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A transcendental argument for the existence of God against the atheist unbeliever as related to human reason

April 16, 2013

Scott Whynot

Introduction

A transcendental argument does not, like a teleological (design) argument, gather evidence and make a conclusion based upon what is most probably the case.  Instead, a transcendental argument invades a more foundational aspect of the basic assumptions one makes in presenting any evidence at all.

When an individual collects information and presents this information in the form of an argument they are assuming certain presuppositions that can only be accounted for in the Christian theistic philosophy.  Christianity is, therefore, the necessary precondition to make the human experience intelligible.  In their heart of hearts atheists must assume God’s existence to formulate their very argument against God’s existence; behavior that the first chapter of the book of Romans describes as a suppression of the truth.  This is the basis of the transcendental argument and the purpose of this essay will be to demonstrate these facts.

Definition of Important Terms

Objective - applicable and binding to all people in all times and all places

Truth – that which corresponds to reality

Law of non-contradiction – a proposition cannot be both true and not true at the same time and in the same relationship

Christianity - belief and service to the Triune God as presented by His infallible Word in the Bible

Atheist – while I recognize that there are a variety of possible atheistic philosophies, I will try to be as general as possible in my argument against atheism as a whole.  I will assume an atheist holds to naturalism, materialism, empiricism, or a mixture thereof.

Explanation of the Argument

When the atheist engages in an argument against the Christian, the atheist makes the assumption that there is a universal standard of reasoning to which both parties must succumb.  For example, let’s say the Christian presented an argument in favor of the existence of God that included a contradiction.  The atheist would rightly dismiss this argument as a blatant disregard for the laws of logic (in this case, the law of non-contradiction).  However, an atheistic philosophy has no foundation by which the laws of logic should be objectively accepted.

Before engaging with atheism I will address the Christian perspective on this issue.  The laws of logic and objective standard for reasoning are a reflection of God’s thoughts and character.  A contradiction is wrong in all circumstances and for all people because God does not lie.  God has had no beginning and will have no end.  Likewise, there was no time and there will be no time where the laws of logic do not apply.  As we are His creation, we are bound to observe His standard and proper reasoning is therefore determined by its conformity to the objective standard of God’s reasoning.  On this ground a Christian is able to identify one method of reasoning as incorrect and another as correct.  God, as a revelatory Being, has revealed this knowledge to humankind both innately and through His Word in the Bible.  Along with this, God has created our minds and senses and has revealed that these faculties are generally reliable to reflect truth with any exceptions due to the fall of man in the Garden of Eden.  Moreover, God is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient so there is no place and there are no possibilities that these principles of rationality and logic can ever be broken.  It is for these reasons that the human experience of objective laws of logic and universal standard of reasoning are made intelligible in the Christian worldview.

The atheistic philosophy does not allow for a knowable objective standard for reasoning.  With no transcendent and sovereign Creator God, all reasoning becomes individually autonomous and ultimately relativistic.  Relatedly, evolutionary biology precludes the conception that one individual is reasoning properly and another is not in a debate.  If all individuals have evolved brains, there is no standard by which the atheist can claim that one person’s reasoning methods have evolved correctly and another’s have evolved incorrectly.  They are merely different.  Moreover, if senses, reasoning, and memory have evolved based upon optimal survival value, how could one say that their faculties reflect an objective truth?  By necessity, these faculties are for survival value only and do not necessarily express what actually exists.  Principles of rationality become a mere preference and/or chain of chemical reactions that may not be thought objectively superior to any other.  Debate about the existence of God, or indeed any knowledge claim at all, is rendered useless in this philosophy as there is no method by which any individual can obtain objective truth or know that they are reasoning correctly.

Despite this the atheist unbeliever does in fact live and act as if a universal standard for reasoning actually exists.  Atheists constantly assume the universality of the laws of logic as they preform scientific experiments and argue for truth.  As their philosophy cannot account for these things they must be inconsistent at this point and borrow the concept from the Christian worldview.  Indeed, God has provided the atheist with an innate knowledge of Him and His universal standard for reasoning through which the atheist can engage in valid discourse.  However, the atheist suppresses this truth and rebels against the Creator.  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? (1 Corinthians 1:20)

Objections

1) Some atheists will reject the whole notion of an objective truth.  However, to be consistent they would also have to reject the rejection of objective truths.

2) Moreover, some atheists will reject the idea of objective laws of logic that are applicable to all people, at all times, and in every place.  To this claim, I simply respond that if you reject the laws of logic, then you accept them.  If laws of logic do not exist I can contradict the atheist without reproof.

3) Some will contend that objective laws of logic exist as simply a property of the natural world and do not require the Christian God for explanation.  To the Christian this is partially correct; God has created the natural world logically.  However, this statement is unintelligible in an atheistic philosophy as individuals are unable to know this standard as objectively true due to the limitations already mentioned.

4) An atheist may make an appeal to the established society norms or majority opinion.  However, to assess these societal standards they must engage their reasoning and there is no basis by which to claim that they are reasoning correctly.  Furthermore, I would expect that the atheist would reject as objectively incorrect a society that decides to accept logical contradictions as fact.

5) Likewise, one may make the objection that the laws of logic are merely a preferred rationalistic standard that allows for proper human functioning.  The atheist, however, is unable to determine an objective standard for proper functioning itself and has no foundation by which to demand others to accept their standard.  Along with this, if the atheist arbitrarily assumes a standard for human functioning (ex. reproductive success), they would be forced to admit that whoever meets this standard most perfectly is the model for proper reasoning (in this case, Genghis Khan).

6) An objection may be raised that this argument does nothing for the Christian God per se, only for an undefined higher being.  However, the preconditions of intelligibility are only made sensible when the specific attributes of the Christian God are considered.  If the atheist wants to argue that a general deism will suffice, I would congratulate them for abandoning their atheism and would interact with their new view accordingly to demonstrate it’s shortcomings.

7) The astute observer may ask the Christian how one may know God’s revelation of His standard for reasoning – is it not through prior personal reasoning?  The only consistent answer that will avoid the relativism of individual autonomy would simply be that God has revealed it in such a way that we may know it to be true.  This obvious circularity (God’s revelation is known because He has revealed it) is unavoidable for any ultimate authority claim; however, circularity is valid as the conclusion does indeed follow from the premise.  The necessary investigation for a circular argument is if it is sound/true.  If instead an individual assumes personal reasoning to be their ultimate authority they are left with the circularity of validating their reasoning by using their reasoning.  Between these competing circularities only the Christian circularity provides the necessary foundation to make sensible the human experience of an objective standard for reasoning.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.

