Stranger Fruit

It goes something like this

  1. Reasoning involves using the laws of logic.
  2. Laws of logic are God’s standard for thinking.
  3. The atheist’s view cannot be rational because he uses things (laws of logic) that cannot exist according to his profession.

I have made you dumber by having you read this. Wow.


  1. #1 Thony C.
    October 11, 2007

    Does God also think in n-valued Polish logics?

  2. #2 Ian
    October 11, 2007

    So what’s the logic behind all those “kinds” of beetles, I wonder?!

  3. #3 Alejandro
    October 11, 2007

    The argument sure looks dumb in its AiG incarnation, that assumes straight away that logic is God’s standard; but it’s certainly not the dumbest argument against atheism. The question of how the principles of logic that at first glance seem abstract, unchanging, all-applicable and a priori knowable can fit in a materialist ontology is not trivial. It is not a sound argument, of course; there are many ways an atheist can answer the challenge, including the denial of several or all the characteristics I listed. But compared to “if we come from monkeys why are there still monkeys” or “the Bible is God’s word because it says so in the Bible”, this one does not come even close.

  4. #4 oku
    October 11, 2007

    I think it is not important for someone buying that argument if it makes sense. It is enough that someone with a ‘Dr.’ in his name states that he thinks it does.

  5. #5 Hermagoras
    October 11, 2007

    I thought the following sentence, in the AiG argument, was odd: “You can’t stub your toe on a law of logic.” Odd not because it’s in the middle of an illogical argument but because it’s precisely the reverse of Samuel Johnson’s argument against idealism. If you believe Boswell:

    After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley’s ingenious sophistry to prove the nonexistence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it — “I refute it thus.”

    Apparently you can make any point at all with a stubbed toe.

  6. #6 WTFWJD
    October 11, 2007

    “Laws of logic are God’s standard for thinking.”

    Huh? I read the bible twice (without cheating). This idiot is a total jerk. Or a liar.

  7. #7 Cuttlefish
    October 11, 2007

    God’s Logic

    The orbits of the planets
    In their paths around the Earth
    Are circular–it must be true
    If logic has its worth.

    The circle, you must understand
    Is God’s Most Perfect Shape;
    If orbits are elliptical,
    Why, Man is but an ape.

    If circles are God’s favorites,
    Why not in logic, too?
    Assuming your conclusions
    Is the Holy thing to do!

    When I assume that God exists
    And Logic is his tool,
    An atheist who tries to use
    God’s methods is a fool.

    When I assume that Logic is
    The tool of the devout,
    My argument is clear:
    IF garbage in, THEN garbage out.

  8. #8 Geoff Wozniak
    October 11, 2007

    I have made you dumber by having you read this.

    Gee, thanks. I’m trying to write a paper here…

  9. #9 BigHeathenMike
    October 11, 2007

    Argument against tasty Italian Sausages:

    1. I, an atheist, love sausages.

    2. Sausages are created using God’s ingredients.

    3. I, therefore, cannot love sausages as they are made of things I don’t believe in.

    Damn, I really loved those things.

  10. #10 Joseph Fredette
    October 11, 2007

    If “[The] Laws of logic are God’s standard for thinking.” Why don’t creationists use them more often?

  11. #11 John C. Randolph
    October 11, 2007

    Let’s see… I get two unsupported premises in step two: the premise that a god exists, and the premise that if it exists, it adheres to logic as a “standard”.

    Anyone spot any others?


  12. #12 Jose Celestino
    October 11, 2007

    Guess argumentation is not creationist’s strong point. Seems they were not that inteligently designed.

  13. #13 WJZ
    October 11, 2007

    “You can’t stub your toe on a law of logic.”

    *shakes head*

  14. #14 Greg Peterson
    October 11, 2007

    I would ask if the laws of logic are logical because God thinks them, or if God thinks them because they are logical. If they are logical because God thinks them, then they are purely subjective and could have been otherwise. If God thinks them because they are logical, then logic exists apart from God, and God is unnecessary to logic. Easy to refute? Bite me, Christer.

