The God of Reason

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The next three posts will look at the claim Christians make for their God being the God of Reason. The fact that he is, they say, demonstrates how inconsistent those who see no evidence for a deity are when we use his very attributes – reason, logic and rationality – to make a case against him. Here’s Dr Jason Lisle on Answers In Genesis:

…there is an absolute standard for reasoning; we are to pattern our thoughts after God’s. The laws of logic are a reflection of the way God thinks… Laws of logic are God’s standard for thinking. Since God is an unchanging, sovereign, immaterial Being, the laws of logic are abstract, universal, invariant entities. In other words, they are not made of matter—they apply everywhere and at all times. Laws of logic are contingent upon God’s unchanging nature. And they are necessary for logical reasoning. Thus, rational reasoning would be impossible without the biblical God.

The materialistic atheist can’t have laws of logic. He believes that everything that exists is material—part of the physical world. But laws of logic are not physical… The atheist’s view cannot be rational because he uses things (laws of logic) that cannot exist according to his (Godless viewpoint).

Similarly, Tim Keller in his book The Reason for God argues that the fact humans can reason is evidence both of God’s existence (because reason has to come from somewhere) and of our being made in his image.

According to Christians then, God is the only reason we can think rationally at all.

But then where did God’s rationality come from? Is he pure reason or is reason an attribute he acquired or evolved over time as we did? As Richard Dawkins has pointed out, the only reasoning intelligence we know of is our own, and it is the product of evolution. If God’s ability to reason also evolved – and we know of no other way it could have developed – then he must intially have been incomplete. He could not have been the supreme intelligence Christians claim he is now. If, on the other hand, God is and always has been pure reason, there should be plenty of evidence for it. Let’s take look:

We first encounter God in the opening chapters of Genesis, where he puts two naked humans in a garden and tells them not to eat the fruit of a tree labelled ‘The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil’.* He sets this tree right where they can see it and then he leaves. The two people, who have no concept of right and wrong (that’s the point of the tree) each take a bite of its fruit. While taking his evening stroll in the garden, God discovers what they’ve done and is not best pleased. (I hope you’re getting just how logical all of this is.**)

This deity, who, according to Dr Lisle and Tim Keller is the epitome of logical reasoning, doesn’t then take the trouble to explain to his creations, ‘Look, I’m sorry I made you without a sense of right and wrong; I’ll put that right. But you’ve got to promise me you’ll do as I say from now on because you won’t like me when I’m angry.’ No, he doesn’t do this; instead he throws a hissy fit. He punishes the couple, who until they’d tried the fruit had no idea disobeying him was wrong, and, just for good measure, he trashes the rest of Creation too – forever. Because of a single act committed by two naive individuals who didn’t know any better, he ruins everything and then, irrationally, blames the humans for the mess he’s made. That’s his reasoned, reasonable and rational response to their upsetting him – which, if he was the omniscient being Christians tell us he is, he’d have known was going to happen anyway.

Of course the whole set up and God’s reactions are not rational, reasonable or logical at all. They’re not considered, proportionate or insightful either. The God of Reason, the God who is Reason according to Answers in Genesis and Tim Keller, scores on this, his first outing, zero points on the scale of reasoned, reasoning reasonableness.

Maybe though God was just having an off day and he improves later on, once his intelligence has evolved a bit more. We’ll find out next time.

 

* All my examples of God’s great thinking skills and ‘reasonableness’ are drawn from the Bible; there are, however, simply too many to reference throughout this series of posts. I would be happy to supply them to any who feel the need to see them.

** Yes, I’m aware it’s a myth but a) many Christians don’t and b) even as a myth the story seeks to address how humans became alienated from God, ironically by developing the capacity to think for themselves. 

 

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4 thoughts on “The God of Reason

  1. The usual logical fallacy at this heart of Dawkin’s preposterous argument is that of comparing apples and oranges.

    Obvious, God did not evolve.

    Such an idiotic idea is the same as thinking an artist’s existence is predicated on the properties of one of his works of art.

    My goodness!

    That atheists think in such an obviously stupid way, actually proves that claim that without God as teacher and model, man cannot think rationally.

    Nevertheless, it is possible for man to think rationally, but those that do are few and far between and in fact, are so rare that they go down in history.

    Aristotle and Buddha come to mind.

    It is no surprise that atheists reject the thinking of both Aristotle and Buddha.

    For stupid is as stupid thinks.

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    • Nice rant.

      Dawkins doesn’t say what you say he says. He doesn’t say God’s intelligence evolved – he doesn’t believe in God, for God’s sake. He says if God is the Intelligence you Christians claim he is then the only means by which he could’ve got that way would be via evolution. But… he, God, isn’t intelligent, he didn’t evolve and he’s a delusion (the clue’s in the title.)

      Given the Almighty’s non-existence it cannot be the case that we get our rationality from him. As this and my next two posts demonstrate, there is nothing rational about the Biblical God, nor, it would seem, his followers.

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      • Neil,

        Here is you, in your own words, is you arguing with yourself and losing:

        “As Richard Dawkins has pointed out, the only reasoning intelligence we know of is our own, and it is the product of evolution. If God’s ability to reason also evolved – and we know of no other way it could have developed – then he must intially have been incomplete.”

        That’s what you wrote.

        And its says exactly what I said.

        You people think reasoned arguments are “rants” and you don’t even understand the words you use in your own arguments.

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      • You see that little word ‘if’ in both my original post and my reply to you? It means that that which follows is propositional and therefore hypothetical. It does not mean that I, or Dawkins, think there is a God; it makes the hypothetical case that if God were to exist, then any intelligence he has would have had to evolve.

        I wouldn’t expect you to understand this – and clearly you don’t – when you claim your thinking skills emanate from this same hypothetical, non-existent being. As I’ve suggested before, Mr Silence, thinking is not your strong point.

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