Why Should Christians Care About Logic?

By Andrew Cabrera

I was at a Christmas party a few years ago and someone walked up to me and began talking to me about my views on God. At one point in the conversation he asked the age-old question, “Can God make a rock so heavy that he himself can’t lift it?” Among other things, I mentioned that omnipotence does not mean that God can do what is logically impossible. Then the conversation abruptly ended as he said, “You can’t use logic to talk about God. God is not bound by the logic of Man!” Then he nodded his head and tipped his chicken wing at me as if to say “Gotcha!” and walked away triumphantly before I had a chance to say a word. Was he right? Is God bound by logic? Can God do the logically impossible?

Christians Logic

What are the Laws of Logic?

The laws of logic are not invented; they are discovered truths about the nature of reality itself. It is commonly accepted that there are three fundamental laws of logic and that all other logical principles are derived from these three laws; these foundational laws are: the principle of identity, the law of the excluded middle, and the law of non-contradiction. Each of these is similar, but subtly distinct from the others. The principle of identity can be symbolized as ∀(p): (p=p), which is a fancy way of saying that “p” is what it is. The law of the excluded middle can be symbolized as (p v ~p), and means that it will always be the case that either “p” or “not p” is true (there is no third option). And finally, the law of non-contradiction can be symbolized as ~(p * ~p), and means that both “p” and “not p” cannot be true in the same way at the same time. This may seem a bit abstract, but I just wanted to make sure we began on equal footing about what the laws of logic were before trying to apply them.

Is God bound by logic?

There first needs to be a distinction made between what IS logically coherent, and what SEEMS logically coherent. Our rational intuition can fail us at times. We can think of our rational intuition as failing in terms of what statisticians call Type I errors and Type II errors. A Type I error is also known as a “false positive,” this occurs when your rational intuition says that something is logical when it is really not. Conversely when your rational intuition says that something is illogical when it is actually logically coherent, this is a Type II error or a “false negative.” God is inherently rational and cannot be in opposition to his nature, but he is not limited to our “logic” when we make such errors. What SEEMS logical to us at the moment, may not always BE logical upon further inspection. God is not subject to the laws of logic, as if they are exterior forces acting upon him; but in the same way that Christians see goodness itself as being metaphysically tied to the benevolence of God, we can also see rationality and logic as ontologically anchored in the nature of God himself. God doesn’t submit to external logic, nor does he arbitrarily dictate logic, but he is rational by virtue of his essential nature.

Why should I care about logic as a Christian?

We are made in the image of God as both moral and rational beings. In the same way that we should strive to emulate God’s goodness, we should also strive to emulate his rationality. Logic not only helps us to attain a more robust understanding of the nature of God, but it is essential for fulfilling our commands to share the gospel and have a ready defense of the hope within us. Far from being an opposing force, logic is at the core of the Christian faith. Throughout the Old and New Testament, the authors (and even Jesus himself) make claims of exclusivity, identity and ontological reality; all of which are meaningless without first granting the fundamental laws of logic. Proper exegesis, historical data, every classical argument for the existence of God, every theological position you take, and even the Gospel message itself are all -in one way or another- dependent on these fundamental laws being true. Even the very nature and existence of God must be described in terms of these fundamental laws. If you take away the principle of identity, the identity and deity of Christ follows suit. If the law of non-contradiction is lost, so is the exclusivity of truth itself, and any meaningful notions of the existence of God go with it.

 


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23 replies
  1. jcb says:

    Yes, we discover/realize that A=A, always. Nothing about that (or anything else) proves god. But yes, A=A regardless of whether god exists, and if god exists, he is “bound by logic”, meaning such a being cannot do the impossible, such as have A and not A be true at the same time. So it is false when the author says “God is not subject to the laws of logic, as if they are exterior forces acting upon him”.
    But no, god isn’t known to exist, isn’t known to be “inherently rational”, isn’t known to be “all powerful”, etc.
    “Christians see goodness itself as being metaphysically tied to the benevolence of God”. This statement seems to be nonsensical. At best it seems to say, Christians believe that being kind to others is only important to them if god exists. That may be a true statement about what some Christians believe, but it does nothing to prove god exists, nor that any godly/objective morality exists.

