Email: On How Theology uses Logic to Defend Illogicality (13.9.2020)

Dear Gillian

Buddhist and Greek philosophy (preferring logic and reason) stems from around 6th to 5th to centuries BCE. Although philosophers attempted to understand the world as a material object, many (if not all) still accepted polytheism as a type of pluralism (with reason and faith entwined but distinct). This can be seen in Philo – a Jew brought up as a Greek scholar, but also the Jews living under Greek and/or Roman Law. Obviously, for these Jews polytheism had given way to monotheism under Moses, but my point still stands. Christianity emerged from Judaism through a theology that merged Greek philosophical concepts (albeit reinterpreted), and Hebrew theology and history, etc. Although the mainstream Jews record Joshua ben Stada (or ‘Joshua ben Panthera’) in the Talmud as being ‘Jesus Christ’, they say he was the illegitimate child of one ‘Mary Stada’ (who was unfaithful to her husband and who committed adultery with a Roman soldier called ‘Panthera’), and that following a visit to Egypt with his Jewish teacher, Jesus brought back a list of magic spells tattooed on his skin and ‘bewitched’ the Israelites with his tricks! For this, and for daring to say that this Egyptian magic was the sign of him being the ‘Messiah’, he was condemned to death by stoning and then crucifixion. After his disciples stole the body, the Jewish-Christians started claiming he had resurrected and then rose up to heaven! The Christians finally moved away from mainstream Judaism and eventually split altogether once the anathema was passed.  

The New Testament emphasises ‘faith’ over ‘reason’, but this does not mean theology contains no reason, after all its name does suggest the ‘Science of God’. Whereas the Greeks balanced faith and reason, the Christians prefer or rely upon faith where reason breaks down or no longer applies. Although you debate from a theological stance, and I from a philosophical stance, your arguments are often highly logical about illogical things. This is because theology does not need (or require) philosophy. You will not be transitioned, but you will defend your corner. So far so good. However, modernity arose BEFORE Christianity and in that case surely ‘faith’ must be interpreted as superior to logic and reason? Christianity emerged out of the milieu of Judaism, Greek, Roman and Egyptian cultural intersection. It is therefore post-modern in the progression of history. With the ‘rebirth’ (renaissance) of reason, logic and reason assumed a preference amongst those with no faith, but this is the return of modernity and not its creation. Francis Bacon thought like an ancient Greek – but so did many of the early great Church Fathers! It is incorrect to suggest that modernity is new and that it has spoilt everything since the 1500s onward. The Enlightenment was the product of the rebirth of reason, and not a symptom of its initial development.  

Modernity (as defined by the philosophical use of logic and reason to assess objective reality), existed both before AND after Christianity, and cannot be said to have existed only post-Christianity. Finally, the physical world is nothing without God’s presence and influence acting within and upon it according to the strictures of theology. This is a timeless attribute of theology that is internally clever and logical, but only in regard to justifying its own conservative premise. Theology uses logic to protect its own ‘illogical’ and ‘inverted’ premise, but will not accept any extension of this logic that would risk the ‘breaking-out’ of the theological paradigm that defines the world. Just some thoughts. 

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