Truth and the Law of Non-contradiction

To me, there is a prevalent attitude regarding the nature of truth today that causes people to say things like, “let me have my truth and you can have yours” or “you have to do what is true for you”.  To a point I understand this ideal. All of us are different and we have different preferences. However, metaphysically (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/metaphysics) there is an ACTUAL reality that we all live in and participate in even if we don’t believe in that reality.  Metaphysics focuses on different branches on philosophy dealing with the questions of ultimate reality, knowledge, and being etc… It is a very pertinent area of study if one believes that there is an actual truth to be known.

To go back to the above assertion of an ACTUAL reality that we are all involved in; Truth is not dependent upon what we think about it. I can think that the moon is made out of cheese but that does not make it true.  Ironically, the definition of postmodernism is not too hard to define even though those who espouse it claim no objective truth exists.  They claim that truth is what we make and invent.  According to them, nothing is transcendently true (except this sentence of course).  They don’t want to admit something is true for all of us but they get into trouble by trying to assert that.  If one accepts truth, they should eventually try to decide what grounds all truth about ultimate reality, origins of the universe, ethical objective truth etc… There are only a handful of worldviews that attempt to answer these questions (namely, theism, atheism, pantheism, polytheism, or a combination of them). Admitting to objective truth, however, can be unacceptable for anyone who thinks that our ultimate purpose is to simply “enjoy” life while we are here.  It is much easier to forget the whole question of truth and say it is subjective.

There might be some folks who tend to deny truth but actually do believe in objective truth in terms of the physical world and natural laws. However, they dismiss any truth claims in the realm of moral ethics, ontology, religion, etc… why would they do this?  It seems inconsistent.  Maybe because the “unseen” truths aren’t as apparent?  However, we all know that Nazis are bad and mother Teresa is good. This would be true in any imaginable world. Early on in a conversation with a postmodernist, I think it is easy to get confused with and too focused on the CONTENT of the truth claim as opposed to the CONCEPT of a truth claim (D.G.).  In other words, merely claiming that truth exists is not overtly choosing sides on a topic. In an argument, it needs to be agreed upon that there are truths or no progress in the conversation can be made. The whole conversation is moot. Once the CONCEPT of a truth claim is understood, then the conversation can proceed to the CONTENT (specific ideas about which ideas are true and which are false).

As an example in ethics: We need not claim a particular moral epistemology (how we know WHAT is right and wrong) if we are speaking purely about moral ontology (the existence of objective moral truths) (http://www.reasonablefaith.org/keeping-moral-epistemology-and-moral-ontology-distinct).  Someone who does not believe that there is any authority above their own regarding, say, sexual ethics might want to argue immediately against objective moral values and duties. However, they should not do so as it could destroy their arguments for ethics when it comes to another topic like terrorism etc… They need to stay consistent in saying that objective moral values exist if they want to stay consistent. They do NOT necessarily need to concede any particular form of sexual ethics just because they agree that objective moral values and duties exist.

“In classical logic, the law of non-contradiction (LNC)…is the second of the three classic laws of thought. It states that contradictory statements cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time, e.g. the two propositions “A is B” and “A is not B” are mutually exclusive.” (wikipedia- law of non-contradiction) In other words, the following contradictory statements cannot be true at the same time. One is true and one false:

  • God exists AND God does not exist
  • Jesus is God AND Jesus is not God
  • Miracles can happen AND Miracles cannot happen
  • Humans have a soul AND humans do not have a soul
  • All religions teach basically the same thing AND all religions do not teach basically the same thing
  • Logical laws are always true AND logical laws not always true
  • Truth exists AND Truth does not exist
  • Truth can be known AND truth cannot be known

The issue now turns to deciding on which propositions above are true and which are false. Everything or anything cannot be true at the same time according to this law of logic. Some might say that the “laws of logic” are not real because they would have to exist beyond the physical world in order to be transcendently true for all of us. This objection falls short though because the same person who makes the objection is relying upon the validity and truth of the logical rules to attempt a cogent argument. In fact, we all use reason and logic in our daily lives to proceed with our activities and to make decisions. Much of this logic is subconscious or done very quickly, but it is still adhering to a consistent set of logical rules.

How could these logical rules or truths exist in the universe before humans arrived? Further, how could our species just happen upon them through a process of random mutation and natural selection (the atheist view). That seems to be a stretch. My contention is that there is a personal creator of the universe who grounds all logical rules, ethical moral truths, and all truth about reality. If we do admit that something exists beyond the physical universe that caused the physical universe and grounds all truth, there are only two options for what it could be. It could either be an abstract object (what some might call an impersonal force) or a personal unembodied mind. It cannot be an abstract object because abstract objects, like the number seven, lack any active power. The power of will or choice is required to create and make decisions. The other alternative, which happens to fit nicely with the traditional concept of God is an unembodied mind.

The argument for God in the previous paragraph is an argument from philosophy that deals with cosmology and the beginning of the universe. The argument above, if accepted, will rule out the option that god is an impersonal and unknowable force. This would in turn rule out the idea of pantheism and atheism. It leads us to the great monotheistic religions of Islam, Judaism, Christianity, or Deism. Which of these worldviews describe reality and history of humanity the best and the most accurately? Remember, they cannot all be true at the same time.

D.G. -I got this idea from a lecture by Doug Groothius of Denver Seminary.

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