an atheist viewpoint

thoughts from a non-theist

How to Refute Sye Ten Bruggencate’s Version of the TAG

Sye Ten Bruggencate, owner of the misnomered ProofThatGodExists.com, is a seasoned exponent of Van Til’s Transendental argument for the existence of (the Christian) god, as he should be, considering it is the only argument he uses during his apologetic talks and appearances.

The TAG itself is so easy to refute that most people can’t believe that proponents haven’t spotted that, and then assume that it must be more complex than it really is, often going on to tie themselves in knots. A basic reading of the TAG is this –

1. For Intelligibility to exist, the Christian god must exist
2. Intelligibility exists
3. Therefore the Christian god exists

The error at the heart of the argument is its obvious circularity – it relies on the first premise being true for the conclusion to be proven….the very conclusion that claims to prove the first premise.

Sye claims that we can’t know anything about the world around us without the intervention of the Christian god, claiming that to use our senses to verify our senses if circular. What he fails to realise (or refuses to) is that if this is true, then he is just as caught in it as everyone else. By his own argument he cannot trust the information he gets from his senses, so he is unable to judge successfully whether anything he perceives is real. This is usually where he brings up his ‘revelation’ that he claims to have had directly from the Christian god – Sye claims he personally has been told by his god that the TAG is correct. However, when pressed Sye refuses to supply any evidence to support that this vision was genuine. If Sye is correct about being unable to trust our senses then he automatically refutes his claim of revelation, as he has no mechanism to verify this by.

So, here’s what you do if encountering Sye or someone like him – refuse to discuss the TAG, explaining that it is viciously circular and meaningless, then demand evidence of his supposed revelation. Sye is such an ‘on rails’ debater, depending on his opponents giving ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers that he’ll rapidly run aground if you stick to your guns that his argument is circular and his revelation meaningless. He may, at some point in the discussion, claim to know that everyone believes in his god, if he does all you need do is ask him if he is omnipotent…he’ll be forced to admit that he isn’t and you’ll be able to point out that he can’t know what people believe, rendering his point clearly false.

As I said, Sye is an experienced debater, and he’ll batter you with question after question, ignoring your answers whilst repeatedly claiming you’ve NOT answered – the ONLY answers he apparently hears are the ones he needs to further his argument….so don’t give him them.

If, by some miracle, Sye manages to triumphantly ‘prove’ the TAG he still won’t have managed to prove that the god needed is the Christian one, as he’ll be back to asserting his unprovable revelation as evidence.

To sum up – the TAG is as circular as you initially think it is, claims of personal supernatural revelation are worthless as proof of anything, and Sye (whilst very forceful) is utterly wrong.

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3 thoughts on “How to Refute Sye Ten Bruggencate’s Version of the TAG

  1. That pretty much sums it up, as far as I can see. I hadn't even heard of TAG until the day before our chat with Eric and Sye, but I'd be intrigued as to what the next "question" in the script is. Either way, I think it's pretty safe to assume it would be more of the same.

  2. Great, you've figured out how to defeat the argument, you should be clambering to have another go round then! Oh wait, you refuse to engage me again. Makes perfect sense!

  3. There's nothing further to discuss, Sye. We showed that the TAG was circular nonsense on the show, and you've said that you'll not supply any evidence to back up your claim of 'revelation'. There is literally *nothing* left to talk about.

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