Recently, I was involved in a Facebook discussion on FaultLine with someone who made the claim that the existence of logic demonstrates the existence of God. The discussion was buried in the comments of this post but I thought this might be of interest to a wider audience.
My basic position is that it is epistemologically invalid to accept the existence of God from the existence of logic, at least in what I’ve seen of your argument. Please correct me where I’m wrong.
The definition of logic here is a bit loose for my taste. But it seems that it’s the underlying reality of what we humans have called the laws of logic, such as the law of the excluded middle (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_thought).
The claim is that such laws are immaterial, eternal, unchangeable, necessary, and inviolable. The further claim is that this could only be the case if there was a logical being behind them, ie God.
I think the first claim is a little strong. We don’t know that all universes that could ever exist must conform to the laws of logic. I certainly can’t imagine what a different universe would look like but does that mean that such a universe cannot exist? Could God make such a universe?
This last question brings our first problem: if yes, then the laws of logic aren’t necessary and so they don’t indicate God. If no, then the laws of logic are more basic than God and so where did they come from and why do they have to lead to God? The laws of logic could cope very well without Him.
Here’s the second problem: TAG is a logical argument for God. This means that the argument is made before God’s existence has been established. That means that we can make logical arguments without God which undermines TAG as being circular. This means that we cannot use logic to deduce that Logic -> God, because we’re happily using logic already.
But what about induction? In other words, can we say that the existence of God -> the existence of logic and so it’s simply the best theory to explain the data? It’s certainly true that you could create a God theory that results in logic and it would be hard to falsify that theory.
Unfortunately, this is also not epistemologically valid. Consider another theory of an infinite multiverse (∞MV), in which universes come into existence and have always done so back through infinity (your God theory goes infinitely far back so fair is fair). I’m not proposing this theory, I’m using it as an example. This theory would be just as good at explaining the existence of logic (regardless of whether logic is universal or multiversal). Can you think of any experiment that would help us distinguish between the God theory and the Infinite Multiverse theory? I cannot. But until we do, it would not be epistemologically valid to choose one over the other.
The situation is actually much worse for TAG (and any proponents of ∞MV). There are a plethora of other possible theories that could explain the existence of logic and do not appeal to the existence of God, so even if you found an observation that excluded ∞MV you would still likely have a lot of work to do (in other words, TAG suffers from a god of the gaps issue).
I said I cannot distinguish between TAG and ∞MV but actually I can. In ∞MV, I would expect there to be no agreement about the nature of God, no universal religion, wars, famine, injustice, poor logic by the universe’s inhabitants, contradictions in the writings supposedly inspired by God etc. At the least, the nature of the world should let us narrow down the type of God we’re dealing with, and that would not go well for the Gods of most religions (except the capricious Greek gods and similar: I could get behind one of those).
Noting that any one of these issues is sufficient to make TAG epistemologically invalid, we still have what I regard as the biggest issue, which is that the God being argued for is so far removed from the God of any specific religion that you may as well argue from scratch. The Christian God is just as likely or unlikely given ∞MV as TAG. It’s not a tiny step closer. It’s literally the same. I could concede the TAG God and not be any closer to Christianity or Thor or anything. If anything, it’s closer to something like New Age Spirituality. This is what I’ve been meaning when I say it’s an abstruse argument. It is intellectual masturbation without any real connection to the reality of the world.
And it gets worse again: Christianity tells us that three is equal to one, by fiat assertion. It tells us that God required Himself to kill Himself so that we won’t be blamed for stuff done by Adam (even if Adam is just a symbol of the doctrine of original sin). And that infinite punishment is appropriate for finite sin. These are not the claims of a logical being.
A couple of final points. ∞MV can also be used to critique the cosmological argument. In that situation, I again am unaware of any experiment or evidence that differentiates the two models. Again, I’m sure there are plenty of other models one could use, but the difficulty of differentiating them makes it invalid to conclude one over the other.
And lastly, if you did have only these two models to choose from, you would go for ∞MV over any God theory. Why? Because ∞MV only requires the replication of things that we’ve already seen, namely a universe; whereas a God hypothesis requires the supposition of things that we have not seen such as a spiritual realm or a non-physical agent.
Again, I’m not proposing ∞MV as something you should accept. I’m merely proposing that it and theories like it are a reason why concluding that there is a God based on TAG or the cosmological argument is epistemologically invalid.