Thursday, August 03, 2006

Does God Think?

Jer 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith Jehovah, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope in your latter end.

Scripture makes it clear that God thinks. Scripture also makes it clear that we think. Some of our thoughts are true, and some of our thoughts are false. But does God think like we do? When I ask this I do not mean, does He think the same things we do, because we may think a certain sin is good, and He certainly does not? What I mean by this questions, is does God think in the same way as we do, for example, rationally in concepts and ideas and words?

Lets start by examining a passage of scripture that some interpret to say that God does not think like we do.

Isa 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah.
Isa 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Some have read this passage to mean that God thinks in an entirely different way than we do. Because of this, there is no way our thoughts could line up with God’s thoughts on any truth. The problem with this interpretation is that God is trying to communicate one of His thoughts to us, which He intends for us to understand. So if we say that there is nothing in God’s thoughts that can correspond to our thoughts then this effort to tell us that His thoughts are higher than ours seems quite futile.

The reason for the futility in this attempt to communicate His thoughts to us would be that, if we cannot know anything God knows, and we actually do understand the truth that God’s thoughts are higher than ours, then our understanding this truth self-refutes the idea that we cannot know anything that God knows. This is because there is one truth that we both know, namely that we do not know anything that God knows.

To put it in a more simple form, if someone says we cannot know anything that God knows, then simply ask, “Does God know that?” If they answer “yes”, then their claim is false. If they answer “no” then we know something God doesn’t know which makes God cease to be God.

Because of the absurdity of this interpretation, it is quite obvious that something else is intended by this verse. The interpretation of this passage must simply mean that there are some things He knows and understands that we do not. This is obvious as we study Scripture. We find there are some things He has not yet revealed to us, and as we study God’s word we begin to find areas where this is true. Calvin called it learned ignorance. But nowhere in scripture do we find the idea that words (propositions and rational thought) are insufficient to communicate truth, as if truth where some irrational thing hidden behind the text.

I will end this post by quoting Gordon H. Clark who said…

“Men are rational or intellectual beings because God created them in His image. To contemn truth and to embrace the irrationalities of mystic theology—which cannot in truth be theo-logia (God-words) at all—is to contemn God (The Johannine Logos p. 121)."

Joh 12:48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my sayings, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I spake, the same shall judge him in the last day.

God Bless,

Doug

9 Comments:

At Thursday, August 03, 2006 3:23:00 PM, Blogger Josh Eaton said...

Good thoughts on God's thoughts. Question: Does God think as in ponder and rationalize like people ponder? I think that is one way God's thought are higher than our thoughts. Since God is omniscient he does not have to rationalize like we do. He just knows.

 
At Thursday, August 03, 2006 3:31:00 PM, Blogger Gordon Cloud said...

I agree with Josh. Our thoughts are a process, assimilating information and arriving at a conclusion. God's thoughts are omniscience in action. (I had to think about that for a little while.)

Good question and excellent post.

 
At Thursday, August 03, 2006 4:03:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...

Josh and Gordon,

Great questions and thoughts. I agree with you Josh that God knows all, and that is higher than our thoughts. Good point! With that in mind I might ask you a question to help you see what I am trying to get at when I asked is God rational. My question for you would be “Is God’s knowledge logical?" If you say “yes,” you probably already see what I am getting at with the term “rational thought.” I am not thinking of processes where at one point he didn’t know and later figured it out. I agree with Josh that God always had all knowledge and always will. I should have made that more clear in the post.

Now if you answer “no” to the question, “is God’s knowledge logical,” you will run into serious problems. The reasons for the problems result as follows. If God knows He is God (which I know we agree on), and there is no logic to His knowledge then the law of non-contradiction does not apply to his knowledge, which means, when he knows he is God, he also knows he is not God. The same applies to the laws of identity, excluded middle, and rational inference.

The law of rational inference is the one that might cause the most problems for some to comprehend when it comes to God's knowledge. But think of it this way. God knows that man (post fall) is sinful. He also knows that I am a man (post fall). What can be rationally inferred by these two propositions is that I am sinful. Now there was never a time when God did not know that I am sinful. But that fact that He has eternally known all three propositions does not mean there is no logical link between them.

