Talk:Transcendental argument for the existence of God

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Alvin Plantinga[edit]

A significant section needs to be added concerning Alvin Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism. He does an unsettlingly convinceing job of demonstrating that naturalism and evolution (but not evolution and theism) are ultimately self-defeating, and the argument has generated a LOT of discussion and controversy - so much so in fact that there has been an entire book published (Naturalism Defeated?) that is just a condensed version of his argument (by him), about 15 essays responding to the argument, and an extended reply to the responses by Plantinga. It's well worth it if you have the time. I, however, don't have the time right now to add it to the article, and I furthermore wouldn't know where to put it since this article is so poorly organized. Here's a real real breif version though:

1: According to evolution, the thing that would dictate our constitution (our beliefs, how we think, how we perceive, etc.) would be only what is most addaptive to survival.

2: There is no reason to think that true beliefs are more addaptive than false ones (he argues at length that for every true belief there are myriad false ones that would elicit the same behaviour).

3: There is then no reason (according to naturalism) to think that it is not the case that the majority of our beliefs are false.

4: Since the beliefs we now have reason to think false include naturalism, evolution, and all those beliefs and reasoning that lead us to them in the first place, we have no reason to accept naturalism.

I'll include a link to his article "Naturalism Defeated" in the external links section; if anyone feels inclined to expand this for tha article, that would be the place to start. Snowboardpunk

I'm skeptical that a significant section needs to be added - maybe a paragraph or two. See what you can do, but please add new comments at the bottom of the page. Thanks :) -- infinity0 23:07, 8 March 2006 (UTC)

Sounds like a very very poor argument to me. Evolution and natural selection are a theory of how GENES evolve. There is no part of evolution which states that the same principles apply to ideas, beliefs constitutions etc (since these depend much much more on culture than on race/genetics.). Maybe that explains why it only got 15 answers.85.18.14.23 (talk) 16:36, 14 April 2008 (UTC)

First persons[edit]

The first-persons and second-persons need be replaced to sound more formal. --Menchi 08:46, Aug 21, 2003 (UTC)

Eh, it was only for an example using two characters ('you' and 'I'), and was not used throughout the entire article. Rules like that have their purpose, but can't be blindly followed without knowing why. However, I changed it anyways, so my protest is useless.  :)

Non-Christian transcendentalists?[edit]

It struck me that a Muslim could probably use similar arguments to those put forward here. Indeed, as a Christian, when I use this argument, I never use it to defend anything other than theism (and then, not as a proof but a defence). Would it make sense to reword the argument to one with a generic theist, rather than a specifically Christian one, or does the detailed argument require specifically Christian assumptions? Wooster 15:42, 28 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I'm a philosophy neophyte but in this vein, it isn't immediately obvious why a Judaic viewpoint wouldn't permit the identical argument. --207.127.241.2 15:27, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Generally, Christians who use this type of argument say that only "the Trinitarian God of the Bible" (a phrase which is intended to exclude all other notions of God, including the pre-Christian Judaic one) is under discussion because they see apologetics as merely a different perspective on systematic theology (see presuppositional apologetics and Cornelius Van Til#Thought). That is to say, their apologetics is merely the defense of their stated doctrine of God. The argument is that their God necessarily exists, not just that, e.g., some "unmoved mover" exists, and this we call God, as in Aristotle/St. Thomas' argument. If the debate were between a Muslim and a Christian (instead of being between an atheist/agnostic and a Christian), the supporting details brought into the trancendental argument would likely be quite different, emphasizing, not the existence of the Trinitarian God of the Bible, but the existence of the Trinitarian God of the Bible. --Flex 15:55, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)
It should be further noted that that which is known as TAG is exclusively a Christian argument. I can see that other religions may adapt the argument to their worldview (as Michael Martian attempts to do with TANG and Atheism); however, I am unaware of any other worldview that currently does so. Should there be one, do they call it TAG? I want to add, awesome job with the article! It's becoming more like what I had envisioned it should be over a year ago when I was left with no more time to update it. Keep up the good work! -- OracleofTroy
TAG could be utilized by other theistic religions, but, as someone else already pointed out, they have historically used it. I have seen Muslim apologists begin to use it very recently, however. Indeed, I've seen a growing interest in the Muslim community of presuppositionalism in general. They seem fond of borrowing from Christian apologetics. Muslim creationists, for example, rely heavily on work done by Christian creationists. Anyway, to the best of my knowledge, Christian and Muslim presuppositionalists confront one another on the basis of contradictions within each other's holy books. In my opinion, the contradiction between the Koranic doctrine of abrogration and the Koran's eternality is simply devastating. Razzendahcuben 19:18, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

