Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Is Christianity Logical?

And, perhaps the more interesting question—Is it supposed to be?

Do you know there are Christians who believe the sun orbits around the earth? We may chuckle at the simplicity of the argument—“Since the Bible teaches it; it must be true” (and I cannot help noticing they use similar tactics to dispel scientific evidence as creationists do)—yet on the other hand I give them due credit. They stick to their guns regardless of the proof.

Young Earth Creationists claim the Bible teaches an earth no more than 20,000 years old (at the most) and, like the geocentric, flatly states any scientific evidence contrary to that claim must be incorrect. Some Old Earth Creationists allow for an earth 4-5 Billion years old, but like the geocentric and Young Earth Creationist, flatly state any scientific evidence for macro-evolution, since is it contrary to the Bible, must be wrong.

Inerrantists who are presented evidence of contradictions believe that evidence is being mis-interpreted, or confused, or inaccurate, due to the belief the books of the Bible do not contradict each other. Historians, who indicate based upon their research, study and archeology, an event in the Bible did not occur, are informed they must be in error. Regardless of our current proofs, the Bible—the written word of God—must be considered true.

The Old Earth Creationist may snicker at the geocentric, yet together they are claiming, “The Bible says it; it must be true, regardless of evidence to the contrary.” One merely takes it a bit farther than the other.

Yet one area in which the Bible must bend to the human is in the area of philosophy. People, including Christians, would like to be assured their belief is logically coherent. That their worldview is consistent. “Logic” has become the new god to supercede the old one. To demonstrate this reality—all one has to do is explore any forum in which Christians and skeptics debate. Within a few minutes, one will be quick to see an accusation (from either side) of “Logical Fallacy!” Which will just as quickly (and just as vociferously) be defended as to why it was not a logical fallacy. Soon the thread degrades into the indictment of the reprehensible crime of violating the “Logic Laws.”

I can throw out a few terms—“ad hom,” “strawman,” “ad hoc”--and anyone immersed in this apologetic dimension will immediately recognize the terms. Probably will remember a fight or two in which they were either used against you or by you. It is the ultimate disgrace to be “illogical” within a forum debate. As if we were a bunch of Vulcans; not humans.

We all can think of numerous times in which scientific proofs or physical evidence were discarded because the Bible claims otherwise, but on how many occasions have we been informed philosophy or “being logical” must be discarded because the Bible claims otherwise? Can you think of one? I’ll bet you can! It is the second most common passage tossed at skeptics—1 Cor. 1 & 2. Usually it plays out like so:

Christian: The Bible is “inspired” ‘cause it says so!
Skeptic: Well, I have a concern about a self-authenticating claim. Have you considered this point? Or this other point? Or that point? When studying it, I came across these concerns—can you address them for me? Or perhaps you can explain this problem, or provide a consistent method in this area? How do you address this issue? Or what of these circumstances?
Christian: Oh yeah? God has made foolish the wisdom of this world. 1 Cor. 1:20. [runs away.]

(And if you think I am being hyperbolic, this happened recently right here.)

Read 1 Cor. 1 & 2. Look at the comparison and contrast with world thinking as compared to spiritual thinking:

“…the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing…”
“…I [God] will destroy the wisdom of the wise…”
“Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?”
“…the world through wisdom did not know God…”
“…it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe…”
“…Greeks seek after wisdom…”
“…but we preach Christ crucified … to the Greeks foolishness…”
“…not many wise according to the flesh…are called….”
“…God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise…”
“…my [Paul’s] speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom…”
“…your faith should not be in the wisdom of men…”
“…not the wisdom of this age…”

How could this be any clearer? Wisdom of the World = Actual Foolishness. Foolishness of the World = Actual Wisdom. Paul sums it up with:
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Why are Christians so anxious to demonstrate their belief system would qualify among the contenders for “Wisdom of the World” when Paul says this very wisdom is spiritual foolishness? Are the Christians looking for the stamp of approval from “natural humans” in demanding we declare their beliefs “wise” by our standards? Paul’s blood pressure would rise so quickly his eyes would pop out at such a notion! Can you hear him shouting, “No, no, no! If the world considers what you state as ‘wise’ this is every indication it is actually foolish!”

