Language, Truth and Logic

For Christians, God’s words are truth. That’s why they will frequently quote the Bible when discussing things. If it says it in the Bible (God’s word) then it must be true is their basic stance and that’s all well and good. However, that is definitely not the right way to go about discussing spiritual matters with someone who has not got to the stage of accepting that what the Bible says is true in the first place.

After such acceptance, then it is a different matter, but before reaching that stage, another approach is necessary after all, most people these days don’t even believe in God, let alone the concept of divine revelation. So how can we go about discussing spiritual matters with people who do not accept the authority of scripture? That’s certainly a very good question and it’s what I would like to address in this post.

As others have said before me, probably the best question in the entire Bible was the one that Pilate asked Jesus, “what is truth?” It is something that philosophers have considered over the millennia and it is something that we still struggle to properly define today. However, that’s not really any kind of obstacle because there are many other things we also struggle to define; art for example.

The fact that we cannot adequately define truth does not mean that truth does not exist and, of course, exactly the same is true of art. Is Tracey Emin’s Unmade Bed a work of art or not? There must be a true answer to that question. It’s simple enough, but if you ever discuss this topic with anyone (by the way, not recommended see here ;)) you will get some idea of how people tend to think about the concept of truth.

Although there will certainly be people who will take a definite stance on the Unmade bed question, one way or the other, many people won’t. Instead, they will prefer to say something like, ‘it depends on what you mean by art’. Personally, I would not disagree with that answer, but it raises another problem now doesn’t it? You need to define what you mean by the art concept. Again, it’s not easy.

Anyway the point is that art exists even though many people disagree about how to define it and, similarly, truth exists even though we may be unable to define it too. Now that’s a truth (see how easy it is to get circular in this stuff) that we just need to fundamentally accept. And if we do, that must change the way we speak to other people who have a different view of what truth is. What we need to do is to engage with people in their own language.

Curiously, when people want to speak about spiritual matters, I find that they usually wish to use logic, analysis and reasoning to approach the subject. But, by its very nature, when discussing the subject of God, we are dealing with a subject that is beyond logic. So our difficulty is in how to discuss matters logically and analytically when dealing with spiritual matters. It is not impossible to do so and, I would venture to suggest that such an approach is the right one when you consider the point we made above concerning the nature of truth.

When we turn an analytical eye to what some of the most eminent atheists of our day have to say about the subject of God, we find that their logical arguments are just not sound. For example, the central argument in Richard Dawkins’ best-selling book The God Delusion is pitifully inept and personally, I think if that’s the best that atheists can come up with, then they deserve to have the power of logic correctly applied to their analysis.

4 thoughts on “Language, Truth and Logic

  1. Will Edwards Post author

    Hi Kevin

    In your words, I can hear the sincerity of someone who has sought, and is still seeking, the truth and I therefore recognise you as a kindred spirit. Perhaps, I should write a little about those issues you raise about the Bible, so thank you for raising them. However, what I do want to say is that I am prepeared to discuss matters logically – I know that’s unusual and, in fact, it is more likely to get me into trouble with Christians than atheists. But there you have it: I believe it is important to meet people on their own terms. For that reason, I wrote a logical rebuttal of Richard Dawkins theory. It does not require any faith at all; just a sound understanding of logic. You can read it here: Why Richard Dawkins is Wrong

    Will 🙂

  2. Kevin O'Donnell

    Will,

    Why is it when people discuss God, it is considered beyond logic and reason? There is absolutely no reason this discussion needs to be assigned to incomprehensible abstract. I believe that when people discuss the nature of God, the biblical text should be adhered too and not the extreme abstract. I agree fully with the arguments put forth by Richard Dawkins. Over the last couple of years, I made a decision to discover as much as I could regarding my Christian religion. That journey lead me to studying many different religions and beliefs in order to strengthen my faith in Jesus. While on my extensive spiritual journey, what I really discovered was the falsities and deliberate misleading guidance and revelation perpetuated by the Christian religions. I was always told that the Bible was inerrant and infallible in its word. Those proclamations cannot be farther from the truth. The reality is that it is full of some of the most reprehensible horrors ever written. For the first time in my life, I read the bible objectively and read many opposing views. After so much cognitive dissonance, I have finally admitted to the world and myself that I am an Atheist. The evidence against the biblical God and the conflictions within the Bible are just too numerous to overcome rationalize.

  3. Piet

    I agree – great stuff. As to truth – there is objective truth – the earth orbits the sun. it is true whether we believe it or not. Not worth dying for.

    Then there is subjective truth, or believe. If it was like objective truth, it would be knowledge, not faith! For this you don’t fight (the Bible says witness/live the life). For this Luther said: “here I stand.”

  4. Luis Gaviria

    Great post Will.

    Spiritual matters are beyond logic.

    Your writing is always provoking.

    Regards,

    Luis Gaviria

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