8) Finally, to the skeptic who refuses to acknowledge objective truth and standard of reasoning I will graciously conclude my argumentation provided they accept that their philosophy is, by definition, illogical and irrational.

Conclusion

Only the Christian worldview provides the necessary preconditions of rationality.  On the other hand, the atheistic philosophy is unable to account for the universal standard of reasoning that is continually assumed by both Christians and atheists.  When the atheist unbeliever engages in debate on the existence of God, that individual is presupposing foundations that only exist in Christianity.  Romans chapter 1 reveals that all people know that God exists (for example, through their unconscious appeal to the objective standard of reasoning that requires the Christian God) yet they suppress that truth in unrighteousness.  I urge all atheists to cease their rebellion and turn with repentance to the God they know exists.  Lastly, I exhort Christians to be reminded of 1 Peter 3:15 which first states to sanctify Christ as Lord in your heart before admonishing preparedness for defense of the faith.  Only when Christ, not man, is the Lord and foundation of our reasoning are we able to defend the faith properly.

 

 

 

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37 Comments
  1. Barrett permalink

    I’d encourage you to visit http://bahnsenburner.blogspot.com to learn about arguments against presuppositional apologetics.

  2. John permalink

    Awesome!

  3. Sarah permalink

    Thanks for posting.

  4. Scott, you’re about 45 years too late! Stroud famously wrote a paper in 1968 refuting this style of argument against different forms of scepticism.

    Here’s a good resource that I check whenever I’m starting to dabble in areas of philosophy that I’m not familiar with:

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/transcendental-arguments/#ObjTraArg

    • Hi Ben, thanks for posting.

      I generally agree with Stroud’s argument. My transcendental argument differs because is based solely on the fact of God’s revelation – without that, it fails! I would actually argue that Stroud confirms the point I was making that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.

      • Maybe have another read at it. I don’t think a simple appeal to the revelation of God can address a Stroud-style objection to a transcendental argument of this type. Not without a lot more work and explanation, which you have not yet done.

        Largely, the fields of philosophy and theology have abandoned arguments along these lines, although they were considered pretty compelling in Kant’s time, and up until the early 20th century.

      • Stroud argued (of course, on the basis of atheism) that transcendental arguments cannot be used against the skeptic to establish knowledge of truth. I agree with him and cannot comprehend how an atheist can ever claim to know objective truth.

        However, this furthers the claim that (in atheism) to make any statement at all is nonsensical. Even the very argument Stroud uses becomes unintelligible because truth cannot be known. Everything breaks down and nothing can be claimed, not even the statement that ‘nothing can be claimed’.

        On the other hand if one starts with the presuppositions of Christianity then knowledge is indeed possible because an all-knowing, transcendent, Creator God has revealed truth to humankind. The statement ‘Christianity is true’ can indeed be known to be true and Christianity is able to be consistent with itself. Also, in this sense Christianity is able to make intelligible a universal standard for reasoning.

        Do you see where I am coming from? Many past and current Reformed theologians use this style of argumentation – and are likely much more elegant writers.

  5. A Friendly Mathematician permalink

    You seem to have a case of special pleading / strawman fallacies on the loose:

    “The atheistic philosophy does not allow for a knowable objective standard for reasoning. With no transcendent and sovereign Creator God, all reasoning becomes individually autonomous and ultimately relativistic.”

    You should probably try to define the term “knowable” rigorously and then compare and contrast the theistic and atheistic sides. I think you will find that the theistic idea of knowledge is just as precarious under your current paradigm. Thus, it is not a suitable alternative.

    Allow me to make exemplify the problem: How do I know I can utilize logic? Because of God’s divine attributes. How am I aware of these divine traits? Because God has revealed it. How do I know it was God and not some false spirit or narrative tradition that has evolved over the years or some other possible alternative? Well, because I have evidence (personal experience, typically) that supports it –that is, reason.

    Circular reasoning works because…Circular reasoning works because…Circular reasoning works because…Circular reasoning works because…Circular reasoning works because…

    • AFM,

      I appreciate your comment. I think a post specifically targeting the knowledge aspect would be beneficial. Basically, knowledge in Christian Theism is based upon God’s revelation (innate and through the Bible), whereas atheism is unable to provide a basis for objective knowledge. If atheism were true, you would not even be able to state the claim that atheism was true! It breaks down internally. Christianity on the other hand can be consistent in this matter.

      Regarding circular reasoning, I touched on this a bit in the post but I agree that knowledge ultimately comes down to a circle. I know God exists because He has revealed that He exists (assuming God exists to prove He exists). As I mentioned above, circular reasoning is valid as the conclusion does indeed follow from the premise and the soundness (or truth) of this particular circle is demonstrated by it’s internal consistency – namely, if the Christian God exists then I can know that claim to be true because there is a foundation for knowledge in this worldview.

      • taka no mi permalink

        no knowldge goes around in a circle its supposed to go in a LINE

  6. Satta Massagana permalink

    “that God has revealed it in such a way that we may know it to be true.”

    How do you know you are not being deceived? I received a personal revelation from.. I guess the best translation would be “super god”.. and he told me, in a way that I know it to be true, that YOU have been given faulty information from a lesser, deceitful “god.” Prove me wrong.

    • Hi SM,

      Good question! Probably one I should have included in my ‘objections’ (it resembles objection 6, but probably deserves it’s own treatment).

      I know the Christian God is the only God because He has revealed this to be true. This fact can be demonstrated because ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge’ and all other philosophies/worldviews end up becoming internally absurd.

      To prove you wrong I would have to ask you questions about your god. What aspects about itself has it revealed? Has it revealed to more people than just you? Does it have all knowledge? Etc. You’ll find that in order to propose a god that can allow for knowledge and explain human experience you’ll have to use the attributes of the Christian God and appeal to Biblical foundations such as the fall of man.

      For example, if you merely claim that all this god has done is reveal that I am wrong (with no aspects of being creator, having all knowledge, etc) I would simply say that your new worldview does not allow for objective knowledge because of the same basic limitations in atheism itself.

      • Satta Massagana permalink

        “What aspects about itself has it revealed?”

        It’s existence and that It is the true “first cause”, “prime mover”. Atheists often say the cosmological argument is special pleading, because it fails to answer “who created God?” Well, Super God did, that’s who. (I use the pronoun “It” because it has no sex or gender, it’s not like there are other beings with which to copulate. This was one of the points it brought up while revealing the obvious fraudulent nature of your “god”)

        “Has it revealed to more people than just you?”

