Below is a conversation between an Atheist and a Christian about laws of logic.
Christian: In a naturalistic materialistic worldview, how can you justify laws of logic?
Atheist: I can’t, they’re axioms. although we can’t be sure if they’re absolutely correct, they have been working consistently so far.
Thus, the problem of induction. There is no reason to say that nature will be consistent, other than it has been consistent, most of the time
Christian: So no justification, right?
In this regard we can see that he has undermined knowledge. Here is a comment from my friend Eli Ayala,
- If he says “I can’t” then he is admitting that his worldview is without justification and hence undermines knowledge. He is at that point holding to his position fideistically (By a faith that is without justification).
- If he says, “Axioms are assumed true from their effectiveness of their usage”, he is committing himself to pragmatic considerations and not on “truth.” It’s also “effective” to win arguments by shooting your opponent.
- If one is going to be committed to axioms, and that which can be logically deduced from those axioms, what do you do when someone has competing axioms from that of your own? You can’t ask the person to justify their chosen axiom because you admitted that axioms are not justifiable. Again, this position simply leads to a form of fideism, hence and ultimate skepticism with respect to the actual state of affairs.
- From an apologetic stand point, simply make the naturalistic materialist be consistent with his fideistic position and so all of his objections again the Christian position are all without any weight.
- Lastly, if the person is a naturalistic materialist in terms of which reality is simply “matter in motion”, then point out that his axiom (Laws of Logic: which are non-material, abstract, universal and immutable) are inconsistent with his commitment to a purely material/physical reality. If he is going to start with an immaterial axiom, how does he logically deduce the reality of the material world?
- If he says that the Christian is in the same fideistic boat, then point out that if his position is true, knowledge would be impossible, and if knowledge is impossible, “How does he KNOW” that the Christian is in the same fideistic boat? Furthermore, proponents of the presuppositional/transcedental approach are not in the same position as this particular unbeliever as we do not begin with unjustifiable axioms. Rather, we begin with an ultimate presupposition that can be objectively provable via a transcendental argument. Our demonstration of our position does not entail that we appeal to some piece of evidence or philosophical construct more fundamental then our ultimate presupposition, but rather, we appeal to the transcendental necessity of our ultimate presupposition itself.
- This comment from Ricky Roldan also helps from a group shared by Jimmy Li “Bottom line is that just using the laws of logic as an axiom or ones properly basic beliefs is arbitrary and an infinite regress of begging the question or a viciously fallacious circle.“
Atheist: Nope, such are axioms. Yes they’re assumed true from the effectiveness of their usage. Not all assumptions apply seemingly universally, but when they do, We call them axioms (usually).
Christian: Are axioms Universal?
Atheist: Seemingly Universal. If they were found to be false they’re no longer axioms. So they’re strong claims that can’t be proven true, but has not been proven false, but we use them anyway.
Christian: Can that be applied to the laws of logic?
Atheist: Yes as far as I know laws of thought are axiomatic.
Christian: You said you cannot justify it right? Since it is an axiom.
Atheist: No, I can just show that they work. But to show that they will work forever, and for all possible cases, I can’t do that
Christian: I see. Hmm. The laws of logic as an abstract entity must be coherent in a particular worldview context. It means, it must be justified in a particular worldview. If you have no justification then you are just borrowing from other worldview. What do you think?
Atheist: I don’t borrow from other worldview. I just think they’re reliable. And I know in the back of my head that they will work, until such a time that they don’t. (In this case, when the laws of logic becomes wrong)
Christian: Seemingly universal? How do you know that? Subconsciously, since your worldview cannot justify it.
Atheist: As far as I know, and as far as I am able to comprehend, they’re correct, if they don’t that would be illogical by definition. Something Illogical just happened.
Nope not subconsciously I am willing to take a risk in knowing that this might be wrong, and I’d be pretty interested to see it when that happens.
Christian: Do you think that won’t be problematic in your epistemology. Because you are assuming things that you cannot justify in your worldview?
This is viciously circular. You are assuming that they are useful in order to know that it will work, right?
Atheist: Here’s the thing, I’m not worried because if I adapt the laws of thought, then I’m pretty much good, for things that I can’t know for sure, I can test (verification) or directly experience. (Empiricism).
That gives me a pragmatic world view with very little to take axiomatically
Christian: Very little yet foundational, right?
On this very foundation that he assumes to be true, let us listen to Joel Settecase,
He’s making at least three assumptions, none of which accords with his worldview.
- The truthfulness of his axioms (what is truth, given atheism? He wrote an article about how truth presupposes God.
- The reliability of his own reasoning to judge the effectiveness of the axioms and their correspondence to reality (given atheism, is he not just a blob of matter—no basis for trusting his reasoning in this or any matter).
- Uniformity in nature… that the future will be like the past (given atheism, what mechanism would ensure this? And saying “that’s how it’s always been” is begging the question, which is a logical fallacy). All three of those assumptions are blind and unfounded given an atheistic starting point, but work totally well from the Christian perspective. It’s not that he just doesn’t have a good reason for believing in those assumptions. His atheism explicitly mitigates against them. This is because his conception of the universe has nothing in it that could make those assumptions true.
