The Reason of Reason
Author: Scott Cherry

Chapter 14
Conclusions to the Logos Principle

 

“In the beginning was the Logos. “   Bible, Gospel of John 1:1

 

Now let’s review and summarize my argument as I draw my semi-final conclusions.  I say 'semi-final' because there is still one chapter after this one. For a while this was my last chapter, but then I realized there was more to say to get to the finer point.

 

Reason, logic, order and intelligibility exist; therefore God exists—a maximally Intelligent Being who is the Designer of the whole Rational Order. This is the notion of the Logos spoken of by the ancient Greek philosophers and by John the Christian Apostle. The Logos is very strong evidence for theism over the non-theism, particularly Christian theism.

 

All of us make basic assumptions about Reality.  We assume Order, not randomness, because of the abundant evidence for it.  Order exists.  It is a brute fact, or at least it is a universal assumption so strong that we (must) presuppose it and live as though there is order, both consciously and unconsciously. The existence of order, therefore, is a core belief that all humans have about Reality, even about the many things we have never encountered directly.  That is, because so many things in our experience are ordered we believe there is order—everywhere.  This is our power of inductive reason at work, which I would call faith.  Second, we assume intelligibility.  We know we can rationally function within this awareness and make sense of things around us, either easily or with a necessary amount of effort.  As with language, order can be recognized and understood, i.e. it can be reasoned about, and the laws of logic can be applied to it.  We know things with order have recognizable patterns and specified complexities that are intelligible to the human mind when casually observed or carefully examined.  With man-made things we usually call this design; it is precisely by these patterns that we differentiate man-made things from natural things because design is an attribute of intelligence. 

 

This leads us to the third assumption, that of intelligence itself.  Design points to an intelligent source.  That is to say, when we observe and recognize ordered patterns we normally infer intelligence.  In point of fact, if that which we observe is actual design it always (necessarily) indicates intelligence by definition, because the very notion of design (and order itself) entails intelligence.  If there is no design there is no intelligence, and if there is no intelligence there is no design.  The two are complements.  Conversely, if what we observe merely seems to be designed, though uncertain, then more examination is required.  But usually things that seem to be designed are actually designed because we recognize design.  These are the normal functions of reason and logic, i.e. rationality, all of which point to the Logos principle. These are the rational assumptions that underlie the process of analyzing something, say, a mosque.  Assumptions such as these are normal and necessary components of the process of reason.  They are logical premises that can either be valid or invalid, hidden or clear.  If they are valid and strong we call them laws, or axioms, and without them reason could not function at all. 

 

There are many aspects of reason and logic.  They are all dependent on, indicative of and resultant from rational thought.  No other living creature on earth has this power.  Moreover, not only does the human capacity of reason give us the power to achieve all this, it gives us the expectation of it—or the belief, if you will.  Human reason entails the belief that Reality is ordered and largely subject to rational inquiry and analysis.  Intelligibility is the object of the predicate that is reason.  Reason works because its objects are largely “penetrable” by reason rather than “impenetrable”.   Just as the pieces of a puzzle conform to the pre-determined order of the assembled whole, all things have a similar order that renders them assemble-able, even when some of the pieces (information) are missing for a long time, or if some of the pieces are never found.  Science “believes” that nature is much like a puzzle that possesses this kind of pre-determined order—because it is, and it does. 

 

Reality is actually this way. Therefore, through our “penetrating” powers of reason we actually can make sense of, discover, understand and replicate things that were previously undiscovered and unknown.  In a word, they are intelligible to us.  We can imagine the world in other ways. The world could be disordered, undiscoverable and unknowable.  In that case, ten times our powers of reason would make no difference.  There could be no science, no assembling puzzles, and no making sense of anything.   Just as there must be both subject and object to a complex sentence, so there must be in Reality for us to even attempt to make sense of it.  Thankfully, Reality is this way.  However and for whatever reason, it is intelligible to intelligent beings.  What chaos and despair there would be if the world were not so, or if we did not have the power to intelligize it.  We should not dismiss this as a result of serendipity; there may have been a Divine Mind behind all this.  Yes, the Logos. 

 

Reason and intelligibility are complements.  This is why we expect reason to work and also why we trust it.  Indeed, there are things to reason about which, inexplicably, can be rationally understood by intelligent beings.   Reason logically requires an object or it makes no sense.  And that there are things to reason about not only requires Reason but gives purpose to it.  The same is true for logic.  Reason works because there are laws of logic that are both axiomatic and inexplicable in naturalistic terms.  The laws of logic simply exist as brute facts, which are a form of Order.  Reality, because it is rational, demands our adherence to them, and we can comply.  The laws of logic enable us to do logic, or “logicize”, and logicizing requires stuff to logicize about, either physical or metaphysical. 

 

What we have now identified are what I will call “rational complements”.  In terms of geometry, angles that fit together are called complementary angles.  Reality is complementary because it is replete with “rational complements”, and thus intelligible.  It’s fascinating that we humans seek out complementary things, and equally fascinating that we can find them.  Indeed, we are driven by this quest, and we might even say that it is the essence of reason itself.  Yes, Reality is intelligible, but why should anything at all be intelligible to mere “biological machines” such as naturalists say we are?  Part of the reason is that there are “rational complements”, but why are there?  Do they just happen by random chance?  Or is there a Divine Someone who has wired them into the very fabric of Reality?  

