Is logic more fundamental than God?

“What really interests me,” Albert Einstein once remarked, “is whether God had any choice in the creation of the world.” Einstein was wondering if the world and its physical laws are arbitrary or if they are somehow inevitable. To put it another way: Could the universe possibly be any different than it is?

… Einstein’s statement draws a variety of reactions. One’s feelings about the nature or reality of God are largely immaterial. The issue is whether there can be “prior” constraints even on the creation of the world.

One reaction is that there are no constraints. By definition, an all-powerful God can create the world any way He chooses. Everything about the universe is God’s choice. Creation was not limited, not even by logic. God created logic.

On the other hand, it can be argued that even God is bound by logic. If God can lift any weight, then he is expressly prevented from being able to lift a weight so heavy that He cannot lift it. But God can do anything that does not involve a logical contradiction.

(From Chapter 1 of “The Recursive Universe” by William Poundstone)

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9 Responses to Is logic more fundamental than God?

  1. Marahm says:

    If God had a choice in the matter, what factors influenced his ultimates choices? Those factors could be said to have constrained the choice, and therefore held God under their influence, negating the idea that God is in control of all of that.

    Rather than ask whether the universe could have been created any other way, I’d sooner contemplate whether other universes exist, universes that exhibit qualities not found in this one.

    • Sarah says:

      “Those factors could be said to have constrained the choice, and therefore held God under their influence”

      Interesting… makes sense and sounds very like the arguments against human free will. Maybe there is no free will anywhere in reality; everything just is what it is, God included (however God is understood)…

  2. Marahm says:

    That’s a question that can be contemplated apart from whether or not God created it, or them, but we want to ask, “Well, did he or didn’t he?” Is logic a created discipline or the foundation of all other disciplines?

    In view the of newer, more fanstastic ideas such as quantum mechanics, as well as the mysteries of soul and near-death experiences, I think we can assume that logic functions for the edification of curious human beings. It is probably superceded by ultimate reality, of which we won’t know a thing until we die, and maybe not even then.

    • Sarah says:

      “Is logic a created discipline or the foundation of all other disciplines?”

      Kind of similar to the question “is mathematics invented or discovered?” I am not sure… it’s not very obvious how much of it is our language and how much is reality. Interesting to think about though eh? 🙂

  3. sanil says:

    I’ve said before somewhere that I think conservative Christian theology, or rather their tendency to theologize science, leads to the conclusion that God is very much bound by pre-existing rules he couldn’t control. I remember being taught how amazing it was that we are placed just this far from the sun, in this strategic and very limited point where life is possible. My Sunday school teachers and pastors go looking for this sort of information, as if the total unlikeliness of life is proof that we were placed here by God, rather than evidence that life exists here in this tiny corner of the universe because it is the only place where it would grow without divine intervention. If they really wanted to prove the existence of God, why not look for life where it shouldn’t exist? 😀

    But yes, I think that if God exists, he’s part of a universe that has these rules already. Possibly, from a pantheistic perspective, the rules are God, and the universe is just a manifestation of them, so that it’s not something controlling God but rather something that is inherent to God, in the same way that it wouldn’t be limiting or controlling God to say that he is “bound” by any of his personality traits.

    • Sarah says:

      Yes, another thing is the way that apparent exceptions to the laws of nature (e.g. miracle claims) are taken as a sign of divine intervention. It really does make the natural laws seem more fundamental than God, even if he is not constrained by them in the way we are.

      “Possibly, from a pantheistic perspective, the rules are God”
      This is a perspective that makes sense to me. I don’t know if you know of Conway’s Game of Life? It is a grid of cells that can be black or white depending on certain quite simple rules. All manner of startlingly complex forms mimicking real life emerge from these rules. The book I’ve quoted from compares that game with our universe and its rules. I think the rules (maths, logic, fundamental physics) are our representation of the fundamental nature of the universe.

  4. susanne430 says:

    Interesting post!

  5. Issam says:

    God has neither created logic nor is He limited by logic. If God created logic then it would be impossible to talk about God in any meaningful way, because logic would not apply to Him, just like the laws of nature do not apply to Him. And if God is limited by logic then that would compromise His omnipotence.

    So what going on here?

    The fact is that logic is of the nature of God. God is logical by His own nature, just like He is moral by His own nature. Both logic and morality must be pinned down on something(one) and that cannot be by God.

    Regarding whether other universes exist, I have always thought that the seven heavens that the Quran speaks about refer to other universes.


  6. Candice says:

    Very interesting! 🙂

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