Apologetic Arguments

The Moral Argument

The moral argument for the existence of God is the argument that God is necessary for objective moral values or duties to exist. Since objective moral values and duties do exist, God must also exist. The argument is not claiming that people who don’t believe in God cannot do kind things or that atheists are generally morally worse people that religious people are. The argument is claiming that the only reason such kind actions can be thought of as truly being morally good in any real or objective sense is that the atheist is wrong about God. Such actions are objectively good because God actually does exist, even if the atheist doesn’t believe He exists. Just as those who deny germs exists can still get sick because germs really do exist, those who deny God exists can still do good things because God really does exist, and so a real standard of good does exist to make “doing good” possible.

The Moral Argument

The argument is a very simple one, and can be structured something like this:

1. For an objective moral standard to exist, God must exist

2. An objective moral standard does exist

3. Therefore, God exists

Some Christians have found it helpful to structure the argument in the negative form1:

1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist

2. Objective moral values and duties do exist

3. Therefore God exists

Both of these forms are essentially the same argument. Objective moral values and duties cannot exist without God. To deny God, one must also give up the idea that anything is actually right or wrong in any real sense.

Objections

The primary objection to this argument is to claim that objective moral values don’t actually exist. The atheist can claim that morality is a social construct. It is a useful human tool, a necessary social device that makes society possible, but there is nothing objective or real about morality beyond what we make it. Nothing is actually good or evil, these are merely subjective human judgments. This, however, is a radical claim that no one should take too seriously. In a sense, or course, we cannot prove that objective moral values do exist. In the same sense we cannot prove that external reality outside our own minds exists. Every sense and experience we have tells us that there is a real, physical world in which we live. If someone were to come up and tell you that this was actually untrue and that the world was all an illusion, perhaps that you were trapped in a dream, how would you prove them wrong? The fact that is all seems very real doesn’t prove anything as a dream or illusions could also seem very real. Even more, if there is no actual real, what would be your frame of reference to call something real? Yet it is perfectly rational to conclude that the world really does exist. Even those who would try and deny this must live as if it is true.

In the same way, everything sense and experience we have tells us that some things really are good and other things really are bad. We are as certain that there are real virtues, evils, and injustices as we are that there are real rocks, trees, and other human beings. In fact, we aremore certain. Imagine for a moment that a man realized that all of life really was just a dream. Now imagine this man’s reaction to this was to rush out into his dream world and begin raping all the women and bashing all the children’s heads against the pavement. Something would be seriously wrong with such a person. We can imagine physical reality being an illusion, but even then it is unimaginable that moral reality is an illusion! When we meet someone who actually live like there is no morality at all, we call this person a sociopath and recognize this as a serious defect. They are failing to perceive an important element of reality just as the blind or deaf person fails to perceive an important element of physical reality, and we rightly understand sociopathy to be a far greater defect than mere physical blindness or deafness.

Many will point out that different cultures have different moralities and claim that this is evidence that objective morality does not exist and that it is just a cultural construct. Some have very convincing rebutted that, behind the differing expressions, there is actually a core of universal moral principles that all cultures really do live by. Even if this is not the case, however, the objection is not logically valid. Many cultures around the world have fundamentally ideas of why people get sick, but that does not make germ theory invalid nor render the cause of sickness to be a mere social construct. The fact that many cultures today still do not believe in germs, and that most cultures throughout history did not, doesn’t change the fact that germs exist and that they cause sickness. In the same way, just because a bunch of cultures get morality partially or even wholly wrong does not mean that morality does not exist. Morality is very real, and most all of us are actually quite sure of it. This is the rational position.

The other major objection is that morality can exist on its own without God. Things like rape and murder are really wrong whether God exists or not. The problem is that there is no clear reason why this would be so. Biology cannot ground it. If morality is a mere instinct, then it is not objective. Morality is reduced back to mere human perception than can be changed or even done away with entirely. Morality also distinguishes humans from animals in a way mere biology cannot explain. A trout that eats another trout’s young is not evil, but a man who eats his neighbors daughter is very evil. Morality is also not a physical law. Morality does not operate on a mere system of actions and reactions. Murder is wrong even if you get the results you want from doing it with no adverse effects, and if there is no divine judgment after this life, then there are people who really do literally get away with murder. Moral actions do not display the measurable system of causes and effects that physical laws do. Even if one puts forward an impersonal, unconscious moral force or principle like the eastern concept of Karma, it falls short of the goal. Buddhists are quite clear that Karma does not actually represent objective morality and must not be thought of that way. It is not about moral right and wrong, but about mere cause and effect and getting the results you want. On Karma, rape and murder are not morally wrong, they are just unhelpful if your goal is enlightenment and escaping the cycle of death and rebirth. There simply is no rational ground that has ever been offered for real, objective morality outside of a personal God.

Strengths of the argument

The moral argument appeals not only to the rational mind but to the moral conviction in the soul of a man. It speaks more to the whole person than many merely intellectual arguments do. It also intimately connects believing in God with moral judgment and God’s justice, which connects more readily to the gospel than most other arguments. The argument is also simple and easy to remember and to explain, making it accessible to most Christians.

