Why can’t the laws of logic just be necessary truths?

I recently received a question about how the laws of logic lead us to the conclusion that God exists.  The respondent was running up against the objection that the laws of logic may be necessary truths and wasn’t sure how to respond.

My answer is below:

You could certainly argue from the laws of logic to a rational source.  Have you had much success with such arguments?  I might be afraid that the topic is too technical for most.

We want to make a distinction between necessary beings and necessary truths.  A necessary being exists by the necessity of its own nature, which entails that it exists in all possible worlds.  Necessary truths, however, merely are true in all possible worlds.  It is the nature of truths that they rely for their truth on their correspondence to reality.  If I say, “God exists,” then this statement relies for its truth on the actual existence of God.  God exists in all possible worlds, and so the statement is true in all possible worlds.  It is for that reason that we say it is a necessary truth.  The statement isn’t true by the necessity of its own nature, rather it is true in all possible worlds because of its correspondence to reality in all possible worlds.

I think your friend’s mistake is to conflate what we mean by “necessary existence” and “necessary truths”.  These are different concepts.  So even though logical truths are necessary truths, they nonetheless need to be grounded.  You rightly point out that God is the perfect candidate to do so.

Norman Geisler in his book, Systematic Theology in One Volume puts it this way, “God does not merely choose to be rational and consistent. He is rational by his very nature. The scriptures inform us, for example, ‘It is impossible for God to lie’ (Heb. 6:18) and that ‘He cannot deny Himself’ (2 Tim. 2:13 NKJV).  Likewise, God cannot be irrational.  It is contrary to His nature as the ultimate, perfect, absolutely rational Being in the universe to violate the laws of logic.” (pg 68, emphasis original).

Just as we argue from objective moral values and duties to the transcendent reality that grounds them, it seems perfectly legitimate to argue from the laws of logic to a transcendent reality.  Moral virtue is the way God is while logic is the way God thinks.

Sincerely,

Matt Bilyeu


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