlikely that the conclusion is false.

Conversely, a deductive argument, if the argument is in valid form, this guarantees of the truth of the conclusion provided that the argument’s premises are true. The consequence of this, is that Slick’s argument must be the strength of a deductive argument, because one cannot conclude that something is necessarily the case, merely on the basis of an inductive argument. Therefore, just as in Slick’s argument, going through and refuting a number of claimed accounts of logic from a non-Christian world-view does not prove that no such account exists, only that no account that has so far been provided has been successful. And so, even if the proponent of the TAG can refute a number of possible accounts for logic, then this both does not prove that such an account exists, or equally importantly, do not establish that Christianity is the necessary precondition of human intelligibility, as is often claimed. That is, even granting that Slick has been able to demonstrate the absurdity of all worldviews’ attempts to account for logic that he has ever encountered, it does not follow that all possible accounts are likewise absurd.

Now in response to this charge, Slick might be tempted to follow the line of reasoning which Michael Butler employs in which he claims – in a slightly different analogy of Michael Jordan claiming to be the best individual basketball player in the world. We are therefore to imagine a “jealous (and peevish) basketball player who was previously trounced by Jordan resents that he (Jordan) has titled himself “the best player in the world.” His comeback is, “just because you have beat every current player does not mean that there is not another one coming who is better than you.” Jordan’s response can be anticipated; “bring on my next opponent.” The theoretical possibility that there may be another player better than Jordan is not a concern to him. In the world of basketball, it is the one who is actually the best player, and not who is possibly be the best player, that is of importance.In the practice of apologetics, things are similar.What matters are actual worldviews not possible worldviews.”Therefore, Bulter’s claim here, is that it’s not sufficient to merely claim that it is possible that another worldview can account for logic, but one must present an actual worldview to refute the presuppositionalist argument.

Now, as I mentioned before, at the core of the TAG, is that for the argument to be successful, all worldviews that are not the Christian worldview need to be refuted. However, what Butler claims here is that – you can’t just claim that there may be a possible account for logic – you need to have an actual worldviewNow I will explore this in more detail in the next video when I talk about how Slick’s problem is prone to fictionalism, but all that needs to be said for now, is that, quite simply, no you don’t.

To use the analogy I went through before, Butler’s reasoning is to say that it is necessary to have two arms to play the drums. And if you turn around and say that, no, I can conceive of someone being able to play the drums with more or less than two legs, Butler is trying to claim that; well you don’t have one arm to play the drums with, so come back when either you’ve cut off one of your arms and can play drums, or you can show me someone playing the drums with one arm!

However, such a response is undermined by Butler’s own reasoning when he claims:”‘[i]f there are an infinite number of worldviews and TAG only refutes a small slice of them, if one may speak this way, then it has not established that Christianity is the necessary precondition of human intelligibility. That is, even granting that TAG demonstrates the absurdity of all actual worldviews, it does not follow that all possible worldviews are likewise absurd.’Consequently, Butler acknowledges that “winning the debate and proving that Christianity is the necessary precondition of human experience are two different things”. Therefore, Butler is correct here in saying that “TAG does not establish the necessity of Christianity by inductively refuting each and every possible non-Christian worldview (as finite proponents of TAG, this is an impossible task).”

Now, I will return to Butler’s other defences of the argument later, but what Butler is alluding to, in these quotes, is that the best the apologist can do is that the proponent of the TAG is to refute some of the non-Christian worldviews. However, for the presuppositonal argument to be successful, what needs to be done, is to refute all non-Christian worldviewsAnd there are two possible ways of doing this: – kind of…

To explain this in simple terms, if we imagine a set, which we will call W, which contains all the possible worldviews (including the Christian worldview)

W = {WCh, W1, W2, … Wn}.

We can then have another set, which is everything in W that wasn’t the Christian worldview

{W – WCh} = {W1, W2, … Wn}

And so, for the TAG to be successful, one would have to refute all the non-Christian worldviews, that is, worldviews within this set. Or, the second method to prove the TAG merely establish Christianity is necessarily true. Either way, these amount to the same thing. But for now, all that needs to be said, is that Slick or the Christian presuppositionalist has the problem of having to rule out all of the distinct alternative worldviews, and there simply cannot be one method which disproves every non-Christian worldview, because there cannot be one contradiction that they all share.

To (briefly) explain, as already noted, if we just look at atheists, they can be a materialist or an idealist, a nominalist or a Platonist, a monist or a dualist, a determinist or an libertarian, an intuitionist or a formalist and so onSo within this set, we can think of there being a number of worldview that hold to different views about ontology, epistemology, mortality and so on.

So for example, worldview A could be one who is:

Worldview A) A materialist, a monist, a determinist and humanist.

 

While worldview B could be one who is

Worldview B) A Platonist, a dualist, a libertarian and so on.

So as we look within this set, there are a number of propositions that ones may affirm that then combines to form a worldview. Consequently, we have a number of propositions that one may affirm which make up logically distinct and separate world-views which have foundationally different views about ontology, among other things, which therefore means that they do not share an ontological foundation. Furthermore, while non-Christian theists can also hold to any number of other philosophical positions, they share some but not all characteristics with atheists – most notably, they do not share belief in God. While there is overlap between all of these world-views as some non-Christian theists may hold to the same view about certain things but others. And while some atheists hold same view about certain things but others there are different world-views within non-theism too. But the important thing is, there is no overlap that all non-Christian world-views share. Therefore, what this means is that if you attempt to lump all non-Christians into one category, there is not one fatal flaw they all share and so the TAG cannot be considered successful at demonstrating that every non-Christian worldview is internally incoherent. In other words, we have the set of all world-views and then the set of all world-views excluding Christianity.

For Slick’s argument to have any hope of being successful, he would need to demonstrate that set of all possible non-Christian worldviews has a contradiction that they all share. Or, as we will explore later, merely prove that Christianity is necessarily true. However, as we have already noted, there is none that each all share, as each can develop a clearly distinct world-view with a different view about ontology and epistemology. Therefore, there is no single thing that all world-views share and thus, Slick would never be able to refute all possible world-views using this method. At best, all he can do is refute not only every world-view that has ever been presented to him, but this does not lend support to the claim that this means that every possible non-Christian world-view is necessarily false.

In other words, for this argument to be successful, one would be facing the issue of having to rule out all of the distinct alternative worldviews individually by arguing that they are internally inconsistent. One easily hold to a world-view that is more complicated with multiple propositions held to be true, all of which do not borrow from the world-view of Christianity but give an account of logic. For example, an atheist might hold to a form of Platonism (for example Plenitudious Platonism) to claim that the laws of logic exist in some form of Platonic realm and so exist necessarily and that we know about them because they are are self-evident truths, or perhaps they are an example of synthetic a priori knowledge claims or we could argue they are indispensable (consistent with Quine-Putnam’s indispensability argument). Or, even if Slick is correct with his claim that logic is transcendental, one could argue on the grounds they hold to Christian theism’s account of logic, as the result of an absolute transcendent mind that is authoring them and is all but identical to the Christian God, but different in one way.

Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God: Objection 7 (The Problem of Fictionalism)

As we have seen so far in this series, there are profound problems with both the coherence of premise one and the justification for premise two of Slick’s argument. So much so, it would seem difficult to hide from the fact that Slick’s formulation of the TAG as a disjunctive syllogism seems to be untenable. This is because, given the issue we explored last time, Slick is hanging his entire case on inductive support – that no account for logic has been presented to him However, one cannot claim that something is necessary simply because no-one has shown an alternative account yet.
Given that this is a hasty generalisation, which manifests as an inductive fallacy. Both of which basically means that Slick cannot rest his argument merely on an inductive case that every attempt so far has failed, but needs to come up with a deductive argument that it is impossible for such an account to exist. Which is something that Slick has yet to do. However, beyond the fact that Slick cannot prove his second premise and thus, the argument would be unproven at best, the issue I’ll be going through today is not merely that Slick’s argument is not able to be proven to be true, but can in fact be demonstrated to be false. So you might be thinking… how is that possible?
Well, as I mentioned last time, Slick’s entire argument is based on the fact that Christianity is the necessary precondition of intelligibility. This basically means that for the presuppositional argument to be successful, it must be demonstrated that if there are possible accounts of logic, which do not require the Christian GodAnd if no such account exists, then the Christian worldview is the necessary precondition of intelligibility. However, if there are any possible accounts of the laws of logic which do not include the Christian God being in some way causally connected to the ontology of logic, then then the notion that the Christian worldview is the necessary precondition of intelligibility is falsified (for a more detailed analysis of this, see objection 6). So as I mentioned above, for this argument to be successful, one would be facing the issue of having to rule out all of the distinct alternative worldviews individually by arguing that they are internally inconsistent.
However, the problem of Slick, is that one can easily hold to a world-view that is more complicated with multiple propositions held to be true, all of which do not borrow from the world-view of Christianity but give an account of logic. For example, an atheist might hold to a form of Platonism (for example Plenitudious Platonism) to claim that the laws of logic exist in some form of Platonic realm and so exist necessarily and that we know about them because they are are self-evident truths, or perhaps they are an example of synthetic a priori knowledge claims or we could argue they are indispensable (consistent with Quine-Putnam’s indispensability argument). However, this is based on the notion that Slick is wrong about the ontology of logic, namely that accounting for logic necessarily requires the existence of an immaterial, absolute mind. Obviously, not everyone agrees with this.
But let’s give Slick the benefit of the doubt, and so, even assuming that Slick is correct with his claim that logic is transcendental and thus, requires the existence of an immaterial, absolute mind, one could argue on the grounds they hold to Christian theism’s account of logic, as the result of an absolute transcendent mind that is in some way causally connected to the ontology of logic, which is all but identical to the Christian God, but different in one way. Therefore, the objection I will be going through now, is that Slick’s argument is prone to fictionalism, which, if valid, renders Slick’s argument to not only be unsound, but presuppositionalism to be completely refuted. So the stakes are high here!
To begin exploring this objection, we first need to explore what Slick is trying to do with the TAGSo assuming Slick realises that he can’t argue via disjunctive syllogism, his argument can be reformulated something like this:
P1) The Christian presuppositional argument holds to the notion that the Christian worldview is the necessary precondition of intelligibility [definition of Christian presuppositionalism]
P2) The Christian worldview is the necessary precondition of intelligibility iff there are no other accounts of the laws of logic [definition of necessary precondition of intelligibility]
P3) The Christian worldview is sufficient iff there are other accounts of the laws of logic [definition of sufficient precondition of intelligibility]
P4) If the Christian account of logic is merely sufficient, then the notion that the Christian worldview is the necessary precondition of intelligibility is falsified [implication from P1 & P3]
C1) Therefore, for the presuppositional argument to be successful, it must be demonstrated that the Christian worldview is the necessary precondition of intelligibility [From P1, P2 & P3]
So as I mentioned above, this is merely setting up the rest of the argument, so premise five would be:
P5) Atheism, as a worldview, holds to the notion that there are no immaterial entities, absolutes or an absolute mind and that the ontology of logic is by something other than an immaterial, absolute mind [definition of atheism]
P6) Accounting for logic necessarily requires the existence of an immaterial, absolute mind [assertion][See arguments below]
P7) If the laws of logic have transcendent properties, then atheism is falsified [implication from P5 & P6]
P8) The laws of have transcendent properties [P6]
C2) Therefore atheism is falsified [from P5 & P6]
P8) If atheism is falsified, then Christianity is validated
P9) Atheism is falsified
C) Therefore Christianity is validated
To quickly justify premise 6 of this argument, Slick would have to offer a series of additional arguments, something along the lines of:
P1) If the laws of logic are transcendent, then they are immaterial
P2) The laws of logic are transcendent
C1) Therefore the laws of logic are immaterial
P3) Any worldview which does not allow for the existence of immaterial entities must be rejected
C) Therefore atheism must be rejected
He would also have to present something like this:
P1) If the laws of logic are absolute, then they are true at all times and everywhere
P2) The laws of logic are absolute
C1) Therefore the laws of logic are true at all times and everywhere
P3) Any worldview which does hold to the notion of the existence of the absolute must be rejected
C) Therefore atheism must be rejected
And finally:
P1) If the laws of logic are conceptual then this is because they are the product of an absolute mind authoring them
P2) The laws of logic are conceptual
C1) Therefore the laws of logic are the product of an absolute mind authoring them
P3) Any worldview which does hold to the notion of the existence of an absolute mind must be rejected
C) Therefore atheism must be rejected
Although these arguments offer support for premise 6 of this argument, the first and perhaps most obvious objection to the original argument is to reject [P7) (if atheism is falsified, then Christianity is validated]. This premise is intending to argue that if atheism (whatever that might refer to) is unable to account for logic then Christianity (or at least a worldview containing the Christian God) can account for logic. Thus, the argument supposes, that if atheism cannot account for logic then Christianity can. However as we have seen in this series, such an inference it is entirely possible that one can merely accept atheism (again, whatever what might mean) cannot account for logic.
Even accepting this, this does not therefore mean that Christianity can account for logic – or, perhaps more damaging, that it is the necessary account of logic and thus, the necessary precondition of intelligibility. Of course, this means that we are willing to grant that atheism cannot account for logic, which rests upon the very questionable premises of 3, 4 and 5. But let’s say we say that atheism does in fact necessarily preclude the existence of there are no immaterial entities, absolutes or absolute minds (which of course it does not). Even if we grant that atheism cannot account for logic and even that Christianity can – both of which are debatable at best, for Christian account of logic to be necessary, as the argument makes clear, this must mean that there are no other possible accounts of the laws of logic. And merely showing that atheism is not sufficient to account for logic, simply removing atheism as a sufficient account of logic does not automatically mean that Christianity is first even able to account for logic, let alone is necessary to account for logic.
Given that there are more worldviews than merely atheism and Christianity, simply removing one of the options does not necessarily mean that the other is the case. In fact, it is entirely possible that neither can give a sufficient account of logic. However, the problem gets even more severe. Even if we grant that Christianity can account for logic, this would not then automatically mean that Christianity is the necessary precondition of intelligibility. Instead, one would need to establish the much more difficult to prove premise of – there is no other possible account for logic (than the Christian worldview).
Now of course, if this was the case, that there is no other possible account for logic than the Christian worldview, then Christianity would indeed be the necessary precondition of intelligibility. However, the problem here, at least for those defending the notion that no other account of logic can possibly exist, this is an incredibly high burden of proof to meetAs already noted in this series, it is not enough to merely so that there have been no accounts offered so far which can account for logic. As this claim is based on no-one offering a sufficient account, which is a textbook example of the inductive fallacy.
What this means, at best, the argument as it stands, even assuming that no other worldview – has yet to provide an account of logic – the absolute best case that the apologist could make – is that Christianity is the only account so far which can account for logic. However, to claim that this is the only account period, then this is a hasty generalisation based on the inductive fallacy. And just because no-one has offered Matt Slick an account of logic, this doesn’t mean that no such account can possibly exist Therefore, the problem with this argument is that Slick would actually have to present and defend this argument, which puts the burden of proof on him to somehow prove that all non-Christian accounts of logic are not viable.
Now this is a difficult task at the best of times, however, this is made much more difficult when we realise that Slick’s argument is prone to fictionalism. To briefly explain, what I mean fictionalism here, is are claiming a position which you do not hold to or one that you do not believe is true in order to perform a reductio ad absurdum.
As Michael Butler explains, this is an invented worldview which is “is said to be identical to Christianity except for the fact that it differs from it at one (or more) particular points of doctrine. This made up worldview may, for example, hold all things in common with Christianity except that where Christianity teaches the doctrine of the Trinity, this other worldview, call it Fristianity, asserts a quadrinity, one God in four persons. Everything else, the doctrine of revelation, salvation, and so on are all the same as the Christian worldview. “Therefore, the consequence of this, is that one could adopt such a position to argue on the grounds they hold to Christian theism’s account of logic, as the result of an absolute transcendent mind that is authoring them and is all but identical to the Christian God, but different in one way. For example, instead of a trinity, believing that there are four parts of God’s nature, rather than the traditional three.
Now you can almost hear the reply from the apologist saying that you’ve abandoned your atheism and are borrowing from the Christian worldview. This accusation is perhaps most associated with Sye Ten Bruggencate. However, that is not what is happening here, so the accusation that adopting such a position constitutes abandoning ones atheism and borrowing from the Christian worldview is not only false, but reveals Achilles heel of the argument. The problem with this objection, is that there is one fatal flaw, because the issue here, is that one can very easily develop argument or claiming a position which you do not hold to or one that you do not believe is true in order to perform a reductio ad absurdum. You do not have to hold to such a view to offer an alternative explanation to account for anything.
For instance, if someone claims they have had an experience with a ghost and as someone who is sceptical of their account, you can merely say, well let’s assume for the sake of argument that everything you are presenting is correct – I don’t find your explanation to be necessarily due to a ghost. Furthermore, as noted earlier, Slick’s argument is specifically based on the notion that Christianity is the necessary precondition for intelligibility.
As Michael Butler explains: assuming we call this fictional account “Fristianity.” Just because Fristianity is an invention that just so happens to be intellectually dependent upon Christianity, does not mean it does not pose a serious challenge to TAG. TAG, after all, claims to establish that Christianity is the necessary precondition of human experience. The Fristian worldview hypothesis is only an attempt to show that while Christianity may indeed be a sufficient precondition it is not necessary. Fristianity, so it is maintained, is also a sufficient condition. Fristianity, thus, supposedly exposes the spurious nature of TAG’s conclusion.”
In other words, the accusation that this is a fictional account does not detract from the objectionTherefore, if the account is sufficient in accounting for logic, then, as my earlier argument demonstrates, the presuppositional argument is refuted. But because this may seem a little bit counter-intuitive, let’s go through this in this in simple terms:Slick’s argument is like claiming that there is only one possible configuration of these lego bricks. However, such a claim is prone to fictionalism because what we can do is take this general structure and take away or change one or more bricks and so, we are showing that there is not one possible configuration because we can take what you have built and merely remove one thing to make it different from his structure. Therefore, the claim that there is only one possible configuration of these lego bricks, or that such a configuration is necessary is clearly falsified.
What’s more, Slick could not then claim that we are borrowing from his worldview because the simple fact is, we are not. Instead, we are taking away one component of his worldview, such that it is not identical but is able to account for the laws of logic by positing a being which is in every way identical to the Christian God but is different in one way such that such a being is not identical. And if it is not identical to the Christian god then the Christian worldview is not necessary to account for logic.
To put this formally:
P1) The Christian worldview is identical to itself and logically distinct from all others
P2) Any worldview that is in any way different to the Christian worldview is not identical to the Christian worldview
P3) Borrowing from the Christian worldview requires one to hold to an indentical worldview as is presented as the Christian worldview
P4) A worldview that posits the existence of a timeless, spaceless, immaterial, absolute mind which has nature which is not identical to the Christian God is not identical to the Christian worldview
P5) If there exists another account for the laws of logic than the account from within the Christian worldview, then the Christian worldview is not necessary to account for logic
P6) A timeless, spaceless, immaterial, absolute mind which has a different nature to the Christian can give a sufficient account for the laws of logic
C1) Therefore, the Christian worldview is not necessary to account for logic
C) Therefore, the TAG is false
Then the specific fictionalist argument would be somethinglike this:
P1) The Christian presuppositional argument holds to the notion that the Christian worldview is the necessary precondition of intelligibility [definition of Christian presuppositionalism]
P2) The Christian account of logic is necessary iff there are no other accounts of the laws of logic [definition of necessary]
P3) The Christian account of logic is sufficient iff there are other accounts of the laws of logic [definition of sufficient]
P4) If the Christian account of logic is merely sufficient, then the notion that the Christian worldview is the necessary precondition of intelligibility is falsified [implication from P1 & P3]
C1) Therefore, for the presuppositional argument to be successful, it must be demonstrated that the Christian worldview is the necessary precondition of intelligibility [From P1, P2 & P3]
P5) Accounting for logic necessarily requires the existence of an immaterial, absolute mind [assertion for reductio]
P6) Christianity holds to the notion that there exists an immaterial, absolute mind which is causally connected to the ontology of logic [Christian account of logic]
C2) Therefore Christian worldview can account for logic [from P5 & P6]
P6) A being (entity E) which is identical in every way to the Christian God, but is different in one feature [i.e. a duality rather than trinity] is ontologically different from the Christian conception of God [application of law of non-contradiction]
P7) Such an entity has the features of being an immaterial, absolute mind [assertion for fictionalism]
P8) If accounting for the laws of logic necessarily requires an immaterial, absolute mind, then entity E can account for the laws of logic [modus ponens from P5 & P8]
C3) Therefore entity E can account for logic [from P5 & P9]
P9) If there exists a possible worldview which includes to the notion that there exists an immaterial, absolute mind which is causally connected to the ontology of logic which is ontologically distinct from Christianity, then Christianity is not the necessary precondition of intelligibility [modus ponens from P1 & C3]
P10) Entity E can account for logic [C3]
C3) Therefore, a worldview which includes to the notion that there exists an immaterial, absolute mind which is causally connected to the laws of logic, which is ontologically distinct from Christianity is possible [P5 & P7]
C4) Therefore Christianity is not the necessary precondition of intelligibility [implication from P1 & P3: P4]
C) Therefore the presuppositional argument is refuted [from C3 & C1]
What the above argument shows that if we posit a timeless, spaceless, immaterial, absolute mind which has a slightly different nature to the Christian God and such an entity can give a sufficient account for the laws of logic, the Christian worldview is not necessary to account for logic and consequently, the TAG is false. So even if we assume that logic is as he describes and that it requires a timeless, spaceless, immaterial, absolute mind (which is not necessarily a given) but one can easily argue that we can come up with a worldivew that contains a timeless, spaceless, immaterial, absolute mind which is in every way identical to the Christian God, but different in one way. In this case, this argument is positing that the difference between the Christian god and the account for logic being provided is a different nature rather than the Christian conception of the trinity.
As Michael Butler explains: “The invented worldview is said to be identical to Christianity except for the fact that it differs from it at one (or more) particular points of doctrine.This made up worldview may, for example, hold all things in common with Christianity except that where Christianity teaches the doctrine of the Trinity, this other worldview, call it Fristianity, asserts a quadrinity – one God in four persons… Just because Fristianity is an invention that just so happens to be intellectually dependent upon Christianity, does not mean it does not pose a serious challenge to TAG. TAG, after all, claims to establish that Christianity is the necessary precondition of human experience. The Fristian worldview hypothesis is only an attempt to show that while Christianity may indeed be a sufficient precondition it is not necessary. Fristianity, so it is maintained, is also a sufficient condition. Fristianity, thus, supposedly exposes the spurious nature of TAG’s conclusion.”
