By Elias Ayala
(M.A.T & MDiv)
(TAG): The transcendental argument for God’s existence is in my estimation one of the most powerful arguments for God’s existence. It appeals to the transcendental nature of logical absolutes and their necessary grounds within a theistic worldview, one in which has a transcendent and absolute being as its foundation. However, before delving into the details of the argument, let us define our terms. Transcendentals refer to that aspect of reality that is not grounded in the physical realm. Transcendentals can include within its scope both abstractions and concepts. Let’s take the notion of a “concept” for instance: Concepts exist as non-physical entities that reside in minds. They are not measurable by physical or scientific means, yet they most definitely exist within reality (which the theist does not limit to the physical; we will revisit this later). Concepts cannot be measured, tasted, felt with the senses; nor can you plant a seed and grow a concept. The point is that they are non-physical realities.
When considering the TAG argument for God’s existence, we are made to consider the transcendental nature of the laws of logic. The laws of logic are the laws of proper thinking, without which we cannot make sense of reality nor could we undergo a process of reasoning and coherent reflection. The laws of logic govern our thinking and provide necessary guidelines for rationality. These laws of thought are so essential that even to deny their existence or objectivity, one would have to affirm the laws in order to deny them. Allow me to demonstrate this by first listing the 3 basic laws of logic, and explaining the implications of their denial:
Laws of Logic
- Law of Identity: Something is what it is, and is not what it is not. A car is a car and not a dog.
- Law of non-contradiction: Something cannot both be true and false at the same time and in the same way. It cannot be raining and not raining in the same place and at the same time, and in the same sense.
- Law of Excluded Middle: A statement is either true or false; there is no middle option. Either God exists, or, it is not the case that God exists.
We all assume each of these laws of logic in all of our reasoning; if we didn’t, we could never make any sense both in our thinking and expression. Hence, if one were to deny the existence of the laws of logic, they would have to affirm their existence since the language they used to express their denial assumes the validity of these logical laws (Language presupposes the 3 laws of logic). In other words, the reality of these conceptual laws of thought are unavoidable and are necessary for all coherent thinking. So how do these facts relate to the existence of God? This is where the TAG argument proves to be very powerful and effective as an apologetic tool.
Logic Implies God’s Existence
First, it is important to recognize that these logical laws are conceptual although we may use linguistic constructs to express them. As concepts, they are non-physical; that is to say, that they do not take up space. Furthermore, the laws of logic are transcendent since their existence do not depend upon the physical universe. Another important feature of logic is that the laws are universal in their application. It does not matter where you are, the laws of logic are true everywhere and at every time; they are universal. Now here is a funny thing: If the laws of logic are universal, transcendent, conceptual laws, and concepts by definition exist only in minds, then it follows that the laws of logic as universal, transcendent, conceptual laws must be grounded in a universal, transcendent Mind, which we call God. For God in His being is a disembodied Mind. This is straight in line with the traditional conception of the biblical God given the fact that we are told that God is spirit (John 4:24). He does not have body parts, nor is God limited by spacial location or geography; God is everywhere. Hence, the logical laws imply a transcendent universal, and rational Mind to ground them.
Did God Invent Logic?
It is important to recognize that God did not “invent” or “create” logic. Logic is a necessary reality that makes any kind of coherency possible. They are “necessary” in their existence and have always existed. However, logic should not be thought of as something eternally existing apart from God Himself; rather, logic is a natural reflection of God’s rational mind. These universal, transcendent, conceptual realities have always existed because God has always existed. In other words, logic cannot exist unless God exists, because these logical laws, as concepts, must be grounded in a Mind. God could not have created logic since logic is a necessary precondition of rationality, and an orderly creation requires rationality and logic.
Why is this Argument so Powerful?
The power of this argument is that God’s existence is demonstrated by the fact that He is required to ground the universal, transcendent logical laws which are necessary for any kind of rational thought and argumentation to be possible. Hence, if the Christian can show, that only in a theistic worldview which includes a universal transcendent Mind can ground logic, then it follows that any and all non-theistic worldviews must borrow from the theistic worldview even to argue against it. As one apologist said, “Anti-theism presupposes theism.
I have utilized this argument with non-theists, especially of the naturalistic atheistic variety. In a worldview like an atheistic metaphysical naturalism, all that exists is the physical realm (i.e. Nature). Such worldviews hold to the notion that physical nature exhausts all of reality and there are no non-physical realities beyond the natural order. However, if all reality can be reduced to the physical, then how can that very same person hold to the reality and objectivity of the transcendent, and conceptual laws of logic? If what they say about reality is true, then their affirmation of the existence of logical absolutes contradict their view of the world. Pointing this inconsistency out in discussion can prove very helpful in demonstrating the superiority of the theistic perspective.