Laws of logic and animals

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Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
This may be a rather stupid question. Please forgive me if it is.

Bahnsen demonstrated clearly in his debate with Stein that man knows God and reveals this by his use of the laws of logic. In his debate with Tabash he used the laws of science in the same way.

It just occurred to me that it might be a cavil from the atheist/agnostic that animals also (appear to) use logic and science.

Do they use logic and science in any sense? If they do, what implications does it have for the apologetic/for our view of animals in their relationship to God?
 

steven-nemes

Puritan Board Sophomore
I should think that, when I observe other persons behaving in certain way and conclude that they have thought and used reason, etc., if I were to see animals behave more or less the same way (which I do), I should conclude they also thought and used reason.
 

ooguyx

Puritan Board Freshman
It seems to me that if we look upon animals and purport that their actions seem to exhibit reason or logic, that would be an anthropomorphism; the same and when we think that they are showing love.

Even if it is shown that they do use logic, the issue is pressed further: why do "laws" of logic (supposedly convened by man) hold for animals as well?
 

steven-nemes

Puritan Board Sophomore
It seems to me that if we look upon animals and purport that their actions seem to exhibit reason or logic, that would be an anthropomorphism; the same and when we think that they are showing love.

Only if the use of reason or logic is only done by humans, which I think has not been proven.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
As soon as they can demonstrate that animals are aware that they use logic, and can reflect on that fact, then they might have a point.

Otherwise, it's a dead end. Even rocks rolling down a hill follow logic. The obey the strict requirements of God's universal laws.
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
The difference in reasoning capabilities between man and animals is so vast that it can honestly be described as a qualitative difference.

Otherwise, the fact that animals use reasoning capabilities to some extent does not really seem to bear negatively on the strength of Bahnsen's argument. If man and animal could both reason extremely well, then the Christian worldview could cover it while the secular one couldn't. If man can reason extremely well and animal only slightly, then the Christian worldview could still cover it while the secular one still couldn't.

I'm not sure how this is supposed to be problematic.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Quote from Confessor
I'm not sure how this is supposed to be problematic

After these useful responses, I'm not sure either. I think my main thought was that the knowledge of laws of logic - and science and morality - is according to Van Til evidence of Man's knowledge of God.

Obviously animals don't know God, or if they do, in a different sense to what man does?

But it seems that animals use logic - and science - but maybe not in the abstract? I presume they don't use morality, otherwise they'd be morally responsible.

I don't have any formal training in philosophy and maybe it shows?
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
After these useful responses, I'm not sure either. I think my main thought was that the knowledge of laws of logic - and science and morality - is according to Van Til evidence of Man's knowledge of God.

Generally, the argument goes that logic and science don't make sense unless the presupposition of Scripture -- i.e., of a sovereign, providential, universal Mind -- is true. It's not usually said that man's use of logic/science directly evidences his knowledge of God.

Although, that does seem to be an interesting area of inquiry.

Obviously animals don't know God, or if they do, in a different sense to what man does?

But it seems that animals use logic - and science - but maybe not in the abstract? I presume they don't use morality, otherwise they'd be morally responsible.

I would say that animals certainly utilize logic and science, albeit in very limited amounts. I think it'd be a bit unfair to presume that they cannot be regarded as using either logic or science unless it can proven that they consciously reflect on doing so. Such an assertion would seem to be quite a blatant argument from ignorance; and it would seem to contradict the experiential evidence that we do have positive reasons to believe they consciously use reason and science (as Steven pointed out above). Animals aren't automata; I think it's safe to say they think and reason to some extent. Only if we presuppose that all forms of thinking are capable only by virtue of the imago Dei (which we have no good reason to assume) would this be problematic. Certainly the image of God in man can perhaps explain man's vastly superior reasoning capabilities, but we would never have to assume that man alone is capable of reasoning in any form.

As for morality, that's a different story. I would say animals act amorally, for it is clear they act out of a foreseen reward or punishment rather than because of objective obligations by virtue of God's law. Certainly animals can feel sad, but this is never because of having offended God ("against you, you only, have I sinned..."), but rather because of (e.g.) some emotional attachment to their owners. But although an animal may have invested his happiness in his owner -- such that his owner's happiness makes the animal happy, and his owner's sadness makes the animal sad -- this attachment simply reinforces the fact that the animal is acting out of foreseen reward, namely, happiness in his owner's happiness. Thus animals can still act amorally to some extent and not have any obligations to God -- and therefore God would not throw them in hell for sinning, because they cannot sin against Him by virtue of being animals.

Actually, contrary to my statements above that animals act amorally, this would leave significant room to say that animals do act morally and immorally; yet God would not by His justice be obliged to punish them. Interesting stuff.

I hope I haven't opened too many :worms:'s. :cool:
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Quote from Confessor
It's not usually said that man's use of logic/science directly evidences his knowledge of God.

I thought Van Til's biblical epistemology was based upon the belief that knowledge of God was foundational to all knowledge, and that the fact that laws of logic could not be known without the presupposition of the biblical God's existence (i.e some knowledge of God from general revelation), was evidence of this epistemology.

Maybe I'm extrapolating things from Van Til that aren't there (?)
 

steven-nemes

Puritan Board Sophomore
Bahnsen suggests in his debate against Stein, if I remember correctly, or versus Smith, that the proof that the atheist knows God is he behaves in such a way that is only possible if he presupposes God/if God exists.
 

rbcbob

Puritan Board Graduate
This may be a rather stupid question. Please forgive me if it is.

