When one thinks about loving God, emotional worship is probably the first thing to come to mind. Perhaps it is a view of people shimmying and shaking. Maybe it is a different view. Maybe it is a view of someone giving of themselves to God self-sacrificially. Have you ever considered that you are instructed to love God with your mind? When asked, Jesus said that the greatest commandment was to, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38, NIV). How does one love God with the mind? Well, studying God’s word is the first and most important way. Second to the Bible, it is important for a Christian to know how to think logically. Geisler states, “Logic is correct and clear thinking” (Geiser, “261. Why is Logic So Important,” One Minute Apologist Interview). So, if logic is correct and clear thinking and the Bible is true, then it would be biblical to think logically. While it is fully endorsed that the Christian takes a class in logic if available, one does not need to know all the ins an outs of logic to think logically. Remembering the three key laws of logic will greatly help everyone think more logically.
Law of Identity: (p = p)
The law of identity simply states that something is what it is. This is a classic line from losing football coaches, “It is what it is.” Well, this is the law of identity. If you claim something is a tree, for it to be true, it must actually be a tree. Everything has an identity. You have an identity and that identity is categorized by your name. You have distinct characteristics that no one else in history possesses or ever will possess.
When it comes to Christianity, many misunderstand the God in the Bible. Sometimes, some will see God has having human attributes. In the Bible, there are many anthropomorphisms (adding human characteristics to something not-human). For instance, a writer may speak of the “hands of God” or the “eyes of God.” Jesus tells us that God is spirit, so God could not possess those finite attributes. This does not mean that the Bible is wrong, it just means that the analogy is not to be taken literally. Many unbelievers misunderstand God. They see God as a “God of the gaps” or a kind of explanation as the gods of Greek and Norse folklore were. However, they do not understand that God is a necessary being for all things to exist. For the Christian, it is most important to get an accurate view and understanding of God. Doctrines like the Person of God, the Trinity, the Person and work of Jesus Christ, the Person of the Holy Spirit, salvation, the resurrection of Christ, and other issues must be understood historically and biblically. Spiritual principles like the promises of God and the church’s place in Christ needs to be understood. When one does, it will be found that God is far greater than one could ever imagine and their purpose is far more important than they could ever imagine.
This is also important in identifying truth claims in opposing worldviews. One classic blunder of atheists is that many atheists do not claim that their belief system is a “belief” or a “religion.” However, it is funny that many atheists will create clubs…and even some atheist churches…to promote their agenda. But, in the end, they are promoting a “belief”…something that they hold true. The law of identity can come in handy in helping one understand their own belief system and the belief systems of others.
Law of Non-Contradiction: (p = p) ≠ (p = ~p)
The law of non-contradiction simply states that something cannot both be and not be. For instance, one cannot claim, “The old tree is a bird.” Well, it is easy to see that this statement is nonsensical. A tree cannot be a bird. Either the thing is a bird or it is a tree, but it cannot be both. In professional wrestling, there is a phrase that is used that is nonsensical “the squared circle.” Well, which is it? Is it a square or is it a circle?
It is important for the believer to have a firm grasp on the essentials of the faith to prevent contradictory claims to enter in their belief system. Unfortunately, many times believers adhere more to community, family, or personal traditions more than they do the truth. For instance, I once heard a person who adamantly holds to the King James Version say, “The King James Version is the Bible that Paul read.” This is a HUGE blunder of EPIC proportions. For one, the King James Version did not come about until 1611 A.D. The Apostle Paul was executed in 67 A.D. Subtracting the latter from the former leaves one with a difference of 1,544 years. Furthermore, Paul wrote many of the letters contained in the New Testament. So, how could Paul have originally read a letter that he is purported to write in a language that he did now speak. Even worse, English had not come about in the first century. Like Jesus before him, Paul would have spoken and wrote in Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek. The New Testament was written in Greek. The Hebrew Bible was originally written in Hebrew and translated into Greek for the Septuagint (or LXX) which Paul, like many apostles, read and quoted. So, can you begin to see the contradiction? Nothing against the King James Version, but the claim that the King James Bible is the only Bible is a contradictory claim and must be avoided by those who seek to stand for the truth.
