No, the Laws of Logic Are Not Created
January 18, 2013 § 7 Comments
I’ve been struggling through Greg Bahnsen’s book Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended, and so I have had to deal with the question of whether or not logic is created. Now, I say I am struggling through Bahnsen’s book not because Bahnsen is too difficult a read, but because Bahnsen seems to have it in for Clark and, consequently, completely misrepresents his position.
Whatever the case may be, I have had to consider Logic. Is it created?
The answer is, well, No. Here is why:
1. God is eternally Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
2. And Each Person is eternally Self-Identical and Personally Distinct.
3. And Each Person as Himself eternally loves Each Other.
4.Therefore, Each Person eternally thinks the Law of identity (the Father is the Father, etc).
5. And Each Person eternally thinks the Law of Non-Contradiction (the Father is not the Son, etc).
6. And these two laws, in eternal operation, imply further the law of the excluded middle.
7.Therefore, Logic is not created.
Note that this follows inexorably from the fact that God is a Trinity. Therefore, either God is eternally Triune and thinks the laws of logic eternally, or God does not eternally think the laws of logic eternally and is not Triune.
I don’t think there is any way around this, but feel free to correct me :)
Clark explains this more eloquently than I could in his essay “God and Logic.”
It is to be hoped that these remarks on the relation between God and truth will be seen as pertinent to the discussion of logic. In any case, the subject of logic can be more clearly introduced by one more Scriptural reference. The well-known prologue to John’s Gospel may be paraphrased, “In the beginning was Logic, and Logic was with God, and Logic was God…. In logic was life and the life was the light of men.”
This paraphrase-in fact, this translation-may not only sound strange to devout ears, it may even sound obnoxious and offensive. But the shock only measures the devout person’s distance from the language and thought of the Greek New Testament. Why it is offensive to call Christ Logic, when it does not offend to call him a word, is hard to explain. But such is often the case. Even Augustine, because he insisted that God is truth, has been subjected to the anti-intellectualistic accusation of “reducing” God to a proposition. At any rate, the strong intellectualism of the word Logos is seen in its several possible translations: to wit, computation, (financial) accounts, esteem, proportion and (mathematical) ratio, explanation, theory or argument, principle or law, reason, formula, debate, narrative, speech, deliberation, discussion, oracle, sentence, and wisdom.
Any translation of John 1:1 that obscures this emphasis on mind or reason is a bad translation. And if anyone complains that the idea of ratio or debate obscures the personality of the second person of the Trinity, he should alter his concept of personality. In the beginning, then, was Logic.
That Logic is the light of men is a proposition that could well introduce the section after next on the relation of logic to man. But the thought that Logic is God will bring us to the conclusion of the present section. Not only do the followers of Bernard entertain suspicions about logic, but also even more systematic theologians are wary of any proposal that would make an abstract principle superior to God. The present argument, in consonance with both Philo and Charnock, does not do so. The law of contradiction is not to betaken as an axiom prior to or independent of God. The law is God thinking.
For this reason also the law of contradiction is not subsequent to God. If one should say that logic is dependent on God’s thinking, it is dependent only in the sense that it is the characteristic of God’s thinking. It is not subsequent temporally, for God is eternal and there was never a time when God existed without thinking logically. One must not suppose that God’s will existed as an inert substance before he willed to think.
As there is no temporal priority, so also there is no logical or analytical priority. Not only was Logic the beginning, but Logic was God. If this unusual translation of John’s Prologue still disturbs someone, he might yet allow that God is his thinking. God is not a passive or potential substratum; he is actuality or activity. This is the philosophical terminology to express the Biblical idea that God is a living God. Hence logic is to be considered as the activity of God’s willing.
Although Aristotle’s theology is no better (and perhaps worse) than his epistemology, he used a phrase to describe God, which, with a slight change, may prove helpful. He defined God as “thought-thinking-thought.” Aristotle developed the meaning of this phrase so as to deny divine omniscience. But if we are clear that the thought which thought thinks includes thought about a world to be created-in Aristotle God has no knowledge of things inferior to him-the Aristotelian definition of God as “thought-thinking-thought” may help us to understand that logic, the law of contradiction, is neither prior to nor subsequent to God’s activity.
This conclusion may disturb some analytical thinkers. They may wish to separate logic and God. Doing so, they would complain that the present construction merges two axioms into one. And if two, one of them must be prior; in which case we would have to accept God without logic, or logic without God; and the other one afterward. But this is not the presupposition here proposed. God and logic are one and the same first principle, for John wrote that Logic was God. At the moment this much must suffice to indicate the relation of God to logic. We now pass to what at the beginning seemed to be the more pertinent question of logic and Scripture.
Soli. Deo. Gloria.