    Rationality and logic are not “ontologically anchored in the nature of god”. A=A regardless of whether god exists. Cats exist (probably), regardless of whether god exists.

    Nothing shows that god exists and is “rational by virtue of his essential nature.”

    People should care about logic and good reasoning if they want to make useful (“good”) predictions about the future, understand what is real, etc.

    There is no evidence that we are “made in the image of god as both moral and rational beings.” There is evidence that humans exist and many humans are moral/kind, and reasonable/make accurate judgments.

    Unfortunately for theists, reason shows that god, a perfect in all ways being, probably doesn’t exist. Logic and good reasoning are in opposition to theism.

    Reply
    • Andrew says:

      If you read the title and the article itself again, you may realize that it is a post TO Christians BY a Christian. The existence of the Christian God is assumed in “in house” dialogs between Christians. It is a letter explaining why Christians should not reject logic. It is not an argument about why the logical should not reject Christianity. You are simply trying to force the article to do what it was never intended to do.

      As a student majoring in formal logic, I would be more than happy to discuss where “logic and good reasoning” lead, but that is simply not the point of this post.

      Reply
      • jcb says:

        Thanks for the reply,
        Yes, the article is entitled, “Why Christians should care about logic”. That may suggest that the article was written for Christians. Nothing about that falsifies any of the points I made earlier.
        Yes, the author seems to assume that god exists. That assumption is false, and nothing about any of that falsifies the points I made earlier.
        Yes, Christians, and others, should not reject logic and good reasoning.
        Whether or not the article is an argument, my assertions still appear true, and have not been shown to be false.
        No, I am not “simply trying to force the article to do what it was never intended to do”. I didn’t make the article “do” anything. I simply gave my views on matters relevant to the article and its assertions.
        If you have learned something from your studies that helps show that my reasoning is in error, demonstrate it. Show that one or more of my assertions are false. Until then, my assertions still appear to be true, and nothing yet has shown them to be false.

        Reply
      • jcb says:

        Examples of good reasoning:
        1+1=2
        Barks often indicate the presence of dogs.

        Examples of bad reasoning:
        1+1=5
        Barks often indicate the presence of cats.

        Good reasoning: something like: using the known evidence to draw conclusions that are probably true (given that evidence).

        What do you mean by “good reasoning”? The same? Or something significantly different?

        Reply
  2. GG says:

    JCB, you might try reading ‘Evidence that Demands a Verdict’ by Josh McDowell, if you actually want to gain sound reasoning. If you can tear apart those claims you might have something to say… because otherwise your presuppostion that there is no God only proves you a fool. But many like you will soon enough stand face to face with the resurrected Christ and try to tell him he was a deluded liar who couldn’t be the Son of God, since he couldn’t have had a non-existent Heavely Father. That he will laugh in your face will be the least of your worries in that hour. I hope one day, wisdom will enter your soul; so you’ll actually have some wisdom worth sharing.

    Reply
    • jcb says:

      I’ve read it. If you want to discuss it, that’s fine. Present the basic argument here, and I’ll respond.
      I’m not presupposing there is no god. I’m saying the evidence we have fails to show there is. If you think otherwise, present the evidence. Once the evidence is out there, and clearly shows god exists, then I would be unreasonable in saying otherwise. But that evidence isn’t out there and doesn’t show god probably exists. Read up on the Problem of Evil, and you would know that a perfect god probably doesn’t exist.
      No, I will not soon stand face to face with the resurrected Christ, and there is no evidence that makes that probable.
      Jesus “could” be the son of god, but he probably isn’t.
      Read all the critiques of Josh McDowell, or present his argument, and we can discuss it.

      Reply
      • Susan says:

        Your big mistake is acting like you think you can substitute evidence for faith like you are in charge of things.

        You’re not.

        If you had ever bothered to study theology one bit you would know this and stop demanding evidence and acting like you have the right to be sole judge of it.

        Why should anyone respect your judgments as final but you when you haven’t even proven your character and really can’t prove it in this medium.