Weaknesses of the Argument

Because the existence of morality is obviously not provable, the argument can be rejected out-of-hand without being properly considered, regardless of how obvious it is that objective morality exists. It also suffers from the fact that, while no rational ground for objective moral values and duties besides God has ever been thought of, that does not automatically mean that one does not exist that we have not yet thought of. This, too, can be used to reject the argument in blind faith that there is still a different foundation for morality yet to be found.

The Cosmological Argument

The Cosmological Argument attempts to prove that God exists by showing that there cannot be an infinite number of regressions of causes to things that exist.  It states that there must be a final uncaused-cause of all things.  This uncaused-cause is asserted to be God.
The Cosmological Argument takes several forms but is basically represented below.

Cosmological Argument

  1. Things exist.
  2. It is possible for those things to not exist.
  3. Whatever has the possibility of non-existence, yet exists, has been caused to exist.
    1. Something cannot bring itself into existence since it must exist to bring itself into existence, which is illogical.
  4. There cannot be an infinite number of causes to bring something into existence.
    1. An infinite regression of causes ultimately has no initial cause, which means there is no cause of existence.
    2. Since the universe exists, it must have a cause.
  5. Therefore, there must be an uncaused cause of all things.
  6. The uncaused cause must be God.

Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274) had a version of the Cosmological Argument called the Argument from Motion.  He stated that things in motion could not have brought themselves into motion but must be caused to move.  There cannot be an infinite regression of movers.  Therefore, there must be an Unmoved Mover.  This Unmoved Mover is God.

Strengths of the argument

The strengths of the Cosmological Argument lie in both its simplicity and easily comprehensible concept that there cannot be an infinite number of causes to an event.  Some arguments for God’s existence require more thought and training in terms and concepts, but this argument is basic and simple.  Also, it is perfectly logical to assert that objects do not bring themselves into existence and must, therefore, have causes.

Weaknesses of the argument

One of the weaknesses of the argument is that if all things need a cause to exist, then God Himself must also, by definition, need a cause to exist.  But this only pushes causation back and implies that there must be an infinite number of causes, which cannot be.

Also, by definition, God is uncaused.

The Teleological Argument

The Teleological Argument is also known as the “argument from design.”  Quite simply, it states that a designer must exist since the universe and living things exhibit marks of design in their order, consistency, unity, and pattern.

A typical analogy of this is the Watchmaker Argument, which was given by William Paley (1743-1805).  The argument goes as follows.  If you found a watch in an empty field, you would logically conclude that it was designed and not the product of random formation.  Likewise, when we look at life and the universe, it is natural to conclude there is a designer since we see how perfectly the universe and life forms operate.  The eye is typically used as an example of design.  It is a marvelous development.  In order for it to work, there must be many different convergent parts that individually have no function but have value only in a designed whole.  It is only in the combined total that they exhibit their total function.  This function is by design.

Paley’s argument is as follows:

  1. Human artifacts are products of intelligent design.
  2. The universe resembles human artifacts.
  3. Therefore the universe is a product of intelligent design.
  4. But the universe is complex and gigantic in comparison to human artifacts.
  5. Therefore, there probably is a powerful and vastly intelligent designer who created the universe.

Strengths of the argument

This argument is simple to understand and has merit since humans are designers by nature, and it is natural to think in terms of things having purpose.  It is also consistent with Rom. 1:20:

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

I think the teleological argument carries weight because it is consistent with Scripture.  The Bible states that we are made in God’s image.  Therefore, there are certain things with which we will resonate.  Even though the unbeliever suppresses the truth of God in his unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18-32), the truth is still there.

Additionally, evolutionists have difficulty accounting for apparent design in objects like the eye, the heart, and the brain where many different parts come together to form the whole.  These individual parts have no purpose except in the function of the whole.  How can evolution account for these detailed congruent occurrences?  So far, it can’t.

Weaknesses of the argument

The idea that the universe is designed is subjective.  Different observations in the natural world can produce different theories to account for their existence.  Also, this proof is built upon an analogy.  If we find things in the universe that are chaotic, then by analogy, that would imply there is no designer.

Classical Apologetics

Classical Apologetics is that style of Christian defense that stresses rational arguments for the existence of God and uses evidence to substantiate biblical claims and miracles.  It is quite similar to evidential apologetics and appeals to human reason and evidence.  Early Classical Apologists include Augustine, Anselm, and Thomas Aquinas.  Contemporary classical apologists are Norman Geisler, William Craig, J. P. Moreland, and R.C. Sproul.

Some of the arguments relied upon for proofs of God’s existence are the cosmological argument and the teleological argument.   The cosmological argument attempts to prove that God exists by stating that there has to be an uncaused cause of all things.  That uncaused cause is God.  The teleological argument uses the analogy of design; that is, the universe and life exhibit marks of design.  Therefore, there must be a Designer.  Other times, strict evidence is used to establish Christianity’s validity.  Of course, both aspects are also combined in classical apologetics.