A firm understanding of the second law of logic can make a Christian dangerous to opposing worldviews. As Norman Geisler said, “You get your life cleaned up…and your mind cleared up…and you’re dangerous” (Geisler, “261. Why is Logic So Important,” One Minute Apologist). This is so mainly because the intellectual Christian will be able to diagnose truth claims. Many self-refuting statements exist in our day and time. One such claim is, “There is no truth.” The problem with the statement is that the statement is a truth claim. The person is claiming as truth that there is no truth. Well, if truth does not exist, then the statement must be false. Or if there is truth, then the statement is still false because truth does exist. Or what about the claim, “It’s all relative.” Really? Well, the proponent of that claim is objectively stating that everything is relative. It does not work. Or what about the claim used by a recent commentator, “You guys shouldn’t judge Miley Cyrus!” Well, the commentator is guilty of the same crime that he is accusing others. He is judging others for judging Miley Cyrus. It doesn’t work. Lawrence Krauss has committed a philosophical error in logic by proclaiming that nothing brought forth something. However, Krauss’ “nothing” is not really “nothing.” His “nothing” consists of vacuums, particles, and the like. But, vacuums, particles, and the like are not “nothings,” they are “somethings.” Do you see the picture?
Law of Excluded Middle: p V ~p
The law of excluded middle states that something must either be or not be and it must be one or the other. You must make a decision according to the truth. I am not one who enjoys conflict. I am a peacemaker. I had rather see peace than war. However, when it comes to matters of truth, ethics, and the like, a firm stance must be taken. A choice must be made.
For instance, consider the following conundrums: a student wishes to take biology and sociology for her final class in college. Biology and history are the only two courses available to her and there is one spot left. She signed up for sociology but needs biology to graduate. She must make a decision as she only needs one more accredited course and both classes are at the same time slot. No other classes for the courses are available, so she must make a decision: take biology and graduate OR take sociology and delay her graduation. Which is it? She cannot take sociology and claim that she took biology. No decision will be a decision in favor of sociology and a delayed graduation.
Or consider a man who lives on the mainland, but had to take a ferry to an island to get some medicine for his ailing wife. He desperately needs to get to the mainland to take the medication to his ailing wife. The last ferry leaves in 10 minutes. He either buys a ticket and steps on the ferry or he does not. There are consequences to his actions either way, but he must make a choice.
Many Christians seek to take an ecumenical view for world religions. Some will claim, “All religions are the same.” But is this true? Some religions are theistic (believe in a God), others are atheistic (do not believe in God). Can they all be true? If the theistic religions are true, then the atheistic religions are not…and vice versa. What about Jesus? Is He God incarnate? If Jesus is the Son of God, then Christianity is true. If He isn’t, then Christianity is not true. It must be one or the other. If Jesus is the Son of God, then claims that He is not are deemed false. One must make a decision, but don’t hand down this poppycock about all world religions being true. It is not possible. Just as it is not true that all worldviews are essentially true.
Is it important to love God with the mind? Absolutely! If one stands upon the truth of Jesus Christ, one has a firm foundation on which to stand. If, however, one stands upon the foundation of human and community traditions and perceptions, one may find that the ground is not so stable. The truth may not win a person many friends. You may be viewed as “that old know-it-all.” If so, you are in good company. The Jesus, the prophets, and the apostles were ostracized for standing for the truth.
Understand however, that such a logic and understanding comes with a huge responsibility. One must be humble and loving whilst standing for the truth. No greater example can be found than in the Person of Jesus Christ. Jesus was loving, kind, approachable, and compassionate. Yet, He did not back down from proclaiming the truth. For it was Jesus who said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32, NIV).
All scripture, unless otherwise noted, comes from The New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011.
Geisler, Norman. “261. Why is Logic So Important.” Video. The One Minute Apologist. Edited and hosted by Bobby Conway. http://oneminuteapologist.com/searchpage#philosophy. Accessed November 11, 2013.