Monday 31 August 2009

AfF #5: Transcendental Argument

(Click here for Arguments for Fred #4)

If absolute physical, logical and moral laws exist, they must by definition be independent of human minds, and of the universe itself. They must, therefore transcend human minds and the physical universe. The only transcendent entity these laws can therefore originate from is God. So if absolute laws exist, God exists.

This argument comes under the heading of "false dichotomy" or "excluded middle". The implication is that these laws are either absolute (transcendent) or contingent on the universe (and by extension on human minds). But there's a third option. These laws could be neither contingent on human minds, nor absolute, but instead be conceptual. That is, they originate in human minds, either as invention or observation, but are not of human minds.

But what about physical laws – aren't those absolute? No, they are merely the best approximation, the most accurate description, of the physical universe we have to date. Newton's laws accurately describe the motion of physical objects – up to a point. Beyond that point (for example at great distances, or velocities approaching that of light) Einstein's laws take over. Similarly at very small distances (sub-atomic, for example) the laws of quantum mechanics kick in.

Turning the transcendental argument back on itself: if absolute physical, logical and moral laws don't exist, neither need God.

(I have discussed the transcendental argument before.)

UPDATE 2009-09-05: Click here for AfF #6