In one of the more entertaining misstatements in the Theonomy Debate, Jordan attempted to use my own book Biblical Logic against me—particularly against the theonomic motto of “Theonomy or autonomy”? As you will see, Jordan utterly confused what was written and turned it 180 degrees on its head. As a result, what he intended to present as a fallacy against me using my own words turned out to be a strong confirmation of the position.
The “Fallacy” of Excluded Middle
The reference is to a fallacy sometimes called “excluded middle,” but more commonly called “false dichotomy.” In his first rebuttal, Jordan drew from my book apparently hoping to peg me with a violation of “excluded middle.” Here is how he stated it:
That idea that was just presented—God’s law or man’s law . . . that’s God’s law, and man’s law has to be inherently wicked therefore. My opponent wrote a book on biblical logic, and on page 48 he mentions a logical fallacy called the “excluded middle.” “And then on page 80 of that book he gives an example of what the excluded middle is: and he gives the example of having to choose between something that is natural and something that is supernatural. That’s a fallacy.”
Well, no it’s not. In reference to my book here, “fallacy” is not quite accurate. In fact, it is quite completely backwards. My reference on page 48 of Biblical Logic is not to a “fallacy,” but to just the opposite: one of the classic three laws of logic. Here’s what I wrote:
Finally, the law of excluded middle traditionally claims that something must be either true or false. Just as something cannot be both, it also cannot be neither. Something must be either “A” or “not-A.” This law reminds us again that reality is objective, but it also reinforces the fact that there is no ultimate neutrality. Either something is, or it is not; it is either true or false. No “middle” option exists. God expects us to witness accordingly, “yes” or “no.”
As Aristotle classically put it: “there cannot be an intermediate between contradictories.” Again, this is a law of logic, not a fallacy. This is how logic actually works, not an instance of how it is violated. Jordan did not, apparently, pay very close attention when he read my book.
He repeated the mistake in referencing me again on page 80. In that section, I was beginning to refute the fallacies of the worldviews of naturalism and materialism. These are instances of human autonomy in defiance of God. I was laying the presuppositional groundwork for the refutation. Here’s what I wrote (pp. 79–80):
Beneath every autonomous worldview secretly rests a belief about reality. This belief masquerades as an assumed answer to the question, “What is real, ultimately”? The assumed answer can only take two basic forms: supernaturalism or naturalism (excluded middle: S or not-S). All worldviews ultimately fall into one of these two categories, each category containing many fallacious varieties.
By invoking “excluded middle” here, I was referring to the law of logic explained previously on page 48, as we have already read. The point here is to demonstrate that there can be no neutrality in worldview—particularly, here, in metaphysics. I actually go on to say that “In one sense we could categorize all worldviews under the two headings, ‘Christian theism,’ and ‘Human autonomy,’ . . .” There are only two options and no more.
My point here is, of course, that according to the laws of logic, a worldview must either be one or the other: Christian theism or not-Christian-theism. Worldviews with either line up with God’s revelation or not. My point was explicitly not to say that it is a fallacy of “having to choose” between the two, but rather that there is no neutrality here: you must choose between the two. This is merely an application, again, of one of the classic laws of thought.
Jordan failed to see the vital difference, and instead turned the laws of logic on their head. Indeed, he said “that’s a fallacy.” Not it’s not: that’s a law. I suppose such an act could be taken as among the highest of expression of human autonomy in rebellion against the laws of thought—were it not to chalked up merely to elementary carelessness.
As with all of these misrepresentations, I wanted to give Jordan an opportunity to correct his errors himself. So I contacted him very early about this—it was the first instance of misrepresentation I noted. This occurred back when he was actually returning my emails. He indicated he is not interested in public defense of his errors, but did provide me with a public statement (on this one) that he would make if he really had to. He wrote:
Yes, I looked at the page numbers referenced, and I certainly had your reference to the law of excluded middle and the subsequent example confused with the “fallacy of excluded middle,” also known as a “false dilemma.” Isn’t it strange one man’s law is another man’s fallacy? Feel free to correct me on the citation.
Well, it is good that Jordan acknowledged the error, but the self-serving addition is irrelevant and misleading. Is it the case that one man’s law is another man’s fallacy? When it comes to the laws of logic, only a radical postmodernist would argue such a fact. No, if something is a law—such as the law of excluded middle—then it is a law for everyone. It does not change according to time, circumstance, or person.
A False Dichotomy Even?
If Jordan’s point is instead about particular applications of logic, then perhaps we can move on to further examination of those. (without further input and desire to have intellectual exchange, it is difficult to discern one’s point.) In accepting my correction, he did say, as I pointed out earlier, that he had confused the law of excluded middle with a fallacy called “false dichotomy” or “false dilemma.” This fallacy occurs when someone attempts to force a choice between two options when, in fact, other options exist.
This could possibly be what Jordan actually intended with his point against the phrase “God’s law or man’s law,” but since he made the argument in reference to statements on the laws of logic, it is not clear. It is certainly true that theonomists maintain God’s law as their standard, and argue that when men depart from this standard they will inevitably be engaged in some form of human autonomy—i.e. “man’s law.” In order to show that this argument commits the fallacy of “false dilemma,” Jordan (or anyone else) would need to show what other options exist. He did not.
In fact, not only did he not, he actually argued for an option that only confirms the logic of the theonomic motto. He referred to 1 Peter 2:13: “Submit . . . to every human ordinance.” We will address the argument for this standard itself more thoroughly in its own place. For now, it is enough to note just exactly what Jordan is offering as the option which would expose the alleged false dichotomy of “God’s law or man’s law”: “human ordinance.”
I don’t think it needs to be pointed out that that which is called by Scripture “human ordinance” (literally “man’s creations”) would fall under the category of “man’s law.” Thus the choice between “God’s law or man’s law” would hardly be challenged at all, let alone exposed as a fallacy. Rather, it is once again confirmed.
Jordan only muddled matters further when he commented in reference to 1 Peter 2:13: “Here’s a human ordinance which seems to accompany what God has spoken in the moral law.” This itself falls hard against the legitimate measure of the law of excluded middle: God’s law or man’s law. If a “human ordinance” “accompanies” God’s moral law in the sense of being congruous with God’s moral law, then it falls quite logically under the category of God’s law, not man’s. If, on the other hand, it “accompanies” God’s moral law in the sense of incongruous additions, then it logically falls into the opposite category. So attempting to use 1 Peter 2:13 to avoid the choice does not work.
Now, the fact that God does call us to submit to human ordinances is an important point—and it is one that theonomists have always accepted and taught within our paradigm. We demonstrated this already when addressing Jordan’s use of my article on rendering to Caesar. But the relationship to ungodly governments in history is an entirely different matter from that of what the law ought to be.
As we have noted several times already in this “misrepresentations” series, it is incumbent upon critics to get their facts straight, especially when purporting to say what your opponents believe. This particular instance carries the added burden of having come from a book about logic and logical fallacies. When attempting to use your opponent’s own words on logic against him, it is vitally important not to make blunders of representation (as an aside, I have an entire section in Biblical Logic on “Fallacies of Representation,” pp. 103–219, Jordan may want to review).
In cases of extremely elementary blunders like this, your argument may end up defeating your own position instead.
 Cited in the Wikipedia entry on “Law of thought”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_thought#The_law_of_excluded_middle