Saturday, January 12, 2008
David's dilemma and the laws of logic
Looks like some atheists are beginning to understand the nature of the challenge of presuppositional apologetics. But I say “beginning” to understand because our friend David in the video above hasn’t yet grasped the full significance of the problem that confronts the atheist worldview. He does seem to understand the transcendental necessity of the laws of logic in that both the attempt to prove and disprove the existence of the laws of logic assume the laws logic. Both the acceptance and denial of them seem to prove them. But how does that demonstrate God exists? -- that’s what David wants to know.
You need to remember that the debate between the atheist and the Christian over the question of God’s existence is not merely a debate over single, isolated claims, e.g. God exists, but that it’s actually a clash of entire worldviews. The Christian isn’t simply telling the atheist to believe God exists, but that the atheist needs a complete paradigm shift; that only if he adopts the Christian worldview can he make sense out of things, including the laws of logic.
There are many atheists who do not believe that the laws of logic are immaterial, eternal and immutable. For many atheists only the material exists. They’re empiricists. David, however, seems to have accepted that the laws of logic are immaterial, eternal and immutable. But how is it possible to know that? Not just to believe it but to know? How is it possible to know that the laws of logic have always applied in the past as they do now? How is it possible to know that they will apply the same in the future? Do atheists believe these things without proof? If you’re an atheist, why are the laws of logic immaterial, eternal, and immutable, and not another way? Why don’t they change? Why use the laws of logic? Why can’t I reason whatever way I choose?
Note that the Christian claim is not that atheists shouldn’t use the laws of logic, nor that they don’t try to use them, nor that they don’t believe anything about them. Rather, the Christian claim is that all the questions I've just raised can’t be answered if you reject the Christian worldview. David’s response is that we don’t need to account for the laws of logic. They just are the way they are. They’re going to exist whether we like it or not and they’re going to be the way they are whether we like it or not. But if I said the same thing about God -- He exists because it’s just that way -- atheists would be in an uproar.
In the Christian worldview it makes sense to use the laws of logic because we know that they apply universally and invariantly. Since God is immaterial, eternal and immutable, and since God imposes them universally and invariantly, the laws of logic will always apply and always in the same way. This is who God has revealed Himself to be. The laws of logic are a description of the way God thinks and a prescription for the way we ought to think. The laws of logic do not exist independently and outside of God as if He also is subjected to them, rather, God chooses to reason in accordance with His own character. The laws of logic reflect God’s thinking and He requires that we mirror the way He thinks (as man is created in God’s “image”).
Unfortunately, the atheist rejects this, and the consequences are terrible. The atheist continues to want to use the laws of logic but refuses to give God the glory for logic. Since the atheist rejects God, the atheist is now left not knowing whether the laws of logic apply universally and invariantly. Human beings are finite creatures, limited by space and time. It’s not possible, then, to inquire as to whether we should reason in accordance with the laws of logic because we can’t test or experience what they were like in the past or what they’ll be like in the future. Of course, atheists will continue to have faith that the laws of logic have applied and will apply as they do now, but they do it without proof, without evidence, without verification (which are the very same things they demand in order to believe in God).
The laws of logic, therefore, for the atheist, are not actually “laws.” They can really only be “theories” since the atheist doesn’t know that they will always hold true and always hold true for everyone. He believes they will always hold true but he has no justification for that belief. It’s the right belief to have, but that belief can never be knowledge when extricated from submission to God. So if the atheist wants disbelieve God, what justification does he have for assuming that the laws of logic are universal and invariant? This is, in part, what we mean by accounting for the laws of logic. What justification do you have for the belief that the laws of logic are immaterial, eternal and immutable? If you don’t have that justification then it’s absurd to apply standards that can change -- because if those standards can change then truth can change. And yet the atheist believes that it is universally and invariantly true that belief in God is illogical. If you want to use the laws of logic to justify your disbelief in God then you need to account for the laws of logic, otherwise your disbelief isn’t justified.
Only the Christian worldview can account for the laws of logic. That’s why, David, when you use the laws of logic you assume the Christian position, you assume the existence of God. When you submit to God you “save” rationality, so to speak.
It truly is a joy to be a Christian.