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The Relative Logic of Atheists

The relationship between modern atheism and logic is a precarious one. Beginning with the assumption that there is no God, and, hence, no absolute exists to serve as the basis for any other absolutes, the blight of relativism infected all fields of knowledge. Subsequent history has demonstrated that the spread of relativism is irresistible once the premise of atheism is assumed.

Premise: Since there is no God,
Conclusion: there are no absolutes.
Premise: Since there are no absolutes,
Conclusion: everything is relative.      
    
The first field of relativization was ethics. The Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule and all other moral absolutes were jettisoned. With great joy, atheistic philosophers proclaimed that there were no moral absolutes. Ethics became a matter of personal preference instead of an issue of “absolutes.” Morality was reduced until it had no more significance than a personal preference for vanilla over chocolate.

Joseph Lewis wrote in 1926, “There is in reality no absolute standard by which we judge…. In the final analysis our guide in moral affairs should be that which gives to the individual the greatest possible happiness.”1

The Encyclopedia Americana comments, “Since there is no God, man is the creator of his own values.”2 John Hick declares, “There is no God; therefore no absolute values and no absolute laws.”3

The poverty of relativism is demonstrated by its inability to condemn evil on an objective basis-when the existence of God was denied, the existence of good and evil was also denied. Its adherents must therefore depend on other bases of morality.

When confronted with the question (given his commitment to relativism), “On what grounds would you condemn the acts of Hitler?”, the great infidel logician Bertrand Russell committed an obvious logical fallacy. He said that Hitler was wrong because “most people agree with me.”4 This is the fallacy called argumentum ad populum, in which something is considered true just because many people agree to it.

When Russell was finally forced to tell how he distinquished between good and evil, he said, “by my own feelings.”5 This is the logical fallacy known as argumentum ad hominem(circumstantial) in which something is said to be true simply because of the circumstances of the person. Russell was saying, “Because of my personal feelings, Hitler was wrong.” Of course, if Russell’s reasons were valid, Hitler could have argued on this same basis that he was right in killing six million Jews. His feelings and happiness were in complete accord with his actions!

At first people naively assumed that relativism could be contained in the realm of ethics. But relativism like a cancer could only grow until it had infiltrated all fields of knowledge. One by one, every area of knowledge has been infected and consumed by relativism. Several examples will illustrate this point.

 

Relativism and History
Modern views of history have become relativistic. The idea that it is possible to have objective knowledge of the past has now been replaced by an agnostic approach to history which assumes no objective knowledge is possible. History, no longer a matter of historical facts, has been reduced to the level of subjective interpretation by the process that modern atheism unleashed.

Premise: Since there is no God,
Conclusion: there are no absolutes.
Premise: Since there are no absolutes,
Conclusion: everything is relative.
Premise: Since everything is relative,
Conclusion: history is relative.           

Relativists view history as a matter of personal interpretation. No one can really know what happened in the past. History is therefore only relative, subjective interpretations which arise out of a historian’s personal preference. The Soviets write history one way and the Americans write it another way, but it makes no difference in the end, for no one really knows what happened in the past. No one appeals to historical facts anymore because there are no absolutes in history.6

In this sense, modern atheists state that Jesus of Nazareth was not historical, i.e., His existence and teaching are not to be viewed as facts of history, but rather as the products of subjective interpretations. To be consistent, this principle should also hold true for Socrates, Napolean, Isaac Newton and Abraham Lincoln. After all, they are no more historical than Jesus. Each historian presents his subjective conception and not objective history. Thus all history is reduced to personal preference and interpretation.

 

Relativism and Science
The process of relativism has begun to erode confidence in the reality of scientific absolutes. What were once viewed as objective scientific laws which man discovered by observation and experimentation have now been relativized. This was unavoidable once atheism was adopted as the beginning assumption.

Premise: Since there is no God,
Conclusion: there are no absolutes.
Premise: Since there are no absolutes,
Conclusion: everything is relative.
Premise: Since everything is relative,
Conclusion: science is relative.             

In one debate with an atheist, I asked, “What is a scientific ‘law’ or ‘law of nature’ to you?” He replied that a “law” is a statement written on a piece of paper which represents the ability of the human mind to order reality according to its wishes. There are no objective or absolute laws per se in the universe, so the order that we see in the world is a projection of our minds. 

