Post Author: Bill Pratt
Over the past couple years of blogging, one of the most common areas of confusion in the blog comments has been about the relationship between logic and God. Did God create logic like he created humans? Did logic exist before God, so that God is subject to logic? Can’t God do away with the laws of logic? Can’t he violate the laws of logic?
The first thing we need to do is define what logic is. A simple definition of logic is “the study of right reason.” The foundation of right reason is embodied in three laws of logic that are undeniable.
The law of non-contradiction states that a thing cannot be both A and non-A at the same time and in the same sense.
The law of excluded middle states that a thing is either A or non-A.
The law of identity states that if a thing is A, then it is A.
All logic, and thus all right reasoning, is built off of these three laws. They are undeniable.
So now to the question. Are these laws subject to God or is God subject to them?
The answer is that the laws of logic are part of the nature of God. In other words, logic is built into God. He did not create logic like he created humans, but neither did logic exist as some sort of entity outside of God. Since God has always existed, and the laws of logic are based in God, then the laws of logic have always existed as well.
Can God violate the laws of logic? No, because he cannot not be himself. Whatever God is, he is eternally. God does not shut down various attributes of his being, like cutting off lights in different parts of the house. God is logical, he always has been logical, and he always will be logical.
Someone might object, “Doesn’t this mean God is limited by logic?” This objection has always struck me as strange because logic is synonymous with rationality. Is God limited to being rational? Well yes, in the same way he is “limited” by his goodness, or his beauty, or his holiness. God is never evil, ugly, or unholy; likewise, God is never illogical or irrational.
It is extremely important to note that humans could never know anything about God without the laws of logic. Without the laws of logic, God could exist and not exist, God could not be God, God could be good and non-good (evil), and so forth on and on. Logic is essential to our knowing God. Christians who denigrate logic are, in effect, denigrating the foundational tools that we have to know anything about God.
Another objection that has been raised is that since God can do the impossible, then when we say he cannot be illogical, then we are saying he cannot do the impossible. The misunderstanding comes from the word impossible. Biblically, God may do what is impossible for human beings to do, but the Bible does not say that God can do what is logically impossible.
For example, objectors may argue, “God can raise people from the dead, but that’s impossible!” Well, that’s impossible for humans, but it’s not logically impossible. There is a big difference between the two.
In summary, logic is built into God as part of his nature, so God is not subject to logic as if logic is some force outside of him. But he is “subject” to logic because he cannot deny himself.