God and Logic

October 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Bibliographies, Outlines, Papers

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  Mark 12:30 NIV

  1. The Supreme Example of Christ
    1. The Use of Objective Evidence
    2. If Jesus, God the Son, the second person of the Trinity, used objective evidence to validate His claims, a fortiori, how much more so for you and me!
      1. Mark 2:1-5-12
      2. John 2:18-21
      3. John 10:30-31-32-33, 37-38
      4. John 15:24-25
      5. John 20:24-29
    3. The Use of Reason (Argumentation)
      1. Matthew 12:24-30
        1. Argument from analogy (vv. 25-26)
        2. The law of logical or rational inference (v. 26)
        3. Reductio ad absurdum (vv. 25-26)
        4. Argument from analogy (v. 27)
        5. The law of logical or rational inference (vv. 28, 29)
        6. Argument from analogy (v. 29)
        7. The law of contradiction (v. 30)
        8. The law of excluded middle (v. 30)
  2. The Apostles
    1. The Use of Objective Evidence:
      1. Peter: Acts 2:14-32-39; 3:6-16; 4:8-14-20
      2. Paul: Acts 26:26; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8
      3. The Appeal to Objective Eyewitness Testimony:Luke 1:2-4; John 1:14; 19:35-36; 20:24, 30-31; Acts 1:1-3; 3:6-16; 4:8-14-20; 9:3-8, 17;
        22:6-9; 14; 26:12-18-26; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8; 2 Peter 1:16; 1 John 1:1-3, and so forth
    2. The Use of Reason–Rationality:
      1. Paul: Acts 17:2-3, 11, 17, 22-31; 18:4, 19; 19:8-9; 26:25; 1 Timothy 6:20
      2. Apollos: Acts 18:27-28. Note: commended by God!
      3. Dialegomai is the Greek word used in the above passages.
      4. Dialegomai: to argue, dispute, or reason. BAG: “discuss, conduct a discussion…of lectures which were likely to end in disputations….” Vine’s: “`to think different things with oneself, to ponder’; then, with other persons, `to converse, argue, dispute’”… “`to dispute with others…’” (see Acts 17:2, 17; 18:4, 19; 19:8-9; Jude 9).
      5. Like Considering or Weighing the Evidence of the Worth of One Truck against Another: Feature by Feature (4 vs 5 Speed, Horsepower, Seats, Stereo, Dollar Per Dollar)
  3. The Value of the GOD Given Mind
    1. Isaiah 1:18; Mark 12:29-31; Acts 26:25
    2. We are created in the imago Dei–the image of God. This includes, among other attributes, the ability to reason.
    3. Thus, this entails the value of evidence and reason. As Charles Hodge informs us:”If the contents of the Bible did not correspond with the truths which God has revealed in his external works and the constitution of our nature, it could not be received as coming from Him, for God cannot contradict himself. Nothing, therefore, can be more derogatory to the Bible than the assertion that its doctrines are contrary to reason. The assumption that reason and faith are incompatible; that we must become irrational in order to become believers is, however it may be intended, the language of infidelity; for faith in the irrational is of necessity itself irrational….We can believe only what we know, i.e., what we intelligently apprehend.”1
  4. Uses of Logic/Reason
    1. Ministerial Use of Reason. This is the use of logic/reason as a servant or “handmaid” to the Bible and theology. Logic/reason is not put on par with or above the Bible, but stands in a subordinate role to God’s revelation. This is the role of reason that I am advocating.
    2. Magisterial Use of Reason. This is the placing of logic/reason on par with or actually above the Bible. Here logic/reason (that of the individual or a group) is allegedly the final judge, arbitrator, or authority of truth. This is not the role of reason that I am  advocating. This is an incorrect use–abuse–of reason.
    3. Anti-Intellectual. This is the position of depreciating or out-right denying the role of reason/logic in apologetics and other concerns of Christianity. Unfortunately, this is the view that many Christians, intentionally or not, advocate.
  5. God gave us a mind and He expects us to use it (Mark 12:29-31)
    1. It is not true that the mind is a terrible thing, “so waste it.”
    2. The emotional nature of mankind is just as fallen as the intellect. Thus, we should not exalt it relating to conversion either.
    3. If we are going to glorify God as Christians and in sharing the Gospel with others,  we must not ignore or in an unscriptural manner down-play the importance of the mind in the preaching of the Gospel.