Objections[edit]

An anon added an objection about the assumption that man was created by God and equipped with standards of morality as well as a qualification in the preceding paragraphs, the latter of which I deleted because it was unnecessary within the context (of course the Christian worldview assumes man was created by God). I don't see much new in the objection because it seems to be implicit in the more general objection that one can't assume the Christian worldview -- which is really just an argument in favor of neutrality and against all types of transcendental arguments. So, we can either leave the objection (or perhaps generalize it a bit) and supply an answer, or we can delete the objection. Any thoughts? --Flex 14:45, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I've deleted it until we can get more elaboration. --Flex 20:20, 9 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Can someone either re-write or delete the response starting "Response: If the Christian theistic worldview proposed by TAG is true, non-Christians most certainty can choose a system of morality to follow and live a moral life." At the moment it makes no sense, it just repeats the same point from the argument. Infinity0 16:55:20, 2005-09-12 (UTC)

"circular logic" counter-argument???[edit]

Objection: TAG relies on reasoning which involves the logical fallacy of vicious (and-or premise) circularity.

This is not specific to TAG. The MAIN part of TAG is the "fundamental beliefs" part. This circular logic objection is for all instances of belief in a book, so I'm deleting this part.

Response: Instead, they posit that worldviews are hierarchical, and hence that one must inevitably reach a foundational belief according to which all other beliefs are weighed, ordered, measured, or otherwise accounted for -- i.e., according to which other beliefs are made intelligible (individually and in relationship to each other).

That has been said already in the main section of the argument, so I'm deleting this part. I've moved the rest of the response to the main article.

As for this:

Objection: TAG implies that non-Christians have no true knowledge of the world, themselves or God.

It's not really relevant to the existence of God, which is the subject here.

Infinity0 16:51:54, 2005-09-12 (UTC)

New objections[edit]

I added the beginnings of answers to the new objections. I'm not sure what advantage they have over the old ones, they seemed largely the same. Regardless, I didn't bother deleting or reverting them. I did consolidate the two morality objections since, from TAG's perspective, they really have the same answer, and in fact, really don't address the argument at all (though they are certainly common objections!!)

I also strongly considered removing the statement, "Human concepts of morality arise out of a desire to stay alive, and be protected, amongst other life-related reasons," as an offering of an alternative source for moral behavior. This is because it seems unfair to Atheists that this article can never allow them to develop a full account of morality under their worldview as an objection, it would just take up too much space (and likely be controversial in its own right.) Unfortunately, such a short statement has many holes in it by virtue of its incompleteness. Since I like examples, I used is as a chance to apply TAG, but I'm still concerned.

Oh, and I probably repeated some stuff from the main article in my answers. But if the objections deal with stuff already explained, there is little choice but to delete the objection or be repetitive. Some of the repetition could probably be factored out. Still, TAG is a hard argument to understand, so a little repetition to demonstrate why some of the common objections just don't apply is probably a good thing.

-- OracleofTroy 04:58, 16 September 2005 (UTC)

