FiSch blog

Efficient scholarship

Popularity of FiSch blog posts plotted against their length

Popularity of FiSch blog posts plotted against their length… Are we obsessed with our economics?

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So far in our series, we’ve seen that good scholarship will make appropriate distinctions (avoiding category errors); it will be communicated with clarity; it will innovate and build on existing scholarship; and it will be done in community, in critical solidarity with fellow researchers. But another way in which we can describe scholarship is using the language of economics. What would it mean for a piece of research to be virtuous, in economic terms?

Andrew Basden describes the economic aspect of reality in terms of ‘managing limited resources frugally’. This will be a familiar notion to anyone involved in academic research. How should funding be allocated to best advance research in my field? Which department should the university invest in? Which candidate will best advance our REF submission if we offer them the lectureship? How can I complete this piece of research in the shortest possible time, and making the best use of our equipment? Or even, more selfishly: how can I use up every last penny of my budget before the end of the financial period?

God has made the world in a multifaceted and varied way. So it is right that we try to learn to think about the world in a similarly multifaceted way, and that’s what we’ve been trying to do in this series. But there is such a thing as idolatry. Perhaps we could describe idolatry as follows: it is when you take one aspect or element of God’s good creation, and turn that into the ultimate centre of everything. It is, echoing the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:25, when you worship and serve the creature, rather than the Creator. So what does this have to do with frugality?

I wonder whether the economic aspect – getting good value for investment – has become an idol in our culture? If you found the introduction to this post amusing, it is probably because it is not a million miles from where we are. Our jargon and our methods of evaluation betray our obsession with efficiency.

What then might it look like to pursue economically good scholarship – not to waste resources – but to do so in a non-idolatrous way?

I suppose it would involve keeping the other aspects of good scholarship in mind. Two papers might be better than one, measured in a simplistic manner. But maybe one good paper would be better than two mediocre papers? After all, is it even possible to measure the quality of a paper in simple numerical terms? And what is ‘good’ scholarship? This piece of research might well advance my own career, or strengthen my department’s reputation, but does it provide a good return on our limited resources in the broadest possible view – does it benefit humanity as a whole, and does it help to build the Kingdom of God?

But I’m pushing dangerously close to 600 words, and I could find myself in the land of diminishing returns. So, in order not to waste any more of your time, I’ll sign off, and allow you to return to Facebook…

Social virtues for academics

Q: Why did the social scientist talk to her colleague?
A: To reveal her ontological security

OK, the one about a broken drum being the best Christmas present is a better cracker joke – in fact you just can’t beat it. However, like many jokers our social scientist does reveal something about our social interactions: academics are rarely recognised for their social virtues.

Last year I was discussing with fellow Christian postgrads about how we related to undergraduates, PhD colleagues and academic staff in our departments. It became clear to me that the social scientists were far less adept at it than the organic chemists. It was a small, unrepresentative and not statistically significant sample, but it clarified the distinction between studying society and undertaking a research project as part of a community. The distinction is between a social aspect in creation and acting in a relationally and intellectually constructive manner.

Being socially virtuous covers a panoply of activities, emotions and motivations. Here we’ll look at just two ideas:

First, critiquing other people’s work is a common task of an academic, whether formally in double-blind review or informally at conference presentations and in departmental seminars. However, very few us provide feedback in a relationally and intellectually constructive manner. Virtuous feedback would work on at least two levels; engaging personably with the presenter/author and seeking out aspects that are worthy of affirmation as well as providing criticisms. Danie Strauss argues that the idea of critical solidarity and not just critical thinking is key for scholarly communication. We find it very easy to find a point of departure from a presentation, but much harder to find elements we agree with.  Unlike the social scientist in the cracker joke, our purpose in dialogue is not to reinforce our own position, but to seek to understand, to grapple with ground motives and to pursue the benefit of the whole community.

Second, developing positive relationships with colleagues (both within the university and in the wider research community) is an integral part of virtuous scholarship. Developing these relationships may support the advancement of our ideas, projects and careers, but do not merely operate at this level. Social virtues for academics involve giving of ourselves to support other people’s research flourishing and will involve developing affirming as well as instructive relationships with students we teach.

