Intellectual Disciplines and the Faith

(Stephen Wuest) #1

I was interested in Neill Boniface’s emphasis on science and religion.
I’m sorry that there is not an active topic on that combination.

I spent 10 months last year exploring the topic of how formal reasoning could be applied to Bible study. It was a very difficult topic to approach, as no one seems to be asking questions that include formal reasoning methods. But after about 3 months of thinking, the topic started to take shape.

Is anyone else interested in this topic? There are huge opportunities for apologetics to technically trained people, that I do not see the Church pursuing. And there is a rich Christian heritage of intellectual disciplines, that the (American) Church seems to have forgotten.

(Kathleen) #2

Hi, @Stephen_Wuest! I’m just curious what you mean by ‘formal’ reasoning? Is this a sort of technique? :slight_smile:

(Stephen Wuest) #3


Formal reasoning has been called the predicate calculus, or symbolic logic, or formal logic. It is the foundation of all modern math proofs, and formal proofs in all the
applied sciences.

All of Aristotle’s syllogisms can be shown to be valid, by using symbolic logic notation. Although his syllogisms were only a small subset of all the logically valid forms of a proof.

Formal logic is based on the concept of logical causality. This is more general than
“causality” as described in the applied sciences.

Boolean logic is a very small subset of formal logic.

You could get an intro to symbolic logic in a math 250 (finite math) course.

Symbolic logic is based on a limited (about 20) rules of inference. Every step in a formal proof must be justified by one of these rules. Proofs (or arguments) that cannot be justified by the 20 rules of inference, end up being logical fallacies.

By studying formal logic, Christians can learn to identify logical fallacies, poorly formatted arguments, or conclusions that do not logically follow from the (assumed to be true) inputs.

The younger American generations largely lack critical thinking skills, because they lack a rigorous background in formal logic.