        I can’t believe you keep making these superficial with such a weak knowledge of what God has to say about things.

        And people engage you!

        Get a good biblical education afrom an actual expert on it and you won’t show up on message boards arguing or asking for evidence.

        Reply
        • jcb says:

          If we use faith instead of evidence, I am again right! (and wrong): my “faith” says I am right, while your “faith” says you are right. This is a horrid way of determining reality. Better to provide evidence. You again haven’t done that. If you insist on faith, then my faith says you are wrong. But again, more importantly, the evidence says so.
          I never said or implied that I am “in charge of things”. I said the evidence I know of fails to prove god. I asked for evidence of god if someone had it. No one seems to have it. Thus, it looks like there is no god.
          You are wrong when you say that I have never bothered to study theology.
          Even Frank Turek, who studies theology, “demands” evidence. He is just wrong about what the evidence points to.
          I am not asking people to respect my judgments. I am asking that they give evidence if they want to show that X is true.
          You don’t judge is X is true (usually) by assessing someone’s character. If I build homes for the homeless yesterday, it wouldn’t make my assertions about god any more true or false than they currently are.
          I can’t believe you keep talking, but say nothing, at least in terms of proving/demonstrating the truth of anything relevant here.
          Get a good critical thinking education, and find some evidence to support your claims.

          Reply
          • Mark Heavlin says:

            Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from His workmanship, so that men are without excuse.

            Hebrew 9:27 Just as man is appointed to die once, and after that to face judgment.

            John3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

            As we have continued to tell you JCB you are wrong. Dead in your sins wrong. And you continue to deny the evidence that is around you every day. You are deluding yourself if you think you will NOT one day stand before Jesus Christ and give account.

          • jcb says:

            It seems you don’t listen. Citing the Bible doesn’t prove much. Citing Romans doesn’t prove that god exists, or has invisible qualities, etc.

            You are only pointing out that various assertions have been made. You have done nothing (here) to show that they are true.

            You have continued to say that I am wrong. You continue to fail to Show that I am wrong.

            You say I deny evidence, but you don’t offer any! (If you have, state clearly what it is, and then I will respond to it, although at this point it seems you might just ignore what I have to say).

            There is no judgment day (after we die). Feel free to prove (with evidence) otherwise.

      • jcb says:

        Why is it that people say “read X”, and then never want to discuss the merits of it? That indicates a dogmatic attitude.

        Reply
      • Brian says:

        Basic un-refutable scientific evidence there is a creator…. easy.

        Information – it can only come about by a mind. (Not to be confused with data.)
        Sentences in a book are information.
        Computer code is information.
        Directions on a map are information.
        DNA is information as instruction code.

        A number of rocks sitting in your drive way is data. You counting them and getting a number is your mind at work forming data into information. (Doesn’t matter if you forget the number 10 seconds later – was still information.)

        If you think information and instruction code (DNA) can pop into existence all by it’s self, well then my friend you’ve just left science and are going on BLIND faith. Which is what all evolutionist do. (Not saying your an evolutionist – but there are only so many options!)

        Regarding evil, man is evil. The heart is deceptively wicked. By default not a single person on the planet does anything without selfish motives. Take this whole thread… there are web sites all over where you can debate the existence of God, but you choose to go completely off topic on an article — for what reason? If your honest it can only be one of two reasons… to lash out at the idea of God in general (which this article was not about), or out of frustration trying to grasp truth.

        Please don’t take that as an attack, but be honest its one of the two. And honestly this is just not the place for debate or answers. (Though I think you deserved a reply based on evidence. God said let us reason together – Is 1:18.)

        In all things, truth can only be revealed.
        No amount of evidence will ever change your mind. Only if Christ decides to reveal the Father to you will you ever know for sure if God is real. That how it works. Matt 11:27, Matt 16:17, Gal 1:15-16.

        My best advice is to take it up with Him. The Gospel is the key. Rom 1:16
        May peace find you.

        Reply
  3. Daniel says:

    Your statement in it self Is wrong “I’m not presupposing there is no god. I’m saying the evidence we have fails to show there is.” Because if you really look at that statement. Your saying that there is no god. You are contradicting yourself then. You say that you have logic, yet the logic you supposed is false as well.

