Creationism and Logic, Part 3

This is about an article from the online creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia. Yes, it’s from Answers in Genesis (AIG), one of the major sources of young-earth creationist wisdom. Ol’ Hambo also created the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum.

Our title (“Part 3”) suggests that this is a sequel to our Creationism and Logic, Part 2, but it’s more than that. We’ve posted several times before about AIG’s demented logic lessons. They’re so bad they could be considered a perverted form of psychological warfare. For example, not long ago we posted AIG’s Logic: Prepare To Lose Your Mind (they recommend circular reasoning); and before that we wrote about this mess by Dr. Jason Lisle, Ph.D (“biblical creation absolutely must be true because it is a prerequisite for knowledge and science”), and before that we wrote
Creationism and Logic (about another article by Dr. Jason Lisle, Ph.D (“1. If the Bible were not true, logic would not be meaningful. 2. Logic is meaningful. 3. Therefore, the Bible is true.”)

The title of today’s article from AIG is Are the Laws of Logic Really Laws? This one isn’t by Jason. Apparently he’s got followers who can carry on in his tradition. As we’ve noted before, the most logically-contorted articles are the most difficult to write about, and these articles by creation scientists that mis-define and mis-apply logic are among the most difficult we encounter. So let’s get going. The article purports to be AIG’s answer to a question they received:

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.

Isn’t that sweet? Someone confused about logic is turning to AIG for information. Here are some excerpts from AIG’s answer, with bold font added by us, and AIG’s links and footnotes omitted:

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.

Aaaargh!! How many false definitions, fallacies, and compound fallacies are contained in AIG’s opening paragraph? Let’s start with their use of the word “naturalist.” Rigorously, it refers to a follower of the philosophy of naturalism — the belief that only observable and detectable phenomena like matter and energy exist. By definition, a naturalist is an atheist. But AIG (and creationists in general) deliberately confuse that term with the scientific procedure (not philosophy) of methodological naturalism — which limits science to observations of matter and energy. To creationists, science is godless naturalism — because science “dogmatically” refuses to work with incorporeal and undetectable theological doctrines. We’ve discussed all this before (see Bring Me An Angel Detector).

But that’s just AIG’s first error. We’ll give you one more to get you started — it’s about the “existence” of the laws of logic that is allegedly such a problem for naturalists. See: Reification. Rough translation: to reify is to thing-ify — to somehow convert an abstraction into an actual thing. Okay, back to AIG’s article:

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 … 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. [Huh?] Furthermore, if the laws of logic actually existed materially in the brain [a claim no one makes], they would not be universally true, and people could have different laws of logic depending on their particular brain connections.

This is tragically whacky stuff. Let’s read on:

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.

Yes, if someone wanted to demonstrate that AIG’s article is pure rubbish, he would use logic to do so. And then — amazingly! — AIG would leap up and exclaim: “You’re using logic. That means we’re right!” You don’t need our help to deal with that one. We continue:

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?”

Aaaargh!! Here’s more:

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.

As we did once before in response to that same claim in an AIG article, we must consult scripture. The site we use for our online searches is BibleGateway. This picture shows the result of our search.

Moving along, here’s one last excerpt:

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.

There’s more to AIG’s article, but we’ve had quite enough. If you crave punishment, click over there and have fun.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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11 responses to “Creationism and Logic, Part 3

  1. Logic was developed not only by the Greeks, but also there were several schools of logic developed in India (see the Wikipedia article “Indian logic”). There was also a school of logic in China, but according to the Wikipedia article on “Mohism”, it was neglected as being a trivial study.

  2. Uh-oh, seems to me that AiG are jumping aboard the TAG/Presuppositional Apologetics bandwagon, currently being pushed by Eric Hovind and his little pal Sye Ten Bruggencate. It’s an astonishingly vapid load of circular nonsense that they seem to think is a slam dunk against non-believe. It’s horse s**t to be honest.

    I recommend this blog http://bahnsenburner.blogspot.com/ as a source of anti TAG info.

  3. First sentence in second paragraph: “suggests that this is a squeal“. I’m guessing you meant “sequel”? “Squeal” is really not the right word.

  4. Right again, Gary. Thank you.

  5. It seems to me that the ability to think logically would confer a survival advantage over individuals who were not able to think logically. The evolution of logic seems quite, well, logical.

    No deity required.

  6. Ed says: “The evolution of logic seems quite, well, logical. No deity required.”

    AIG’s point is different, and far more stupid. It’s this: because the laws of logic are intangible (like the laws of motion, etc.) then the “materialists” don’t believe in them, and when they try to use an intangible concept, like logic, they’re really accepting all the incorporeal agencies described in scripture.

  7. SC: You’re right. AIG’s point is far more stupid. It’s also illogical.

    I postulate that (a) creationists are illogical, (b) creationists believe in god, therefore (c) god is illogical and cannot exist. That’s at least as solid as the AIG’s argument.

  8. I think these folks, in an effort to justify their mere assertion that “[t]he very nature of God — unchanging, universal, and immaterial — is the source of the laws of logic,” are getting so hung up on the word “laws” that they’re disregarding the logic entirely. They’ve reified one thing as a necessity to reify another.

  9. Not that creationists are competent to judge the fine details, but in fact, logic is a problem for naturalism, for the simple reason that it’s rather hard to reconcile ‘norms’ or ‘oughts’ with a metaphysics according to which facts about fermions and bosons determine all the other facts that there are. There are plenty of philosophers today working on these problems, but the fact that creationists are not competent to judge the proposed solutions or contribute one of their own doesn’t mean that there’s not a real problem.

    The situation is made far worse, however, once it becomes clear that there’s no such thing as “logic.” There are many different logics: classical logic, relevance logic, paraconsistent logic, substructural logic, and so on. Whether or not there’s a single logic out there waiting to be discovered is a hot issue among today’s philosophers of logic.

  10. Carl Beck Sachs says:

    The situation is made far worse, however, once it becomes clear that there’s no such thing as “logic.”

    We’re rather partial to good ol’ Aristotelian logic around here, and don’t have much patience for various polylogisms.

  11. for the simple reason that it’s rather hard to reconcile ‘norms’ or ‘oughts’ with a metaphysics according to which facts about fermions and bosons determine all the other facts that there are.

    A lot of bases got stolen here. Please return to the last legal position and let’s move one step at a time.

    facts about fermions and bosons determine all the other facts that there are

    What other facts besides those about “fermions and bosons” do you think are needed, and why?

    for the simple reason that it’s rather hard to reconcile ‘norms’ or ‘oughts’

    Why should we need to do this? Can it not be argued that this “reconciliation” might be like “reconciling” my love for ham sandwiches with “1 + 1 = 2”–true I can’t derive one from the other but does it make any sense to say I need to? When you say you want to reconcile norms with facts, to me that sounds like “leather sunrise”: a meaningless, though grammatical, phrase. Why am I wrong to think that?

    I won’t argue about the existence of other kinds of logic, since I agree with you there.