TAG Refuted? By no Means.
@annihilist from Twitter made the comment; “Knowing the topic isn't the same as knowing the content.”
Annihilist and I were tweeting about what has become known as “TAG” or in full, The Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God. Matt Slick’s TAG is seemingly the one which gets a lot of attention by atheists claiming to have refuted it. During our tweeting, Annihilist tweeted, “Refutation of this apologist argument.” that included this link: http://atheistexperience.blogspot.com/2009/02/slick-transcendental-argument.html which is to “The Atheist Experience” website to an article posted by Don Baker titled, “The Slick Transcendental Argument.” Annihilist said that this article is the refutation of TAG.
After my internet access started working again, I was actually able to go to “The Atheist Experience” and read the article. I also did a search and found another website which the author of another article stated that he too had refuted TAG. This one is by someone who goes by the name, Godlessons and its title is, “Matt Slick attempts to answer my refutation of TAG” http://godlessons.com/2010/02/19/matt-slick-attempts-to-answer-my-refutation-of-tag
I’m no expert on logic or for that matter not much of an expert on anything at all. There is however a special gift that I have from God which helps me cut to the bottom of things and get to the truth. So let’s see if I can get to the truth of these TAG refutations.
Let’s go over my findings of these two self-claimed repudiations of TAG. Let’s start with the article from “The Atheist Experience” as this is the one Annihilist sent to me.
Don Baker, the author of this article wrote, “…there is no such thing as a ‘moment of conception’ as Christian propagandists would have you believe.” This is an axiom being made by the author about the conception of a baby. Prior to his making this statement about conception, he wrote, “Axioms are assumptions (made by humans) that may not be applicable in all situations.” From Wikipedia, an axiom is defined; “In traditional logic, an axiom or postulate is a proposition that is not proved or demonstrated but considered to be either self-evident, or subject to necessary decision. Therefore, its truth is taken for granted, and serves as a starting point for deducing and inferring other (theory dependent) truths.” Here I find fault in Don Baker’s logic. In the axiom that Don Baker made about there not being a “moment of conception” he is overlooking that there had to be a beginning at some point in time during the process for he and I to have become him and me because Don and I are now not in the process of conception. From Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary, conception is defined with regard to babies as follows: 1b: the process that occurs within a woman's body when she becomes pregnant ▪ the moment of conception.
Another flaw which is even more critical I find in Don Baker’s logic within his article stems from his writing, “It is true that humans invented it [logic], but machines can carry it [logic] out.” He states proof of machines being able to carry out logic through theorem provers and points specifically to the famous ‘four color problem’ being “solved by a computer before it was solved by a human.” Here Don Baker’s logic excluded humans being the ones who designed, built, and programmed the computer to perform their calculations which solved the four color problem. If a human had not designed, built, and programmed a computer; for one, the computer would still not exist because they don’t just evolve from silicon to be a computer on their own with full programming built into them; and two, the computer would not have been able to properly execute its program which was logically thought out and carefully written by humans to perform and be theorem provers. Thus Don Baker’s logic is flawed when he asserts that minds are not necessary to apply logic when the truth is that minds are indeed necessary to apply logic. Don Baker goes from there being no computer to there being a computer to it doing complex logic operations without there having been any human component in the design and creation of and programming of the computer by humans. So the truth isn’t that as Don Baker implies that the computer evolved on its own into a machine which can perform logic calculations without human intervention. The truth is, is that humans solved the four color problem by designing and creating a computer which could perform logic calculations faster than a human and through programming by human developers coding into the computer the logic needed for a computer to properly solve the four color problem and other theorem provers calculations.
Now let’s go to the article I found by Godlessons, “Matt Slick attempts to answer my refutation of TAG” and see if this author made any critical logic errors as Don Baker did in his article.
The author of this article seemingly has no understanding of absolutes. I say this because his (could be a she but I’m keeping it in the masculine) critical error in logic stems from his lack of understanding that the “actual” color of one’s shoes is the “actual” color of one’s shoes; not the perceived color by someone of one’s shoes’ color. This author goes on for a length of time not understanding that absolutely the shoes have a color which is actually the color of the shoes. This author goes through a rather long series of perceptions of what the color of one’s shoes could be per different people looking at them. This author also applies logical absolutes to arbitrary preferences of someone’s food to eat by saying that some people may prefer stake over broccoli. This author then concludes that the law of non-contradiction could possibly be violated but that because we only perceive what color the shoes are and prefer one food over another food thus we’d not know if the law of non-contradiction were violated or not.