  15. #15 George
    October 11, 2007

    Long ago the idea that there must be a creator (god) can be understood to be compelling. As the knowledge of the natural world has grown, it is clear there is no god present anywhere and no need to for god.

    I will not be so arrogant to say that proves there is no god, but belief at this put must leave the natural world and be based solely on faith

    The stupidity of these arguments shows the shear and utter desparation of some believers to find evidence of god in the natural world. It must be hard and frustrating to believe something that has no evidence.

  16. #16 Reed A. Cartwright
    October 11, 2007

    That sounds a lot like Presuppositional Apologetics.

  17. #17 Joe mc Faul
    October 11, 2007

    “God cannot deny Himself.”–AIG

    “God is omnipotent.”–AIG

  18. #18 Michael
    October 11, 2007

    In response to Alejandro, above: the stupidity of the argument has nothing to do with deep questions about logic (e.g., the question of how logic manages to hook onto the world.) That is because the argument itself has absolutely nothing to do with logic. Indeed, given the structure of the argument, the mention of logic is superfluous.

    Here is a reconstruction of the argument:

    Premise 1: Reasoning involves logic
    Premise 2: God invented logic
    Conclusion: God exists

    Now premise 2 includes the presupposition that God exists, and is therefore sufficient to establish the inclusion. This means that premise 1 can be ditched entirely, since premise 2 is doing the work on its own. Once this is done, the mention of logic in premise two is obviously superfluous, so that can be nixed as well. This leaves us with the following, far more svelte version of the argument:

    Premise: God exists
    Conclusion: God exists

    Everything else, of course, is just tacky window-dressing.

  19. #19 David Marjanović
    October 11, 2007

    Wow. Cuttlefish, your talent is divine!

  20. #20 Robert O'Brien
    October 11, 2007

    If they are logical because God thinks them, then they are purely subjective and could have been otherwise.

    I dispute this. Bite me, theomachos.

  21. #21 G
    October 11, 2007

    My brain asplode.

  22. #22 Pete
    October 11, 2007

    My head exploded, but Cuttlefish’s verse reversed the arrow of time and put everything back together.

    This reminds me of that idiot Egnor’s arguments…

  23. #23 Sal Mineo's Ghost
    October 11, 2007

    “The laws of logic are a reflection of the way God thinks.”

    If this crap is an example of the use of “the laws of logic”, then God must obviously be an idiot too. Or isn’t that logical?

    Pardon me while I retrieve my brains from the walls and ceiling.

  24. #24 Physicalist
    October 11, 2007

    Re: #18 (Michael) and the original post:

    I think the argument is more supposed to be along the following lines:

    1. There is no place for logic in a materialist ontology.

    2. Logic has a natural place in a non-materialistic theistic ontology.

    3. We can’t deny the existence (?) of logic, and such a denial would also go against the principles of rationality (so prized by the materialist).

    4. Therefore the theist position is to be preferred. It avoids a contradiction that cannot be avoided by the materialist.

    Here I tend to agree with Alejandro (#3): this argument is deeply misguided, but it’s not a challenge that a materialist should ignore.

    Here’s how I put it at PZ’s place:

    (from linked AIG page):

    How can the atheist account for absolute standards of reasoning like the laws of logic? How can non-material things like laws exist if the universe is material only?.

    One hears versions of this argument quite often, and I think it is a challenge that (we) materialists shouldn’t ignore: we need to articulate what materialism is (and isn’t) because there are many (otherwise intelligent) people, even in academia, who misunderstand the commitments of the materialist. And it is a real challenge to offer a consistent formulation of materialism or physicalism. It’s easy enough to deny the existence of ghosts, but what is one to say about laws, morals, etc.?