 

The defining characteristics of intelligence are to create, identify and utilize complementary things, like puzzle pieces, interlocking engine parts, and the components of a DNA strand, etc.  By the same token, because we observe the pervasiveness of complements in science and in the whole of Reality shouldn’t we reasonably infer an Intelligent Mind?  Yes, it is the Logos principle. Again, former Pope Joseph Ratzinger agrees when he says this about science:

 

…All science points to God, since all science requires intelligibility, which in turn, requires an Intelligent Creator. …I say this is mystical because it cannot itself be the product of empirical or experimental investigation, but is instead the very condition of analyzing and experimenting in the first place.  This is why many theorists have speculated that the emergence of the modern sciences [stem from] the context of a Christian intellectual milieu in which the doctrine of creation through the power of an intelligent Creator is affirmed. (1, as quoted by Fr. Robert Barron)

 

“Foul!” decries the skeptic.  Surely Catholic clergy can be expected to share my position. Perhaps so.  But this ought not dilute the rationality of their words.  Still, philosopher Dr. Graeme Hunter may elicit more respect.  Dr. Hunter is a member of the faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and Full Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Toronto.  He explains:

 

The intelligibility of things cannot be proven [philosophically]... And the natural sciences give usno right to assume it.  But what if, as John [the Apostle] proclaims, the intelligibility of things has been revealed, not just in the form of a divine pronouncement written in a holy book, but in the form of God made man, and dwelling among us, full of grace and truth? God as Intelligibility. The Maker who knows the world; the Knower who makes it; making and knowing as one thing; Maker and Knower taking human form. (2, as quoted by Gretchen Joanna)

 

The point is clear.  Of course there are objections as Michael Martin and others have raised.  Some may argue that the laws of logic are an outgrowth of language or that they would have pre-existed God so that He could not have created them, similar to the Euthyphro dilemma.  But no argument can be made without first presupposing intelligibility which is the heart of the Logos principle as I have defined it.  I assert that the ‘God hypothesis’ is the only reasonable explanation for this state of affairs in which we find ourselves. This is especially true in science.  Blogger Joe Heschmeyer puts it succinctly when he says “...All science points to God, since all science requires intelligibility, which in turn, requires an Intelligent Creator.” (2)

 

Again, former Pope Joseph Ratzinger cites Einstein in support of his conclusion: 

 

Our language provides an intriguing clue in this regard, for we speak of our acts of knowledge as moments of “recognition,” literally a re-cognition, a thinking again what has already been thought. In the laws of nature, a mind so superior is revealed that in comparison, our minds are as something worthless. (1, as quoted by Fr. Robert Barron)

 

Blogger Robert Ritchie refers to an argument by Haldane on the intelligibility of the physical world in light of quantum mechanics:

 

…Quantum Mechanics argues that the smallest bits of matter don't necessarily follow the laws of physics but act in a more-or-less random manner.  There is such a large number of these actions that the result is that they [do] follow the laws of physics.  But why?  Why don't they act in a truly random manner (which would make it impossible for the physical sciences to say anything)?  They seem directed towards an end (the end being the laws of physics), which is just another word for a final cause [i.e. the cause of intelligible quantum behaviors]. (2, as quoted by Joe Heschemeyer)

 

Again, Joe Heschmeyer sees intelligibility in math:

 

Consider the stability of math... Two plus two doesn't suddenly equal five, but there's no natural explanation for why these things remain stable (in fact, since these are immaterial truths, materialism can't even approach them).  Yet if two plus two generated a random result, we could never have math or science, never develop any technology, and all existence would be a series of random and inexplicable events that our brains would be incapable of processing. (2)

 

And in language:

 

Our language provides an intriguing clue…for we speak of our acts of knowledge as moments of “recognition,” literally a re-cognition, a thinking again [of] what has already been thought.   …the being of the universe is not dumbly there, but rather intelligently there, imbued by a creative mind with intelligible structure. (2)

 

And in astronomy:

 

…In the 300s St. Athanasius argued that “if the movement of creation were irrational, and the universe were borne along without plan, a man might fairly disbelieve what we say. But if it subsist in reason and wisdom and skill, and is perfectly ordered throughout, it follows that He that is over it and has ordered it is none other than the [reason or] Word of God.” (2)

 

Finally, in a lecture on the subject Paul Davies sums it up this way:

 

Of course, science did not spring ready-made into the minds of Newton and his colleagues. They were strongly influenced by two longstanding traditions that pervaded European thought. The first was Greek philosophy [in which] the universe is not completely chaotic and capricious: there is a definite order in nature. The Greeks believed that this order could be understood, at least in part, by the application of human reasoning. They maintained that physical existence was not absurd, but rational and logical, and therefore in principle intelligible to us. They dis-covered that some physical processes had a hidden mathematical basis, and they sought to build a model of reality based on arithmetical and geometrical principles. (4)

 

 

 

 

Citations

 

1. Catholicism, Fr. Robert Barron, pp. 67-69, Random House

 

2. Joe Heschmeyer in his blog, “Shameless Popery”: http://catholicdefense.blogspot.com/2012/01/two-interesting-arguments-for-god.html

 

3.  Gretchen Joanna in her blog “Gladsome Lights”: http://gretchenjoanna.com/

 

4. Paul Davies, First Things. http://www.firstthings.com/article/1995/08/003-physics-and-the-mind-of-god-the-templeton-prize-address-24

 

5.  Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway, 2001

 

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