    4. This is in actuality a form of false humility or false spirituality, and should be denounced for what it is–unscriptural and dishonoring to God!
  6. Logic Defined
    1. Before we proceed any further, we should define the term logic.
      1. “Logic is the study of the methods and principles used to distinguish good (correct) from bad (incorrect) reasoning.”2
      2. It is the study of the laws or principles of thought or reason, that is not just mere thought or thinking per se, but of the type of thought or thinking we term reasoning. Irving Copi states that “The distinction between correct and incorrect reasoning is the central problem with which logic deals.”3
      3. Norman Geisler and Ronald Brooks tell us that “Logic is the study of right reason or valid inferences and the attending fallacies, formal and informal4 (emphasis in original).
  7. The Nature and Necessity of Logic. Logic is undeniable, unavoidable, self-evident, or self-explanatory. One cannot not use it. One has to use it to refute it. All such claims are self-contradictory defeating, refuting, or self-stultifying. The four laws or principles of logic/reason are invaluable!  We need to know and correctly use logic. We must train ourselves, our children, and the church to properly use logic.
    1. The Undeniableness of Logic. For all of people’s rhetoric against logic, one cannot not use logic. It is impossible to think or engage in any type of coherent dialogue and not use logic. The laws or principles of logic are what are termed first principles–first principles of epistemology. Logic is indispensable for at least five reasons.
      1. The primary principles or laws of logic/reason are first principles of epistemology.
        1. Peter Angeles states, among other things, that first principles are “Statements (laws, reasons, rules) that are self-evident and/or fundamental to the explanation of a system and upon which the system depends for consistency and coherence.”5
        2. That is, there is no getting “behind” or “around them.”
        3. They are axiomatic or self-evident.
        4. That is, we cannot not use them (see points 2 and 3).
      2. Second, the very distinction between true or false or applicable or not only exists or has meaning if logic is true or applicable. Without logic (e.g., the law of non-contradiction) there would be no such thing or concept of true or false. Thus, there could be no true or false statements in the first place, such as logic is not true or it is false that it is applicable to a given topic. This is because the law of (non-)contradiction “…itself draws the line between true and false. So we can’t call it false without assuming that it is true (Geisler and Brooks, 16)” The same holds true with the other laws of logic. As Geisler and Brooks tell us:Logic is built on four undeniable laws. There is no “getting behind” these laws to explain them. They are self-evident and self-explanatory. There is also no way around them. In order to reject any of these statements, one must assume the very principle he seeks to deny. But if you must assume that something is true to say that it is false, you  haven’t got a very good case, have you?For example, the law of non-contradiction (A is not non-A) says that no two contradictory statements can both be true at the same time and in the same sense. Now, if someone tried to deny this and said, “The law of non-contradiction is false,” he would have a problem. Without the law of noncontradiction, there is no such thing as true or false, because this law itself draws the line between true and false. So we can’t call it false without assuming that it is true. The same thing happens when someone tries to deny the other laws: the law of identity (A is A), the law of excluded middle (either A or non-A), and the law of rational inference (emphasis in original).6
      3. Third, furthermore, a statement’s meaningfulness (let alone significance or truthfulness) depends upon logic. If logic is not true, or applicable to the topic at hand then the statement is meaningless. A statements very meaning or meaningfulness exists only because logic is true or applicable. Otherwise the statement could or would be both true and not true or applicable and not applicable, since it would no longer be true that statements can not be both true and not true (false) in the same time and sense. Both are now true or applicable since a statement can be both true and not true (false) at the same time and in the same sense. Thus, one could just as well say that “logic is true or applicable to the topic at hand” in the same breath as the previous statement, or “I will see you Wednesday and I will not see you Wednesday,” etc. Thus, to deny logic or state that it is not true or applicable only has meaning if logic does apply to the original statement. But this refutes the original claim. Thus, any statement or claim only have meaning, a fortiori significance or truthfulness, if and only if logic does apply or is true. Thus, the claim that “logic is not true or applicable” is meaningless unless logic is true, but in that case the original claim is false, indeed, self-defeating.
      4. Fourth, to deny or try to disprove the need for, necessity of, or truth of logic one must first utilize it, thus disproving their original assertion. One has to use logic to try to disprove, refute, or even deny it. If one must use logic in the effort to refute it, then the argument is self-evidently not true. One has only proven its truthfulness or applicability (ironically in the very attempt to refute it).
