A-1 - Encouraged by What You Read?

Do the experimental results of the incredibly small and unusual quantum world undermine our traditional understanding of reason and the laws of logic? In part 1 of this three-part series I described a social media dialogue I had with a scientist on why the results of quantum mechanics (QM) need not be interpreted to invalidate the law of noncontradiction (LNC). Here’s a summary of what I briefly argued:

The law of noncontradiction cast metaphysically (in terms of being) states the following: “Nothing can both be and not be at the same time and in the same respect.” And light (a subatomic object) is not a particle that is also a nonparticle or a wave that is also a nonwave; rather, light under certain experimental conditions behaves as a particle and under other experimental conditions behaves like a wave. Thus, light appearing as both a particle and a wave is understood in different logical respects and does not undermine the law of noncontradiction’s statement of A cannot equal A and equal non-A.

Trying to Understand God’s Creation

My social media interaction about quantum mechanics and the laws of logic with the scientist continued into a second phase. This time the topic shifted to a person’s comprehension of the world and God.

Here is the scientist’s rejoinder:

You may be right about the relationship between QM & LNC, but I remain skeptical. I have been transparent about my doubts as I do not think faith and doubt are incompatible. I think that, given an infinite God, we should not expect, in our finitude, to fully comprehend either God or the universe he created. This notion is not without biblical precedent (Isaiah 55:8Proverbs 3:5). Don’t get me wrong, there is much we can know (Romans 1:18–20) and I am all for pushing our understanding to its limits. But, there ARE limits and I am OK with that. Perhaps God created us in such a way to increase the likelihood we stay humble.

In my reply, I stated that I agreed that finite creatures will never fully fathom God nor the amazingly complex cosmos. I concurred that many profound mysteries remain in life and in the world. I also think reason, faith, and doubt are compatible. But affirming the laws of logic does not rule out mystery nor does it affirm a dogmatic rationalism. Rather, the laws of logic make cognitive thought possible. So a denial of the LNC would mean no knowledge is possible. I said that logicians have made a powerfully convincing case that the laws of logic are ontologically real, cognitively necessary, and irrefutable.1

A Takeaway

In historic Christianity, “faith” has been defined as confident trust in a reliable source. Thus for the Christian, faith involves knowledge and is compatible with reason. Yet knowledge of God, including his creation, continues to include mystery because the finite creature will never fully comprehend the infinite Creator and Lord. But the laws of logic are still considered necessary and inescapable because all thought, correspondence, and action presuppose their truth and application.

Reflections: Your Turn

Christian thinkers St. Augustine (354–430) and St. Anselm (1033–1109) affirmed “faith seeking understanding.” How can faith involve knowledge and be compatible with reason? Visit Reflections on WordPress to comment with your response.

Resources

Check out more from Reasons to Believe @Reasons.org

Endnotes
  1. For more on this point, see Peter A. Angeles, “Laws of Thought, The Three” in The HarperCollins Dictionary Of Philosophy (New York: HarperCollins, 1992), 167.

 

About The Author

Kenneth R. Samples

I believe deeply that "all truth is God’s truth." That historic affirmation means that when we discover and grasp truth in the world and in life we move closer to its divine Author. This approach relies on the Christian idea of God’s two revelatory books - the metaphorical book of nature and the literal book of Scripture. As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. My writings and lectures at RTB focus on showing how the great doctrinal truths of the faith (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, creation ex nihilo, salvation by grace, etc.) are uniquely compatible with reason. This approach reflects the historic Christian apologetics statement - "faith seeking understanding." I work to help myself and others fulfill Peter's words in 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. • Biography • Resources • Upcoming Events • Promotional Items Kenneth Richard Samples began voraciously studying Christian philosophy and theology when his thirst for purpose found relief in the Bible. He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and social science from Concordia University and his MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. For seven years, Kenneth worked as Senior Research Consultant and Correspondence Editor at the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and regularly cohosted the popular call-in radio program, The Bible Answer Man, with Dr. Walter Martin. As a youth, Kenneth wrestled with "unsettling feelings of meaninglessness and boredom," driving him to seek answers to life's big questions. An encounter with Christian philosophy in Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis led Kenneth to examine the New Testament and "finally believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, the Lord and Savior of the world." From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying faith. Today, as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), Kenneth uses what he's learned to help others find the answers to life's questions. He encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical level. He is the author of Without a Doubt and A World of Difference, and has contributed to numerous other books, including: Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, The Cult of the Virgin, and Prophets of the Apocalypse. He has written articles for Christianity Today and The Christian Research Journal, and regularly participates in RTB's podcasts, including Straight Thinking, a podcast dedicated to encouraging Christians to utilize sound reasoning in their apologetics. He also writes for the ministry's daily blog, Today’s New Reason to Believe. An avid speaker and debater, Kenneth has appeared on numerous radio programs such as Voice America Radio, Newsmakers, The Frank Pastore Show, Stand to Reason, White Horse Inn, Talk New York, and Issues Etc., as well as participated in debates and dialogues on topics relating to Christian doctrine and apologetics. He currently lectures for the Master of Arts program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Kenneth also teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California. Over the years Kenneth has held memberships in the American Philosophical Association, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Evangelical Press Association. The son of a decorated World War II veteran, Kenneth is an enthusiastic student of American history, particularly the Civil War and WWII. His favorite Christian thinkers include Athanasius, Augustine, Pascal, and C. S. Lewis. He greatly enjoys the music of the Beatles and is a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan. Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan, and their three children.

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