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The Transcendental Argument for the Non-existence of God (also called TANG) was first proposed by Michael Martin in a 1996 article in New Zealand Rationalist & Humanist.[1]


It was first intended as a reply to the Transcendental argument for the existence of God, which argues that logic, science and morality can only be justified by appealing to the theistic worldview. TANG, however, argues that the reverse is true. Martin makes three separate arguments:

On logic, Martin's argument proceeds thus:[1]

L1. Logic presupposes that its principles are necessarily true.

L2. According to the brand of Christianity assumed by TAG, God created everything, including logic; or at least everything, including logic, is dependent on God.

L3. If something is created by or is dependent on God, it is not necessary — it is contingent on God.

L4. If principles of logic are contingent on God, they are not logically necessary.

L5. If principles of logic are contingent on God, God could arrange matters so that a proposition and its negation were true at the same time. But this is absurd. How could God arrange matters so that New Zealand is south of China and that New Zealand is not south of it?

L6. Hence logic is not dependent on God, and, insofar as the Christian world view assumes that logic is so dependent, it is false.

On science, Martin argues as follows:[2]

S1. Miracles by definition are violations of laws of nature that can only be explained by God's intervention.

S2. Science assumes that insofar as an event has an explanation at all, it has a scientific explanation — one that does not presuppose God.

S3. Hence doing, science assumes that the Christian world view is false.

On morality, Martin argues that:[3]

M1. The type of Christian morality assumed by TAG is some version of the Divine Command Theory, the view that moral obligation is dependent on the will of God.

M2. Such a view is incompatible with objective morality. On the one hand, on this view what is moral is a function of the arbitrary will of God; for instance, if God wills that cruelty for its own sake is good, then it is. On the other hand, determining the will of God is impossible since there are different alleged sources of this will (The Bible, the Koran, The Book of Mormon, etc) and different interpretations of what these sources say; moreover; there is no rational way to reconcile these differences.

M3. Thus, the existence of an objective morality presupposes the falsehood of the Christian world view assumed by TAG.

Other points

An objection to TANG is that logic, uniformity and morality are an inherent part of God's nature, and therefore cannot change. This objection has been raised by John Frame in a debate against Martin. To this Martin replied that "[t]he only reason for making such an assumption about God's nature is that it must exemplify some independent standard of logic. This is just to say that logic does not presuppose God."[4]

See also

Notes and references

  1. Martin, op cit, para 3
  2. Martin, op cit, para 4
  3. Martin, op cit, para 5
  4. A Response to John Frame's Rebuttal

External links