        1. To deny logic or say that it is false or not true or applicable to a certain topic entails the use of logic in the very assertion itself (thus, it is true or applicable). This is like a person who says, “I can not utter a word in English.” But, they just did. They should either quit speaking English or retract the original statement. The original statement is false, indeed self-defeating.
        2. Further examples of these types of claims:
          1. “Logic is not applicable to this topic.”
          2. “This topic, view, or realm is `beyond’ logic.” The idea is that logic’s reach simply does not extend to the topic.
          3. “This is just a case of the Eastern versus Western or Aristotelian bias or perspective on logic.” The idea is that one is insisting on a Western worldview perspective, while ignoring or to the detriment of an Eastern or occultic view.
          4. “This is the mundane versus `spiritual’ perspective.”
          5. “This is merely the emotions versus the realm of rationality or logic.”
          6. “This is the altered versus normal states of consciousness viewpoint.”
          7. “This is a case of this plane versus other planes or levels of reality or existence.”
          8. “This is only a case of this level versus other levels of meaning.”
          9. “Logic is not true.”
          10. This is a modern versus a postmodern perspective.
          11. All these claims are based upon logic in the first place.
        3. Logic is undeniable; one cannot not use it.
        4. Thus, to deny logic or assert that logic is not true (i.e., false) or applicable is itself based upon logic. The statement or distinction itself is built or predicated upon logic. Logic had to be employed to formulate the assertion. The statement “logic does not apply” involves the distinction of “logic does not apply,” versus “logic does apply.” However, it is possible to make this distinction itself only because of the laws of logic. Therefore, logic is–must be–true or does apply. But, this is self-refuting or refutes the original claim.
      5. Fifth, one cannot not use logic in the real world. Try driving to the grocery store while denying the validity of logic. (Indeed, what grocery store? The one that is and is not there?) One can not successfully cross the railroad tracks without it. Next time you’re at the railroad crossing with an apparent train speeding down the line imagine thinking that the train is there and it is not there. Would you? No! Try this in the “real” world. Logic is necessary or indispensable in or for life. One literally can not live (long) without it!
        1. Example: Francis Schaeffer, the Hindu student, and the teapot….
        2. Example: The Christian Scientist who tries to hand you a book that is not there….
        3. Example: the Hindu or Christian Scientist who looks both ways before crossing the street….Why do they look both ways before crossing the street?
    2. Self-Refuting
      1. All attempts to deny or refute logic fail. They are false (indeed, are meaningless or nonsensical), self-contradictory, or self-stultifying assertions.
      2. Terms for a statement or proposition that does not fulfill or satisfy itself–its own criteria or requirements (of acceptability)7 include: self-defeating, self-refuting, self-stultifying, self-referential absurdity or self-referentially absurd.
        Examples of self-refuting claims include:

        1. A person saying “I do and do not believe in logic” or “logic is and is not true” (at the same time and in the same sense).
        2. A person “saying I am and am not an atheist.”
        3. A person who claims that they “do and do not hold to postmodernism” or “do and do not believe that postmodernism is true.”
        4. A person saying “I am and am not a New Ager” or “I am and am not a neopagan.
        5. A person saying “I am and am not a Christian.”
        6. A person saying “Jesus is and is not God” (the second person of the Trinity).
      3. The previous absurd claims are logically and ontologically equivalent to the following ones:
        1. A person who believes in “square circles.”
        2. A person writing “I cannot write a word in English.”
        3. A person saying “all the statements I make are false.”
        4. A person claiming that “all sentences that contain over five words are false.”
        5. A person stating that “I will only believe what can be proved by the scientific method!”
        6. A person saying “my brother is an only child.”
      4. Ronald Nash notes: “…a denial of logic has consequences not only for epistemology and metaphysics, but for ethics as well. If all predications are true, there is no difference between walking to a nearby city and walking over a cliff; there is no difference between drinking milk and imbibing arsenic. But obviously there is a difference.”8
      5. Thus, if logic is not true or transculturally applicable then now A can be non-A at the same time and in the same sense and hence, for example, the postmodern’s position is now the same as the orthodox Christian’s. Or, the postmodernist does not hold to postmodernism. But, even the postmodernist does believe this. They, in this case rightly, would assert, that their view is not our view–that is why we would be having a discussion with them in the first place. Nor would they affirm that they do and do not hold to the premises of postmodernism. This is absurd, but this is what follows if one denies the universal applicability and truthfulness of logic. By God’s grace, we must try and help the postmodernist and others who deny the universal validity of logic see the implications of their views.
