Saturday, March 18, 2006
The Impropriety of Trying to "Prove" The Absolute Truth Value of a Transcendental Inductively
For x (some aspect of human experience) to be the case, y must also be the case since y is the precondition of x. Since x is the case, y is the case. M.B.
Applying the above transcendental forumulation in traditional form we end up with:
Prove A:The Christian God exists.
Step 1 ~A: (Assume the opposite of what we are trying to prove): The Christian God does not exist.
Step 2 (~A--> B): If God does not exist, then there is no intelligible experience since God is the precondition of intelligibility
Step 3 (~B): There is intelligible experience (Contradiction!)
Step 4 (~ ~A): It is not the case that God does not exist (Modus Tollens on 2 and 3)
Step 5 (A): --> God does exist (Law of negation.)
Many Christians hold to the above argument, which is transcendental in nature. A common debate among certain apologists will be over whether step 2 can be shown to be philosophically justified. Immediately below is what I believe to be a feeble justification for step 2 of the above proof but I have seen it enough that I believe it is worth interacting with.
Subsidiary "argument" that is intended to justify step-2 of TAG:
Premise 1: Within the worldview of Christianity intelligibility can be justified.
Premise 2: All worldviews that we have been confronted with cannot justify intelligibility.
Conclusion: Since we cannot deny intelligibility, and since only the Christian worldview so far can justify it, then the Christian worldview is true.
Some believe that step-2 of TAG can be inductively proved because every worldview that a particular apologist had encountered has been refuted. It is argued by such apologists that the “rational inference” that God exists is based upon a statistical-confidence one might have from refuting many opposing worldviews. One of the problems I have with this justification is how can an inductive argument justify the God of Christianity when it cannot justify the heart of Christianity, the Resurrection of Christ? In other words, an inductive justification for step-2 presupposes uniformity in nature, yet the existence of the Christian God requires discontinuity, the Resurrection! How does one plan on justifying discontinuity on the basis of induction, apart from presupposing the self-attesting word of God? Moreover, the conclusion of the subsidiary argument that is intended to justify step 2 of the transcendental argument, which is “the Christian worldview is true,” exceeds the scope of the premises. Induction is a posteriori in nature and can only yield as its maximal conclusion something that is probably true. To conclude that something is true by inductive inference is to employ the fallacy of asserting the consequent. If step 2 is probably true, then it might also be false; yet Christians have a more sure word of knowledge. Moreover, that the Christian worldview is "more reasonable" than the non-Christian worldview remains unjustified because the question of whether one is even philosophically justified in his use of induction, so that rational inference may be drawn, has not been established. There are no freebies in Philosophy.
In order to rationally infer that God’s existence is "most probable,” one must first presuppose that which the conclusion of the subsidiary argument does not afford – God’s actual, ontological existence(!), which is the necessary precondition for inductive inference. This problem is insurmountable. In arguing for the high probability of God’s existence, the apologist, like the unbeliever who argues against God’s existence, presupposes tools of argumentation that presuppose God’s actual existence. The subsidiary argument, which concludes that God might not exist, begins by presupposing the actual intelligibility of both deduction (TAG) and induction (the justification for step 2), which presuppose God's actual existence! Accordingly, one’s presupposition of God’s actual existence ends up contradicting his conclusion that God’s existence is only probable. Accordingly, one would have to revise his presupposition-hypothesis to “God might not exist.” In doing so, one will not be able to justify actual induction or deduction. Actual rationality presupposes neither a probable God or a conceptual scheme. In order to infer that God’s existence is philosophically uncertain, one must first borrow from a worldview that comports with philosophical certainty so that there can be philosophical uncertainty. That worldview is the Christian worldview.
In summary, the Christian need not evaluate an infinite number of worldviews in order to know (and justify) that there are only two worldviews. In the like manner, the Christian need not witness an infinite amount of deaths to know that all men are mortal. We have an appeal for such premises, the truth of God’s word, which tells us that there are only two worldviews; one is that revelation is the necessary precondition for the justification of intelligible experience and the other is a denial of the Christian worldview. Moreover, induction requires as its necessary precondition something more than a conceptual scheme for God’s existence.
TAG is sound in that the form is valid and the premises are true. We must keep in mind that the truth of any valid conclusion is not predicated upon the consensus of the truth of the premises. Accordingly, since unbelievers will not accept the truth claims of the Bible and, therefore, step 2 of the proof, the only thing the Christian can do is refute the hypothetical competitors. In doing so we might gain more psychological confidence that God exists. Notwithstanding, a demonstration of the soundness of an argument does not make an argument sound. The apologist merely demonstrates the veracity of TAG to a watching world when he exposes the various forms of the one unbelieving worldview for its arbitrariness and inconsistencies.
There is no limit to the number of sound deductive arguments for the Christian worldview. Most of which are not very useful or interesting, such as: God exits or nothing exists; not nothing exists; therefore, God exists. As Dr. Bahnsen noted, proof of the Christian worldview is child's play. The beauty of TAG as a special kind of deductive argument is not in the reductio but in the transcendental challenge, which shows that to argue against Christianity one must first presuppose only that which Christianity affords.
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