Let us Reason Together – Tr.JEA
“Words, words, words,” says Hamlet in response to a frustrating question from a man named Polonius. “A lot of words.” Words can indeed be complicated. In fact, we have words that have multiple meanings. We also have sentences (“We saw her duck”) that have different connotations, and sometimes you can get into trouble if you don’t define a specific word or sentence at the beginning of a discussion. That almost happened to me last semester.
While one of my math classes was working on a challenging question last fall, one student blurted out, “This question is impossible to solve. I think I’m about to give up.” To which I quickly replied, “Nothing is impossible.” The class went well that day, but things got a little interesting the next morning. That student came up to me privately and said, “Can two plus two be five or six in another universe?” “No,” I responded immediately. “That would be a contradiction and therefore irrational.”
“So,” he said politely, “Some things are impossible.” I instantly started smiling because he obviously had a point, and I tried to catch my breath before I gave him a response because I honestly wasn’t expecting such a thoughtful response. It was Jesus who said that “by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned,” and it appeared that I was condemned presumably because I didn’t spell out what I meant by “impossible.”
“I should have elaborated on what I meant, Mr. Jimmy,” I said. “My apologies. But I never meant to say that contradictory statements can magically be possible or true. That would be a chaotic world if that were the case. You have honestly raised a very important question that thinkers in ancient Greece were trying to solve. They discovered something called ‘the law of non-contradiction,’ which basically says that two contradictory statements cannot be true at the same time and in the respect. To put it another way, a true statement cannot be a false statement at the same time and in the same respect. If that is still complicated, think of it this way: a cat cannot be a dog at the same time and in the same respect.”
“If everything is possible,” I continued, “then the Bible wouldn’t be true precisely because it would implicitly teach that God can lie! The Apostle John himself says that ‘no lie comes from the truth,’ which is to say that truth and lie are polar opposite. God cannot create contradictory or irrational things such as a square circle precisely because God is Logos (another word for reason, as described in the first chapter of the gospel of John). This again means that some things are impossible.”
“But what did Jesus mean when He says that ‘with God all things are possible’?” I added. “Well, obviously ‘all things are possible’ can never contradict reason at all. God sometimes acts in certain ways that go beyond what human reason can comprehend but never in ways that contradict that reason. As I have said, God is ‘Logos,’ which essentially means reason as well. Can God contradict His very being? Of course not! Now, do you see where I’m going with this? If Christianity is true, and if God is foundational to reason, then true science, mathematics, history, etc., can never contradict Christianity. Never. That’s one reason why most of the scientists and thinkers in the past were devout Christians. Pascal, Pasteur, Descartes, Galileo, Boyle, Kepler, Euler, etc., were all Christians. As Kepler himself put it, people like himself were ‘thinking God’s thoughts after Him.’ Finally, the scientific revolution would have been impossible without Christianity. I am really glad that you are thinking about these issues now because honestly God wants us all to think. In fact, it is written in Isaiah1:8, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord…”