User Name:


FAQ Donate Join

Atheist Experience
Slick's argument

In AE #592, "professional apologist" Matt Slick tried to present an argument for God's existence that I'm not familiar with. Unfortunately, the debate got sidetracked so often that Slick never got to the "therefore God exists" part. At least I don't think he did.

Does anyone know what argument he was trying to make? What's it called and where does it come from?

Here's the argument he was reading from. --Don

Interesting, but disappointing. It seems like a long exercise in the old mistake of reifying abstractions. And somebody should really tell Slick that the law of excluded middle works in classic logic, but not in modern (intuitionistic) logic. Let's not even start with fuzzy logic.

<!blockquote>Objections Answered There are different kinds of logic 1. Saying there are different kinds of logic does not explain the existence of logical absolutes.<!/blockquote> Eh? If various logical systems allow different sets of rules, they aren't really that "absolute", are they?

The conclusion sounds like something a medieval monk would write after a long day contemplating the number of angels on a pinhead: <!blockquote>Thoughts reflect the mind 1. A person's thoughts reflect what he or she is. 2. Absolutely perfect thoughts reflect an absolutely perfect mind. 3. Since the Logical Absolutes are transcendent, absolute, are perfectly consistent, and are independent of the universe, then they reflect a transcendent, absolute, perfect, and independent mind. 4. We call this transcendent, absolute, perfect, and independent mind, God.<!/blockquote> Oh dear. I guess nobody told him that scholastic sophistry doesn't carry much weight these days.

Sorry about the messed-up quoting.

In general the adjective "absolute" refers to independence of context, any context whatsoever. All supposed logical absolutes however are dependent on language, thought and conceptualization. So much for independence.

The very existence of logical absolutes is a concept itself, not a fact about and verified in reality. To grant existence to logical absolutes the concept of existence has to be extended to the conceptual realm and I have no problem with that. But this does not mean that these logical absolutes necessarily have meaning in the real world. The point (I didn't hear MD make it) is that the applicability of logical absolutes to the real world is suggested by the label but not a deductive logical necessity. To say for instance that the world is governed by mathematical laws is in essence a form of inductive reasoning not a deduction from logic. The first perfect circle has yet to be found in our world. In fact Hume identified the non-provability of the applicability of mathematical laws to the real world as the Problem Of Induction. The applicability of these laws to our universe cannot be deduced from logical absolutes. So how can we even verify them in an absolute way? The answer: we can't. The reason: we make up logical absolutes but have no clue about the nature of their link with the real world.

An example. The much acclaimed and misused Law of Identity (LoI) states that A = A. Does this mean that the rock drifting through space, that Matt spoke about, is itself? At first sight this certainly seems the case. A=A however is a statement formulated in mathematical language, the rock is just the rock. To apply the mathematical statement to the rock we have to coinceptually relate the mathematical label A to the physical rock and only then the LoI seems to state that the rock always is itself. But is it in reality? Suppose all it's constituting atoms (or just one for that matter) were replaced by other atoms of the same type. Would we notice? The answer Leibniz several hundreds year ago gave (although unaware of our concept of atoms) is that we wouldn't (Leiniz'Law; identity of indiscernibles). In other words, in our universe we can't be 100% sure that the rock at time t=0 equals the rock at t=t1 (where t1 >0) although all it's measurable characteristics are completely the same. Of course the kind of fidelity we're after here is far beyond the level of security with which we confide in our everyday lives, but hey, we are talking in absolutes here. For god's sake, absolutes should be absolute.

And where are the dynamics in the LoI? The universe itself is changing constantly, A=A does not seem to leave room for that. And if there are no dynamics in the LoI how can it be identified as a thuth statement about our world? And if the LoI isn't the whole truth, than how can it be absolute?

The theologians who deduce the existence of god from logical absolutes are free riding on the common meaning of the word absolute, but have no clue of the relation of these 'absolutes' with our world. I reckon anything can be a fulltime job if your faith helps you along. Although there are atheists in foxholes, some hideouts seem to be exclusively reserved for theists.

