Why I changed my mind


Then the word “logic” has no meaning. If you can make up whatever rules you want and call it logic, then what is logic?

To be fair, logic is deductive while science (and Bayesian statistics by extension) is inference.

(George Brooks) #82


Yes, yes… BuT:

This sentence right here pretty much goes to my point:

"There is only one kind of logic as defined by the rules of logic. You can’t commit logical fallacies and then proclaim that you are being logical. . . "

The statement that there is only one kind of logic is probably the speculative sentence I reject with great satisfaction and the most confidence:

  1. If there was just one kind of logic, 100 atheists would all agree that humans have freewill or that humans do not have freewill. But what we usually find is that 100 atheists divide up into two robust factions, disagreeing on something which I think is even easier than determining whether there is a Universal Greater Power or not.

  2. If there was just one kind of logic, 100 Christians would all agree that the Earth was created 6000 years ago, or that the earth is 4+ billion years old.

  3. If there was just one kind of logic, would we really need the Supreme Court?

  4. If there was just one kind of logic, we would not find this section in the Wiki article:

“Robert Brandom has argued against the idea that logic is the study of a special kind of logical truth, arguing that instead one can talk of the logic of material inference (in the terminology of Wilfred Sellars), with logic making explicit the commitments that were originally implicit in informal inference…” (Citation: Brandom, Robert (2000). Articulating Reasons. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-00158-3.)

Dare I even dangle over the mathematical precipice?: Euclidian Geometry tells us that 2 parallel lines never intersect… forever and ever. While Non-Euclidian Geometry (or one of them) tells us that 2 parallel lines intersect at Infinity. These are literally two different logics… with some contradictory differences… and yet in the world around us, both kinds of geometry, both kinds of logic, produce technology that works.

Is Transcendental Number Theory a distinct logic? I don’t even know what it is … but it doesn’t sound like it is part of the One Logic that you were talking about. Are irrational numbers part of that one Logic too?

And then for the advanced students of “reasoning” … but not necessarily logic … we have this:

A group of scientists, led by Edward J. N. Stupple of the University of Derby (UK), is suggesting that “the Selective Processing Model” - - which is a logic of its own - - “… should be tweaked to acknowledge the unique reasoning processes utilized by high-logic thinkers. These thinkers scrutinize problems at an analytic level that goes beyond mere satisficing, and in a study published in the Journal of Cognitive Psychology, Stupple and his coauthors pointed out that the current selective processing model doesn’t explain what makes people give special analytical attention to some problems over others.”


So, when you try to challenge Theists that they aren’t being logical… I can only assume you are only discussing the kind of logic with which you are comfortable.


The main problem I see in this discussion is that people think using “logic” in a sentence is equivalent to using logic. It isn’t. Adding “it is logical” to the beginning of random sentences does not make the sentence a product of logic, and yet that is exactly what people appear to be doing. Adding “It is logical that” to “God is the origin of the universe” does not make it a product of logic. You actually need some premises that people agree with or are demonstrable, and then show how the conclusion flows from those premises.

That is an illogical statement. You are assuming, without evidence, that those 100 atheists have used logic to reach their conclusions. Secondly, you are assuming that logic points to the absence or presence of free will.

That same thing continues with your other examples. You insert the word “logic” into a sentence as if that makes your conclusions logical.

The difference being that mathematicians actually put forth premises that lead to a conclusion. They at least attempt to use the rules of logic instead of just inserting the word “logic” into their sentences. As other sections of your post discuss, logic is a method, not a word to be thrown into a sentence in an attempt to give your conclusions more gravity.

(George Brooks) #84


I have to reject your approach. While it is true that saying “It is logical…” before finishing the sentence with something illogical, does not make it a logical statement.

The problem here is that you think people who are not able to articulate their logic don’t have any logic … I think this is erroneous processing on your part. But, naturally, it is consistent with your goal of winning a discussion.

And your own statement that there is just one Logic … again, I think is just flat wrong.

And I have about 5 billion religious people who will agree with me.


I certainly suspect that people don’t have logic to back conclusions when they either fail to produce that logic or present fallacies when they do attempt to support their arguments with logic. I don’t see why this is an unreasonable position to have.

That would be an appeal to popularity, which is a logical fallacy.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #86

Well, you may need to subtract at least one out from that 5 billion as I’m not sure I’m totally with you on this, George. Though to be fair it isn’t entirely clear (to me) what you are claiming so there may be doubt.

