Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Place of Logic

You can only find truth with logic
if you have already found truth without it.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936)
I found this quote online today. I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I embrace it in its refutation of using logic alone to ascertain our spiritual beliefs and realities. I all too often reduce my relationship with God to a logical defense of Scripture and His existence. On the other hand, I like to avoid what some call "blind faith," or basing one's view of God solely on emotion or human experience. This is not hard for me--I most often go to the other extreme. However, there is still a strong undertow of anti-intellectualism in the church today. (On that subject, J.P. Moreland's Love Your God With All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul is an excellent resource. Thanks, Mrs. Weinmann!)

What I'm getting at, dear reader, is a question: How far can logic take us in evaluating God's claims, and at what point does our emotional/spiritual experience and response come into play? I know full well that logic cannot be the end-all, for in itself, logic is invincible (to refute logic, you have to use logic--so you've lost before you've begun). God cannot be fully explained or comprehended by our logic, and logic alone will certainly not lead to salvation. But is Chesterton right in saying that we must find truth by other means before defining or defending truth? Or does his statement advocate presupposing the truth of God before being fully convinced? Or, even worse, not requiring a thorough conviction of the truth before "jumping on the bandwagon"?


Blogger guiroo said...

Lyrics from an old Charlie Peacock song:

There is a difference, a qualitative difference
Between what I know as a fact, and what I know as truth
It stands as a great divide to separate by thinking
From when I'm thinking foolishly and when I've understood

The facts of theology can be altogether cold
Though true in every way they alone can't change me
Truth is creative, transforming and alive
it's truth that keeps me humble, saved and set free

We can only possess what we experience

Balance, they both play a vital role. I'd say emotion makes it real to someone while logic validates it to everyone else.

See also...

4:43 PM, August 24, 2005  
Blogger Jeffrey J. Stables said...

I like that concise definition (last sentence of your comment). One more question, though: is finding truth without logic too emotional and unpredictable to be a first course of action? Perhaps some "experience" truth and then validate it, and others "discover" truth and then experience it. If that's right, then Chesterton is half wrong; though I still like the quote, in that it warns agains my own shortcomings.

10:20 PM, August 28, 2005  

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