Sunday, August 6, 2017

Monotheism and the Law of the Excluded Middle

Douglas Groothius' essay "Facing the Challenge of Postmodernism" in To Everyone An Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview eds. Francis J. Beckwith, William Lane Craig, and J. P. Moreland (Intervarsity Press, 2004), page 242 contains the following section:

"Anthropologist Ernest Gellner, a secular critic of postmodernism, pays tribute to biblical monotheism when he says that the Enlightenment emphasis on 'the uniqueness of truth' and the hope of discovering nature's objective secrets is rooted in monotheism's avoidance of 'the facile self-deception of universal relativism.'  He further sharpens his analysis by claiming this connection between the singularity and supremacy of God with a fundamental logical principle closely related to the law of non-contradiction.
It was a jealous Jehovah who really taught mankind the Law of Excluded Middle: Greek formalization of logic (and geometry and grammar) probably would not have been sufficient on its own.  Without a strong religious impulsion toward a single orderly world, and the consequent avoidance of opportunist, manipulative incoherence, the cognitive miracle [of the Enlightenment] would probably not have occurred." 
* Groothius is quoting Ernest Gellner, Postmodernism, Reason, and Religion (New York: Rutledge, 1992), pp. 95-96.