by Matt Slick
We jumped into this discussion with an atheist after a challenge to prove that God exists. But, I would like to note that sometimes in the atheist discussion rooms there are bystanders who will mock, insult, and say vile things about the Lord while the conversation between a Christian and an atheist goes on. Of course, the insults are hurled at the Christian. This was happening here. I have edited out all of the foul language by them. But, it did detract slightly from my ability to concentrate. This is one of the tactics I have seen atheists use in text based chat rooms on the Internet. So, be aware of it and be prepared. Nevertheless, here is the dialogue I had with "Bill," an atheist.
Bill: Alright, try and prove God exists..
Matt: Okay . . . Are there such things as logical absolutes? For example . . . A cannot be both A and not A at the same time.
Bill: I believe so.
Matt: There are logical absolutes. Now, in an atheistic presuppositional worldview, how do you account for the existence of logical absolutes?
Matt: Do they reside in matter? Can they be quantified, tested, put in a jar?
Bill: Well, that depends. According to Quine's holism there are no absolutes and any principle can be held eternally by changing any number of other principles
Matt: But to say there are no absolutes is an absolute and is self-defeating.
Bill: Not really.
Matt: Yes. To say there are no absolutes is an absolute statement. It is either true or false. If it is true, then it is false . . . which is logically contradiction which proves my premise to begin with. Therefore, it can only be false, and there are such things as logical absolutes.
Bill: If one rejects the principle of non-contradiction. Of course, most people wouldn't want to do that because things get messy quickly
Matt: But on what basis do you reject the principle of non-contradiction?
Bill: Because we can arbitrarily choose to accept any statement eternally if we make enough changes to other parts of our total system of knowledge.
Matt: If you do so based on logic, then you are using logic to defeat itself which is not logical. Then you have nothing but relativism.
Bill: well, according to Quine all knowledge is subjective.
Matt: Is it subjective that all knowledge is subjective? If so, how can he say that since it is subjective?
Bill: No, you just don't understand. It is perfectly acceptable to say that subjectively all knowledge is subjective. You're just dismissing the possibility because you don't like it.
Matt: Not at all. I am using logic to address it. Logic is not subjective. Subjectivity is relativism. If all things were subjective, then nothing is true . . . except the notion that all things are subjective . . . which means the statement itself is subjective and not absolute.
Bill: and the problem with that is?
Matt: The problem is that it is self-defeating. I'm not saying that some forms of knowledge cannot be subjective. I am saying that there ARE logical absolutes. That is the issue. Again . . . do logical absolutes exist? If you say no, then you are giving me an absolute; namely, that no logical absolutes exist.
Here is the point. Logical absolutes exist. They are, by nature, conceptual absolutes. Conceptual absolutes exist in the mind. They do not reside in matter. These logical absolutes cannot be quantified or tested in a lab. Yet, they exist. In fact, scientists USE these logical absolutes as a basis for verifying their science. The problem for the atheist is accounting for their existence. Since the logical absolutes are conceptual, they transcend all people at all time and are absolute in all circumstances . . . since they are absolute. Conceptual Absolutes cannot be accounted for in an atheistic worldview. But they can be accounted for in a theistic one. The Absolute God with and absolute mind has conceived of the logical absolutes. They are a reflection of His mind. At least I can offer an explanation for their existence where the atheist cannot.
Bill: The basis of science and scientific knowledge is exactly why Quine discussed the possibility of rejecting certain aspects of knowledge and logic including the law of non-contradiction.
Matt: if the law of non-contradiction is dismissed, then it isn't a law, is it? That would also mean that we could go around contradicting ourselves all the time, and that'd be fine . . . right?
Bill: I have not yet been convinced of the necessity for logical absolutes
Matt: If there are not logical absolutes, then you have no logical basis for your statements. It would then be purely subjective and meaningless.
Bill: The criterion of meaning is not necessarily based on logic.
Matt: How do you know? Are you using logic to substantiate that or subjectivity?
Bill: Quine specifically spoke of the relation of knowledge to observation. If an observation conflicted with a statement of theory or knowledge, than that statement could be held in spit of this 'contradiction' with observation by making modification to knowledge systems elsewhere, such as modifying or even rejecting laws of knowledge if necessary.
Matt: What logic is he using to say that? (No response) You have yet to justify the necessity of logical absolutes. Without them, you cannot prove anything. (No response) You have yet to justify that statement. Unless you can refute that statement, it is true.
Bill: You can say they exist all you want, but that doesn't mean anything.
Matt: Alright . . . well, I guess, I'll see you later . . .
In this dialogue, I had to filter out all the insults and foul language from the other atheists that were interjected in our conversation. Their foul behavior, combined with Bill's unwillingness to acknowledge the existence of logical absolutes, made continuing the discussion very difficult, and it became fruitless.
I suspect Bill saw the logical problem of his system; namely, that to say there are no logical absolutes leads to relativism. With a relativistic system, there can be no real truths. This is a philosophically dangerous slope to rest on. Nevertheless, I suspect that with him the alternative of not being able to account for logical absolutes as an atheist and my assertion that they reflect God's thinking (therefore, God exists) was something he could not and would not allow to occur. Therefore, I suspect he tried to keep the argument away from absolutes and into subjectivity. Nevertheless, this is a good example of the need to define terms and establish the necessity of absolutes. You see, without them, no truth can really be known.