Response: TAG does not merely assert that Christianity is true or logically sound and that all other worldviews are unsound. To substantiate this claim, TAG offers a method by which all worldviews (including Christianity) may be tested. There are two criteria a worldview must meet to pass this test. One, it must be internally consistent. <snip> Two, it must be externally consistent with the world around us. <snip>
You have not explained how Christianity has passed these tests, and how others have failed.
That is correct. I am currently under the belief that it would take too long to build a full case for Christianity using TAG, and that doing so should not be the purpose of this article. Rather, it should act as a summary of TAG and a pointer to places to gather more information. Just as I wrote above that I felt that it is unfair to Atheism that this article can't allow for a full explanation for morality under an atheist worldview, it equally cannot provide a full discourse on every topic that TAG covers. TAG covers a very foundational issue, which has implications in every facet of life -- a full account of TAG is a topic for books, not encyclopedias. I do think that the main article gives at least a hint of how one might use TAG to show that Christianity passes the test, though there is still a lot left unsaid in the article.
this objection amounts to a mere Argument by assertion.
No, it provides a counter-example, which is different. It shows that the assertion that "morality comes from God" is not the only option.
Humans don't always do what is best for staying alive and protecting themselves, for example, sometimes they show mercy to a murderer when the 'right' thing to do under this criteria would be to execute/imprison/exile the murderer to protect themselves from future attack.
But not all humans are clever or logical. Most moral people are logical, to that extent. Also, if someone did actually feel threatened, then they *would* have the murderer executed. Self-preservation goes before mercy in all humans.
In thinking about your objection, I think you are right. The answer doesn't address what it should. I will edit it.
In summary, I don't think these responses are sufficient and has flaws. Please consider deleting them until suitable ones can be found.
Infinity0 20:54, 16 September 2005 (UTC)
I suspect the 'flawed' responses stem more from your anti-Christian bias. I find the objections flawed in a similar way do to my own Christian bias. Rather than deleting the 'flawed' objections, I chose to give an answer that I believe is in accordance with TAG, so that one might see TAG in action. Of course, that the answers are 'flawed' might mean that TAG is flawed, or my understanding is flawed, or that my way of communicating is flawed. If the fault lies with TAG, let the reader read an unbiased article and make that conclusion for himself. If it is me, then let us embrace the wiki spirit and make both the objections and the answers better, rather than quickly turning to deleting the things we don't like.
--OracleofTroy 04:21, 17 September 2005 (UTC)

There, I rewrote the new morality objection, which I think is much better thanks to Infinity0's feedback. Likely it can use some work in the wording, but it seems much more inline with the main purpose of TAG, and avoids the trap of having to give a complete account of every possible system of morality that anyone might come up with and having to apply TAG systematically to each one, something a general encyclopedia such as this one is not meant to do.

-- OracleofTroy 05:21, 17 September 2005 (UTC)

Nicely done :) Infinity0 09:22, 17 September 2005 (UTC)

Request for expansion (November 2005)[edit]

The article states that TAG provides tests to verify the soundness of a worldview, but (as someone pointed out earlier) it does not say how Christianity has passed these tests, and how others have failed. This last part is crucial to the validity of TAG, so I think details should be provided. Also, the article lacks references. ElTchanggo 22:51, 12 November 2005 (UTC)

Request for clarity and organization (November 2005)[edit]

What is the argument? This article needs better structure. Begin with a statement of the argument. Follow with a brief and simple illustrative example. Establish the argument first, then discuss details. 07:07, 22 November 2005 (UTC)


Someone mentioned this article in the #scripture channel on Undernet and I thought I'd come over and try to help. Endomion 03:42, 23 November 2005 (UTC)

Relocation of non-encyclopedic dialogue from article to talk page[edit]

Common objections and responses[edit]

Objection: TAG denies the validity of utilizing (Christian) Theistic evidence.

Response: TAG asserts that Christianity is, in principle, both self-coherent and consistent with the external world -- i.e. does not lead to absurdity, arbitrariness or inconsistency. It is the responsibility of the proponent of the argument to show that these assertions are true, and part of that demonstration must consist of appeal to empirical evidence. Thus, TAG actually assumes the validity of Christian-Theistic evidence, rather than repudiating them; proponents simply understand those evidence within the context of the entire Christian worldview, rather than regarding them as so many 'neutral' facts outside of it.


Objection: TAG implies that morality is not subjective, or that a perfect being has a character on which to base moral values. There is no reason for this assertion. In fact, many atheists believe that morality is indeed subjective. Human concepts of morality arise out of a desire to stay alive, and be protected, amongst other life-related reasons.

Response: First, one should note the differences between the Argument from morality and TAG, as they are often confused. The Argument from morality posits that Christian Theism offers a better explanation for the instances of moral behavior, over the explanation of the non-Christian.

While superficially similar, TAG focuses on much more fundamental principles. TAG examines what must be true in order to make sense of our use of logic, science, etc., including morality. Said another way, how can we have any knowledge of logical principles, induction, identity through change, and moral principles, etc. That "many atheists believe that morality is indeed subjective" is no surprise to TAG. Many people believe many things that vary from Christianity. We must remember that TAG is not merely arguing for one piece of the Christian worldview at a time. TAG is arguing for the entirety of the Christian worldview. Whether a small piece of an entire worldview is a better explanation is meaningless if the worldview as a whole collapses from other problems.