    3. Logic is the straitjacket of life for those who argue insanely or, at least mentally, refuse to live in the real world!
    4. One can not even cross the street, let alone the metaphysical highway without using logic.
    5. Logic is indispensable–period. Moreover, it is an invaluable tool for dismantling non-Christian views. We must know logic and become competent in using it.
    6. The Three Cs of Logic:We cannot comprehend, let alone confirm, let alone conform our thoughts and lives to God’s revelation without the use of Logic.
      1. Comprehension (or to Apprehend)If a person can not apprehend the content of the Gospel, then certainly they can not
        understand it, and a fortiori they can not believe in it!

        1. Illogical or self-contradictory statements and beliefs are incomprehensible in the sense that they are nonsensical. Nonsensical assertion are not to be believed, whether religious or “secular.” They are to be seen and rejected for what they are–nonsense.
        2. It follows therefore that reason and logic are necessary for intelligible and reasonable propositions, which are a necessary precondition for the communication of truth to individuals. Truth must be logical so as to presented to a person’s mind as intelligible thoughts, so that they might be embraced or rejected. As Charles Hodge so precisely stated it: In the first place, reason is necessarily presupposed in every revelation. Revelation is the communication of truth to the mind. But the communication of truth supposes the capacity to receive it. Revelation cannot be made to brutes or idiots. Truths, to be received as objects of faith, must be intellectually apprehended…The first and indispensable office of reason, therefore, in matters of faith, is the cognition, or
          intelligent apprehension of the truths proposed for our reception.9
      2. Confirmation:
        1. Since God does not contradict Himself, or ask us to believe contradictions or that which is inherently self-contradictory (see e.g., 1 Tim. 6:20), revelations from Him will not contradict previously given revelations, or the sound reasoning processes necessary to even comprehend these revelations. Hodge informs us: “If the contents of the Bible did not correspond with the truths which God has revealed in his external works and the constitution of our nature, it could not be received as coming from Him, for God cannot contradict himself. Nothing, therefore, can be more derogatory to the Bible than the assertion that its doctrines are contrary to reason. The assumption
          that reason and faith are incompatible; that we must become irrational in order to become believers is, however it may be intended, the language of infidelity; for faith in the irrational is of necessity itself irrational….We can believe only what we know, i.e., what we intelligently apprehend.”10
        2. Thus, in one sense, reason is accorded the purgative to judge the trustworthiness of an alleged revelation. That is, before an alleged revelation from God should be accepted, we need to first discern that it is in fact from Him. Again, Hodge has written definitively on the topic:It is impossible that He should require us to believe what contradicts any of the laws of belief which He has impressed upon our nature [i.e., the laws of thought or logic11]…Faith includes an affirmation of the mind that a thing is true. But it is a contradiction to say that the mind can affirm that to be true which it sees cannot possibility be true. This would be to affirm and deny, to believe and disbelieve, at the same time….The ultimate ground of faith and knowledge is confidence in God. We can neither believe or know anything unless we confide in those laws of belief which God implanted in our nature. If we can be required to believe what contradicts those laws, then the foundations are broken up. All distinction between right and wrong, would disappear…and we should become the victims of every adroit deceiver, or minister of Satan, who, by lying wonders, should call upon us to believe a lie.12
        3. It should be evident that faith is inherently reasonable. Its very nature demands such.13 Moreover, since faith in Christ is self-commitment to the truth, necessarily, its content or what is believed corresponds to reality, as well as is consistent or non-contradictory.
          Thus, it fulfills the requirements of the two primary truth tests (the correspondence and coherence theories of truth). Remember, we are told that we are saved because we believe the truth (see e.g., John 18:37; 2 Th. 2:13), and that conversely those who will not believe the truth are lost (see e.g., 2 Th. 2:10-11).
      3. Conform: We are to conform our thoughts and lives to God’s revelation. But we cannot do this without the use of logic. For example, we cannot say that “Christ is both God and not God” or that “we are and are not to sin.”
    7. Christian Thinkers Addressing the Biblical Position Regarding Logic
      1. A number of influential Christian thinkers have well summarized the biblical teaching regarding logic. I would like to quote some of them (in addition to the previous quotes from Charles Hodge) for further conformation.
