The Instigator
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The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Atheism cannot account for logical absolutes.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/27/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 900 times Debate No: 43005
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




The transcendental argument:

1. Logic is absolute.
1.1. If we deny logic is absolute, then truth cannot be known.
Ex. We must agree that *some* truth can be known in order to have rational discourse. If we deny that logic is absolute, then how can we be sure that anything is absolute? How can we be sure that the claim "logic is not absolute" is true?
1.2. Truth can be known.
Ex. To say that truth does not exist is self defeating because in order for "truth does not exist" to be correct, it has to be true. And if it's true, then the claim "truth does not exist" is false.
C1. Therefore it is more rational to affirm that logic absolute.

2. Logic is conceptual by nature (of the mind).
2.1. Logic is either a physical object, a metaphysical object, or a concept (of the mind).
2.2. Logic is not a metaphysical object.
Ex. If it were, we would be able to measure, take pictures, see, hear or taste it. It is simply not in the physical world. It is not contingent on space. No matter how far or wherever you travel, logic applies. It is not contingent on time. It doesn't matter whether you go 50 million years or more to the future or back to the past. Logic still applies.
2.3. Logic is not a metaphysical object.
Ex. It is a descriptive property of reality. The color red for example, is a property of an apple, but red is not an apple. A property can never be an object.
C2. Therefore, logic is conceptual and contingent on a mind.

3. Logic is not dependent on human minds.
3.1. To say that logic is man-made means that logic did not exist before man existed.
3.2. Logic existed before man existed.
Ex. Before man existed, did man exist or not exist? If we are to affirm that man did not exist before man existed, then we are affirming that logic applied before man existed.
C3. Man did not invent logic.

4. Therefore, there must exist an ultimate and necessary mind that is beyond humanity in order for logic to exist.

Conclusion: This mind is what we call God.


I accept this debate. My opponent appears to be arguing a version of the transcendental argument for the existence of God (TAG). It will be my burden to negate this resolution and prove that atheism and logic and compatible. Since only logic is considered here, it will be my only line of attack against TAG.

To begin, logic is not necessarily absolute: "...logical reasoning is not an absolute law which governs the universe. Many times in the past, people have concluded that because something is logically impossible (given the science of the day), it must be impossible, period. It was also believed at one time that Euclidean geometry was a universal law; it is, after all, logically consistent. Again, we now know that the rules of Euclidean geometry are not universal." This point pretty much debunks my opponent's entire claim, but I can go deeper into refuting his claim.[1]

My opponent, in his second and third arguments, argues that a transcendent God is necessary to account for the laws of logic. The main problem my opponent makes, however, is equivocating a description of logic through the laws of logic with the actual fundamental logical truths. The facts of logic are not dependent on the existence of an ultimate and necessary mind, but rather on the existence of something. However, that doesn't mean we can describe what that reality is from the facts of logic themselves, nor can we describe the foundation of reality. What this means is that the fact that there is logic is not dependent on a transcendent mind.

I think I have sufficiently refuted the TAG, but I can even present a counterargument. This is the transcendental argument for the nonexistence of God (TANG). If I can prove TANG, that makes TAG false, because it is logically impossible to have two sound arguments with contradictory conclusions. By the very definition of a transcendent God, everything, including logic, is dependent on God for its creation. But that also means that logic, or anything else, is not necessary, and is contingent upon God. If this is true, then God could change the principles of logic, but since the facts of logic represent fundamental truths, they cannot be changed, and logic is not dependent on God.[2]

I will close my argument with a conundrum - my opponent argues that atheists cannot account for logical absolutes, but I could very well argue that my opponent cannot account for God's existence. If my opponent argues that God just is, then I could very well argue that logic just is. What's left here is a lose-lose situation to pro, and with that, I am interested to hear his answer to this.


Debate Round No. 1


1. If one's to deny that logic is absolute, truth can't be known. How can one affirm that *anything* is true? This would include the claim that "logic is not absolute." We wouldn't even know that a married bachelor is nonsense. Truth *can* be known, and it is therefore more rational to believe that logic is absolute.
2. Take the following scenario: Jesus reveals himself in front of you and your friends and everybody gasps in awe. Then one of your friends points to Jesus and says, "Well it's possible that we are just brains in a vat, and some alien is controlling our brains and giving us the illusion that Jesus is here before us." You would immediately recognize that the person who said this is in denial because he doesn't want Christianity to be true. Saying that it's possible that logic is not absolute is worse than this because being a brain in a vat is *at least logically possible.* A violation of logic is *not logically possible.* Logic is what we use to reason. Are we going to dispose of it just to deny Christianity?
3. The only reason we know that there can be geometry beyond Euclidean geometry is because non-euclidean geometry is *logically coherent.* This is true of all things we have come to understand in science. No matter how inconceivable, they must follow the law of identity, the law of non-contradiction, and the law of excluded middle. Logic is a philosophical concept. It is not subject to change. While things can be so crazy and inconceivable, they must be logical. Why? Because if this crazy and inconceivable thing (A) violated the law of identity, and was (B), then (A) wouldn't be (A). But (A) *has* to be (A). We couldn't call it (A) if it wasn't (A).

