God, Logic, and Reality
By Rousas John Rushdoony
All of man’s thoughts and years are shadowed by the fall, and the philosophy of the fall. Man in his sin questioned the reality and the truth of God’s word. The tempter presented God’s word as at best a possible word, (“Ye shall not surely die”), and at worst, a lie (“For God doth know that in the day thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil”). As a result, a healthy skepticism (“Yea, hath God said?”) was advisable in any approach to God (Gen. 3:1-5).
The word of God was thus viewed as a public relations word, as a self-serving and self-promoting word from a being anxious to retain control over man. It was thus not an infallible nor a certain word, but a probable or possible word. The word was not necessarily a true nor a real word but simply a probable word. Man’s independence could reduce God’s word to an improbable and finally an impossible word.
All of this has an important presupposition: the real world can come from man; the word of man can finally become the determinative word, and man the determinating cause. When this comes to pass, then God is dead to man, and no longer real. It is then man and his word that are real and true. Man’s declaration of independence in the Garden of Eden was thus an assertion about the nature of reality. Reality is man and his will in the process of becoming god.
In this process, man formulates his will, word, and decree concerning the world. As he approaches that world to seek information, he makes certain assumptions. First, he assumes that it is a world of chance, born out of chaos, and hence a world of brute factuality. Brute facts are meaningless facts which have no inherent interpretation, meaning, or design. All things are thus meaningless, including man. Second, man assumes, as he approaches this world, that an interpretation can be imposed upon it by his fiat will. Men “shall be as gods,” i.e., their development in that respect requires the creation of a world of meaning in terms of man. The world is totally irrational; it has no possible inherent rationality. Man, however, will impose a rational order on the world in terms of his fiat word. There will be meaning, because man will declare and establish it. Third, as man seeks information towards attaining this goal of a man-made decree of predestination and purpose, he seeks and collects information from various sources; from experience, from reason or logic, from his existential self-affirmation, and so on. However, because there is no meaning as such in the universe nor in man, all such information is in a sense self-generated and self-created information. Thus, while as a philosopher man may talk about independent sources of information, he has in actuality only one, himself. Reality is essentially what the mind, reason, or logic of man declares it to be.
Because God is the creator and lord of all things in heaven and on earth, all things are created in conformity to His plan, logic, and purpose. As a result, at every point, and in every fact and atom, we come face to face with the mind and logic of God. We are always confronted with God. Man may in his rebellion deny that confrontation and deny his maker, but he himself is in all his being revelational of God. Psalm 19:1-4 is emphatic on this total revelational nature of creation: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork…” Psalm 139 and Romans 1:17-21 make clear that this knowledge of God is inescapable: men may seek to suppress it, or hold it down, but it cannot be silenced nor concealed. Morally, or ethically, man is in revolt against that knowledge; metaphysically, it is inescapable, and nothing has meaning apart from it.
Man, however, seeks independence from that sovereign God. For man in revolt, God is only tolerable if he is not sovereign. As a result, man will often disguise his revolt, and his claim to independence, by isolating logic from God, and creation as well, and will seek to establish “independent” sources of knowledge. These supposedly independent sources of knowledge can then be martialed either in open opposition to God, or to “prove” a probable God. However, by declaring these sources of knowledge to be independent, man thereby establishes a principle of independence for himself and the universe, and himself as the reality, and his logic as the governing logic.
In a world of brute factuality, born out of chaos and destined to return to darkness and chaos, neither logic, reason, nor the law of contradiction can exist. At every point, the cosmos is absurd, incapable of being ordered or expressed in any rational or logical order. There can be then no logic nor any law of contradiction. The only law of contradiction which can exist must be an aspect of a reality created by the God revealed in scripture; it can have no other source or foundation. By separating the law of contradiction from God and the Bible and making it an independent source of judgment and information one separates himself from the same God and sets himself up in a similarly independent judgment seat over God. As a result, his approach to the Bible has as its foundation not the principle of faith but of reprobation. Judgment is thereby passed on God. In such a philosophy, every man is judge over God, and God must endlessly subject Himself to man’s critical examination.
What is the implication of this separation of the law of contradiction, of logic, from the God of scripture? It is part and parcel an aspect of a process of abstraction: the universe, reason, logic, knowledge, and man are abstracted from God’s eternal decree and given a more or less independent reality. If either man or logic, or anything else, has to any degree any independent reality, then to that degree God is not real to man nor to logic. Reality is then something other than or independent from God’s eternal decree. There is then a separate governing principle or law, or multiple independent factors. In any consideration of reality, then, God is peripheral or irrelevant…or not much more than an available resource.
For us, however, God is and must be the Lord; there is no other word than His word, no other logic than the logic created by Him, nor any meaning to anything but that ordained by Him. The universe is His creation. God and His word governs us. There is no independent man nor logic, no independent source of knowledge. When man insists on “proving” God, he is in essence proving himself to be an independent source of truth and an ultimate judge over reality. His real “proof” is not of the existence of God but of his own ultimacy, independence, and power of judgment. He is saying to God of himself, “Touch not mine anointed” (I Chron. 16:22), for the anointed one in all such thinking is man himself.
To abstract logic, reason, man, or anything else from God and His eternal decree is to remove God from the world and leave man in charge. Then the Bible ceases to be the law of God and becomes merely an available spiritual resource, and man’s word becomes authoritative for man. This, however, is simply the premise of the fall. *
Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916-2001) was the founder of Chalcedon and a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical Law to society.
This article is a condensed excerpt from R.J. Rushdoony’s Systematic Theology Vol.I, 1994, Ross House Books, Vallecito, Ca., 95251. (pgs. 176-180).