Thus, TAG might answer this objection by bringing us back to the truth or falsity of the Christian worldview as a whole. If the TAG is sound and its conclusion true, then it follows that the presuppositions of the Christian worldview are true. One of many statements which would logically follow is that morality is objective. Thus the truth or falsity of this small piece of a worldview hinges on the question TAG is meant to answer, which is whether or not the Christian God exists.


Objection: TAG depends on perfect knowledge of an absolute moral system. This requires the assumption of a perfect God, perfect communication from that God to the writers of the Bible in its present form (after deletion of "heretical" writings, translations, etc.), perfect understanding of its meaning by TAG proponents, and perfect transmission of that moral system to less erudite consenting and non-consenting adults.

Response: TAG only depends on the existence of an absolute moral (and logical) system and knowledge of its existence, not on perfect knowledge of the system itself. Just as one may not know exactly how or why each piece of a certain model car operates the way it does, and yet argue that without a certain car factory one could not own such a car, so one may be ignorant or unclear of the precise workings of the system of Christian morality and logic, and yet argue that apart from the existence of the God revealed in the Bible one could not make sense of the facts of human experience and knowledge.


Objection: TAG does not provide a satisfactory account of the source of morality. For instance, we might ask if the torture of innocents wrong because God declares it to be wrong or if God declares it to be wrong because it is wrong objectively? The former is unappealing because it implies God might capriciously declare such torture right and love to be evil; the latter solves nothing, since we would still need to work out what it is that makes such torture wrong in the first place.

Response: TAG says that God is by nature good (cf. Psalm 145.17a; 119.68) and that he cannot change this essential quality of his nature (cf. Malachi 3.6 and James 1.17). The law of God, which defines morality for man in the Christian worldview, is based in the character of God, not simply an arbitrary decree. The rightness or wrongness of the torture of innocents (or any other moral act, for that matter) is thus based on God's unchanging nature, which is expressed to us in his ordinances. One might then ask, What determines God's nature? God's answer, if we might borrow from a dialog with Moses, is that he is who he is (Exodus 3.14) -- which is to say, that he is self-existent and self-determined, free of all contingency. Agnostic and atheistic worldviews, TAG proponents would argue, have no basis on which to decide moral questions since moral questions cannot be answered by "the nature of things."


Objection: TAG states that morality cannot exist without God. However, non-Christians can often be more moral than Christians. (Compare Argument from morality#Counterargument.)

Response: If the Christian theistic worldview proposed by TAG is true, non-Christians most certainly can choose a system of morality to follow and live a moral life. The question isn't whether Christians are more moral than non-Christians, the question is whether the Christian theistic worldview and the non-Christian theistic worldview can account for that morality. Both Christians and non-Christians will condemn the Nazi Holocaust or the Spanish Inquisition, and we all make moral judgments throughout our lives. TAG allows for the use of ethics and moral decision making by both Christians and non-Christians. The question is whether moral judgments make sense on the non-Christian worldview. Can that worldview account for morality in a way that does not reduce to absurdity, fall into skepticism, or leave moral judgments subjective? TAG argues that only Christianity can provide the proper foundation for morality that stands up to these challenges.

Objection: 1. If something can be known without requiring a transcendental source of knowledge then a transcendental source of knowledge is not required. 2. For something to be conscious it must exist. 3. Therefore if something is conscious it must exist. 4. If that something is conscious it therefore can know, with justified true belief, that it exists. 5. A transcendent source is not required for this knowledge. 6. Therefore a transcendental source of knowledge is not required.

Response: This argument can only be true if the laws of logic are true and justified (because it presupposes and uses the laws of logic), and this is only the case with a transcendental source. Therefore, though this argument succeeds in showing that a transcendent source is not necessary for knowledge, it fails to show that a transcendental source is not needed at all (because one is necessary to explain and justify the laws of logic). Not a few philosophers would argue that a transcendental source is needed in order to presuppose the laws of logic and thus even make an argument, and so to argue against such a source would be nonsense.


