Saturday, September 28, 2013

FAITH vs. LOGIC: Compatible or Contrary? Part One

It has been asserted by non-believers regarding God and the Bible that the Christian faith is illogical and that any who would adhere to such foolish beliefs is an unthinking, irrational person that cannot prove anything they believe, logically speaking. 

This begs the question, is logic something in opposition to, at variance with, adversarial in nature to faith? Are they, in a sense, polar opposites? Or is logic something that may be employed by the Christian or even one who is endeavoring to discover truth and is seeking out the validity of Christianity? 

One may speak of logic, reason, propositional truth and wisdom as well as philosophy and these are in many respects interrelated. Of wisdom, the Bible has much to say (especially considering the books of Psalms and Proverbs – often called the Books of Wisdom): 

JAMES 3:15-18 
15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. 
17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 
18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

The Greek word used here and in every place in the New Testament for “wisdom” is sophia, which is the basis of the world philosophy (phileo itself being a word meaning ‘love of, or for’); thus philosophy is a “love of, or for wisdom”. 

According to James there are two sources for wisdom: the earthly which according to this passage is quite inappropriate, and in fact, sinful for any disciple of Christ to adhere to. The other source for wisdom is “from above”; that is, divine wisdom as granted by God (See also 1 COR 1:17-31; 1 COR 2:1-7, 10-16; ROM 11:33-36). 

It is divine or godly wisdom (and its twin, discernment) that brings to us spiritual understanding and perception, much as Peter received when the LORD Jesus asked him, “Who do people say that I am?” Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 

MATTHEW 16:17 
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven

This author would like to declare up front that by no means am I suggesting that logic is in any way a substitute for faith, or that a person may come to salvation by anything other than faith. 

Yet faith is certainly not “blind faith” or irrational or a ‘leap in the dark’ sort of thing; it is not trusting a source that is questionable or uncertain. 

There are predications that support reasons why biblical faith is rational and believable, and by no means illogical. This article will explore the applicability of logic and reason as something anticipatory to faith, when once the Bible is rightly perceived as a reliable, trustworthy Book. 

This is the very basis for apologetics (In 1 PET 3:5 the word “reason” in the Greek is apologia): giving sound reason and argument in defense of the veracity of Scripture, and having laid down such a foundation for those who would oppose such reason and argument and answering such oppositions to the objector’s satisfaction may then proceed onto the Gospel. 

This is why apologetics (of which there are three primary methodologies: Presuppositional, Classical and Evidential) is sometimes referred to as ‘pre-evangelism’. 

From C.A.R.M. we have the following: What is Apologetics: An Outline

Scripture is abundantly clear on salvation by faith alone which requires believing in the veracity of God’s Word (See ROM 4:3-5): 

6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. 

1 PETER 1:5 
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time

And also take note of this verse: 

2 TIMOTHY 3:15 
And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus

It states clearly in this epistle of Paul to Timothy that the source of wisdom (sophia) is derivative of the Holy Scriptures; this would entail that wisdom which is “from above”. 

The Holy Scriptures are recognized as the inspired Word of God (2 PET 1:21). In the first chapter of John’s Gospel we read: 

JOHN 1:1-5, 9-10, 14 
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 
2 The same was in the beginning with God. 
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 
5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 
10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth

It’s most interesting that the word for “logic” in the Greek is logos, which we recognize as the word used in most every instance where “the Word” refers to God made flesh or the Holy Scriptures inspired by the Word Incarnate, that is, Jesus Christ. 

The term logos specifically defined in Strong’s Concordance is: 

“Something said (including the thought); . . . also reasoning (the mental faculty) or motive; by extension, a computation, specially (with the article in John) the Divine Expression (i.e. Christ): - account, cause, communication … doctrine … reason, reckon … saying, speech, talk … treatise, utterance, word, work. 

“Of speech: a word, uttered by a living voice, embodies a conception or idea . . . the sayings of God, decree, mandate or order, of the moral precepts given by God, OT prophecy given by the prophets . . . declaration, aphorism, a weighty saying, a dictum, a maxim; discourse – the act of speaking … doctrine or teaching, narrative … its use as respect to the mind alone; the mental faculty of meditating, reasoning, calculating, accounting … 

“In John’s Gospel, denotes the essential Word of God, Jesus Christ, the personal wisdom and power in union with God, His minister in creation and government of the universe, the physical and ethical, which for the procurement of man’s salvation put on human nature in the Person of Jesus the Messiah, the Second Person in the Godhead, and shone forth conspicuously from His words and deeds.” 

Again, the differentiation between the two sources of wisdom (reasoning) is plain: the wisdom of this world which ultimately is a satanic (“devilish” according to James as quoted above) philosophy and that wisdom from above which comes through the Word, the Person of Jesus the Messiah, the Second Person of the Godhead. There are then three sources of wisdom ([logical] reasoning): God, the world system via Satan, and the mind of individual human beings*. 

(* Spiritual discernment is God given and is that which can discriminate between these various sources; 1 JOHN 4:1). 

On the matter of the human mind: 

There must be a distinction made between a philosophy and, or science of logic and the nature of logical thinking from a logical mind which all human beings, to one degree or another possesses. 

