Thursday, June 14, 2007

God and Logic

I should preface this by saying I'm not much of a theologian (which becomes extremely apparent if you discuss anything theological with me for any extended period of time). I've studied theology at school, and my second major focuses around a lot of philosophical works, but I'm far from being a theologian.

That said: I went to Chapel Hill tonight to visit my cousin and hang out. We always have good conversations and tonight was no different. We discussed Hume a bit, and then we moved into Leibniz's best possible world argument. In discussing a paper that my cousin is writing, I objected to Leibniz's idea that logic was "created" by God. I said that it made far more sense to me that logic is part of God's nature. Now, it's muddled down here and we can't fully grasp the concept of "pure logic", but I imagine that rationality has its place within God's very nature (likewise with existence, goodness, etc). I then gave the example that I think triangles are inherently triangles. God, although omnipotent, cannot make square triangles (because this would be against His nature). Side Note: if logic is arbitrary, or if God 'created' logic, then on a whim, He could essentially create something illogical (or illogical to our current standard of logic) like a square triangle. But, since I don't think logic is arbitrary or created, but merely part of the spirit of life breathed into us, I don't have that problem./Side Note So, I believe that the concept of triangles is, in some way, part of the rationality that comes from God. Triangles have to be three-sided shapes whose interior angles add up to 180 degrees. This isn't because God decided it, or that a triangle could actually be a square if God so chose, but because there is an inherent triangleness within the mind of God.

You may say, "Gee, Josh, I think some philosopher beat you to the punch about 2400 years ago." Yeah, I sound like Plato. I dig Plato and I dig forms. However, I think that these "forms" exist within the mind of God. I think before creation ever existed, the idea of triangles existed within the mind of God. "Before the beginning, there was triangleness...."


Scott Bailey said...

I'm not familiar with this argument but would it be that God does not have logic because he already knows everything, therefore, he does not have to deduce stuff?

I don't think he is a cosmic Spock, but at the same time I would think that his super-intelligence, sound reason and judgment differ from our conceptions of logic in ways which we cannot understand the perfection of such attributes as part of his nature.

Still though, the scandal of grace and forgiveness often strikes me as illogical. God wants to forgive and be in relationship with us? Hmmm...

I have wondered the same thing about humor: would God create this as part of people's nature if he did not possess it inherently himself?

Josh McManaway said...

Scott- It's not an issue with how much God knows. There are logical non-deductive statements. My point is that God does not have logic, rather His very nature contains rationality. Like Aquinas, I'd say that God has existence as part of His nature. He can't not exist. Likewise, God has rationality as part of His nature. He can't not be logical.