The Impossible, Possible TruthDear friend...
Truth and logic are self evident. Foundationally, all humans beings know that true and false perceptions and statements exist. We also know certain principles of proper inference (which we refer to as the 'laws of thought' or 'laws of logic') to be self evidently true. To claim otherwise is to make a truth claim, and is therefore self refuting.
But how do we account for the fact that we all know truth and logic? That is the question, and to address it we can simply address the matter of how 'truth alone' is knowable, because the laws of logic presuppose truth.
When it can be shown that accounting for truth (ontologically) is impossible according to one's worldview, it then becomes inconsistent and self refuting for one who holds such a worldview to make truth claims (epistemologically).
For example: if truth is impossible within atheistic worldviews, the atheist 'ought not' make truth claims, as doing so refutes his own worldview.
And indeed, it can be shown that truth (knowledge thereof) is logically impossible in a world where God does not exist. This is the case for numerous reasons, several of which we will demonstrate as follows...
The Atheistic Account For Truth
1. It is logically impossible to account for truth purely via human nature.
In an atheistic (materialistic or naturalistic) timeline, the only potential account by which truth could have been 'discovered' or become known is purely through man's own mental faculties (i.e., human nature). So the obvious question is this: could truth have been discovered through man's own mental faculties?
To 'discover' the answer to this question when 'left to one's own devies' is logically impossible, because it invariably leads to fallacious circular reasoning. One is forced to beg the question by assuming that his mental faculties (e.g., perception, reasoning, etc.) lead him to true conclusions, in order to conclude, 'It is true that my mental faculties lead me to true conclusions.' The conclusion cannot be known, because it can only be reached by presupposing the very thing in question. To further illustrate, consider the following argument:
Premise 1. If my mental faculties 'work', then they lead me to true conclusions.
Premise 2. My mental faculties work.
Conclusion 3. Therefore, they lead me to true conclusions.
...While the form of this argument is valid, it is unsound because it rests on circular reasoning. What the first premise really says is this: if my mental faculties lead me to true conclusions (i.e., if they work), then they lead me to true conclusions. Thus, the conclusion of the argument is granted in the premise. This is analogous to making a homemade ruler (measuring device), and then using the same ruler in an attempt to determine its accuracy; simply impossible.
When the atheist appeals to 'what works' (pragmatism), they commit fallacious circular reasoning on several levels. Firstly, they're assuming that 'what works' could have originated in a reality where 'discovering truth' is logically impossible (as shown here). Secondly, they are employing their mental faculties - the very thing in question - to assert that their mental faculties work, thus falling into the same vicious circle that makes truth impossible via their worldview.
2. It is logically impossible to account for truth without pre-existing truth.
One of the self evident 'rules' of logic is that in order to reach a sound conclusion, one must (ultimately) begin with premises that are known to be true. To illustrate this critical point, consider the following syllogism (deductive argument):
Premise 1. All men are mortal.
Premise 2. Socrates is a man.
Conclusion 3. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.
...If the two premises above were merely abitrary assumptions such as would have to be the case with all premises in a 'pre-truth atheistic existence', it would be logically impossible to even begin to evaluate the truth of the conclusion, let alone deduce it. Thus, truth could never become known.
So here again truth cannot be accounted for via atheistic worldviews where it would necessarily have to come about from a complete absence of all truth and knowledge.
Now, because we have logically shown that it is impossible to account for truth via atheism, it follows that the atheist cannot rationally apeal to truth and knowledge if he wishes to remain consistent with his own worldview. The atheist 'ought to' deny truth and knowledge altogether.
(It should be noted that there are numerous additional arguments as to why it is logically impossible for truth to come about via an atheistic existence. These arguments involve Hume's problem of induction, solipsism, determinism, etc.)
The Biblical Account For Truth
Be reminded that the question at hand is not whether truth is known. Of course we know certain things to be (self evidently) true. E.g., we know it to be absolutely true that we're not dead hamsters in a cage. To claim otherwise reduces to complete absurdity (reductio ad absurdum).
Again, the question is this: how do we account for the fact that we know certain things to be absolutely true? In direct constrast to atheistic worldviews, the Biblical worldview offers an entirely rational, viable account for truth. This can be demonstrated in numerous ways, several of which are as follows...
1. Truth ultimately derives from God's true nature (vs. human nature).
'Reveal: Make (something) known to humans by divine or supernatural means.'
In the Biblical worldview, it is God who enables man's awareness of foundational truths (e.g., the laws of logic). That is, our 'first truths' are necessarily revealed rather than reasoned to. This is a critical point, because it circumvents the impossibility of discovering truth via one's own mental faculties...
The problem of fallacious circular reasoning is resolved because reasoning does not apply to that which is (necessarily) revealed to be true. Fallacious circular reasoning only applies when one is reasoning from a premise to a conclusion; it is committed when one grants or implies what they're trying to conclude in the premise.
