An atheist who denies logic is absolute

by Matt Slick

This dialogue is a great example of the necessity of using logic and what happens when the laws of logic are undermined.  This atheist is bright and knows that if he concedes the laws of logic are absolute, he would be on the defensive.  It is my opinion that he purposely is trying to undermine the validity of logic in order to retain his position.  Perhaps I'm wrong, but that is my opinion.  Judge for yourself as we jump in.


Matt SlickEvidence for what? God's existence?
Rashbam I don't agree that there was any begging the question.
Matt Slick I can offer you an argument for God's existence if you're interested.  It is a bit involved but worth a look.
RashbamI do hope it won't be one of the old hackneyed ones (cosmological, transcendental, etc.) Since they have been pretty much thrashed.
Matt Slick I didn't think the transcendental argument was hackneyed.  I prefer to use the transcendental argument.
RashbamAh, a "transcendentalist". How quaint.
Matt SlickWould you like to try to thrash the transcendental argument?
RashbamI don't even find it to be a coherent argument.
Matt SlickWould you agree with me that if there are only two options to explain something and one of them is proven false, that logically speaking, the other position is validated?
RashbamWell, let's see about that, Matt.  Do you know anything about quantum mechanics, for example?  About the fact that there can be linear superpositions of physical states?
Matt SlickAre you an expert on quantum mechanics?
RashbamYes, in fact I am an expert.  Ph.d. in physics, professor of physics.
Matt SlickWell, then good. This should be interesting. I suppose that what you're going to try to do is bury me with esoteric terminology and concepts that you know I don't know about.  I further suppose that you would try to do this in order to try to win an argument--though it is not winning an argument.
Rashbam No, but it will be difficult if you don't know about some basics.
Matt SlickSince we both agree that logic is something we should use, let's discuss logic.  Do you agree that logic exists?
RashbamI'm not sure what you mean by that statement.
Matt Slick Logic is something we use in our dialogues--"if then" propositions, etc.
RashbamI think logic is a mode of thought.
Matt SlickOkay. Logic Is a mode of thought. I would agree.
RashbamWhat you find logical may not be logical to me. I would then have to try to convince you that you have made an error, consistent with your own views of the rules of logic
Matt SlickWould you agree with me that, for example, the law of non-contradiction is true?--that something cannot be both true and false at the same time in the same sense?
RashbamWell Matt here's where I need to ask about quantum mechanics.
Matt SlickDon't ask me about quantum mechanics. I'm not the expert.
Rashbam Because we can have a state of physical reality where an electron has spin "up" and spin "down" simultaneously.
Matt SlickHowever, I do know about logic; and I am asking you a question. Would you agree with me that, for example, the law of non-contradiction is true?--that something cannot be both true and false at the same time in the same sense?
RashbamIt is equivalent to having a person being alive and dead, simultaneously.  Presumably you would claim that a person cannot be both alive and dead simultaneously.  But quantum mechanics proves otherwise *with the following caveat* . . .
Matt SlickExcuse me, but I'm not here to discuss quantum mechanics.
RashbamThat caveat is:  Macroscopic states, due to something called "decoherence", generally assume classical behaviors.
Matt Slick Excuse me, can we stick to the topic? Can you please stop trying to bury me in esoteric terminology?
RashbamWell then I'm sorry but I cannot accept the "law of noncontradiction" because I know of instances where it does not apply.
Matt SlickSo then the law of non-contradiction is not true, correct?
Rashbam As applied to quantum systems, it is problematic.  A more nuanced form would be required.
Matt SlickIf the law of non-contradiction is not true, then I immediately claim victory over you in all of our arguments because I have already won everything logically because I said so yesterday and today.
Rashbam Can you make progress in your argument without invoking the law of non-conradiction?
Matt SlickI never mentioned a law of non-contradiction.
RashbamYou did about 2 minutes ago.
Matt Slick No, I did not.  You are obviously in error since the law of non-contradiction cannot be assumed to always be true, then I have not contradicted myself when
I tell you I never mentioned the law of non-contradiction--even in this statement.