Cleanup[edit]

I've tagged this article as badly needing some... I'm afraid it's attrociously argued, and unclearly written to boot. I think persuasive TAGs can be made (though imho they ultimately fail), but they're certainly not found here! Thomas Ash 22:41, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

Agreed. (Except the parenthetical statement.) This article lacks structure, and much of what it has is irrelevant, IMO. At the moment its just various thoughts about TAG strung together in no meaningful order. I propose that this article do the following, and in the following order. (sorry about the ugly formatting; I'm new to editing at wikipedia)

1. Define TAG

2. mention its history

3. discuss its objective - impossibility of the contrary, indirect proof, Van Til's well-known analogy of child slapping her dad in the face only because he can hold her on his knee in the first place

4. give formulations of its various forms - induction, morality, logic

5. list objections and responses

"a theistic argument, not a Christian argument" (response: true---theists deal with one another in other ways, nevertheless TAG is still a serious argument against non-theism)

"TANG" - critics claim that TANG creates a strawman God with unbiblical attributes (http://www.carm.org/atheism/trans_refuted.htm)

"TAG is a veiled version of the argument from ignorance" - TAG doesn't merely posit that non-Christians 'don't know' how to account for induction, morality, logic, etc (as though the answer hasn't yet been discovered but might one day), but it makes the case that it is entirely impossible for the non-Christian to account for these things outside of God

6. links

The article accomplishes some of this, but for the most part it is messy and doesn't do TAG justice. For example, "The argument" looks like its trying to argue for induction, but must better formulations exist. I think the TAG induction version as it relates to science is far more effective, and easier to understand. Also, I think quotes from the works of Van Til, Bahnsen, Butler, or Frame would bolster the quality of this article.

If what I have written is agreed upon as a good plan for improving the article, let me know and perhaps I can find time to do some of the work. Until then, I think an outline like I have proposed should be followed. Razzendahcuben 19:56, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

OK, I've majorly cleaned up the article. I didn't cover all of the requests above, but I think I got it to such a point where the cleanup request can be removed. Let me know, and I'll remove the cleaup template. --MonkeeSage 21:38, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
I think you did a really good job. Some day I'll try to work on it more, maybe once school gets out. You mentioned the two worldview tests as internal consistency and external conformity. External conformity is not a test mentioned by Butler, at least in some .mp3 lectures I heard. Instead, he mentions arbitrariness. If a person's justification of the truth of the core tenets of their worldview is arbitrary, then the worldview should be rejected. As for external conformity---doesn't that make metaphysical assumptions right off the bat? Razzendahcuben 01:04, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

Is This a TAG?[edit]

Is this at all similar to TAG?

P: God G: Reality

Assume there is no God. If there is no God, there can be no proof. If there is no proof, there can be no reality. If there is no God, there can be no proof because you can’t prove anything without making claims. You can’t claim anything without making assumptions. Assumptions are not consistent with the nature of proof. Therefore, there can be no proof. If there is no proof, there can be no reality. Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics both show that reality is defined by perception. Since perception is defined by belief and belief is defined by proof, there can’t be adequate reality. Also, there can be no inadequate reality because reality is an absolute concept. Since there is reality, God must exist. If there is a God, then you can make claims without making assumptions, which means there can be proof, and therefore reality. (The definition of God is Inherent Truth. This is a good definition of God because if you prove something using an inherent Truth, all of reality is derived from that Truth, which means that the Truth is omnipotent.)

You have described TAG up to the point where you begin talking about science, after that you're merely making suggestions about what constitutes reality. TAG obeys modus tollens. If P, then Q. Not Q, therefore Not P. This is what you have described in saying, Not God, therefore no reality. But there is reality, therefore not not God. (Therefore God) I can't really say that the other stuff you said is true. Using science to define God is basically meaningless because, according to TAG, science presupposes God. Razzendahcuben 23:10, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
There does seem to be presumptions made with this TAG argument. Perhaps someone could define "proof" in the context that it applies here. If proof above refers to evidence, then stating that if there is no God, there can be no evidence [of God], is logical. However, stating that if there is no evidence there can be no reality, makes no sense (to me). Is the TAG argument referring to evidence of God in particular, or evidence of anything? While evidence of God may be impossible to find, evidence definitely exists of other things (like these words are evidence I posted a message.) Where's the part in the TAG argument that demonstrates that reality is reliant on a God creating it? Gigantibyte (talk) 03:06, 13 March 2009 (UTC)

"Defenses of the TAG"[edit]