      2. For instance, Carl F.H. Henry remarks: “…Scripture affirms that God is the source and ground of reason and truth and that the imago Dei in which He created and preserves humanity includes rational and moral capacities.”14 Henry also insightfully writes: The laws of logic are not a speculative prejudice imposed at a given moment of history as a transient philosophical development. Neither do they involve a Western way of thinking, even if Aristotle may have stated them in an orderly way. The laws of valid inference are universal; they are elements of the imago Dei. In the Bible, reason has ontological significance. God is Himself truth and the source of truth. Biblical Christianity honors  the Logos of God as the source of all meaning and considers the laws of thought an aspect of the imago….The pluralistic approach to world religions now often champions the need to recast the gospel in other than “Western thought forms” and in non-Western “logics,” as if logic were an Aristotelian invention. Such emphases often relativize Christian theology and replace it with non-Biblical philosophy under the guise of Christian mission.15
      3. R.C. Sproul, John Gerstner, and Arthur Lindsley likewise note: “Biblically the contradiction is the hallmark of the lie. Without this formal test of falsification, the Scriptures (and any other writings) would have no means to distinguish between truth and falsehood, righteousness and unrighteousness, obedience and disobedience, Christ and Antichrist.”16 Sproul, Gerstner, and Lindsley also rightly state (contra post-modernism): “The law of noncontradiction as a necessary presupposition or prerequisite for thought and life is neither arbitrary nor subjectivistic. It is universal and objective. What is subjective and arbitrary is the forced and temporary denial of it.”17
      4. Arthur Holmes responds: “…the law of noncontradiction is a universal condition of intelligible thought. Aristotle’s famous `negative proof’ shows this by asking that one who denies the law practice his denial in speaking. Unintelligible utterances may be possible without it, like talk of a square circle, but unintelligible utterances hardly qualify as intelligible thought or speech. Where this law of logic is ignored, all logic and intelligibility are gone.”18 Holmes also remarks: “Thinking is subject to logical laws, for I cannot contradict myself and talk sense, yet alone construct a valid line of argument. Good logic is one of God’s good gifts, and it is essential to thinking in this and any world.”19
      5. Lastly, we note the view of Augustine: “The true nature of logical conclusions has not been arranged by men; rather they studied and took notice of it so that they might be able to learn or to teach it. It is perpetual in the order of things and divinely ordained.”20
  8. The Four Primary Laws of Logic.  While many people talk about logic (and often as if they could do without), at least the five letter word in English, logic, however not very many really know or understand what logic is, or what are termed by some, the four primary principles or laws of logic. Thus, to help us comprehend and better understand the nature and necessity of logic I want to at least briefly examine the four primary principles or laws of logic.
    1. The Law of (non-)Contradiction
      1. The first of the primary principles of logic is the law of (non-)contradiction. It states that no statement (proposition, assertion, etc.) can be both true and not true–false–(e.g., A can not be non-A) at the same time and in the same sense.
        For example, it cannot both be true and not true (in the same time and sense) that a person is and is not a Christian. All such statements are false.
      2. Thus, any statement or proposition that asserts that it is (both) true and not true (false) at the same time and in the same sense is itself false. A cannot be non-A at the same time and in the exact same sense; or any statement that states A is not-A (or p &~p) at the same time and in the same sense is false.
        1. It is a first (or self-evident) principle of thought or epistemology. One has to use it to refute it.
        2. To deny it is like saying “I cannot utter a word in English.”
        3. One cannot not use it (logically or ontologically).
        4. The distinction between it applying to a statement, view, person, or group and not applying to them is itself based on this law.
        5. All statements are meaningless unless the law is true.
        6. The distinction between true and false is based on this principle.
        7. Practically speaking, one cannot live in the real world without it. Try crossing the street while denying it (e.g., the Mack truck that is there and is not there!).
    2. The Law of Excluded Middle
      1. The second primary law of logic is the principle of excluded middle.
      2. The law of (non-)contradiction simply states that A cannot equal non-A (or p & non-p) at the same time and in the same sense. But both could be, say, “quip,” that is, neither true or false–simply not both–but not necessarily true or false.
      3. But, the law of excluded middle states “A or non-A,” that is, a proposition or statement is either true or false–it must be one or the other (and not quip)!
        Thus, a proposition or statement must be true or false.
