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What are the limits of logic and is logic more important than God’s Word?
I have read your article on “Is There Really a God?” I absolutely have to agree with you on your logic about inteligent design and the existence of God. However, I must admit, I do have a point of contention near the end. You wrote, “. . . it makes sense to base our worldview on what God has written in His Word.” Now, of course, by His Word you mean the Bible. So, now I would like to ask you this: By what logic do [you] infer that the Bible is God’s word? If it’s because, as you say, what we read in the Bible agrees with what we see in the World, than wouldn’t that mean that what we see in the World supercedes what we read in the Bible? If what we saw in the world ever contridicted what we read in the Bible, than what are we to believe? And if the Bible were ever to be proven wrong, would that mean that God does not exist, or does the logic you spoke of earlier still prove His existence? And if it does, wouldn’t that mean the logic supercedes the Bible. Just some food for thought.
I have read your article on “Is There Really a God?” I absolutely have to agree with you on your logic about inteligent design and the existence of God. However, I must admit, I do have a point of contention near the end. You wrote, “. . . it makes sense to base our worldview on what God has written in His Word.” Now, of course, by His Word you mean the Bible. So, now I would like to ask you this: By what logic do [you] infer that the Bible is God’s word?
Thank you for contacting Answers in Genesis. You’ve asked some excellent questions. Let me start by pointing out that we do not simply infer that the Bible is God’s Word. Rather we accept this presuppositionally as our ultimate starting point. An argument cannot go on forever; therefore, all chains of argumentation must end in an ultimate commitment—a standard that cannot be established from something more foundational than itself (otherwise it would not be ultimate). Since an ultimate standard cannot be proved from anything beyond itself, it must be self-attesting—and the Bible is. It claims to be God’s Word, and one either accepts that claim or does not. (However, as we’ll see, not accepting that claim leads to irrationality.)
Just a short email of encouragement for Ken & Co. I’ve been watching the Great Debate series and believe that this will bring questions into the minds of Christians watching as to what they actually believe. The other two on the panel are looking at everything from the world’s perspective, and I can understand the frustration of trying to explain that. Keep up the good work; your work is greatly encouraging me, so I thought I should let you know and thank you for all your time and efforts.
I recently watched the Great Debate video, and I thought Ken and Jason did an excellent job in what was obviously a far-from-neutral debate. I wanted to comment on one of the arguements of Ross and Kaiser:
This idea that creation needs to be redeemed as well as humantity but that the cause of of needing restored is different raises several theological and logical problems. One of the most obvious is this: REstoration and REdemption involve bringing something back to the original state it was in. So, how can creation, regardless of the cause of the curse, be REdeemed and REstored when, as Ross says, there has been a curse of death, pain, and suffering since the begining? Not to mention that if creation’s curse isn’t from the 1st Adam, then how would the triumph of the Second Adam fix it?
[This is a] clear example that adding man’s ideas into scripture never works.
Let us know what you think.
Some might object that accepting the Bible as God’s Word simply because it says so is circular reasoning. And I have several things to say about this. First, this objection is something of a double standard. For example, consider this very article. It probably didn’t occur to anyone reading this that it was written by anyone other than me. This article claims to be written by me, and most people would accept it as written by me on that very basis! People often apply a double standard when reading the Bible.
Second, it’s important to point out that some degree of circular reasoning is inevitable when it comes to an ultimate standard. Since an ultimate standard cannot appeal to a greater standard for its authority, it must appeal to itself. This is true of any alleged ultimate standard—not just the Bible. When people accept the Bible as God’s Word because it says it is, this is circular. But when people reject the Bible as God’s Word, they too are reasoning in a circle. That is, they start with the assumption that God has not revealed Himself in the Bible, and end with the conclusion that God has not revealed Himself in the Bible. Any ultimate standard involves some degree of circularity.
Third, although both Christians and non-Christians must use a degree of circularity when appealing to an ultimate standard, not all circles are equal. The Christian worldview can make sense of human reasoning and experience. In other words, if (and only if) we start from the Bible as our ultimate standard, it makes sense that there would be laws of logic, uniformity in nature, senses and memory that are basically reliable, a moral code, and many other things that we take for granted. But, without the Bible as our ultimate standard, the foundation for these things is lost; and so there would be no possibility for true knowledge (Romans 1:21). Apart from Scripture, why should we expect that the universe would be rationally understandable? The Christian worldview confirms itself, but non-Christian circles contradict themselves, as shown here: Evolution: The Anti-science.
So, we accept the Bible as the inerrant Word of God by faith, but it’s not a “blind faith.” Faith in the Bible leads to rationality and knowledge; the Christian worldview makes sense of human experience and reasoning. However, a rejection of the Bible as the ultimate standard leads to irrationality; any other standard cannot make sense of human experience and reasoning. Apart from God’s Word, why would we expect to be able to understand the universe?
This is the “proof” of the Bible as God’s Word: without God as revealed in His Word, it would be impossible to prove anything (Proverbs 1:7). So, I have a very good reason for my faith. Without the Christian worldview, I would not be able to account for reasoning. I believe so that I may understand.
If it’s because, as you say, what we read in the Bible agrees with what we see in the World, than wouldn’t that mean that what we see in the World supercedes what we read in the Bible?
If we thought we could conclude that the Bible is God’s Word by observing the world alone, we would have it backwards. In order for our observations of the world to be meaningful, the Bible would have to be true. Otherwise, we would have no reason to think that our senses and memory are reliable, or that there is uniformity in nature. That being said, what we do see in the world confirms what we read in God’s Word. We see evidence of design in nature, order and regularity in the universe, and so on. We also see evidence of the curse. These all confirm (but do not prove) the Bible. The Bible must be presupposed in order to make sense of anything else.
If what we saw in the world ever contridicted what we read in the Bible, than what are we to believe?
Since the universe is upheld by God’s power (Hebrews 1:3), it necessarily will be consistent with what God has said in His Word. However, there are instances where our interpretation of what we observe with our senses does not match our understanding of Scripture. When this happens, we should cautiously double-check to make certain we have done proper exegesis of the biblical text and then use the clear propositional truth of the Bible to help correct our understanding of nature. After all, nature is not propositional truth and would be meaningless without presupposing the truths of Scripture. Without the Bible there would be no reason to trust our senses in the first place—or to suppose that nature would be understandable in any fashion.
And if the Bible were ever to be proven wrong, would that mean that God does not exist, or does the logic you spoke of earlier still prove His existence? And if it does, wouldn’t that mean the logic supercedes the Bible. Just some food for thought.
Upon careful reflection, it is clear that the Bible cannot be proved wrong. In order to prove something, you’d need laws of logic. But laws of logic presuppose the biblical God (see Atheism: An Irrational Worldview). So, without God as revealed in the Bible, there would be no foundation for the laws of logic by which we prove other things. Logic is contingent upon the biblical God.
Dr. Jason Lisle