A-1 - Encouraged by What You Read?

Can quantum science, the laws of logic, and the Christian faith coexist? Yes, they can. In fact, Christian thinkers have historically made many significant contributions to the study and development of both science and logic.1

In the first two parts of this series, I briefly examined whether the experimental results of quantum mechanics (QM) invalidate the law of noncontradiction (LNC) and whether the laws of logic rule out a place for religious mystery (faith).

Here’s a summary of how I addressed these issues:

  • In part 1 I explained in a social media dialogue with a scientist why the results of QM need not be interpreted to invalidate the LNC.
  • In part 2 I explained that while the laws of logic don’t rule out mysteries of faith, the laws of logic are still considered necessary and inescapable because all thought, correspondence, and action presuppose their truth and application.

In this article I continue my social media dialogue with the scientist. This time we discuss the issue of whether there are other forms of logic besides Aristotelian logic. Sometimes the results of QM are interpreted along the lines of Eastern mystical religion, which has its own proposed logic.

Here’s my scientist friend’s comment:

I took a course in college logic. However, it is derived from the Greeks and Western thinking which is ingrained in our culture and society. However, in recent years, I have encountered Eastern views of reality and logic as well as modern efforts toward integrating Eastern and Western schools of thought. 


Three Foundational Laws of Logic

Before we unpack my response to my scientist friend, let’s refresh our memory of the three foundational laws of logic (explained in more detail in part 1 of this series).2

1. The law of noncontradiction (LNC): A thing, A, cannot at once be and not be (A cannot equal A and equal non-A at the same time and in the same way); they are mutually exclusive (not both). A dog cannot be a dog and be a non-dog.

2. The law of excluded middle (LEM): A thing, A, is or it is not, but not both or neither (either A or non-A); they are jointly exhaustive—one of them must be true. There is no middle ground between a dog and a non-dog.

3. The law of identity (LI): A thing, A, is what it is (A is A). A dog is a dog.

My Response

I responded by saying that I think it is fair to say that the consensus of historic Christianity (philosophers and theologians) considers the three laws of thought (LNC, LEM, LI) as not just one version of logic but rather as the nature of reality. While these laws are sometimes referred to as “Aristotelian” or “Western” logic, in actuality Aristotle didn’t invent these laws. Rather, he discovered and formulated them. Yes, there are other forms of logic, especially Eastern, but these Eastern forms of logic usually reject the law of noncontradiction. (Western logic accepts an either-or differentiation, whereas Eastern logic affirms a both-and synthesis.)

The problem, however, is that the laws of logic are necessary for all rational people and must be universal to all cultures and worldviews. A person cannot significantly think, speak, or act without relying on the laws of logic (LNC, LEM, LI).3

Therefore, I recommended that my scientist friend approach Eastern logic with great discernment and critical analysis.

A Takeaway

Here’s a way for you to summarize and use this lesson. While there are other approaches to logic than the three laws that Aristotle discovered and articulated (Western logic), Eastern approaches to logic usually deny the laws that make reality rational and intelligible.

Reflections: Your Turn

What happens to our thinking, speaking, and acting if the laws of logic are denied? Visit Reflections on WordPress to comment with your response.

Resources

Check out more from Reasons to Believe @Reasons.org

Endnotes
  1. For more on how Christian thinkers have historically contributed to the disciplines of science and logic, see Kenneth Samples, “Five Ways Christianity Is Reasonable,” Reflections (blog), August 30, 2017, https://reflectionsbyken.wordpress.com/2017/08/30/five-ways-christianity-is-reasonable/.
  2. Kenneth Richard Samples, A World of Difference: Putting Christian Truth-Claims to the Worldview Test(Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007), 42–44.
  3. See Ronald H. Nash, Life’s Ultimate Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999), chapter 8.

 

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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