A Brief Response to Michael Martin's Transcendental Argument for the Non-Existence of God

By John M. Frame


John Frame is professor of Apologetics and Systematic Theology at Westminster Seminary, Escondido California. His published books include The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, Apologetics to the Glory of God, and Cornelius Van Til, An Analysis of His Thought. The following is his brief reply to Michael Martin's caricature of the Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God which he has labeled his Transcendental Argument for the Non-Existence of God. Frame's comments were contained in a letter to the maintainer of this site.

Other Replies to Martin's article are in the works at the Southern California Center for Christian Studies, as well as by the Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics.

In the comments which follow, Frame follows Martin's convention of labeling the Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God "TAG", and labeling his Transcendental Argument for the Non-Existence of God as "TANG."


Dear Mr. Barlow,

Thanks for sending me the Martin piece. Here's my response, in brief:

1. Logic is neither above God nor arbitrarily decreed by God. Its ultimate basis is in God's eternal nature. God is a rational God and necessarily so. Therefore logic is necessary. Human logical systems don't always reflect God's logic perfectly. But insofar as they do, they are necessarily true.

2. (a) Science does not presuppose any absolute uniformity of nature; indeed modern science allows for areas of randomness in the universe. (b) Miracles are not necessarily violations or exceptions to natural law; sometimes they even have natural explanations (e.g. Ex. 14:21, the "strong east wind"). (c) There is no scientific consensus that scientific explanations must never presuppose God. This supposition is entirely groundless. Of course, divine providence is not in itself a scientific explanation. But there is no scientific rule to the effect that proper scientific explanations may not in turn presuppose divine providence.

3. (a) The question of morality is like that of logic. Morality is first based in God's nature, not on his arbitrary fiat, nor on some principle independent of Him. God could not will that cruelty is good, for cruelty is not good; it is incompatible with God's own nature. (b) To say that there "is no rational way" to deal with the differences between Bible, Koran, etc., is an arbitrary assumption. This is an assumption which most all Christians and Muslims reject. The Bible, at any rate, teaches that there is sufficient evidence for the Christian revelation. So at this point Martin is rejecting the Christian revelation without argument, by a bare assumption.

I do agree that a full defense of TAG would require a more complete apologetic. That's why in my two apologetics books I warn against using TAG as a "magic bullet." TAG presupposes a whole system of definitions and sub-arguments. But it is good in that it describes the fundamental direction of any legitimate apologetic, namely to show that any meaningful thought presupposes the Christian God.

Do let me know if I can be of further help.

Blessings,

John Frame


Copyright © 1996, John M. Frame, All Rights Reserved
Distributed by: Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics, 1996
Return to the "Responses to Michael Martin" Page...
Return to CRTA