Atheism and Logic – the epistemological question
One question Sye keeps asking (see preceding post) is:
(1) How can you atheists justify the laws of logic? How can you know that the laws of logic hold true?
We saw, in an earlier post, that asking for a justification of logic seems to produce a paradox. If the justification involves an inference, then it will itself use the laws of logic, and so be circular. And thus no justification at all!
I pointed out one possible way round this problem (which I am not necessarily endorsing, BTW) – make the justification non-inferential. Perhaps we can just directly see that certain very basic forms of argument are truth preserving (this is actually quite plausible, isn’t it?).
Sye says that God’s revelation let’s him know logic can be trusted. So he too appeals to a kind of “seeing”-type justification. But the above version is more economical. Here are the competing accounts:
1. The above atheist-friendly suggestion is that we can just “see” certain forms of inference are truth preserving.
2. Sye’s suggestion (I think – is this right Sye?) is that he can just “see” that God tells or shows him that certain forms of inference are truth preserving.
One problem with Sye’s suggestion is that, armed with the laws of logic and the power of reliable observation, we then very quickly find extremely good evidence that Sye’s God does not exist (evidence that Sye studiously refuses to consider, despite my request that he do so – see my “The God of Eth” link on sidebar, Sye).
Another problem is that Sye is aware that other people have a wide variety of religious experiences involving all sorts of incompatible deities (Zeus, Thor, Mithras, etc., plus Buddhists have experiences revealing there’s no God), and that such experiences must, then, be largely unreliable. So how can he be confident that any of these experiences are reliable, let alone that his happens to one of the few reliable ones?
The first atheist-friendly suggestion does not run into either of these very serious problems. It may not be correct. But it has great advantages over Sye’s account. And Sye certainly has not yet shown it isn’t correct.
[[[So, perhaps we should now issue this challenge to Sye: we have provided an account of how we can be justified in believing the laws of logic. He hasn’t. Therefore, we’re justified in using logic against him. But he’s not justified in using logic against us!]]]