In other words, just because it is not a real worldview, this does not mean that this does pose a problem to the proponent of the TAG who claim that no account can possibly exist As the previous argument demonstrated, we are not positing an identical wordlview, because these are not identical but merely very similar. However, as similar does not mean identical, then, if this worldview can indeed account for logic, then such a worldview would therefore mean that the claim the Christian account is necessary is therefore falsified. So what is a possible objection to such a notion?
Well, Michael Butler argues that:”The only way we know that God is a Trinity is that he revealed it to us – mere speculation or empirical investigation would never lead us to this conclusion. But the Fristian worldview, 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 Christianity, the only way for us to know this would be for Fristian god to reveal this to us.But there is a problem with this. Supposing Fristianity had inspired scriptures (which it would have to have since it is all other ways identical to Christianity), these scriptures 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 man’s 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…It is necessary, therefore, that the advocate of Fristianity to spell out how this one change in doctrine affects all other doctrines. Therefore… “With this, objection (3), as presently advanced, is not a threat to the conclusion of TAG – that Christian Theism is the precondition of human experience.
“However, there are two problems with such a notion. The first and perhaps most obvious, is the Trinity is perhaps the least attested of all the traits of God. The way Butler is talking here, it would seem to suggest that the Trinity is something which is seen consistently throughout the entire Christian Bible, spelt out in magnificent detail which explains what the Trinity is, how such a concept works and how the three distinct natures of the Trinity. However, if you’ve ever read the Christian Scriptures, you will have no doubt seen that the word Trinity does not actually appear at all. In fact, Tertullian, a Latin theologian who wrote in the early 3rd century, is credited as being the first to use the Latin words “Trinity”, “person” and “substance” to explain that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are “one in essence—not one in Person. “
I am currently working on an entire series about the Trinity, but to level the challenge that “the Fristian scriptures would be quite different from the Christian Scriptures” seems to ignore the fact that the doctrine is never explicitly mentioned in the Greek Bible, nor the Jewish Bible. But let’s ignore that – let us now critically examine Butler’s conclusion to this charge.
He notes: that “the advocate of Fristianity to 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.”However, the problem with this is that this obviously does not follow.
In fact, the is exactly the same problem I highlighted last time, that one cannot conclude that there is no possible other conceivable worldview which can account for logic What this therefore means, because we can’t perform an internal critique we cannot say that Christianity is still the necessary precondition for intelligibility, merely that we do not know if, as Bulter states: ” there is no guarantee that the result will be coherent.” At best, all Butler can actually argue is that the TAG is unproven because, as he states, we would not know without knowing the details, we cannot submit it to an internal critique.
However, one can easily contend that this is another example of the inductive fallacy – the same fallacy we highlighted earlier in this series. So let’s leave the concept of the Trinity, given that this is just one example of any number of traits that could have been changed to make it distinct from the Christian God, so if you are not happy with this, then you can easily change this to merely just a timeless, spaceless, immaterial, absolute mind which is in every way identical to the Christian God, but different in another way. For instance, as Butler notes: “rather than positing something as problematic as a quadrinity, the objector may simply invent a religion identical to Christianity except, say, that the book of Jude was never written and thus has no place in its canon.Now this is just one example of any number of other changes that could make. However, the response to this objection by Butler is incredibly unsatisfactory, given that he merely claims that “this is not a worldview that is relevantly different from the Christian worldview. “
To illustrate this problem, let’s use another anology. The TAG presupposes that there is a door with a lock on it, and the proponent of the TAG is claiming they have the only way to open the door, with this red key. In other words, this red key is necessary to open the door. And there are two problems with this assessment of the situation. As I’ve already gone through in this series, the first problem is that there are a number of ways to get into this locked room, we can break down the door, use a credit card to pick the lock and so on. Just as we went through before, there are a number of ways to account for logic which therefore demonstrate that the Christian account, or in the analogy, the red key is the only way to go through the door. Although this assumes that Slick’s assessment of logic is wrong. But if Slick is right that to account for logic, there then such an account needs to include the fact that you must posit something which is a transcendent, a timeless, spaceless, immaterial, absolute mind. Then what the above argument illustrates, is that this red key is not necessarily the only key to open the door, but we can say, well I’ve gone to the locksmith and he has made me an identical blue key which can open the door, so your claim that this red key is necessary to open the door is false. So the blue key is in every way identical to the red key, but differs in one aspect, namely the colour. And Butler claiming that it’s not relevantly different from the red key, after all it is just the colour which is different, that doesn’t detract from the fact that the blue key can still open the door. Therefore, despite Butler’s claim that this objection “is not a threat to the conclusion of TAG, that Christian Theism is the precondition of human experience” – this clearly is not the case.
In fact, it is a direct threat because if there are two possible ways to open the door, then you cannot say that the red key method is necessary, or what we might think of as the only way to open the door. So when we consider the fact that we can also open the door in other ways, which would be examples of worldviews that can account for logic, then the conclusion that the Christian worldview is necessary, is false and so the TAG ultimately fails.
In other words, coming up with a world-view that is both not inconsistent and is able to account for logic is not particularly difficult, even if we assume that Slick is correct in his assessment, that the laws of logic are: transcendent, not dependent on time, independent of people, immaterial, conceptual and so reflect the processes of a mind. Now the reply from the apologist may well be: hang on, you’ve just admitted that you’re borrowing from the Christian world-view and just changed one feature. And while it is certainly true that all you are doing is changing one feature, in this case, the colour of the key, but the burden of proof for the TAG proponent to meet is to show that the colour is a necessary part of the key. Or going back to the proper argument, the apologist has to demonstrate that all the features of the Christian God are necessary.
So even if we assume that it must be the case that accounting for logic requires the existence of something which is transcendent, not dependent on time, independent of people, immaterial and reflect an absolute mind, which is not necessarily uncontroversial, but even if we grant that, the Christian God, as a concept includes more properties than thatTherefore, for the argument to have any hope of being successful, the proponent of the TAG needs to demonstrate that all the features of the Christian God are necessary, not merely these traits. And so the burden of proof lands upon the proponent of the TAG to find some way to prove that the whole concept of the Christian God is necessary, not just these traits (but this is something I’ll return to later on).
But you might be thinking that there is the objection that such an account as Fhristianity is not giving an account from an atheistic worldview. While it is certainly true that most atheists do not believe in an immaterial absolute transcendent mind that authors the laws of logic, however it is a red herring to say that this is not giving an account from an atheistic worldview. There is a reason why this process is called fictionalism, the key part of that being fictional.
The long and short of it is, we do not need to actually hold to the view that there exists an immaterial absolute transcendent mind that authors the laws of logic, but merely that if we posit the existence of such an entity and such a concept is coherent, then one cannot then claim that there can be no account from a non-Christian worldview. Whether one holds to that worldview or not does not detract away from the objection. And so, accusing someone of not holding the position that defeats an argument does not remove the objection. Now many people do not actually believe that the laws of logic are all of these things, so these are not necessarily uncontroversial claims about the laws of logic – but even if we ignore that and agree with Slick that a world-view attempting to give an account for logic must bear these factors in mind, then if one can come up with an account for the laws of logic that does not rely on the existence of the Christian God then Slick’s argument fails. So the ultimate failure of this argument is, it must be concluded that coming up with a consistent world-view that includes all of that is not particularly difficult to account for logic. Even so much, we can even borrow from Slick’s worldview but change one component of God’s nature and character such that it is no longer identical to Slick’s conception of God and merely positing that as an account of logic. And if such a position can provide an account for logic, then the Christian worldview is not necessary to account for logic and so the TAG is false.

Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God: Objection 8 (Scope of the Argument)

While I have gone through a number of problems with Slick’s argument, this is where we get into the real issue with the TAG. While the previous objection towards premise 2 of his argument is fatal with the argument, as Slick is trying to offer inductive support for a premise which requires the strength of a deductive argument thisis an equally important objection. And that is, the argument can only possibly hold weight against world-views that are inconsistent with logic being as he describes. In other words, Slick’s argument can only be said to hold any weight against a world-view that states that nothing can exist which are immaterial, or not dependent on time and so on.

To use an analogous argument, one may have encountered the so-called “Road-Runner Tactic” which attempts to highlight a self-defeating statement. For example, one may say that they hold to the view that, as part of their world-view, they believe that all beliefs are false. Then one merely needs to ask: do you believe that to be true? So holding to such a view leads to an internal contradiction from the assertion that ‘I believe that all beliefs are false.’ What this would mean, is that this would make this individual with this as part of their world-view to be vulnerable contradicting their own world-view. And this is what Slick’s argument can only be used as, rather than as a general argument against non-Christian theism but only against a subset of non-Christian worldviews. That is, the argument cannot be ever said to refute every non-Christian worldview, but only worldviews that do not have as part of their propositions, the possibility of the existence of anything which is transcendent, not dependent on time, independent of people and immaterial. Or even the existence of a mind that authored the laws of logic.

 

While this may not necessarily be what atheists typically believe, the vital point is that, even if Slick is right that to account for logic, one must posit a mind that authored the laws of logic, this does not necessarily preclude atheism. Given that this does not necessarily exclude atheism, then Slick’s argument is false because if there is more than one account of logic, then the Christian account for logic is not necessary. In other words, the TAG can only possibly be used against someone who accepts that the so-called “logical absolutes” are transcendent, not dependent on time, independent of people, immaterial, conceptual and reflect the thoughts of a mind but do not have, as part of their worldview, the possibility of anything which exists which have these properties.

In the case of Slick’s argument, for example, a materialistic atheist who believes that nothing exists other than matter and energy would not be consistent to say that they hold to materialism and that the laws of logic are transcendent, conceptual and immaterial. So Slick’s argument could be used against someone who holds to strict materialism who believes that nothing exists other than matter and energy, and if that the logical absolutes exist but are immaterial, then the argument can be said to be successful in this case.

Now it must be noted, Slick’s argument is intended to refute all non-Christian world-views. However, materialism is merely one component of a number of possible positions that one can hold and not something that every non-Christian holds. So at best, this would be an argument that materialism and realism about non-material objects are incompatible.

Of course, the atheist could very easily concede this point, renounce his materialism and embraced a realist view about non-material objects, such as Platonism. Or one can equally note that there may be a fallacy of reification in treating logic as if it were a concrete, physical entity, so one holding to materialism and claiming the laws of logic are not “made out of matter and energy” may not necessarily be incompatible, as materialists may still believe in concepts, but they are part of another logical sphere.

In other words, Slick’s argument, despite his claim, is not a wholesale argument against all non-Christian worldviews, but instead is an argument which can only be used effectively against a narrow sub-set of worldviews, even if we assume that his assessment of logic is correct. Therefore, even assuming Slick is correct in his assessment about logic, which is debatable at best, Slick’s argument can only carry any weight against a small number of possible world-views and not at all non-Christian world-views as a whole.

For instance, one claiming that part of their world-view is that the existence of any immaterial entity is impossible, but believes in the existence of a being which exists outside of the universe that maintains order in the universe. Now this would be an inconsistent world-view, that is assuming that this being which exists outside of the universe is immaterial. However, the argument Slick presents, only seems to be aimed at such world-views. So even if we accept that the laws of logic are as Slick describes, it is not difficult, let alone logically impossible to come up with a world-view that is both not inconsistent and is able to account for logic. Therefore, the ultimate argument amounts to the the idea that one cannot hold to materialism and believe in the existence of non-material laws. Or at best, one cannot hold to a worldview that the laws of logic are the product of a mind and also not believe that this mind is the Christian God.

However, as we have seen, even if we grant that Slick’s conception about logic is correct, which is debatable at best, Slick has an incredibly high burden of proof; either to claim that the Christian God is necessary for logic, such that it is impossible to have a world-view that can account for logic that does not rely on the Christian God, or that one can rule out all of the distinct alternative worldviews within both non-Christian theism and non-theism that account for logic. In other words, the challenge that Slick has to meet, is that accounting for logic is only possible for a world-view of Christian theism because of the impossibility of the contrary, which cannot be done by pointing to the inability of non-Christians to develop an account of logic so far, and claiming that because it has not been done yet, that no such account exists.