An example of the latter might be as follows:

Allen: Can you give me a logical reason why God exists?
Matt:  I will try (simple logic).  The universe exists.  The universe cannot be eternal because if it were eternal, then it would mean that an infinite amount of time has passed in order for us to get to the present.  But you cannot transverse an infinite amount of time.  Therefore the universe is not infinitely old.
Allen:  That is an interesting argument.  Do you have anything else?
Matt:  Sure (Cosmological Argument).  All things that came into existence are caused to exist.  There cannot be an infinite regression of causes because this would mean that there was an infinite amount of time in the past that had to be traversed in order for us to get to the present.  Again, you are not able to cross an infinite amount of time.  Therefore, it is logical to say that there must be a single uncaused cause.  I propose that that uncaused cause is God.

The preceding very simplistic dialogue has strengths and weaknesses, but it demonstrates a way of using evidence and logic as a defense to support the resurrection–a biblical miracle.

A variation on this could focus on prophecies and be as follows:

  1. The Bible claims to be the word of God.
  2. The Bible has been accurately transmitted to us through the copying method.
  3. The Old Testament was written before the New Testament.
  4. The Old Testament contains prophecies of Jesus fulfilled in the New Testament.
  5. Jesus fulfilled the prophecies.
  6. This shows that the Bible is inspired.
  7. Since it is inspired, it is accurate.
  8. It says that God exists.
  9. Therefore, God exists.

No argument is without strengths and weaknesses, and all Classical Apologetic approaches have been tackled by critics.  But, the critics are not left unanswered; and Christians have, in turn, refuted the refutations.  This back-and-forth process of point-counter-point is going to continue until Jesus returns.  Nevertheless, God commands that we do our best to defend the faith, and classical apologetics is one of the means to do that.

Much of the information here on CARM can be used in a classical defense.  There is documentation for biblical manuscript evidence in the Bible section.  There is also a list of prophecies about Jesus in the Bible section and more.  I recommend you go to the Apologetics Dialogues section and read a few of them to see how different subjects can be used.  If you want logical approaches, try some proofs for God in the Atheist section.  Finally, if you really want to test yourself, get on the Internet, find a chat room through AOL Instant Messenger or Yahoo Instant Messenger, and go in and debate with people in religious discussion rooms.  You will learn real fast what you need to know.

Whichever you do, think of apologetics as a mosaic of skills and knowledge that God uses in the believer to bring truth to the world.  At first it is not that easy to do, but it gets easier and easier the more you do it.

Evidential Apologetics

Evidential Apologetics is that style of Christian defense that stresses the miracles found in the Bible particularly Christ’s resurrection as an evidence for the existence of God and the validity of Christ and His words.  It also uses historical evidences to support the veracity of the biblical account(s).  In this, it is very similar to Classical Apologetics, which stresses reason in its approach to evidences.  Basically, evidential apologetics stresses evidence such as miracles, fulfilled prophecies, etc., and uses reason to support them.

An example of evidential apologetics might be as follows (note the similar argument to the classical approach):

Allen:  How do I know God exists?
Paul: One of the ways can be found in the gospel accounts where Jesus performed many miracles like walking on water, healing the sick, etc., and then finally rising from the dead.  No mere man can do those kinds of things.  There had to be something supernatural at work.  Why can’t that be God?
Allen:  But the Bible is full of myths.  It is just a bunch of stories.
Paul:  Actually, they are not just myths and stories.  The gospels, for example, were written by those who either knew Jesus personally or were under the direction of those who did.  The gospels are full of factual accounts of cities, customs, terms, locations, etc., that can all be verified historically and archaeologically.  There are many books that have verified the authenticity of the gospel accounts.
Allen:  If that is true, then I am sure the gospels have been corrupted over time.
Paul:  Actually, that isn’t quite accurate.   You see, the New Testament alone has something like 24,000 supporting biblical manuscripts, and they are around 99.5% textually pure.  That means that they have been reliably transmitted to us through the centuries.  We can trust them.
Allen:  Still, I can’t believe all those miracles and stuff.
Paul:  Why not?  Many eyewitnesses wrote and spoke about what they saw Jesus do.  After the gospel accounts were written, there were plenty of people around who had seen Jesus, who could have spoken up or written something down contradicting what the apostles wrote.  But we have no account of this happening.
Allen:  I didn’t think of that.
Paul:  Furthermore, the eyewitnesses wrote about what they saw; and they saw miracles as did hundreds of others. Jesus healed people, walked on water, calmed a storm by a command, and rose from the dead; therefore, whatever He says must be true since He backed up His words with His deeds.
Allen:  That makes sense, but that doesn’t mean there is a God.
Paul:  True, it doesn’t require that a God exist; but since Jesus spoke about God, about the need to be right with God, etc., and since He performed many miracles, including rising from the dead, then it is safe to say that not only is there a God but also that we should listen to Jesus.  This would also mean that the Bible is the inspired word of God.
Allen:  I’ll have to think about what you said.

Generally, evidential apologetics stresses data that supports the miraculous evidences of the biblical accounts, thereby authenticating the Bible and the claims and deeds of Jesus.

