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Frequently Asked Questions about Logic

by Nathaniel Bluedorn

At the end of an exhausting homeschool convention, a woman approaches our booth, balancing a child on her hip. "What is logic?" My mind is dragged from the price calculation I was making. . . "What did you ask?" "Oh," she smiles, "I just wondered if you could explain your life philosophy." I should clear up some of these frequently asked questions about logic before the next convention.

What is logic?

Is logic just common sense? Common sense differs from person to person. From my experience, one man's absurdity may be another man's common sense. Logic is not founded on opinion.

Is logic that complex stuff computer programmers learn? Computer programmers use complex forms of logic. Not all logic is complex. Logic is like math. Scientists use advanced mathematics, while ordinary people use simple math. Without knowing it, you use simple logic throughout the day.

Is logic "the science of thinking?" No, that is psychology - the study of the way humans think and feel. The science of logic has more to do with arguments themselves.

Logic is the science of correct reasoning. Logic teaches standards for how to discern good reasoning from bad reasoning. There are many different ways of looking at an argument: Informal Fallacies, Categorical Syllogisms, Modern Symbolic Logic, and Hypothetical Scientific Reasoning.

Is logic a method for attacking people and making them feel bad?

This is not a problem with logic. This is a problem with the way people argue. There is no reason to be afraid of logic. There are times I have pointed at my mother and criticized her for how illogical she was. Instead, I should have been looking back at myself and criticizing my lack of concern for her feelings. There are two types of arguments. There are those arguments which leave bruises on people. There are also thoughtful arguments between calm people who use logic to get to the bottom of an issue. We need more of the latter type of arguments.

Should Christians use logic? Don't we have faith?

Faith and logic are not opposed to one another. Faith establishes the principles from which we reason logically. The Bible teaches that God is logical. The Bible says that God does not contradict Himself, and when God declares that something is true, then it is really true.

Shouldn't we leave logic to the experts?

I believe everyone should be their own logician. Four hundred years ago, the Reformers used the expression "the priesthood of the believer" to teach that everyone should have access to God without the need of a religious priest to stand in between. This idea applies in other areas. We should not rely on someone else to discern the truth for us. If we do, then we are not our own priest of knowledge. If we learn some basic logic, then we can judge for ourselves what other people say.

Isn't logic too hard for ordinary people?

True, ordinary people do not study logic. We reveal this lack by how easily we are manipulated. We turn and run when someone demands that we use our mind. Mr. Joe Gas-station-attendant is not interested in developing his thought life. He is happy when he leaves his mind undisturbed. May I suggest that God has a much different vision for His people.

Logic is within the reach of ordinary people - Dads and Moms, and their children too. Many Homeschooling parents are teaching logic to their children right now, and though they are finding it is a challenge, they are taking a big step in the right direction.

Was logic invented by an pagan philosopher named Aristotle?

St. Augustine, a Christian in the fourth century, answered this question. Augustine explained that logic is not an invention of pagan philosophers, as some men objected, but a science which man has learned from God.

"...[T]he validity of logical sequences is not a thing devised by men, but is observed and noted by them.... ...t exists eternally in the reason of things, and has its origin with God.

Logic is not a dubious non-Christian method of reasoning. All of the fundamental laws of logic can be found in the Bible.

Is God logical?

By logical I am asking: (1) does God contradict Himself, and (2) when He says that something is true, then is it really true? By logical I do not claim that everything which God says must be understandable to us, so that we can explain it. The doctrine of the Trinity is an example of this. What the Bible teaches about the Trinity is true and not contradictory: God is one being and three persons, not one person and three persons. To be one person and three persons at the same time would be a contradiction. Yet we do not fully understand the Trinity, and we have no way of explaining it. The Bible has clear answers to the question of whether God is logical or not.

God can not lie.

In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began. . . -Titus 1:2.

That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation. . . -Hebrews 6:18.

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? -Numbers 23:19.

. . . [God] will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent. -1 Samuel 15:29.

. . . ye know [the truth], and that no lie is of the truth. -1 John 2:21.

Truthfulness is part of God's character. God is Truth, He is not above truth.

He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. -Deuteronomy 32:4.

. . . thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth. -Psalm 31:5.

. . . O Lord . . . full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth. -Psalm 86:15.

. . . he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth . . . -Isaiah 65:16.

God is of one mind. He does not change His mind, nor does He have two contradictory minds.

For I am the LORD, I change not . . . -Malachi 3:6.

. . . with [God] is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. -James 1:17.

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. -Isaiah 40:8.

But He is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth. -Job 23:13.

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. -James 1:8.

Don't we naturally learn to think logically?

This is a difficult question. I believe God originally gave me a logical mind. But, I have had too much time to corrupt that. I twist my reasoning to suit my scruples. If I make no effort to discipline my thinking, then I accept arguments because they fit into what I want to believe. I am logically lazy . . . or lazy logically. I do not naturally learn to think logically. As God awakens me to the need for more critical thinking skills, I am realizing how far my standards of thinking have fallen.

We need to discipline our minds to think logically. Thinking is work, and work is more profitable after some training.

Can't we learn to think by reading books written by great men?

No. Great men do have great minds, and reading their works may strengthen our own mind. But we would not learn logic in a systematic way. Many of those great men advise us to study logic! Also, even great men make mistakes. We need to be able to recognize their mistakes.

Will learning logic help us understand other school subjects?

Logic is foundational to the study of every other subject. Learning to read is a basic skill without which students are crippled. Learning to think is just as basic. When I write an essay, I use logic to determine if my conclusion follows from what I've written. When I study to give a report on Napoleon, I use logic to decide which historian has interpreted the evidence about Napoleon's life the most accurately. When I am studying the Bible, I use logic to pull together different statements in the Bible to deduce that God is sovereign over every area of my life. We already use logic in every subject without knowing it. The question is, are we using enough logic?

Logic can help us do all of these things:

Who should study logic with the children?

I am going to make a controversial statement. Fathers need to learn logic themselves. Mothers have been carrying enough burdens teaching their children, and it is high time fathers became more than the principal of their Homeschool. As a father takes the time to sit down beside his children and teach them how to use their minds, he gives part of himself to them. He gives more than just the answers to his children's questions. He can impart a love for learning which can only happen at home.

Copyright December 01, 2000, all rights reserved. 18235 views


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