1. I'm not "equivocating a description of logic through the laws of logic with the actual fundamental logical truths." The laws of logic are *themselves descriptions* of reality. If the laws of logic are not descriptions of reality, then they are metaphysical objects. I have already argued in my opening argument why metaphysical objects do not work.
2. Take this example. "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" It does not make a sound unless there is a mind to perceive that sound. Sound waves are different from sound itself. Sound is the perception of the sound waves. Or let's take the example of a girl. Let's say that we look at her, and she has the descriptive property of beauty. But how can she have beauty if there is no mind to see her? There can't be sound or beauty without""mind. My point was that in the same way, there can't be logic without mind.

1. TANG fails because God doesn't create logic. Logic is a reflection of God's nature (a part of who God is).
Contingent means existing only in some possible worlds. It is *not* the same word as dependent.
Necessary means existing in all possible worlds.
Take a necessarily existent running car. Because it exists in all possible worlds, the car body would exist in all possible worlds. The car body is not contingent, but is still dependent on gasoline in order to run. Both gasoline and the body are needed, and make a necessary running car.


Argument I - Logical Absolutes

The universe only exists of five things - time, space, matter, energy, and forces. Everything else, including logic, exists because of the mind, and does not exist apart from us. Logic and fundamental truths are not always the same thing. For example, it was once logical to believe in a geocentric solar system, whereas it was still a fundamental truth that the solar system is heliocentric. The laws of logic are simply descriptions of certain fundamental truths, and are therefore relative: "The statements made by the human in reference to the logical absolutes are not absolute yet the laws themselves are absolute and always constitute the reality of a thing or statement at a given point in time."[1]

My opponent contends that Euclidean geometry is not a good example, but it is just that, as it shows how laws, which are thought up by cognizant minds, are relative and not absolute. Euclidean geometry is only valid in flat space, and that is a fundamental truth. And thee truths do not require a foundation from a universal mind.

Arguments II and III - Equivocation

My opponent is missing the point of my entire argument - it is true that the laws of logic are descriptions of truths. However, what this means is that you cannot equivocate those two things. Facts do not require the existence of a mind, but only the existence of reality to make those truths. It is only when one wants laws is a mind necessary. Therefore, it only takes a human to rationalize about the facts through laws of logic: "The logical absolutes are not arbitrary prescriptive conceptual statements about what logic can and can't do. They are descriptive statements about the nature of the reality we observe, on which the laws of formal logic are then based." In other words, only a reality is required for there to be facts, and a mind (which can be human) for there to be logic. To conflate the conceptual absolutes with the existent absolutes is to commit the fallacy of equivocation.[2]

Counter-Argument - TANG

My opponent's objection here is very weak: "However, according to the brand of Christianity assumed by TAG, God created everything, including logic; or at least everything, including logic, is dependent on God." Even if logic is a reflection of God's nature, logic would still be created by God, and that logic would be defined through the nature of God. In other words, God had to create logic if it exists under this worldview. Because God can change his creation, including logic, logic must be dependent on God (and in all possible worlds). But since that dependency makes logic false, logic can't be dependent on God.[3]

Also, my opponent has ignored the conundrum I presented in the last round. I would like him to address that.


Debate Round No. 2


"Also, my opponent has ignored the conundrum I presented"
It was a red herring. It had nothing to do with the debate.

"Even if logic is a reflection of God's nature, logic would still be created by God"
Wha-? If logic is a part of who God is, then God can"t create logic. God would essentially be creating himself.

"However, according to the brand of Christianity assumed by TAG, God created everything"
I agree that God creates everything other than God himself, but logic is not a "thing." It"s an adjective, a description of reality.