But this still gets even worse for the apologist, because what this means is that let’s grant pretty much everything that Slick asserts:

Let’s accept that either a worldview containing the Christian God can account for logic or a worldview not containing the Christian God can account for logic

Let’s accept that no such account from a worldview that has been presented to Slick that does not contain the Christian God has accounted for logic

Let’s even accept that Slick or the apologist can give an account of the laws of logic from within a worldview containing the Christian God, something we will explore in another video,

Even if we grant all of this, that is not enough to prove that the Christian world-view is necessary to account for logic, merely that it is sufficient because this argument can still easily be toppled. So, if one can come up with an account for the laws of logic that does not rely on the existence of the Christian God then Slick’s argument fails. Therefore, Slick would need to prove that a worldview not containing the Christian God cannot also give an account for logic as well. So to put it simply, even if we grant Slick that a worldview containing the Christian God can give an account of the laws of logic, he needs to find a way of proving that a worldview not containing the Christian God cannot also give an account for logic, which does not ultimately rely on fallacious reasoning. And we cannot escape from the conclusion that Slick’s attempt to do this, has not been provided

Therefore, in order to claim ‘there is no possibility of a non-Christian world-view account for logic”, this is a claim that needs to be demonstrated, not merely asserted, and so far, Slick rests his argument for premise two of his argument on the fact that no worldview so far has managed to account for logic, but as we saw this is insufficient to prove that there is no other worldview that could. Thus, we can not only consider the first premise as being false, as it is a false dichotomy but also the second premise is at best, unproven and so rests upon fallacious reasoning or at worse, is also false, as one can come up with an account of logic that does not include the Christian God. And this can be done in a number of ways, none of which include the Christian God.

Or to put it simply, the TAG requires that all the non-Christian worldviews are internally incoherent and instead of relying on the non-Christian’s failure to account for logic, the proponent of the TAG would actually need to prove that every non-Christian worldview is inconsistent and without this proof, the whole of TAG falls apart. Given that there are a number of possible non-Christian worldviews that could also account for human experience, then the Christian view would lose its status as a necessary condition on the intelligibility of human experience.

So now we have explored why the argument can be seen to be ultimately unsuccessful for any number of reasons, if not completely unable to be salvaged. Therefore, while Slick’s account might still be able to lay claim to being a ‘sufficient condition’, it could no longer be claimed to be a necessary condition.

 

Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God: Objection 9 (Non Sequitur)

The previous 8 objectionshave shown that there are a number of problems with what seems to be a simple argument. Specifically, I have highlighted a number of objections to both the first premise, namely that it commits the fallacy of being a false dichotomy or if repaired, begs the question. And also, I have pointed out that Slick’s justification for premise two is either lacking, based on fallacious reasoning or worse, the premise may well be simply false and therefore, if the first premise and second premise are false, then the argument cannot be considered sound, let alone a convincing argument to the non-theist.

However, there appears to be some confusion about what exactly Slick’s argument should be interpreted as. Because, on the one hand, he seems to argue: that because “- Atheism cannot account for the necessary preconditions for intelligibility, namely, the existence of logical absolutes. Therefore, it is invalidated as a viable option for accounting for them and the only other option, God exists, is validated.”

However, this line of reasoning is incredibly confused, because taken at face value, he appears to be arguing:

P1) Either God exists or God doesn’t exist
P2) Atheism cannot account for the laws of logic
C) Therefore, God exists.

While this might go without saying, the most profound objection with this argument, is that not only is this nota disjunctive syllogism, given the second premise is not the negation of one of the disjuncts in the first premise, the consequence of this, is that, as it stands, this argument is clearly invalid. This is because it follows this line of reasoning:

P1) Either P or Q

P2) A

C) Therefore, P

The problem with this should be obvious. In case you’re still on the fence, I’m just going to pause for a moment to let you think about this for a moment – I’m not even sure I need to say anything more on this because it should be obvious to anyone watching, that both of these arguments are hopelessly flawed. In fact, I could actually let another Christian apologist refute this line of reasoning. So let us see how Christian philosopher Alvin Plantina explains this problem.

While I will be doing a series all about the Modal Ontological argument, Alvin Plantinga can actually highlight what is wrong with not only Slick’s argument, but also his own. As Plantinga notes when we consider an argument like the Modal Ontological argument:
“perhaps we can get at the objector’s dissatisfaction by means of an example. Consider Argument B:
P1) Either 7+5 = 13 or God exists
P2) 7+5 ≠ 13
C Therefore God exists
This argument is valid. Since I accept its conclusion and therefore its first premiss, I believe it to be sound as well. Still, I could scarcely claim much for it as a piece of Natural Theology.”
Now this is far too diplomatic for my liking, but what does this actually mean in the context of Slick’s argument? Well, the good news is, if Slick wants to, he could very easily present this as an argument that God exists, it is logically valid and to at least the the theist would be sound. Which is certainly an improvement from the car crash of an argument that we saw earlier. But you might be thinking, hang on, if the argument is valid in structure and may well be sound, why then do apologists not use it?
Well the main reason being, one would not come to believe the first premise unless they already believe God exists. Therefore, those who believe the first premise is true and thus the argument as a whole is sound, do so only because they already believe that God exists. Of course not, the argument does not show that the conclusion is true, as anyone who does not accept the first premise, will also have doubts about the conclusion of the argument.
So anyone who doubts that it is rational to accept the claim that either 7+5 = 13 or God exists will, by extension will not accept the conclusion of the argument here that God exists. And spoiler alert, in the same way, anyone who does not accept the first premise of the Modal Ontological argument, will, by extension will not accept the conclusion of the argument that God exists here either for the same reason.
But if we go back to Slick’s argument, the purpose of this objection is to highlight not that the argument is invalid or not sound but – even if we accept that Slick is correct with his formulation of the argument – the argument is not convincing. So putting aside any of the objections that may be brought up in the remainder of this series, if this is ultimately Slick’s argument, then, as Scott Clifton nicely summarises:
Matt is free to keep the false dichotomy in his argument but in doing so he forfeits the very feature he believes makes his argument irrefutable. Namely, the atheist is no longer forced to concede that if they cannot account for the laws of logic, God must exist by default. Since the dichotomy is a false one, the premise in which it appears can be rejected outright by any rational person. Now I won’t dwell on this, but all that needs to be said for now, is that if this is Slick’s argument, properly understood, then as Scott goes on to say, Slick then forces himself into a horrible position:
That the atheist may sit back with her arms folded and say, “Why should I think that if I can’t account for the laws of logic, God must exist?” And Matt’s usual recourse, “Because it’s the only other option,” is no longer available to him here. Rather, Matt now takes on the colossal task of demonstrating everything his argument was designed relieve him of having to demonstrate

Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God: Objection 10 (Problems with the Christian Account of Logic)

While the above objections show that in order to reach the conclusion that the Christian God can give a sufficient account of logic, this relies on a number of fallacies. However, there is one final objection that can be raised, and it relates to the core of the argument. Because as of yet, we have not critically examined Slick’s account of logic from within the Christian world-view. Therefore, the issue I will be exploring today, is that Slick’s claimed account of the laws of logic, may not even be viable to begin with.

