The Law of Non-Contradiction

(The Law of Non-Contradiction Argues for the God of the Bible and Against Atheism, Hinduism and Buddhism)

by Joshua Gurtler
First published in Biblical Insights Magazine, May, 2015

There is an argument for God that I would like for you to consider. This argument says that without the Christian world-view (which is simply the comprehensive belief system, as taught in the Bible), nothing in the world could make rational sense. This is based on three sets of natural laws supported in the scripture:

  1. Laws of Logic (e.g., the law of non-contradiction (LNC))
  2. Uniformity of Nature (Laws of nature, the preconditions of science)
  3. Laws of morality

This is known as the presuppositional approach to apologetics. No other world-view than that of the Bible, including atheism, Buddhism or Hinduism, can account for these three laws. In this article, we will only focus on a subgroup of Law #1, which is the law of non-contradiction (LNC). The LNC states that you cannot have A and not-A existing at the same time in the same relationship. Put into practice, the LNC means you cannot have an argument or statement that is self-contradictory (which includes lies). According to the LNC, I cannot affirm that my only dog is dead and simultaneously affirm that my only dog is alive.

Atheism Cannot Account for the Law of Non-Contradiction

Atheism is typically a belief firmly rooted in materialism. That is, atheism teaches that the material universe is all that exists. However, laws of logic and the LNC are non-material abstract laws that make no sense in an atheistic material universe. According to atheists, our universe and everything in it is a product of purposeless, non-guided, random chance accidents. There are numerous quotes where atheists affirm this.

"Such a hypothesis leads to a view of creation in which the entire universe is an accident. In Tyron's words, 'Our universe is simply one of those things which happen from time to time.'" [Dr. James Trefil, "The Accidental Universe," Science Digest, vol. 92 (June 1984), pp. 53-55, 100-101.]

Therefore, in a random chance, happenstance, accidental, unguided material universe, abstract, absolute physical laws would not exist. There is no reason that physical laws should exist and be consistently applied in all parts of an accidental universe. Nevertheless, our universe is extremely finely tuned (anthropic principle) by dozens of known unchangeable laws such as the strong and weak laws of gravity, Boyle's law, the four laws of thermodynamics, laws of electromagnetism, laws of photonics, laws of quantum mechanics, laws of electromagnetic radiation, laws of gravitation and relativity, etc. Laws, including the LNC, must come from a lawgiver, a mind, which must have preceded the material universe. God.

Hinduism Cannot Account for the Law of Non-Contradiction

Laws of logic and the LNC demand a rational reasoned response to a question, which assumes we can formulate reasonable answers by use of our senses. Hinduism, on the other hand, teaches the doctrine of Maya, which states that everything observed within normal human consciousness are simply illusions. Thus, we are trapped in a Hindu world of illusions where right is wrong, black is white, up is down, and the LNC is negated. Consider the following Hindu quotes:

"The world in which we live is also not very different from the hall of illusions we read about in the Mahabharata. We also live here enveloped by illusion, in a state of ignorance about ourselves, whereby we fail to discriminate between truth and falsehood, What is Truth? We all suffer from the grand illusion that what we know and experience through our senses is the truth and that we are capable of knowing the facts of our existence with the help of our minds and senses, whereas the truth is we cannot discern reality with our limited consciousness. We cannot answer the question about truth truthfully, because we do not know the answer. We may give an answer, some answer, but that answer would not be correct." [Accessed on 2-28-15 at http://www.hinduwebsite.com/maya.asp]

Contrast this with Jesus' teaching, which says we can know the truth:

"Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, 'If you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31-32).

Buddhism and Taoism Cannot Account for the Law of Non-Contradiction

Integral to the teaching of modern Buddhism and Taoism is the doctrine of contradiction. Both religions claim that contradictions are acceptable and should be incorporated in our reasoning, which denies the law of non-contradiction.

