We’ve repeated this so many times on this blog that most of our readers should have this memorized by now, but we’ll do it again anyway, if only for old times’ sake. The “first principle of reason” can be stated in two ways, one positive and one negative. The positive statement of the first principle of reason is called the law or principle of identity. It can be stated, “That which is true is as true, and is true in the same way, as everything else that is true.”
|"Live long and reason."|
Thus, if you have dogs, cats, or Vulcans, every dog, cat, or Vulcan is as much a dog, a cat, or a Vulcan as every other dog, cat, or Vulcan, and is a dog, a cat, or a Vulcan in the same way as every other dog, cat, or Vulcan.
“Aha!” you say. “What about Mister Spock?”
What about him? Mister Spock, the Star Trek character played inimitably by Leonard Nimoy, was a Human-Vulcan hybrid, the product of an outside-of-fiction impossible product of the marriage of Sarek Unpronounceable and Amanda Somebody-or-Other. Being part Human and part Vulcan, he was constantly torn between his Human and his Vulcan heritage, even after he made his decision to be Vulcan. Was he both fully human and fully Vulcan? Of course not. Then he was neither fully Vulcan nor fully human, thereby illogically disproving the first principle of reason?
|There appears to be an improbably high proportion of human DNA in the sample.|
No, Mister Spock did not illogically or otherwise disprove anything. He was . . . uh, is? . . . will be? a fully Human-Vulcan hybrid, a thing unto itself . . . well, unto itself and all the other Human-Vulcan hybrids, that is. Mister Spock is/was/will be as fully a Human-Vulcan hybrid, and a Human-Vulcan hybrid in the same way, as all other Human-Vulcan hybrids, assuming such a hybrid is possible . . . and Vulcans exist. The first principle of reason in its aspect of the principle or law of identity remains valid.
|"I cannot prove that Vulcans do not exist."|
That still leaves us with the negative aspect or statement of the first principle of reason, the principle or law of (non) contradiction. This can be stated as nothing can both “be” and “not be” at the same time under the same conditions. Thus, as Fulton Sheen and many others have concluded, you cannot logically prove a negative or the existence of non-existence.
“Aha!” you say (again). “I can! I can prove the existence of non-existence by proving that God doesn’t exist! If God can do everything, can He make a weight so heavy He can’t lift it? Solve that or admit that I just proved God doesn’t exist!” (Bwa-ha-ha!)
Please. Logic and reason apply only to that which is real, and thus can have true or false statements made about it. Even a statement about something that is pure abstraction, that is, only an idea in someone’s head and having no existence independent of the mind that creates the idea is real, and therefore must be internally consistent, e.g., our example of Mister Spock, whose fictional existence is bounded by the logic of the show’s premises, one of which is that Human-Vulcan hybrids are possible.
Thus, Mister Spock could not at one and the same time be a Human-Vulcan hybrid and a full Human or Vulcan. (There was an insightful fan-fic story once where a rogue Human scientist married to an Andorian split his child into a full Human and a full Andorian, and then did the same to Mister Spock, splitting him into a full Human and a full Vulcan set of identical twins — without Spock’s consent. It turned out the villain had to reintegrate Mister Spock as Spock’s true essence was neither Human nor Vulcan, but Human-Vulcan, and neither half could long survive without the other. We recall Star Trek Voyager had an episode that split apart a Human-Klingon hybrid, but we don’t recall how it came out.)
|Logic, smogic, just accept it's nonsense.|
Does the contradiction that if God can do anything He can make a weight so heavy He can’t lift it disprove the existence of God because it is contradictory? Of course not. God is a perfect Being and can do anything except contradict His own Nature. Why? Because a contradiction is an imperfection, and therefore demanding that God both be God and non-contradictory and be not-God and contradictory violates the first principle of reason that nothing can both “be” and “not be” at the same time under the same conditions.
Thus, the question “If God can do anything, can He make a weight so heavy He can’t lift it?” is neither true nor false. It contains an internal contradiction that removes it from reality, and therefore is neither true nor false, but nonsense. It is the same sort of thing as saying, “Everything I say is a lie.” You can never make sense of a statement like that because it doesn’t make sense as a statement.
As you will see in the next posting on this subject, we’re going somewhere with this, but it is critically important that we discuss the first principle of reason so that our argument makes sense.