So what do I mean when I say that the account that Slick provides may not be viable? Well I would argue that the claimed “account” of the laws of logic that Slick provides does not in fact account for logic at all. So now, we will be critically examining the claimed account of the laws of logic by Slick from the Christian worldview and whether the argument can ever be considered a successful piece of apologetics. But even worse, the time he does spend talking about the account of logic from within a Christian world-view seems to be incredibly inconsistent. Because on the one hand, he says “The Christian worldview states that God is the author of truth, logic, physical laws, etc.” While other times maintaining that “God did not invent or create logic.”

However, with that being said, the most common claim that Slick makes regarding the ontology of the so-called logical absolutes from within his Christian world-view is that, as he states:

“If God exists, then God has attributes such as thoughts, character, essence, nature, etc… Logic, then, would not be a created thing but an attribute of God’s perfect existence as it relates to His thought processes.

Therefore, logic would not be a creation of God but a necessary existence because God exists.” As far as I can tell, what this means, in other words, is that:

P1) If logic is part of God’s nature then Christianity can provide an account of logic
P2) Logic is part of God’s nature
C) Therefore Christianity can provide an account of logic

However, there are a number of problems with this line of reasoning. The first problem with this, is that he seems to conflate a number of things under the umbrella of “logic”. So when he says that “logic is part of God’s nature” – does he mean the act of reasoning in such a way that is in the correct logical form and truth-preserving? What we may think of as thinking in a logical, or perhaps more accurately, a rational manner. Or does he mean that “logic is part of God’s nature” to mean logical absolutes are somehow part of God’s nature?

Given that when he refers to logical absolute, he means “a statement that is always true,” I find it hard to conceive of Slick meaning that a statement that is always true is part of God’s nature. Therefore, the problem with Slick’s account of “logic” is that he seems to have difficulty articulating what exactly he is trying to say about the ontology of logic, even specifically what he is trying to give an account of.

Now assuming that Slick is not attempting to argue that a statement that is always true is part of God’s nature, we may be able to reasonably guess that Slick is attempting to argue that we all agree that there are such things as propositions which are always true. And that is most likely true, I would guess very few people would challenge the fact that there are such things as propositions which are always true. So the question is, how do we explain the fact that we can articulate a proposition which is always true? And Slick concludes that God can account for this because this unspecified “logic” is part of God’s nature.

However, as already noted, it is somewhat ambiguous as to what exactly Slick means, but there are a number of objections to such a view. So taking this interpretation that given that the Bible notes that God “cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:13) and that in Exodus 34:6, this mentions that God is faithful, therefore He always acts in accordance with who he is. Consequently, God’s inability to deny himself and faithfulness are seen as special properties that God has to account for logic. However, it seems to be a little confusing given that an inability to deny himself and faithfulness, while they may be properties that an entity may possess, this does not provide an account of logical absolutes. Merely, that God has properties such as he can not knowingly lie. But one can easily come up with a thought experiment that demonstrates that this cannot be considered a sufficient account for logic. As Malpass explains, imagine that there exists a robot that was programmed in such a that it cannot provide any output which is the contradicts any of the stored data it has in its memory banks. This seems to be analogous to saying that it cannot lie. Furthermore, this robot could also be said to be “faithful” as it not be able to do anything it is not programmed to do. Therefore, because it cannot lie and cannot deny itself in the relevant sense either, it seems to be perfectly faithful, logically consistent and cannot lie and thus, this would not establish that the validity of any given inference was dependent on the existence of the robot, however.

In other words, just because the robot’s nature is as described, it seems difficult to imagine how one would be able to claim that the laws of logic depend on the existence on this robot.

A second issue is that the claim that “logic” or being logically consistent is “part of ones nature” in the sense of logical consistency is a property that an entity either has or lacks, this does not actually provide an account of logic because it must first presuppose the laws of logic that are attempting to be accounted for. So while being “logical” or “rational” may be predicates that an entity may have, the claim that logic can be accounted for by the existence of God, this must presuppose the laws of logic. So when we consider Slick’s claimed account, this seems to suggest that “logic is grounded in God’s nature” – this seems to be based on the assumption that logic is a property that subjects have or lack as part of their nature. However, there is a fundamental problem with this of reasoning.

As the argument suggests if logic is part of God’s nature then Christianity can provide an account of logic. However, in order for one to talk about “God” or “God’s nature” then this must first presuppose the law of identity. That is, in order to claim that logic is part of God’s nature, then we must presume that everything which exists has a nature, including God. In other words, when you are talking about “logic being part of God’s nature” you are already presupposing the laws of logic that you are trying to give an account of. Because in order to talk about “God” then all that needs to be asked is, is God identical to himself?

If you say yes, then this account of logic cannot be viable as it presupposes that God has a nature and is identical to himself, because when you are referring to God, with all of his claimed attributes, properties and the nature he has, he has the nature he does and not another nature – which is a round about way of saying that God is identical to his nature. Equally, you would have to assume that God did not both exist and not exist at the same ‘time’ in the same way. That is, one must also presuppose the law of non-contradiction as well.

If you claim that God is not identical to himself, then such a claim violates the law of identity, the very law that Slick claims to be able to account for. So even assuming that being logical is part of God’s nature, this does not provide an account of logic. What all of this means is that we can reject premise one because logic is not part of God’s nature and therefore, if this is the only attempt to account for logic, then Christianity cannot provide an account of logic. Now one would not want to commit the same fallacy we highlighted in the previously, we cannot say that it is not possible for Christianity to provide an account of logic, just merely that what Slick has provided so far cannot be considered sufficient. After all, it may well be that Slick develops another way that Christianity may provide an account of logic, but the argument highlighted above cannot be considered sufficient as “logic being part of God’s nature” cannot be considered an account of logic.

What all of this means therefore, is that Slick’s argument is quite simply fractally wrong in that premise one is false at every turn, premise two is either unjustified or simply false, the account that Slick claims can account for logic is not actually an account of logic at all and thus, the argument is completely wrong. However, the issue gets a lot worse.

As already mentioned, there are lots of different logical systems, including classical logic, extensions of classical logic and non-classical logics, etc. But to make this simple, let’s just take two classical logic and intuitionistic logic. They are fundamentally different principles, the most simple to illustrate is that intuitionistic logic doesn’t have excluded middle as a general law and classical logic does. Assuming that God thinks in one of these ways and not the other, and if Slick is correct in his assessment that God thinks classically, and not intuitionistically – if we were to ask why he thinks in this classical way, as opposed to the intuitionistic way, the one thing we cannot say as an answer is that thinking classically is (independently of God thinking like that) the logical way to think.

While it may well be the case that God has a preference for classical logic rather than intuitionistic logic, but this preference itself cannot be based on the idea that classical logic is the logical way to think. So even if he has a preference for classical logic, it can only be based on some other type of consideration, and not that it is itself the logical way to think. In other words, what could possibly be the answer to this question?

God thinks classically rather than intuitionistically because….?