    Reply
    • jcb says:

      There seems to be to be a difference between “presupposing there is no god” and “concluding from the evidence that there is no god. I am not doing the former. I am doing the latter. If you regard them as identical, then I am doing the latter (which would be identical to the former). So there is no contradiction. If you think there is, state what it is, and I will resolve it.
      Saying there is no god is not a contradiction. It’s just reality.
      The evidence (“logic”) is on my side.
      If you know otherwise, make the case. Provide your evidence. Like the others, it is doubtful that you will, but I look forward to seeing what you have.

      Reply
      • Mark Heavlin says:

        “Saying there is no god is not a contradiction. It’s just reality.”

        Psalm14:1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no GOD. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

        “The evidence (“logic”) is on my side.”

        Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world GOD’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from His workmanship, so that men are without excuse.

        Clearly JCB you remain the petulant child screaming that they are NOT sleepy and yet instantly falls asleep when put in bed. Continually saying in all of your posts “there is no god” is simply that and nothing more. And you have still not read and clearly understood Roman 1:20 when you say the evidence is on your side. If you reject the universe and all that is in it as evidence of GOD then you can NOT be helped as there is nothing more to show as evidence.

        Reply
        • jcb says:

          Pointing to Psalms fails to show that my assertions above are false, nor that theism is true.
          Yes, some theists think atheists are mistaken, and most of them, like you, repeatedly fail to show that atheists are mistaken, while atheists regularly show that theists are mistaken (in that they have failed to make their case and prove god).
          Citing Romans doesn’t show that god exists, nor that any of my claims are false.
          More ad hominems from you. A weak tactic that adds nothing to show that I’ve said anything false.
          Nor have I done any “screaming”. I guess if you make god up, you may as well make up other things, is that it?
          I continually say and show that there isn’t evidence for god, i.e., god does not exist as far as we know. You continually have failed to show otherwise.
          Yes the universe exists. Apparently that is the evidence that you think proves that the god you previously defined exists. it does not. That the universe exists doesn’t make it probably that an all powerful, all knowing being exists. Make the case. Connect the dots.
          I don’t reject the universe. I reject the (poor) inference you make, going from “the universe exists” to “a perfect in all ways being exists”. That doesn’t follow any more than “I heard a sound” thus “there is a dog named Steve who likes Westerns” .
          Again, the universe exists. It does not follow that the god you previously defined probable exists because the universe exists.
          If you think otherwise, spend your time given evidence of that. But you have shown that you would rather engage in name calling than give evidence. Will your next reply be any different?

          Reply
  4. Daniel says:

    I would like to go back to your first argument that “ if god exists, he is ‘bound by logic’ ”. Let me ask you this, who created the laws of logic? Because every law comes from a lawgiver right?

    Reply
    • jcb says:

      Laws of Logic aren’t “created”. There is no evidence that they are. Nothing makes “A = A” other than itself, as far as we know. Feel free to show that something else makes “A = A”. I don’t think you will succeed.

      Reply
  5. Daniel says:

    Let me ask you this if you went to mars and saw a computer there who create it? Would it have been there and no one created it or is the most logical thing is that some intelligent being created it. Now if we look at today’s society we know that all the laws that we have here speed limit, killing, stealing,… were all made by our government which you would call lawmakers. So let’s use logic here, is it logical to think that the laws of logic just existed forever or that there must have been a intelligent being that created them?

    Reply
    • KR says:

      You’re making an equivocation fallacy. Just because we use the word “law” both for logic and for judicial laws, it doesn’t follow that they’re the same thing. Judicial laws are human constructs – they’re prescriptive, i.e. they tell us how we should behave. The laws of logic were not constructed, they were discovered. They are descriptive, i.e. they tell us how things are.
      .
      Since the laws of logic are a description of reality, your claim that they had to be created is basically the same as claiming that reality had to be created. If this is indeed your claim, then it’s your job to support that claim with some kind of evidence. The mere fact that we can describe how reality works and call this description a law does in itself not constitute evidence that there had to be an intelligent creator behind it all.

      Reply

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