"Facts do not require the existence of a mind, but only the existence of reality to make those truths."
See my argument in CP2. 2.
""it is true that the laws of logic are descriptions of truths. However, what this means is that you cannot equivocate those two things."
The laws of logic *are* truths. Truth *is* a description of reality. If I say "circles are round." That is a truth. Circles are not truths, but circles being around are truths.
"Euclidean geometry... shows how laws, which are thought up by cognizant minds, are relative and not absolute."
The laws of logic are not thought up by cognizant minds . The laws of logic are what necessarily describe reality. Reality can"t be any other way than the way the laws of logic say they are. Euclidean geometry is derived from observation. Logic is philosophical concept. It is not derived by observing what is around us. (I"m not saying that observation cannot confirm logic). There is not one possible way that reality can violate the laws of logic. Reality would not be reality if it did. Saying that Euclidean geometry is incomplete *requires logic* for it to be true. The fact that there are other geometries requires that that Euclidean geometry is incomplete. It can"t be true and not true at the same time and in the same sense that there are other geometries. Con is *affirming logic* in order to argue against logic. His examples with geometry and the geocentric solar system actually help my point. Everything we see around us could be an illusion, we could all be brains in a vat, or God could have created us 15 minutes ago and have put all these ideas and memories into our brains. Nevertheless, logic would still necessarily hold. No matter how inconceivable reality (A) might be, it necessarily be (A). If it"s not (A), then we can"t call it (A). If (A) is true, then (A) can"t be false, because if it was false, it wouldn"t be true. If reality violates logic, then logic can"t be.
Con has failed to provide a true counterargument. He used faulty arguments and he ignored several points I made in rounds 1 and 2. He also saws off the branch he is sitting on by denying absolute logic and calling logic relative. He is essentially denying absolute truth, and therefore cannot be trusted to have won this debate.



Argument I - Logical Absolutes

My opponent's statement is completely incorrect. While the facts of logic are fundamental, the laws of logic are man-made. The laws of logic are descriptions of the facts of logic. And there's the fallacy of equivocation again - my opponent is equating the description of X with X. However, the two are most certainly next equal. Therefore, it is not the laws of logic are not what is universal and invariant. It is only the actual truth that is.

It is the laws that are conceptual " not what these descriptions refer to, however. And again, facts are only dependent on the existence of reality, and not on a mind. When human thought came along, that is when the laws of logic were formulated because, again, it is the laws of logic that are conceptual. I've made this argument a number of times, and my opponent has not made a convincing argument against it. In conclusion to this, the facts of logic are only dependent on some sort of reality and the evolution of humans and philosophical intellect is what created the laws of logic to describe those facts.

So yes, my examples of non-Euclidian geometry and geocentric universe are relevant because they are examples of how the laws of logic are relative, whereas fundamental truths, which, again, are only dependent on the existence of reality (however you define it), are the only things that are absolute.

Argument II and III - Equivocation

I've been over this a number of times, so I just have this to present: "It is true that the conceptual statement that 'A=A' cannot be photographed, frozen weighed or measured. It is an abstract. However the semantic statement refers to the physical nature of things that do exist and are material and are absolutely contingent on physical existence... The logical absolutes are not arbitrary prescriptive conceptual statements about what logic can and can't do. They are descriptive statements about the nature of the reality we observe, on which the laws of formal logic are then based... If the universe did not exist, neither would the three logical absolutes as they would have nothing to apply to. If nothing existed there would be no A to equal A. The underpinning of the logical absolute statements are dependent on something existing. The logical absolutes themselves are simply a fundamental property of material existence."[1]

So again, truths are only dependent on reality.

Counter-Argument - TANG

"A critical problem is that it is absolutely irrelevant to the materialist argument. The Christian is not addressing the fact that logic becomes subjective if God creates it, he is only specifying the nature of that subjectivity. So instead of presenting a rebuttal, he is in fact supporting it! Whether logic is part of God"s nature or not does not change the fact that it originates from a will, not from exterior reality - which is the very definition of subjective."


It is interesting to see my opponent ignore my very relevant conundrum. If he cannot account for God, why should I have to account for logical absolutes?


Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by i-Immaterial 2 years ago
I'm so sorry about the " vs ' thing and some of my grammatical errors. The spellcheck did not work, and I had to copy and paste from MS Word. This was not my fault. Please don't penalize me. I had things typed out correctly in word. For some reason, it changed when I copied and pasted into
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by WilliamofOckham 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro made the classic fallacy of equivocation. He tried to equivocate a description of logic with logic itself. However, the two are not equal. Con rightly pointed out that logic itself is only dependent on reality for it to have any basis, and it is only a description of logic that requires a mind, and that could very well be humans. Further, pro never made any strong argument against TANG - con easily defeated his sole objection to it on the grounds that logic still originates from God in the religious worldview. Overall, pro never made a good argument in trying to show that logic itself requires God, and thus leaves the universe open to a naturalistic explanation for the laws of logic - atheism could easily account for logic.