Van Til versus Stroud: Is the Transcendental Argument for Christian Theism Viable?
In this paper I introduce the transcendental argument for Christian theism in the context of Reformed theologian and philosopher Cornelius Van Til’s thought. I then present the critique proffered by Barry Stroud against ambitious transcendental arguments, and survey various formulations of transcendental arguments in the literature, seeking how the objection bears upon them. I argue that Adrian Bardon’s (2005) interpretation is the most helpful in understanding the Stroudian objection. From this interpretation, two types of possible rebuttals are deduced. Proceeding to survey the responses offered by Van Tillians to this objection in the recent literature, I discern two general strategies pursued in these responses, which map onto the previously deduced types of rebuttals: the Biblical justification strategy and the objection-undermining strategy. I argue that all the specific attempts to answer Stroud which I examine here (those of Butler, Bosserman, and Fluhrer) are inadequate and that these two strategies, in general, face serious problems. I conclude with considering the options before the proponent of the transcendental argument for Christian theism and with offering a new objection to the argument, which focuses on its inconsistency with the implications of Christian theism itself.