On Twitter

« Thankful Thursday | Main | I Give You Permission to Laugh »
Wednesday
Jul142010

Theological Term of the Week

transcendental argument for the existence of God
The argument which attempts to prove God’s existence by arguing that logic, morals, and science ultimately presuppose the Christian worldview, and that God’s absolute nature is the source of logic and morals.1

  • Scripture that grounds a transcendental argument for the existence of God:

    And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17 ESV)
  • An example of a trancendental argument:
    When we go to look at the different world views that atheists and theists have, I suggest we can prove the existence of God from the impossibility of the contrary. The transcendental proof for God’s existence is that without Him it is impossible to prove anything. The atheist world view is irrational and cannot consistently provide the preconditions of intelligible experience, science, logic, or morality. The atheist world view cannot allow for laws of logic, the uniformity of nature, the ability for the mind to        understand the world, and moral absolutes. In that sense the atheist world view cannot account for our debate tonight. (A bit of Greg Bahnsen’s argument from Does God Exist? Greg Bahnsen vs. Gordon Stein)
  • From Trancendental Arguments by John Frame:

    What, then, does transcendental argument add to the apologist’s arsenal, beyond the traditional arguments? First, it presents a goal for apologetics. The goal of the apologist is not only to show that God exists, but also who he is: that he is the source of all meaning and intelligibility in the universe.

    Further, it suggests apologetic strategies somewhat neglected in the tradition. Traditional apologists have often argued that causality (for example) implies God. A transcendental argument makes a stronger claim: that causality presupposes God. The difference between “implies” and “presupposes,” according to Peter Strawson and Bas Van Fraasen, is that in the latter case God’s existence is implied either by the assertion or the denial of causality. That is, not only does the existence of causality imply the existence of God, but even to deny (intelligibly, if it were possible) the existence of causality would be to invoke a framework of meaning that presupposes God’s existence. Don Collett argues that the Strawson-Van Fraasen kind of presupposition is identical with Van Til’s. So if creation presupposes God, even the denial of creation presupposes him, and the atheist is like the little girl slapping her father while sitting on his lap.

    The Bible does make this kind of radical claim, that creation not only implies, but presupposes God. For God is the creator of all, and therefore the source of all meaning, order, and intelligibility. It is in Christ that all things hold together (Col. 1:17). So without him everything falls apart; nothing makes sense. Thus Scripture teaches that unbelief is foolish (Psm. 14:1, 1 Cor. 1:20). There are many arguments to be made on the way to that conclusion. Not every individual apologetic argument needs to go that far.  But the apologist’s work is not done until he reaches that conclusion, until he persuades the objector that God is everything the Bible says he is. That is to say that a complete argument for Christian theism, however many sub-arguments it contains, will be transcendental in character.

Learn more:

  1. GotQuestions.org: What is the trancendental argument for the existence of God?
  2. RealApologetics.org Blog: A Concise Outline for the Trancendental Argument for God’s Existence
  3. Doug Wilson: The Transcendental Argument for God’s Existence (The opening statement of a debate with Theodore Drange)
  4. Greg Bahnsen: Transcript of Does God Exist? Greg Bahnsen vs. Gordon Stein

Related terms:

1What is the transcendental argument for the existence of God? at GotQuestions.org

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it.

I’m also interested in any suggestions you have for tweaking my definitions or for additional (or better) articles or sermons/lectures for linking. I’ll give you credit and a link back to your blog if I use your suggestion.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms organized in alphabetical order or by topic.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>