The law of non-contradiction states that a contradiction cannot be true: “It is impossible to have A and not A at the same time and in the same relationship.” The last part of this definition is crucially important. Obviously, A and not A could each be true at different times but never at the same time. Now getting back to the color of shoes that this author speaks of; with the “actual” color of the shoes, the shoes cannot be both, the “actual” color and “not the actual” color at the same time regardless of what the perceived color of the shoes are by the people who view them. It doesn’t matter if the people who perceive the color of the shoes differently or not, the “actual” color of the shoes will always be the “actual” color of the shoes over the lifetime of the shoes because the color of the shoes can be nothing but the “actual” color of the shoes for as long as they are shoes even if over time their color changes it is still the “actual” color of the shoes. As for food preferences, it is absolutely necessary for each of us (you and me) to have substantial digestion of nutrition so to survive regardless of what our preferences are for food. It doesn’t matter what a person’s food preference is or not so long as a person is digesting the absolute needed nutritional requirements to not starve. With regard to the law of non-contradiction it would be a person is either “digesting the absolute needed nutritional requirements to not starve” or a person is “not digesting the absolute needed nutritional requirements to not starve.” This is because a person absolutely cannot be doing both, “digesting the absolute needed nutritional requirements to not starve” and “not digesting the absolute needed nutritional requirements to not starve” at the same time regardless of any food preferences the person has. So the truth isn’t as Godlessons states that we cannot know if the law of non-contradiction is violated or not if one properly uses its logic. The truth is, not understanding absolutes over preferences when applying logic as Godlessons did can lead people into false conclusions due to one to improperly applied logic.
TAG Refuted? By no Means did these Authors Refute TAG.
This reminds me of a quote from Abe Lincoln about a calf. A calf is a baby cow for those who may not know what a calf is. For simplistic sake and for those who are not familiar with what a calf looks like, I’ll change in my rendition of Abe Lincoln’s story the calf to a dog because most people know what a dog looks like. Abe Lincoln once asked someone, “If you call a dog’s tail a leg, how many legs would the dog have?” If you do simple math, a dog has four legs plus one would be five, right? “Wrong,” as Abe Lincoln points out, “Only four legs does a dog have even when you call its tail a leg because calling a tail a leg doesn’t make a tail a leg.”
Annihilist tweeted to me, “Knowing the topic isn't the same as knowing the content.” and I couldn’t agree with him more. The truth of these two TAG refutations is that their authors each make critical errors in their logic trying to refute TAG. Now if either of these two authors trying to refute TAG willingly ignored their logic mistakes or if they even realized that they made mistakes in their logic I do not know. Only God and these two authors know if they willingly ignored their mistakes or if they didn’t realize that they made blunders in their logic of trying to refute TAG. What I do know is that both authors who tried to refute TAG made critical errors which render moot any refutation of TAG that they claim they’ve made.
I find it pathetic that there are so many people who present themselves as knowing the content when they don’t even really know the topic. Seriously, as I stated, I’m not an expert in logic but these easily found serious flaws of logical made by these two atheist authors who claim that they have refuted TAG shows just how much people can overlook or willingly persuade when they are trying to be right instead of seeking truth. What’s even worse are those people who will read these author’s works and take it at face value without doubt for what they say as truth not thinking on their own about the logic within the articles; and thus wrongly thinking that they refuted TAG when truth is that these authors made serious logic errors in their reasoning and do not refute TAG at all.
Annihilist, thank you for our Twitter discussions; I find them enlightening and hope you do too. God bless you!
Thank you Godlessons for confirming the Law of Non-Contradiction, please continue to confirm the rest of TAG. Just because some people make logical mistakes doesn’t disprove logic. Please read the other comments I’ve posted in reply to your color statement. With your statement of “Just because something is not physical does not prevent it from being objectively true…” you must consider the existence of God as objectively true as God is not physical.
I appear to be late to the party here. As I am the author of the blog Godlessons, I think that I need to clear a few things up.
First of all, right out of the gate, you have shown that you misunderstand me. The reason I was discussing the perceived color of one’s shoes is not because I think that has anything to do with the actual color, but because Matt seems to think that there is some innate knowledge of objective facts that make it so we can have discussions. I was demonstrating that is false, since we don’t need to have absolute knowledge of objective reality in order to be able to have rational discourse.
