The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. – Psalm 14:1
Our entire unbelieving Western culture which worships the natural world and so-called science rests on a foundation of shifting sand. Of course, Jesus said the very same thing when He spoke of those who build their houses on anything but Him as the foundation.
Throughout our common culture – TV, movies, news sources, we are constantly bombarded with the idea that the physical world is all there is and science alone is the god who can explain it. This thinking has led to the disaster known as modernism, and its aftermath known as post-modernism.
This entire subject would require multiple books to cover adequately (if even then), but for this article, I want to focus on a simple subject which is one of the foundations on which the popular worldview rests – logic.
The Problem with Logic
Logic in and of itself is not the problem. God, for example, is perfectly logical. The problem with logic is that it is only as good as its premises and other assumptions. If key information is left out of the logical problem, the wrong conclusion will be reached, albeit logically correct.
Allow me to illustrate with a simple example:
Violence is bad.
Pushing someone is violence.
Therefore, pushing someone is bad.
These three statements follow a simple logical form. If A and B are both true, then it logically follows that C is also true.
Everyone will agree with my logic, and I doubt any would see that is not always true. Why not? Simple: what if pushing someone is not always violent? “What?”, you say, “when is pushing not violent?” There may be many times pushing is an act of kindness. If a person is about to be hit by a car, and pushing is the most expedient solution, then how is the act of saving someone from harm an act of violence? The same would also be true if trying to get someone down in case of gunfire or explosion.
“You are now just bickering over semantics”, you might be saying. Am I now? Just what is violence? Can you define it? Go ahead and try. Then look it up in the dictionary. I’ll wait.
What did you find? This is what I found:
the use of physical force so as to injure, abuse, damage, or destroy
I also found this definition:
Behaviour involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.
Notice the key attribute for something to be violent – the intent to injure or destroy. Most people are not aware of this condition. Therefore, now knowing the correct definition, let’s look at our logic sentences again:
Violence is bad.
Pushing someone may be violence.
Therefore, pushing someone may be bad.
We don’t have enough information to draw a solid conclusion, and now see that the previous example is fundamentally flawed, because we assumed the premises were true.
This example is not a trite one either. If we change ‘pushing’ to ‘spanking’, our Western culture’s logic (complete with tons of studies supporting it) goes like this:
Violence is bad.
Spanking a child is violence.
Therefore, spanking a child is bad.
They take this idea so seriously in the UK that this article would probably be banned. If it were a book, it would certainly be so, and parents who try to spank their children can get them kidnapped (taken) by the state.
Again, let’s examine the 2nd premise: spanking a child is violence. Is this statement true? No more than the previous example of pushing, perhaps even less. To better understand when spanking may be violent and when it may not be. Let’s go back to our two definitions:
- the use of physical force so as to injure, abuse, damage, or destroy
- Behaviour involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something
Now the first one might imply intent, but it could also include force that was merely damaging. Obviously, this definition is inadequate for our first scenario, and the second limits violence to intent alone. Let’s try to refine our definition of violence in the case of spanking a child:
If an adult spanks a child (their own or someone else’s under their care) with the intent to do harm, then that adult is obviously being violent according to the second definition. The first definition falls short again in this instance. For example, if an adult spanks a child with the intent to do harm, but fails to do so, then it is not violence! Obviously, the criteria for violence should not be solely predicated on its success.
Now, what if an adult spanks a child in a fit of anger, but means good and not harm, yet causes injury or is abusive? Here the accuracy of the definitions is reversed. The second is invalid, but the first one is. So, tell me again, what exactly is violence?
There are many other nuances in the spanking scenario, and this article is not about spanking children, so I wish to end the discussion without drawing any conclusions. I will leave my reader with this question to answer – is there a scenario where a parent in love without anger or selfishness provide physical discipline to a child in a way that causes no physical injury but helps the child to correct a dangerous attitude that could cause harm if not corrected? Would that action be violence? Would it not be like the first example of saving a person from future harm?
Logic Properly Applied
There is no earthly reason for logic to be applied properly except in the most simple matters such as mathematics and computer engineering – both based on constructs of our own devising. Even then, there may be instances where the premise is again too small in its scope.
Logic, when applied to philosophy, psychology, anthropology, biology and virtually all the sciences, is only as good is the completeness and accuracy of its premises. Anything short of being all-knowing leaves us unable to apply logic with any real confidence. If the successful use of logic is limited even in the sciences, how much more is it limited in areas such as philosophy, politics or culture?
In the Christian domain, the greatest Christian logician ever – Thomas Aquinas wrote his systematic theology in the form of logical constructs. Interestingly, he first argues the erroneous side with perfect logic and draws the proper conclusion. He next introduces expansions to the initial premises which when logic is applied, result in the entirely opposite conclusion. Yet, even with this triumphant application of logic applied to the nature of God, he later realized how short it falls.
Regarding his magnum opus, Summa Theologica he said:
Everything that I have written seems to me chaffy in respect to those things that I have seen and have been revealed to me.
He made this remark in response earnest inquiry as to why he abandoned his magnificent work of logic.
What exactly did he mean by this statement, and how does it apply to this article? I’ll put it this way: since we can never be sure of our premises, we must ask God to provide all knowledge to us – the premise, the logic, and the conclusion. In other words, truth must come by the revelation of God. At the end of Thomas’ life, he got that revelation from God and realized that all his previous striving was just so much chaff in comparison.
Reason and logic are tools, but they are far from infallible. All our disagreements over Scripture are for this reason. We are so blind, our hearts so deceitful that only God can give us the truth and that only through His word and prayer.
Most science is valid, especially when used as a working model or a collection of observations of God’s creation. When men employ false premises and false logic to support politically and religiously motivated science, you can be assured that their science is based on foundations of sand. It may not fall today, but one day it will. Logic is never infallible; unless it comes from God. Those who think they are wise, yet reject God are nothing more than fools. Like the psalmist said – “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.”