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Better At Street Preaching Than Debating Intellectuals

I thought Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron were outdone at the debate they did on National TV with atheists.  Debating intellectuals is not what they do best.  This is …

Limitations of Logic

Listen to Andrew Brody respond to my e-mail on his LSAT logic podcast entitled “Listener Logic #12.  I sent it in just a few days before this podcast and was surprised at the quick turnaround, and honored that he gave my questions so much attention.  People from all over the world listen to this podcast.  It’s quickly become my favorite podcast.

In my e-mail, I suggested that logic has major limitations in everyday life.  I also had in mind the larger principle that autonomous logic without “help” from intuition (“higher logic”) and ultimately value commitments, which are translogical, (like a commitment to the authority of revelation as in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) leads to absurdity.

His response is interesting, as he agrees with me that autonomous “formal” logic is not sufficient, but his comment about “safe assumptions,” leaves the ultimacy of what is or is not “logical” in the hands of relatively subjective intuition, which was my point in the first place.  Our intuition (our “higher logic”) must weigh in very heavily when it comes to making major decisions in life.  For example, I believe that we all have a “knowledge of God” in our hearts (Rom 1:18-23), whether we are trained by formal logic to prove or disprove this knowledge.  We all also have consciences that inform us about ethical decisions quite apart from statistics or formal reasoning.  That’s just the way God made us.  Discernment can inform a decision when autonomous logic leads to a dead end.
Our ultimate presuppositions could fit into Brody’s category of “safe assumptions,” which brings us to the point–logic cannot be the ultimate authority.  If it were, we couldn’t prove the laws of logic to be objectively authoritative in the first place, because we would have to assume they were authoritative in order to do so, which is circular reasoning.
How do we know that logic leads to objectivity if someone in China makes up a different set of logical rules?  Where do laws of logic come from?  How can we know that they are objective, transcultural, and therefore capable of objectivity?  Try to answer these questions without assuming logic, and you engage in circular reasoning.  Try to answer even with logic, and statistics will prove nothing.  Try to answer these questions from a broader “worldview” perspective, and you can makes sense of them.

If our logic is a development in evolution, then we have no reason to trust them as having been adapted to the human mind because they help us attain objective knowledge about the real world (Alvin Plantinga gives a highly sophisticated philosophical argument to make this point, entitled “Evolution vs. Atheism,”).  If our logic is informed by revelation, we can ground logic objectively, since it’s not man-made but God-implanted.  In a Christian worldview, God made the logic of the human mind to assist us in obtaining real knowledge about the real world.  He made our minds to perceive reality and reality to be perceived by our minds, and he made logic as our helper in the more sophisticated inquiry’s of the world.

Trust: priceless, but fragile…

When a little girl jumps into the open hands of her father, she gives us a picture of trust. She doesn’t even think about falling on her face; she smiles and leaps without hesitation, enjoying the thrill of the jump. Her father has never dropped her or failed to catch her; she doesn’t think twice.

But what would she think if her father dropped her, and she slipped from his hands onto the floor and split her precious little face? How would her child’s mind cope with the blood running down her tender face, and the anxious look in her fathers eyes when he sees the injury inflicted by means of his own hands? Panic. Fear. Confusion. Pain. In a rush to the hospital, how would her father cope with himself? What could the father say to her as she lay there bleeding profusely in the car and he speeds her to the emergency room? Would any words; any of her toys; any of the happy songs her and her father usually sing in the car be of any use at such a time? And though her child’s heart still longs for her daddy’s embrace, would she be able to jump for his arms again? How many times getting dropped and hurt would it take before a poor little child’s heart stops trusting in her well-meaning fathers arms? Would the father stay with her in the hospital? Should he stay with her in the hospital, holding her hand? Would he feel bad? Should he feel bad?

The good intentions of the hands of love that reach out for a trusting heart: well intentionioned, but still capable of letting a naive heart plunge into a pool of pain. Trust. Intentions can’t fully earn it, yet perfection cannot be the doorway into it. Trust. When it’s there, hope is always fresh. When it’s gone, the thrill of life is gone; the thrill of the jump is not worth the risk of the splitting of soft baby skin, and the inevitable pool of blood that awaits after the fall. Trust. Priceless, but fragile.

……….She’s Got Phillips Eyes!!!!!!!!!

Logical Impasse in Generational Judgment: Embracing the Mystery

Reading: Exodus 20.

God’s jealousy is made explicit to the people of Israel, and he explains as one of the consequences of his jealousy what I call generational judgment. God extends judgment for a man’s sins to that man’s children, and their children, and even their children – “on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me.” Honestly, this seems unjust. It seems unfair for God to punish anyone for a sin that they themselves did not personally commit. As I thought about this, I realized that this is exactly what God has done in the case of Adam, against the entire human race. We are all born sinful (not due to our own choices) because of the choice that Adam made. Because we are born sinful, we are born in a helpless state. That is, though we cannot help but being sinful people (since we are born that way it is our nature), we are still held guilty for our sinfulness.
This all seems unfair and unjust to me. But this is just the point. I have learned that though it may seem unrighteous for God to do such a thing, and though the scripture never really explains explicitly how God can do such a thing and still be righteous, I must believe by faith that there is an answer that would satisfy my troubled soul—only God has chosen not to defend himself against man’s logical scrutiny (Romans 9:18-23). God’s only response to such an accusation (which accusation still seems to me to be the fruit of sound logic) is something like, “Who are you to accuse almighty God of unrighteousness? Did I not create the reasoning ability within you? Have you become more reasonable and righteous in your judgment than the Holy One?!” And so, it is at this point that I put my hand over my mouth and pull out my “mystery” card. That is, I simply consider it a mystery how God can do such a thing and still be righteous.
The best explanation I have heard came from a lecture by R.C. Sproul in which he said something to the effect of this: Adam, since he was our headship, was our representative, and he represented us fairly. If he represented us fairly, then God’s imputing his guilt to us is fair. This is biblical and helpful, but it does not explain away the mystery. The only reason I could agree that Adam has represented us fairly is this: we are all born in sin and have a sin nature inherited from Adam, thus, his sin is surely an accurate representative of our own. But this is a circular argument (if you can see that).
In spite of such logical impasse, my soul is not–and need not be–vexed over this. I don’t hold this objection in the back of my mind as a chip on my shoulder against God. I actually believe that since God is God, he can do what He wants, and I trust that in all He does, He is righteous and just. I don’t just say that, but even in the face of God’s generational judgment (even as it applies to me), I zealously am ready to defend that God is still righteous and just; even merciful and gracious to all who breathe air and have life.
Prayer: Lord, I pray you would give me a humility that accepts Your Word and trust in Your judgment over and against the judgment of men. I pray you would strike me with a fear of You that would so overwhelm me, that I would experience a new level of sanctification in my life (Exodus 20:20). Put a fear of You deep within me, that I might not sin against you. Amen.
Picture Captions – The picture in my last blog (the one below) is not me. It’s my friend Daniel and his girlfriend Sarah. The above pictures were taken at the 2007 Walnut Street Inner-City Sports Banquet. The first is a picture of my friend Sam (Samkon Gado) and the second is Sarah Odom.
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