5 Myths about Human Reasoning

5 Myths about Human Reasoning

Written by Vern S. Poythress |
Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Human reasoning, intuition, emotions, and all the other aspects of who we are all contaminated by sin (Ephesians 4:17–19). No one of these areas of human life is absolutely trustworthy. Christ came to redeem us comprehensively. That includes not only giving us the forgiveness of our sins, but through the Holy Spirit progressively moving us out of our sinful desires and habits and into a life of joyful service to Christ and to the Father.

Myth #1: Human reasoning operates in essential independence of God.

The Bible teaches that we are continuously dependent on God (Acts 17:28). This dependence includes not only dependence on him for food and physical sustenance (Matthew 6:25–33; Acts 14:17), but dependence on him mentally:

He who teaches man knowledge—
the Lord—knows the thoughts of man,
that they are but a breath.
Psalm 94:10–11

But it is the spirit in man,
the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand.
It is not the old who are wise,
nor the aged who understand what is right*.
Job 32:8–9

In any sound reasoning, we are imitating the original rationality that belongs to God. We are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26–27). We are dependent on God and on his knowledge.

Myth # 2: The laws of logic are common to everyone, whatever his religion.

God, the one true God, is the God who rules over all. His own consistency and faithfulness of character are the basis for human logic. So the divine reference point of God’s rationality is the same for everyone. But sin corrupts us, including not only our desires but our minds:

They [the Gentiles who do not trust in God] are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.
Ephesians 4:18

This darkness of sin generates subtle differences between the way that a Christian and a non-Christian understands logic. As an example, take the law of noncontradiction. A Christian knows that the law has its foundation in God’s character and his consistency with himself. God does not contradict himself. By contrast, a non-Christian tends to treat himself as if he were the final standard for what is contradictory.

In addition, the laws of logic display in subtle ways the mystery of the Trinity–that God is three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. How is the Trinity displayed?

All laws about the universe are laws that issue from God. God said, “Let there be light, and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). In a similar manner, the laws of logic can be considered as what God speaks. And what God speaks has a Trinitarian structure. At the foundation for any specific words of God there is the grand truth of John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word.” God the Father eternally speaks the Word (who is God the Son) in the context of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit, according to Ezekiel 37:10, 14, functions like the breath of God. So the law of non-contradiction comes as Trinitarian speech.

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