Bahnsen demonstrated clearly in his debate with Stein that man knows God and reveals this by his use of the laws of logic. In his debate with Tabash he used the laws of science in the same way.

It just occurred to me that it might be a cavil from the atheist/agnostic that animals also (appear to) use logic and science.

Do they use logic and science in any sense? If they do, what implications does it have for the apologetic/for our view of animals in their relationship to God?

Reason is not to be found among the beasts.

Psalm 32:9 Do not be like the horse or like the mule, Which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you.
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
Quote from Confessor It's not usually said that man's use of logic/science directly evidences his knowledge of God.

I thought Van Til's biblical epistemology was based upon the belief that knowledge of God was foundational to all knowledge, and that the fact that laws of logic could not be known without the presupposition of the biblical God's existence (i.e some knowledge of God from general revelation), was evidence of this epistemology. Maybe I'm extrapolating things from Van Til that aren't there (?)

Hmm...alright, we have two thoughts that are approaching the issue from a different perspective and which seem to conflict. Given Van Til's epistemology, that having knowledge involves "thinking God's thoughts from him," we can infer the conditional proposition: "If anything has knowledge, then that thing is re-thinking some thought that God has."

Now, I think it is fairly obvious that animals know some things. It would be absurd to say that (e.g.) the dogs on those awesome ESPN competitions are merely automata that are following commands mechanically rather than teachable beings who have knowledge of their duties when specific words are said by their owners. Animals clearly know some things. (Although, as I said above, the quantitative difference between animals and humans in terms of reasoning is so unbelievably vast that a qualitative difference can accurately describe the disparity: hence the verse, "They have no understand.") Therefore, from the conditional statement above, since animals know some things, then it follows that animals are re-thinking some thoughts that God has. Does the fact that animals thought coincide with the Creator's thoughts at some point mean they have knowledge of God? Not necessarily. At least, I don't see a logical connection between those two propositions.

But, given that Van Til also says that unbelievers would be rambling fools without any knowledge at all if they were consistent in their presupposition, we can infer also that without some knowledge of God (e.g. His providential ordering of things), then knowledge is impossible -- or, "If not-(knowledge of God), then not-knowledge." By contraposition, this proposition can be transformed into "If knowledge, then knowledge of God." Therefore, if animals know anything (which it seems obvious they do), then they must have some knowledge of God, in some sense or another.

Now, let's compare this to the unbeliever. The problem with him, according to Van Til, is that he has constructed an autonomous philosophy when he should have submitted to the philosophy given by God in Scripture. He knows he is condemned by Jehovah through general revelation, and he knows he ought to accept the Gospel of Christ through special revelation. Yet he acts against this better knowledge by constructing a non-Christian worldview and living sinfully from his false presuppositions.

What about animals? As I said in a few posts above, they cannot sin. I would say they can act morally and immorally in a sense (contrary to what I said in that same post above), but they cannot act morally against a knowledge of God as Lawgiver -- and that is the crux! I would say that animals have some knowledge of their Creator, in some sense; but I would deny that they have any obligations to Him, and therefore any knowledge of said obligations, for they are not made in His image. I would say they have an extremely limited knowledge of Him as Creator, but not as Lawgiver or as their Sovereign. In conclusion, therefore, animals do have knowledge of God, but not in a such a way that denigrates man as God's special creation.

At least, that's my conclusion. I could have very well erred in my reasoning, but I think I laid it all out cogently.
 
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Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
I've got the main point anyway. Any objection to the point by the theist that Man's use of logic is evidence of his presuppositional knowledge of God, to the effect of "But animals use logic too", would fail because the atheist would still have to account for logic anyway in the irrational, impersonal and random chance universe of atheism.

What we are having now is a Christian intramural discussion about the nature and knowledge of animals in the light of Scripture and science.

If animals don't have souls they don't have any true knowledge more than computers/robots (?)

If (some) animals have souls they are very different to ours - not eternal and not made in God's Image (?) Hence their knowledge of logic and/or God is very different to ours.

I just thought that this might be something that some atheist/agnostic schooled in evolutionary psychology might throw into the debate and try to confuse things.
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
I've got the main point anyway. Any objection to the point by the theist that Man's use of logic is evidence of his presuppositional knowledge of God, to the effect of "But animals use logic too", would fail because the atheist would still have to account for logic anyway in the irrational, impersonal and random chance universe of atheism.

What we are having now is a Christian intramural discussion about the nature and knowledge of animals in the light of Scripture and science.

Excellent way of stating it. The only "problem" is an in-house issue which simply needs clarification.

If animals don't have souls they don't have any true knowledge more than computers/robots (?)

If (some) animals have souls they are very different to ours - not eternal and not made in God's Image (?) Hence their knowledge of logic and/or God is very different to ours.

I just thought that this might be something that some atheist/agnostic schooled in evolutionary psychology might throw into the debate and try to confuse things.

I think throwing "soul" into the mix at the beginning might be unhelpful, because we don't know exactly how to define it. I would suggest we see the differences between animals and humans, as well as what Scripture says regarding the soul of man, and go from there.

Also, if I recall correctly, I remember reading something that Gordon Clark wrote that had to do with the fact that animals are only souls. He said something about a misunderstanding that animals do not have souls, when the truth is that they are only souls. :think:

Perhaps I was dreaming.
 
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