        Possibly Joseph Smith, but I can’t be sure.

        “Does it have all knowledge? ”

        Of course!

        “you’ll have to use the attributes of the Christian God ”

        And the Christian God has to use the attributes of Super God, to explain anything. Another thing worth noting is that Super God is much more ontologically perfect than the Christian “god”, because he lacks nothing, wants for naught. He doesn’t care if you worship It, because that would be needing something, i.e. worship or prayers. He generally lets the Christian God take credit for the universe because to do otherwise would be displaying jealousy or envy, other traits the ontologically perfect Super God doesn’t express. You might think that It telling me all this would be boasting, (another undesirable trait of the less than perfect Christian “god”) however this is just me boasting on It’s behalf.

      • SM,

        It sounds like you believe in the Christian God and super god? Clearly God has rebelled against the super god as God has revealed that He alone is God. Furthermore, if God has lied than how can we know that we are able to have objective knowledge? Is not God just lying to us all about the general reliability of our reasoning and senses? And is He lying about an objective standard for reasoning? Super god has no wants so it will not stop Him and if super god exists then God is clearly not interested in following/obeying it. Also, since super god has no wants then it does not want to tell us that we are being deceived! Thus, in your belief system we are left in the same condition as atheism – no foundation for knowledge itself. If super god exists, we cannot know that it exists.

      • taka no mi permalink

        again, its the super god that revealed himself and only he makes knowledge possible, god has rebelled against him and is trying to trick you with false revelations

  7. A Friendly Mathematician permalink

    “I know the Christian God is the only God because He has revealed this to be true.”

    …the majority of religions make this claim about their deities as well. But their logic must be unfounded since their deities are false. And they would, in turn, say the same of you as well.

    But lets skip that. It is uninteresting and easily addressed. I’ll, instead, make mention of a few things that caught my eye:

    “I know the Christian God is the only God because He has revealed this to be true.”

    …still Circular Reasoning.

    “This fact can be demonstrated because ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge’ and all other philosophies/worldviews end up becoming internally absurd.”

    …False Dichotomy.

    “Basically, knowledge in Christian Theism is based upon God’s revelation (innate and through the Bible), whereas atheism is unable to provide a basis for objective knowledge.”

    …False statement. First, don’t confuse atheism with science. Second, science is premised on the assumption that the universe is explainable –that it is governed by fundamental laws. That much is true.

    However, just because no one knows why this is the case doesn’t mean that we can’t observe its reality and take it as fact. And there is no explanatory power in the elucidation “God did it.” That explains nothing. E.g. God made water two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. That doesn’t explain anything. But chemistry does. God made the universe ex nihilo. That statement has even less explanatory power than the previous example.

    Second, you set up a false dichotomy. The atheist does not have to give an account for objective truths (not knowledge.. what is objective knowledge?). There are obvious objective truths… and some not so obvious: Constancy of the speed of light in a vacuum, the relativity of causality, etc. And some of an even more platonic nature: there exist infinitely many integer solutions to the equation x^2 +y^2 =z^2. But what a theist must show is that all such truths are contingent upon their deity. It is not good enough to claim they are.

    For example, we are composed of compounds that arise with the most frequency and chemical pliability in nature. So our existence doesn’t seem all that amazing given the amount of time in which things have been able to interact and evolve. However, if we were composed of a special isotope of bismuth, let’s say. Well, that would be amazing. Because everything we know about chemistry, biology, and probability would tell us that we should never expect to see that. And assuming we aren’t complete putzes, we’d be daft not to assume divine intervention in light of that evidence. Although I’d think the likelihood would be that our “science” needed some verification / peer review… i.e. we are putzes.

    “If atheism were true, you would not even be able to state the claim that atheism was true! It breaks down internally.”

    …I have some knowledge of internal consistency. The atheist is not running afoul with such claims. Again… False Dichotomy.

    “Christianity on the other hand can be consistent in this matter.”

    …hefty claim. Let’s scrutinize that for a moment. Most “claims” in christian theology are not meaningful statements. They aren’t well-defined… which accounts for the wide variety and flavors (denominations) of christian one is likely to observe. But let us assume that there is a right interpretation of such numinous doctrines. It should be testable (observable) to some extent. Let’s test this with extreme thought experiments:

    Rape. Rape, to me, doesn’t ever seem like a moral action. However, the Judeo-Christian God doesn’t seem to have much problem with it. If I were to rape your daughter, I would need no penalty more than to pay you out of hand for the infraction. That hardly seems ethical. I’m not sure we should be ordering our societies in such a way.

    http://thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Biblical-Marriage-Infographic.jpg

    Also consider slavery, genocide, etc. commanded by this loving God. In what sense is that loving? Or do we subscribe to divine command theory? This has been hatched out before:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthyphro_dilemma

    Speaking of divine command theory, there is the case of Isaac. Now, I don’t know about you, but if someone told me to gut my kid, to prove my faith, and to test if I believed whether God had the ability to raise the dead (St. Paul’s critique), I’d think I’d do the sensible and ethical thing, and tell the guy (voice, deity, hallucination, etc.) where he could stick it. A totalitarian state where child sacrifice must be submitted to is a reprehensible state to find yourself in.

    So, as far as I can see. Christianity has to supply me with two things: 1) Evidence of God’s existence. 2) Proof that their God is not a moral monster and is indeed worthy of my praise (and not my contempt).

    However, I have evidence that claims made in the Bible are false. Although, I don’t really need them. I could just as easily ignore their religious silliness the same as a Christian ignore’s the muslim’s or the hindoo’s. But if pressed, I can offer examples: Jesus, when was he born? In Luke’s gospel it take’s place after Qurinius took office.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Census_of_Quirinius

    In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus is a toddler when Herod order’s the infanticide.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massacre_of_the_Innocents

    However, there is a good 8-10 year gap between the death of Herod and the (supposed) census given by Quirinius, which could have happened at the earliest by his first year in office. So which is it? The Bible doesn’t seem to understand how time works. I can’t be born ten years after someone tried to murder me while I was a toddler.

    Could it be that the stories were fabricated? Could this religious text be nothing more than the amalgamation of superstitious lore and myths that coalesced and evolved into their modern form? There is evidence of this with other religions. What evidence do you have that this is not the case with yours?