Adherents to this position have been B. B. Warfield, John Warwick Montgomery, Clark Pinnock, etc.

The Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God

This is an attempt to demonstrate the existence of God using the Laws of Logic, also referred to as Logical Absolutes.  The oversimplified argument, which is expanded in outline form below, goes as follows:  Logical absolutes exist.  Logical absolutes are conceptual by nature–are not dependent on space, time, physical properties, or human nature.  They are not the product of the physical universe (space, time, matter) because if the physical universe were to disappear, logical absolutes would still be true.  Logical Absolutes are not the product of human minds because human minds are different–not absolute.  But, since logical absolutes are always true everywhere and not dependent upon human minds, it must be an absolute transcendent mind that is authoring them.  This mind is called God.  Furthermore, if there are only two options to account for something, i.e., God and no God, and one of them is negated, then by default the other position is validated.  Therefore, part of the argument is that the atheist position cannot account for the existence of logical absolutes from its worldview.

  1. Logical Absolutes
    1. Law of Identity
      1. Something is what it is and isn’t what it is not.  Something that exists has a specific nature.
      2. For example, a cloud is a cloud–not a rock.  A fish is a fish–not a car.
    2. Law of Non-Contradiction
      1. Something cannot be both true and false at the same time in the same sense.
      2. For example, to say that the cloud is not a cloud would be a contradiction since it would violate the first law.  The cloud cannot be what it is and not what it is at the same time.
    3. Law of Excluded Middle (LEM) 
      1. A statement is either true or false without a middle ground.
      2. “I am alive” is either true or false.  “You are pregnant” is either true or false.
        1. Note one: “This statement is false” is not a valid statement (not logically true) since it is self-refuting and is dealt with by the Law of Non-contradiction.  Therefore, it does not fall under the LEM category since it is a self-contradiction.
        2. Note two:  If we were to ignore note one, then there is a possible paradox here.  The sentence “this statement is false” does not fit this Law since if it is true, then it is false.  Paradoxes occur only when we have absolutes.  Nevertheless, the LEM is valid except for the paradoxical statement cited.
        3. Note three:  If we again ignore note one and admit a paradox, then we must acknowledge that paradoxes exist only within the realm of absolutes.
  2. Logical absolutes are truth statements such as:
    1. That which exists has attributes and a nature.
      1. A cloud exists and has the attributes of whiteness, vapor, etc.  It has the nature of water and air.
      2. A rock is hard, heavy, and is composed of its rock material (granite, marble, sediment, etc.).
    2. Something cannot be itself and not itself at the same time.
      1. It cannot be true to state that a rock is not a rock.
    3. Something cannot bring itself into existence.
      1. In order for something to bring itself into existence, it has to have attributes in order to perform an action.  But if it has attributes, then it already has existence.  If something does not exist, it has no attributes and can perform no actions.  Therefore, something cannot bring itself into existence.
    4. Truth is not self-contradictory.
      1. It could not be true that you are reading this and not reading this at the same time in the same sense.  It is either true or false that you are reading this.
    5. Therefore, Logical Absolutes are absolutely true.  They are not subjectively true; that is, they are not sometimes true and sometimes false, depending on preference or situation.  Otherwise, they would not be absolute.
  3. Logical Absolutes form the basis of rational discourse.
    1. If the Logical Absolutes are not absolute, then truth cannot be known.
    2. If the Logical Absolutes are not absolute, then no rational discourse can occur.
      1. For example, I could say that a square is a circle (violating the law of identity), or that I am and am not alive in the same sense at the same time (violating the law of non-contradiction).
      2. But no one would expect to have a rational conversation with someone who spoke in contradictory statements.
    3. If Logical Absolutes are not always true, then it might be true that something can contradict itself, which would make truth unknowable and rational discourse impossible.  But, saying that something can contradict itself can’t be true.
    4. But since we know things are true (I exist, you are reading this), then we can conclude that logical statements are true.  Otherwise, we would not be able to rationally discuss or know truth.
    5. If they are not the basis of rational discourse, then we cannot know truth or error since the laws that govern rationality are not absolute.  This would allow people to speak irrationally, i.e., blue sleeps faster than Wednesday.
  4. Logical Absolutes are transcendent.
    1. Logical Absolutes are not dependent on space.
      1. They do not stop being true dependent on location.  If we travel a million light years in a direction, logical absolutes are still true.
    2. Logical Absolutes are not dependent on time.
      1. They do not stop being true dependent on time.  If we travel a billion years in the future or past, logical absolutes are still true.
    3. Logical Absolutes are not dependent on people.  That is, they are not the product of human thinking.
      1. People’s minds are different.  What one person considers to be absolute may not be what another considers to be absolute.  People often contradict each other.  Therefore, Logical Absolutes cannot be the product of human, contradictory minds.