    Trying to work this difficulty into an argument for theism obviously fails, however, for it rests on a false dichotomy (the ever-present creationist argument from ignorance — bolstered by their seemingly endless ignorance . . .). The theist sees god as the objective source for morality, standards of reasoning, laws of science, etc. Then when one denies the existence of this (supposedly) objective source, they claim (and presumably believe) that the only other option is the adoption of a subjectivism or conventionalism in all these areas.

    But clearly there are other options: we should believe that the objective world (sans god) grounds all these facts objectively. But I do think it’s a real challenge to understand exactly how this works.

    Also, theists tend to help themselves far too quickly to premise #2 above. They often seem to think that postulating a god is good explanation for the mysteries of the world for the very reason that god is (intrinsically?) mysterious. As we understand more and more about the world, the theist claims “Ah, but you don’t understand everything! Therefore (!?) God is the best explanation for that which you don’t (yet?) understand.” Their view seems to be that total mystery is to be preferred to partial understanding. But this is, of course, an egregious epistemic error.

  25. #25 386sx
    October 11, 2007

    However, by embracing materialism, the atheist has destroyed the possibility of knowledge, as well as science and technology.

    Sorry doc, but that doesn’t sound like a sentence a “Dr.” should write.

    In other words, if atheism were true, it would be impossible to prove anything!

    Oh my garsh!!

  26. #26 shrimplate
    October 11, 2007

    If god is real and all-powerful, why are there no biblical stories involving time travel? Was god just… unimaginative?

    Why didn’t jeebus just go back to Eden to set that stupid snake straight? That would have been excellent, dudes.

  27. #27 deeks
    October 11, 2007

    Yes, and a ham sandwich is better than eternal happiness.
    Nothing is better than eternal happiness
    A ham sandwich is better than nothing
    Therefore, A ham sadwich is better than eternal happiness.

  28. #28 Physicalist
    October 11, 2007

    #26 (shrimplate):

    Was god just… unimaginative?

    He surely must be. I was recently arguing with a theist about whether the existence of laws of nature is a sign that the universe was designed. One of my points: the laws of physics are remarkably simple at the fundamental level; there’s no reason to think that their “designer” had to be intelligent. (“just . . . unimaginative” — chuckle)

  29. #29 JohnnieCanuck, FCD
    October 12, 2007


    If a god is omniscient, then it knows what happened, is happening and will happen, everywhere. If it is omnipotent, it can act anytime, anywhere. Now that’s time travel.

    Therefore at the moment the Biblical God created man and gave him the warning about the fruit of the tree of knowledge, he already knew He was going to evict them and punish them and their descendents for this Original Sin. He also knew he was going to flood the earth and kill all but eight people. He knew he was going to put Himself on a cross and not exactly die because He had to atone for what He knew His creation would do. He even knew how Rev. Gary Aldridge was going to die.

    As the triune god, Jesus was there in the garden. He chose to make no changes to His initial starting conditions, knowing precisely all the evil and suffering that would result.

    Satan on the other hand, is not omnipotent and therefore can do nothing against the will of God.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I think their god’s omniscience is why Calvinists emphasize that everything is predestined, including whether or not a baby is ultimately going to Hell.

    I’m not versed enough in theocracy to know how the problem of omniscience is ‘handled’ by apologists.

    Makes an atheist just shake his head and mutter at the folly and the incredible waste of time.

  30. #30 Zak Kroger
    October 12, 2007

    Naw, I’ve heard dumber.

    The worst I have EVER heard was that science proves God because of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle… and God is uncertain. LOL!

    You couldn’t make this stuff up!

  31. #31 John S. Wilkins
    October 12, 2007

    This is a version of an argument made by C. S. Lewis, which explains why I do not hold him in any high regard as a thinker.

  32. #32 bronco214
    October 12, 2007

    Topping everything else off, some where in the bible it says that man cannot know gods’ mind. How can this pissant know how his “god’s” thought processes work? Does “he” talk to him like “he” does to bush? Fifty years ago they locked people up who claimed to converse with “god”. Nowadays, they have their own tv shows, the better to fleece the more gullible.