    • Hi AFM,

      Thanks for the comment, I’ll try to be brief here,

      Re: circularity, I have already discussed that circularity is not invalid; the proper question is if a circular argument is sound/true. Every knowledge claim in any worldview must, by necessity, reduce to circularity but only the Christian circularity can be internally consistent.

      The big thing here is the foundation of knowledge. As I have discussed, a consistent atheism does not allow for objective knowledge (knowledge of that which corresponds to reality) whereas Christianity does. Atheism eventually leads to validation of senses, reasoning, and memory by using senses, reasoning, and memory. In atheism it is impossible to know these as reflecting reality as they are merely personal chemical reactions. The statement ‘atheism is true’ does not allow truth to be known and invalidates that very statement.

      Christianity on the other hand starts with the existence of an all-knowing, revelatory God and can be internally consistent as objective knowledge is possible. The claim ‘Christianity is true’ can indeed be known and is consistent with itself.

      It seems like you make a lot of moral arguments – does this mean that you accept objective morality? How can an objective morality be known if atheism is true?

      For the alleged historical discrepancy/contradiction, this is easily relieved if one recognizes that there must have been an earlier census along with the one that Josephus mentions which would not be surprising at that historical time.

  8. A Friendly Mathematician permalink

    “Every knowledge claim in any worldview must, by necessity, reduce to circularity but only the Christian circularity can be internally consistent.”

    I don’t think you know what that means.

    I’ll give you an example. Allah is the one true god and Muhamed is his prophet. How do I know this? The Koran. Why do I trust Koran? Because Allah is god.

    That is perfectly consistent. There is no contradiction. However, that is completely bogus. Circular arguments are never sound. You can’t assume that which you assert –that which you are trying to show. It must fall out as a consequence. It can not be a hidden presupposition.

    So again:

    “Every knowledge claim in any worldview must, by necessity, reduce to circularity…”

    That is complete hog wash.

    And a few minor caveats: You want to talk about objective truths –not objective knowledge. You need to talk about epistemology. But you should try to figure out how logic works first, and why circular reasoning is just silly. It can be used to show anything.

    “It seems like you make a lot of moral arguments – does this mean that you accept objective morality? How can an objective morality be known if atheism is true?”

    This is a nice pass the buck move. Are you not going to respond to the charges that your God is a moral monster? Will you not be ready to defend your faith? Are you not ready to explain your Christian hope?

    Fine. Let the same not be said of me. I do believe in objective moral truths. On what basis, you will ask? First, you assume that without a greatest possible moral being –a locus of all value– that I cannot have a firm foundation. This is in error –but the set-up your false dichotomy. To counter, I pointed out that your God is not very moral by any standards. Again, this dilemma has been touched upon by many times before. Most notably:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthyphro_dilemma

    Either God has good reasons for his commands or he does not. If he does, then those reasons (and not God’s commands) are the ultimate ground of moral obligation. If he does not have good reasons, then his commands are completely arbitrary and may be disregarded. Either way, the divine command theory is false.

    So even if your God is not a moral monster (which you still need to refute), then you still must account for your basis. It is still as seemingly arbitrary as the secular humanistic atheists (seemingly). You did get one thing right. We do need a sense of veracity about truth-claims (facts; statements about reality) in order to get a moral system. Let us simply suppose this.

    It is a fair assumption. We live in a seemingly intelligible universe. Notice that every moral statement one can make boils down to a statement about well-being. People want to go to Paradise (heaven) when they die. Why? To optimize their well-being after death. It seems folly to me. I lack evidence of a heaven. But I understand the motivation behind this simple wishful thinking.

    I think it is easy enough to arrive at this: what we deem personally good is whatever is conducive to states of heightened well-being. And if we have enough empathy, that is, we are capable of the rational thought that, while we are biased, we are not especially dissimilar from any other human being, then we will extend our same considerations to others. Evolutionarily speaking, it makes sense. In fact, we can see that primates, specifically all the great apes, have varying sense of morality. They punish unwanted behaviours. But sometimes they are lax. They defend their families and care for and nurture their children. And sometimes they will adopt a foreign child as well. Such group solidarity, which eventually turned into our very human tribalism (our us vs. them mentalities, superstitions, group defining self-identifying narratives, customs, etc.) is easily accounted for.

    And the nice thing about acknowledging these facts is that they allow us to admit when we were wrong. When we incorrectly surmised what was right and what was wrong. For example, slavery. The fact that we can learn and grow and hold meaningful conversations about how to conduct ourselves is one of our greatest assets as a species. Our reason has made us great and taken us to places Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle would have never dreamed of.

    However, to cling to antiquated notions of our intellectual infancy and subscribe to the disproven theories of our dark ages is the opposite of wisdom. It is foolishness. It seems befitting to quoth the wisdom of Solomon (one of his misappropriated proverbs):

    Proverbs 14:15

    The fool believes every word: but the wise man looks well to his going.

    • AFM,

      Thanks for posting, I appreciate being able to discuss these things.

      However, I’m interested that you said that circular arguments are never sound. I think the comment by Titus (below) is right on the money. I would also ask how you could prove logic without using logic. Since there is no way to do this and you assert that circular arguments are never sound, does logic not exist? Would you admit that your view then is illogical by definition?

      In circular arguments, I use ‘internal consistency’ to mean that if the circular argument was true then it follows that one could indeed know it to be true. In other words, the circularity provides a foundation for knowledge. Only Christianity can provide this and this post has been trying to demonstrate that atheism cannot.

      Re: Islam, since it is ‘closer’ to Christianity than atheism, it would take more digging to reveal where it breaks down. If you are truly interested I can probe further – please let me know. I might start out by asking how the Torah and Ingil could be corrupted if they are from God.

      This post is about knowledge and logic rather than morality so I don’t want to get too off topic (I’ll be sure to make a post about morality in the future), but I’ll try to explain a little. God’s character is the standard for morality so He cannot be immoral by definition. However, many of your assertions about the morality of God come from a misunderstanding anyway. For example, the Jewish laws commanded the rapist to pay a fine and marry the victim. This is because the victim of rape in that society would have a very difficult time finding a husband and would not have anyone to financially provide for her. This law ensures that the victim will be able to survive after the attack. The bind is only on the rapist to stay married, I’m sure if the victim had a lot of money (through family or other means) that they would not stay with the rapist.

      I have a hard time understanding where your objective morals come from. In atheism, why should I submit to your idea that well-being is so great if I my evolved mind tells me that destruction is morally right?

  9. Titus permalink

    AFM

    I’ve read your statements, but you still haven’t given a reason to trust your reasoning without being circular or asserting your own subjective reality.