      4. Example: Matthew 12:30
    3. The Law of Identity
      1. The third primary law of logic is called the law of identity.
      2. It states that A=A or that “if any statement is true, then it is true.”21
      3. Example: Christ is Christ (and not non-Christ)
      4. Importance: Sound Doctrine Versus the Cults/Occult: Christ is Christ (i.e., the Christ of the Bible: fully divine–God the Son, the second person of the Trinity–and fully human) and not non-Christ (e.g., the Christ of the Bible is not the  “Christ[s]” of the cults and/or the occult).
      5. Thus, we can see the importance of the law of identity.
      6. While this law should seem very obvious, and not even have to be mentioned because it is so obvious, nonetheless, this basic law of logic is often violated (e.g., by people committing what is called the four-term fallacy or by other equivocation fallacies).
    4. The Law of Logical or Rational Inference
      1. The fourth primary law of logic is the law of logical or rational inference.
      2. An example of it or one way it is expressed is: “if A=B, and B=C, then A=C.”
      3. Importance: All Discursive or non-Axiomatic Knowledge
      4. Key Example: The Trinity
        1. While the word Trinity (from Latin) is not found in the Bible, the concept clearly is!
        2. See, for example, Deuteronomy 6:4; Ephesians 1:3; John 1:1; 20:28; Acts 5:3-4; and Mark 12:29-30.
        3. Also see John 2:19-21; Romans 8:11; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; and Acts 2:24, 32; 4:10 and 17:30-31.
    5. These four primary laws of logic are the essence of logic and are vital to all coherent or intelligible discussions or arguments. Try as one may one cannot–in any intelligent sense–not use them (e.g., even when trying to argue against the laws of logic).
  9. Examples of the Importance of Logic (and Not Being Illogical)
    1. The Reductio ad Absurdum Technique
      1. John 1:1-3
      2. Philippians 2:5-11
    2. Equivocation Fallacies: This is the use of a word (term) or phrase with two or more different meanings.
      1. Example: Read Jesus Daily:
      2. Example: Jesus is Triune:
      3. Example: The Skeptical Skeptics:
  10. Examples of Self-Refuting Claims
    1. Charles Kraft: Culturally Conditioned Conclusions
      1. Charles Kraft comments: …there is always a difference between reality and human culturally conditioned understandings (models) of that reality. We assume that there is a reality “out there” but it is the mental constructs (models) of that
        reality inside our head that are the most real to us. God, the author of reality, exists outside any culture. Human beings, on the other hand, are always bound by cultural, subcultural (including disciplinary), and psychological conditioning to perceive and interpret what they see of reality in ways appropriate to these conditionings. Neither the absolute God nor the reality [God] created is perceived absolutely by culture-bound human beings.22
      2. If we take Kraft’s claims seriously, then they would also apply to his own understanding(s) of reality, which is culturally conditioned. Thus, why should we listen to him? His views here are self-refuting.
    2. The Verification Principle
      1. What is by now fairly well-known, but is nonetheless a classic example of a self-referentially refuting claim, is the so-called verification principle of the philosophical logical positivist movement which was held to by many leading intellectuals of this century. As Carl F.H. Henry succinctly states it: “Logical positivists postulate that only premises verifiable by sense data can be meaningful or true. But in that case this very premise–itself empirically unverifiable–cannot be considered meaningful or true.”23 Thus came about the eventual discarding of the verification principle.
    3. W.V.O. Quine: “[N]o statement is immune to revision.”
      1. The famous philosopher of science, W.V.O. Quine, with his theory of “pragmatic holism” claimed that “no statement is immune to revision.” However, if this statement is true then it too is not immune to or from revision. One revision of it is that “some statements are immune to revision.” But, this contradicts the original claim of Quine. Quine’s claim is self-refuting.
    4. Larry Laudan’s Nonself-correcting Views
      1. Larry Laudan, author of among other works, Progress and Its Problems and Science and Values espouses a number of self-refuting ideas. For instance, Laudan claims that Charles Sanders Peirce’s view that science is self-correcting is “simply incorrect” and uses examples from the history of science in an attempt to prove that Peirce is wrong.24 However, Laudan has stated that: “Determinations of truth and falsity are irrelevant to the acceptability or the pursuitability of [scientific] theories and research traditions.”24 But, based on his own theory, Laudan blatantly contradicts himself. That is, if the issue of truth or falseness is irrelevant to scientific theories, then according to Laudan’s own theory, Peirce cannot be “simply incorrect,” nor can any of the other individuals or theories that Laudan corrects be incorrect.26 In fact, much of Laudan’s writings are “correcting” what he sees as incorrect or (dare I say it?) false
        scientific theories. Thus, some of Laudan’s key views are self-refuting.
