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Logic and Belief

20 November 2012, 07:16

Gather round, boy and girls, it’s logic time and that means putting all our precious preconceptions in a box for the moment. First of all, let’s define logic.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines it thus:



[mass noun]

·              1reasoning conducted or assessed according to strict principles of validity: experience is a better guide to this than deductive logic, therefore the logic of the argument is faulty

·              a particular system or codification of the principles of proof and inference: Aristotelian logic

·              the systematic use of symbolic and mathematical techniques to determine the forms of valid deductive argument.

·              the quality of being justifiable by reason: there seemed to be a lack of logic in his remarks

·              (the logic of) the course of action suggested by or following as a necessary consequence of: the logic of private competition was to replace small firms by larger firms

·              2a system or set of principles underlying the arrangements of elements in a computer or electronic device so as to perform a specified task.

So it’s quite broad-ranging, this logic which we bandy about so very freely on this forum, but do we really understand its impact on the arguments we put forward?

Can I satisfactorily show the evidence for, not just a god, but the God of the Bible? Can it stand the rigours of logical examination? Anything worth believing is not worth the time and effort if it cannot stand up to testing.

By the same token, some of the readers on this forum bluntly state, ‘There is no god’, while others say, more correctly, ‘I have not seen enough evidence to make me believe there is a god. Therefore I choose to believe there is no god’.

The former cannot logically be correct, because in order to make that statement, that person would have to have been everywhere in the entire universe simultaneously, in other words, be like God, in order to prove there is no god. So that statement can safely be ignored, as it shows the same level of faith I employ and cannot be logically asserted.

They make as much sense as John Cleese did in this classic skit:

Good evening. The last scene was interesting from the point of view of a professional logician because it contained a number of logical fallacies; that is, invalid propositional constructions and syllogistic forms, of the type so often committed by my wife.

'All wood burns,' states Sir Bedevere. 'Therefore,' he concludes, 'all that burns is wood.' This is, of course, pure bullshit. Universal affirmatives can only be partially converted: all of Alma Cogan is dead, but only some of the class of dead people are Alma Cogan. 'Oh yes,' one would think. However, my wife does not understand this necessary limitation of the conversion of a proposition; consequently, she does not understand me, for how can a woman expect to appreciate a professor of logic, if the simplest cloth-eared syllogism causes her to flounder?

For example, given the premise, 'all fish live underwater' and 'all mackerel are fish', my wife will conclude, not that 'all mackerel live underwater', but that 'if she buys kippers it will not rain', or that 'trout live in trees', or even that 'I do not love her anymore.' This she calls 'using her intuition'. I call it crap and it gets me very irritated because it is not logical. 'There will be no supper tonight,' she will sometimes cry upon my return home.

'Why not?' I will ask.

 'Because I have been screwing the milkman all day,' she will say, quite oblivious of the howling error she has made.

'But,' I will wearily point out, 'even given that the activities of screwing the milkman and getting supper are mutually exclusive, now that the screwing is over, surely then, supper may now, logically, be got.' 

‘You don’t love me anymore,’ she will now often postulate. ‘If you did, you would give me one now and again, so that I would not have to rely on that rancid Pakistani for my orgasms.’

 'I will give you one after you have got me my supper,' I now usually scream, 'but not before'-- as you understand, making her bang contingent on the arrival of my supper.

‘God, you turn me on when you’re angry, you ancient brute!’ she now mysteriously deduces, forcing her sweetly throbbing tongue down my throat.

‘Fuck supper!’ I now invariably conclude, throwing logic somewhat joyously to the four winds, and so we thrash about on our milk-stained floor, transported by animal passion, until we sink back, exhausted, onto the cartons of yoghurt.

I'm afraid I seem to have strayed somewhat from my original brief. But in a nutshell: sex is more fun than logic. One cannot prove this, but it 'is' in the same sense that Mount Everest 'is', or that Alma Cogan 'isn't'.

That about sums up the validity of the first viewpoint.

The second statement is more challenging, as it states, quite honestly, in my opinion, that there is insufficient proof to make these people believe there is a god and, when they look at the untold suffering in the world, it adds to their conviction.

In 1978, Harold Kushner, an American Rabbi, wrote a book ‘When Bad Things Happen to Good People’, which became an international best-seller. He raised these questions after his fourteen-year old son had died from Progeria, an incurable genetic disease. He questioned long and hard how a good, merciful, kind and loving God could allow this, and many more things even worse than this to happen. He kept his faith, in spite of his loss.

As Christians, we are constantly challenged by this question and many more, but it is the one question that bothers Christians, personally, more than any other. Why do so many Christians, people I’ve known personally, die long, lingering deaths which seem to serve no purpose. This raises the question of Theodicy.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary again, Theodicy is the vindication of divine providence in view of the existence of evil. In other words, how can a benign, merciful, omnipotent God allow the suffering that we see in the world today? Does God care, but is powerless to intervene, or is he omnipotent and distant, or is there a third option, a better option?

I think a good place to start is right at the beginning: The singularity.

Science has pretty much accepted the singularity as fact. There is no proof, of course, but they have been able to examine the evidence and conclude that, about thirteen billion years ago, the singularity expanded very, very rapidly, creating as it went, the Laws of Physics.

Now Carl Sagan, a highly respected cosmologist, said, ‘The universe is all there ever has been, and all there ever will be.’ If he was right, the Big Bang must be wrong: you cannot have both, and the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics suggest he was, in fact, wrong.

The universe had a definite beginning and it will have an end, of sorts, as entropy takes effect. There will be no more heat or light; it will be completely dark and unimaginably cold. Absolute zero and then some.

