search

Does God transcend logic?

 “God is bigger than human reasoning [logic] and philosophy. God’s revelation transcends man-made categories.”

— Dr James White

THE HUMAN REASON IS CONSIDERED THE ULTIMATE SOURCE OF TRUTH IN SECULAR ACADEMIC DISCOURSE—especially by atheists like Richard Dawkins, Pervez Hoodbhoy, Sam Harris etc. And the practicality of logical reasoning cannot be denied in everyday life such as inferring from a set of footprints that some person walked there a finite time ago, or if there is a bloodied corpse on a street assuming that a murder occurred etc. This is common sense and a normal process that should be relied upon. But to claim that anything that makes no sense from a human reason perspective is necessarily false is something that I think cannot be justified by any means at all. How can this claim be even substantiated, by human reason?

The science of correct reasoning is called logic. And this term ‘logic’ etymologically derives from the Greek word “logos”, which has a variety of translations, such as reason, discourse, or language.[1] In formal settings, logic is the study of the inferential relations between premises and conclusions based solely on the structural framework.[2] Valid inferences are those whose truth-value propositions ensure that conclusions are true based upon the rules of logical inference and the logical terms used.

Dr William Lane Craig does not think that God created logic or that He transcends human reasoning where logic does not apply to Him. He is a famous Christian philosopher, and this is probably a mainstream view amongst Christians. Dr James White disagrees and considers logic to be a ‘’man-made category’’; and even considers human reasoning to be ‘’darkened’’ by the fall based on his exegesis of Romans 1. In a debate with Jake Brancatella titled ‘’Trinity vs. Tawheed’’ he made that very clear.[3]

What is the Islamic position on this controversy?

There are different schools of thought that give different levels of importance to human reasoning in Islam but not a single orthodox classical theologian considers God to be limited to human reasoning or bound by human rationality or even empirical evidence. Furthermore, the Hanbali school of thought rejects the possibility that reason could supersede revelation—their approach to reason and God is closely aligned to that of Dr James White.

When you really think about how God is defined and how logic is defined it does make sense to think that the infinite Creator of all things cannot be enclosed within the confines of human reasoning or logic; after all God created human minds, so surely human reasoning must be lower in rank than God Himself.

I do not think God can be understood by human categories or philosophical proofs or limited by the prison of the mind; our minds are not infinite in scope, but God is beyond comprehension. This might raise the question of, ‘’How would we know if someone is speaking irrationally about God if human reasoning is not the ultimate authority?’’ This would depend on which theological criteria we consider to be the standard upon which to judge the claims made about God, since Christians claim the Bible is the ultimate standard, they rely on that. And Muslims disagree; they consider the Quran and the Sunnah to be the ultimate authority when it comes to making the distinction between theological truth and satanic error masquerading as truth. This is exactly why Islam condemns the Trinity; and Christians, under the influence of the Bible plus tradition of the Church condemn Islamic monotheism, Tawhid as heretical. We have different standards of authority, the Quran vs. the Bible.

Atheists do not consider any book to be the ultimate authority for their outlook on life but claim that human reason and empirical science are sufficient in the long-term to give us an approximate picture of reality that is the closest humans can get to ultimate truth and meaning. They have no holy books or miracles or prophets that they derive their authority from; they do not have a basis for objective morality or absolute morality and neither do they think they have absolute truth like Jews, Christians and Muslims do. It all comes down to your worldview and your assumptions about life.

Concluding Remarks

In conclusion, given the limitations of the human intellect and the infiniteness of God, I would make the argument that God transcends the limits of logic. But this does not mean logic is useless or that human reasoning has no value; rather man-made categories cannot be superior or equal in rank to revelation. Epistemologically speaking, since the role of revelation is to communicate the truth of God by God Himself from eternity, the epistemic authority of pure human reasoning cannot be equivalent to that of God’s. Therefore, God is greater than human reasoning and hence God transcends logic.

[1] Pépin, Jean. “Logos”. Encyclopedia of Religion

[2] Magnus, P. D. (2005). “1.4 Deductive validity”. Forall X: An Introduction to Formal Logic. Victoria, BC, Canada: State University of New York Oer Services.

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xh13mb4Hz1E

About the Author
Zalghi Khan is a former investment banker, who is currently training to become an accountant. He is the author of ten books, and specializes in economics, finance, and geopolitical issues. For him it is important to provide convincing answers to pressing questions, especially as it relates to global economic matters.