Paul is looking for the following conversation:

Skeptic: Science shows the world is 4-5 Billion years old
YEC: No. God says differently, so science must be wrong.
Skeptic: You are not logical.
YEC: Fine, because God says the logic of this world is foolishness. Not spiritually discerned. Things you cannot understand. You’re saying this is actually a spiritual compliment to me.

Instead on the first point, the Christian YEC is more than willing to claim the evidence is wrong in light of the Bible, but on the second, is extremely hesitant to believe the Bible means it when it declares the wisdom of the world is foolishness. It sounds so…I don’t know…foolish to declare Christianity illogical, doesn’t it?

How does this play out? Take the very basic premise of logic—the law of non-contradiction. “A ≠ non-A.” Simply put, something cannot both be something, and at the same time NOT be the very same thing. We cannot exist and non-exist at the same moment. 0 cannot equal 1 (or “non 0” if you prefer.)

The reason for this premise is both for consistency in living out reality, as well as ability to communicate. When I say “The apple is in my hand” if “A = non-A” this sentence could mean:

“The apple is out of my hand.”
“The orange is in my hand.”
“The orange is out of my hand.”
“The apple is in my mouth.”
“The orange is out of my mouth.”

While some those statements could also be true, the point of the statement “The apple is in my hand” is to communicate a certain fact consistent with the words I am proclaiming. If logic fails, we are unable to consistently communicate, because words can have a variety of meanings, inconsistent with each other. We’d never know what the other person was saying.

Christianity claims Jesus was both God and Human. Not a demi-god. Not a superhuman. Not some new-fangled genetic mutation able to incorporate the abilities of both Gods and humans. But a creature 100% gen-u-ine, pureblood God, and 100% authentic, certified human at the same moment. Since humans are not God, this makes Jesus both God and non-God at the same time. Uh-oh. Sounds a bit like a violation of the law of non-contradiction, doesn’t it?

Can a creature logically be both God and non-God? Both Creator and Created? Be both Cause and effect? Further, this creates exactly the break-down in communication anticipated by the violation of the law of non-contradiction. How can a God be tempted? How can a God die? How can a human resurrect itself after death, since there are no brain waves? How can a human be perfect? Each question is answered by one of the two alternatives—either the bit about Jesus being God (hence resurrection and perfection) or the bit about Jesus being non-God (hence temptation and death.) When it is convenient for an apple to be an apple, it is declared an apple. When it is not, it is declared an orange.

The response to this apparent violation of a basic law of logic? While it may appear to be at odds with the law of non-contradiction, in reality it is not. We just don’t know why, because God’s ways are unknown.

Excuse me? So the way to make Christianity logical is to declare it by fiat and definition? But wouldn’t we be able to apply this broad definition to anything? “Sure, ‘1’ does not appear to be ‘0,’ but that is because we don’t have enough knowledge yet. In the future, we plan to discover that indeed 1 does equal 0.”

In other words, in order to make Christianity logical, we would need to re-define the term “logic” to mean something other than what we mean the rest of the time. “Logic” would have to be defined to what it is alleged God does, not what we observe about us. Christianity becomes “logical” by modifying the term.

Is that what Paul was intending? To claim the wisdom of God is to see logic in a whole new light, and not in the crass terms of how humans utilize it? Perhaps. Yet Paul himself goes on to use logic and reason and argument in the rest of his books, including 1 Corinthians. Paul acts as if logic is in place, but states it is not.

In the end, this is the same dodge. When it is helpful and beneficial to claim logical philosophy in order to impress, the Christian, along with the rest of humanity, is chanting and pitching, “Logic! Logic! Logic!” When the logic seems to break down, the Christian attempts to re-define it along terms which would never be accepted from any other claim. And when all else fails, logic is demonized as “wisdom of this world” and consequently foolishness.