  10. A Sleep-Deprived Mathematician permalink

    “Rape is okay if you are willing to pay.” -God

    Alright. I rest my case.

  11. A Caffeine-Deprived Mathematician permalink

    Another long and fruitful day behind me… so I thought I’d check in here.

    There is a failure to communicate on a very basic level here –not knowing the meaning of words. So let me leave this here for you. Perhaps it will help you to better formulate your thoughts and help elucidate the previous points I made:

    Some Basic Logic Terms (and Ideas):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Validity

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soundness

    The Basis for Scientific Discourse:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_science#Grounds_of_validity_of_scientific_reasoning

    Again. You aren’t arguing against atheism. You are arguing against science. Atheists, like theists must make a jump in the logic, albeit, a more reasonable one (by measure of probability). But that is a secondary concern. The primary matter is one of epistemology. How do we know what we know? Or perhaps, better: How can we know what we know? What is knowledge? What is truth? How do we make deductions given evidence and gain new knowledge? Why is that valid? On what basis is that secure?

    Scientists, Mathematicians, Logicians, and Philosophers (and Theologians) have asked that question many times. However, the latter group still seems to be confounded while the rest of us have moved on. Sufficient answers were given by Aristotle and improved upon greatly during the Enlightenment. Much else need not be said.

    • ACDM,

      My contention all along has been that atheism does not allow for knowledge, specifically knowledge of a universal standard for reasoning (objective logic). I find it quite a bold claim to say that the problems with epistemology (ex. the problem of induction) in the atheistic worldview are no longer an issue. Citing wikipedia articles does not solve the problem.

  12. A Bored Mathematician permalink

    I was simply stating that the atheistic worldview was secure. I wasn’t giving any evidence (like Wikipedia articles) to support that. I was simply stating it.

    What I was contending is that you don’t know what you are talking about in regards to how epistemology, reason, and logic work. Hence, citing some background info.

    I believe you said that every statement in any system will ultimately have a circular reasoning structure. That is false. I believe you asserted a few things that led me to believe you don’t understand the differences between: soundness, validity, veracity, etc.

    So I was simply trying to clear up those matters. I would be more than happy to go into detail on epistemology and the basis for science once I am convinced that anything else I say will be understood. Until then it seems like a futile exercise.

    …and I have deadlines on my research, papers to grade, and classes to teach. Hence, I can’t spend all my time discussing the subtleties of using imprecise wordings for well understood meta-mathematical concepts.

    • This mathematician has many sides!

      I am ready and willing for you to specifically demonstrate where I have used ‘validity’ or ‘soundness’ incorrectly. Once again, circular reasoning is valid, but it is not necessarily sound. If you do not agree re: circularity, please provide a way to justify any knowledge claim without eventually validating senses, reasoning, and memory while assuming the validity of senses, reasoning, and memory.

  13. tough sell bud permalink

    Wow Scott, just finished reading your extremely drawn out response to my comment weeks ago about objective reasoning and logical conclusion. This mathematician has absolutely blown you out of the water (*STANDING OVATION). I read the post and got all jacked up to counter point how ridiculous this slander of atheism is but man oh man this guy served it right to you, and all you did was contend the legitimacy of wikipedia (one of the most well sourced legitimate encyclopedias in the history of the human race) and then you justified the absolute truth in circular reasoning. you sir are flaunting your lack of education and it’s delightful. You should be honoured this guy even stooped to this blog to deliver his thoughts.

    Not even your commentary section can support your Christian worldview logic… and you’ve never read the Koran!? How can you possibly logically compare Christian truth to even it’s closest of rivals let alone secularism, mind bending how cocksure you think you are… all without the theological discipline of Christian philosophers many times your superior (read other religious texts yesterday buddy). You’re so outclassed in this subject it’s ridiculous, you need to broaden your sources from just sunday school homie; an Oxford dictionary wouldn’t hurt either. Your strongest counter is literally ‘it’s correct because the Bible says so,’ just like your and Paul’s posts before. boooooooooooo! boooo! shitty argument. laziness, pure laziness.
    Why must atheism need a contemporary answer the largest metaphysical question ever proposed? or even science for that matter? Furthermore most of your detractors here aren’t even atheists so you can stop beating down that strawman. In my opinion claiming there is no God without evidence is as asinine as claiming there is.
    Call us irrational all you want, human society has evolved with moral progressivism not biblical standards, else would be raping and shekel paying and enslaving today. We as humans left God’s moral standard in the 19th century with our slaves (and before that with our scandalous cloth weaving techniques).
    How can you claim that an atheist’s moral reasons are arbitrary yet based on survival? How could this claim make grammatical sense? Genghis Khan raping the world is good for Genghis Khan and maybe Mongolia, no one else, you strawmanned the secular glorification of subjective rational in your critique, then you claim we all possess objective morality… are you drugs?
    Ask any journalist today and they will tell you objectivity is impossible without neutrality, and neutrality does not exist in anyone. which is why contemporary news stations have corporate agendas, if we can’t objectivity tell the story of a bank robbery how on earth do you think we could objectively spin the creation of the universe, a fool’s errand left to the fools.
    Enjoy seeking out converts you’ll find less and less of them as you get older. All those irrational fools and idiots will be mining asteroids and curing disease, while the righteous and truthful among us will be shouting on street corners and watching their buildings foreclose. at least you get to go to heaven right?

    • TSB,

      You seem to be getting quite emotional. I’m not sure I understood if you were making some sort of argument or not – possibly that an objective standard for reasoning does not exist? Does this mean logic does not exist in your view?

  14. tough sell bud permalink

    Good luck seeking converts through idiotic condescension. I commend your inability to notice the pitfalls of your own logic or even to address the concerns of the mathematician who is merely reciting thousands of years of theological debate… which you apparently missed. Alongside my long paragraph with seven clear as day questions. Sadly lazy.
    How on earth you jumped from me not believing in objective morality by using your own example to saying I believe in the absence of logic is a stretch a best, sprinkled with the underlying pettiness of your insecurity; as expressed by the need to personally debate every comment when your original post should’ve done all the talking.
    Like the man of math before me you aren’t sure of my arguments because you aren’t sure of the english language (apparently, dude you ignored seven of my questions up there, five of them actual questions), perhaps a bullet point list will further elementary my writing style for your benefit.
    - are atheist’s morals arbitrary or are they survival instinct? how can they be both?
    - how do you believe in objective morality when you cite and acknowledge subjective outliers?
    - how do you know Christianity is “only” truthful moral view when you’re unfamiliar with extremely similarly debated texts?
    - If biblical morality is the truth then why do we not adhere or advocate it today… especially you? Jesus’ followers enslaved thousands, which is biblically fine so why not keep it up?
    - why would societies most objective people (fact telling newsman) claim it cannot be done?
    -why are objective standards inherently tied to subjective logical conclusions?
    - why does science atheism christianity or flying spaghetti even need to know the truth today? does it change how we live? evidence suggests it does not, Christian or Atheist an asshole is still an asshole.

