Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Transcendental Argument (Part 1)


Throughout the history of the Christian church many arguments have been developed to prove the existence of God. Some of the most famous arguments were given by Thomas Aquinas, namely, the cosmological and the teleological argument. While others, such as C. S. Lewis, offered the moral argument for the existence of God. These arguments try to argue from a certain truth in the world to the conclusion that God exists. That is, they are deductive arguments. However, others in the Christian community (especially in the Reformed tradition) have argued for a different kind of argument; an argument that is not deductive or inductive, but transcendental. This transcendental argument for the existence of God (TAG) argues that God is the transcendental (“thing behind” in layman terms) for all knowledge. In other words, for anyone to know anything they must first presuppose the Christian God. Or put more simply, in order for anyone to know anything God must exist. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob stands behind all of our thinking and our ability to think. This approach to apologetics is also called presupposition apologetics because it argues that God is presupposed in order to think or make sense of the world. It is the aim of this paper to briefly layout the TAG and then to respond to recent attacks on this approach. It is not the aim of this essay to prove that the TAG is sound, though I think it is. Rather, the aim of this paper is more modest, in that I only want to show that recent attacks on the TAG fail to do any significant impairment to the TAG.


  1. I look forward to your posts on this topic. I just wanted to note (since some people I have read aren't aware) that Clark used the term presuppositional in a different sense. He used it to explain the fact that everyone presupposes a view of the world. This is their starting point, their axiom. It is presupposed, not proven. In this regard he would differ from TAG, which is an attempt to prove the existence of God.

  2. Even given the presupposition that for man to have knowledge then God must exist (questionable to begin with, since it very well could be the case that in a world in which mankind exists apart from God that mankind also has knowledge in such a world... we have no way of knowing that such a world is impossible - and if you object to this objection you can only do so by appeal to the cosmological argument thereby making the TAG obsolete), it must also be true that man has knowledge. If man does not have knowledge then the idea that God must exist in order for him to have it is completely insignificant. Further, man does not have knowledge, making the primary presupposition insignificant.

    But I still look forward to the attempt.


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