I call upon You, Lord, God of Abraham and God of Isaac and God of Jacob and Israel, You who are the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God who, through the abundance of your mercy, was well-pleased towards us so that we may know You, who made heaven and earth, who rules over all, You who are the one and the true God, above whom there is no other God; You who, by our Lord Jesus Christ gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit, give to every one who reads this writing to know You, that You alone are God, to be strengthened in You, and to avoid every heretical and godless and impious teaching.

St Irenaeus of Lyons, Against the Heresies 3:6:4

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

No God, No Knowledge--Transcendental Argument from Knowledge

I. From Truth:

P1. If knowledge[1] is possible, then truth exists.[2]

P2. And if truth exists, then it exists as immaterial,[3] invariable,[4] and eternal.[5]

P3. Hence, if truth thus exists, then truth is absolute.[6]

P4. Likewise, if truth is the object and necessary condition of knowledge, and truth is absolute, then knowledge depends on the absolute.

P5. Truth indeed is the object and necessary condition of knowledge; and it is absolute.

C1. Thus, knowledge depends on the absolute.

C2. Therefore, if knowledge is possible, then knowledge depends on the absolute.

II. From Belief:

P1. Furthermore, if knowledge is possible, then it depends on a knowing subject who holds some belief.[7]

P2. In addition, if belief depends on a knowing subject, then such a one’s act of believing presupposes the involvement of the collective complex of intellect, emotion, and volition, which together constitute the personal.

P3. Moreover, knowledge is communicable.

C1. Hence, if knowledge is possible, then knowledge is communicable and thus depends on the personal.

III. From Justification:

P1. What's more, if the possibility of knowledge depends on a personal knower, then it likewise depends on the knower’s mental activity—it depends on mind.[8] 

P2. If the human mind, either individually or collectively, is the sufficient grounds for the integration of knowledge, then the human mind would also have to be absolute (i.e., invariable and eternal, see I:P2, 6); however, it is not the case that the human mind is thus.

P3. It is not the case, therefore, that the human mind, either individually or collectively, is the sufficient grounds for the integration and communication of knowledge.[9]

P4. Hence, if knowledge is possible, then by transcendental necessity there exists an absolute and personal being whose mind alone is the sufficient grounds for the integration of knowledge and can communicate knowledge.[10]

P5. Only the mind of the triune God of Christian theism, which alone is both absolute and personal, provides the transcendentally necessary and sufficient grounds for the integration and communication of knowledge.

P6. Therefore, if knowledge is possible, then by transcendental necessity the triune God of Christian theism exists as the transcendental integration point of all knowledge and communicates knowledge to humans.

P7. It is the case that knowledge is possible for humans.

C1. Therefore, the triune God of Christian theism must exist and communicate knowledge necessarily.  Hence, all knowledge and knowing is dependent of the triune God of Christian theism.

C2. Thus, the denial of God’s necessary existence is to annihilate the possibility of knowing anything at all; not least, that God’s existence can be known to be even the slightest degree doubtful.

[1] Herein knowledge is to be understood in the traditional constitution of having three necessary conditions or properties, which are (1) belief that is (2) true, and the truth thereof having (3) justification, reason, or warrant.  The three of these together—a true, justified belief—are thus the sufficient condition of knowledge.  Furthermore, the term truth is to be taken in the sense of the correspondence theory of knowledge.   Truth is a real relation or correspondence between a signifier and that which it signifies, between a proposition and some fact, state of affairs, or event to which it refers. 

[2] The statement “truth does not exist” is an “I” categorical statement of the traditional square of opposition, making it to be an absolute negative statement.  Denying the existence of truth’s absolutivity is merely the contrary of its absolute affirmation; both statements, whereby, being absolute and declared to be true. That is to say, the proposition “truth exists” cannot be denied, for if one were right in asserting that “it is not the case that truth exists,” then one would be wrong, as that statement itself would be true, and absolutely so.  Hence, to deny the existence of truth is self-defeating—self-contradictory; it is false by declaration.