A social virtue, when worked through each facet of an academic career, will bring pertinent questions to bear on: research topics; research teams; conference presentations; published critiques; treatment of undergraduates and support staff; and of course those who disagree with us. At Christmas we celebrated a God who left a comfortable position, to be with us, to live alongside us, to show us what it means to love, and to bring us into those loving relationships. A socially virtuous academic will mirror that love in their scholarly critique and academic relationships.

Making good progress

Continuing our series on values for scholarship, David Hanson looks at God’s calling for humans to innovate.

Scholarship is subject to cultural-formative norms. Humans never fabricate ex nihilo – only God does that. Yet the bringing of ‘new things’ into existence reflects God’s creative power in our calling to stewardly dominion of the world. Cooking a meal, composing music, writing a nation’s constitution: all respond to this calling.

In Hebrew, God’s “till and keep” command with reference to Eden (Gen 2:15) employs precisely the verbs that repeatedly call Israel to “serve and hearken to” Jahweh. This effectively spikes the guns that blame “dominion” (Gen 1:28) for human habitat-destruction. Mastery must listen to serve!

The 16th-century Reformation freed European minds from the idea that history is just unimportant ‘natural’ activity within which rare gemstones of a ‘spiritual’ reality are laid. Hitherto, Bible and Church had seemed to sparkle with alien light from an eternally static perfection where history – the forging of new things from creation’s wealth – had no place. But now Biblical ‘calling’ could inspire creativity wherever believers went: in gardening and pottery, trade, scholarship and politics.

After all, God once covenanted with “day and night and the fixed laws of heaven and earth” (Jer. 33). Earthly things aren’t just fascinating; they are revelatory, worth investigating with a passion. And such passion will not be resented by the Christ who reconciles “all things, in heaven and earth” to God. No other creature is so mandated: humans alone are called to convert experience, via investigation, into bodies of new interwoven knowledge that outlive their builders, whether pygmies or giants.

So, now, notice that tiny parenthesis interrupting the Genesis story: “(the gold [of Havilah] is good).” Gold, along with the onyx and aromatic resin, is useless stuff unless knowledgeably exploited. Here, one minute into reading your Bible, an author of undoubted piety relishes the thought of luxury, hinting at all kinds of productive skills. Such skills are irrelevant to the alien ‘spiritual’ life that un-reformed Christendom aspired to! Serious expertise is required to assess what’s good in such things: we need knowledge of natural environments, skills of smelting, distilling, fashioning, quality-control and trade.

Implicit in that parenthesis, then, are canons of practical anecdotal wisdom to which new observations accrue daily. Yesterday’s certainty is revised. Suggestions will need testing and peer-review. And cultural-formative power appears both in the golden or perfumed artefacts and in the burgeoning edifice of knowledge supporting the crafts. Knowledge expansion demands new vocabulary and meaningful descriptors. Guilds of recognised crafts-persons must arise.

Dooyeweerd’s philosophy identifies this cultural-formative (or historical) aspect in all human activity. It distinguishes the freely designed projects of Adam’s children from the instinctive fabrications of beavers and spiders – intricate and impressive though they be.

Readers of this blog will be especially interested in the elaboration of scholarly, scientific or theoretical knowledge, where personal, anecdotal input is largely replaced, for universality’s sake, by abstracted, analysable material. Properties of things are investigated, not unique entities. Yet all kinds of scholarly work are normed by cultural-formative challenges as well as logical-analytic ones. How to recruit the new idea and integrate it with existing knowledge? How to link it with ideas from other disciplines? How to imagine new shapes in interpretation? How to get stuff published? How to express these results? How to make my daily effort intelligible to others – not least to other members of “the household of faith”? Even: are some discoveries best undisclosed?

Festive Zeal and Earthly Hope

I wonder why you praise God for sending his son at Christmas. Is it because of the forgiveness that Jesus’ later death and resurrection would afford? Is it because Jesus was the means by which we can have a restored relationship with God? Is it because we remember how the first stage of the promise of a (distant) future to be spent in God’s new creation was beginning to be put into action? These reasons are good reasons to praise God for sending his son into the world. But going to this year’s carol services and hearing the typical Christmas readings each week has made me, yet again, re-evaluate my reasons for praising God at Christmas.