      2. If Logical Absolutes were the product of human minds, they would cease to exist if people ceased to exist, which would mean they would be dependent on human minds.  But this cannot be so per the previous point.
  5. Logical Absolutes are not dependent on the material world.
    1. Logical Absolutes are not found in atoms, motion, heat, under rocks, etc.
    2. Logical Absolutes cannot be photographed, frozen, weighed, or measured.
    3. Logical Absolutes are not the product of the physical universe since that would mean they were contingent on atoms, motion, heat, etc., and that their nature was dependent on physical existence.
      1. If their nature were dependent upon physical existence, they would cease to exist when the physical universe ceases to exist.
      2. If they were properties of the universe, then they could be measured the same way heat, motion, mass, etc., are measured.  Since they cannot be measured, they are not properties of the universe.
    4. But, if the universe did not exist, logical absolutes are still true. 
      1. For example, if the universe did not exist, it would still be true that something cannot bring itself into existence and that if A=B and B=C, then A=C.  The condition of the universe does not effect these truths.
      2. For example, if the universe did not exist, it would still be true that something cannot be itself and not itself at the same time.
      3. Therefore, Logical Absolutes are not dependent on the material world.
  6. Logical Absolutes are conceptual by nature.
    1. Logic is a process of the mind.  Logical absolutes provide the framework for logical thought processes.  Therefore, it seems proper to say that Logical Absolutes are conceptual by nature since Logical Absolutes are truth statements about Logical things. 
      1. If you disagree that Logical Absolutes are conceptual by nature, then please explain what they are if not conceptual realities.
      2. If you cannot determine what they are, then how can you logically assert that they are not conceptual realities since logic is a process of the mind and logical absolutes are truth statements which are also products of the mind? Expanded:  Logical absolutes are either conceptual by nature, or they are not.
    2. If they are conceptual by nature, then they are not dependent upon the physical universe for their existence.
      1. If they are dependent on the physical universe for their existence, then are they said to be properties of the universe the same way that red is a property of an apple?
      2. If Logical Absolutes are said to be properties of the universe, then can they be measured the same way that other properties of the universe can be measured?  If they cannot, then how are they properties of the physical universe?
      3. If they are not properties of the universe and they are of the mind, then it seems proper to say that they are conceptual by nature, and that they depend on mind for their existence.
    3. If they are not conceptual by nature, then:
      1. What is their nature?
      2. If it is denied that Logical Absolutes are either conceptual or not conceptual, then this is impossible because “conceptual or not conceptual” entails all possible options.  Either Logical Absolutes are conceptual by nature or they are not.
      3. If they are not conceptual by nature, then what are they?  If it is not known what they are, then how can it be said what they are not since, it seems fair to say, that knowing what something is not also entails knowing something about what it is?
        1. For example, I know what water is.  If someone says that a piece of wood is water by nature, I would say that it is not.  If someone says that a frying pan is water by nature, I would say it is not.  If someone were to say to me that a “flursist” (a word I just made up that represents an unknown thing) is by nature hard, how then can I rationally deny such a claim by saying “I don’t know what a flursist is, but I know it isn’t hard”?  The response would be, “Since you don’t know what it is, how do you know what it is not?”  Is the response correct or not correct?
  7. Thoughts reflect the mind
    1. A person’s thoughts are the product of that person’s mind.
    2. A mind that is irrational will produce irrational thoughts.
    3. A mind that is rational will produce rational thoughts.
    4. It seems fair to say that an absolutely perfect mind would produce perfect thoughts.
    5. Since the Logical Absolutes are transcendent, absolute, are perfectly consistent, and are independent of the universe, then it seems proper to say that they reflect a transcendent, absolute, perfect, and independent mind.
    6. We call this transcendent, absolute, perfect, and independent mind God since a physical brain is not transcendent by nature because it is limited to physical space; and God is, by definition, transcendent in nature.
  8. Objections Answered
    1. Logical Absolutes are the result of natural existence.
      1. In what sense are they the result of natural existence?  How do conceptual absolutes form as a result of the existence of matter?
      2. How does one chemical state of the physical brain that leads to another physical state of the physical brain produce Logical Absolutes that are not dependent upon the physical brain for their validity?
      3. If they are a part of natural existence (the universe), then they would cease to exist if the universe ceased. 
        1. This has not been proven to be true.
        2. It implies that logic is a property of physical matter, but this is addressed in point 5 above.
    2. Logical Absolutes simply exist.
      1. This is begging the question by saying they exist because they exist and does not provide an explanation for their existence.  Simply saying they exist is not an answer.
    3. Logical Absolutes are axioms
      1. An axiom is a truth that is self-evident.  To say that Logical Absolutes are axioms is to beg the question by saying they are simply self-evident truths because they are self-evident truths and fails to account for their existence.