It is not standard in Wikipedia to list criticisms of criticisms, else articles would extend indefinitely as proponents of each view present more and more counter-arguments. I've commented out the section, pending consensus on whether it should stay. Ilkali (talk) 14:44, 3 January 2008 (UTC)
As an additional point, the defenses section is distinctly POV - especially in its claims about mormonism and moral relativism. Ilkali (talk) 14:46, 3 January 2008 (UTC)

I fail to see how showing both sides is a problem. This article is specifically about an argument, so it seems proper to list the argument, criticisms of the argument, and responses to the criticism. And if the responses are documented from WP:RS sources (i.e., WP:NOR, WP:V), then they are not "POV" in the WP:POV sense. In fact, "[POVs] are often essential to articles which treat controversial subjects". I think it would be somewhat biased to leave out published responses to criticism and leave in published criticisms. Obviously, there is a limit after which both sides have had sufficient room to express their POVs, and no new information is being introduced; but I don't think the responses to criticism section approaches that limit. Being WP:BOLD and uncommenting. » MonkeeSage « 11:09, 5 January 2008 (UTC)

Nonsensical[edit]

I have read this article three times and I still do not know what the transcendental argument is. Someone needs to spell it out in numbered steps, like all the other arguments for the existence of God. In addition, abbreviating it as 'TAG' does not look very encyclopaedic. If abbreviations are necessary, which I do not believe they are on Wikipedia, at least follow convention, and change it to 'T.A.G.' --203.214.145.227 (talk) 14:25, 14 January 2008 (UTC)

  • Truthfully, the first paragraph made good sense to me, but a good portion of the rest of the article seemed to be written largely in jargon I did not comprehend. In a nutshell, it was confusing to read. Xanofar (talk) 21:05, 20 February 2008 (UTC)

Actual example argument seemingly missing[edit]

As has been mentioned by someone else, I have to agree that I find a distinct lack of an actual concrete example of a TAG argument. As far as I can tell, though I'd like to verify with an example, I have no problem with the concept of TAG and the validity of it should one have an actual argument that satisfies the requirements.

However, after having read the article several times, I don't see any concrete example. I see the general description, and there are various attributes and related information about the arguments, but there is no clearly stated concrete argument.

What *is* a common or representative actual TAG argument proposed by christian apologists?

Googling I can find some stuff, but I have no concept of what the most commonly touted argument would be. --Scode (talk) 17:03, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

  • The closest thing to an example so far is Matt Slick's version. This is a rather incoherent page without specific examples, but there are several versions available. I am not sure which can be copied and put here without permission though.--PoDuck (talk) 07:46, 3 December 2009 (UTC)
  • Doug Powell is a Christian apologist and author who is fairly new to the scene. He has a website (dougpowell.com) and a YouTube channel (musickle). His version of TAG is more streamlined than the one used by Matt Slick.

The core of Powell's TAG consists of a modus ponens.

"If x, then y"

"x, therefore y"

"x = transcendent logic." "y = transcendent logician."

And if transcendent, the logician would be omnipotent by default, since this includes the universe. The premises are valid when you consider the old Platonism debate on whether math is invented or observed (discovered). Bivalent logic would favor "observed" and Powell has written extensively on this. Obiwanjacoby (talk) 06:59, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

I also think the argument itself is conspicuously absent. 1Z (talk) 19:45, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

This article needs some major attention[edit]

This article is so muddled, it's hardly coherent. From improper arguments for and against, the lack of an actual full example of TAG, and some really superfluous and redundant stuff. I have fixed some of it tonight, but there are some things that really need to be condensed and removed, and other things added. It is really hard to follow as it sits, and I will get back to more later when I have more time. PoDuck (talk) 09:57, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

Atrocious[edit]

This page requires serious attention, and as it stands is wholly unsuitable for a Wikipedia article. It is riddled with prejudice to the extent that there is nothing worth 'correcting', and the whole article must be started again. It is quite clearly inflammatory and anti-Islamic, and in its attempt to force-feed a poorly executed argument for the existence of the Christian god it degenerates into unintelligible gibbering. I would recommend that a philosophical-theologian with a real grasp of these issues undertakes a full re-write, or else the article is best scrapped. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Gobi tom (talkcontribs) 01:33, 14 October 2010 (UTC)

