Modern logic is no longer logical

Before you read this blog post please drop down and read the excerpt on Logic from my Making Disciples in Africa book. The section quoted deals with logic and worldview.

It is only logical to say that if a person’s worldview changes, their view of logic would have to change. That is because worldviews have to be logical to be livable. To change a worldview would require a change of the logic behind it. The West has undergone a major worldview change and its view of logic has been cast out altogether. In moving from a biblical to a secular worldview, logic has to be ignored because it only proves the secular worldview to be illogical and false. Remember that logic can only detect error, or what is not true; it cannot tell you what is true.

So, where is the secular worldview illogical? It begins in its materialistic view of the origin of the universe. Its denial of miracles leaves no explanation for the origin of the material of the universe or for life in the universe. Something coming from nothing is unscientific and illogical. Dead matter coming to life is unscientific and illogical. These two beliefs are the first principals of the secular worldview. Neither can be proven scientifically and both violate at least two of the laws of logic. The logic in believing the secular worldview is that it has to be true because, without a belief in God and miracles, there is no other explanation. That means people with the secular worldview have to be happy living without knowing how and why the world exists and why they exist. Does that sound logical to you?

 Aristotle wrote a series of essays titled, ‘Logic’ or ‘Organon’ in which he put forth principles of human reason, both valid and invalid. His goal was to establish the steps to be used in logically constructing a body of knowledge. Aristotle showed how every science begins with certain obvious truths that he referred to as first principles, explaining how these first principles form the foundations upon which all knowledge rests. First principles are the fundamental truths from which inferences are made and on which conclusions are based. They are self-evident, and they can be thought of as both the underlying and the governing principles of a worldview.

If Aristotle was right, then one’s worldview is only as valid as the first assumptions on which it is based and the logical inferences drawn from them. Correct reasoning should enable us to determine if one’s worldview is credible, and correct reasoning is established by the principles of logic. We all use logic in the form of human reason to think about the reality of our existence. The use of reason and the reality of our existence are fundamental assumptions that all people share. They are unavoidable; in order to deny them one would have to use reason to think of a basis for the denial, and one would have to exist to engage in the reasoning process. Once we begin using reason to think about our existence we have begun to philosophically construct a worldview using the principles of logic.

The first principle of logic is the principle of contradiction, also called the principle of non-contradiction, and is the principle that a statement and its negation, or opposite, cannot both be true. This principle is also called the law of noncontradiction (LNC) and asks, can opposite truth claims both be true? Can the Christian claim that evil is real and the Hindu claim that evil is an illusion both be right? According to the LNC if one claim is true, the other claim must be false. The LNC is a self-evident truth and its usage is unavoidable even in its denial. To say that there is no such thing as absolute truth is to affirm a statement as being true that denies what it affirms. By invalidating the statement the LNC is automatically validated.

Two more first principles of logic are important in analyzing the truth claims of a worldview. To communicate properly, we must share a mutual understanding of the meaning of the words communicated. Words are used as symbols to represent certain aspects of reality called referents. This gives rise to another law of logic called the law of identity (LID). This law states that something is what we say it is, the symbol and the referent are one and the same (A is, in fact, A). The third law of logic is called the law of the excluded middle (LEM). It states that something is either A or non-A, but it cannot be both at the same time and in the same context. These principles are absolute and form the basis of all valid thinking. Words vary from language to language, but if they refer to the same reality their meaning is universal.

These three first principles or laws of logic (LNC, LID, LEM) are necessary in analyzing truth claims, but logic’s function is to correct erroneous thinking and is therefore a negative test for truth. Logic by itself will not help us find truth but will only help us detect error because the true must be logical, but the logical does not necessarily have to be true.  Two unicorns plus two unicorns equals four unicorns is a logical statement, but it does not mean that unicorns, of a truth, really exist. How can we discover truth in worldviews if logic, by itself, only detects errors?

The first presupposition that is required of anyone searching for truth is that truth can be found. To say that truth does not exist is to assume that view to be true which violates the LNC and is self-defeating. Truth is a symbol, or statement that matches or corresponds to its object or referent, whether it is an abstract idea or something concrete. To say that true statements can be made about reality is rationally justifiable.

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