Can quantum science, the laws of logic, and the Christian faith coexist? Yes, they can. In fact, Christian thinkers have historically made many significant contributions to the study and development of both science and logic.1
In the first two parts of this series, I briefly examined whether the experimental results of quantum mechanics (QM) invalidate the law of noncontradiction (LNC) and whether the laws of logic rule out a place for religious mystery (faith).
Here’s a summary of how I addressed these issues:
- In part 1 I explained in a social media dialogue with a scientist why the results of QM need not be interpreted to invalidate the LNC.
- In part 2 I explained that while the laws of logic don’t rule out mysteries of faith, the laws of logic are still considered necessary and inescapable because all thought, correspondence, and action presuppose their truth and application.
In this article I continue my social media dialogue with the scientist. This time we discuss the issue of whether there are other forms of logic besides Aristotelian logic. Sometimes the results of QM are interpreted along the lines of Eastern mystical religion, which has its own proposed logic.
Here’s my scientist friend’s comment:
I took a course in college logic. However, it is derived from the Greeks and Western thinking which is ingrained in our culture and society. However, in recent years, I have encountered Eastern views of reality and logic as well as modern efforts toward integrating Eastern and Western schools of thought.
Three Foundational Laws of Logic
Before we unpack my response to my scientist friend, let’s refresh our memory of the three foundational laws of logic (explained in more detail in part 1 of this series).2
1. The law of noncontradiction (LNC): A thing, A, cannot at once be and not be (A cannot equal A and equal non-A at the same time and in the same way); they are mutually exclusive (not both). A dog cannot be a dog and be a non-dog.
2. The law of excluded middle (LEM): A thing, A, is or it is not, but not both or neither (either A or non-A); they are jointly exhaustive—one of them must be true. There is no middle ground between a dog and a non-dog.
3. The law of identity (LI): A thing, A, is what it is (A is A). A dog is a dog.
I responded by saying that I think it is fair to say that the consensus of historic Christianity (philosophers and theologians) considers the three laws of thought (LNC, LEM, LI) as not just one version of logic but rather as the nature of reality. While these laws are sometimes referred to as “Aristotelian” or “Western” logic, in actuality Aristotle didn’t invent these laws. Rather, he discovered and formulated them. Yes, there are other forms of logic, especially Eastern, but these Eastern forms of logic usually reject the law of noncontradiction. (Western logic accepts an either-or differentiation, whereas Eastern logic affirms a both-and synthesis.)
The problem, however, is that the laws of logic are necessary for all rational people and must be universal to all cultures and worldviews. A person cannot significantly think, speak, or act without relying on the laws of logic (LNC, LEM, LI).3
Therefore, I recommended that my scientist friend approach Eastern logic with great discernment and critical analysis.
Here’s a way for you to summarize and use this lesson. While there are other approaches to logic than the three laws that Aristotle discovered and articulated (Western logic), Eastern approaches to logic usually deny the laws that make reality rational and intelligible.
Reflections: Your Turn
What happens to our thinking, speaking, and acting if the laws of logic are denied? Visit Reflections on WordPress to comment with your response.
- For studies in logic in the context of the Christian worldview, see Kenneth Richard Samples, A World of Difference: Putting Christian Truth-Claims to the Worldview Test, chapters 3 and 4.
- For more on how Christian thinkers have historically contributed to the disciplines of science and logic, see Kenneth Samples, “Five Ways Christianity Is Reasonable,” Reflections (blog), August 30, 2017, https://reflectionsbyken.wordpress.com/2017/08/30/five-ways-christianity-is-reasonable/.
- Kenneth Richard Samples, A World of Difference: Putting Christian Truth-Claims to the Worldview Test (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007), 42–44.
- See Ronald H. Nash, Life’s Ultimate Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999), chapter 8.