Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

When is Logic Illogical; guest Comment

                                       WHEN IS LOGIC ILLOGICAL
                            (A response from Bruce Justinen 5/2012)

As we punt, bat and kick around the continuing debate over the validity of the Creation story of Genesis 1 and 2, as literal or not, we should consider the logic of the supernatural.  Is it possible that our purported logical thinking is in fact illogical?

Webster’s Dictionary defines “supernatural” as:
“...not subject to explanation according to natural laws;”  “Being beyond, or exceeding, the power or laws of nature, miraculous.”  In other words, not necessarily subject to logical explanation or analysis.   Stephen J. Gould, the now diseased Harvard biologist was quite comfortable acknowledging that there were things he did not know and in fact were not knowable to him by the science (logic) for which he was so esteemed.   He termed it “non overlapping magisterium.”   He was right in his basic premise, but perhaps naïve in feeling a neat line could be drawn between the realm of faith and that of reason.  And of course, he and others wished to draw that line far into what most Christians would complain was in fact God’s territory!

1 Corinthians 1: 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:  “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”  20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

This verse is only applicable in the context of the “supernatural”.  That is, it would be “foolishness” to label everything we merely disagree with as “foolishness” just because we have these handy-dandy verses available to us as Christians.  It is only when there is a conflict with the Supernatural, the “not being subject to explanation...” that we can lay hold of I Corinthians 1:18-20.  The formula applies only when Science is contrary to the Supernatural.

We do not seek to be silly here.  Science, Physics, Genetics, Paleontology, etc. all have merit. In fact, our standard of living, the comfort of our homes, our jobs and lifestyles are dependent on the sciences.  I am not debating science or even evolution, I do not understand nor do I act as an apologist for God in this debate, He does not need one.  There is simply too much I can say “I don’t know” and “I haven’t heard all God has to say on this yet”.  And I probably won’t hear His side until after Jesus comes.

For some, this is not good enough, they must know.  So they hypothesize, they imagine, they fill in the blanks, they logic that which it is not subject to logic.  “The fiery furnace, Jonah and the great fish, the sun moving backward, the axe head floating ...”

Ron Corson wrote recently “What appears to be happening in Adventism today is that logic has been cast aside. When we lose that we have nothing. We have no reason to exist and we have no reasonable way to fulfill a mission for God and no way to fulfill that mission because we have lost the key elements to communicate.”

What I think he fails to see is that logic has not been cast aside by.  It is that Adventism has always chosen the logic of the Supernatural over the logic of science.   We simply turn to the Supernatural.  If I may paraphrase Webster “not subject to explanation by Me...or anyone I know.”

But as Christians we make choices as to what we will believe.  We realize we do not have all of the information – all of the time.  The Bible does not claim to give us all of the information on Creation or a host of other subjects, it gives us what it gives us, there may be more, there probably is – a lot more.  I don’t know.  And there lies the conundrum – I don’t know.

I will be forced to wait for my explanation.  I willingly suspend judgment or leave in God’s hands those areas I cannot know.

Do I understand the different climates of the Galapagos Islands?  No!  Does the earth seem very old?  Yes!  Do I possess Megaladon teeth both serrated and non-serrated teeth that would suggest that their teeth “evolved” over a long period of time?  Yes!   Do I understand how Jonah could live for three days inside a whale?  No! 

In 1999, the National Academy of Sciences, in answer to the tensions between science and religion, made this statement in a publication it titled “Science and Creationism”.  “Scientists, like many others, are touched with awe at the order and complexity of nature. Indeed, many scientists are deeply religious. But science and religion occupy two separate realms of human experience. Demanding that they be combined detracts from the glory of each."

Adventism believes that they occupy one realm and that they glorify each other and that where one must make a choice which to believe and this is not often but does happen.  When we have to choose which to go with, where to place one’s faith in, we choose the Supernatural.  We do this, having faith that all of the answers may not be apparent to us but that the answers do exist.

But I know that in the world of the Supernatural, things don’t always seem as they appear.  Even though science is ever before me in all its logical wonder, so is the magic of the Supernatural and it has the greater sway over me.  Not that I mistrust science, I don’t.  It is just that I know the One that invented science controls it and I trust Him more.

However, I do have enough to say to a dying world: “Trust the Supernatural, there is hope there.  The logical world, for all I can see, has not delivered on its promises.”

So am I held up to possible ridicule?  Possibly.  But given a choice of trusting my logic, your logic or anyone else’s logic or trusting God, I choose the Supernatural God.  If that is illogical, so be it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Bruce. I'm going to print this and keep it where I can read it over occasionally. You put in words my feelings exactly. Thanks again.