    4. Logical Absolutes are conventions.
      1. A convention, in this context, is an agreed upon principle.  But since people differ on what is and is not true, then logical absolutes cannot be the product of human minds and therefore are not human conventions, that is, of human agreements.
      2. This would mean that logical absolutes were invented as a result of an agreement by a sufficient number of people.  But this would mean that logical absolutes are a product of human minds, which cannot be the case since human minds differ and are often contradictory.  Furthermore, the nature of logical absolutes is that they transcend space and time (not dependent on space and time for their validity) and are absolute (they don’t change) by nature.  Therefore, they could not be the product of human minds which are finite and not absolute.
      3. This would mean that if people later disagreed on what was a Logical Absolute, then the absolutes would change based on “vote,” and they would not then be absolute.
    5. Logical Absolutes are eternal.
      1. What is meant by stating they are eternal?
      2. If a person says that logical absolutes have always existed, then how is it they could exist without a mind (if the person denies the existence of an absolute and transcendent mind)? After all, logic is a process of the mind.
    6. Logical Absolutes are uncaused.
      1. Since the nature of logic is conceptual and logical absolutes form the framework of this conceptual upon which logical processes are based, it would seem logical to conclude that the only way logical absolutes could be uncaused is if there was an uncaused and absolute mind authoring them.
    7. Logical Absolutes are self-authenticating.
      1. This means that logical absolutes validate themselves.  While this is true, it does not explain their existence.
      2. It is begging the question.  It just says they are because they are.
    8. Logical Absolutes are like rules of chess, which are not absolute and transcendent.
      1. The rules of chess are human inventions since Chess is a game invented by people.  In fact, the rules of chess have changed over the years, but logical absolutes have not.  So, comparing the rules of chess to logical absolutes is invalid.
    9. There are different kinds of logic.
      1. Saying there are different kinds of logic does not explain the existence of logical absolutes.
      2. In different systems of logic, there must be undergirding, foundational principles upon which those systems are based.  How are those foundational principles accounted for?  The same issue applies to them as it does to Logical Absolutes in classical logic.
    10. “Logical absolutes need no transcendental existence: saying ‘they would be true even if matter didn’t exist’ is irrelevant because we’re concerned with their existence–not their logical validity.  Saying ‘the idea of a car would still exist even if matter didn’t exist’ doesn’t imply that your car is transcendental (reductio ad absurdum).”
      1. Why do logical absolutes need no transcendental existence?  Simply saying they don’t need a transcendental existence doesn’t make it so nor does it account for their existence. 
      2. Also, why is it irrelevant to say they would be true even if matter didn’t exist?  On the contrary, it is precisely relevant to the discussion since we’re dealing with the nature of logical absolutes which are conceptual realities–not physical ones.
      3. The illustration that a car would still exist if matter did not exist is illogical.  By definition, a car is made of matter; and if matter did not exist, a car could not logically exist.  By contrast, logical absolutes are not made of matter.  The objection is invalid.
    11. “Logical abstractions do not have existence independent of our minds.  They are constructs in our minds (i.e., brains), and we use them to carry out computations via neural networks, silicon networks, etc., suggested by the fact that logic–like language–is learned–not inbuilt (balls in your court to demonstrate an independent existence or problem with this).”  ( . . . continued in next objection . . . )
      1. How do you know that logical abstractions do not have existence independent of our minds?  Saying so doesn’t make it so.  This is precisely one of the points about the nature of logical absolutes; namely, that they are a process of the mind but are not dependent upon human bodies because human minds contradict each other and are also self-contradictory.  This would preclude our minds from being the authors of what is logically absolute.  Furthermore, if they are constructions of our minds, then all I have to do is claim victory in any argument because that is how I construct my logical abstractions.  But, of course, you wouldn’t accept this as being valid.  Therefore, this demonstrates that your assertion is incorrect.
      2. How can an atheist logically claim that one chemical state in the brain which leads to another state necessitates proper logical inference?  It seems quite unlikely and without proof of some sort saying that Logical Absolutes are abstractions of (human) minds doesn’t account for them.
    12. (continued from previous objection . . . ) “Logical absolutes are absolute and not because of some special quality but because we judge them using logic.  Therefore, their absoluteness doesn’t arise from any special ontological quality (category error on your part).”
      1. You are begging the question.  You use logic to demonstrate that logical absolutes are absolute.  You are not giving a rational reason for their existence.  Instead, you assume their existence and argue accordingly.
      2. Furthermore, when you presuppose the validity of logical absolutes to demonstrate they are absolute, you contradict your statement in your previous objection about them being constructs of human minds.  They cannot be constructs of human minds because human minds contradict each other and themselves where Logical Absolutes do not.