Is Christianity logical? Two questions plague me on this notion:

1) Isn’t the claim Jesus was both God and non-God at the same time a violation of the law of non-contradiction as we know it?

2) Why isn’t logic included in the wisdom of the world which is actually foolishness according to Paul?


  1. In a nutshell, I've never thought that Christianity is logically consistent and (as far as how I approach it is concerned) it doesn't need to be since we're dealing with metaphysics. If we're going to degenerate into dueling Star Trek quotes, here's a fave: "logic is the beginning of knowledge, not the end."

    I too get bothered by the endless rationalization by fellow Christians who try to explain the very real inconsistencies and contradictions in the Bible. I see that, along with the attempts to find physical evidence that "proves" the Bible, as an end-run around faith. Without faith, religion is cheapened.

    Funny you should bring up the man-god controversy. It really was a controversy for the first couple of centuries of church history, and was generally "resolved" in the Council of Chalcedon in the 5th Century. Until then, there were dueling theories of Christology:

    Nestorianism: Jesus is actually two unique persons: the divine Christ and the mortal Jesus.
    Monophysitism: Jesus had only one nature, divine, that either overwhelmed his humanity (Eutychianism) or controlled the human body like a robot (Apollinarianism).
    Docetism: Jesus had only one nature, divine, and his physical body was only an illusion.
    Chalcedonianism (developed by Pope Leo I of Rome): Jesus was one person, simultaneously fully human and fully God.

    The last one eventually won out and followers of the other traditions were declared heretics.

    Ironically enough, the complaint about Chalcedon by the Monophysites was similar to the question that Dagoods poses. How can one person being simultaneously God and Man be considered logically consistent?

    The Church pretty much squashed all debate until very, very recently (when the Unitarians showed up).

  2. I think to try explain the whole God-human debate is way over my head - and like Dagoods on some level - I can't make sense of the whole thing. I could accept Pope Leo's decleration - but that doesn't make anything more consistent here. All I can do is go back and look at the claims and see for myself - just what are these writer's truly getting at - and what does it all mean? And even then, no guarantee I get what Pope Leo affirms.

    As for Paul's rant about foolishness he is onto something here - if we look at ethics/values - which is usually where Paul takes things like this (when referring to the gospel).

    For example, it is foolish to help someone in need when you are working towards bigger and better for yourself (not them). It would also be foolish to not enjoy all the pleasures of the planet when you think it all has no meaning - except to fulfill your own desires. It is also very foolish to sacrifice your life for another's - since you only have this one and that makes no logical sense to just let it die. There actually seems to be very little logic in the idea of 'sacrifice' from certain angles of society or the idea of 'salvation' (since we live and die for ourselves).

    So to me Paul makes sense on that level - and just maybe - Christianity in general is using this scriptural idea as a crutch to being honest about stuff they can't claim as 'unverifiable truth' (ex: earth's age or how much of Jesus was human or the Trinity). I think Dagoods is calling the use of 'foolishness' a 'cop-out' and I am sure he is right - it seems to be.

    But I don't think Paul is making a comparison about logic in the communities - but where that logic is landing the parties afterwards and what they do with it - likely in terms of values. I think we see a bevy of deities in Rome and Greece in this age - each to a cause - maybe Paul is asking the obvious - is all that worship making your society more ethical? Maybe Paul thinks 'no'. He see's someone being fooled here.

  3. I couldn't help but notice that the Geocentric Bible's writer is named Gordon Bane. Does that mean its Banal? Histerically funny stuff.

    Dagoods, there was a leap on your part here: Some Old Earth Creationists allow for an earth 4-5 Billion years old, but like the geocentric and Young Earth Creationist, flatly state any scientific evidence for macro-evolution, since is it contrary to the Bible, must be wrong.

    Are you talking about abiogenesis? Pond scum to bacteria? Is there any evidence for that, other than the "oh, it could happen over a loooooong time" routine? That matter could organize itself into complex, living organisms [even the single cell] is as "natural" as Creationism.