You then go on to show another misunderstanding you have about when I am talking about food choices.
Matt says that his preference of steak over broccoli is not a logical absolute. This is just so obviously false it’s not even funny.
It is objectively true of Matt’s preference that he likes steak over broccoli. Can the statements “Matt prefers steak over broccoli” and “Matt doesn’t prefer steak over broccoli” both be true simultaneously in the same sense? Absolutely not.
This is where he shows his hand though. He is completely willing to accept that a mind is required in order for logical absolutes to exist, but he refuses to accept that a human mind can have the same affect.
Just because something is not physical does not prevent it from being objectively true, and just because a logical absolute resides in a human mind doesn’t mean it’s not a logical absolute.
–@annihilist, you state I might be interested in some serious problems with logic, the basis of the TAG and give to me a link to Gödel’s famous ‘incompleteness’ proof yet you don’t tell me what serious problems with logic? I’m willing to go over each of your so claimed, “serious problems with logic” if you state each out individually.
It’s not that I didn’t or don’t take issues with all of their arguments, per time I chose to highlight the most obvious arguments they have which clearly stand out as flawed and biased. If you were to seriously and critically read their arguments, you’d find their flaws.
You seemingly being hung up on the term, “moment of conception” overlooked the truth. The human zygote is the initial cell formed when a new organism is produced by means of sexual reproduction in the process called fertilization which involves the fusion of an ovum with a sperm. A human zygote will begin to divide by mitosis and eventually leads to the development of an embryo which continues to develop until delivery unless something or someone hinders it from doing so. The point in time which I am talking about in my article is the point in which the ovum and sperm first touch and become united which is why you are you and I am me. Of the many sperm cells on the structures surrounding the oocyte, only one single spermatozoon unites with the oocyte. For you, that one special spermatozoon united with that one special oocyte which continued to develop into you.
You see, from that moment in time when the ovum and sperm touched together which developed into your zygote only four items were required for it to continue to become you today; Time, Nutrients, Water, and proper Oxygen/Air mixture. For if the ovum and sperm which created you had never first touched together, there never would have been any you. Nor if the ovum and sperm which first touched together had not received the time, nutrients, water, and proper oxygen/air mixture after their first coming together during that moment in time when they first touched, there would never have been any you. Even if you are an identical twin, if the ovum and sperm which first touched together had not touched together or after first touching had not received the time, nutrients, water, and proper oxygen/air mixture after their first coming together during that moment in time when they first touched together, there would never have been any you or your identical twin. For that moment in time when the ovum and sperm first touch, is an essential moment to human life.
You state, “Slick’s position was that logic was only the product of minds, and this is what was refuted.” I disagree because it isn’t refuted at all.
Your conclusion is ignoratio elenchi if you say, “that god is solving problems because he designed our minds.” Our solving problems through our design and creation of computers, is in no way saying that God is solving problems through His design and creation of our minds thus eliminating free will. You incorrectly make an assumption about God’s ability to design and create being equated to our human limited ability to design and create and need to solve problems. You also make an incorrect assumption about God’s purpose of His design and creation being done so to solve problems. You may want to read an article I wrote; What is our life’s meaning? (Purpose) http://findingtruthtoday.typepad.com/finding-truth-today/2010/08/what-is-our-lifes-meaning-purpose-.html
You make an error in logic just as Godlessons did regarding your saying that Godlessons and I can both be right concerning coming at the situation from different epistemological viewpoints. Logic is not just “a way of thinking”; rather, logic describes the correct way of thinking. Laws of logic are God’s standard for reasoning. But why would there be a universal standard for reasoning in a random-chance universe? Any standard of human invention would necessarily be subjective and arbitrary.
You see, you had to use laws of logic to write your comment to me, and you assumed that they apply just as well in the United States as they do in Australia, in Canada, the UK, etc., and that they haven’t changed with time. In other words, you have assumed that laws of logic apply everywhere and are invariant in order to argue that this is not the case. Your argument is self-refuting.
The law of non-contradiction is one such law of logic, which states that you can’t have A and not-A at the same time and in the same relationship, where A is any proposition. I would suggest you get a textbook on logic if you want to learn about the laws of logic. I recommend Copi & Cohen, Introduction to Logic.