The article is not "riddled with prejudice". The actual subject matter of the article is prejudiced and we have duly presented that. The TAG argument was developed by 19th century philosophers who (being white and European) slanted it heavily in favour of the Christian god. Essentially they 'gamed the system' by defining the properties of the Triune (Biblical) god as the "ideal", then used that presumption to "prove" that the non-Christian gods were "absurd". Wikipedia is no way endorsing this viewpoint, or claiming that the argument is valid (in fact the article goes on to present the obvious counter-arguments).
I'm not saying the article can't use improvement, but try to remember that we are trying to present how this philosophical argument has been formulated (complete with its pro-Christian bias). Feel free to be offended by how outrageously prejudiced these philosophers were, but don't be upset with Wikipedia for presenting their views neutrally.
You could easily tweak this argument by asserting that some aspect of the Islamic god is "ideal", and thus going on to prove the absurdity of the Christian god. I don't know of any Islamic scholars who ever bothered to do this, given the weakness of the overall argument. Manning (talk) 04:20, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

Not an article[edit]

I agree with Atrocious above. This is not close to WP standards. I'd also like to suggest that a rewrite include a mention that animals exhibit aspects of morality including reciprocity, fairness, harm mitigation, etc. There is a biological basis for these traits and they are obviously evolutionarily adaptive. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 99.28.214.39 (talk) 22:35, 15 October 2010 (UTC)

Concur with above. I linked to this article from another to learn the logic entailed in TAG, and learned nothing. Criticisms section contains supporting arguments. I am not offended by references to Islam, provided these are accompanied by other references to dissimilar religions. Christian bias is evident; objective or at least honest editing of content would be helpful.--Voodooengineer (talk) 21:02, 12 December 2011 (UTC)

Look as noted above, the Transcendental Argument is not an active argument in modern philosophy, it was something developed by Kant and other 19th century philosophers. These philosophers were heavily biased towards Christianity, and this article accurately reflects their bias. It doesn't mean that Wikipedia supports their bias any more than our articles on Hitler's anti-semitism endorse hating Jews. As far as your comments about animal morality, well if there is a modern philosopher attempting to resurrect this argument using that sort of reasoning then by all means supply references to their work and we'll include it. Manning (talk) 04:25, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
I agree. Personal aversion to the TAG argument or its conclusions should not be conflated with good editing practices. This argument should be represented honestly, as it has been put forward by its proponents historically, not in some watered-down way that makes concessions to the sensibilities of modern readers. That's not how wikipedia works. Ischus (talk) 16:05, 13 January 2016 (UTC)

Large section removed[edit]

Someone had added a significant amount of text to the criticism section which merely made the article incoherent and/or offensive. Here is the diff of my edits. Much of the text was placed under the heading 'Criticism" and was inherently Straw man in its nature. I tried to clean it up but ended up just excising it as it couldn't be saved. Manning (talk) 05:47, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

Another section removed[edit]

Someone seems determined to keep putting in a "criticism of criticism" section. This is not general procedure here, and anyway, the text merely repeated what had been said earlier - that this argument is just as weak when rephrased from an atheistic point of view.

If there is something strong enough to merit inclusion, then it should be placed in the main discussion section. Manning (talk) 03:02, 22 May 2012 (UTC)

The "criticism of the criticism" does not claim that the argument is "just as weak when rephrased from an atheistic point of view". It claims that the theistic assertion (that if atheism is true, knowledge is impossible) can be demonstrated deductively using atheistic premises. In other words, if atheists hold to atheism, then deductively they should agree with the disputed THEISTIC premise. That is the counter-claim to Martin's argument. Again, the "criticism of the criticism" is not that there is no reason to hold to the atheistic premise; rather, that there IS reason to hold to the theistic premise. It defends the theistic premise using deductive reasoning. To put it differently, Martin's claim that there is no reason to hold to the disputed theistic premise is false. Martin's claim that the disputed premise could be substituted for its negation and that the negation is equally (un)supported is false. This is the claim of the "criticism of the criticism". The theistic premise is true because both theism AND atheism proclaim it. Neither theism NOR atheism proclaim Martin's premise -- rather, both are opposed to it. This is the claim of the "criticism of the criticism". The "criticism of the criticism" is not actually part of TAG and therefore does not really belong in the main discussion section in my opinion. Nevertheless, it is one attempt to demonstrate that the premises of TAG are necessarily true. This, of course, is only necessary if someone claims that the premises are possibly false, as Martin has... thus, a "responses to criticisms" section. Where would you recommend a dismantlement to Martin's argument belongs? I do not think Martin's argument should be removed, but if included, responses to it should also be included for objectivity. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 74.136.90.234 (talk) 00:06, 28 May 2012 (UTC)

