The Debate Continues – Is God's Order Logical?

Roy asks,

Do we agree now, Joel, on what “God’s Order” actually is? And by that I mean, LOGIC. LOGOS. The Tone of Truth?

He quotes a great deal from

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus by Ludwig Wittgenstein

Which you will have to read for yourself. He poses the question concerning God’s Order – is it Logical (or perhaps centered on Logic). In continuing our discussion, which so far has been rewarding in of itself, I have decided to attempt a rather feeble answer here.

Let us define logic.

  1. “Logic is the study of the methods and principles used to distinguish good (correct) from bad (incorrect) reasoning.”
  2. It is the study of the laws or principles of thought or reason, that is not just mere thought or thinking per se, but of the type of thought or thinking we term reasoning. Irving Copi states that “The distinction between correct and incorrect reasoning is the central problem with which logic deals.”
  3. Norman Geisler and Ronald Brooks tell us that “Logic is the study of right reason or valid inferences and the attending fallacies, formal and informal” (emphasis in original).

(Points 1 and 2 from Irving M. Copi, Introduction to Logic, 7th ed. (New York: Macmillan, 1986), 3.)

Further, allow me to define what is meant by God’s Order:

  1. If God desires yellow and we give Him orange, it becomes a sin
  2. Anything that misses the mark as desired by God is a sin
  3. The Order of God is a path of Holiness, designed to bring Humanity back to God.

Can we arrive at God’s Order – doctrine, morality, implied and excluded behavior – by logic? Is God’s order logical in that it follows a linear reasoning? Ronald Nash notes: “…a denial of logic has consequences not only for epistemology and metaphysics, but for ethics as well. If all predications are true, there is no difference between walking to a nearby city and walking over a cliff; there is no difference between drinking milk and imbibing arsenic. But obviously there is a difference.”

We commanded in Scripture

O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, (1 Timothy 6:20 RSV)

The knowledge of God will not be chatter, or contradictory. It provides us with something sound and sturdy, and something logical.

The biblical commentator Hodge, in his Systematic Theology, tells us:

If the contents of the Bible did not correspond with the truths which God has revealed in his external works and the constitution of our nature, it could not be received as coming from Him, for God cannot contradict himself. Nothing, therefore, can be more derogatory to the Bible than the assertion that its doctrines are contrary to reason. The assumption that reason and faith are incompatible; that we must become irrational in order to become believers is, however it may be intended, the language of infidelity; for faith in the irrational is of necessity itself irrational….We can believe only what we know, i.e., what we intelligently apprehend.

And again,

It is impossible that He should require us to believe what contradicts any of the laws of belief which He has impressed upon our nature …Faith includes an affirmation of the mind that a thing is true. But it is a contradiction to say that the mind can affirm that to be true which it sees cannot possibility be true. This would be to affirm and deny, to believe and disbelieve, at the same time….The ultimate ground of faith and knowledge is confidence in God. We can neither believe or know anything unless we confide in those laws of belief which God implanted in our nature. If we can be required to believe what contradicts those laws, then the foundations are broken up. All distinction between right and wrong, would disappear…and we should become the victims of every adroit deceiver, or minister of Satan, who, by lying wonders, should call upon us to believe a lie.

The focus by Hodge and others on the issue that biblical Truth is supreme Truth is not a cultural addition from the Enlightenment. It evident from Scripture that salvation comes from believing in the Truth. (John 18.37, 2nd Thessalonians 2.13). Further, logic is recognized as the basis for biblical truth,

  • Carl F.H. Henry remarks: “…Scripture affirms that God is the source and ground of reason and truth and that the imago Dei in which He created and preserves humanity includes rational and moral capacities.” Henry also insightfully writes: The laws of logic are not a speculative prejudice imposed at a given moment of history as a transient philosophical development. Neither do they involve a Western way of thinking, even if Aristotle may have stated them in an orderly way. The laws of valid inference are universal; they are elements of the imago Dei. In the Bible, reason has ontological significance. God is Himself truth and the source of truth. Biblical Christianity honers the Logos of God as the source of all meaning and considers the laws of thought an aspect of the imago. …The pluralistic approach to world religions now often champions the need to recast the gospel in other than “Western thought forms” and in non-Western “logics,” as if logic were an Aristotelian invention. Such emphases often relativize Christian theology and replace it with non-Biblical philosophy under the guise of Christian mission.
  • R.C. Sproul, John Gerstner, and Arthur Lindsley likewise note: “Biblically the contradiction is the hallmark of the lie. Without this formal test of falsification, the Scriptures (and any other writings) would have no means to distinguish between truth and falsehood, righteousness and unrighteousness, obedience and disobedience, Christ and Antichrist.”16 Sproul, Gerstner, and Lindsley also rightly state (contra post-modernism): “The law of noncontradiction as a necessary presupposition or prerequisite for thought and life is neither arbitrary nor subjectivistic. It is universal and objective. What is subjective and arbitrary is the forced and temporary denial of it.”
  • Arthur Holmes responds: “…the law of noncontradiction is a universal condition of intelligible thought. Aristotle’s famous `negative proof’ shows this by asking that one who denies the law practice his denial in speaking. Unintelligible utterances may be possible without it, like talk of a square circle, but unintelligible utterances hardly qualify as intelligible thought or speech. Where this law of logic is ignored, all logic and intelligibility are gone.” Holmes also remarks:”Thinking is subject to logical laws, for I cannot contradict myself and talk sense, yet alone construct a valid line of argument. Good logic is one of God’s good gifts, and it is essential to thinking in this and any world.”
  • Lastly, we note the view of Augustine: “The true nature of logical conclusions has not been arranged by men; rather they studied and took notice of it so that they might be able to learn or to teach it. It is perpetual in the order of things and divinely ordained.”

Recognizing that biblical truth can be and is understood by logic and as logical prevents the notion that truths are mere metaphors or only relative. Biblical Truth is eternal, as is God. Morality is Truth and Truth is Logical. We can assure biblical morality by logical understanding.

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11 Replies to “The Debate Continues – Is God's Order Logical?”

  1. Ok. I think you have agreed with me, let me read this again to make sure. Oh, and I tried to “remix” Wittgenstein, not just quote him. I tried to point out where he was wrong and why (which, BTW, is a pretty big deal in philosophy circles).

    I threw a lot at you with that last round. Let me read this again and see if we need to go another. I’m fairly certain I’ve got you here, I just want to read this a few times before I go for a summation. 🙂

    Hope this finds you well. Hey, are you on the Facebook? I’ve found it to be fun tool to play with logic.

  2. Regarding Ludwig Wittgenstein and religion, may I mention a contribution I made myself: “Wittgenstein & Judaism: A Triumph of Concealment” (New York: Peter Lang, 2005).

  3. Ranjit, I read your criticism of jewish thought and found it to be quite lacking. There is no vast conspiracy, just the simple fact that a lot of people of Ashkenazi descent are freaking geniuses.

    You would do well to study that knowledge, rather than making up conspiracies about it.

    That’s all there is to it. Have a nice day.

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