Zechariah, in his song at the beginning of Luke’s gospel, sings of his delight having foreseen the arrival of Jesus. What makes his song particularly interesting are his reasons for praise. Of particular note is that these have nothing overtly to do with his own forgiveness, his own sin, his assurance of eternity. No, Zechariah’s reasons are much ‘earthier.’ Here’s his song:

68 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
71 salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
72 to show mercy to our ancestors
and to remember his holy covenant,
73     the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
75     in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

Zechariah’s reasons for praising are because his (and Israel’s) enemies, ‘those who hate’ him and whom he fears will be done away with. He will be ‘redeemed’ and ‘rescued.’ ‘Salvation’ from them has come. Zechariah’s reasons for praise are far from reasons of personal piety. Zechariah’s reasons are that God has, in sending King Jesus, brought about a new age. An age in which the world’s enemies will be overthrown and God’s people can serve him without fear.

This was a great encouragement to me as I read this passage. The stresses and strains of writing a PhD, of keeping up with teaching, of being anxious about that job I hoped to get were put into context. And the fears, hatred and fighting of our world at the end of 2015, like the oppression of the Middle East when Quirinius was governor of Syria, can also be understood in a new light. The King of the universe has arrived. I need not spend Christmas reflecting upon these things as one who has no hope, but as one who has seen the King arrive and beginning to conquer.

The Forming a Christian Mind Conference

Cambridge has long been a stimulating home for Christian minds. Devout doctors, monks and other medieval scholars helped birth the world-famous university in 1209, key figures in the English Reformation studied, taught and preached in the town, and God-fearing pioneers in many disciplines have been nurtured in the colleges, departments and research institutes that make up the modern university. An inspiring documentary called “Saints and Scholars” tells the story of the development and influence of Christian thought in this historic market town – watch it at the Round Church if you haven’t seen it!

But do we have to look to past centuries to find Christians making intellectual history on the strength of their faith?  We can certainly find a plethora of organisations and initiatives in Cambridge today seeking to nurture that kind of progress.  So let me tell you what happens when six of them collaborate to foster Christian thinking.

The Jubilee CentreCambridge PapersChristian Heritage, the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics, the Faraday Institute and the Christian Graduate Society share a conviction that Christian faith should interact positively with people’s intellectual development.  So once a year they team up to run “Forming a Christian Mind”, a day conference for Christian postgraduates and other early-career researchers.  This year’s event six weeks ago brought 60 people to Cambridge from as far afield as Edinburgh and Paris: a diverse group whether you looked at subjects of study, ages or nationalities. Its theme was “Human Flourishing and the University”.

The opening plenary talk was given by Dr Donald Hay, professor emeritus of economics at Oxford University.  Donald contrasted perspectives from evolutionary psychology, classical economics and social constructivism against Christian theology in addressing the question “What is a person?”, showing how prominent paradigms in different disciplines suggest radically different views.  We were left to think about what elements of truth each of these reductionistic models might contain and how a Christian student might engage with them.

There was then a set of parallel seminars among which participants could choose.  These gave opportunity to interact with senior Christian academics in our disciplines and develop our own perspectives.

The day ended with a plenary session in which Dr Louise Driffill spoke about her teaching on sustainability in the university’s business school.  After sharing some relevant biblical considerations for her subject, Louise gave us time to discuss the relevance of biblical hope for our own areas of research.  This was another stimulating opportunity – and I’m sure that I was not alone in developing more questions than answers once again!

Two things especially encouraged me about this event. The first was how it was preceded by a meeting for people involved in Forming a Christian Mind and other relevant initiatives (Donald Hay’s Developing a Christian Mind in Oxford, Transforming the Mind, the Christian Academic Network and our own Faith-in-Scholarship), to discuss vision and strategy. The second was the sense of energy and enthusiasm among such a crowd of young Christian thinkers wanting to engage our world’s big questions with a lively faith and make intellectual history in our disciplines.

For lots more ideas, links and forthcoming events, see www.cpgrad.org.uk.

Christian postgrad groups in action: Manchester and Vancouver!

Continuing our series on local groups, Alan Chettle shares his experiences with us. Alan did his PhD in Manchester and has now gone back to Canada (where he’s spent most of his life) to take up an internship with the Graduate Student Ministry of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in Vancouver.

How did you get involved in ministry to Christian postgraduates?

The journey began in Manchester, where I started a group from scratch – recruiting friends from church, some of whom then started inviting other Christian postgrad students they knew. Up to 10 people were coming along weekly to have lunch, share scripture and pray with each other. Typically, we met for about an hour, sometimes running a bit longer when discussion was just that much fun.

