The Summit Lecture Series: Scientific Naturalism Worldview with JP Moreland, part 3

To purchase the entire Summit Lecture Series, Vol. 1 on DVD, go to: summit.org.

A Contingent Truth is a truth that could have been false.  So, if you want to understand a Contingent Truth, think of something that is true that God could have made false if He wanted to.

For example, it’s a Contingent Truth that there is a clock in the room.  It’s evident and true that there is, in fact, a clock right there in the room.  But, that could have been false – it’s possible that a clock actually wasn’t in the room.

Another example – it’s a Contingent Truth that electrons exist.  There are, in fact, electrons, but God could have refrained from creating the world with electrons.  Their existence is contingent on God creating them.

So, a Contingent Truth is a truth that is true, but God could have made it false.  Take the statement “All ravens are black”.  Of course, all ravens are black, but God could have chosen to make some albino or any other color for that matter.

Contrast this with a Necessary Truth.  A Necessary Truth is a truth that could not have been false.  One example of a Necessary Truth is 2+2=4.  2+2 doesn’t just happen to equal 4, nor did God play a role in the creation of 2+2, it’s necessarily true.  The laws of arithmetic and the laws of logic are grounded in the divine mind in such a way that they reflect the very heart of the way God thinks.  They could not have been otherwise.

Now, all scientific truths are Contingent and Aposteriori, which means “known by the senses”.  For example, consider the statements “dogs are mammals” or “water is H20”.  These statements could have been false, but 1)  God made them so; and 2) we can use our senses to determine the statements’’ accuracy.

On the other hand, the laws of logic and mathematics are Necessary and Apriori, which means that they are known independent of the senses.  Suppose God created angels, without sense organs, and without a physical earth.  Just angels.  An angels would still know the laws of logic and of mathematics, even without use of our five senses.

Now, why is this a big deal?

Because the Naturalist says that all of mankind’s knowledge is based upon science.  The problems is that scientific knowledge is Aposteriori, which means that it rules out knowledge of math and logic, which are prior to the senses.

To put the point differently, logic and math are not scientific knowledge.  They’re actually prior to science.  We don’t discover the truths of logic and math within science, rather we presuppose them.  Science has to presuppose logic and mathematics.  In fact, you can’t even practice science until you’ve got math and logic in place.

So, if Scientism is true, it not only rules out God, but it also rules out logic and mathematics.

Another area, which we have knowledge in, is Moral Values.  Certain fundamental moral principles are so obvious that philosophers call them self-evident.  An example would be the claim, “Torturing little babies for the fun of it is wrong.”  It’s pretty obvious, no matter where you come from, what your cultural background is, what your senses tell you or what era you live in – this claim is true.  It is not subjective.  If someone disagrees with this statement, then there is something deeply wrong with them.  They need a counselor, not an argument.  Them suggesting that it’s a false claim would be similar to someone saying that 2+2=19.  It’s simply self-evident.

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