      3. Where is the category mistake?  The nature of logical absolutes is that they are conceptual.  This is something I have brought out before so that their categories do not get mixed.  The nature of logical absolutes is exactly relevant to the question.
    13. (continued from previous objection . . . ) “Logical absolutes can be accurately described as conventions in communication. The fact that they are widely employed does not imply anything transcendental, any more than the wide employment of the word “lolly” as something small and yummy implies that the word “lolly” is transcendental (non sequitor).”
      1. Saying that they are “widely employed does not imply anything transcendental” is inaccurate.  Something that is transcendental, as in logical absolutes, would naturally be widely employed because they are valid and transcendent; otherwise, they wouldn’t be universally used.  You have recognized that they are widely used, but they are because they are transcendent.  They do not become transcendent because they are widely used.
      2. This still does not account for the existence of logical absolutes.
    14. (continued from previous objection . . . ) “Logical processes are clearly carried out by material constructs, usually neural or electrical.  They do this without any known “input” or “guidance” from anything transcendental, which makes you wonder why anything transcendental is needed in the equation at all (reality check).”
      1. You haven’t defined “material construct” or what you mean by neural or electrical (constructs).  If you mean a computer or something of that kind, this doesn’t help you because humans designed them using logic.  If you mean that they are the process of the human brain, you still haven’t solved the problem of their existence; since the implication would be that if our minds do not exist, logical absolutes would not exist either.  But this would mean that logical absolutes were not absolute but dependent upon human minds.  Again, the problem would be that human minds are different and contradict each other.  Therefore, logical absolutes, which are not contradictory, cannot be the product of minds that are contradictory.
      2. As stated above how does one establish that one chemical state in the brain which leads to another state necessitates proper logical inference?  Asserting it doesn’t make it so, and concluding that chemical reactions lead to logical inferences has not yet been established to be true or even that it could be at all.
      3. You don’t have to know the input or understand the guidance from anything transcendental for the transcendentals to be true.
    15. “Logic is one of those characteristics that any healthy human ‘has.’  It’s not free to vary from one person to the next for the same kind of reason that ‘number of eyes’ is a value that doesn’t vary between healthy humans.”
      1. Saying that logic is something that everyone “has” does not explain its existence.  Essentially, this is begging the question stating that something exists because it exists.
      2. The analogy of “eyes” is a category mistake.  Eyes are organs.  Different organisms have different kinds of eyes and different numbers of eyes.  Logic is consistent and independent of biological structures.
    16. Logic is the result of the semantics of the language which we have chosen: a statement is a theorem of logic if and only if it is valid in all conceivable worlds.  If the language is trivalent (true/indetermined/false), tertium non datur is invalid.  Uniformity of the universe can be rationally expected in a non-theistic universe.  If there is no one around with the transcendental power to change it, why should the behavior of the universe tomorrow differ from its behavior today?
      1. “Semantics of the language.”  Semantics deals with the study of the meaning of words, their development, changes in meaning, and the interpretation of words, etc.  But semantics by nature deals with the changing meaning of words and the often subjective nature of language and its structures.  To say the absolutes of logic are a result of the use of the subjective meanings of words is problematic.  How do you derive logical absolutes from the non-absolute semantic structures of non-absolute languages?   
        Furthermore, simply asserting that logic is a result of the semantics of the language does not explain the transcendent nature of logic.  Remember, the TAG argument asserts that Logical Absolutes are independent of human existence–reasons given at the beginning of the paper.  Since language, in this context, is a result of human existence, the argument would suggest that logic came into existence when language came into existence.  But this would invalidate the nature of logical absolutes and their transcendent characteristics.  Therefore, this objection is invalid.
      2. If logic is the result of language, then logic came into existence with language.  This cannot be for the reasons stated above.
      3. If logic is the result of language and since language rules change, then can we conclude that the laws of logic would also change?  If so, then the laws of logic are not laws; they are not absolute.
      4. Saying that “a statement is a theorem of logic” does not account for logic but presupposes existence of logic.  This is begging the question.
  9. Only two options
    1. If we have only two possible options by which we can explain something and one of those options is removed, by default the other option is verified since it is impossible to negate both of the only two exist options.
    2. God either exists or does not exist.  There is no third option.
    3. If the no-god position, atheism, clearly fails to account for Logical Absolutes from its perspective, then it is negated, and the other option is verified.
    4. Atheism cannot account for the necessary preconditions for intelligibility, namely, the existence of logical absolutes.  Therefore, it is invalidated as a viable option for accounting for them and the only other option, God exists, is validated.