Nonsense. We have an argument, we have a criticism of the argument. That's ALL that is needed - anything beyond that is POV pushing. The "argument" used in that section is just TAG rephrased anyway, this time using an unverifiable assertion about the origin of knowledge. Manning (talk) 01:39, 2 August 2012 (UTC)

The "argument" used in that section begins with atheistic premises. If TAG begins with atheistic premises no atheist would question their validity. Thus, the argument is not TAG. Rather, the argument establishes TAG's premises by presupposing atheism. But I will not add it back in here (yet again) because I find your suggestion that argument and criticism should be sufficient to be reasonable. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 74.136.83.111 (talk) 14:47, 18 August 2012 (UTC)

TAG presupposes its conclusion. So whatever premise you choose, TAG will "prove" the conclusion. Hence you can rephrase it to claim God exists, that God doesn't exist, that all donkeys are pink, or really anything you want. This is why it is regarded as a logically worthless argument. However saying TAG is a worthless argument has no bearing on the question of whether God exists or doesn't exist. Manning (talk) 02:33, 31 October 2012 (UTC)

More stuff removed[edit]

Seriously I can do this all day. The latest excision is some total garbage about how this flaky argument somehow relates to objective morality. TAG has nothing to do with objective morality, those arguments are best kept to the relevant article.

In case the article didn't make it sufficiently clear, TAG is a very flaky argument - it presupposes it's conclusion so it is logically flawed (irreparably). It is equally useless at proving the existence, or the non-existence of God, or anything else for that matter.

The discussion of objective morality is a very interesting one, certainly. But it has got nothing to do with TAG, hence it was excised. Manning (talk) 02:29, 31 October 2012 (UTC)

Hinduism[edit]

Sorry, but this has been an argument used in support of Hinduism for thousands of years before Christianity existed. Moreover, it is vital that for this argument to be true, the theological model expounded by it must be universally communicated (for it presupposes a being capable of universal communication). And yet, for every religion which has existed in human history, hundreds of millions have lived and died without ever hearing of it. Since no deity has proved competent to communicate a message universally, no deity lives up to the initial premise of this argument. Except, naturally, the Creator described in Deism (and variations such as Pandeism) whose means of communication is the existence of natural order and universal logic itself. Because these aspects are indeed universally communicated -- not simply to humans, but to intelligent life wherever it may exist in our Universe-- it is this Creator and this one alone whose existence is proved by this argument. And of all the faiths of Earth, remarkably that which most resembles this model is indeed Hinduism (though its teachings on this point have been much distorted in their misreporting outside of areas where Hinduism predominates). DeistCosmos (talk) 17:23, 3 January 2013 (UTC)

Criticism of the Criticism[edit]

The criticism section of the article states: "The chief criticism of all formulations of the TAG revolve around its premise that "without a god, knowledge cannot exist". While acceptance of this premise can lead to the conclusion that a god must exist, the argument itself provides no demonstrated necessity to accept the premise."

This is inaccurate... in reality the argument states that truth itself is a transcendent quality, and because knowledge itself is defined as a "well justified true belief", that knowledge itself is impossible without truth itself. So the criticism actually doesn't address the argument.

"Martin (1997) suggested the invalidity of this assertion when he reformulated the TAG as the 'Transcendental argument for the non-existence of God' starting with the negation of TAG's premise, namely, that 'the existence of knowledge presupposes the non-existence of God'[2]"

This doesn't belong.... it literally just stated that "some guy once suggested that the argument was wrong"... so what? Also.. the existence of knowledge does not presuppose the non-existence of God.... just because someone can propose a negation does not in any way suggest that the negation of a statement is in any way logically valid... and if it were logically valid, he would have to defend that notion of it being logically valid, which this short comment of the criticism does not do.

This criticism section should either be expanded greatly or removed completely. 162.226.64.170 (talk) 05:47, 2 March 2015 (UTC)

I removed the criticism paragraph. The claim it makes was not cited, and appeared to be editorializing by someone who simply dislikes the TAG argument. I propose a re-write that cites actual scholars in this field and gives both criticism and response from proponents side-by-side. Ischus (talk) 16:11, 13 January 2016 (UTC)