I recently saw a person in an online philosophy discussion pose the question “Can we prove that logic applies to reality?” Such are questions that give philosophers a bad name amongst non-philosophers who view topics like this as worse than the flat earth society and alien abductions, and dismiss them as musings of rich college students with not enough to do. Perhaps they are correct. Others, such as postmodernists, new agers, and pantheists readily embrace the non-logic of the entire universe, and are ready to give us a logical argument why this is so.
Let us put the question before us: Can we prove that logic applies to reality?
This question asks us to accept the premise that we are trying to start with a question in our mind and get to reality. The questions starts with a pure idea, namely the question of whether we can prove that logic applies to reality, and tries to apply this pure idea it to reality. We cannot do this, however. If we start with a mental problem separated from reality, we will always have a mental problem and will not be able to get to the real world. If we start only in the mind, we will end up there. Further, with the question at hand, it is impossible to prove the contradictory, that logic does not apply to reality. So the question puts the burden of proof onto us, and it is impossible to prove, for we merely have a mental problem separated from reality. We might as well be asking, “Can we apply the concept of four to reality, before we apply it to reality?” Any supposed demonstration that logic applies to reality has to use reality to prove it, which is the question in the first place, so any response will be circular and invalid.
If we start with pure mental problems, we will be forever locked in our minds. To make conclusions about what is real, we must start with reality and derive meaning, not the other way around. If we start with thought problems and try to get to reality, we will fail and forever be locked in our minds.
A similar question is sometimes applied to some of the proofs for the existence of God. The Kalam Cosmological Argument is as follows:
1. Everything that has a beginning has a cause.
2. The universe had a beginning.
3. Therefore the universe had a cause.
I have had some atheists object to the first premise on the grounds that we cannot prove the premise applies to reality. The objection, as posed by some atheists, goes something like this: Can you prove that everything that has a beginning needs a cause? I think you might be inventing the idea and applying it to the world. Can you prove to me that causality applies to reality? If you cannot prove it, it is an unsupported premise.
The first premise is built upon the law of causality that says that every effect requires a cause. By definition, an effect is something that is caused, and a cause is something that produces an effect. We cannot get away from these basic definitions without either redefining what we are talking about or going into absurdity.
Well, if we view the law of causality as a mental concept separated from reality, then we have by definition done just that: separated it from reality. In such a case, the atheist’s question has started with a mental problem and will always remain there. Such might be an interesting mental puzzle, but the atheist has paid a high price for his skepticism. He has forever locked himself into his mind and cannot draw conclusions in the real world. I suspect he does not use this degree of skepticism with more mundane things like his dealings with the bank teller or the IRS auditor, but only when we are talking about a God that applies moral standards to one’s life.
But if we accept that a real world exists and derive our premise from it, then premise 1 is perfectly valid. We start from the real world and draw from it both premise 1 and the law of causality that is behind it. Premise 1 of the Kalam Argument is not proved by starting with pure mental questions and trying to apply them to reality, for no question on any topic can make this leap. Rather, premise 1 is derived by accepting that the real world exists and we can know things about it.
Further, it does no good to deny premise 1 by using induction, namely, by saying that we have not observed every event, therefore we cannot know that every event requires a cause. First, the contradictory is impossible to prove, namely that there are some events that do not have causes. Second, an event is by definition something that is caused, and a cause something that creates an event, so the subjects and actions are true by definition. We cannot equivocate in mid-discussion and change what we are talking about. If the conversation is about causes and events, we cannot then say that some events might not be caused, for that is not what we are talking about.
Therefore we hold that the first premise of the Kalam Argument is valid, and the argument is a good demonstration of a first cause. This we call God.