INTRODUCTION: He sure does, metaphysically (God's nature grounds logic's nature), epistemologically (logic is knowable because our rational God is knowable), and ethically (God provides the sufficient and necessary grounding for our obligation to know logic and be rational). However, a naturalistic atheist has made several naive comments about naturalism, the nature of logic, and has questioned that logic can be grounded in the Christian God in response to one of my articles about Christian theism, naturalism, and circular reasoning. My response below follows:
You show your ignorance by making statements like these:
In the naturalist world view, not everything that exists need be extended in space or reducible to “matter” so his conclusions fail.
While that is true that naturalism doesn't necessitate eliminative materialism, most naturalists I have interacted with are strict materialists. Thus, my syllogisms apply to them. If the naturalist wants to affirm the existence of immaterial, universal entities without grounding them in God (as Plato did) then that's fine; but it is up to them to give a successful naturalist philosophy that can ground such things. So far, the naturalist program has been unable to successfully do so without borrowing from Christian theism. Nevertheless, should the naturalist claim that naturalism doesn't usually entail some version of materialsim, I wish someone would have told atheist scholar Kai Nielsen and the rest of the gang who produced the Blackwell Companion to the Philosophy of Religion:
“Naturalism denies that there are any spiritual or supernatural realities. There are, that is, no purely mental substances and there are no supernatural realities transcendent to the world; or at least we have no sound grounds for believing that there are such realities or perhaps even for believing that there could be such realities. It is the view that anything that exists is ultimately made up of physical components." [Kai Nielsen, "Naturalistic Explanations of Theistic Belief," in Philip L. Quinn and Charles Taliaferro, A Companion to the Philosophy of Religion, Blackwell, 1997, p. 402.]
I also wish JC would have educated renowned atheistic scientist Dr. Richard Lewontin when he affirmed that no non-material entities exist as a means to purposefully exclude immaterial, supernatural entities from any involvement in reality:
“We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. . . . Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door." [Richard Lewontin, Billions and billions of demons, The New York Review, p. 31, 9 January 1997.]
Or what if JC would have had the opportunity to inform Dr. Alan Lacey who wrote the section on naturalism in The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, who defined it this way,
"What [naturalism] insists on is that the world of nature should form a single sphere without incursions from outside by souls or spirits, divine or human, and without having to accommodate strange entities like non-natural values or substantive abstract universals." [The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, ed. Ted Honderich, (), 640.]
That would include abstract entities like the immaterial, universal laws of logic. Our naive atheist goes on to say,
It looks as though Dusman is doing nothing more than trying to appeal to the ignorance of his Christian audience since I know of no materialist that would say concepts are reducible to electrochemical reactions in the brain.
Has JC ever heard of a version of physicalism called eliminative materialism? Here's physicalist philosopher of mind Dr. Patricia Churchland elaborating on the fact that beliefs boil down to mere brain function:
Even if we grant Dusman both that logic and God are “immaterial” it does not follow that God is the grounds for logic.
This argument would follow if the immaterial God of Scripture did not reveal that He is the grounds for everything in Scripture. A similar problem faced Plato when he posited his immaterial realm of ideals to explain immaterial things like concepts, numbers, logic, etc. But we aren't in the same position as Plato since God has revealed in Scripture that all of reality is grounded in Him (Acts 17:28; Rom. 11:33-36; Col. 2:3). It seems that this is what our atheist friend is confusing the fact of grounding with the how of the grounding. The Scripture answers the former without giving us details of the latter.
Scripture tells us that there is substantial continuity between divine reasoning and human reasoning (Isa. 1:18) and that God's mind is infinite (Psalm 147:5), perfect in knowledge (Job 36:4; 37:15), and that He expects us to love Him with our minds (Matt. 22:37-40). In a nutshell, we are commanded to imitate the rational mind of God (Eph. 5:1). God does not have an authority outside Himself to determine His behavior since He's character is the ultimate standard and grounding of all that is, whether ethical, epistemological, or metaphysical (Heb. 6:13). The "all" of what "is" would include logic. Hence, God's According to Scripture, God's character is the ultimate example of rationality and we are commanded to emulate said rationality for His glory (Job 36:4; 37:15; Eph. 5:1). It follows that God is perfectly rational by nature (i.e., logical) and such characteristics are grounded in His nature and since we are commanded to imitate Him we ground rationality in His very being.
Can Atheists Have Immaterials Without God?
P1: If God does not exist then the laws of logic do not exist.
P2: The laws of logic do exist.
C: Therefore God exists.
The laws of logic are necessary and have to be grounded in an immaterial entity. The only reasonable candidate for that is the Triune God since He is a perfect, personal being and thinks with perfect rationality. Thus, He is necessarily the foundation for perfect logic and reason.