Rashbam I didn't say you contradicted yourself. By the way, I claim victory too!
Matt Slick Therefore, I win again because the law of non-contradiction is not absolute. Therefore, I cannot be proven to have contradicted myself.
RashbamAnd I thank you for graciously conceding the argument to me!
Matt SlickAh, then according to your system of thought, we all win. Yeah! I like what you have done. You've invalidated rational discussion. Well done.
Rashbam No, only I have won. You conceded--remember?
Matt SlickIs this what your atheism leads to--irrationality?
Rashbam No, Matt--you're the one who started playing games here.
Matt SlickNo, since I claimed it first, I win first. No matter what you say, I double that.  Therefore, I win. Nya nya nya.
RashbamI simply pointed out that there is a problem with classical notions of contradiction when one goes to the quantum level--the way the universe works.
Matt SlickNow, if by chance you are willing to have a rational discussion with me, then we could continue.  But if you want to assert that the law of non-contradiction is not rationally true in all places, then there is no basis for rational discussion.
RashbamYou dismissed that as "jargon" and started ranting.
Matt SlickI never dismissed any jargon, and I was not ranting ever. Not at all.
RashbamThis is why we need to talk about quantum mechanics, Matt.
Matt Slick Or . . . are you going to cite the law of non-contradiction as being true in which to prove me incorrect?
Rashbam Because you insist that the "law of non-contradiction" is essential.
Matt Slick Which is it going to be. Are you going to validate the rule or invalidate the rule?
RashbamIt depends on how you try to apply it. Of course.
Matt Slick I'm just trying to establish a rational dialogue. It is you who--you are trying to undermine it. When I assume you're a presupposition regarding the law of non-contradiction, the previous several minutes is the result.
RashbamThis isn't going the way you thought, huh?
Matt SlickActually, I thought you'd be logical.  I didn't think you would use illogic to try and win an argument.
RashbamNo, I have simply pointed out that your assumptions might be problematic in certain cases.
Matt Slick"Might be"?  That's it? "Might be" is what you're offering? So you have a possibility, a "might be" for your position? Is that rational?
Rashbam Well as I don't know how you are going to invoke this "law" that is the best I can do.  Why don't you proceed and I'll tell you when you've made an error.
Matt Slick:  The law of non-contradiction is something you cited earlier. I purposely was illogical, violating the law of non-contradiction. You cited my error, thereby presupposing the validity of the law of non-contradiction.
RashbamAh, so you admit you were intentionally being illogical.
Matt SlickSo you either must tell me that it is true or it is not true.  The law of excluded middle tells us that the statement is either true or false.
RashbamSo you were the one who started to derail the conversation.
Matt Slick Now, is it true or false that the law of non-contradiction is always true?  I was not derailing the conversation. I was precisely on topic.
RashbamAgain, I need to ask you about quantum mechanics.
Matt SlickI see, so you can stick to the issue at hand?
RashbamBecause the physical world behaves differently than you think.
Matt SlickOn what basis do you make that statement?
Rashbam Can't you just get on with your argument?
Matt SlickOn what basis to make the statement that the physical world behaves differently than I think?
RashbamWell you yourself profess ignorance of Qm.  So obviously you are not thinking about it.
Matt SlickYou don't know what I know or don't know about quantum physics.
RashbamAnd since Qm has been verified in experiments to excruciating detail, it is a very good model for physical reality.
Matt Slick Don't ask me about quantum mechanics. I'm not the expert.
RashbamMatt, just get on with your argument, please.
Matt Slick Rash, can you think logically? Saying I'm not an expert doesn't mean I know nothing about it. Therefore, you don't know what I do know or don't know about it. You are not being logical. On what basis do you make your arguments? You are assuming the validity of the laws of logic in our discussion here.
Rashbam Ok, so you should already recognize the problem with "noncontradiction" vis-a-vis Qm superposition.  Do you or do you not?
Matt Slick I don't know what that is, so I can't comment.
Matt Slick I'm trying to ask you a question. I'm trying to ask you on what basis are you attempting to make your rational arguments?
Rashbam I base my arguments on my own rationality, of course. You might not agree with what I say, but that's fine.
Matt SlickWhat you mean by your own rationality? Did you invent it?