    Society hit the nail on the head on the difference between worldly wisdom and God's wisdom. If God was as ego-centric and blind as we are, He would never have gone through the trouble to create us.

    “The Bible says it; it must be true, regardless of evidence to the contrary.”

    Ironically, so much of what Christians think the Bible "says" isn't what the Bible says at all.


  4. Have you all read C.S. Lewis's "Till We Have Faces"? He rather cleverly points out that it's not that our logical maxims are wrong, but that they are not enough to hold Truth. They can point to it, but not contain it. Moreover, our blindness to Truth stems from our unwillingness to face the truth about ourselves.

    I don't mean that last as a slam against anyone. I know that I can neither see inside your heads, nor am I in any place to judge you.

    It's an interesting read. I'm not a huge fan of anything touted as "Christian" simply because I stubbornly resist the acculturating influence, but I've just read this one, and it is great. Lewis is undeniably a brilliant man by anyone's standard.

  5. Flycandler,

    Hey, I like blaming the Unitarians as much as everyone else does! *wink* But I have a slightly different theory as to why these conversations are coming to head. Not that mine is any better than anyone else’s, mind you….

    Christianity was born in a time of myth and logic. Karen Armstrong refers to this in Battle for God as ”mythos/logos.” A combination of Cynic philosophy, altruism, religious belief, and notions demons caused sickness, and the full moon was a thing of evil. A time of development of mathematics, combined with claims of virgin births, and earthquakes at great events.

    Society has changed. We now focus on the logic, more than the mystery. Rather than appreciate déjà vu, or wonder at its occurrence, we attempt to analyze it, and derive a neurological/biological explanation for why it exists. The magic of Love has become the analysis of daytime talk shows. We want books which tell us to do this action for this long in this way, and we will be assured of specific results. We don’t want to hear, “Take a walk on the Beach, and learn to love in a way that suits you.” We want specifics—what beach, how long, and what, precisely do I say and do?

    Christianity, as a whole, feels it has to keep pace with this society in order to compete in the marketplace of ideas. An evidentiary argument for the Resurrection of Christ is valued over, “I believe it because I do.” Alvin Plantinga is extolled; the mystic is despised. Unfortunately, Christianity is forgetting its roots. It is attempting to fit the proverbial square peg (logic ONLY) in the proverbial round hole (Logic/Mystical combined) and is losing its mythical sense.

    It seems as if Christianity is attempting to remove “faith” and replace it with “reasonable justification based upon the evidence, resulting in a well-argued position which all should believe.”

    Just my opinion, of course…

  6. SocietyVs, I would agree Paul often talks about comparative ethics between the Spiritual and the World. Romans 1 and Galatians 5 come readily to mind. Which raises the question as to why, if Paul did it elsewhere, even in 1 Corinthians (1 Cor. 6:9-11) would he use different language here? Isn’t it more plausible he was talking about something different than ethics/values?

    This appears to me mixing metaphors. If we stay consistent under this interpretation let’s replace “foolish” with “immoral” and “wise” with “moral,” We would have Paul says:

    “…the message of the cross is immoral to those who are perishing…”
    “…I [God] will destroy the morality of the moral…”
    “Has not God made immoral the morals of this world?”
    “…the world through morals did not know God…”
    “…it pleased God through the immorality of the message preached to save those who believe…”
    “…Greeks seek after morality…”
    “…but we preach Christ crucified … to the Greeks immorality…”
    “…not many moral according to the flesh…are called….”
    “…God has chosen the immoral things of the world to put to shame the moral…”
    “…my [Paul’s] speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human morality…”
    “…your faith should not be in the morality of men…”
    “…not the Morality of this age…”

    For some of these, it fits, but for others it makes no sense. What it seems to me, you are saying sometimes “foolish” means “values/ethics” in these passages, and sometimes it means “foolish.” Hence the mixed metaphor.