    When the game is survival it doesn’t matter what’s in the sky. A christian meth head is just as likely as an atheist meth head to steal shit for meth. The atheist charitable housewife is going to treat her barista no differently than the christian charitable housewife and they both eat shellfish… etc etc. There is no tangible difference between the moral standards of these people, because in relation to their survival they are no different, despite what holy building is on their street. We are the desperate products of our survival situations because we are humans before we are deists.
    The fact that we all have subjective morals is extremely obvious to me, some are assholes, some are communists, some are capitalists, some rape all of 14th century China, some have 5 kids for God, some have 1 because of the environment. Our different objective standards (our laws) are a subjective consensus between the power majority of a region (democracy, aristocracy, monarchy), it has nothing to do with God or his standards, as I said, we left his dick-ish rules forever ago, because the subjective masses liked freedom, polyester clothing and not stoning women to death (as they do in Saudi Arabia under the protection of God’s objective laws [subjectively interpreted by Islamic men]). In Nazi Germany the subjective majority said killing all the Jews was okay for genetics and economics, but the subjective Allied majority said it wasn’t because of empathy and equality. So which side has the morally correct paradigm today? how about in 5 years, 10, 100, 1000, 100,000? Biblical morality is incredibly moronic and to advocate that the world fall under the blanket of its warm glow won’t happen because it didn’t happen even when the church was at the zenith of it’s reign; didn’t even happen to the papal staff that ran the Holy See. So once again, good luck with the converts and if you’re going to counter-argue on your blog, perhaps you should counter-argue the points laid at your feet instead of a flimsy ad-hominem on myself or redirecting the argument in the fashion you’d prefer. Of course logic exists clownshoe, that doesn’t mean it’s universal or binding in anyway, it’s all personal alongside every moment of your entire life, denying the obvious doesn’t make you profound Scotty, in the end everything you know came through your eyes and ears.

    • TSB,

      I guess we’ll have to let the readers decide who is being condescending.

      Thank you for clearing up your specific questions. You have some good questions re: morality but I would like to leave them for a future post that specifically discusses morality. I’ll be sure to keep them in mind when I write.

      You also had some good questions/statements about reasoning and logic so I’ll try to address them:

      1) “Why would societies most objective people (fact telling newsman) claim it cannot be done?”
      I think it’s arguable that newsman are the most objective people, but I completely agree that neutrality is unattainable. My argument has been that only Christian presuppositions make human experience intelligible.

      2) “Why are objective standards inherently tied to subjective logical conclusions?”
      Objective standards are also known through revelation (innate and Biblical) from God, not only subjective conclusions. Along with this, using subjective senses and reasoning to know objective truth makes sense in Christianity, not in atheism. If atheism were true there is no way to know that one is reasoning or sensing correctly as I explained in the post.

      3) “Why does science atheism christianity or flying spaghetti even need to know the truth today?”
      If someone claims that they do not or cannot know any truth then they can’t even know that statement to be true. It is, by definition, an irrational position to hold.

      4) “Of course logic exists clownshoe, that doesn’t mean it’s universal or binding in anyway, it’s all personal alongside every moment of your entire life”
      If logic is personal, what if my logic disagrees with your logic? Whose logic is correct? If there is no universally correct way to reason then that makes your view, again by definition, illogical.

      5) “Everything you know came through your eyes and ears.”
      I disagree. This has been one of the major points of this essay. If it is true, how did you come to know that statement to be true? In other words, where did you observe that knowledge only comes through observation?

  15. tough sell bud permalink

    So when you post something like this,
    “I have a hard time understanding where your objective morals come from. In atheism, why should I submit to your idea that well-being is so great if I my evolved mind tells me that destruction is morally right?”
    We cannot explore and further contextualize your obvious misunderstandings because only you can use morality to weaponize your arguments on logic and reasoning? That’s so hypocritical it’s beyond rationale, which is probably why the mathematician left your argument.

    As for condescension, as I am neither preaching the humble word of jesus christ or bound by the 7 capital vices (this ones ‘a proud look’ by the way) so I can write how I please to achieve whatever aim I please. Just a reminder and contextualization of the roles we’ve both chosen. (I can also wear any clothing I want and eat shellfish, the perks of atheism).

    As for your centuries old attack on the scientific method based on adolescent stoner logic.
    1) Yes newsmen objectivity is impossible like all objectivity, the story of our news is the history of our truth telling, a worthy allegory to the spread and use of religious doctrine, you should look more into books on this topic to help contextualize your thoughts on the information machine you support.

    2) You’ve not gotten the point of my argument, nothing is objectivity standard buddy, what is right by God (slavery, rape/trades) is not right by Canada. The democratic dominion of Canada holds the subjective majority opinion, including restricting environmental funds and mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders, which is not right by me. What is around me is layers of subjective group consensus far different from that of Saudi Arabia and different still from my subjective morals within me, to say that any human group could achieve objective consensus is laughable, to say further that the one we all should follow is the objective consensus of the judeo-christian rape-trade, sodom smashing, tax-enforcing God/Jesus is enough to make ones head explode from logical or even logistical shortcoming. Which is why nobody follows God’s rules not even the Popes, they follow their own, based entirely in the physical world around them at the time and place of their existence. Even you yourself do not follow God’s logic, unless you’re quite sartorial.

    3)I claim to know personal truths not universal truths, these concepts are very different. Universal truths could very well never known because of our own biological shortcomings. We see very little of the world’s light, we only have a certain number of neurons processing at one time… these bodies are pretty pathetic for observation, let alone objective consensus. We all said grass is green, this was objectivity true… until we found out that grass is every colour but green, and something so objective became subjective from a simple observational difference: how and who it is observed by. Einstein further elaborated on this with his lighter on a train experiment.