There are no scientific absolutes.7

It was, of course, inevitable that once the laws of God were jettisoned, the laws of nature would soon follow. Western science was originally built upon the assumption that an orderly God had made an orderly universe which ran according to laws He had placed in it at creation. These laws were absolute because they were the laws of an absolute God. On one occasion, Einstein was asked how he knew the speed of light in a vacuum was the same everywhere in the universe. He replied, “God does not play dice with this world.” His answer was the same as that which Isaac Newton would have given. All scientific absolutes depend on the existence of an absolute God who upholds them throughout the universe.

The rise of relativism in quantum mechanics and modern physics has called all absolutes into question. Not even mathematics has been spared. Now there are no absolutes in math. Lee Carter, who wrote a handbook for atheists to use when debating theists, asserts:

There are, then, no such things as eternal and necessary truths of arithmetic and geometry…. There are many possible systems of arithmetic and geometry… But such mathematical propositions are only statements about the system we have set up.8

Carter is saying that 2 + 2 = 4 is true only because we arbitrarily set it up that way. We could make 2 + 2 = 55 if we wanted. There are no absolutes in math because everything is relative.

Science is now being defined in terms of subjective preference and cultural bias. The cancer of relativism has destroyed the soul of science.9 The full implications of the relativization of Western science, however, are just beginning to manifest themselves. We now face an acute shortage of math and science teachers in the public schools. Students graduate from high school unable to solve the simplest mathematical problems. Very few young people have any desire to enter science as a career. The Western world’s edge on technology has almost disappeared. The ultimate economic consequences of this decline may prove catastrophic for the Western world.

 

Relativism and Logic
The last bastion of absolutes was logic. But this too has been consumed by the same irresistible progress of unbelief that destroyed absolutes in all other fields.

Premise: Since there is no God,
Conclusion: there are no absolutes.
Premise: Since there are no absolutes,
Conclusion: everything is relative.
Premise: Since everything is relative,
Conclusion: logic is relative.      
       
Modern atheists are somewhat schizophrenic at this point. On the one hand, when confronted by a theistic argument that is logically valid, Carter advises young atheists to say, “Actually, logic is whatever people find to be convincing; and just as our concepts of nature have changed over the years, so have our concepts of the laws of logic.”10 He then dismisses Aristotle’s law of contradiction “as childish sophistry” and goes on to relativize all logic by claiming that logic is a matter of personal preference. What is logical to me may not be logical to him. It is all relative.

On the other hand, when trying to refute the theistic proofs, the same modern atheists will suddenly reverse themselves and appeal to the absolute laws of logic. For example, when refuting theism, Carter will point out the invalid use of tautologies and other laws of logic (which he has declared relative).11 On one page, he considers Aristotle’s logic as “childish sophistry,” while on another he employs it as the absolute truth!

Modern atheists never seem to realize that if there are no absolutes, then they cannot say theism is absolutely wrong. If there are no absolutes in history, science or logic, then it is impossible to say that history, science or logic refute Christianity. If everything is relative then theism is historically, scientifically and logically true to those who want it to be true. Atheists cannot objectively say that theism is false, for they deny objectivity. The irrational character of unbelief manifests itself most clearly in this issue. For example, how can atheists insist the law of contradiction to be invalid when they must use it to deny its validity? To declare “the law of contradiction is false” proves that the law is true.

If everything is relative, then all the arguments ever developed against the theistic proofs are invalid because they try to show that the theistic proofs are objectively or logically false. For if, as they claim, there is no objective truth, then there is no objective nontruth!

If modern atheists were consistent, they would say, “If the theistic proofs are logically valid to you, they are logically valid. If they are not logically valid to me, then they are not logically valid. It makes no difference. Logic is purely a matter of personal preference.” But modern atheists are not consistent because they would be out of business if they were. They would never get any royalties because they would never write books. They could never obtain any teaching positions because they would have nothing to teach their students.