    No, if Paul elsewhere demonstrates he is adapt at comparing/contrasting world values and ethics as to Spiritual values/ethics, and he chooses to not use similar language here—I take it he meant this is not a comparison of those values/ethics. These words mean, in the Greek, “Wisdom” and “foolish.” To reinterpret them otherwise would require more than supposition.

  7. jennypo

    I have not read ’Till we have faces. Frankly, outside of the Christian community, C.S. Lewis is not very high regarded. Sorry. What books and excerpts I have read leave much to be desired, in my opinion.

    A bit off-topic; something you may be interested in. In my blog wanderings, I happened across this
    Blog Article with this comment.

    You can read the whole blog entry, and the whole comment, but I would highlight this portion of the comment:

    “It is because I know by the spirit that the Book of Mormon is true and that personal revelation has worked in my own life. I believe that God wants us and needs us to be really humble and converted by the Spirit not just by sight so he can do this work in us to help us really become what we are sent to earth to become. God has prepared a tool for us to really to converted and know if all of this LDS stuff is really true. That tool is the Book of Mormon.

    ”If someone reads the Book of Mormon and prays about it with a sincere heart, with real intent, they will know by the spirit it is true. If the Book of Mormon is true then Joseph Smith is true, and the Church that was restored through Joseph Smith is true, and the prophets called after are prophets of God that receive revelation from God to guide the Church are true. We can come to know by knowing that the Book of Mormon is true that the LDS Church is Christ Church once again upon the earth.”

    Do you think this person is correct? The only reason we have failed to all convert to Mormonism is lack of sincerity and intent? Is this persuasive to you to convert to Mormonism? What method should I, as a skeptic, determine Mormonism is incorrect, but your particular God is, when you both use the same elusive claims as to the God’s viability?

  8. ***Frankly, outside of the Christian community, C.S. Lewis is not very high regarded. Sorry. (DagoodS)

    I have to disagree with you here. As I have said before, I interact for the most part outside of the Christian community. Lewis was recommended to me by an atheist who isn't interested in the points Lewis has to make as his brilliant understanding of culture and psychology, and his ability to communicate it in both fiction and non-fiction media. Non-Christians may not share his views, but C.S. Lewis is respected in mainstream culture as both a thinker and a writer. I studied him in (secular) university without even knowing his Christian views.

    ***What method should I, as a skeptic, determine Mormonism is incorrect, but your particular God is, when you both use the same elusive claims as to the God’s viability? (DagoodS)

    What, because a Mormon agrees with me I have to change my mind? If we both claim that soap is a cleaner, and yet the results are different for each of us, then I'd say that there are TWO possibilities, one being that soap is not indeed a cleaner; the other being that one of us hasn't used the soap. You, being unable to see inside my head or the head of the writer of the post you cite, cannot judge which of us this is. The only option you have, if you really want to know, is to try the soap yourself. I do insist that the method is correct, whether or not you choose to espouse Mormonism.

    The knowledge of Truth can only begin with honesty in ourselves, because in beginning, ourselves is what we can know with certainty. Nobody can make any of us do this. We are each responsible for what we know. The Bible makes clear that we will not be judged by God's law, but by our own. It is my conscience that will condemn me and yours, you. If you can live in accord with your own conscience, what right do I have to tell you anything?

  9. Hi Dagoods
    You were pointing to scientific evidence for macro-evolution. Have you found any yet? Is abiogenesis logical?

  10. Jim Jordan,

    I’m sorry. Forgot to respond to your comment. As far as I know every single Geocentric who bases their belief on the Bible, every YEC and every OEC believes in supernatural abiogenesis. (You do realize we ALL believe in abiogenesis—life from non-life. You believe it happened supernaturally; I—naturally.)

    YEC’s do not (except maybe rarely. I know of none) hold to macro-evolution. OEC’S (as far as I know universally) hold to micro-evolution but some do not hold to macro-evolution. Some do. Minor changes within species, but not speciation on a broad scale. A theistic evolutionist would hold to macro-evolution.

