The Importance of Logic for Religious Studies

The Importance of Logic for “Faith-Based” Arguments
in Islam and Christianity

λογική, λογικός λόγος

“The Love that moves the sun and the other stars”
(Dante)

Preface

In our daily life, especially in Indonesia, it is easy to listen to any religion leader’s speech for his or her congregations about anything according to their faith. When we turn on the radio to listen to our favourite music, we may also turn to hear something else – there are several religious programs in the same hour, mostly a speech of something such as being a true believer, or how to worship in a right way. It is interesting because when we go deeper to each of them, the speaker always try to use logic for their speech or arguments. Although making the religions more logically sound are generally unacceptable to the members of the faiths, or using logic is not enough, it is interesting to see that logic is very useful for them. Thus, as we often hear more Islamic and Christianity lectures than any other religions in Indonesia, it may be an interesting topic to see the importance of logic for their arguments and oratory.
The chief aim of this paper is to carry out a brief comparative study of the using of logic in their “faith-based” arguments. As it is only a brief study, the subject of this topic will be limited in common arguments. Hopefully, this paper will pave the ground into an inquiry of the importance of logic in religious studies.

The Fundamental Belief

The definition of “faith-based” argument in this paper is an argument which is based on the faith in the Scriptures or other religious writings . There are scholars who throw away logical method for such argument. However, there are scholars who never end up their attempts to use logic in such argument. The last group, which is the main discussion of this paper, do not enjoy the dependance of their congregration on faith only, because there are increasingly demands of logical answers in their congregations’ question about God, the Revelation, free-will and many more.
The common saying, “What I believe is what I believe and what you believe is what you believe,” is somehow indicates the main problem in all beliefs. A belief seems subjective, although in the act of believing everyone always needs objective views and evidents. In order to convince others of their beliefs, Muslims and Christians scholars cannot avoid reasoning and logic. They hardly seek whether there is logic in their religion. The importance of logic in faith-based arguments will be significance when they could convincingly say that there is logic in their religion.
In another term, faith as a system of religious beliefs demands its believers to possess strongly the mindset that their religion is true in its assumptions and is the only truth.
Today’s Muslim and Christian scholars share the same problem that people are becoming more critical and demand every thing should be completely based on objective and evidence. Today’s people demand religion principles should be logical and rational, which means based on what is true or false, as in our daily life events. Otherwise, the mindset that his or her religion is the only truth will be falling apart. For many religion, especially Islam and Christianity, the perspective of “my religion is the only religion and it is the right religion” is very important for at least three aspects:
o It gives a sense of security. If one believes that they are in the ‘right’ religion, then on can count on God being on their side.
o It increases the tight sense of belonging. The lines of the group are well drawn such that it is very clear who is or is not part of the ‘right’ group.
o It gives something to strive for and is very clear in its demands. Those who are unsure of their religion, or are not sure that theirs is the only one or the right one, sometimes be conflicted in their spirituality.

The Significance of Logic in Faith-Based Arguments

Muslim and Christian scholars had been taking a lot of efforts to make their religion’s beliefs as understandable as possible so that it is accepted by the believers and after all it is the only truth for them. Logic takes its role in this effort, especially in the modern world today, in order to spread their religion teachings and to convince their believers. The proposition of God is exist, for example, should be explain in a simple and logic way so that anyone can understand, even to those who has lack inttellengence, or to those who are less educated, and especially to those who deny His existance. Logic plays its roles in making good arguments, having “good reasons” and convincing others (the unbelievers and other believers).
A well-trained scholar in logic can formulate a good and effective arguments by applying logic. The relationship between logic and his (or her) speech can help him (or her) structure their own arguments and critique the arguments of others. In this case, logic helps to examine meanings and its quality as it is a tool to understand the faith-based arguments. Logic would prevent the mind from being led into error and confusion because basically faith-based arguments are rather abstract and inconcrete. It is very useful because it helps anyone to distinguish the valid from the invalid explainatory phrase and proof. More importantly, it helps the scholars to have “good reasons” while explaining their arguments clearly.
By applying logic, some scholars debate each other in order to make their opponent or other believers to convert into their belief. This is very interesting, because it may show later to us that, perhaps unlike ancient days, the need of convincing others that there is logic in their religion are more important than irrational miracles.

The Common Faith-Based Arguments on “God”

