Rationality Rules Debunks a Strawman, I Debunk Matt Slick

transcendental-argAnother day, another video by Stephen Woodford video to criticize. In the case of Matt Slick’s Transcendental Argument – Debunked, Woodford has made things easy. He begins by restating Slick’s argument:

  1. If there are only two possible options and one is proven false, the other must be true
  2. God either exists or does not exist
  3. If the non-existence of God (i.e. atheism) fails to explain logical absolutes, then it can’t be true
  4. Atheism cannot account for logical absolutes
  5. Therefore God exists

Woodford then replaces the statement “God either exists or does not exist”, which I would state as “a god either exists or does not exist”, with a non-equivalent statement,
“The Christian God either exists or does not exist”, thereby creating a strawman of Matt Slick’s position. He then demonstrates that the existence of the Christian God is not the opposite of atheism, and concludes that this disproves Matt Slick, when really all he has done is disprove his strawman argument.

So does Matt Slick’s unaltered argument prove the existence of God? Not at all. Where Woodford’s simplified description of Slick’s argument falls down is in the claim that failure to account for logical absolutes makes atheism untrue. Just because a theory doesn’t explain a phenomena doesn’t make the theory untrue. A phenomena must contradict the theory to disprove it. No definition of atheism I’m aware of makes the claim that there are no logical absolutes.

Let’s look at Matt Slick’s actual argument, not Woodford’s summary:

  1. Logical absolutes exist.
  2. Logical absolutes are conceptual by nature–are not dependent on space, time, physical properties, or human nature.
  3. 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.
  4. Logical Absolutes are not the product of human minds because human minds are different–not absolute.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Therefore, part of the argument is that the atheist position cannot account for the existence of logical absolutes from its worldview.

Slick’s logical leap is that since logical absolutes are neither products of the physical universe nor products of the human mind, they must have been produced by an absolute transcendent mind. Why? Slick’s answer:

[Saying logical absolutes simply exist] 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.

Not being able to explain why something exists does not make it untrue. This argument is equivalent to “We can’t explain the existence of logical absolutes, therefore God”. Slick further adds that if we argue that Logical Absolutes are uncaused:

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.

How does the fact that (uncaused) logical axioms are conceptual lead to the conclusion that there must be an uncaused mind to author them? Concepts do not require a mind to author them in order to exist. Similarly, the sound of a tree falling in the forest doesn’t require a person to hear it in order to exist.

I neither deny the existence of the supernatural nor aver it. I am an agnostic. I agree with Slick that the naturalist claim that logic can be fully derived from the natural world is rubbish. Logic and mathematics are entirely subjective things that we can only approach in the mind, and yet if there were no mind to think them, they would still exist. Is that because they are the creations of the mind of God? I don’t think we can answer that question.

About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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