The only 'circularity' involved under this account is that we're utilizing foundational truth (e.g., logic) to discuss it. But this is not a fallacious form of circularity, because we're not making an argument for the validity of truth by attempting to reason our way to it. Rather, we're identifying that certain truths are 'innately' known by all mankind, and we're providing a rational account for how this is possible (in other words, truth itself is not 'in question'). This type of circularity is sometimes referred to as 'virtuous' circularity.
Interestingly, it is self refuting for the atheist to claim that 'utilizing self evident truth to give an account for how we know it' is viciously circular. To claim viciously circularity in this instance implies that truth is not self evident and must therefore be reasoned to (in order to be known). But of course, truth cannot be reasoned to because reasoning begins with truth. Thus, the atheist must deny truth altogether on the basis that A) they do not hold it to be self evident and B) cannot reason their way to it without presupposing it, thereby begging the question.
Thus, we have a viable, non circular basis - an underlying framework - for all 'novel' truth and knowledge gained via reasoning, investigation, testing, and so forth. Our foundation of truth, and in turn everything we truly know, is an extension of God's nature which transcends the plane (or 'circle') of human nature. Revisting our homemade ruler analogy, God-imparted truth is analogous to checking the accuracy of one's newly made homemade ruler against an 'external ruler' that is perfectly true and accurate (ie., the perfect standard).
Meanwhile, the atheist is left to his own devices: his personal, subjective human nature and mental faculties. Every truth claim that he makes, while not actually fallacious in accordance with the Biblical worldview (because we all know truth), remains an appeal to fallacious circular reasoning according to his own worldview.
There is simply no 'logical barrier' to God-enabled truth:
Premise 1. If it is logically possible to know truth, and God can do all that is logically possible, then God can enable truth.
Premise 2. It is logically possible to know truth, and God can do all that is logically possible.
(i. To argue that God cannot do all that is logically possible is to commit a straw man argument.)
Conclusion 3. Therefore, God can enable us to know truth.
2. Truth derives from pre-existing truth via omniscient God.
As previously demonstrated, truth can only come about via pre-existing truth. That is to say, truth begets truth...
The source of pre-existing truth must be eternal. 'All truth' would have otherwise had a beginning, meaning that it would be premised on a total absence of truth - thus making truth impossible (as previously outlined). Secondly, this pre-existing, eternal source of truth must have a mind (denoting a being), because truth is conceptual. Thirdly, this pre-existing, eternal being must be immutable; if the foundation of truth itself could change, one could never truly know anything from one moment to the next. Fourthly, this pre-existing, eternal, immutable being must be omniscient; because any 'unknown thing' would put the 'truth' of what is otherwise known in question (thus negating its truth value).
This eternal, immutable, omniscient being - the source of all truth and knowledge - accurately describes God. It is fascinating to realize that the inherent nature, characteristics, and requirements (of and) for truth directly reflect the very nature and characteristics of God. It is equally fascinating to note that Jesus revealed to the world that he is the very embodiment of truth itself, when he stated:
'I am The Way, The Truth, and The Life.' - John 14:6
The atheist's dilemma of not being able to account for truth derived via a 'pre-truth existence' is easily resolved in the Biblical worldview.
Predicted Objections Addressed
Objection 1. When confronted with this argument, the atheist will often claim that while our account for truth may be viable if we 'presuppose' God's existence, it is not convincing because we've not 'proven' God himself. What they fail to realize (or concede) is that what's being presented is the proof. We have shown that atheistic worldviews cannot account for the fact that we know truth. Secondly, while a great deal more could be shown, we have reasonably shown that the Biblical God is necessasry to account for truth. No other worldview satisfies 'the requirements of truth'.
Furhermore, the atheist cannot rationally deny the points and arguments that have been presented without abandoning his own atheism. To deny the argument is to make a truth claim, which contradicts the atheist's worldview and is therefore self refuting.
Objection 2. The atheist may assert that the core argument commits circular reasoning because it 'assumes' God's existence in the premise. However, this again is a significant misunderstanding of the argument, which in actuality is premised on truth:
Premise 1. If truth exists, then God (necessarily) exists.
Premise 2. Truth exists.
Conclusion 3. Therefore, God exists.
Now, indeed we can 'presuppose' God because his existence is (also) self evidently known. All men know that God exists and are without excuse. In a sense, to presuppose truth is to simultaneously presuppose God, because truth is part of God's nature...
'For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen...' - Romans 1:20
All men know truth, and no man can know truth without knowing God's nature. So while a deductive argument is not needed to 'prove God', it is still interesting and worthwhile to present a deductive argument that renders truth impossible in the atheistic worldview, and inevitable in the Biblical worldview.
Objection 3. The atheist may assert that the argument commits circular reasoning on the basis that we're using truth and logic to 'prove' truth and logic. This is also a misunderstanding of the argument. We are not arguing for the validity of truth and thereby committing a fallacious circular argument (by employing truth to 'prove' truth). As was explained, truth cannot be 'proven' by means of reasoning because reasoning presupposes truth. Nor is it necessary to prove that we know foundational truths (e.g., the laws of logic); they're self evidenty true. What we're doing is applying the truth and logic that we all know in order to A) show that truth cannot be accounted for via atheistic belief systems and B) that truth can be accounted for via the Biblical worldview.
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