The Ontological Argument

The ontological argument for the existence of God is a classical Christian argument that contends that the very concept of God logically and necessarily demands existence. It is the argument that, if one understands what is meant by the word “God” and follows it out to the logical conclusion, it is impossible for such a being not to exist. Imagining God to not exist is like imagining a five sided triangle. Once you grasp the meaning of “triangle”, you realize that this is absurd. If the shape you are imagining can have five sides, you are not imagining a triangle. The concept of “triangle” demands three sides. Similarly, if you are imagining a being that might or might not exist, you are not imagining God, because the very concept of God demands existence.

Think about the concept of “truth” for a moment. Truth simply has to exist. Some people claim that there really is no truth, but they simply have not followed it through. If I say, “there is no truth”, I am saying something plainly absurd. If the statement is true, then it is a truth and truth exists. If the statement is not true, then it is untrue that truth does not exist, and therefore truth exists. The very concept of truth demands existence just as plainly as the very concept of a triangle demands three sides. The Ontological argument insists that God’s existence is necessary in this same way. The very concept of God simply demands existence.

The Argument

This argument was first attempted by Anselm of Canterbury in the 11th century. He approached it this way:

  1.  God is by definition the greatest conceivable being.
    1. This is obvious, because if one can conceive of a being greater than God, thenthat being would be God
  2. If God exists only in the mind, something greater than God can be conceived: A God who exists in the actual world
  3. But God is the greatest conceivable being, so definitionally we cannot conceive of anything greater than God
  4. God must, then, be a being that exists not only in the mind but also in reality
  5. Therefore God exists

Anselm explained this another way, saying:

1. A being whose non-existence is inconceivable is greater than a being whose non-existence is conceivable.

2. God is the greatest conceivable being

3. God, then, is a being whose non-existence is inconceivable

4. Therefore, God exists

Many Christian thinkers still believe in and use various forms of this kind of argument. The most popular modern expression was published by Alvin Plantinga and popularized by William Lane Craig. It follows the approach of Anselm in using the concept of God’s definitional greatness, and frames the argument this way:1

1. It is possible that a maximally great being exits.

2. If a maximally great being exists, then it exists in some possible world.

3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world

4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world

5. If a maximally great being exists in the actual world, then a maximally great being exists

5. Therefore, a maximally great being exists

In this version, one begins by noting that it is logically possible for there to be a greatest conceivable being (or “maximally great” being) which is what we mean by “God”. If that is true, then there is at least one logically possible way the universe could be (or “possible world”) in which the greatest conceivable being exists. But, by definition, the maximally great being must exist in all possible worlds or he would not be maximally great. Therefore, since he does exist in a possible world, by definition he exists in every possible world, which means he exists in the real world. In other words, unless the concept of God is completely incoherent, God logically must exist.

Common Objections

The ontological argument is often laughed off by Christians and atheists alike, but when seriously engaged has proven more difficult to shoot down than it initially appears. The argument appears logically valid, in that its conclusion does follow properly from its premises. The primary objection has been that it could be used to justify all kinds of mythical things. One of Anselm’s own 11th-century opponents named Guanilo, in his work “On Behalf of the Fool,”2argued this point, using the example of proving “the greatest conceivable island.” The problem with this kind of objection is that it either equivocates on the definition of “great” or else it places an arbitrary limitation by insisting it be an “island”.

When we speak of something like an island being “great”, we are not typically talking about objective greatness in the very nature of its being. We usually mean a more subjective idea of greatness. The island is “great” because of the things about it that are pleasurable to me; it’s beautiful beaches, delicious tropical fruits, and pleasant climate, for example. That is obviously not what is meant by “greatness” in the Ontological argument. God is not “great” because of the things I happen to like about Him. God’s greatness is the objective superiority of His being, whether I like it or not. One simply cannot think of something like an island possessing this kind of objective greatness. The idea simply doesn’t make sense. Islands are very dependent things. They require the existence of oceans and sand and natural forces to even exist. Whatever form of greatness an island has is derived from other things. The very definition of “island” insists on it lacking the kind of greatness we are talking about. The very idea of “island” is contrary to the idea of being logically necessary. The concept of God demands existence, but the concept of island demands that it may or may not exist depending on other factors. These caricatures, therefore, do not actually challenge the logic of the argument.

Some have tried to show the argument to be self contradictory, such as by challenging, “wouldn’t a God who can prove the ontological argument false be greater than a God who can’t prove the Ontological argument false?” The problem here, of course, is that God proving the Ontological argument false would only be great if the Ontological argument actually is false. Proving true things false is not part of anyone’s definition of greatness or perfection, much less the definition of God.

Which God?

While the word “God” or “god” is used in a variety of ways and for a variety of false deities, the Ontological argument is clearly using “God” in a strict and specific sense of the word that is generally understood by most people. It is talking about the one, singular being that is above and beyond all else, the being that must exists while other beings may not. It is a strictly monotheistic argument. Neither pagans, Hindus, nor Mormons receive any help from this argument. Indeed, the argument only allows for one particular God, the God who is objectively greater than everything else. It is no stretch to say that this argument contends only for the God of Christianity. By way of one example, think on the triune nature of God. C.S. Lewis astutely noted:

“A good number of people nowadays say, ‘I believe in a God, but not in a personal God.’ They feel that the mysterious something which is behind all other things must be more than a person. Now the Christians quite agree. But the Christians are the only people who offer any idea of what a being that is beyond personality might be like. All the other people, though they say that God is beyond personality, really think of Him as something that is impersonal: that is, as something less than personal. If you are looking for something super-personal, something more than a person, then it is not a question of choosing between the Christian idea and the other ideas. The Christian idea is the only one on the Market”3

The Christian God is uniquely supreme, having within His own nature fellowship and love, authority and submission. A God who, even without creation, is to Himself “I” and “You” and “We” and “They”. One supreme and perfect being who is three distinct persons. Whether one considers the ontological argument to be a good one or not, it is no real wonder that it has always been almost exclusively a Christian argument.

Strengths of the Argument

Unlike many arguments, the ontological argument argues from God rather than to Him. It is rooted in the very nature of God and is therefore specific to the true and living God rather than to the general idea of an ultimate principle or divine being. It does not present God as something that might or might not exist and that we need to prove one way or the other. It also is not rooted in probability. If the argument is right, it is wholly right. It does not show God to be more likely to exist, but rather insists that He must exist. It therefore takes the person out of the position of judging what is true and places them in the position of responding to the truth.

Weaknesses of the Argument

The argument is very confusing to many. Worse, it can also come off as more of a semantic game or word-play rather than a serious argument. Even many Christians find it both unpersuasive and unhelpful.

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