Tag Archives: Law of Identity

Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God? A logical thought

6 Jan
Recently, a nuanced discussion about the nature of God caused me to think and think again.  Nothing wrong with that.
Law of Identity
I’ve always reasoned that Christians worship a God different from that of Muslims.  And I’ve relied on the Law of Identity to support my conclusion.  Here’s my simple way of describing this law of nature:
Given that….
Thing 1 has characteristics A, B and C
  and
Thing 2 has characteristics A, B and X
Then it follows that…..
  • Thing 1 cannot be identical to Thing 2, because the characteristics of each are not the same.
  • Thing 1, by definition, has to consist of A,B and C or it is not Thing 1
  • Thing 2, by definition, has to consist of A, B and X or it is not Thing 2

For a much more educated explanation, Here’s a link.

Applying this Law of Identity to the question of gods, I’ve concluded in the past that since Muslims:

  • don’t believe in a triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit)
  • don’t accept that God had a Son (this is blasphemy to them)
  • consider it false that Jesus, whom they consider a great prophet, actually died on the Cross

Then, the God that is central to their religion is different from the God Christians worship.

But Frank Beckwith, a Catholic philosopher, has reasoned otherwise. He argues that we DO worship the same God, even if Muslims are mistaken about some of the essential characteristics of this God. 

If I understand his points, it would be like two people disputing over whether a friend each has is mutual or different.

Example: 

Pete’s friend Bob works for a radio station is married to a gal named Sally and lives in Chicago.

Ed’s friend Bob works for a hospital is also married to a gal named Sally and lives in Chicago.

 

Are there two Bobs, or just the one?

According to the Law of Identity, the characteristics have to be the same for the objects to be identical.  But what if both Ed and Pete are each ignorant of a particular feature about Bob?  Does their ignorance nullify the possibility of ‘Bob’ being one and the same?

So I can see that it is possible that Muslims worship the Christian God even if they are ignorant about some of His necessary attributes.

But this discussion misses the point. And I think Satan loves for the world to tie itself up in knots and thus be distracted from THE CENTRAL ISSUE that has ETERNAL CONSEQUENCES.

What must I do to be saved?

Each of us must make a reasonable decision about the options presented to us.  Which one, if any, is true? Which one matches what we know about reality? 

And more to the point, what do we do with attested statements spoken by Jesus that:

  • He is the only way to God (John 14:6)
  • He and the Father are One (John 10:30)
  • He created the universe (Colossians 1:6)
  • He will return to judge all of us (2 Timothy 4:1)

And, to top THOSE off, here is how Jesus oriented the Scriptures (that is the ‘Old Testament’) and presented them to two dejected disciples after His crucifixion:

  • Then Jesus quoted them passage after passage from the writings of the prophets, beginning with the book of Genesis and going right on through the Scriptures, explaining what the passages meant and what they said about himself.(Acts 24:27)

As we walk through 2016, let’s look to the Author of Truth to guide us in all knowledge.  After all, He set these laws of logic into being.  Could they be invitations to seek Him?  I know ONE thing for certain, unlike Dorothy and her friends, our search won’t lead to a mere man manipulating smoke and mirrors. God promises, instead, a Savior. And the Christian God does not lie.

Wizard of Oz

 

 

Logical Gal and nonsense before breakfast

26 Feb

Are you a ‘swallower’  or a ‘thinker’?

Do you examine what people say? read with an eye to whether it is true or not?  If so, good for you!

People who don't think 26 Feb 2014

But even before we look at whether an assertion is true, we have to understand what it says!!

Let me give you an example.  The following quote was at the end of an English word-a-day explanation I receive by email.  I like to read the tidbits of life’s wisdom with which they terminate their posts.  But this one made NO sense, whatsoever!

“It is the final proof of God’s omnipotence that he need not exist in order to save us” . -Peter De Vries, novelist (1910-1993)

Huh?

So what do we do with this?  We start with the terms.  Which ones might be ambiguous?

I spotted 4:

  • God (don’t laugh – we can’t assume everyone is referring to the same being)
  • omnipotence
  • exist
  • save

So I would begin by asking Mr. DeVries (if he were alive) just what he meant by each one of these terms.  Only then could we begin to evaluate whether or not what he was saying was true or false or just plain non-sensical.

Once we had clarified the terms, I think I would have asked a couple of questions.  To start with,

  • What do we need saving from?
  • What kinds of powers does something that doesn’t exist have? For if something doesn’t exist, that’s like saying: “something is nothing

And we know from the Law of Identity that A cannot equal non-A.

