Criticism of TAG: (Transcedental Argument for the Existence of God)
Isn’t TAG just a god of the gaps argument?
“Atheists cannot account for X through natural means so my god is necessary to account for X.”
For the apologetically uninitiated, TAG is short for the “transcendental argument for the existence of God.” It is easy to see the need for the abbreviation. To summarize transcendental arguments briefly, they are anti-skeptical arguments which seek to demonstrate with epistemic certainty the truth of some fact or proposition. Simply put, transcendental arguments typically take the form: For any X to be the case, Y must be the case as Y is the necessary precondition for X. X is the case, therefore Y must be the case. To really dumb things down a bit, when one argues transcendentally for the truth of some proposition, they are typically asking the foundational question: “What must be the case in order for this other thing to be the case?”
A “god-of-the-gaps” argument is an argument which posits God as the explanation for some unexplained or unknown phenomena. It is a fallacious form of argumentation as it appeals to gaps in our knowledge and then moves fallaciously to the conclusion that God must be the explanation for this otherwise unknown and unexplained phenomena. Hence, one moves from ignorance to…God did it!
TAG however is not even remotely a “god-of-the-gaps” argument nor does TAG commit the
“God-of-the-gaps” fallacy. This is because the argument does not seek to plug God into the equation due to our ignorance. TAG is not arguing that because we don’t have an explanation for some phenomena for which the atheist has no explanation for, therefore, the Christian God must be the answer.
Rather, TAG begins with a fact agreed upon by both parties to the debate; hence we begin not from ignorance but from what both parties know to be the case. We begin by establishing an agreed upon fact X, and ask what are the necessary preconditions for X? We then move to worldview analysis in which each side lays out their meta-narrative, their overall philosophical framework, their worldview. Upon laying out our worldviews we then engage in internal critiques of those worldviews to try and demonstrate that the intellectual framework from which the unbeliever is functioning undermines the intelligibility of the X of which both parties have agreed upon at the start.
However, when the proponent of TAG successfully demonstrates that the unbeliever’s worldview does not sufficiently ground the intelligibility of X, it does not follow that the Christian perspective automatically is true. That’s to say that the demonstration of the inability of the non-Christian position to explain and/or ground the intelligibility of some fact does not automatically demonstrate the truth of the Christian position.
The unbeliever is invited to internally critique the Christian worldview and its ability to sufficiently ground the intelligibility of the agreed upon X on its own worldview assumptions. At this point, the proponent of TAG will need to survive the internal critique and actually show how the Christian framework makes intelligible the X. The proponent of TAG welcomes this task as it allows him to explain the Christian worldview as the only system of thought that can in fact ground the intelligibility of any X in question.
The above point is key as it demonstrates that TAG is not asserting that Christianity is true simply because the unbeliever cannot ground the intelligibility of some fact; that is true to be sure, but the proponent of TAG is asserting that A. The unbeliever cannot account for the intelligibility of any fact, and B. that the Christian worldview actually can account for the intelligibility of facts and here’s how… (Proceeds to engage with the attempted internal critique of the Christian worldview by his interlocutor and provides a positive case as to how the Christian system does in fact provide the necessary preconditions for intelligibility).