The idea that truth is like a lump of formless clay which can be molded any way one desires does not provide any ammunition against theism. Where then do the atheists derive their arguments? They must temporarily function on the very theistic base they are trying to refute. They must argue as if there were absolute truth. They must appeal to absolute laws in science, history and logic. If they don’t do this, they can’t argue. But to do so shows that their atheism, materialism and relativism are fideistic (relying on faith alone) in nature because their beliefs cannot be “proved” unless they adopt theistic methodologies. When they appeal to absolutes to prove that there are no absolutes, they reveal that their position is fideistic.

Another problem faces unbelief at this point. By its assumption of relativism, it has placed itself beyond verification or falsification. Since there are no absolutes to appeal to, atheists cannot prove their position nor can others disprove it. Since verification and falsification are two of their chief arguments against theism, on the basis of what they themselves believe, atheism is erroneous.

When someone points out the logical errors in their system, they can reply, “Logic is relative. I simply don’t accept your rules of logic. I made up my own rules today and I am logical according to my rules. There are no absolutes in logic.” The same fate awaits any attempt to point out the numerous historical or scientific errors in atheistic writings. The errors are dismissed as unimportant because “Everything is relative” or “It is only your personal opinion.” In this way, the atheist cannot be refuted.

Of course, even if someone says there are no absolutes, he cannot live without absolutes. For instance, he must pay the proper amount at the check-out counter. Imagine him trying to convince the retailer that “everything is relative” and thus he will give the clerk one dollar for an item marked 25 dollars, and demand 150 dollars in change! In the same vein, who is going to jump off a ten-story building because the law of gravity is only relative?

The statement “Everything is relative” is not only unlivable, it is self-refuting, because it is always given as an absolute. (One student countered his infidel professor who had just said that everything was relative by asking him if he were absolutely sure of that!) “Everything is relative” is like the statement “Everything I say is a lie”; if everything I say is a lie, then the statement itself is a lie. My declaration means I must actually be someone who tells the truth. But if I always tell the truth, then how can I say that everything I say is a lie? The proposition is nonsense because it refutes itself.

The theist, however, is not fideistic because his faith is open to verification or falsification. When he states that the Bible is historically true, he means that it can be either verified or disproven by archaeological evidence. When the infidel Sir William Ramsey decided to disprove the reliability of the Bible, he went to the Middle East to do archaeological research. If the Bible were true he would find the evidence for such cities as Lystra, Derbe, etc., which were unknown at that time. But, on the other hand, if such cities never existed, then the Bible was false. His discoveries verified the reliability of the Bible so strongly that he later became a Christian.12

Of course, most modern atheists will not accept any refutation from objective facts, even if they are empirical evidence from archaeology. In one of my radio debates with an atheist, the atheist argued that Nazareth did not exist because it was not mentioned by Josephus or the Talmud. I pointed out that:

  1. She was arguing from silence, which is a logical fallacy. She was being irrational in her argument.
  2. Neither Josephus nor the Talmud attempt to mention every city, town and village in Israel. Why should they mention a small village such as Nazareth?
  3. Nazareth was mentioned in the New Testament which was written in the first century according to the empirical and internal evidence.13
  4. The Nazareth Stone, bearing a decree by Claudius, was discovered in 1878. It can be dated a.d. 41-54.14

The atheist’s response was instructive. She did not care if she was illogical in arguing from silence. As to the archaeological evidence I offered, she responded that “anybody can dig up a stone and call it whatever they want.” She simply swept aside the archaeological evidence!

While someone can say that the laws of logic are relative and need not be followed, he must nonetheless use those laws to say it. Logic is essential to human thought and communication. The law of contradiction has an ontological (based upon an analysis of the nature of being) basis in the nature of the God who “cannot lie,” and in the nature of man who was made in God’s image. Since modern atheism is fideistic in nature, it has therefore become the task of the theists to defend logic, reason and science.15

Of course, there is an appearance of reason in modern atheistic writings. When the typical modern atheist is refuting the theistic arguments, he will appeal to logic, reason and science because the arguments he is using came from the eighteenth and nineteenth century philosophers who believed in such absolutes. But when forced to defend his relativism, the modern atheist reveals that he believes there are no absolutes in logic, reason or science!
Modern atheists are thus in a hopeless situation. The only way they can refute the theistic proofs is by using old Kantian arguments which are based on absolutes which atheists no longer accept. It is a classic Catch-22 situation.

This is an excerpt from The New Atheism and the Erosion of Freedom by Robert Morey