Thursday, June 30, 2011

Logic in Man

"Of course, the Scripture says that
God's thoughts are not our thoughts
and his ways are not our ways. But
is it good exegesis to say that this
means his logic, his arithmetic, his
truth are not ours? If this were so,
what would the consequences be? 
by Gordon H. Clark

[Note: the following is an excerpt from God and Logic by Gordon Clark, published in the November/December 1980 issue ofThe Trinity Review]

With this understanding of God’s mind, the next step is the creation of man in God’s image. The non-rational animals were not created in his image; but God breathed his spirit into the earthly form, and Adam became a type of soul superior to the animals.

To be precise, one should not speak of the image of God in man. Man is not something in which somewhere God’s image can be found along with other things. Man is the image. This, of course, does not refer to man’s body. The body is an instrument or tool man uses. He himself is God’s breath, the spirit God breathed into the clay, the mind, the thinking ego. Therefore, man is rational in the likeness of God’s rationality. His mind is structured as Aristotelian logic described it. That is why we believe that spaniels have teeth. In addition to the well-known verses in chapter one, Genesis 5:1 and 9:6 both repeat the idea. 1 Corinthians 11:7 says, “man ... is the image and glory of God.” See also Colossians 3:10 and James 3:9. Other verses, not so explicit, nonetheless add to our information. Compare Hebrews 1:3, Hebrews 2:6-8, and Psalm 8. But the conclusive consideration is that throughout the Bible as a whole the rational God gives man an intelligible message.   

It is strange that anyone who thinks he is a Christian should deprecate logic. Such a person does not of course intend to deprecate the mind of God; but he thinks that logic in man is sinful, even more sinful than other parts of man’s fallen nature. This, however, makes no sense. The law of contradiction cannot be sinful. Quite the contrary, it is our violations of the law of contradiction that are sinful. Yet the strictures which some devotional writers place on “merely human” logic are amazing. Can such pious stupidity really mean that a syllogism that is valid for us is invalid for God? If two plus two is four in our arithmetic, does God have a different arithmetic in which two and two makes three or perhaps five? The fact that the Son of God is God’s reason-for Christ is the wisdom of God as well as the power of God-plus the fact that the image in man is so-called “human reason,” suffices to show that this so-called “human reason” is not so much human as divine.

Of course, the Scripture says that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and his ways are not our ways. But is it good exegesis to say that this means his logic, his arithmetic, his truth are not ours? If this were so, what would the consequences be? It would mean not only that our additions and subtractions are all wrong, but also that all our thoughts-in history as well as in arithmetic-are all wrong. If for example, we think that David was King of Israel, and God’s thoughts are not ours, then it follows that God does not think David was King of Israel. David in God’s mind was perchance prime minister of Babylon.

To avoid this irrationalism, which of course is a denial of the divine image, we must insist that truth is the same for God and man. Naturally, we may not know the truth about some matters. But if we know anything at all, what we must know must be identical with what God knows. God knows all truth, and unless we know something God knows, our ideas are untrue. It is absolutely essential therefore to insist that there is an area of coincidence between God’s mind and our mind.

The Trinity Review, November, December 1980
Copyright © 1998-2011 The Trinity Foundation

Posted by permission from The Trinity Foundation
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