    5. William Lane Craig shares an insightful instance of self-refuting claims:Or consider the claim that “God cannot be described by propositions governed by the Law of Contradiction.” If this proposition is true, then, since it describes God, it is not itself governed by the Law of Contradiction. Therefore, it is equally true that “God can be described by propositions governed by the Law of Contradiction.” But then which propositions are these? There must be some, for the Eastern mystic is committed
      to the truth of this claim. But if he produces any, then they immediately refute his original claim that there are no such propositions. His claim thus commits him to the existence of counterexamples which serve to refute that very claim….27
    6. Some of the views of B.F. Skinner, Sigmund Freud, Ludwig Feuerbach, and many other well-known thinkers are self-refuting.
  11. Other Fun Fallacies
    1. Aidan Kelly: “all truths are merely metaphors.”
      1. The previous statement is a believed truth (or Kelly would not have stated it). Is it only or merely a metaphor? That is, it is not to be understood literally. Therefore, it is not literally true that “all truths are merely metaphors”? But, this
        contracts the original assertion.
      2. Is Kelly’s claim to be understood metaphorically, non-metaphorically, or both, or neither?
        1. If it is only metaphorically true, then it is not literally true that “all truths are merely metaphors.” Therefore the statement is false. Worse yet it is self-defeating, indeed, nonsensical.
        2. If it is non-metaphorically (literally) true, then the statement itself is merely a metaphor. Therefore, it is not literally true that “all truths are merely metaphors.” Thus, again, the statement is false.
        3. To say it was both metaphorically and non-metaphorically true (I present this option not because it is really possible, but some Neo-pagans think so), it would still be false, in fact, self-refuting.
        4. Just for the sake of argument, if the statement was intended neither metaphorically or non-metaphorically true then why would anyone state it?
        5. These types of claims are at best false, at worse nonsense because they are self-defeating. Aidan Kelly’s comments regarding reality result in absurdity.
    2. “All truth is relative” or “there are no absolute truths.” “There are absolutely no absolutes!”
      1. Joseph Campbell, Postmodernism, and Many Others
      2. “There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative” (Alan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind, 25).
      3. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” Isaiah 5:20-21
      4. Edgar Sheffield Brightman (a past professor of philosophy at Boston University) said “In a universe where Christianity and Christian Science are both true, we do not have a universe, but a cosmic nut-house!”
      5. Joseph Campbell:Joseph Campbell in The Power of Myth states, “…The person who thinks he has found the ultimate truth is wrong” (55). Yet he repeatedly propounds what he believes to be ultimate truth, such as his belief in an impersonal and amoral divinity. This is kind of like “He who thinks they know doesn’t.” Hum?
      6. “There is no one or ultimate truth.”Then is this statement true? How could it be? It would contradict itself. Besides if all
        truths are relative then this statement too would be relative. Thus, it would also mean that “There is one or an ultimate truth,” (at least sometimes). Ooops!
    3. Not Either OrFirst, for instance, some neo-pagans oppose either/or statements (e.g., A or not-A), preferring both/and propositions (e.g., A and not-A). An example is either Sue believes in witchcraft or she does not.
      1. However, the distinction or preference between either/or as opposed to both/and propositions is itself an either/or proposition. It is an either/or proposition which in effect says do not use either/or propositions, but do use both/and ones. Thus, people who promulgate this idea are using the very distinction they allegedly oppose.
      2. Second, if we tried to consistently apply this advice then we should and should not use either/or statements since all propositions, including “do not use either/or statements,” must be turned into both/and propositions. Therefore, we should and should not use either/or statements. Ooops!
      3. Second, two more examples come from William Dyrness in his Learning about Theology from the Third World28. Dyrness remarks that: “In general, Indian thinkers point out, Western thought patterns are fundamentally dualistic [i.e., based on the law of (non-) contradiction], therefore analysis is the primary mode of critical thought. Eastern patterns favor nondualistic modes, therefore thinking tends to be synthetic.”29 Dyrness proceeds to mention S.J. Samartha and his book, The Hindu Response to the Unbound Christ as an example of this. Dyrness also writes:There are those who argue that these Eastern patterns of thought are inviolable and Christianity must adapt to them completely. Jung Young Lee has argued that in Asia we must get out of the habit of thinking in terms of either/or; we must be able to think of both/and. Change, he believes, may be the key to the universe, and ambiguity and differences merely the reflection of aspects of reality. In traditional Chinese thought, yin and yang are believed to be complementary modes of being….[H]e seeks to apply this to his view of God….30
    4. “All truths are half-truths.”Another example of a supposed revelatory truth which is self-defeating is quoted by Laurie Cabot: “…all truths are half-truths; everything contains its opposite; extremes meet; and every pair of opposites can be reconciled. Knowing this is the key to making the universe work for you….”