So you disagree with me about the point on color I made… well, let me make my point again this time in the words you used instead of color and see how it goes, okay? Shoes have a specific composition which absorbs and reflects specific wavelengths of light. A pair of shoes cannot both at the exact same time; have a specific composition which absorbs and reflects specific wavelengths of light and not have a specific composition which absorbs and reflects specific wavelengths of light. It has to be either one or the other but not both at the same time. Our perception of the shoes doesn’t change the shoes specific composition which absorbs and reflects specific wavelengths of light… Even if we were color blind or using a black and white video camera to view the shoes, the shoes would still have a specific composition which absorbs and reflects specific wavelengths of light regardless of our perception of them.
Do you honestly think we (the human race) absolutely understand perfectly each and everything there is to know about each and every aspect of physics? Do you honestly think today that our (the human race) understanding of physics will never change in the future?
It’s either that we (the human race) absolutely know and perfectly understand everything there is to know about physics or we (the human race) don’t know and don’t understand everything there is about physics. It cannot be both as it has to be one or the other.
Only the Christian faith can account for laws of logic. The law of non-contradiction, for example, stems from God’s internal consistency. God cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13), and all truth (all knowledge) is in Christ (Colossians 2:3); thus, truth will not go against itself. But apart from God as revealed in the Bible, no one can account for the existence and properties of the laws of logic. Therefore, other competing philosophies must implicitly assume the truth of the Christian worldview in order to have laws of logic by which their adherents attempt to argue. Since they cannot account for logic on their own terms, competing worldviews must borrow logic from Christianity.
Since you have put in the time to put together a lengthy position on their argument, I feel it would be unfair to not at least do the same for you. Before I get into addressing my concerns with your response, I think you might be interested in some serious problems with logic, the basis of the TAG. Please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del%27s_incompleteness_theorems#Discussion_and_implications.
On the “moment of conception”: http://lawreview.law.ucdavis.edu/issues/Vol40/Issue1/DavisVol40No1_Peters.pdf. This is not an axiom; it is simply a truth statement that is provable. Please read the section on the science and identify the “moment of conception.” Please note that a dictionary definition reflects a words common usage and is not necessarily accurate legally or scientifically. You take issue with that one example, but not the others, you can remove that one example and the argument still stands on the others.
Your second issue with Baker’s logic relates to his position on computers being able to carry out logical operations. It is irrelevant that he did not go into the fact that the computers were designed. By your position, we were designed. This is a logical fallacy, specifically ignoratio elenchi. (Side note, you meant silicon, not silicone. Silicone is what breast implants contain. :P) Slick’s position was that logic was only the product of minds, and this is what was refuted. By your argument, you could say that god is solving problems because he designed our minds. By that line of thinking you eliminate free will.
In your section on the reply at Godlessons, there are some issues. It sounds like people got into an argument without agreeing upon the same epistemological axioms regarding truth. At this point all sides of the argument become essentially meaningless. That said, I disagree with your point on color. The shoes have a specific composition which absorbs and reflects specific wavelengths of light, that can change based on a number of factors not limited to viewing angle or shoe temperature. We make arbitrary delineations of what “color” that those reflected wavelengths will be called.
On your section about the law of non-contradiction: the problem here is that the assumption is that it is universally applicable. This is one of the fundamental problems with the TAG. It is begging the question to make that assertion, and indeed it can be refuted. We are already aware of many processes in physics that violate this law. It simply cannot be applied universally. Even causality is relative, but that’s a different topic. (A fascinating one though, for something that should be readable by a layperson read: http://www.chronos.msu.ru/EREPORTS/lobo_time.pdf)
Again, you make an ignoratio elenchi regarding nutrition. You do bring light to a potential problem in his argument though.
He is saying that that the law of contradiction could be violated by this type of situation. You can both be right, by coming at the situation from different epistemological viewpoints. For example, how would we know if the law was being violated? How would we know if the shoes _actually_ were reflecting different wavelengths of light for each of us? Assuming that it wasn’t, and ignoring differences in perception, you appear to make the argument of absolute physical truth. That regardless of our ability to measure or perceive it, the shoes are a specific color. This is, however, begging the question.
I apologize if this isn’t complete enough, I don’t have a lot of time. That said, I didn’t rigorously examine these particular refutations, I just selected the first I found. I would be more than happy at this point to scrap both Matt Slick’s argument, and any other atheists’ refutations and instead hear your particular take on the TAG, and then make my own refutation. Since we’ve adopted a long-form discussion at this point, please make the entirety of your argument and then tweet me when it’s available. I will read it and respond when I have the time.
I appreciate the time and effort that you have put into this, and look forward to continuing our conversation.