What follows are some reasons why atheistic realism cannot account for the laws of logic:
1. We have a moral obligation to be reasonable and logical and this is only possible with persons. Mere matter in motion doesn't tell me how I ought to act.
2. Without the immaterial, personal, Triune God, there’s no guarantee that people would develop correct conceptions of logic. This is because impersonal, immaterial abstract entities wouldn’t have the ability to guide and inform our cognitive faculties.
3. It is hard to conceive of immaterial entities having content apart from a Mind with thoughts that possess content. (i.e., How do immaterial entities possess content apart from a Mind that fills them with contents?)
4. It is difficult to imagine how the metaphysical foundation of logic could itself be non-rational (arational), since only persons have logical properties of this sort. So, on the atheist immaterialist's worldview, logic would not be logical, which of course, is absurd.
5. Finally, it is difficult to see how these immaterial logical laws could relate to or connect to the physical world in any sort of fashion without a personal Mind to cause such to be the case.
Again, as noted in a previous blog post, knowledge (including knowledge of logic and the epistemic normativity behind it) must be grounded in God: Dr. James Anderson puts it this way:
Careful reflection on the concept of knowledge in general, and on paradigm cases of knowledge, make it clear that this notion of ‘epistemic rightness’ or ‘epistemic appropriateness’ is an essential feature of knowledge. But observe that this notion is clearly a normative one: it pertains to how beliefs ought to be formed or held (in order to count as knowledge), rather than how beliefs are formed or held. It is not a descriptive notion, but a prescriptive one. It implies that there are epistemic norms which determine (in part) whether or not one’s belief that p is actually knowledge that p. That the concept of knowledge has an essentially normative aspect, and thus there are such things as epistemic norms (if there is such a thing as knowledge), is a point widely recognised by contemporary epistemologists. For example, Jaegwon Kim writes:
[Epistemic] justification manifestly is normative. If a belief is justified for us, then it is permissible and reasonable, from the epistemic point of view, for us to hold it, and it would be epistemically irresponsible to hold beliefs that contradict it. . . . Epistemology is a normative discipline as much as, and in the same sense as, normative ethics. (Kim, 1988, p. 383, emphasis original)The fact that there is such a thing as epistemic normativity has interesting implications. In the first place, it poses a serious problem for metaphysical naturalism, for there is no place within a thoroughgoing naturalism for any irreducible normativity. According to the metaphysical naturalist, all phenomena are ultimately explicable in scientific terms (if explicable at all), but science is a purely descriptive discipline. Science describes rather than prescribes. It tells us how things are, as a matter of empirical fact; it has nothing to tell us about how things ought to be. As Alvin Plantinga has remarked:
[Naturalism’s] Achilles’ heel (in addition to its deplorable falsehood) is that it has no room for normativity. There is no room, within naturalism, for right or wrong, or good or bad. (Plantinga, 1998, p. 356, emphasis original)So naturalism, as a metaphysical position, cannot accommodate the notion of right or wrong ways to form or hold beliefs. Consequently, it cannot accommodate the notion of epistemic warrant. In short: if we know anything at all, then naturalism must be false. [http://www.proginosko.com/docs/knowledge_and_theism.html]
At the end of the above paper, Dr. Anderson reviews the worldviews he's already refuted and notes re: knowledge:
Some general conclusions can be drawn from all this. It appears that any worldview whose ontology can underwrite a viable account of epistemic warrant must exhibit the following features: (1) it must be non-naturalist (i.e., it must make room for real objective normativity); (2) it must posit a fundamental ontological distinction between that which grounds or originates epistemic norms and that which is subject to epistemic norms; and (3) it must posit a ground of epistemic normativity that is personal (i.e., exhibiting features such as intellect and volition). In short, we are looking for a worldview with an ontology that includes a supernatural personal being whose character or intentions give rise to norms for human thought; that is, a broadly theistic worldview. In conclusion, then, we have solid reasons for believing that if human knowledge is possible then there must be a God. Knowledge presupposes the existence of objective epistemic normativity, which in turn presupposes an ontology that can account for the existence of such normativity. Naturalism, as many of its contemporary advocates now acknowledge, has no place for objective epistemic normativity. And non-theistic non-naturalisms fall short on other grounds: by trying to ground epistemic normativity in the non-personal, or by failing to distinguish the normative from the normed, or by leaving unexplained the connection between the normative and the normed. Only theistic worldviews have the metaphysical resources to underwrite the most defensible analyses of epistemic warrant. In four words: if knowledge, then God. [Ibid.]
IN CONCLUSION, given those problems, Biblical theism can account for the immaterial, abstract, laws of logic whereas atheistic realism and versions of naturalism cannot.