Monday, 3 March 2014

The law of excluded middle

I have noticed over the last wee while that atheists, agnostics and other kinds of unbelievers very often flaunt ignorance as a virtue and they vilify claims of knowledge as arrogance. When evidence of the existence of God is presented they retreat to "I don't know, and it's arrogant for anyone to think they do. We don't know what discoveries might be made that will overturn everything you claim to know." Now the first thing I want to say on this is it is completely disingenuous. They only function that way when the evidence points toward the God of scripture. When anything comes to light that they think supports evolution, undermines scripture or attacks Christianity they jump on it with gusto. Furthermore, when it comes to other theories and conclusions about science and history they are prepared to believe what is well supported evidentially and act accordingly; they don't withhold judgment saying that something could come along and overturn all this - "I don't buy in to this theory, there could be some other explanation..." It shows they aren't guided by reason and evidence at all, despite all their big claims. But, what I want to show here is that when it comes to some of the arguments for Christianity they cannot retreat to some unknown option - there is none. This is where the law of excluded middle comes in.

The law of excluded middle is a law that states that something is either A or not-A. So, I'm looking at the mug sitting on my desk just now, suppose I said, "This mug either has coffee in it or it doesn't. Which is it?" You could say you don't know, but you couldn't complain that I'm limiting the options!

So what? Well, a couple of weeks ago I was listening to a debate between a Christian (David Robertson) and an atheist (Matt Dillahunty) on the Unbelievable? Radio show. David Robertson was laying out some reasons why he is not an atheist, and he brought up the origin of the universe. He said that there are three options: the universe eternally existed, it came into existence without a cause, or it came into existence from a cause. Matt's response? Why are you limiting it to those three options? There could be some other option we haven't thought of yet. Well, sorry, Matt - there is not / cannot be another option, because of the law of excluded middle. Either the universe eternally existed or it didn't. If it didn't then it either it had a cause or it didn't. There are no other possible options, so Matt can wait for some other option to come along if he wants, but he can't do it while claiming to be logical and reasonable. If you are a logical person then you will realise those are the only three options and you will pick the only reasonable one - the universe has a cause.

The same thing is true when it comes to the idenity of the Lord Jesus. Jesus of Nazareth claimed to be the Son of God. He either was or wasn't. If He wasn't He either thought He was or He didn't think He was. If He thought He was then He was insane, if He didn't think He was then He was a liar. This gives us C. S. Lewis's famous trilemma - liar, lunatic or Lord. There is no other option, and when we look at those three options there's only one plausible one - He is Lord.

Again, the same is true for the resurrection. The disciples claimed to have been with the risen Christ. They were either right or wrong. If they were wrong then they either thought they were right or knew they were wrong. But when you consider their claim - He is risen, we were with Him numerous times, handled Him, ate with Him, etc. and He is the Son of God, worthy of worship, the sole way of salvation, etc. - you can see they couldn't have been mistaken and they wouldn't have been lying. This leaves the option they were right - He is risen.

So don't let unbelievers retreat to some empty shelter of ignorance. Hold their feet to the fire and present the only logically possible options, and present to them the only reasonable option - God exists, Jesus Christ is His Son, and He is risen from the dead.