God is indeed a God of order; all of nature on the macrocosmic and microscopic levels testifies of order and exemplifies a rational (non-chaotic) procession and function of all creation. 

Likewise God created the mind of man and has given him the capacity to think, to reason, and express logical, ordered thought. 

Both the physical creation and the mental faculties of the human mind however have been disastrously affected by the destructive force of sin that entered into the Human race at the fall of Adam. It is because of this that such schools of philosophy and science that pursues truth are tainted, flawed and predisposed to reject the truth of God’s Word in favor of seeking out, discovering and adhering to truth of a subjective, rather than an objective nature; one that esteems the wisdom of man as greater and higher than anything from a ‘religious book’: 

ROMANS 1:21-22 
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 
22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools

Rather than appealing to any science or philosophy of logic of the formal kind (which in today’s society tends to be prejudicial of the Scriptures), we would find logic of the informal kind (critical thinking) based on reasonable premises and arguments that are provable and are open to examining the Scriptures for themselves in order to verify (or not) their claims. 

How is logic then defined? Here is one (among many) answer: 

‘The term "logic" came from the Greek word logos, which is sometimes translated as "sentence", "discourse", "reason", "rule", and "ratio". Of course, these translations are not enough to help us understand the more specialized meaning of "logic" as it is used today. 

‘So what is logic? Briefly speaking, we might define logic as the study of the principles of correct reasoning.’ 

‘So what are these principles of reasoning that are part of logic? There are many such principles, but the main (not the only) . . . [principle] in logic are principles governing the validity of arguments - whether certain conclusions follow from some given assumptions.’ 

Cited from the following source: What Is Logic? 

One form of logic is to propose an argument and to ascertain its validity by positing two or more premises that are assumed to be valid (Presuppositional Logic), and to derive from them a valid conclusion. These premises may be assumed valid as a priori (valid by rational deduction rather than by experimentation and, or research, which is defined in logic as a posteriori). 

In order for the conclusion to be valid, the premises must likewise be valid; if all premises are valid except for one, the conclusion’s validity may either be in question or be invalidated altogether. 

The Word of God contains precepts and propositional truth, and if we use these as premises and can demonstrate their validity by reason, then any conclusion we acquire from them by argument will then be valid. 

For an example, skeptics and non-believers have long disparaged the Bible for its propositions that are seen as antiquated, such as the idea of geocentric astronomy – that is, that the sun, stars, moon and planets revolve around the Earth. 

PSALM 19:1, 4-5 
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. 
4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, 
5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. 
6 His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof

The term for “heavens” and “heaven” (in verse 1 and 6 respectively) is from the Hebrew word shamayim which can refer either to the atmosphere where clouds and meteorological phenomena occur or the realm of the celestial (outer space). 

Science has determined that geocentric astronomy (that the sun, moon and stars revolve around the Earth) is fallacious; that rather the heliocentric model is the correct one; that is, all celestial planets and moons and other objects revolve around the sun. 

Therefore, they cast aside the Bible as fallacious because it seems to support geocentric ideas. However if one examines the Scripture in PSALM 19 closely, it presents two perspectives: 

Verse 1 demonstrates the perspective of the sun as seen from the Earth, that it does seem to travel across the sky from sunrise to sunset, and returns from where it started to make another revolution. 

Verse 6 however reveals the perspective that the sun is not central, but is itself traveling “from the end of heaven and his circuit unto the ends of it”. 

We know that the sun, like all the stars in our galaxy, is revolving around the central core of the Milky Way. 

Another example: primitive man had believed that the Earth was flat, and that it traveled through the cosmos on four celestial elephants, that themselves stood upon a celestial tortoise. Yet the Bible itself declares that the Earth is round (ISAIAH 40:22) and that it is suspended in space (JOB 26:7): 

Thus this antiquated book of ‘irrational ideas’ is quite accurate when it addresses the subject of our physical universe. If it gives an accurate and truthful perspective on astronomical properties and concepts, could it also be accurate and truthful in other areas? 

To learn more about how Science and the Bible are not at all adversarial, but that true and objective science validates, not vilifies the Bible, look at these sites (Note: This author does not necessarily agree with all assertions made on these sites):

Evidence For God From Science

Institute for Creation Research 

Specific to the issue of apologetics, here is an ICR article by Dr. James J.S. Johnson:

Understanding Effective Biblical Apologetics 

Always Be Ready Apologetics Ministry 

And of course there is Christian Apologetics Research Ministry or CARM

Here is the end of part 1; as the LORD and time permits, I shall continue with this article in part 2 and perhaps a part 3 in order to address this issue of Faith vs. Logic. 

Until then, may the LORD keep us in His grace, guide us with His wisdom, and enable us to walk in His truth!


Tony Kiar said...

Logic has a limit. It is only the engine that takes input (fact, data, opinions) and produces output (more facts arising out of theories and more opinions) It is logical to say 2+2=4 but that statement has nothing to do with reality - it's pure mathematics. If you want to say 2+2=4 with reference to reality you must give the context - 2 what + 2 what = 4 of what! Faith is a matter of revelation. By faith I know that 1=3. Logic will never be able to cover that mystery.

Tony Kiar said...

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts."
-Isaiah 55:8-9