Logic’s Inductive Foundation

Christianity has long been guilty of claiming invention and ownership of everything considered virtuous in society. Here are just a few examples.

  • Morality: After centuries of divinely-sanctioned genocide, rape and slavery, Christians tell us that these things are now immoral while thumping the very Bible containing conflicting examples. I actually had one Christian tell me that the Golden Rule had no moral force until Jesus uttered it.
  • The Institution of Marriage: Most of the best known “godly” characters of the Holy Bible were polygamous without any complaints from Jehovah, yet Christians have now emphatically stated that God had always intended monogamy to be the only proper sexual union.
  • Science: While both Catholics and Protestants for centuries asserted on conclusive hermeneutic “evidence” the Earth to be the center of the universe, Christians now claim that the Bible has always served as a foundation for science. Imagine trying to get research funded during the age when the Pope, Luther or Calvin reigned.
  • Medicine: During the time the Bible was the core of European society, those who dared to suggest that plagues were anything other than the direct hand of God were considered heretical. Now Christians are claiming that modern medicine was a Christian innovation. If only faith-healers were banned from hospitals…

Could Christians get any more arrogant? Yes they could.

They could suggest that logic belongs to Christianity. Here is a quote from one Christian.

Remember, you said that you are a materialist. Logic is immaterial. You can’t account for it, nor is it logical for you to assume that it works. Nor is it logical for you to try and use logic in order to demonstrate the validity of logic.

The difference between us is that you don’t have any basis upon which to first assume the value of logic and science (which require an orderly universe to work). I do because my world view starts with an absolute God creating an orderly universe. You must borrow the presupposition of order in order to put any trust in logic and the scientific method. If you didn’t assume order you would have no way of knowing whether logic and science were reliable.

It is as if he believes that logic had to have a divine stamp-of-approval before it could be of any service to us. And because so much of this Christian’s ideology is based on unsubstantiated assumptions, he over-projects and decides that my confidence in logic is also a product of blind assumption. It is not.

We acquire logic because it works. What works need not be logical or require the assumption of cosmic order; it just needs to work. As infants we, through induction, discover heuristics of inquiry that produce results. These results include explanatory and predictive power that children then use to avoid danger, plan, accomplish goals, and expand their web of knowledge. Children do not need a deity to walk up and tell then to use logic and that they need to assume order. Logic works. Our expectations of further order and successes of logic are warranted through inductive assessment. Our confidence in logic is not prior to its testing. It is subsequent to inductively assessing its efficacy. And logic quickly becomes an integral tool in the life the every healthy human child. It needs no divine sponsor. It works. That is what it is used for, and that is enough. Should logic ever begin to fail, so would also my confidence in logic. My confidence is based on the inductive assessment of the efficacy of logic to produce explanatory and predictive power. My degree of confidence in logic is only warranted to the degree that logic works. Logic works impressively well. Therefore, my confidence in logic, while not absolute, is quite high.

Now, is logic immaterial? Let me introduce another parallel question. Are economic concepts immaterial?

If you conclude that the concept of “an economy” is immaterial, then let me ask next whether you believe the concept of “an economy” is supernatural. Most unmedicated individuals think not. So then we have 3 logically possible categories: 1) material, 2) immaterial and 3) supernatural.

Now let’s assess what we mean by the “immaterial” essence of the concept of “an economy”. Is there any component of “an economy” that does not map to a physical substrate? For example, does a recession have any other cause other than material causes? Most economists would emphatically object to a belief that there was. So if there is nothing about “an economy” that does not map to a material substrate, what can we then conclude about the nature of the concept of “an economy”? We must conclude that our use of “immaterial” to describe such a concept is quite distinct from the notion of “supernatural” and needs no deity to sustain it.

Can the concept of “an economy” exist outside a mind? No. A mind is required to abstract out of all the many material data points a higher level mental concept that the mind then tags as “an economy”. When there is no mind around to abstract higher level concepts out of the material substrate, there are no higher level concepts, but only their potential. So we can conclude that this second category of “immaterial” is wholly dependent on a) a material substrate, and b) the container of an abstracting mind. Therefore, this second category we can legitimately tag “mental entities”, a term I prefer to “immaterial entities” to avoid confusion and equivocation. Keep in mind that these mental entities are not supernatural, nor do they require the blessing of a deity to exist.

So also with logic. The material world around us acts in a predictable way. This is the physical logic from which we abstract our mental logic. Two things cannot exist in the same location. (Sorry physicists, but this is a metaphysics 101 lesson.) Our minds abstract from the limits of our material world the material logic that we can then effectively apply to, not only all physical instantiations, but also to an instantiation of mental concepts. It works. Logical concepts are mental concepts emergent of the abstracting activity of a mind. They are not handed to us as a priori concepts by Jehovah, but are acquired though the process of induction. And arguing through a logical mechanism that has inductively demonstrated its efficacy for the legitimacy of that very logic is entirely legitimate. In this there is no a priori assumption employed, but rather the warrant of inductively determined efficacy. If you were to ask any man in a crowd his age, and he gave you an age along with the verbal reassurance that he was telling you the truth, you would have no warrant in believing him. However, if you asked the age of a friend who had never told you a lie in over 20 years, and he assured you he was 35, you are warranted in feeling confident that he was indeed 35.

Don’t let Christians suggest that logic is their baby. It is ironic that they do, for if it were their baby, I’d report them for the many instances of child abuse in which they have consciously dropped logic on its head.

So the comment of the Christian above is correct. It is not logical for us to assume that logic works. Let’s stop assuming. We’ll just have to inductively test its efficacy. Let’s also do so with our pet gods. Simply add up all the claims of your god, then assess reality to gauge the efficacy of those claims. There is really no sense in a priori assumptions when we have all the tools we need to critically assess the truth of those claims. Let’s limit our epistemological tools to what works.


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