- He’s stealing from God.
Atheist: Yeah. Well.. there’s also numbers. But the laws of thought can account for that I think..
Christian: But you cannot account for the laws of thought, right?
Atheist: Yes that’s rock bottom.
Christian: The problem is thoughts cannot be empirically verified? Have you observed a thought? So what is the color of a thought, taste shape mass size etc?
Atheist: I’ve experienced a thought.. I think my consciousness is made up of collections of thoughts. Although I did watch something from Graham Oppy that might change my mind, but I’ll have to know more about it. It moves my rock bottom to Something more philosophical, powerism.
Christian: Wouldn’t it be better if you can justify it?
Atheist: Not if the justification is unverifiable. I’d rather have ignorance than false knowledge.
Christian: Okay so you just admitted that you are ignorant about it? If you are ignorant about it, then how can you know what’s false?
Atheist: I mean it’s fine as it is. Wether the laws of thought is an abstract entity or man made, I do not think we have the power to analyze further at the moment. Logic is the measuring tool we use to make sense of things, the laws are the foundational or smallest units, if you want to measure something smaller which logic is made of, you need a better measuring tool, else you’d be guessing.
That’s just my poetic way of going about it
Christian: So you cannot really know if laws of thought are empirically verified or not?
Atheist: I think everyone is, they just add that logic is something else other than what I know, but those who believe that has no apparent advantage in logic as the average person who’s logic savy. How do I know if something is wrong? I test it. Are you in to algebra? The cool thing is you do not have to have a specific number right? You can have hypothetical values and you can operate just as well. You can test if it’s wrong even if you do not have a numerical value, simply ratios of value.
Christian: You said: I do not think we have the power to analyze further at the moment. ME: Is this a universal statement? And I am not asking you what logic is. I already know what it is, I’m asking about its coherence within your worldview. This is what we call a transcendental critique that if I grant the truth of your worldview, will laws of logic cohere within its context. If not then then therefore you worldview is false.
Atheist: My world view is incomplete. It’s not false that’s what it means.
Christian: Test it by what standard? Okay let’s try this. By what standard do you test a law of non contradiction in order for you to know that a law of non contradiction is true? Sorry because you brought it up that you can know something is wrong or right if you test it. So In order to test the law of non contradiction, the tool must be outside of this law.
If it’s incomplete how do you know it is not false?
Atheist: We can both know that things are false by observing something that is false, “like cats have 9 legs”. I don’t I presuppose it’s truth, but I can verify that it works by it’s usefulness and how it reflects reality and I can test it.
Do you think the laws of thought are abstract entities?
Christian: Basically you are standing on a fallacious worldview ( a vicious circular one) and you have no problem with it right?
Atheist: How is it fallacious and circular?
Christian: How do you know that the law of non contradiction is true. I know it because it works. So the usefulness is already assumed before it was even proven.
Or maybe you have a tool outside of the law of non contradiction in order for us to verify its truthfulness. If you can provide a tool outside of the law of non contradiction in order for us to verify its truthfulness then I concede that that is not a vicious circle.
Atheist: But the thing is I do not claim it’s absolutely true, not for everything, not forever. I keep repeating that. I see it’s usefulness in things that I can work with, and in those cases, the law of logic is apparently true. I’m wondering how you can claim that the laws of logic are true.
Christian: You don’t claim that it is absolutely true but you are using it as if it is absolutely true, right? (at least now).
Atheist: Nope, I use it as if it were true, not absolutely. I learn from a young age that the laws of logic are presupposed so I have carried that around for a while.
Christian: So basically you don’t have any meaningful foundation to really “know” that these laws are indeed true, and universal. You just assume these things are true at least for now.
Atheist: The law is the meaning itself, what added meaning did having a foundation for it give you? I’m curious. And I think you don’t either.
Atheist: Your turn, how can you say that the laws of logic are true?
Christian: By the impossibility of the contrary. That without it, you cannot reason. Do you agree? However, again and again, these laws must cohere to a particular worldview context.
Atheist: Can you show that it’s impossible?
Christian: Because it has characteristics like “Universality”. How does this fit in your worldview?
Atheist: It does not, that’s why I reject it.
Atheist: So you reject that laws of logic are universal?
Christian: It makes perfect sense to me, it having a foundation or not does not change what it states.
Christian: impossible what?
Atheist: I mean, this reason in itself is a fallacy. How do you show that the contrary is impossible? That the laws of logic being false is impossible?
Christian: Not only that but apart from the Christian God, laws of logic won’t make sense and you have just shown that you only assume it and cannot be justified from your worldview.
Atheist: How so?
Christian: Of course we have. Why do you think that we don’t have the fact that you don’t have any justification for the laws of logic?
If it’s not universal then it is conventional right? So that is still a characteristic. Hmmmm
Atheist: You haven’t addressed his question: How is it impossible? Yes, the laws of logic are predicated upon axiomatic assertions. Now, you only said it won’t make sense unless the Christian God exists. So, how? You said because of the “impossibility of the contrary”, what is this contrary and why is it impossible?