Rashbam No, it is a product of my genetic makeup and my environmental experiences.
Matt SlickWait, your rationality is a product of your environment and genetic makeup? Then how can it be valid?
RashbamSometimes it is not valid.  I make mistakes.
Matt Slick So you sometimes offer irrationality?  How do I know that you are not being irrational right now?
RashbamYou don't.
Matt SlickSince you apparently can make up your own rationality, then there is no way to prove you wrong on anything because you would just change what you think is rational.
RashbamI never said that.
Matt SlickI didn't say you said that.
RashbamI never said that I can make up my own rationality.
Matt SlickI said that since you can apparently make up your own rationality, then there is no way to prove you wrong on anything because you would just change what you think is rational.
RashbamI disagree with the premise.
Matt SlickYour rationality is a product of your genetics and your environment.  You said that. Since your environment changes therefore, rationality based upon what you perceive in your environment would also change.
Rashbam Right. With no brain, no thought.
Matt SlickIn fact, if the wind starts blowing in a different direction to my house, I think that's going to affect my rationality. Hold on a second, the wind is changing.
Rashbam"would"? Where did I say that?
Matt Slick I just figured something new out. Did you know that blue sleeps faster than Wednesday?  My environment just changed, and my rationality changed with it.
Rashbam Matt, you aren't making much progress and I need to get to work soon.
Matt SlickHold on a second. The wind is changing back to where it was. Now I can be rational again.
RashbamAre you going to start with your transcendental argument or not?
Matt Slick I already have . . .
RashbamSo far you've done a terrible job.
Matt SlickYou are correct. I'm not making much progress with you because you're not rational. I'm only showing you how to irrational you really are.
Rashbam You're failing miserably.
Matt SlickOnce that has been done and once you see that you cannot argue rationally from your perspective, then we can begin to discuss what true rationality really is.  Then we could get to the heart of the transcendental argument.
RashbamWell, you're failing here Matt.
Matt SlickBut I am not failing miserably. In fact, I think I'm demonstrating that your position is irrational.
RashbamI can play these games too. You're not demonstrating it to me.
Matt Slick Of course I have proven my point. YOU are the one who is irrational. When I used your rules against you, you say I'm failing. This means that your system of rationality is self-defeating.
RashbamAnd as I am your interlocutor, that means you have failed.
Matt Slick So, I thank you for validating my position and invalidating your own.
RashbamYou are just insisting that I am being irrational.  This is comical. Is this the best that Christians have to offer?
Matt Slick Since the law of non-contradiction is not absolute and since your rationality depends in part on your environment, and if your environment changes, then rationality itself can change.
RashbamNo wonder that Christian philosophy is such a tiny insignificant minority in the field.
Matt Slick So, please don't tell me that I'm being irrational since your "rationality" is, basically, relative.  It is relative; and if I assume your position, I claim victory.
RashbamYou already conceded, Matt!
Matt SlickBut, I don't think any of us here have gathered to discuss irrationality and to hear argumentation done in such a way.  I think those who are here desire to hear a truly rational discussion. And I do not believe you have demonstrated that at all.
RashbamYou haven't even gotten your argument off the ground.
Matt Slick:  Rash, how can I when you're so irrational?  If you want to deny rationality, then we really don't have much we can talk about.
RashbamNext comes the threat of eternal damnation.
Matt SlickBut this dialogue will be very interesting and profitable for my website.  Thanks.
Rashbam I never denied rationality, of course.
Matt Slick Rash, when you are ready to affirm the laws of logic being valid, then we can have a discussion using logic.
Rashbam I'm not going to affirm anything you might abuse, Matt.
Matt SlickBut if you want to continue to say that the laws of logic are not true or are in question, then we don't have anything we can discuss because you undermine the very basis of rationality itself. Therefore, it is you who have cut the branch of the tree off on which you are sitting.

The conversation died off at this point and digressed into basic name calling and his attacks on the Bible.  When someone undermines logic, he doesn't have a leg to stand on.


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.