May 20, 2009

Faith and Logical Argument

Faith and reason are perfectly and most properly compatible when faith informs reason and does not beg it. This ought to be elementary. We know that all conditional logic begins with some assumption, normally called a premise, which may be accepted as given. The premise does not necessarily have to be proven in order to spur valid arguments, and a valid conclusion is conditionally sound, if and only if the premise is true.

For example, Einstein’s relativity, an un-provable theory, has stood thus far as the foundation of much scientific advancement and will continue to do so, as long as the theory cannot be disproved. That’s why Einstein said “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Creative thinking can suggest new vantage points for old problems. Some bold new premises are quickly disproved, but others lead to great new discoveries.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for. Faith is the evidence for things not yet seen. Faith can be the foundation for logical thought. But faith does not properly fit as the conclusion of anyone’s syllogism. By definition, faith is the foundation.

Thus, the most properly faith-based methodologies for working with scripture and history ought to begin bald-faced, by declaring that scriptural events may simply be taken as factual. If something seems problematic, we can save it for later, as long as there’s enough else to start from. This, too, is good logic. It is also good strategy, in more ways than one.

Our priority should not be to defend that which we cannot (yet) explain. Our defense should be in the comfort that our foundation cannot be destroyed, no matter how much it may come under attack. We do not serve our own faith by fixating on problems or working from defensive positions.

Faith informs reason and cannot work in reverse. Logical arguments proceed from sound premises, which do not have to be provable. We focus on what we believe and on what facts we do know. We proceed from there. Always.

This really should be elementary.


Anonymous said...

Could reason sometime lead to faith or informs faith? Are you familiar with Intelligence Design ?(ID).
I think ID works in reverse. I suppose the basic premise of ID is that reason informs faith not faith informing reason.
Am I making any sense? Am I understanding your argument?

Bill Heroman said...

We all have reasons why we believe. For some, the fact that the sun comes up every day is proof that Jesus rose from the grave. And Amen, praise the Lord! But I wouldn't make that into an academic "proof".

If we take certain evidence as supporting our faith, no matter how we construct the argument, it's still inverted. Logically, to claim that intelligent design is "evidence" of an intelligent designer is fine - not to mention absolutely true in fact - but to argue that as a logical conclusion, I think, automatically implies a conditional premise that was previously unstated, which simply mirrors the conclusion.

I'm all for presuppositions. I just want them to be bald-faced. :-)

Anonymous said...

My dear friend Bill:)

Bill Heroman said...


What, what?

Am I brilliant or ignorant?


Anonymous said...

Of course you're brilliant!
Do I need to remind you every day?

Bill Heroman said...

HAHAHA! Well, it would be nice if somebody did. ;)

For the record, I thought you were going to say "both". I always worry that I'm missing something...

Thanks, Lou.

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