  33. #33 Thony C.
    October 12, 2007

    Has anybody considered the consequences of this for the commentators on Science blogs?

    1)Laws of logic are God’s standard for thinking
    2)Caledonian only argues according to the laws of logic (or so he claims).
    3)Caledonian is God!

  34. #34 Dave Child
    October 12, 2007

    Aaargh! The stupid! It burns!

  35. #35 SmellyTerror
    October 12, 2007

    Evidence, once again, that stupidity is the ultimate defense in any argument. If you’re going to lose, just pretend to be – or actually be – too stupid to understand why you are wrong.

    It’ll be a draw every time.

  36. #36 Yuri
    October 12, 2007

    The question of how the principles of logic that at first glance seem abstract, unchanging, all-applicable and a priori knowable can fit in a materialist ontology is not trivial.

    It’s trivial to people who have some knowledge of mathematics and thus realize that there are an infinite set of logics, each with their own different sets of axioms. There is nothing unchanging, all-applicable, or a prior about logics. Scientists and mathematicians invent them as needed and choose to use whichever one is appropriate to the problem at hand, in the same way that they do with algebras, choosing a commutative algebra (xp = px) for classical mechanics while choosing a noncommutative algebra (xp != px, the basis of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle) for quantum mechanics.

  37. #37 Alejandro
    October 12, 2007


    I don’t think things are so simple. Suppose you take a set of logical axioms; let’s agree that the choice is arbitrary, or purely pragmatic, but that no set of axioms is inherently true or correct. How do you derive theorems within your logical system? You can set, besides the axioms, a list of “rules of inference” telling you how to derive conclusions from axioms. But then, how do you know how to apply correctly the rules of inference you’ve set? Etcetera…

    This is, of course, Lewis Carroll’s argument in the Achilles and Tortoise dialogue (, and its conclusion is that formalism can only take you so far: you will always be using, implicitly, some logical procedure you have not laid explicit in your axiomatic system. There may well be a way around this argument: but it seems far from trivial.

  38. #38 dogheaven
    October 12, 2007

    Comment#30 You said you heard a theist us the Uncertainty principle to bolster the argument for his belief in a god.
    Check out “common sense science”.
    These believers don’t believe in Quantum principals at all. They are making their own models with pretty graphics too. Read the bio’s on these guys. They are scarey. Some of them working with the DoD etc and degrees from good universities. So these believers are just all over the map when it comes to what science they accept and what they don’t. Its hard to pin down

    Johnnie at #29, “Makes an atheist just shake his head and mutter at the folly and the incredible waste of time.”

    Thats my biggest beef on the religious. If all that fervent energy and money that is currently wrapped up in religion (aka spinning wheels), we as a species could be making much more progress towards keeping our selves healthy and happy and not dead or hungry and maybe some progress for our friends, the other species too.

  39. #39 Dr.Dawg
    October 12, 2007

    Whatever happened to “‘Lo, what a fiend is here!’ said he: ‘One who sets reason up for judge Of our most holy mystery.” These people have come around 180 degrees!

  40. #40 bai
    October 13, 2007

    Digital Cuttlefish rocks. What a brilliant summary! 😀

  41. #41 Paul Crowley
    October 13, 2007

    Alejandro, Physicalist – I think you have hit the nail on the head. This argument takes what is genuinely a philosophical puzzler, and invokes the God of the Gaps to solve it. While the argument is entirely insubstantial, I could forgive someone who fell for it, while (as I said on Pharyngula’s comments) someone who falls for, say, Lord-Liar-Lunatic is showing that they have shut down their critical faculties altogether.

  42. #42 evagrius
    October 14, 2007

    What’s “logic”?

    That’s the first step.

    Then define “law” and “laws”.

    That’s the second step.

    So far, everyone has argued without defining these terms.

    Please elucidate.

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