      1. If all truths are half-truths, this would include the previous statement which is an alleged truth. It too would be a half-truth. Thus, is it only half-true? Or, is it both true and false? Which half of the proposition is true?
      2. Or, is it false half of the time, but true the other half? Thus, fifty percent of the time the proposition is not true. This would entail that about fifty percent of the time all truths are not half-truths. But, this contradicts the original statement that “all truths are half-truths.”
      3. Furthermore, if “everything contains its opposite” as well as “extremes meet,” this would include the above statement. Therefore, truly, “all truths are half-truths” and “all truths are not half-truths.” Ooops!
    5. These assertions are self-contradictory, self-defeating, or self-refuting. They are nonsensical!
  12. The Challenge for You and Me
    1. 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)”So whether you eat or drink [or think] or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
    2. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NIV)”For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to
    3. Mark 12:29-31!


1  Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 3 vols., reprint (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), 1:83-84.
2  Irving M. Copi, Introduction to Logic, 7th ed. (New York: Macmillan, 1986), 3.
3  Ibid., 5.
4  Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M Brooks, Come Let Us Reason: An Introduction to Logical Thinking (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1990), 12.
5  Peter A. Angeles, Dictionary of Philosophy (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1981), s.v. “first principles.”
6  Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks, Come Let Us Reason: An Introduction to Logical Thinking (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1990), 16.
7  J.P. Moreland, Scaling the Secular City (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987),  90-91.
8  Ronald Nash, The Word of God and the Mind of Man (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1982), 105. Also see 105-07. Gordon Clark is in complete agreement with Nash.
9  Hodge, Systematic Theology, 1:49.
10  Ibid., 3:83-84.
11  For an excellent discussion of the relationship of biblical truths and revelation to the laws of thought or logic, consult Norman Geisler’s tape “The Relation of Logic and Christian Theology,” (Dallas: Quest Tapes, n/d). Also consult R.C. Sproul, John Gerstner, and Arthur Lindsley, Classical Apologetics: A Rational Defense of the Christian Faith and a Critique of Presuppositional Apologetics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 72-82.
12  Hodge, Systematic Theology, 1:51-53.
13  For a treatment of beliefs that are transrational or translogical, but not irrational or illogical, see 3:75-84 of Hodge’s Systematic Theology.
14  Carl F.H. Henry, Towards a Recovery of Christian Belief (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1990), 107.
15  Ibid., 110. Also see 80.
16  Sproul, R.C., John Gerstner, and Arthur Lindsley. Classical Apologetics, 82.
17  Ibid., 80.  Also see 72-82.
18  Arthur F. Holmes, Contours of a World View (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983), 48. Also see 51, 52, 131.
19  Holmes, 131.
20  Augustine, as quoted in Nash, The Word of God and the Mind of Man, 103.
21  Copi, Introduction to Logic, 306.
22  Charles H. Kraft, Christianity in Culture (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1979), 300, as quoted in Stephen B. Bevans, Models of Contextual Theology (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1992), 2.
23  Henry, 52. Also see James F. Harris, Against Relativism: A Philosophical Defense of Method (Chicago: Open Court, 1992), 6, 114, 195 (note 12); and Nash, Worldviews in Conflict, 84-85.
24  Harris, 169.
25  Larry Laudan, as quoted in Harris, 168.
26  Ibid., 168-69, 174.
27  William Lane Craig, “Politically Incorrect Salvation,” in Christian Apologetics in the Postmodern World, ed. by Timothy R. Phillips and Dennis L. Okholm (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995), 80. While I greatly appreciate Craig’s Chapter and some other aspects of the book, nonetheless, I do not recommend it.
28  William A. Dyrness, Learning about Theology from the Third World (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990).
29  Ibid., 131.
30  Ibid., 140-41.
Update/Revision Date: 10/21/2009 

Copyright ©1999 Craig S. Hawkins. All Rights Reserved.