    You do know abiogenesis and macro-evolution are two completely different things. If you don’t think so, get in a room with a theistic evolutionist taking on a YEC! *grin*

    As far as I know, there is nothing violating the laws of logic to claim abiogenesis happened—including supernatural and natural abiogenesis. Is there something you are claiming is not logical about the possibility?

  11. there is nothing violating the laws of logic to claim abiogenesis happened—including supernatural and natural abiogenesis

    I guess my question was "how does abiogenesis happen naturally"? Is there evidence? Regards.

  12. DagoodS,
    Wanted to clarify that I am not saying, neither can I say, that you are not searching for God in truth. If I could, I'd be wasting my time even talking to you. Ultimately, who are any of us to say that an individual's journey to God doesn't take them through Mormonism, or even through atheism? The Bible only promises that the end of a truthful search for Truth will be the God who is Truth. It doesn't say anything about what comes before the end, and I know lots of people who have come to know that God in vastly different, some would say very roundabout ways. God is patient. He hasn't laid out a spiritual highway. He knows where each of us is.

    Truth is indeed uncovered by those who are willing to be uncovered by it, be they Mormon, Muslim, Wiccan, Agnostic, or Christian. And I will maintain that so is God known.

  13. The best evidence is that we are here. *wink*

    If you are looking for a source regarding abiogenesis, here is as good a place to start as any.

  14. Amen, Dagoods. I've been saying in all sorts of places that a religion that tries to prove itself using physical evidence is no longer a faith, and it bugs me that Christianity is moving in that direction. Again, faith is the ability to take that step forward in a darkened room and hope that there is solid ground ahead.

    I like the idea of the tension between myth and logic in Christianity. Yes, the development of Christianity was very much influenced by the surrounding culture, if only because the Church consists of human beings. One of my criticisms of Paul is that he tends to fall back on Greek philosophy to underline his points. In fact, comparing the words of Jesus (a Palestinian Jew born in Judaea and supposedly having never left save for a brief trip to Egypt when a baby) and the commentaries on them by Paul (a Roman citizen born in Asia Minor and fluent in Greek) can bring up some surprising differences.

    This isn't to say that Christianity should be all mythos and no logos. My background is in the Presbyterian Church, which has a proud tradition of endless debate and discussion and analysis and task force reports. There needs to be a balance, and IMO the fundamentalists have been piling on so hard onto the logos to justify their position that the mythos suffers.

    I chuckle to remember that in South Park, God is a Buddhist and the only people in heaven are (or as a demon announces to the devout Catholic who finds himself in Hell, "the right answer is...") Mormons.

  15. I think you're conflating logical consistency with rationality, which is logic applied to the evidence of one's senses.

    As you note, saying some belief system is logical says merely that that no two statements directly contradict each other.

    Even if two statements appear to directly contradict each other, they are a contradiction only if the statements are expressed absolutely precisely (such as in mathematical theorems).

    Once even a little imprecision is admitted, it becomes possible to claim that even statements which appear to directly contradict each other are not really in contradiction: It can be said that the meanings of the statements are sufficiently different that they are not in contradiction.

    There are three conditions that make for meaningful, rational discourse: Precision (including univocality), logic, and sensibility. Of the three, it is the last, sensibility — the evidence of one's senses as the sine qua non of meaning and truth — that is the most important.

    The issue is further confused because Christians (including professional apologists such as Swinburne and Plantinga) seem woefully unskilled at basic logic.

  16. The Barefoot Bum,

    Oh, I have conflated before. Nothing unique in that. *grin*

    My question would be, though, if the only question of logical consistency would require contradictory, “absolute,” precise statements, is there any worldview or belief which is logically inconsistent? It would seem I could start off with saying, “Anything I say is consistent with everything else I say, even if it does not appear to be so” and by defining it as such, could never produce an illogical statement. Even “0=1.” Because I have already declared nothing can be inconsistent, and could equally re-define “0” and “1” in such a way as to lose precision.

    That may seem extreme, yet Trinitarian Christianity declares “1=3” by re-defining 3 so as to lose precision.

