Eric's & Sye's TAG: One way of looking at it!
- (This may help explain, at least in part, how I was able to so easily rout Eric Hovind, Danny Hoogestrat, and their champion Sye Ten Bruggencate and the value of that discussion as preserved here since being deleted by Eric from his FaceBook page where my encounter with them took place. - RLBaty)
Transcendental argument for God
The transcendental argument for the existence of God (TAG) is
a self-congratulating mind game, first proposed by Immanuel
Kant in 1763, in his work The Only Possible Argument in Support
of a Demonstration of the Existence of God.
It argues that logic, morals, and science ultimately presuppose
a theistic worldview, and that God must be the source of logic
It has been widely discredited ever since the scientific enlightenment, though it remains hugely popular with Christian evangelicals, who think it makes them sound cleverer than they actually are when arguing with atheists.
In its modern form, TAG is predominantly used by Christian
apologists to "prove" that the god Yahweh, from Judeo-Christian mythology, is a plausible explanation for the origin of human attributes such as moral reasoning.
This contradicts the prevailing scientific consensus on the
emergence of group reciprocity and altruism in our nearest
common ancestors, around 8 million years ago.
For this reason, it is often the case that proponents of TAG
are also creationists with an allergic reaction to library books.
Its primary weakness is that it neither proves nor disproves the existence of any specific gods and fails to account for the fact
that modern science explains that traits such as love, morality, compassion and a capacity for critical thinking and problem
solving, are in fact an emergent property of our evolutionary heritage, rather than a magic trick instantaneously breathed
into all human life, by the Israelite god of war, at the very
moment a mummy and daddy begin to love each other very much.
TAG, in common with other forms of Christian apologetics,
presumes the existence of Yahweh in order to make the selectively chosen evidence fit the unfalsifiable theory that logic, human
senses and moral reasoning are necessary preconditions of human experience, and could only therefore stem from a supreme
intelligence which exists beyond the physical, observable
Since this is a truth-claim which can be neither deduced nor
induced from empirical observations it is therefore meaningless.
Despite this, TAG apologists assert that it is a logically
consistent proposition, even though it isn't.
They stomp their feet and cry like babies until they think
they've argued you into believing it is, but it isn't and
TAG remains a popular debating tactic in the atheist versus religionist debate, since it pulls a rather neat trick on
those who are unfamiliar with it.
The wordplay involved in making TAG seem to be rather more interesting than it actually is, has become so steeped
theological in-speak and the technical terminology of
academic religious philosophy, that it is popularly believed
to be one of the best arguments against anti-theism not
because it depends on any less of a logical fallacy than many
other theological arguments for the existence of a specific
deity, but because to understand it, is to be aware of certain
flaws in various scientific theories, such as the theory of
mind - which appear to be rather more important than they
In reality, TAG is somewhat easier to debunk than its
proponents would like to admit and doesn't so much offer
positive evidence in favour of the existence of a particular
God, as much as it wilfully misrepresents what certain
scientific theories actually mean, in contrast to what they
There are many...semantic word traps and circular reasoning
built into TAG apologetics, of which the debating skeptic /
positive agnostic / atheist, unfamiliar with the TAG modus
operandi can easily fall foul.
But however the basic arguments of TAG apologetics are phrased,
and however insistent the interlocutor is that it is actually
the skeptic who needs to "open their mind", it is an inescapable
fact that the TAG fails to pass the first basic test as to
whether or not it constitutes a logically valid proposal, since
it assumes the basic existence of that which its own claims are predicated upon, but which cannot be objectively demonstrated.
How do you know?
TAG apologists will then use this as a metaphor to beg the
> "how do we know we exist within the universe",on the presumption that this somehow validates their primary
truth-claim, that the only way to know such a thing, is to acknowledge the existence of Yahweh; vindicating the biblical truth-claim that God "is, was and always will be".
The problem here is that, by invoking the problem of infinite regress, it therefore becomes possible to argue for the validity
of myriad other hypothetical scenarios in which consciousness
itself is fundamentally incapable of telling us anything about
the true nature of existence.
For instance, The Matrix hypothesis; which suggests that human experience is merely an illusion being artificially fed to our brains, when in reality we are little more than rats in an alien laboratory.
Hence this tract gets us no further forward in proving the
existence of anything, other than the human capacity for a
Touched by his noodly appendage
When a religious person claims to have had a "personal
experience" which they cannot explain, it does not logically
follow that the only possible explanation for this experience,
is that it was projected onto their consciousness by a
Yet the claim,
> "you have to have faith,or
> before you can believe it"
> "I was touched by the hand of God"is so commonly thought of as being a legitimate explanation
of the unexplainable, that a more rational explanation of
the experience is often dismissed as being merely naturalistic;
that you have to look beyond the material world, into the
spiritual aspect, to understand the experience from the point
of view of the person who experienced it, rather than the
objective view of their description of that experience from
the outside looking in.
The TAG is not without its fair share of advocates, who fail
to see the problem with this kind of special pleading.
Hence it is particularly popular with apologists who have
become so convinced of their own beliefs, that to merely
question the logical basis upon which they are built, is
to be accused of casting aspersions about the mental
capacity of its proponents.
For this reason, refutations of the TAG are often mistaken
for an ad hominem attack upon those who hold it in high
regard, rather than a legitimate criticism of the TAG itself.
This has been made all the more vexing in recent years,
since such a significant number of those who defend the
TAG in online discussion forums only understand it from
the perspective of popular Christian fan fiction and
They assume, because of a deliberate obfuscation of the
facts in this area, that there is a new argument for the
existence of God, corroborated by modern scientific
observations such as the 'many worlds' interpretation of
Their enthusiasm for this notion often makes them
indistinguishable from a satirical parody of the Crazy
Christian stereotype - hence rendering completely futile
any attempt to explain to them that metaphysical
truth-claims of this nature were rejected as "meaningless"
by the Vienna Circle of Logical Positivists in the early
20th century, and later refined by Karl Popper in his
1934 work 'The Logic of Scientific Discovery'.