The other day, one Christian wrote to me “God is above logic”. This seems like a emotional trump card to play when losing a debate. In this case, the Christian did not like my reasoning when it came to morality and that I quoted no Bible verses. Forgetting the fact that Abimelech also didn’t seem to quote Bible verses when he persuaded God on his take on morality, I would like to address the claim head on. I wrote the following in what was to be a larger paper on Logic, Reason and Interpreting the Bible:
Christians, along with the secular world, often confuse logic with reason. Images of Spock from Star Trek are evoked when talking about a logical being, but the fact is that Spock is not a logic driven creature. Logic knows no values. Logic does not tell us how to live our life, or even how to act. All logic gives us is a framework in which we can function.
“Reason” is the word which should be used in conjunction with normative issues, such as if the needs of many outweigh the needs of the one or whether to charge into a Borg controlled ship armed only with a potato gun. Spock is a reason driven creature.
Reason is not absolute. We do not know the infinite variables which add to the costs of taking certain actions. Reason is a best guess on the costs of actions preformed based on what evidence is available. It is about taking best probabilities of a good outcome. It might be reasonable to buckle up whenever riding in a car, but not if the seatbelt strap was made from razor wire. Reason can be wrong, and often is because we are flawed creatures. We do not know everything; we are not omniscient.
The truth is that while we may not all be reasonable and some of us may think illogically, we all live according to the laws of logic. It is impossible to do otherwise. We will examine this further after establishing some laws of logic.
The three most basic laws of logic are: the Law of Non-Contradiction, the Law of Exclusive Middle, and the Law of Identity:
1. The Law of Identity: For things, the law asserts that “A is A,” or “anything is itself.” For propositions: “If a proposition is true, then it is true.”
2. The Law of Excluded Middle: For things: “Anything is either A or not-A.” For propositions: “A proposition, such as P, is either true or false.”
3. The Law of [Non-]Contradiction: For things: “Nothing can be both A and not-A.” For propositions: “A proposition, P, cannot be both true and false.”
As any good computer programmer knows, A and B are just placeholders for any conceivable thought. They are variables meant to hold anything. Using the 1st Law: a cat is a cat. Using the 2nd Law: something is either a cat or not a cat. Also: Bob Hope is either a cat or not a cat. Using the 3rd Law: Nothing can be both a cat and not a cat. Also: Bob Hope cannot be both a cat and not a cat.
Someone might object and say Bob Hope can be both a cat and not a cat if he dressed up like a cat. In that sense the statement: Bob Hope is a cat would be valid. But he also would not be a physical cat.
This reasoning is fallacious because it changes meaning of the word halfway through the dialog. This is known as the logical fallacy of Equivocation. To be intellectually honest one should be consistent with the terms being used, not attempt slights of hand in word usage. Bob Hope cannot be both a cat and not a cat at the same time in the same sense. It is a logical impossibility.
The Bible cannot be Christian’s axiom for knowledge. An infinite number of truths must be established before we can even begin reading the Bible. If logic is not necessarily true, then A does not have to equal A. Therefore the Bible, if true, might also be false. The phrase “Jesus Christ” in the Bible might actually be the phrase “David Hasselhoff”. It might also be both “Jesus Christ” and “David Hasselhoff” or neither. Anything is possible without a basis in the laws of logic.
Likewise, if the Bible was a basis for logic then establishing logic would in turn negate itself. Simply, if you do not have the laws of logic established before you read the Bible, then you cannot apply the laws of logic to the Bible. If the Bible stated the 1st Law was true then it might in fact be false; the Bible could not establish anything without the Laws of Logic. Logic is the axiom to all we know and do. Without it we know nothing and can establish nothing. This point is crucial because it is so often repeated in Christian circles that God himself is above logic.
If God is good and God is above logic, that means that God might not, in fact, be good. If A does not necessarily have to equal A, then “good” does not have to equal “good”; “good” might equate to “evil”. Likewise, if God tells man that he will save us if we believe in Christ Jesus, then he might really be saying he will not save us if we believe in Christ Jesus. He might really be saying he likes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. There would be no way to know. Anything that God would say is untrustworthy, not because he is a liar, but because lies do not exist without a foundation in logical principles.
If God was above logic that would mean that logic was a creation, logic does not have to exist, and logic’s laws are arbitrary. In other words, A does not necessarily equal A. This means that God is not God; it would be a total fantasy on man’s part to believe that God even existed. This would also mean that existence does not equal existence; we wouldn’t even exist.
There is a reason man thinks using logic; it is because logic is necessarily true. It is not true because God says it is. To believe the laws of logic are arbitrary is question the very existence of God.