This is what I am trying to get at when I talk of God being rational. I know I might not have explained it well, but I hope that helps.


God bless,

Doug

 
At Friday, August 04, 2006 5:08:00 AM, Blogger T A Blankenship said...

Doug,
Much thought and musing went into this.
It was great to read. I am thankful that God knows all, and that there is a whole lot more I can and need to know about Him.

 
At Friday, August 04, 2006 9:47:00 AM, Blogger Gordon Cloud said...

I would say that God's thinking is logical as far as logic goes. That is He is not self-contradictory in His thoughts, neither are His thoughts disconnected.

On the other hand, the laws of logic have arisen from systems of human philosophy and I do not think that we can limit God to logic.

If every thing about God's thoughts can be confined to logic, then there would be no need for faith.

 
At Friday, August 04, 2006 10:34:00 AM, Blogger Doug E. said...

Gordon,

Do you think faith is illogical? I don't think you do, but I ask the questions to help you see what I am trying to get at.

Our faith in God is not giving in to contradictions or irrationality.

The reason we trust God even when things look like He shouldn't be trusted is still logical, because we understand that God is all powerful and nothing can stay His hand. This type of faith has nothing to do with being illogical.

I actually believe the laws of logic were discovered not created. The reason for this is because of the utter impossibility of them not really existing. If you take away logic then communication and knowledge becomes impossible.

Even if we say faith is a feeling (which I don't believe it is), to have a feeling automatically implies the lack of non-feeling. Without logic, even feelings become impossible. because to have a feeling would mean you are also not having a feeling.

Men misuse logic and I agree our use of it is not always correct, but faith is based on knowledge and for knowledge there must be logic, which means for there to be faith there must be logic.

Even to say logic doesn't exist is to use logic, because for the person to say it they must use the law of non-contraction.

A person cannot not use logic.

Let me end by asking this question, if, as you say at the beginning of your comment that God's thoughts are not contradictory, and then say that we cannot limit God to logic, what else would there be besides contradiction, for if God's knowledge is not contradictory it would be logical. If it is contradictory it would be illogical. There can be no "quip" somewhere in the middle or above or below, which is the law of excluded middle.

I don't say all this to debate you, because I believe we are really on the same page. I say all this to try to help you see what I am thinking when I make such statements as "God is logical."

God Bless,

Doug

 
At Friday, August 04, 2006 6:15:00 PM, Blogger Gordon Cloud said...

Doug, you are making me think hard here :).

As you said, I think eventually we are going to find we are on the same page.

Let me rephrase my statement thusly: I don't think we can base our understanding of God's thoughts entirely on a logical process.

That is not to say that God is not logical, we simply cannot limit Him to our abilities to use logic.

You are correct that faith is much more than a feeling. However, faith cannot be limited to logic.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1


To some degree, faith will be based upon knowledge and thus logic. But at some point in our faith, we must be willing to step beyond what we can understand or perceive and say "I believe".

In my comments, I certainly do not mean to degrade logic or its use. I just believe that God is bigger than our capacity to understand or define Him.

 
At Sunday, August 06, 2006 8:49:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...

Thanks Gordon,

This was a good discussion at this point we can just agree to disagree (as slight as our disagreement is).

I'll end by saying this, faith and belief in Christ is the most logical and reasonable thing a person can do. Faith is evidence of things hoped for, but the things hoped for are not contradictions as I know you agree.

I agree with you when you say faith cannot be limited to logic in the sense that faith is more than seeing that the truth is logical, but the truth that our faith is based on will never be illogical.

God Bless,

Doug

 
At Monday, August 07, 2006 7:04:00 AM, Blogger Gordon Cloud said...

but the truth that our faith is based on will never be illogical.

I certainly agree with you on this, and never meant to imply otherwise.

I have thought about this discussion over the weekend and I believe I can say this: Logic is a wonderful tool, but it is limited to the abilities of the one wielding it. There are certain aspects of God's wisdom that transcend man's abilities to logically understand it, but those aspects will not contradict the laws of logic.

Is that better? :)

I too have enjoyed this discussion and appreciate your spirit in it.

God bless.

 

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