Essay:On Logical Absolutes

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"on Logical Absolutes" Proscriptus Voce per Eira[edit]

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Criticism and discussion by RationalWiki of The Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God made by the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry (CARM).

CARM's "TAG" Argument The Rational Response

Logical Absolutes[edit]

Law of Identity[edit]

  1. Something is what it is and isn't what it is not. Something that exists has a specific nature.
  2. For example, a cloud is a cloud, not a rock. A fish is a fish, not a car.

Of course, a "stingray" is a fish and a car, but let's not get into equivocation... This is a valid logical policy.

Law of Non-Contradiction[edit]

  1. Something cannot be both true and false at the same time in the same sense.
  2. For example, to say that the cloud is not a cloud would be a contradiction since it would violate the first law. The cloud cannot be what it is and not what it is at the same time.

This is a valid logical policy.

Law of Excluded Middle[edit]

  1. A statement is either true or false, without a middle ground.
  2. "I am alive" is either true or false. "You are pregnant" is either true or false.
    1. Note one: "This statement is false" is not a valid statement (not logically true) since it is self refuting and is dealt with by the Law of Non-contradiction. Therefore, it does not fall under the LEM category since it is a self-contradiction.
    2. Note two: If we were to ignore note one, then there is a possible paradox here. The sentence "This statement is false" does not fit this Law since if it is true, then it is false. Paradoxes occur only when we have absolutes. Nevertheless, the LEM is valid except for the paradoxical statement cited.
    3. Note three: If we again ignore note one, and admit a paradox, then we must acknowledge that paradoxes exist only with the realm of absolutes.

This is a valid logical policy. However, the statement "Nevertheless, the LEM is valid except for the paradoxical statement cited" (emphasis mine) is false. There are numerous logical contradictions. Any proposition that asserts its own negation such as "This statement is only false" is also an exception. We can be fair, and grant that they didn't want to make an infinite list of exceptions, and they're just trying to close off the liar paradox for the informal reader.

However, the statement "I am alive" can be inconsistent in its truth value. Some people say that when your heart stops, you are dead, however our medical ability has been reviving people from this state for a long time. Plus, the statement "a virus is alive" is inconsistently false. Much of this depends so strongly upon your definition of alive. This law applies to formal logic, where definitions have already been established. Informal logic is so slippery and inconsistent, that attempting to firmly applying the Law of Excluded Middles typically results in either failure, or a long laborious refinement of definitions and words until the statement has been refined into formal logic.

Logical absolutes are truth statements such as[edit]

That which exists has attributes and a nature.[edit]

  1. A cloud exists and has the attributes of whiteness, vapor, etc. It has the nature of water and air.
  2. A rock is hard, heavy, and is composed of its rock material (granite, marble, sediment, etc.).

We are presented with two undefined terms "attributes" and "nature". It is sufficiently proper to state that all things have "properties". Simply by dividing everything into what "exists" and "does not exist", you have established a property to all things... existence. To simply state that "true" exists, and that "not true but also not false" does not exist, you require these fundamental properties of logic. It turns out that we are restating the Law of Identity from above in order to use this informal wording to make a formal assertion later.

However, not all clouds are white, and neither are all clouds made of water vapor. Simply the most common ones we note. Again, as noted above, informal logic requires a lot of work to make it "pedantically sound".

The discussion about the rock confuses "rock material" with nature, apparently. I'm presuming this, because they don't define what "nature" means.

Something cannot be itself and not itself at the same time.[edit]

  1. It cannot be true to state that a rock is not a rock.

Here he restates the Law of Non-Contradiction. This time with informal logic, so that the definition becomes sufficiently non-pedantic, that he can use this informal wording later to make a formal assertion.

The process here is to restate a rigorous law in simplified terms in order to slip in unsupported assumptions later.

Something cannot bring itself into existence.[edit]

  1. In order for something to bring itself into existence, it has to have attributes in order to perform an action. But if it has attributes, then it already has existence. If something does not exist, it has no attributes and can perform no actions therefore, something cannot bring itself into existence.

Here he asserts that something "must have attributes" in order to "perform an action". This is an entirely separate assertion from the one being presented, and unsupported by any earlier premise. Remember what I said above? He is calling up the informal statement and "oops!" look, there's an extra unsupported assertion. He shows us one coin, but actually is palming another one.

Next, "if it has attributes, then it already has existence" is an unsupported assertion, and in fact is a demonstrably false assertion. As things that do not exist already have an "attribute" of nonexistence. Once again, he is showing us one coin, but is now palming three.

Finally, he restates the same bad logic, laying all the coins on the table, hoping that we don't notice that he just conjured up two more coins. We should now expect enough distraction that when he brings our attention back to this, that we forget that there were two coins produced from thin air.

Truth is not self-contradictory.[edit]

  1. It could not be true that you are reading this and not reading this at the same time in the same sense. It is either true or false that you are reading this.

Here again, he restates the Law of Non-Contradiction. Why distract us by restating something over again? I know I have the source material here, and I can make this look like anything was predicted from the very start, but anyone who understands how magicians perform their acts can predict this behavior. There's a good reason for the tactic though, unfortunately, we fall for it more often than we see through the distraction.

Therefore, Logical Absolutes are absolutely true.[edit]

They are not subjectively true; that is, they are not sometimes true and sometimes false depending on preference, or situation. Otherwise, they would not be absolute.

This is a non-sequitur. Nothing he has presented so far is sufficient to make this assertion. But of course, by stating the assertion four times, there's a good chance that we will ignore that none of this is valid or sound logic.

Final observations[edit]