The essential mark of a religion is some supernatural or superhuman agency, i.e the deity content. Muslim and Christian scholars deal the same problem that they must prove the existence of God and usually they were trapped into the demand of proving the reality of existence. “The reality of the existance of God” should be easy to grasp, whatever the explaination is, but it should be understanable for everyone. Thus, in similar way, Muslim and Christian scholars carry out their basic missionary work in order to certify their congregations of that proposition above all propositions.
Common sense and science present a vast of facts of brute actualities. In the light of common day this world of our multifarious experience is not at all “divine”, but it is just a world full of men and things. For their common and perhaps uneducated congregations, Muslim and Christian scholars simplify the logical and philosophical concepts of the existance of God usually by daily event examples.
I found that there are several logical methods that they use in order to convince their congregations, such as the cause and effect examples in daily life. This is the one of the most commonly used, that they would give their congregations a question or a sentence of a daily event (e.g a leaf fall from a tree), then they convince them that every cause has an effect and every effect has a cause. We cannot have an infinite list of causes. Therefore, the list must be finite. In a finite list of causes there is an initial, starting cause – a first cause. The first cause in a finite list of causes by its very nature is uncaused. God is defined as the first cause, and in the inversion, the first cause is (only) God. They would usually simplify the reality of the existance (of God) by every effect and cause in our daily life.
The next problem is merely what sort of God itself is the true existent. Watson said , “Everyone admits the helpfulness of believing in the cooperation of some deity. But the only adds to the present problem, for the very crux of the difficulty is what God can I believe in?” For Muslims and Christian scholars, the question would be, “What God should I believe in?”
Muslim scholars are in unity when they say that any form of polytheism, idolatry, birth incarnation and corpularity has been rejected in Islam and the Lord is stripped of any of these embelishments. On the other, the issue of the Trinity consisting of God being composed of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit is the basis of the present Christian faith. In Christianity, there is only one God: Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, a unity of three individuals.
Those who need the certain answer of , “What God should I believe in?”, know that Christian scholars themselves have always been failed in their attempts of giving logical arguments about the “Trinity” issue since olden times. They come with the idea or theory of triangle, sphere , apple, etc in order to support the concept of Trinity. However, in the end they can not convincingly use logical expressions for the notion of the Trinity, by saying such as, “the logical problems that humans have with the doctrine are not in Trinitarianism itself but in our inability to grasp an infinite and all powerful being ”, which can also means that human logical ability cannot grasp the notion of Trinity.
Muslim scholars believe that there is no logic in trinity, so there is no possibility in making any logical arguments to support Trinity. For them, the theory of triangles (or sphere or anything alike) is erronous. In principle, when the First Cause is Uncaused, then God should be devoid of form. To compare Him to a sphere (or anything alike) is irrational because the First Cause should be beyond our imagination of any form or alike. Thus, when He becomes Three, there should be the First Cause, which is Uncaused as in a finite list, and it must be One, not Three.

The Logical Method of Common Faith-Based Arguments

Muslim and Christian scholars use examples in logical manners in order to convince their congregations and the unbelievers of the faith-based arguments. One of their attempts is by using the universal and particulars examples or deduction and induction argumentation examples. They understand that we do not reach forming a notion that one group have in common but by first thinking the particulars, but conversely we got at the true notions of the particulars only through the universals.
They use deductive argument for it is impossible to assert the premises and deny the conclusion without contradicting oneself. However, they use induction too, although uncertainty creeps in with it as there is always the possibility that somewhere there is an exception in the generalization and not perfectly reliable. They still get the benefit of making a generalization from a number of observed particular instances only to meet one counter-examples that disproves it.

Logic and Faith

In the early centuries of the Islamic era, Muslims were renowned for their unique method of logic. They relied on logic in proving their arguments and in obtaining valid conclusions. They believe that Islam is a rational religion based on logic and wisdom. This is then becoming very important when they oppose the Christian arguments on their faith-based arguments, especially about the Holy Trinity. Henceforth, their denial of it always based on logical arguments. In the relation of faith and logic, logic gives the rules for the use of reason. So, for Muslims, whenever reason does not give certainty, the light of faith can provide this certainty and support with additional certainty that the whole worldview built upon them.
The Christians, eventhough they refuse the dependence upon logic for their faith-based arguments, it is clear that they can not avoid to convince their critical and modern congregation (and unbelievers) that they need logical reasoning. It clear when they say , it is illogical to use logic and reasoning by itself. The only thing outside logic and reasoning is faith. Therefore, it is reasonable to have faith. It is completely logical that we need faith. At the base of all understanding, faith is the foundation of all humanly gained information. It is the only thing that can support human logic.
Finally, I can say that the importance of logic in the religious studies, relates with faith, is mainly to support each other.

REFERENCES

BOOKS

Bahar, S.H. The Truth of Existing Christianity. Qum: Ansariyan, 2001.
Jemison, T.H. Christian Beliefs. CA: Pacific Press, 1959.
Standford, Michael. A Companion to the Study of History. Oxford: Blackwell,1994.
The Little Oxford Dictionary. Oxford, 1991.
Velayati, Ali Akbar. Encyclopedia of Islam and Iran: Dynamics of Culture and The Living of Civilization. Kuala Lumpur: MPH, 2008.
Watson, Arthur Clinton. Logic in Religion. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1918.
Websters Dictionary. Ohio, 1991.

JOURNALS

ARTICLES IN CYBERSPACE

http://goingdeeperdiscussions.com/index.html
http://rlstaf.blogspot.com/2009/04/logic-and-truth.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logic
http://www.archive.org/stream/logicofreligion00watsrich#page/2/mode/2up
http://hdl.handle.net/10063/701
http://pioneer.netserv.chula.ac.th/~hsoraj/web/APPEND.html

2 responses to “The Importance of Logic for Religious Studies

  1. Love to hear your thoughts and/or response to this post and clip:

    http://loga-abdullah.blogspot.com/2009/11/10-reasons.html

  2. thank you!

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