Logic and the Logos

At the back of all our thinking is the firm conviction that, if we think at all, we should think properly. That is, we should not think in circles, that our arguments should be structured in an organized and coherent way, and that two plus two never equals five.

All science, mathematics, and philosophy is based on this principle. These fields of knowledge assume an orderliness and predictability, not just of the world we can observe, but to the world we cannot–the world of abstract thought and ideas.  They assume that if one thing is proven true, then it follows that the opposite must be false, and that a syllogism, if properly constructed, carries all the weight and force of a definite law.

For there is a definite and universal character to the laws of logic and of thought. The strictness and regularity of these laws is even more easily testable and provable than the laws of nature, where mere probability is the rule. On the most fundamental and conceptual level, if A equals B, and B equals C, then A always equals C. This is not a matter of chance or probable outcome. This is not even a matter subject to empirical observation. The outcome simply follows with a more immutable certainty and necessity than the rising of the sun.

To those who take pleasure in thinking, this is a sacred truth, and there is nothing more feared than a fallacy. To embrace a fallacy would lead to intellectual impotence and a dissolution of the very fabric of reason. A fallacy is more than a mistake–it is a rebellion against the orderliness and harmony of the cosmos; it is a disregard for the truth and positivity of all things; it is a denial of our thought’s very relation to reality.

Now, the laws of logic, while necessary for all thought, are unusual things. They have a unique character, quite separate from the realm of  ordinary experience. This character can be described in three ways: They are immaterial and abstract–that is, their consistency is reflected in the material world but their existence is not contingent on it. They are also immutable, for what is proved logically true and necessary today cannot be proved logically false tomorrow. And they are universal–They are not simply conventions on which we agree, and there is no one to whom they do not apply.

It is not possible for me to have my own laws of logic by which I can prove with certainty that I am a cow. Nor can you have your own laws of logic where one and two equals twelve. There is an element of submission to the laws of logic–a recognition of a higher authority to which we must bow, not only for convenience but for comprehensibility.

This binding reality the ancients referred to as the Logos, the Logic–the basis of all thought and all argument; the unifying ratio or reason back of all that is. The Logos was divine in origin–for from whence but the Divine could a universal, immaterial constant emanate? Where indeed.

The materialistic atheist is quite insistent on being logical and rational–on not violating these laws of thought. And rightly so. Yet, this submission to an abstract, supra-natural entity is inconsistent with a materialistic philosophy–for it is not possible to intelligibly account for the laws of logic, independent of the material world as they are, when locked in a prison of matter. It is like arguing that oxygen doesn’t exist while using oxygen to breathe. It is, in fact, quite irrational.

No, there is but one fountain of all reality that can account for the rationality, logical consistency, and intelligibility of the universe, for the origin of an immutable, immaterial constant that governs our intellects and gives them life. And this fountain is not a principle, it is a person–the person of whom it was said, In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God.

5 thoughts on “Logic and the Logos

  1. Sam, what evidence can you present for the divine origin of the Logos? Your statement “From whence but the Divine could a universal, immaterial constant emanate?” is not evidence; rather it is a recognition that we don’t know where logical consistency came from. The fact that we don’t know the origin of something is not evidence of the divine.

    A few hundred or a few thousand years ago, I could have said, “From whence but the divine could lightning come from? What but the divine could cause the wind to blow? What but demonic forces could cause disease to spread or mental illness to afflict us?”

    No one would have been able to answer these questions, had I asked them centuries or millenia past. The fact that no one could have answered those questions does not prove divine intervention–it just proves our lack of omniscience.

  2. Hi Leighton,

    You argument is interesting. From what I understand, an atheist is someone who claims that “God may exist, but I do not see sufficient evidence for his existence.” I am curious what evidence and what kinds of evidence for the existence of God would be convincing to you, or any other atheist.

    God, by definition, is an immaterial being. Therefore, I have provided immaterial evidence for his existence; namely, the immaterial and immutable laws of logic, the existence of which strongly implies (if not necessitates) the existence of an immaterial, immutable law giver.

    Yet, you say this is not evidence for God. Why not? It appears you are committing the fallacy of exclusion of evidence. Again, what kind or type of evidence would you allow?

    Also, I should point out that your comparison of logic and lightning bolts doesn’t hold water because lightning is a physical phenomena and the laws of logic exist outside and independent of the material world. This is the false analogy fallacy.

    The truth is, science does not, nor will it ever, have an explanation for a non-material law. The most science can ever say is exactly what you said, “We don’t know” That’s the fallacy of appealing to ignorance.

    Sam

  3. Sam,
    I came here by way of Fr. Stephen Freeman’s blog. Are you the same Sam Guzman that has contributed to Slice of Laodicea?

    BTW, I find Fr. Stephen’s blog one to be very irenic in this day of cyberspace polemics.

  4. Hi Darlene,

    Yes, it is the same Sam.

    I have been reading Father Stephens blog for years, believe it or not. While I am not Eastern Orthodox, I too, find it a peaceful presence in the often angry and unpleasant world of the web.

    Sam

  5. Pingback: A Question for the Atheist « leighton taylor

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