    Further, it seems to me Christianity is trying to say more than it is logical within itself. It does not seem satisfied to be declared “illogical” by others’ standards. It wants its cake and eat it too—to be both logical within itself AND logical within the observational data.

  17. Dagoods,
    You're kidding, right?
    From your link.

    It is now generally agreed that if life arose spontaneously by natural processes—a necessary assumption if we wish to remain within the realm of science—it must have arisen fairly quickly, more in a matter of millennia or centuries, perhaps even less, than in millions of years. Even if life came from elsewhere, we would still have to account for its first development. Thus we might as well assume that life started on earth.

    How this momentous event happened is still highly conjectural
    , though no longer purely speculative. The clues come from the earth, from outer space, from laboratory experiments, and, especially, from life itself.

    Lots of words that sum up the truth, "We don't know @#$%!" I will try to be diplomatic and call this "theory" of abiogenesis a tautology and leave it at that.

    You also said, The best evidence is that we are here.

    Insert "for God" after evidence and you'd have it right.:-)

    Flycandler, are you saying that as Reformed Christians we must not believe that what we believe can or will ever be proven to be true? Is that your point?

  18. Jim,

    Just because we do not know precisely how abiogenesis happened, does not therefore mean that you can insert "God did it." Not knowing the nature of how something works is not in any way an indication that therefore it works apart from nature. Before we knew how it happened, we used to think the Sun "went around" the Earth because a god was riding in a fiery chariot.

    Perhaps you can explain how "a magic man did it" is in any way less conjectural than "it happened through natural processes we don't completely understand yet"?

  19. Jim Jordan,

    I figured you really didn’t want research on the issue, since it is easily enough found, and there would be no need to ask me for help in that regard. But being the eternal optimist, I thought I would give you the benefit of the doubt…

    O.K. You don’t like the link. Explain the process by which God created life, then.

  20. Hi Micah
    Not knowing the nature of how something works is not in any way an indication that therefore it works apart from nature.

    Dead matter organizing itself into living cells is "apart from nature" by definition. It violates natural laws.

    Dagoods, I can't say how God created us but we'll never be able to say how he did it inside of what we call "science" for the same reason I gave above.

    Our very existence is super-natural. That's why the apostle Paul said his existence was so GD obvious. ;-)

    P.S. - I did scan the links for info on Abiogenesis but got nothing more than the "we'll figure it out naturally because it must be natural" merry-go-round, one of which I copied and pasted.

  21. ** Why isn’t logic included in the wisdom of the world which is actually foolishness according to Paul?**

    I do think that what Paul's referring to would have to go beyond ethics or values -- for one thing, part of what Paul is preaching about is a supernatural event. Someone dying, and then resurrecting three days later. That pretty much violates how life and death logically operate. You don't die in that manner and then come back three days later. It violates the natural laws. So I wonder if that's part of what the Greeks saw as foolishness? It would probably depend on how supernaturally oriented their communities were in the first place, and if the whole coming back to life was prevalent in their culture. If not, and everyone "knew" that people don't come back from the dead, then yes, it is going to look foolish.

    The other thing with much of Paul's letters, and even in the gospels, is that one can't "reason" their way to God, or logically find God. If God decided to not seek after humanity, then we wouldn't find God or discover God. Period. Hence the whole spiritually descerning stuff, and such. So if the only way to know about God is through highly subjective means, and radical announcements such as a resurrection, then yes, it is going to look foolish, because you are telling people they can't rely on logic to determine this. And without some sort of "groundrules" for how things function, how do you go about determining the validity of anything? It's like the example you give, with the whole 1=3. That's illogical, and violates a mathematical principle. If you say there are three persons, then by using the word "three" to describe the people, you mean that there are three seperate people, who are not the same. Yet when Christianity uses "three," the meaning changes, and becomes pretty much what "three" doesn't mean. "Three" has become meaningless.