Christian: You can only say that because it works. But since you have no justification “epistemologically” then it becomes a big problem.
Atheist: To clarify this, the laws of logic in it self is man made statements based on observations, that’s what laws are. Them being seemingly universal makes them strong statements that can be used as Axioms.
All right, until the laws of logic stops working, then I’ll be worried, but according to you that’ll never happen.
Also you don’t either, your reason is a fallacy on itself. The impossibility of the contrary, do understand how philosophically vacuous that is?
If you do know, and can show the impossibility, then by all means please tell.
Christian: The contrary is impossible because no worldview can account for these laws. Only in the Christian worldview we have a meaningful foundation and where these laws are internally coherent. These laws have certain properties (Universal, immaterial and unchanging). We have an immaterial, sovereign or universal and unchanging God of the universe from which these laws are reflections of His thinking. No other worldviews or any claims of deity has this.
Only in the Christian worldview we can solve the problem of the one and the many, unity and diversity, universals and particulars because we have a God that is one and at the same time many.
Atheist: How can any worldviews not account for the laws of logic?
Ohh ok. From one fallacy to another, if it’s impossibility is false because we can’t think of other alternatives. That’s an argument from ignorance.
“we have a god and at the same time many” -This breaks the law of non-contradiction.
Christian: Not if you do an internal critique.
Here, we are offering an internal critique, but he won’t go in.
Atheist: Circular reasoning is still illogical, any way you see it.
How can a claim that says I don’t know, become fallacious? It’s not even a claim to be precise.
Christian: Because these laws doesn’t cohere with their system of beliefs. Why does it not cohere? Because these laws are exclusive only for Christian theism. Why can everyone use it? Because we were made in God’s image. Created as moral and rational beings that is why as a Christian, I have a moral responsibility to not contradict myself. How about you do you have a moral responsibility to be consistent? If not then why strive to be consistent?
Atheist: To claim something is true or false because the contrary can not make sense of it is a perfect example of argument from ignorance.
Christian: Nope. Showing that the contrary is impossible is the evidence that no other worldview can account for these laws. If you cannot justify these laws sir why have an objection as if you have a justification?
In order to justify the laws of logic. The justification must be outside of these laws. The ultimate justification of these laws is God. There are laws of logic because these laws are reflection of His thinking and without God, we cannot have laws of logic. Simple right? You don’t have to agree with this but if you grant the truth of my worldview (think transcendentally for a while) we have a meaningful justification and not just pragmatic about it.
Atheist: The laws of logic are only consistent and exclusive only for Christian theism??
Christian: Yes. Can you demonstrate that it is not?
Atheist: What do you mean standard, I just gave you the definition of a fallacious argument.
Christian: If you are totally ignorant of the justification of these laws (meaning, no knowledge whatsoever) then it follows logically that you cannot object my presentation about how I am justifying these laws according to my worldview.
Atheist: You see? You did it again! Lol. No other worldview can account for these laws. Prove that.
Christian: By what standard should I prove it to you since you have no justification regarding these laws?
Atheist: The laws are descriptions of observable facts that has been discussed for a long time by philosophers. If you want foundation, it’s the observable facts. Now if you’re telling me that what I see as observable and I use that to justify laws, and you call that circular, what does that mean?
Show me that there are no other worldview could account for the laws. (I assume for ever?) And also the huge burden, no? To claim that no other worldview can acount for that. How do you even support this? We do not know all worldviews that ever were, are, or will be.
Christian: You said: The laws are descriptions of observable facts that has been discussed for a long time by philosophers. If you want foundation, it’s the observable facts.
We have no problem about this. This is not a justification. You are simply assuming again the thing you are trying to prove regarding laws of logic. A vicious circular one.
Laws of logic are not observable facts. How do you observe a law of non contradiction as a law?
Of course in order to verify something to be true, a standard is needed. And that’s your problem because the very standard you appeal you have no justification at all.
Again, because only in my worldview there is a God (ontologically) that is universal, immaterial and unchanging and these laws are reflections of God’s thinking. Did you skip this?
Atheist: You said: “Because these laws doesn’t cohere with their system of beliefs. Why does it not cohere? Because these laws are exclusive only for Christian theism.”
Doesn’t explain anything. You want to prove that the laws of logic will only make sense in your worldview.
Christian: Can you provide a form of theism that can account for the laws of logic? A deity that is at the same time one and many?
And there you go. I learned a lot from this, especially with so much help from my brother Jordan Ravanes (most of the answers are from him) from The Christian Worldview Project. And also this helpful post from Bro. Jimmy LI on responding to an atheist who said that he presupposes the laws of logic as descriptions of reality? and a video from Ricky Roldan. As recommended by Jimmy Li as well, you can check Prejudice, Pragmatism, and Presuppositionalism by Greg L. Bahnsen from his book Socrates or Christ.
How about you? How would you respond to some arguments above?
SOLI DEO GLORIA!