Sunday, August 13, 2017

Uses And Abuses Of Logic

Logic is a useful method, but it is just what it is – a method. It is a process of investigating and explaining the universe. It is not a worldview.

Unfortunately there are any number of people out there who have turned it into a worldview. The worst of these are people who think that it is illogical to have religious beliefs or that it is illogical to have feelings. This has lead these people to practice a very real form of bigotry that is in no way consistent with the meaning and definition of logic.

Probably the worst behavior that I have seen in such people is that of predation upon their partners. A man would be of the belief that women are irrational because they have feelings. So the man would make one or another poisonous statement; this would bring on an emotional response; and he would walk away claiming that the woman is irrational.

This kind of predatory behavior discredits logic itself.

Should logic be learned and practiced? By all means. But it should not be used as a tool of predation, and it should not be something that leads to bigotry. No, it is not irrational to believe in God. No, it is not irrational to fall in love with someone. The idea that such things are irrational are a result of inadequate understanding on the part of the people who have this idea. In both cases what we find is not logic but abuses of logic. Logic itself should not be blamed for it. The people who use logic for things of this sort should.

As in many cases, distinction needs to be made between a value and the misuses of the value. Logic itself is a valuable and important tool. But that is what it is – a tool. And tools are what you are using them for. By all means use logic to investigate the universe and make sense of things. But do not use it to prey on your partner, and do not use it to justify a bigoted worldview.

I have known any number of people who excelled at logic who had very real spiritual experiences or were very sincere believers in Christ. These included distinguished scientists, successful entrepreneurs, highly educated professionals. My mathematics teacher, who excelled at logic, told me that there is nothing incompatible between science and the existence of God. I know another man who wrote a book about how the theorems of contemporary science are consistent with the existence of God. These people weren't stupid, they weren't crazy and they weren't on drugs. They were better at logic than most skeptics.

Once again, logic is a tool. Tools are neither good nor bad; they are what they are used for. If you are using logic for rightful things, then more power to you. If you are using it for wrongful things, then it is important that such a thing be confronted. Use the logic to investigate the world. Do not use it to become an abuser or a bigot. Doing the latter discredits logic and feeds irrationality. And that has bad consequences for the world – consequences that stand to be averted if logic is used responsibly.


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