Logic and reason do not by themselves make up a sound argument. Logic needs to have something to work with: premises or “the alleged facts” being brought in. You can have good logic applied to false premises; you can also have invalid logic applied to true premises. In either situation your argument is not sound. You need both valid reasoning and true premises to work with. Neither one by itself delivers you to the promise land.

Most good thinkers here could probably agree on what valid reasoning and logic look like. It’s our set of acceptable premises that will really differentiate believers from nonbelievers here.

(George Brooks) #87


No problem… I’ve already anticipated your reluctance… which is why I have such a nice round number of 5 billion. Before I adjusted for you, I had 5,000,000,001 - - it was a little annoying!

(George Brooks) #88

A belief in God is a very complex cognitive process… some consciously available to the mind, and probably some of it not so conscious. But let’s set that aside. Let’s just talk about the conscious processes of logic.

If someone said to you, well, I believe in God (in part) because I believe 2 parallel lines intersect at Infinity… you would say they were in error, and/or that they were being illogical. (Forget that it’s about God. Let’s assume that you were arguing about some sophisticated electronic circuit!)

As I said in a post above, there is a valid logic to non-Euclidian Geometry that contradicts the more normal logic of Euclidian Geometry.

Would you really insist that they were being illogical? Or would you have to conclude that the person is using a logic alien to the one you prefer?


I wouldn’t say that. I would ask for the logic leading to that conclusion, and when they failed to produce that logic or produced an argument laden with logical fallacies I would suspect that they don’t have a logical argument for that conclusion.

(George Brooks) #90


But even what you “suspect” is really pretty judgmental. What you are implicitly stating is that you are the cream of the crop, logically speaking, holding your differing opinion against the hugely variable justifications of millions of people, not only of this generation but also of the thousands of generations before you.

Your presumption of “illlogic” simply because they cannot articulate their thought processes not only does not acknowledge the reality that many kinds of logics exist in the world - - but is rather uncivil at the same time.

The question comes down to whether you are “trying to win an argument” (as a hobby or avocation), or whether you are trying to relate to the rest of humanity (indeed, the bulk of humanity) in a compassionate way.

The zeal of the so-called “modern atheist” is rather notorious, either as a cliche or as a serious observation of modern society. Certainly, you are no disappointment along those lines.

And it raises the general question of how long an Atheist, any Atheist, can support the goals of BioLogos when, ultimately, you oppose the mission of BioLogos only a little bit less than you oppose all of Young Earth Creationism.

(John Dalton) #91

How long will you support the goals of Biologos when its mission is only a little bit more significant than accepting YEC? You don’t have a problem with the kind of logic I’m using here, do you George? :slight_smile:


You are projecting your own opinion of logic onto the situation. You view logic as being superior, so when someone says that an argument is not logical you are making that judgment.

In my view, it is uncivil to proclaim that you are following logic when you have no intention of detailing that logic or have a poor understanding of what logic is.

People proclaiming that their religious beliefs are based on logic are trying to win an argument.

You are projecting again.

What exactly do you think I oppose? If the goal of BioLogos is for Christians to falsely claim they are using logic to arrive at conclusions, then perhaps I am against that goal. Is that the purpose of BioLogos?

(George Brooks) #93


No matter which kind of logic is employed, we all have the perfect ability to use it badly.

When Atheists arrive at this blog, it is my custom to point out that the primary focus of our efforts is to explain Evolution to Young Earth Creationists, rather than to willy-nilly explore the logic or justification for a belief in God in general, amongst Creationists as well as Pro-Evolution Theists.

Obviously, the latter choice means the Atheist is probably spending more time opposing faith in God amongst all Christians than he or she is spending explaining God-Led-Evolution to Creationists.

I have stripped the ID off this message an Atheist left me as part of his/her “Grande Retraite”. This is a classic example of someone who forgot the goal was not fighting alligators … but to drain the swamp.

This particular episode taught me that for some Atheistssome!
… all they can really think about is the “God thing”.

(Stephen Matheson) #94

I hope these folks don’t take too long to figure out that you speak only for yourself and get lots of things wrong. This claim about “our efforts” is inappropriate and (as near as I can tell) inaccurate.

