The Transcendental Argument, Its Got What Theologians Crave

The movie Idiocracy portrays a dystopian era five-hundred years in the future where the breeding of the dullest has drastically lowered the average mental abilities of the whole society. An average man from our own times who finds his way there is found to be the smartest man in their world. In one scene he attempts to convince the President’s council (made up of idiots) of the value of putting water on the crops rather than Brawndo, a gatorade-like drink with the slogan “it’s got what plant’s crave” that is actually ruining the harvest. The dialogue is as follows:
Idiot 1: Brawndo’s got what plant’s crave.
Idiot 2: Yeah, it’s got electrolytes.
Smartest Man: What are electrolytes? Do you even know?
Idiot 3: It’s what they use to make Brawndo.
Smartest Man: But why do they use them to make Brawndo?
Idiot 4: Because Brawndo has electrolytes.
Now, consider the similarity of this dialogue to that of a typical (though made up) conversation with a proponent of the Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God (TAG).
Proponent: The transcendental argument proves the existence of God.
Proponent: Without God you can’t prove anything.
Questioner: Why can’t you prove anything without God? Do you even know?
Proponent: Because TAG proves the existence of God.
Questioner: But why does TAG prove the existence of God?
Proponent: Because without God you can’t prove anything.
It is a curious wonder to me that some theologians drink TAG.

8 thoughts on “The Transcendental Argument, Its Got What Theologians Crave”

  1. I love the comparison, that movie is quickly moving from comedy to prophecy. I share your frustration with that kind of proponent of TAG, if we can even call them that. I certainly hope I’ve given a better defense or explication of TAG than the interlocutor in your dialogue.

  2. “ … Drs. Bahnsen and Van Til want us to believe that there is a “Christian basis” upon which to base the theistic proofs rendering them “objectively valid,” having “absolute probative force.” But the most overt difficulty is that if one formulates his arguments for God’s existence on the basis of Christian theism, then there is no theistic proof at all, and no point in constructing “proofs.” It is simply divine revelation, not an argument for God or His Word. One has already assumed God’s existence. To proceed to “prove” it is not only superfluous, but also an obvious case of begging the question.”
    Excerpt From
    Trinity Review – 182 – Van Til’s Apologetic Readings And Analysis
    W. Gary Crampton
    This material may be protected by copyright.

    1. More important to me than the TAG is how, exactly, to pronounce your last name?🙄 There is a great debate between another brother and me as to the true pronunciation, so let’s have it Rev. Douma!

  3. … to suggest that the theistic proofs can be formulated in a Biblical fashion is confused. The whole point of the “proofs” is to argue from non-Biblical premises to the God of the Bible. The absolutely certain proof of the transcendental argument is imaginary. The Van Tilian position is a confused form of evidentialism; it is certainly not presuppositionalism. Dr. Van Til’s student John Frame wrote: “The term presuppositional…is not an adequate description of Van Til’s position.” – Trinity Review, see above.
    I have heard the TAG acronym renamed TASG or Transcendental Argument for Some God. Why? Because if the word g-o-d in the argument is the one true living God of the Bible then it’s circular, assuming what it needs to prove; if it’s not the God of the Bible, then it’s not God but some g-o-d.
    At best it can be used as an ad hominem …

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