After reading about a debate between prominent atheist YouTuber Aron Ra and ‘presuppositional’ Christian apologist Sye Ten Bruggencate, I felt the urge to take another look at Bruggencate’s website, Proof That God Exists.
Check out the site for yourselves, if you haven’t already. It’s a series of questions, supposed to lead you to the conclusion that God exists. Last time I clicked through it, I found myself choosing the ‘wrong’ answer a lot (that is, the answer that Bruggencate doesn’t want you to give). If you do that, the website gives you a smacked bottom and redirects you to the question that you just answered.
This time, I managed to get all the way through without a single ‘try again’. I guess my views have changed over the years. I’ll go through each question – with each ‘correct’ answer presumably providing Bruggencate with a premise in his overall proof.
1) Absolute truth exists.
Bruggencate defines ‘absolute truth’ as “true for all people at all times everywhere”. I answered yes, for the reason that there are at least some propositions that seem to be ‘absolutely true’ in this sense. Just two examples: “2+2=4”, and “all bachelors are unmarried”.
2) I know something to be true.
Again, I answered in the affirmative. ‘Knowledge’ is defined by Bruggencate as justified true belief. My justification for believing “all bachelors are unmarried” is that it is an analytic proposition, and, of course, I believe that it is true.
3) Logic exists.
This is a slightly trickier question, as it might raise questions about the ontological status of logic, and perhaps suffers from a ‘reification fallacy’. Nevertheless, to my mind ‘logic exists’ seems more correct that ‘logic doesn’t exist’. I take ‘x exists’ to be roughly synonymous with ‘there is x‘, and I think it’s right to say that there is logic.
4) Logic does not change.
We may devise new systems of logic, such as first-order logic, modal logic and so on, but these systems are unchanging in themselves. Those who had no knowledge of them could have used them; they just didn’t know about them! ~(A & ~A) will always hold true.
5) Logic is not made of matter.
Perhaps one might say that logic exists in material minds only but nevertheless, things obey logical rules regardless of whether we’re there to conceive it or not. If things are made of matter then it would occupy a location in extended space, and have bulk, size, and various secondary qualities. Logic has none of these things.
6) Logic is universal.
I don’t see any way that logic may apply differently to different people.
That’s it! We are then told:
To reach this page you have admitted that absolute truth exists, that you can know things to be true, that logic exists, that it is unchanging, that it is not made of matter, and that it is universal.
Truth, knowledge, and logic are necessary to prove ANYTHING and cannot be made sense of apart from God. Therefore…
The Proof that God exists is that without Him you couldn’t prove anything.
Hang on just a minute! The most controversial premise is slyly inserted and taken as a given, namely that everything I’ve agreed to so far depends on the existence of God. So Bruggencate’s proof is no proof at all, as it relies on a premise that any atheist is likely to believe false.
Now, I did manage to find his attempt to justify this crucial premise on his site. I’ll cover that in my next post (spoiler: I don’t believe he succeeds). For the time being, I’ll just say that I think the questions I answered in the lead-up to his punchline seem secondary to the central question of whether God exists or not. I doubt it’ll convince anyone who doesn’t already think that God exists.