[3] Like the logical laws that govern them, propositions, which are the vehicles of truth, are immaterial entities.  One cannot grab, freeze, or stub his or her toe on truth.  In addition, truth is not dependant on particular statements or sentences.  The sentences “Kevin is Fanny’s husband” and “Fanny is married to Kevin” both express the same truth, the same proposition. 

[4] If a proposition is ever true, it has always been and always will be true.  For instance, certain statements that are “tenseless,” that is are closed by a particular temporal reference like “at 6:00 pm...” rather than a tensed verb like “now” or “was,” denote a fact or state of affairs that is always true. So,  “At 8:00 am on January 26, 2009 it is (tenseless) snowing in Big Island, VA.” is a closed statement having a meaning that is true always; its truth is unchanging—invariable.

[5] The eternality of truth is related closely to the invariability of truth in fn. 4 and the existence of truth in fn. 2.  Since truth never changes, it’s invariable (fn. 4) and one cannot deny the existence of truth without affirming it (fn. 2), so too, a statement denying the eternality of truth would presuppose truth’s existence and if the statement was true it would always be so, thus eternally so.  Hence, denying truth’s eternality is to affirm it.  Therefore, it’s self-defeating to deny the eternality of truth.

[6] The eternality and invariability of truth constitutes its absolutivity.  Furthermore, truth is independent of any relative or particular knower or thing known.  The laws of logic, for example, are true without reference to any particular object.  So, knowledge does not judge truth rather truth is the transcendent standard by which all knowledge is judged as such (see fn. 1).  Therefore, truth is absolute.

[7] Again, “belief” is one of the three necessary conditions of knowledge.

[8] Granted, there are a number of materialist, physicalist or anti-metaphysicians who have attempted to either flatly deny the existence of “mind” as an immaterial reality of human nature or have strenuously sought to explain it in materialistic, functional categories.   This presentation, let alone footnote, is not the venue to attempt a rebuttal to these claims.  Many philosophers have elsewhere undermined these hypothesises and shown them to be most untenable, Thus, I refer the reader to them.  Nevertheless, given the validity of the foregoing argument and conclusions, an immaterial mind seems self-evidently necessary for the residency of immaterial truth, which has been seen to exist as a real entity.  And the reduction of mind and reason to mere physical functions of the brain alone (i.e., chemical events) is to annihilate any possibility of knowledge at all, since it would make “reason” and “truth” to have no more axiological force than other bodily functions.

[9] There is among “spirituality” and para-psychology in the West today the increasing hope, even foundational hope in the collective human consciousness.  Perhaps premise III: P4 would be meet with a challenge from the likes of them or a similar camp.  And in today’s pluralistic landscape of worldview, such a challenge must be taken seriously and addressed as such, however absurd it may seem—but again, not here.  The notion that a disintegrated collection of mutable and fractured parts can comprise an absolute, unchanging, eternal whole is simply nonsensical.  So, an attempt to argue that it could would be mere morosophy.

[10] The first conclusion of section III, P5, undoubtedly will be met by the strongest contradiction from the unbelieving opponent.  Psychologically speaking, this is exactly what should be expected.  The unbeliever’s problem with his or her professing belief in the true God is much more a moral issue than an intellectual one. (I would argue that the concepts of intellect, emotions, and volition, which are often seen in very sharp distinction from one another in the modern West, are nearly conflated into a unity that is seen as the whole person; one domain never acting apart from the others, in Scripture.)  Intellectually speaking, this statement squarely faces and unequivocally challenges the unbeliever’s intellectual autonomy.  Thinking themselves to be utterly independent in reference to his or her ability to rightly reason and sit in intellectual judgment over the question of God’s existence, the unbeliever is immediately (and psychologically) confronted with the necessary conclusion that such a presumption  would be categorically impossible.  It is this goad, then, at which he or she will kick the hardest.  There is no other answer, however.  Either, it is the triune God who speaks with absolute authority in Christ and the Scriptures or it is nothing, literally, nothing. 

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