Written by Ben Russell
The famous philosopher Descartes presented a syllogism to justify his personal existence. It is as follows: “I think, therefore I am.” Although this syllogism is valid, it’s actually based on the logical fallacy known as begging the question. The term “I” is used in both premises and refers to the individual. This assumes that the person making the claim actually exists. Although a person must exist in order to make the argument, otherwise the argument is self refuting and impossible to state. The argument itself doesn’t justify personal identity and is simply an arbitrary axiom. Placing the argument into a modus ponus format will avoid vicious circularity.
If there is thinking going on, there is existence (If a, then b).
There is thinking going on (a).
Hence, there is existence (b).
This is just as valid as Descartes’ original syllogism, but the argument is not viciously circular because it doesn’t even mention “who” or “what” exists. It just demonstrates somebody exists but not the person making the claim. Both of these syllogisms fail to justify personal existence or personal value. Although their may be some sound syllogisms that justify personal existence there are biological problems with personal existence in a naturalist worldview. Every time you drink water, brush you’re teeth, or perform activities that involve putting chemicals inside you’re body, you are changing you’re personal identity. The cells in you’re body are dying and changing every day. Skin cells are replaced each month. Cells in the skeleton replace about every three months. The human body is in a constant state of change. In a strict naturalistic worldview where there is no will, mind, soul, absolutes, or anything immaterial and supernatural leads to the reduction ad absurdum that everything is meaningless, including this sentence itself.
“Some care is needed in using Descartes’ argument. ‘I think, therefore I am’ says rather more than is strictly certain. It might seem as though we were quite sure of being the same person today as we were yesterday, and this is no doubt true in some sense. But the real Self is as hard to arrive at as the real table and does not seem to have that absolute, convincing certainty that belongs to particular experiences.” – Atheistic philosopher Bertrand Russell
Although a strict material naturalist may confirm to have a personal identity and value, they live inconsistently on a daily basis. The fact a mother buys her child a toy at the store and not another random child shows that the mother knows her daughter has value and contains an identity which is different from another child. The fact a husband loves her wife for fifty years and doesn’t divorce her demonstrates the wife has personal value and identity. The problem with both of these hypothetical circumstances is that each of these people are completely different every day. This is because the cells of their physical body have died and changed. DNA cannot be the source of personal identity either, since twins and clones contain the same DNA. Its very highly improbable but possible their personalities can be very different.
The reason the strict naturalist finds personal identity and value is because the naturalist knows the God of Christianity. God has revealed Himself to every person and has made each person for a specific purpose with providence (Genesis 1:27; Romans 1:18-21; 9:22-23; Proverbs 16:4; Proverbs 22:2; Matthew 5:45; Ephesians 2:10), but apart from the biblical worldview the naturalist has no foundation for even knowing they themselves exists. They are borrowing from the biblical worldview to make sense of the knowledge and value they have (Proverbs 1:7; Colossians 2:3).
Read more on the failure of naturalism by Mike Robinson here: http://goddoesexistallknowit.blogspot.com/2013/07/atheistic-materialisms-failure-to.html