Dr. Greg Bahnsen (historic apologist who was a known master of these arguments) used to say that if anyone denied the law of non-contradiction, you could tell them "oh, so you don't deny it." Then they would respond, "No, I do deny it." Then you would respond, "Yes, but if you deny it, then you also don't deny it."

Here are some descriptions of Buddhism and Taoism denying the LNC:

"Buddhist logicians sometimes added a fifth possibility: none of these. (Both positions were called the catushkoti.) The Jains went even further and advocated the possibility of contradictory values of the kind: true (only) and both true and false. (Smart, 1964, has a discussion of the above issues.) Contradictory utterances are a commonplace in Taoism. . . When Buddhism and Taoism fused to form Chan (or Zen, to give it its Japanese name), a philosophy arose in which contradiction plays a central role. The very process for reaching enlightenment (Prajna) is a process, according to Suzuki (1969, p. 55), "which is at once above and in the process of reasoning. This is a contradiction, formally considered, but in truth, this contradiction is itself made possible because of Prajna."" [Accessed on 2-28-15 at http://stanford.library.usyd.edu.au/archives/fall2008/entries/dialetheism]

"As Buddhism evolved over the centuries, many different authors from varying cultures set forth their own ideas in the name of the Buddha. As a result, Buddhism developed inherent contradictions. When this was realized, Buddhism embraced these contradictions as a badge of honor. Thus the making of self-contradictory statements has become one of the pronounced features of Zen and other esoteric forms of Buddhism." [Accessed on 2-28-15
at http://www.faithdefenders.com/articles/worldreligions/BuddhismUnmasked.html]

The Only Rational, Reasonable, Non-Contradictory Alternative is the God of the Bible

Both Hinduism and Buddhism construct a universe that deny simple laws of logic leading to a confusing, nonsensical, irrational, and contradictory existence. The God of the Bible, on the other hand, demands that humans use reason and rationality via the LNC to understand His word and understand truth. In this respect, R.C. Sproul said:

"Logic is like a policeman that God has put in the brain of human beings, to blow the whistle; to recognize the lie. The whistle blows, and things don't compute. Just like your computer goes whacky when you ask it to be irrational. So, God has built into the human mind a function of rationality that is a test of coherency. A test of rationality. And at the very heart of the Christian affirmation, is that. Though the content that we get in the Bible goes far beyond what we can learn, through rational speculation. It's based on Divine revelation. That Divine revelation does not come to us packaged in absurdity. The Word of God is not... irrational. It is addressed to creatures who have been given minds that operate according to these principles."

Bible Passages that Affirm the Law of Non-Contradiction

God Cannot Lie Nor Deny Himself

"So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us" (Hebrews 6:17-18).

"For God is not a God of confusion but of peace" (I Corinthians 14:33).

"If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself" (I Timothy 2:13).

"in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began" (Titus 1:2).

"Therefore, when I was planning this, did I do it lightly? Or the things I plan, do I plan according to the flesh, that with me there should be Yes, Yes, and No, No? But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us by me, Silvanus, and Timothy was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us" (II Corinthians 1:17-20).

God Made Us in His Image and Expects Us to Think Like Him and Imitate Him

"Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness" (Genesis 1:26)

"because it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy"" (I Pet. 1:16)

"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children" (Ephesians 5:1)

Therefore, God Expects Us to Use our Intellect and Built-In Laws of Logic to Understand Him by Understanding His Word

"Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is" (Ephesians 5:17).

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1).

Reasonable is from logikos, which is logical or rational. In order for us to even understand God's word we must use our reasoning and intellect, which implies non-contradictions. If we assume contradictions, then we cannot rationally or logically make sense of any statement.

Does the Bible contain mysteries? Certainly. But it doesn't imply that logical contradictions are acceptable, as does Buddhism, which is why this is a good argument for the God of the Bible and against atheism and the eastern religions. The whole of Christ's teaching and the New Testament is a testimony to the fact that we are to use logical reasoning to believe and obey Him (Hebrews 5:9).