    4) Totally weak point, people disagree to the point of irrationality all the time, humans only know of one way to figure out one subjective view versus another single subjective view… we test them against thousands of other individual subjective views (that millions of others subjectively trust and honour their methods). And since we cannot simply test against each others subjectivity we test subjective observation through elaborate neutral numerical categorization (mathematics) to decide if something will become subjectively true for all the human race… This is not a universal truth, for some animals even on earth our explanation of the world could never make sense to them based on their own biological shortcomings.

    5)It’s pretty easy… I observed it. Some people aren’t even self-realized enough to draw this very simple conclusion. The point was further hammered home when I learned about the scientific method when I was six (I’m sorry you missed that lesson). No one individual outside the shared contemporary consensus is ever correct which is why the pious like you ignore crazy people who claim to be the second coming even though you expect him (just like the people who ignored and denied Christ the first time around). Without some sort of consensus nothing is really true, even consensus within yourself (I didn’t know that I would get wet the first time in stepped in the rain)… objectivity is a fallacy people like you use as an emotional crutch to bring sense into this crazy floating bio spaceship thing we all found ourselves on. you’re trying to force order to the chaos of the cosmos… and it’s forced reason and order like the firmament, or helio-centricity or any other non-truth based on God’s objective view that led the western world to call bullshit and build public schools. We are free from the shackles of God’s Objective Standard, enlightened to seize our own infinitely more beautiful future based on a reflection of us, as a collective, not a reflection of God. And we did this a long time ago, when we ate shellfish, then stitched clothes blasphemously, then gave rights to all humans, all this time discovering and contextualizing the world and our place with new medicine and technology bringing us all together in the belief that being objectively standard is wrong by humans even if its right by God.

    We fight less war, invent and discover new shit all the time to save lives, protect humanity for our own selfish enlightenment and survival. we are divided not by theoretical postulations (religions) but mathematical problems that drive science economy and progress; at least these have tangible answers. You’d rather us put back on the shackles of the last two millennia, all because these new discoveries are ‘false knowledge’, compiled with the neutrality of atheism and the subjectivity of peer reviewed consensus? So whats our future with Christ Scott? We can argue it out against the muslims about who has the bigger hypothetical dick for the next 2000 years? ready ourselves for a debate so obtuse and unanswerable that bloodshed becomes its finest advocate? no thanks scott… no thanks

    • TSB,

      You say that universal truths can never be known – is that statement universally true?

      And it’s again interesting that you still believe that all knowledge comes through observation – is that a universally true statement as well?

  16. An Amused Mathematician permalink

    I’d like to add to your list, “Tough Sell, Bud” …if that is your real pseudonym.

    0) How can you think that circular reasoning is valid? That is, how can you think assuming your hypothesis proves your hypothesis.

    I’ll give some examples:

    EXAMPLE 1

    A confused student argues: “You can’t give me a C. I’m an A student!”

    Circular reasoning is problematic because the claim is made on grounds that cannot be accepted as true — because those very grounds are in dispute. How can a student claim to be an A student when he just earned a C?

    To clarify, no one is an “A student” by definition. Grades are earned in every class and are derived from a variety of different methods. The requirements in one class are set by the school and the instructor, so the same class taught by a different teacher or in a different location should yield two very different results (final grades). Merely claiming to be an A student does not make the claim valid.

    NOTE: The false authority fallacy also applies here — you cannot use yourself as your own authority with total certainty. A doctor is more qualified to diagnose your shoulder pain than you are; your teachers are better qualified to evaluate your performance than a student.

    EXAMPLE 2

    A satisfied citizen says: “Richardson is the most successful mayor the town has ever had because he’s the best mayor of our history.”

    The second part of this sentence offers no evidence — it simply repeats the claim that was already presented. Don’t be fooled into believing that using the word “because” in an argument automatically provides a valid reason. Be sure to provide clear evidence to support your claims, not a version of the premise (the initial statement in an argument).

    EXAMPLE 3

    An obvious non-smoker blurts: “Can a person quit smoking? Of course — as long as he has sufficient willpower and really wants to quit.”

    This statement contains a more subconscious version of circular reasoning. The intended argument simply repeats itself, disguised as a logical statement. The warrant is simple: “A person can quit because he can.” True, any smoker can quit, but the task is not as obvious or as easy to accomplish as the statement suggests. The arguer must provide reasons to suggest how a person can overcome an addiction, not to simply identify the obvious use of will power. This example also falls into distortion and the only reason fallacies.

    I will say that there is something subtle worth noting. In formal logic everything does hinge upon your first principles –to a mathematician that would be Zermelo-Frankel Set Theory usually coupled with the Axiom of Choice (or some logical equivalent –I prefer Zorn’s lemma). Perhaps something like this is what you were driving at. But it is not what you were saying with your statement (As I tell my students… BE PRECISE). In formal logic we address such issues. I don’t want to go into the nitty-gritty details, but the answer is Model Theory. I brought this up before, but I am not surprised that a layman would be unfamiliar with the topic. Essentially, we judge how “reasonable” (in some sense) an axiomatic theory is by whether or not it can be modeled (precise mathematical definition excluded). In short, we don’t turn a blind eye to such demons lurking in the shadows. We confront them. Hence, my previous assertion: these questions have been well-addressed. However, in the real world (on the level of physical phenomena) we can test even our assumed “ab initio assumptions / brute facts” through simple observation. The real world is nicer because the “model” is given. Just look and see.

    For example, Newton made some assumptions about the laws of gravity that seemed to be reflected very well at the local level. But even Newton knew that his assumptions were fishy –only an approximation of the truth. Newton was aware of the evidence against him –the most notable being the recession of the perihelion of Mercury. And he was wrong. But his explanation at that time was the most accurate to date. Even more so, it was sufficient for a description of phenomenon on our planet –aiming missiles and arrows and such– Modern Warfare 101. But he was not satisfied with his sufficient understanding. And he went to his deathbed still searching.

    So the question is still, without assuming your hypothesis (Circular Reasoning) and discounting the counter evidence (Special Pleading), how can you believe in an inerrant text of scripture given the evidence I previously gave? Your text asserts that Jesus (was a historical figure) was a babe (toddler) before Herod died and was not born until after Quirinius took office 10 years later? I would like you to explain that time travel to me. I haven’t published in a physics journal recently.

    Alright. Regrettably, this will most likely be my last post (at least for a while). Finals week is fast approaching and I am still attending other duties as well. I’ll leave you with this, which these dealings have reminded me of:

    Napoleon asked Laplace “they tell me you have written this large book (A Treatise of Celestial Mechanics 1822) on the system of the universe, and have never even mentioned its Creator.” and Laplace responded “I had no need of that hypothesis.”