Unless this guy was a deconstructionist who maintained that ‘nothing’ is an entity that has properties.  That’s just a non-sensical redefining of  terms .

Whew!  All this ‘gray cell exercise’ made me hungry for breakfast!

Question:  What else can you see in that quote that gives you pause?  

Logical Gal and the difference between objective terms and subjective values

4 Nov

Last time I wrote (post dated 1 Nov 2013),

I asserted that terms were by nature objective since they are descriptive of what is.

One of the laws of the universe (no human made this up) is called the Law of Identity.  An apple IS an apple.  All the attributes on the left of the IS add up perfectly to what is on the right side.   Add or subtract one of the attributes and you no longer have an apple.

I asserted that the definition of TRUTH is straightforward – It is that which corresponds to reality.

So where do values and opinions come in to play?  Can they be subjective?

Value statements depend on the presuppositions behind them.  Presuppositions are the assumptions we make that are often hidden.  But they totally influence our conclusions, our values!

Change the presuppositions and you alter the sense of the conclusion. Presuppositions are sometimes unarticulated in a discussion.  When you have just a partial argument, it’s called an ‘enthymeme’ because the missing parts are implicit.  

“You’ll get fat!”   when fleshed out could be part of a syllogism that looks like this:

  • Eating chocolate 3x a day causes people to get fat – (Presupposition)
  • You’re eating chocolate 3 x a day – (Presupposition)
  • Therefore, you’ll get fat – (explicit enthymeme that showed up just as conclusion)

Getting fat is a fact, it’s truth.  What I mean is:  ‘adding a pound of fat to your body‘ is what might be corresponding to reality  But again, depending on one’s values, being fat is either a sign of ill health, or a sign of prosperity and beauty. (Think of Rubens’ artwork!)

 

The fact of adding fat is the truth – it’s objective.

But what it means is relative and subjective to the one creating the proposition.  In the conclusion above, the proposition being asserted is this:  You (subject) are doing something that will cause you to get fat. (predicate)

That proposition is either objectively TRUE or FALSE.

It’s subjective sense is, however, relative…..relative to the assumptions/presuppositions one holds.

Clear thinking requires the use of tools and the time to employ them.  Asking questions and parsing out terms from propositions is one tool.  Teasing out the implicit ideas behind the propositions is another.  Be a diligent detective.

What is Chili?

11 Jul

    

Terms matter! 

Once when we were engaged to be married and were visiting my parents, Mom prepared a tried and trusted entrée she thought Mike would like – chili!  The only problem was that she left out the kidney beans!  My fiancé, who was less than tactful, remonstrated, “This isn’t chili – it has no beans!”

Was he correct?  It depends on how you define ‘chili’.  (Why did she omit the beans?  She was probably distracted by the presence of her articulate and handsome future son-in-law!)

One of the fundamental laws of thought is called the Law of Identity.  It’s pretty intuitive: a thing is the sum of its component parts, characteristics (or ‘predicates’ to be technical) and NOT something else.

Let’s suppose that you define ‘chili’ like this:

·         Chili is a thick soup or gravy composed of meat, beans, tomatoes and seasonings

What happens, then, if you leave out or add something to this ‘soup or gravy’?  According to the Law of Identity, it is NOT ‘chili’.

Such a rule or guideline is useful in all kinds of conversations.  When we talk with people, our first responsibility is to get clear what they have in mind when employing a term.  So we ask them:

 What do you mean by ‘chili’?”

          or

 “What exactly is ‘chili’?

Being clear and precise about the definition is important. If you add or take away a defining component, you have changed the thing whether it is material (concrete) or immaterial (an idea).

When I engage in conversations about controversial items like prayer, God, marriage or even Christianity, I CANNOT assume that the person with whom I am talking defines the term in question the same way as I do.  This Law of Identity is basic!

For example, if I mean by marriage the historical and biblical definition:

a covenantal relationship recognized and supported by society between one qualified man & one qualified woman for the purposes of companionship, love, mutual support and the raising of children if possible

….then taking away or adding a part changes its identity.  It is no longer ‘marriage’ but something else!  That is fine, but we should be honest.  Fuzziness doesn’t help anyone.  Such equivocating with terms allows people to hide.  No progress can be made toward establishing meaningful conversation and/or solving problems.   

What concepts do YOU see in everyday life that are ‘allowed’ to stay fuzzy?