Matt Slick using the Transcendental Argument

Matt Slick of CARM recently had a debate with an atheist and he employed the Transcendental Argument. You can read his opening statement HERE. He'll have the video of the event out for sale soon. I've read Matt's formulation of TAG and it's pretty persuasive. He's a great apologist who also has a book he's working on. Here's a bit of what he says:

Now, I have a question for you Mr. Kagin. How do you, as an atheist, account for the existence of logic? Remember, the question is directed to you as an atheist. How do you, account for the existence of logic?

The question is important and it directly relates to God’s existence. Asking that a person give an account for something based on his worldview is not a kindergarten exercise. It is not a word game. It is an important philosophical question worth answering, especially given the fact that we live in a finite and physical universe yet use logic which is transcendent and conceptual.

So, I hope to show that the atheist perspective cannot rationally account for logic, but the Christian one can because it acknowledges God’s existence.

But, in order for me to show this, I need to do two things:

First, I need to offer a definition of God. God is that Supreme Being who exists independent of the universe, who does not change, is absolute, transcends space and time, who is self aware, who is all-knowing, ever present, and can accomplish whatever he desires to accomplish. In short, I am proposing the Christian God.

The Second thing I want to address a simple logical principle. If there are only two possibilities to explain something and one of the possibilities is incapable of explaining it, then by default the other is validated. Let me illustrate.

Let's say that there is a man named Frank who has a small room in his house in which he keeps valuables. This room is encased in thick metal, has no windows, no vents, and only one light with one table inside. The door has a very strong lock which can only be opened by a keypad that requires a sequence of numbers that only Frank knows. There is an alarm, a heat detector, and a motion detector. Now Frank has just acquired a bag full of rare coins. He puts them inside the room on the table, exits, and immediately locks the door behind him.

Frank then goes directly to his car, drives to a meeting, and returns 3 hours later to inventory his currency. But to his surprise, after he disables the alarms, unlocks the door, and enters the room, he finds the coins are not in the bag where he left them. Instead, they are neatly stacked on the table. Upon further examination he discovers that the stacks of coins are in separate piles in sequences of prime numbers from 2 through 31. Frank wants to know how this happened. He calls the police.

When they arrive they find no physical evidence that anyone else besides Frank had been in the room. For all they know, he arranged the coins. There aren’t any fingerprints, shoe prints, or traces of DNA other than Frank’s.

But Frank knows he did not arrange the coins and the coins didn’t arrange themselves. Frank is bewildered and refuses to believe that someone got into the room. His criteria for proof necessitate that there be some finger-prints, shoe prints, pry marks, or the alarms having gone off. But none of these evidences are there. So, he refuses to believe the obvious because his criteria for proof doesn’t include the possibility that someone intelligent arranged the coins logically without also being detected in the manner that he chooses.

Now, we can see that the proof is there. Obviously, someone arranged the coins. But Frank is not persuaded. Why? Because proof is different than persuasion.

Okay, so let me reduce this illustration to a simple proposition: Either an intelligence or non intelligence arranged the coins. There aren’t any other options.

In like manner, in this debate we have only two options: there either is a God or there is not. Since there are only these two options we can take a look at them and ask a question. Which position, the theistic or atheistic, can account for the existence of logic? One of them has to be able to, otherwise we have no rational reason for the existence of logic at all.

Now, Mr. Kagin might just say that he doesn’t know how to account for logic. I have no problem with him pleading ignorance should he so choose; after all, Christians sometimes do the same thing. Or on the other hand, he might say he doesn’t need to give account for the existence of logic and he might offer various reasons why he doesn’t need to. In either case, whether it is ignorance or ignoring, I’ll continue through with this debate using my argument and enjoy Mr. Kagin’s neglect in responding to it. But, I do expect a logical response from Mr. Kagin and I hope it is forthcoming.

So, in anticipation of possible responses from my atheist opponent, I want to enlist the help of previous atheists who’ve tried to give me an account for the existence of logic. I will list their arguments and attempt to show why they are invalid. But, I won’t stop there. After I have shown that their arguments are invalid, I’ll try to show that the Christian perspective can account for logic and thereby demonstrate that God exists.

Read the rest here


  1. "Let's say that there is a man named Frank..."


    Hey, I didn't follow this whole discussion between Slick and Kagin from its beginning (although I read the rest of the article on Carm). Can you tell me why Slick is using the existence of logic to prove the existence of God? i.e. why did he not instead prove God's existence by referring to the existence of matter or humor or faith or whatever? i.e. the subject of logic seems arbitrary to me.

  2. I've always liked that CARM dude, he check out my blog and I would love for you to leave comments whenever you can. See ya!

  3. Interesting. This isn't TAG tho; note the following:

    "But before my time is up, I would like to try and show that the existence of logic and logical absolutes shows there is a God. Also, please notice that I am not first assuming that God exists. I am first approaching the issue of logic and then concluding that God exists. I’ll try to do that with three points."

    This is a transcendental argument for the existence of logic, followed by a rationalistic argument that logic as a concept must exist in a mind. And, reminiscent of Thomas Aquinas' Five Ways, he concludes with "I call this absolute and transcendent mind, God" (Aquinas' form being something like "and this everyone calls God").