The earth was formed about four and a half billion years ago, and that quite violently. It took aeons to cool down sufficiently for life of any sort to form and approximately three point six billion years ago, the first life was formed on this hostile planet.

As the earth cooled and changed in nature, more and more complex life forms began to appear until about a hundred million years ago, mammals first appeared and modern man about a hundred thousand years ago. If we took a kilometre long piece of string and used it as a measure of life on earth, the whole of human history would be about one millimetre.

Now early man did not understand how lightning, thunder and earthquakes occurred, and needed an explanation, so they invented gods, which helped them explain the inexplicable. And as man developed and became more sophisticated, so did his religions until this current time, when we no longer need gods as an explanation for natural phenomena.

That is the viewpoint of secular humanism, and they believe they have the evidence to back it up. Let’s have a look at the evidence.

Firstly, they believe that science is able to explain everything, but is that true? Physics, mathematics and chemistry are extremely accurate sciences and everything can be measured exactly through repeatable, falsifiable experimentation and deduction. Is this true of the other sciences, though?

Let’s take biology for a start: is it as accurate as it is claimed to be? All my searches have revealed a lot of supposition and very little certainty, unlike the three aforementioned sciences. Allied to biology is, of course, evolution, which is even less accurate.

Theology was at one time known as the ‘Queen of the Sciences’, yet is no longer viewed as science. The reason is simple, of course. The information given in theology is neither testable, repeatable nor falsifiable. So it cannot be viewed a science.

By that token, neither can evolution, biology or quantum physics. Taking the Higgs-Boson as a starting point, there is 99.5% certainty that the particle was indeed observed, and this led to great excitement. The problem is repeating it, as they’re currently trying to do.

The Big Bang is not repeatable, neither is it falsifiable. It is accepted because a huge amount of evidence points to its happening. Using the Laws of Physics as our guide, however, it could not have happened. It did, however, create those laws as it went along, so that little objection is put aside for the moment.

Quantum Physics is purely theoretical and mathematical in nature. There have, however, been some remarkable predictions made, which have established this staggering field of science as valid and explained many heretofore inexplicable occurrences.

Biology on the other hand, especially evolutionary biology, works on a system of observation and extrapolation. X has happened in the past and, all things being equal, should happen again. Very often this is proven to be exactly as predicted, equally often not.

So putting something under the banner of science does not necessarily mean that it is science. It helps, because when we lump together all the disciplines of science under the single banner, then surely theology must fit into that category. As with palaeoanthropology, it is not repeatable, falsifiable or testable.

One of the sciences that is, is archaeology, which is not repeatable, but is testable and rigorous testing is done all along to assure that digs are not in any way polluted. And archaeology has thrown up some very interesting finds down the years, which have been rejected by the secular humanists as improbable and impossible.

In the mid eighteenth century, the Tübingen School of Higher Criticism tore the Bible to shreds and decide that Jesus had, in fact, never lived and that the Bible was a book of Bronze Age fairy tales. This was built on the Enlightenment in France and has, since the establishment of the Soviet Union, and its sterling work in discrediting the Bible, become accepted fact in large parts of the West.

It is believed, largely by secular humanists, that they are more intelligent than religious people in general, and Christian in particular.

However, the historical evidence for the existence of Jesus and His resurrection make a mockery of these claims. Tens of thousands of manuscripts support the Bible in its entirety, including the prophecies, but they are rejected on the word of scholars (?) of the Tübingen School, who decided that these things were not so. And their intellectual heirs show no embarrassment at each new finding in the Fertile Crescent. Instead they shout even louder that these things are not so.

Here we find things testable being rejected, while things untestable are accepted. How is this logical?

It’s one thing to parade under the banner of science, but when one of the sciences does not agree with you, you reject it out of hand. Is this the scientific method?

So when I started, it was my intention to prove, not only that god exists, but that the God of the Bible exists. How do I do that?

By going to history and archaeology.

As much protest as this is going to bring up, and the diatribe about to be released, here it comes.

Einstein, although a brilliant physicist, was no metaphysician: he had this to say about God: ’I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings.’

He believed, as do a large number of physicists, in a God who was distant and had created the universe. Of course, it could not stop there. If this God did, in fact, create the universe, and it has been proven it had a definite beginning, then why can He not be the God of the Bible?

If historians and archaeologists are to be believed, then Jesus walked this earth 2000 years ago, but that by itself means nothing. The prophecies concerning Jesus, many of which he fulfilled to the letter, bear testimony to the fact that, as far as Scripture is concerned, He was who He claimed to be.

Simon Greenleaf, professor of Law at Harvard in 1846, wrote the seminal work, ‘A Treatise on Judicial Evidence’. He concluded, after thoroughly studying the Gospels, that he would have to conclude their truthfulness, because of their differences, as there would be in accounts where there was no collusion.

Abiogenesis has been dismissed by a large and growing number of scientists, and the Big Bang has no explanation of how the singularity came to be, or what existed before it or, in fact, in what it was contained. Yet any idea of God is dismissed entirely by the first parties, and doubted by the second parties.

So, if vast amounts of evidence do not satisfy you, what would satisfy you? A personal visit from God wouldn’t do it, because when He did visit about 2000 years ago, he was rejected by most, especially those in authority.

Why is it that people find it easier to believe an error-ridden theory that poses as science, while rejecting archaeological and historical evidence for the God of the Bible? It cannot only be lack of accountability, as I personally know many of these people to be decent, law-abiding people who are involved in good works.

The evidence is there for anyone to see, if they examine it openly and without prejudice. But that is what it would require; examination without prejudice.

And I wonder how many of us are capable of that.

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