Are the laws of logic really laws, or are they just descriptors? Darius and Karin Viet, AiG–U.S., explain.
My friend and I (he is Christian as well) were talking about the laws of logic and we sort of hit a bump in the road. He mentioned that maybe laws of logic are simply a description of the universe that we humans have given names to. For example, we know things cannot be contradictory, but we know that because we observe it in the universe.
Now, does this not account for the laws of logic in a naturalistic way? Rather than saying they are immaterial laws, this seems to say that they are merely descriptions of a behavior, so to speak.
I am hoping that someone could clear this up for us.
Great question! You are right in assuming the laws of logic exist. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have any meaningful way of communicating, reasoning, or proving anything. These laws pose a problem for the naturalist who believes that only nature—matter in motion—exists. The naturalist tries to explain the laws of logic apart from the biblical God.
Various explanations for the laws of logic have been conjured, such as the one you and your friend mentioned that the laws of logic are merely a description of the universe. In other words, you said the naturalist may claim that the laws of logic are just names we give to our observations of behavior.
However, if the laws of logic are not laws governing correct reasoning but just descriptions of the way the brain thinks, then no one could ever be guilty of being irrational or breaking a law of logic.1 Furthermore, if the laws of logic actually existed materially in the brain, they would not be universally true, and people could have different laws of logic depending on their particular brain connections.2 If someone wanted to object to these statements, then they would be demonstrating their reliance upon the law of identity and the law of non-contradiction. That’s what makes this argument so compelling: one must use the immaterial laws of logic when trying to object that these laws exist.
Some conjecture that the laws of logic are just human conventions we agree upon. But such conventions would not be universal, and different people or cultures could choose different standards of logic.3 Debate would be futile.
Perhaps the naturalist might conclude pragmatically that humans follow the laws of logic because they work. This explanation skirts the issue. Where do these laws come from? How could immaterial laws of logic come from a strictly material universe? As Dr. Jason Lisle asked, “if the brain is simply the result of mindless evolutionary processes that conveyed some sort of survival value in the past, why should we trust its conclusions?”4
The very nature of God—unchanging, universal, and immaterial—is the source of the laws of logic.
The laws of logic flow from the biblical worldview. The very nature of God—unchanging, universal, and immaterial—is the source of the laws of logic.5 Being made in His image, we have the capacity to use these laws of logic to reason correctly and identify fallacious reasoning. On the other hand, naturalism does not provide any basis for the laws of logic, so the existence of these laws demolishes naturalism.
So Abel, as you seek to “
exhort and convict those who contradict,” keep “
holding fast the faithful word” (Titus 1:9). Only by holding to the truth of the Bible can we avoid and answer the deceptive views of the world. Beware of worldly “wisdom,” because the only wise God has chosen to save believing sinners by a message the world deems foolish—the message of the cross (1 Corinthians 1:18–31).
Darius and Karin Viet