    So, to answer your question, I'm not sure you can say it's logical, because there's no "objective" standard to measure the logic by. We basically come down to the system being logical because the system says so, because this system is dictating what does and does not make it logical.

  22. Jim Jordan,

    What law does natural abiogenesis violate?

  23. Flycandler, are you saying that as Reformed Christians we must not believe that what we believe can or will ever be proven to be true? Is that your point?

    Jim, what I'm saying is that one of the main principles of the Reformation is the centrality of faith (it's one of the five solas after all). In other words, we as Reformed Christians do not need to believe that what we believe can or will ever be proven to be true.

    We live in hope and trust that God will fulfill God's promises to us, even if we lack physical evidence of such. In a way, self-described Christians demanding physical evidence for God is IMO a sort of affront to God. Especially in the tradition of Calvin (I hate that the term "Calvinist" has gotten so polluted over the centuries), we emphasize the sovereignty of God. This is God's universe, and we trust that it will all work out in the end. Meantime, let's get on with loving God and neighbor.

    Jesus himself touches on this in Matthew 12. In response to a demand that he produce a sign, he replies that "an evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah." (12.39 NRSV) Essentially, rather than physical evidence for the existence of God, what we get is the same as the city of Nineveh got--mere words spoken by a human.

  24. Hi Dagoods
    Abiogenesis does appear to break the Second Law of Thermodynamics but there is the fact that the Earth with the sun beaming down on it is an open system, not an isolated system. Obviously, the sun and earth sustain life, but could this cocktail bring about complex living organisms from dead matter? I think not. There is zero evidence for abiogenesis despite all the lists of terms and hypotheticals they can invent.

    This pro-abiogen site had me laughing even though the folks are very passionate about what they believe.

    I know Sola Fide, by faith alone. This is for salvation. Nothing we can do can save ourselves, so we are saved by faith. Do you believe evidence is prohibited? I agree that it is by necessity subservient to faith. A lot of our "evidence", indeed most of it, has been dead wrong.

    Jesus said "an evil generation demands a sign" because He knows that's just an excuse. There are signs everywhere. God doesn't need to present us with a sign.

    Take care all.

  25. Dagood:

    (Sorry for the delay in my response; I'm in the middle of moving.)

    if the only question of logical consistency would require contradictory, “absolute,” precise statements, is there any worldview or belief which is logically inconsistent?

    Basically, no: any worldview can, with sufficient effort, be made logically consistent. There are logical inconsistencies in worldviews only by virtue of lack of skill, not inherent contradiction.

    That's why I consider attacking mere logical (in)consistency to be an ineffective critique of any philosophy, especially Christianity with its enormous semantic flexibility and ambiguity. It also offers the apologist the opportunity of appearing to "win" by redefining his meaning and inventing premises which render her worldview "logical".

    Start studying secular philosophy and you'll (sadly) discover the tendency to consider logical consistency as a indicator of truth not confined to religious thought.

    Having read (and very much enjoyed) your deconversion story, the precise moment you headed down the inevitable path to atheism was not when you discovered logical inconsistencies in the Bible, but when you stopped taking the Bible as absolutely foundational, when you decided that you should evaluate the truth of the Bible according to a rational (i.e. sensible) foundation. Once you do that, the only alternative to atheism is the decision to just not think about the subject, an alternative you happily do not appear capable of.

  26. Jim, first, I'm not sure why you think the "pro-abiogen site" was so laughable. Either you are so convinced of your own point of view that new information is irrelevant (and therefore laughable) or you simply don't understand what's being discussed. As a Christian, I read through it and nodded. It's based on pretty good science. I don't find my faith undermined by the idea.

    Which gives me a nice segue. In the very narrow terms of the essence of faith, yes, I think that requiring evidence goes against what faith is. My personal opinion is that evidence is at best counterproductive to faith. God is not nor does God necessarily want to be scientifically proven. If you can pull out some incontrovertible scientific evidence that the King James Bible of 1611 is, Genesis to Revelation, literally and inerrantly true, then where is faith? Why bother believing anymore?