Other Arguments

Now the only argument for an absolute God that holds water is a transcendental argument. A deductive argument as such leads only from one spot in the universe to another spot in the universe. So also an inductive argument as such can never lead beyond the universe. In either case there is no more than an infinite regression. In both cases it is possible for the smart little girl to ask, “If God made the universe, who made God?” and no answer is forthcoming. This answer is, for instance, a favorite reply of the atheist debater, Clarence Darrow. But if it be said to such opponents of Christianity that, unless there were an absolute God their own questions and doubts would have no meaning at all, there is no argument in return. There lie the issues. It is the firm conviction of every epistemologically self-conscious Christian that no human being can utter a single syllable, whether in negation or in affirmation, unless it were for God’s existence. Thus the transcendental argument seeks to discover what sort of foundations the house of human knowledge must have, in order to be what it is.

– Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, 11

Opponents of presuppositional apologetics are prone to worry about the supposed exclusivity of the transcendental argument. The story is presuppositionalists are incapable of utilizing (or do not utilize) other apologetic arguments due to the nature of the transcendental argument. In some instances, the transcendental argument is thought to preclude the use of any other type of argument, whether apologetic or not. Lacking material outside of the transcendental argument is thought to be a bad thing. This objection is based upon a misrepresentation of the place of various kinds of argument in presuppositionalism.

The transcendental argument for Christian theism, whatever that argument might look like, does not discount the place of other arguments within the context of Christian theism. Note that Christian theism allows for both deductive and inductive arguments. These arguments can be utilized in a positive sense to appeal to the rational faculties of a believer. These arguments can also be used to showcase the inherent rational persuasiveness of the Christian worldview to an unbeliever. If the Christian worldview as a whole is set over against the non-Christian worldview in transcendental argumentation, then implicit in the Christian’s appeal to the unbeliever is, presumably, every sound and persuasive argument known to humanity. Making these arguments explicit does not undermine the transcendental argument. Moreover, the transcendental argument does not preclude deductive and inductive arguments, but rather establishes them.


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