So I tend to think people are hardwired for the possibility of doctrinaire religious thought - though this is hardly a rigorous theory.
In any case, I was pointed by PZ Myers to an excellent article about the semantic differences between the terms "atheist" and "agnostic" by Trevor Burrus. Most of the comments were along the usual lines of thought for atheist, but there was a brave soul who was pushing a doctrinaire Christian line. As an exerise, I decided to tackle his claim. It wanders a bit. Here it goes:
The laws of logic are universal (absolute, consistent over time from one person to another and one place to another).
Presumably this is true. But we really do not know this to be true. Indeed, as far as I understand modern physics, all of the laws of physics are constrained to only be true when various prerequisites are in place. Or, to put it differently, we can only observe the laws of physics as having existed from a certain point on after the Big Bang.
And those are the laws of physics. While I tend to think that (d(Mathematical Truth)/dt) = 0, it’s not really something that we could ever test.
One example is the law of non-contradiction.
Non-contradiction is an abstraction. It’s not completely clear that it holds for the physical universe, though it certainly appears to.
These universal laws require an explanation.
Uh, why? Where did “require” come from?
A Christian can provided an explanation for the universal laws of logic: an unchanging God upholds them in His being and knowledge.
That’s really not much of an explanation, if I may say so. It just beggars the question about explanation by creating a circular loop. Existence needs explanation, so there must be a God upholding existence. All the questions about the mysteries of existence have merely been shunted off into the blind ally of this “God” fellow. The “God” entity is interesting because no truth claims are made about it and no actual physical existence is postulated about it. Indeed, almost nothing testable about “God” is said at all.
This is not very close to “an explanation” in my book. It’s just a rhetorical trick - a way of stopping arguments. Usually the people who use the God argument block up all sorts of emotional drives with this idea, and can only respond with anger and/or indignation if the area is probed.
You must supply an alternative explanation for the universality of the laws of logic before we can even disagree on any subject.
I think you’re getting way ahead of yourself here. For starters, the “laws of logic” is a field of mathematics. Many people do very good work in this field without ever referring to a Christian God. Why do you think this is the case? Indeed, one of the seminal consequences of 20th century logic was the realization that certain truth claims are independent of well-devised systems of mathematical axioms and their consequences (aka ‘theories’). Indeed, one can describe fairly comprehensible mathematical postulates (e.g. the Continuum Hypothesis) whose truth or falsity is independent of the commonly used axioms of mathematics (aka ’set theory’).
Here is my take on this: people who want to assert something as being true need to first create a framework where the statement can be comprehended, and then they can describe the framework upon which the truth or falsity can be judged. This is a completely different point of departure than what you are doing. From a logical standpoint, you have simply arrogated to yourself your personal theory of comprehensibility (aka ‘the God Hypothesis’) and are now demanding that any competing theory meet your criteria, and, if it doesn’t, your theory must hold the day by default.
Well, that certainly would be a sweet position to have in the world of abstract nonsense, but I haven’t seen anything to grant you such a default position in the universe of hypotheses. To the contrary, I think that, if you want people to believe in your God hypothesis, the heavy lifting is up to you. You are the one making a truth claim about the nature of the universe, after all.
Otherwise, I’ll just continue on with the assumption that logic can only be accounted for by the existence of an unchanging God.
Logic just is. It doesn’t need a God hypothesis to validate its existence, unless one comes to the table making this demand, as you do. Your demand that your God hypothesis be granted equal standing with the “laws of logic” strikes me to be as unjustified as my nutty neighbor’s demand that his sun-worship be given equal status with the “laws of logic”. Neither his Apollonian beliefs nor your Christian beliefs have ever demonstrated any tangible relationship between their truth claims and the “laws of logic”. Indeed, the situation is worse than that, as the “laws of logic” usually make a fair mess of your religious truth claims, when they are applied with vigor.
If the laws of logic do not apply…
Oh, we needn’t worry seriously about that…
…we cannot even have a conversation because no ideas can be communicated.”
So now all communication skills are tied into your pet metaphysical theory. That’s a neat trick!
If the laws of logic do not apply, we cannot evaluate ideas and systems of thought for internal consistency. If the laws of logic do not apply, we cannot even make generalizations about what we perceive.
(Aside: you are granting more permanence to the “laws of logic” than I think is justified. Indeed, my perspective on the nature of thought suggests to me that logical reasoning is far more complex than would be understood by your epistemology. After all, we know via Godel that any finite mathematical theory will necessarily be incomplete. I suspect that the actual truth content of the abstract nonsense which undergirds the universe is far more rich and complex than is implied by your brutish invocation of the “laws of logic”.)
Rational – “pertaining to or attributable to reason or the power of reasoning”
Truth – “conformity of assertions to fact or reality”
Both definitions are from The New American Webster Handy College Dictionary.
Yes, Webster was a good West Hartford boy. I prefer his work to the OED, but that is because of my Yankee upbringing.
I’m waiting for the point where the elevation of the Christian God to a supreme place in metaphysics is in any way related to the various claims about epistemology that you have made. I fear I would have to wait for quite some time.