Logic implies God?

I’d normally ignore it as too crazy even for creationists, but I’ve encountered this argument more than once lately. It’s the notion that the existence of “the laws of logic” requires a transcendent divine authority—a version of the eye-roll-inducing “Transcendental Argument” favored by the likes of the late Reconstructionist Greg Bahnsen. For example, as creationist Dr. Jason Lisle puts it:

Laws of logic are God’s standard for thinking. Since God is an unchanging, sovereign, immaterial Being, the laws of logic are abstract, universal, invariant entities. In other words, they are not made of matter—they apply everywhere and at all times. Laws of logic are contingent upon God’s unchanging nature. And they are necessary for logical reasoning. Thus, rational reasoning would be impossible without the biblical God.

The materialistic atheist can’t have laws of logic. He believes that everything that exists is material—part of the physical world. But laws of logic are not physical. You can’t stub your toe on a law of logic.

It’s bad enough that such people misconceive laws of nature as being akin to legislated laws, now they have to go and do the same with logic.

I wonder, actually, if this is one of those instances where argument is futile. Even in general, I don’t like being dragged into the kind of metaphysical mode of argument that many theists favor. Engaging in that sort of thing just encourages pathological thinking, and I don’t care if many respectable philosophers still go for that sort of gamesmanship. But this “logic implies God” type of thing is a particularly nasty example. No wonder I run across it among creationists.

About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05167919397164939103 klas_klazon

    I’d be interested in hearing why you find this crazy. A topic for a coming post, perhaps?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05167919397164939103 klas_klazon

    I think I’d better add that I’m asking out of genuine curiosity.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16826568465831489492 Alex Dalton

    Edis has a really bad habit of just poo-pooing points of view. His books are actually better than his writings here, but he does the same there. If you look over the vast majority of his posts on this blog, he hardly ever argues. He’ll usually just present the stance of a particular theist and then just scoff at it in Dawkinsesque fashion: “I can’t believe anyone falls for this nonsense.” He seems to want to distance himself from the Dawkins/Harris crowd but he’s more in step with them than he probably realizes (though certainly not as obnoxious, and slightly more fair-minded). He also likes to pronounce on the impropriety or inadequacy of modern analytic philosophy occasionally. But I’ll take analytic philosophers who actually make arguments any day, over this sort of arrogant posturing.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10778996187937943820 Taner Edis

    Alex Dalton: “Edis has a really bad habit of just poo-pooing points of view.”

    This is a blog. It’s meant for rants and short observations. This comment is genuinely silly. (And yes, I’m just going to leave it there and not explain it in 35 pages.)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11983601793874190779 Steven Carr

    ‘Since God is an unchanging, sovereign, immaterial Being, the laws of logic are abstract, universal, invariant entities.’

    The easiest way to shut these people up is to ask them for a list of these laws of logic.

    Christian theists like Alvin Plantinga love to come up with defenses against logical problems with their beliefs, using methods which can also be used to show that there is no logical proof that we have two legs.

    Logic is really a pretty weak thing if Christians can escape its embrace so easily.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16826568465831489492 Alex Dalton

    Edis writes: This is a blog. It’s meant for rants and short observations. This comment is genuinely silly. (And yes, I’m just going to leave it there and not explain it in 35 pages).

    Alex: Some people manage to actually make arguments on their blog. What good is a rant? Why should anyone care about your unargued opinion or emotional state with regards to a certain view? Seems a bit self-indulgent, and definitely a way of playing it safe. Take a risk every now and then an actually make an argument. Give those who disagree with you, something substantial to disagree with…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09891160904748206385 AYDIN ÖRSTAN

    “Laws of logic are God’s standard for thinking.”

    That sounds like a circular argument to me, because he is starting out with the assumption that there is a God & then seemingly demonstrating that there must be a God, because otherwise there wouldn’t be logical reasoning.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16826768452963498005 Jim Lippard

    Bahnsen’s view is presuppositionalism, and there are some critiques by Michael Martin over at the Secular Web. For some reason presuppositionalism isn’t generally well-regarded by philosophers who specialize in epistemology, including Christian ones, and I don’t think presuppositionalism has made any inroads in any academic philosophical publication.

    On Tuesday night I met an ex-Christian who was a former presuppositionalist–he said that one of the things that led him to question his faith was seeing presuppositionalists argue in the way they did about things like logic seemed rather defensive and made him want to direct that kind of criticism at his own faith and see if it held up. It didn’t.

  • Jonathon von Tischner

    Not a refutation

  • Jonathon von Tischner

    Whatever your ultimate source for truth is you have to use circular logic. How do you know for sure? Well C. How do you know C? B. How do you know B? A. How do you know A? A. Münchhausen Trilemma, etc

  • Jonathon von Tischner

    lol so you mean a list of basic laws of propositional logic, laws of thought, or rules of inference, or all 3? There could be no logical problems with the belief, since it comes from a logical God, and is the standard of logic. Still no refutation, and boy I’ve been looking for one.


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