At the end of the day, even if we assume that God exists and logic is a part of God’s nature, this is not an account of logic. Thus, Slick cannot even offer a sufficient account of logic, let alone a necessary one.

 

Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God: Objection 11 (Reformulating Slick’s Argument)

P1) The Christian presuppositional argument holds to the notion that the Christian worldview is the necessary precondition of intelligibility [definition of Christian presuppositionalism]
P2) The Christian worldview is the necessary precondition of intelligibility iff there are no other accounts of the laws of logic [definition of necessary precondition of intelligibility]
P3) The Christian worldview is sufficient iff there are other accounts of the laws of logic [definition of sufficient precondition of intelligibility]
P4) If the Christian account of logic is merely sufficient, then the notion that the Christian worldview is the necessary precondition of intelligibility is falsified [implication from P1 & P3]
C1) Therefore, for the presuppositional argument to be successful, it must be demonstrated that the Christian worldview is the necessary precondition of intelligibility [From P1, P2 & P3]
P5) Atheism, as a worldview, holds to the notion that there are no immaterial entities, absolutes or an absolute mind and that the ontology of logic is by something other than an immaterial, absolute mind [definition of atheism]
P6) Accounting for logic necessarily requires the existence of an immaterial, absolute mind [assertion]
[See arguments below]
P7) If the laws of logic have transcendent properties, then atheism is falsified [implication from P5 & P6]
P8) The laws of have transcendent properties [P6]
C2) Therefore atheism is falsified [from P5 & P6]
P8) If atheism is falsified, then Christianity is validated
P9) Atheism is falsified
C) Therefore Christianity is validated

Auxiliary Argument 1
P1) If the laws of logic are transcendent, then they are immaterial
P2) The laws of logic are transcendent
C1) Therefore the laws of logic are immaterial
P3) Any worldview which does not allow for the existence of immaterial entities must be rejected
C) Therefore atheism must be rejected

Auxiliary Argument 2
P1) If the laws of logic are absolute, then they are true at all times and everywhere
P2) The laws of logic are absolute
C1) Therefore the laws of logic are true at all times and everywhere
P3) Any worldview which does hold to the notion of the existence of the absolute must be rejected
C) Therefore atheism must be rejected

Auxiliary Argument 3
P1) If the laws of logic are conceptual then this is because they are the product of an absolute mind authoring them
P2) The laws of logic are conceptual
C1) Therefore the laws of logic are the product of an absolute mind authoring them
P3) Any worldview which does hold to the notion of the existence of an absolute mind must be rejected
C) Therefore atheism must be rejected

Objection 1:

The first and perhaps most obvious objection to this argument is to reject P7) (if atheism is falsified, then Christianity is validated)

This premise is intending to argue that if atheism – whatever that might refer to – is unable to account for logic then Christianity – or at least a worldview containing the Christian God – can account for logic

Thus, the argument supposes, that if atheism cannot account for logic then Christianity can

However, this is problematic for two reasons

The first is that the argument is based on the assumption that if atheism cannot account for logic then Christianity can, which is the fallacy known as ******

While this is a problem for any argument to commit such a fallacy, this is catastrophically bad for the TAG

Because the implication of this fallacy, is that, as the argument makes explicit, it is entirely possible that one can merely accept atheism – again, whatever what might mean – cannot account for logic

Even accepting this, this does not therefore mean that Christianity can account for logic – or, perhaps more damaging, that it is the necessary account of logic and thus, the necessary precondition of intelligibility

Of course, this means that we are willing to grant that atheism cannot account for logic, which rests upon the very questionable premises of 3, 4 and 5

But let’s say we say that atheism does in fact necessarily preclude the existence of there are no immaterial entities, absolutes or absolute minds – which of course it does not

Even if we grant that atheism cannot account for logic and even that Christianity can – both of which are debatable at best – for Christian account of logic to be necessary, as the argument makes clear, this must mean that there are no other possible accounts of the laws of logic

And merely showing that atheism is not sufficient to account for logic, simply removing atheism as a sufficient account of logic does not automatically mean that Christianity is first even able to account for logic, let alone is necessary to account for logic

But you might be thinking – hang on Dave, why is that the case?

Well, as we have already explored, such an assumption is based on premise 8 being an example of the fallacy of being a false dichotomy

Given that there are more worldviews than merely atheism and Christianity, simply removing one of the options does not necessarily mean that the other is the case

In fact, it is entirely possible that neither can give a sufficient account of logic

If you want a more detailed explanation of this, see video 2 and ***

However, the problem gets even more severe

Even if we grant that Christianity can account for logic, this would not then automatically mean that Christianity is the necessary precondition of intelligibility

Instead, one would need to establish the much more difficult to prove premise of – there is no other possible account for logic (than the Christian worldview)

So the argument would need to look something like:

P1) The Christian presuppositional argument holds to the notion that the Christian worldview is the necessary precondition of intelligibility [definition of Christian presuppositionalism]
P2) The Christian account of logic is necessary iff there are no other accounts of the laws of logic [definition of necessary precondition of intelligibility]
P3) The Christian account of logic is sufficient iff there are other accounts of the laws of logic [definition of sufficient precondition of intelligibility]
P4) If the Christian account of logic is merely sufficient, then the notion that the Christian worldview is the necessary precondition of intelligibility is falsified [implication from P1 & P3]
C1) Therefore, for the presuppositional argument to be successful, it must be demonstrated that the Christian worldview is the necessary precondition of intelligibility [From P1, P2 & P3]
P5) Accounting for logic necessarily requires the existence of an immaterial, absolute mind [assertion]
P6) Christianity holds to the notion that there exists an immaterial, absolute mind which is causally connected to the ontology of logic [Christian account of logic]
C2) Therefore Christian worldview can account for logic [from P5 & P6]
P7) No other account of logic can possibly exist [assertion]
C) Therefore the Christian worldview is the necessary precondition of intelligibility [implication P2 & P7]

Now of course, if this was the case – that there is no other possible account for logic than the Christian worldview – then Christianity would indeed be the necessary precondition of intelligibility

However, the problem here – at least for those defending the notion that no other account of logic can possibly exist – this is an incredibly high burden of proof to meet

As already noted in this series, it is not enough to merely so that there have been no accounts offered – so far – which can account for logic

As this claim is based on no-one offering a sufficient account – which is a textbook example of the inductive fallacy

So at best, the argument as it stands, even assuming that no other worldview – has yet to provide an account of logic – the absolute best case that the apologist could make – is that Christianity is the only account so far which can account for logic

However, to claim that this is the only account period, then this is a hasty generalisation based on the inductive fallacy

To use the analogy I mentioned before – it would be like saying that no-one knows the answer to 54 x 87 because all the people you have asked don’t know the answer

Obviously, this doesn’t mean that no-one knows the answer to this – and the same holds true for accounting for logic

Just because no-one has offered Matt Slick an account of logic, this doesn’t mean that no such account can possibly exist

And so, the problem with this argument is that Slick would actually have to present and defend this argument, which puts the burden of proof on him to somehow prove that all non-Christian accounts of logic are not viable

Which, as I showed in video ** in this series, is not a simple task