Post Author: Bill Pratt
The laws of thought and mathematics are absolutely true. The law of non-contradiction, the law of identity, and the law of the excluded middle – the three fundamental principles of thought, otherwise known as the laws of logic – are all undeniable. To deny them is to assume they are true.
They are true regardless of time, place, or who is thinking about them. There is no possible world where they could not be true. Likewise with mathematics. 2+3=5, and this is true regardless of time, place, or who is thinking about it. There is no possible world where 2+3 does not equal 5.
So, any worldview which claims to explain all of reality had better have a good explanation of how this could be true.
How does atheistic naturalism explain the laws of thought and mathematics? Since everything, on naturalism, must be reduced to physical matter, an explanation for the laws of thought and mathematics will be hard to come by, for these laws are clearly not made out of matter.
Naturalists take a couple different routes. First, some of them say that there is no explanation for these laws; they just exist and that’s it; they are brute facts of the universe. But surely these laws that transcend time, space, and matter, that existed before humans ever came on the scene, and will still exist after humans are extinct, are uncomfortable bedfellows with electrons, skin cells, and hydrogen atoms – the things of physical science.
How will the scientific methods of physics, chemistry, and biology explain the laws of thought and mathematics when they are built on them and rely on them? It’s like trying to explain the cinder block foundation of a house by appealing to a second-story window.
A second explanation is the following: some naturalists deny that these laws actually transcend time, space, and matter. They claim that these are merely human conventions, laws that human beings have simply invented. But this claim seems incredible. Are we to really accept that 2+3 does not equal 5 unless human beings say it does?
I feel quite confident that even Klingons would agree that 2+3=5. Can you imagine there being any dispute between a human and a Klingon over math? Of course not. The idea is absurd. This explanation just won’t fly because these laws are absolute; it doesn’t matter one bit whether any one of us ever discovered these laws, as they would still be true. You can’t imagine a time or place where these laws aren’t true.
How does Christian theism explain the laws of thought and mathematics? Instead of denying that these laws are transcendent, Christian theism affirms our basic intuitions that they are. Christians identify the source of the laws of thought and mathematics with God, who is timeless, spaceless, and has always existed.
These laws are a part of God’s eternally existent nature. They are built into God, in a matter of speaking. So Christian theism not only provides an explanation for these laws, it also provides an explanation that makes sense of the absolute and transcendent nature of these laws. They have always existed because God has always existed.