They are not similar to 'language'. Language can change, but the basic laws of thought cannot without absurdities following. They can also be 'demonstrated' empirically to some extent, yet some cannot be, i.e. law of non-contradiction. I can demonstrate induction in the material realm, but I can't account for it thereby. Accounting is a form of using a coherent group of tenets that give substance and an ultimate starting point for reality. Simply hoping there is an alternative to the material and the immaterial realm as the radio host did, is an argument from silence.


You showed the sequence of how logical law is absolute and founded upon an absolute mind and assumed that this was wrong. What entity would you use axiomatically to support these laws as a starting point in an atheist worldview? The radio host failed to distinquish between contingent, temporal minds of humans and from an absolute mind, God's.

Saying that there are three different kinds of logic requires the use of a starting form of logic to do that differentiation. In other words, there is a foundational, transcendent form of logic that supersedes what you are proposing here. This leaves you with mysticism as your starting point.

I'd like to know what Matt and the other AE hosts thought about this? I personally thought it was an interesting show. I wouldn't want it every show, but I liked it for a change of pace. I can also imagine how draining it can be trying to have a conversation with reasoning like that. Well done Matt for trying to keep it on track.

I hate to say this, but I think the hosts did a poor job here. This is what happens when you mostly take calls from redneck fundies and don't get to refresh basic philosophy. I mean, this Slick guy used arguments that were obsolete centuries ago, and he got away with far too much.

Yeah, there need to be more episodes like this, if for no other reason than to keep Matt sharp and on his game.

I mean seriously, when Slick was trying to get Matt to say what the "logical absolutes" are, I really was hoping to hear, "They are FACTS."

The show was a refreshing change of pace from the arguments of "just look at the trees" fundies and the congratulations of fellow atheists. I really hope to see more like it. I am sure Slick got away with too much, but Matt had to give him a little bit for the sake of moving on to more interesting points of disagreement. Does anyone now how hard it would be to get other "real" Christian apologists to call into the show for a debate?

I was hopeful that Slicky Slick would admit defeat. He seemed, at first, to be logical & mindful. However, it turned out that he was a one trick pony. When the flaw in his argument was uncovered he became just like every other religious apologist; a foot-stomping, breath-holding, head-shaking brat.

Slick is an idiot. It would have been nice if Matt had stayed on-top of him until he cried "uncle," but that's the way faith-heads are. They never admit defeat because the field of combat is their eternal soul, although be it an imaginary battle-ground.

One of my favorite things to do is debate faith-heads. When you back one like slick into a corner, they sometimes become violent at the end. I once had an encounter with a group of faith-heads passing out religious-tracks on Halloween. Once they ran out of argument and were being intellectually thrashed, they (with one mind) turned physically aggressive. Aside from being an atheist I'm also a master of many martial disciplines, so for me the situation went from foreplay to sex.

Now I'm off topic...

I was proud of Matt on two fronts. First, he didn't hang up...although I could see he wanted to there at the end. Secondly, he kept his opponent from performing any bait & switches or subject changes.

I was also proud of Tracey for being a good sport. Although, I think the show could have focused on her from time to time during the argument...perhaps with shuffling-cups or juggling. I did like her jar visualization with dice. Where'd she get all those dice anyway? Does she play RPG's?

I can see the appeal of this argument. It takes far longer to decay than all other god-arguments I've heard.

That's also what makes it so deceptive. For the majority out there that aren't versed in logical philosophy it's almost impossible to argue against it without using simple aruments like I just don't accept your conclusion etc. Finding the logical flaw in the argument is alot stronger but not everyone can do that.

It reminds me of the types of (joke) mathematical proofs of god that are put forward sometimes. You give a complex mathematical identity and then just say "thus god exists". Since alot of people have trouble understanding math they can't argue against it.

I would like to see you get someone like Michael Butler or someone else on your show that was sharper than Matt regarding the transcendental argument. Try reading some Cornelius Van Til or Greg Bahnsen and then refute those fellows where the depths really are.

Follow us on:

twitter facebook meetup