    Best Wishes,
    -Bryan

    • Thank you for the conversation Bryan,

      Circular reasoning is considered deductively valid because the conclusion follows from the premise. The question for a circular argument is if it is sound/true. Validity does not equate to truth.

      In your example 1, the argument is valid but unsound because that student is not an A student if they got a C. Example 2 is deductively valid, the question is whether the premises are true (soundness of the argument).

      My claim has been that the circularity of Christianity is true and this is demonstrated by the fact that it makes the human experience of rationality and logic intelligible. No other worldview (specifically atheism in this post) is able to provide a foundation for knowledge in general or laws of logic in particular.

      I thought I answered your question re: the census already. Please let me know if I should clarify.

      • A Dilly-Dallying Mathematician permalink

        > “Circular reasoning is considered deductively valid because the conclusion follows from the premise. The question for a circular argument is if it is sound/true.”

        That’s incorrect. I’ve finally figured out what the nuance was that I was missing from what you were trying to relate before. You are hinting at the idea of a tautology. Circular reasoning differs from tautologies in that the premise is restated as the conclusion in an argument, instead of deriving the conclusion from the premise with arguments.

        http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Begging_the_question

        For example a tautology of the form: P if and only if P is valid structurally. However, a proof of the form: Assume P. Therefore, P. And conversely, assume not P. Ergo, not P… is not valid. It could be used to prove anything.

        On the level of soundness, inference rules prove tautologies and tautologies are provable by inference rule. So they are sound. However, when dealing with circular reasoning it is unsound. I’ll neglect the details here for brevity’s sake. The simple explanation is that it could be used to prove anything.

        > “In your example 1, the argument is valid but unsound because that student is not an A student if they got a C. Example 2 is deductively valid, the question is whether the premises are true (soundness of the argument).”

        That is also incorrect. You seem to think example 1 goes like this:

        The student says they are an A student.
        Therefore, they can make only A’s as letter grades.

        This is a tautology. It is valid. If that is what you meant you are right. However, the fact they made a C should make this suspicious. Here is what is really happening:

        The student says they are an A student, i.e. they can make only A’s as letter grades.
        They received a grade.
        Therefore, they received an A.

        This short inference proof is also valid. However, they are trying to sneak in a proof by contradiction and keep that which they are contradicting –an “A” and “not A” deal. That is invalid.

        As far as soundness goes, the tautology is sound. Until you add in the other premise that is. And the Circular Argument is not sound (it wasn’t even valid, so it can’t be sound).

        > “My claim has been that the circularity of Christianity is true because it makes the human experience of rationality and logic intelligible.”

        This is false. How can a text so amok with contradictions add rationality and logic? It detracts. How can something be true on the grounds you provided? Essentially, you said, it makes sense, therefore it is true. Alright. Unicorns are mystical horse creatures. Horses are mammals. Mammals are warm-blooded. Therefore, unicorns are not cold-blooded. It makes sense. So it must be true… there is no veracity to such a statement.

        > “I thought I answered your question re: the census already. Please let me know if I should clarify.”

        You should clarify. Is Luke wrong? Elaborate on how a supposedly perfect God lets that slip into his inerrant text. As for Josephus, his supposed writings are riddled with 400+ year addenda. This includes many of the references to Jesus. Not all, but most of it appears to be added by later Christian interpolators. Also, it is hard to differentiate from Josephus’ texts whether he is referring to “the Jesus” or to the high priest Jesus ben Damneus who is also mentioned in his texts. In short, his works are not a reliable source for historicity –don’t use less reputable sources to assert your claims.

        Be more skeptical. Read more books.

        And now to the reason why I returned in the first place. I thought of another example, along the lines of the Newton one, in modern history. There was an experiment conducted at CERN where they witnessed a notable discrepancy between the number of anti-matter to matter particles created. The leading theory (based of assumptions) implies that they should occur in like amounts. However, this can’t be the case. We don’t observe it in nature. And now, we have designed an experiment that focuses on a possible explanation (as to why our hypothesis was wrong). The nice thing about science is that we are well aware of the limitations of the prevailing theory. And because of this we eventually make headway leaping beyond those huge hurdles –dragging the rest of society along with us. We don’t take anything for “granted.” We grant to ourselves the dignity and the courage to approach the world intelligibly and honestly… Okay, enough ranting.

        I’ll leave a snip-it of a great movie here, for your viewing pleasure –to make amends.

  17. A Dilly-Dallying Mathematician permalink

    Oh, and I should add that we are also aware of what has been sufficiently explained by the prevailing theory –that which new theories could not improve upon (in any order of magnitude measurable). Again, see the Newtonian Mechanics on our local sphere for an example of this. Slight caveat: We need general relativity (Einstein) to communicate with satellites. So on that level, there is some impreciseness to Newton’s relativity that we improved upon greatly.

    What I don’t get is why religious folks want to perpetuate false information. I get the wanting to believe things on the basis of wish-fulfillment, culture, emotional appeal, etc. But I don’t understand how one could become so backward thinking to try to rationalize such things with studies of systematic theologies and what not. The refuting evidence resounds.

    For example, I often like to light-heartedly rib my religious sister (Southern Baptist / Creationist) for getting a flu shot every year –she works in a local hospital. It goes something like this:

    Me: Hey, sis, did you get your flu shot?

    Sis: Yeah. I did. Did you?

    Me: No. I got one last year. I figured the virus strains haven’t evolved since last year and so I don’t need one.

    Sis: I should have seen that one coming.

    • I don’t know what more I can say without repeating myself, but I would like to once again mention that validity does not equate to soundness. You cannot use circular arguments to prove anything because they are not necessarily sound.

      Example:

      God has revealed that He exists

      Therefore, God exists

      This argument (with the necessary suppressed premises) is technically deductively valid. The soundness of this argument is what I was trying to demonstrate in the essay.

      The census Luke mentions must have been an earlier census than the one recorded by Josephus.

      I would like to finish off by once more challenging you to validate your reasoning without circularity or asserting your own subjective reality. My claim throughout has been that the atheist cannot know anything, even the universal standard for reasoning. To validate their reason the atheist must use the very reasoning that they are trying to validate. Due to the limitations of the atheistic philosophy (as I mentioned in my essay), the atheist has no basis on which to claim that their reasoning is reflecting truth. Christianity on the other hand is able to provide that foundation and the universal standard for reasoning (logic) is made intelligible.

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