Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rebutting the idea that God created logic

In "Atheism: An Irrational Worldview", Jason Lisle asserts that atheists -- by employing logic in their arguments regarding the purported existence of God -- actually presuppose that God exists since, he implies, the existence of logic depends upon the existence of God. Alternative formulations of this argument are "God created logic" or "the existence of God proves that God exists." This argument can be rebutted even without full consideration, by observing that the proposition that logic "exists" is deeply problematic.

The term logic is formed elliptically from the Latin phrase ars logica, that is, "the logical arts" or "the arts pertaining to logos" -- in a word, "reason." Given this etymology, it is plain that "logic" is not an entity but rather something abstract, a set of the "arts" or methods of establishing the truth of inferences. Sets, being abstract, do not have tangible existence. Concepts exist only insofar as the systems in which they are represented exist. Therefore, the necessary prior existence of "logic" supposed by the theist is meaningless, since logic cannot be properly said to exist at all.

Another way of stating this is that logic is not an entity with the property of existence. This error is identical to Whitehead's fallacy of misplaced concreteness. What would the ontological status of an logic be? It is certainly not an object, with duration and time and extent in space. As a system of propositional conventions -- like language or algebra -- it could only be said to possess the existential quality if it was instantiated in some material substrate, as language is among the minds and artifacts of human beings.

A hat tip to Alex Vera and Nora Delaney; the above objection is based observations we made together in conversation.