I don’t really like propositional logic. I guess I shouldn’t say that I don’t like it; I really don’t mind it so much. In fact, I rely on it daily. But that doesn’t mean that I think it is as all-powerful as modern thought would have us believe. I don’t think it actually succeeds in explaining the world in all the ways that the modern project hoped it would. I don’t believe Descartes’ claims that I exist just because I can think in a straight line all the way to doubt. I believe that I exist just because I believe it. I exist in a circular kind of world. Now, at this point, I may need to prove the validity of my unbelief. I have prepared two arguments.
- To be called “God,” God must be “wholly other” (whatever that means) and infinite.
- Human beings are finite, conceiving of only that which can be conceived, most often propositionally.
- Finite beings are only capable of conceiving the infinite as a metaphysical concept in a vague fashion.
- Propositional logic cannot adequately explain the infinite because it cannot conceive of the infinite as anything more than a concept.
- God cannot be explained by propositional logic.
What this argument means to me is that belief is not rational. It is belief-based. Metaphysics, or the realm of the infinite, (as if such a thing exists) cannot help finite human beings to understand God but only to corrupt the infinite into finite conceptions. It seems to me that this is precisely what most Christian theology attempts to do. Theological discourse gives rationale to God’s character and actions, which I fear draws boundaries within which God can safely operate to maintain God’s place as God in our minds. Strongly defined theology creates expectations of what the Divine can and cannot or will and will not do. In essence, the knowledge of God legitimates human attempts to control God, though it is often described as reverence. Throw into the mix the idea of incarnation, and everything becomes infinitely more complicated. How do the finite and the infinite interact? If God cannot be explained this way, then why should it be assumed that such thinking is superior? How can we know that it is closer to the truth or reality? We simply cannot, which leads me to my second and strongest argument.
- Propositional logic is stupid.
- I don’t like propositional logic.
- Propositional logic is not valid and must be rejected.
And I rest my case.
by Matt Gallion
Matthew Gallion is a graduate student at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri, where he is pursuing a Master’s degree in Religious Studies. He studies responses to American evangelicalism in postmodern contexts, particularly the emerging church and the emergent conversation, and the intersection of faith and culture, particularly in crossing the “digital divide.” Matt recently presented a paper called “The Body Disrupted: Homosexuality and the Body in Emergent Christianity” at the 9th Annual Graduate Symposium at Florida State University and at the annual Midwest American Academy of Religion meeting at Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. He is also the author of “The Price of Freedom: Bribery, the Philippian Gift, and Paul’s Choice in Philippians 1:19-26,” which won the prize for best graduate paper at the annual meeting of the Central States Society of Biblical Literature. He received his B.A. from Southwest Baptist University in Biblical Studies and recently served as a campus minister in the United Methodist Church at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg.