Victor Reppert recently pointed out an argument for the existence of God that strikes me as nothing more than insipid. It appears to be a variant of the Argument From Reason, which Victor himself has championed, and made the centerpiece of his career. This variant is described as an Argument From the Laws of Logic, and it uses essentially the same fundamental reasoning the AFR uses. It was published by James Anderson and Greg Welty with the title The Lord of Non-Contradiction: An Argument for God from Logic. And like the AFR, it is based on unsubstantiated assumptions. It may serve to rationalize a priori beliefs of the faithful, but from the perspective of a non-believer, it is utterly worthless as a rational argument.
The argument is stated as a syllogism in this way:
1. The laws of logic are truths.Each of these statements is discussed and rationalized in the paper. But in the course of this discussion, it quickly becomes apparent that the justifications given are based on the same old tired presumptions that theists always make. And that's where the problem lies.
2. The laws of logic are truths about truths.
3. The laws of logic are necessary truths.
4. The laws of logic really exist.
5. The laws of logic necessarily exist.
6. The laws of logic are non-physical.
7. The laws of logic are thoughts.
8. The laws of logic are divine thoughts.
The first two statements of the syllogism are not particularly controversial. They discuss the fundamental axioms of logical reasoning as propositions about the truth value of propositions. No problem there. But I'm not sure I would accept statement 3. The claim is that the axioms of logic are true in all possible worlds. This is justified by noting that we can't imagine a possible world where these laws don't hold. OK, but does that mean it can't be the case? Maybe there could be a world where logic doesn't hold. I'm not sure. It would be a world of chaos (by our standards), but does that mean such a world can't possibly exist? I don't know, and neither does anyone else, despite any claims to the contrary.
But there's a bigger problem here. If the laws of logic are propositions, as stated already, then they can't be necessary objects, because all propositions are statements that hold truth value. And all statements are the product of a mind. This is a key point that the authors of this paper seem to gloss over. To clarify my point, I should note that there is a difference between reality itself and statements about reality. Reality is what it is, and it has no truth value. A statement (or proposition) has truth value by virtue of how well it corresponds to reality. It is easy to conflate reality with propositions, because you can't describe reality without making statements about it. If the reality is that the grass is green, one must distinguish between what the reality is and any statements made about that reality. If I say that the grass is green, I have made a statement, and it is true because it reflects the reality. But without making any such statement, there is nothing that can be judged to be true or false. No proposition can be said to exist necessarily, because it requires that someone make a statement, which is a contingent thing.
The argument goes downhill from there. Statement 4 says that the laws of logic have an independent existence as immaterial objects. This is, of course, based on the assumption of an ontology of realism, as opposed to nominalism. Realism holds that conceptual things, like ideas and thoughts, exist independently of the mind that conceives them, while nominalism holds that these things are part of the physical process of thinking, and have no existence in their own right. The authors of this paper claim that any anti-realist ontology is just an assumption that must be justified. But wait a minute. Who's presenting their argument here? They are making the assumption of a realist ontology and shifting the burden of proof to anyone who doubts it.
In practice those who object to a realist construal of logical laws are invariably motivated by broader metaphysical pre-commitments, such as the conviction that physicalism (or something close) must be the case. ... But then one must squarely face the challenge of explaining (or explaining away) all the claims we’re naturally inclined to make about the laws of logic.So much for defending your own argument. Statements 5, 6, and 7 follow from the problematic statements that precede them. They are based on the assumption of a realist ontology, the assumption that they are true in all possible worlds, and the idea that laws of logic are propositions. But already, you can see that there is a conflict between the idea of necessary existence, and laws of logic as thoughts. Any thought is a contingent thing. It is the product of a mind that engages in the process of thinking. It doesn't exist independently of that mind, as necessary object would. So to say that the laws of logic are both thoughts and necessary objects is contradictory. But that doesn't seem to bother the authors of this paper.
Finally, the existence of God is rationalized in statement 7. A necessary thing must be the product of a necessary being? Sorry, but necessary existence doesn't work like that. If something exists necessarily, it isn't the product of anything. It exists independently. It is not created - even by God. Statement 7 is a denial of the meaning of necessary existence.
This argument then, is nothing but fluff, built on unjustified theistic assumptions. But I have to give credit where it is due. This is the only theistic argument I have ever seen where the authors openly admit that it is based on the presumption of God.
every logical argument presupposes the existence of God. ... one can logically argue against God only if God exists.and of course, by this logic, one can logically argue for God only if God exists, because logic itself comes from God. They presuppose God in their argument to come to the conclusion that God exists. Unfortunately, they don't seem to recognize that this is circular reasoning, the same as most theistic arguments.
And this illustrates the utter futility of theistic philosophy in general. It is entirely based on theistic assumptions. It does not provide any assurance that those assumptions are true. Those assumptions are never properly justified. PoR only provides a veneer of logical reasoning to give comfort to the faithful, in the misguided belief that their faith has a strong basis in philosophy. To teach this to students of philosophy is a crime. Genuine philosophy doesn't allow such poor arguments and faulty reasoning to go unchallenged.