The “Fundamental Flaw”
It was not until I listened to the preposterous eight minute video that FF linked to that I understood where he got his harebrained perspective on the presuppositional argument from, and why he really thought he’d nailed it to the wall. In that video the pseudo-intellectual tells us that,
The fundamental flaw of TAG [the transcendental argument for God’s existence] “is that proponents of this argument fail to make a distinction between the LAWS of logic and what these laws refer to.”
Then the voice on the video plays a short segment from a presentation by Jason Lisle of AiG where this “flaw” is supposedly in evidence. He goes on to use some scurrilous epithets to describe Dr. Lisle, including calling him a liar.
As it happens I own the complete set of these presentations, so I was able to confirm whether or not this segment fairly represented Lisle’s views on logic. Anyone care to bet on the outcome?
That’s right. The real liar was the atheist name-caller. If he had possessed the entire presentation which Lisle gave he would know that just a couple of minutes after the clip he used to demonstrate that Lisle (and all us presuppositionalists remember) equates logic with the things it speaks of, Lisle says that the laws of logic describe concepts, not the things in themselves – ‘Ultimate Proof of Creation‘, at 45.57 minute mark.
In other words, Lisle teaches precisely what the erstwhile debunker claims he doesn’t understand! We’ll return to this character another time.
Now, perhaps it was because I couldn’t descend to this menial level that I didn’t twig to what, for FF, seemed to be a coup de grace? I guess my saying such things as “Of course concepts are immaterial. They are in and of the mind”, and repeatedly asking him to explain, using his atheism, how these thoughts connect with the world out there, didn’t clue him or his supporters in enough?
In the combox of the second post here I asked him to supply an epistemology by which he knew what he claimed to know. He didn’t give one. I had earlier put to him the following questions:
Why should he [the atheist] trust his senses? How can he know the real world beyond himself? If he is just a part in the inexorable evolutionary machinery of the universe, how can he hold to absolutes, and how does he escape from the clutches of subjectivity?
The very best FF could come up with was this:
“First of all, all of us have to assume the validity of our senses to varying degrees, with the exception of ACTUAL self-attesting truths like the Law of Identity.”
Apart from confusing “self-attesting” (which relates to a verbal & ultimate authority for those who accept it), with “self-evident”, this response assumes the very point under scrutiny. Why is logic self-evident? and why do these laws and concepts access reality? Further, for the law of identity to work one needs to identify something “out there.”
If one turns to a standard text on logic, about the first thing one will be confronted with is examples of propositions. For instance, Copi and Cohen’s Introduction to Logic (11th edition), gives many examples, ALL of which depend upon concepts relating to the outside world. Although FF denies that logic “works” in the extended world, I shall refrain from throwing away the book!
FF wants to teach me that, “All the formulas, symbols, rules, forms, etc. are man made.”
Well, if he means the characters (A, P, S, X, ^, 1, 2, 3, 4, I, II, III, IV, etc.), who doesn’t know that? But I am interested in the realities which the characters represent. And they are not human inventions. Nor could they be. Even if one accepts the ludicrous idea of the macro-evolutionary “Tree of Life”, there were certain numbers of animals around before man could count them. The presence of a human counter is irrelevant to the existence of the logic which differentiates and the numbers which accrue. We invented the symbolic representations. We most certainly did not invent logic and numbers. They are eternal, being aspects of the mind of God.
“I personally believe that existence is eternal” he opined. He admits to being a “metaphysical naturalist” so that all that exists is the natural realm. Yet he believes in immaterial realities like logic. And since he is adamant that we created the laws of logic, he must believe the material realm created the immaterial realm. But wait. He surely does not believe in the eternity of matter? If he doesn’t, yet insists existence is eternal, that only leaves immaterial existence (which he must explain)! See the contradiction?
Moreover, just think about that concept. If we created the laws of logic, it would mean that we were once illogical! If we were illogical in our thinking before we invented logic, how did we stumble upon logic? In the atheist worldview, as I have already said, the rational comes out of the irrational!
I loved this one:
“You are setting up a false dichotomy…True and false is not a true dichotomy. True and not true, that’s the true dichotomy.”
FF wanted me to look at a dictionary to define “unnecessary” (if I remember right). Shall we look up the definition of “untrue”? But why bother? FF himself assumes that “false = untrue” in the very statement he made. This is how the nonsense goes. It is utterly arbitrary.
Divine Attributes of Logic
I have said that logic exists because God exists. The structure of our thought and the structure of the universe in which that thought can be actualized have not come about accidentally; they are “there” because of the existence of the perfectly rational Creator God. The existence of the laws of logic, and our capability in identifying and utilizing them find their explanation in the biblical depiction of our formation as image-bearers of God, given a mandate to explore the created order. What makes absolutely no sense is to say that these laws of rationality came out from a mindless irrational chaos.
Logic has the property of immateriality (it is ideational, being a product of thought). In a sense it also is eternal, transcendent, true, and good. These are attributes of logic. As John Frame likes to say, “God’s attributes have attributes.” But FF wishes to have eternal laws of thought without a thinker!
Vern Poythress writes,
“Rationality is a sine qua non for logic. But as we know, rationality belongs to persons, not to rocks, trees, and subpersonal creatures. If logic is rational, which we assume it is, then it is also personal.” – Logic: A God-Centered Approach to the Foundation of Western Thought, 68.
FF wants the law of identity to obtain even when there is nothing to identify. He does this because he treats “nothingness” merely as a sign and not as actual nothingness. That is to say, the word “nothing” is being confused with nothing at all in the same way the word “cow” might be confused with the animal with hoofs and horns that goes moo. The word which signifies the animal is not the animal, and the word which signifies nothingness is not itself nothingness – it is a word! (The alert reader will see instantly that FF is guilty of the very equivocation he wrongly accused me of).
How does the atheist understand the universe? Well, atheists believe it came about from the womb of chaos. They believe it came from an explosion. That is the epitome of disorder. Yet out of this disorder, we are supposed to believe that all the order we see comes. Whatismore, we are to swallow the fantastic idea that the laws of thought come from this same chaos. These laws are known to comport with the world beyond ourselves, so that the law of identity and the law of non-contradiction make sense in the extended world. But the atheist must say that these comportments are accidental (in the philosophical sense), not necessary; for how can chaotic matter and motion produce necessary laws of logic which connect mans allegedly evolved mind with the universe?
If this is the belief of atheists, as I believe it is (and I could furnish many quotations by evolutionists from Bertrand Russell to Richard Dawkins which confirm this), then it is appropriate for me to go on and demand from the atheist what his most treasured and central presuppositions about reality are. How does he know anything he claims to know?
The biblical answer to this is that the unbeliever is sinfully employing God-given truths and abilities in rebellion to their Giver. Hence, the Bible supplies both the reason for these truths and abilities, and an explanation of why unbelievers use them in service of a worldview which cannot support them. As Van Til would say, “Antitheism Presupposes Theism.”
More to come…