The guidelines do discourage the questioning of theism and Christianity, and that should be respected IMO.

(George Brooks) #95

Yes, @sfmatheson, I concur. I am a volunteer here, just like you are. When I feel anti-God rhetoric bubbling up a bit too much, it can trigger more territoriality in me than is probably good for me … and sometimes newcomers, mistake me for someone official. I really do try to keep the distinction clear… but those pronouns, they can be insidious !

Maybe we can revise my “Wikipedia” title with something more informative, like “Just A Volunteer”. I would certainly have no objection to any clarifications like this.

But then I would start humorously nudging you and your buddies that maybe we should find a fun label for you and your fellow Atheists?

I like a good philosophical discussion as much as the next man or woman. But it’s the swamp that needs the attention … not fighting that nasty old gator hiding in the Abzu.

(Stephen Matheson) #96

Hey, that’s understandable! And you are a good sport. Kudos.

I think you’re on the safe side there as long as you continue your policy of random capitalization and eye strain-inducing font choices. :smirk:

(Richard Wright) #97

Hello John,

Yes, I concede that what is evidence for God for me is not evidence for everyone. At the same time, I would like atheists to concede that logic can part of the equation for theists, even though it may not seem logical to them.

The reason that I bring up the multiverse is because it is a part of the historical human condition to ponder life and existence. Since this life is filled with purpose, beauty, complexity, order, love, sacrifice, beauty, etc., most people want answers, and that includes atheists. So if you listen to and read big New Atheist names like Richard Dawkins, Max Tegmark, Neil deGrasse Tyson and others, their explanation for existence is the multiverse, that this entity produced so many universes, each with different physical laws and constants, that eventually one serendipitously formed that had the right laws and constants for life to form and eventually evolve man. So man stands there and says, “wow, how lucky we are to be here”. That is an explanation, but there are major problems with it. One, there is no evidence of the multiverse and two, it itself would have to have special characteristics to allow life since not all proposed multiverses produce an infinite number of universes with different laws and constants. That is what they have faith in, and to believers it seems illogical to have faith in something that has no proof and must have had something to cause it to come into existence, since ontological nothingness still produces nothing.

You seem to be on of the few that doesn’t feel the need for answers for existence. That’s OK for you and this debate. However, the nature of our existence, for the vast majority of humanity, screams that there is an intelligence behind it. That doesn’t, “prove” anything in a debate sense, but for the individual, this faith in God as an explanation is a logical choice based on the evidence.


Almost everyone in history has felt a connection to the divine or at least the presence/existence of the divine. That’s a different question than what faith does one adhere to. For the vast majority, it is the faith that they were born in. There are a few like myself that checked out different faiths (outside of Christian groups). I decided on Jesus over Mohammed because Jesus came across as a radical light from God and his teachings spoke to my soul, while the teachings of Mohammed as a whole came off as dark and unspiritual.


What we are trying to get across is that there is no such thing as personal logic. To paraphrase Senator Moynihan, you can have your own opinions but not your own logic. Logic is something that is independent of each of us, and logical fallacies are not a buffet where we can choose to adhere to some and choose to ignore others.

To use an analogy, I proclaim that I can run a 3 minute mile. However, I get to define what a mile is, how the time is kept, and how the race is run. I get to redefine the mile as 1,000 feet, stop the clock when I get tired and restart the clock when I am ready, and the clock only starts when I am back up to full speed. Does that work? Not really. The rules of logic are no different. If you want to claim that your conclusion is logical then you need to adhere to the rules of logic that already exist, not invent a new set of rules that allow you to reach the preconceived conclusion that you already hold.

Would it become logical if they said “a multiverse seems logical”?

Would it become logical if they said “I have evidence, but you wouldn’t accept it as evidence”?

Would it become logical if they said “I use different rules of logic, and according to those rules the multiverse is logical”?


George, I don’t think of you as a volunteer. I would think that you are a visitor, as I am. The volunteers are the moderators and any others who have been brought on board pro bono by BioLogos.

(Peter Wolfe) #100

Inserting myself into this conversation … Nabeel Quershi’s book “No God but One” is a description of how he examined the claims of Islam and the claims of Christianity then used logic to decide which was the correct one. A remarkable story. Go read it to see which one he arrived at :).

I don’t think very many of us humans go to that kind of rigor to determine what we choose to believe.