Did you experience any difficulties?

This was the part of my week I looked forward to the most, but there were always some tensions. First, partially due to my also working on my Ph.D, I didn’t have enough time to offer proper leadership or mentorship to the younger students in the group. Mentorship happened organically as friendships were formed, but it was fairly unstructured.

Second, there wasn’t much space for training others up into leadership. I had to force the issue when I knew my time in Manchester was coming to an end.

Lastly, the group was very insular. It was a good place for us to grow, but we never transitioned to sharing the Gospel vision of transformation and renewal with others. Individually, we had moments of sharing Jesus with our colleagues, but never anything as a community. This partially may have been due to people already having a good church community, and so not always being proactive in getting stuck into each other’s lives. That being said, some members did enter into deep friendship with each other, and those are places where mutual encouragement did flourish.

How has your experience in Canada been so far?

My experience in Canada has a number of key differences. I’m not starting a group from scratch – I’m working with an experienced staff worker, who has been doing graduate student ministry for ten years. The group size is about the same, and our main meeting is on Tuesday evenings. We have dinner together and then a discussion. Our discussion topics have been wide ranging – some of the really fun topics this year have been looking at the fruit of the Spirit applied to academia, and the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12) as a model for a gifted community. To be truthful, all of those are a way of casting vision to our students of the cosmic transformation Jesus offers and how we live that out as a community. Repeating our vision for Christ redeeming the university helps it to become ingrained in the minds of our students.

Why is this vision important for Christian postgraduates?

One of the most prevalent issues we face is students buying into the idolisation of academic success, and believing in the scarcity of time, that they have to give all their time, energy and effort to get the fleeting dream dangled in front of them. Practically, this means they’re unwilling to make time for Bible study and meeting other Christian postgraduates, and also are scared to risk being known as a Christian. The growth edge for this group is learning a right balance between fellowship and academic study, which will influence how members spend their time and how much they are willing to risk in sharing the Gospel with their colleagues. One of the joys has been seeing how the group has chosen to become community together, and has done a great job of welcoming newcomers and visitors.

What do the Canadian and UK groups have in common?

I think the strongest commonality is the need to shift people’s perspective to a more communal approach to sharing the Gospel, and developing a high vision for the redemption of academia.

Thanks Alan! May God bless you during this year as an intern, and may others be blessed through you. If you’d like to know more about Alan’s time in Vancouver, you can follow him on his blog.

Christian postgrad groups in action: Nottingham

This week we return to our series on local Christian postgraduate groups with a contribution from the Nottingham group. This group has been running for quite a number of years, with ups and downs. Alison Woodward and Esther Mokori tell us what they are up to at the moment:

Graduate Christian Fellowship (GCF) is a Student Union society at the University of Nottingham which serves postgraduate students, but has also had a fourth year language student and post docs/visiting academics attending in the past three years. We meet weekly during term time, with some holiday socials. Our meetings are open to all.

We openly discuss various topics and we build a Godly support network for each other based on our common study and open minds. Although we all go to different churches and have different cultural and academic backgrounds, that makes us a more open-minded group and we don’t set limits on each other or the Spirit of God. We are more of a family than a small group.

When GCF members reached turning points in their lives, we organised seminars to benefit them, such as our ‘I Do’ night, which discussed marriage and parenthood, and was a great evening of sharing and discussion. We have also hosted talks on whole-life discipleship and discipleship in our research.

We also aim to reach out to non-Christians. We host an International Food Night every year where we serve food from our cultures to postgraduate students for free and host a world-themed quiz. From that, we have had two people seek God at GCF, one coming to our Bible studies on Ephesians every week. We also hosted the Pais Project, who came onto campus and reached out to students with the message ‘Because You’re Loved’.

It is great to hear of the diversity of local groups, but looking back at previous posts (see here and here), some patterns are emerging. One of these is the importance of fellowship with others who are pursuing research to the glory of God. Although your church may be very supportive of your PhD studies and your daily life as a Christian, there may not be anyone who can really enter into the joys and struggles that you face. Being part of a local group makes you realise that you are not on your own. You can share these joys and struggles with others, and you can encourage and challenge each other.

Two years ago at our Faith-in-Scholarship leader’s conference, one of the speakers suggested that local groups could play a role in marking special occasions, like the Nottingham group has done with regard to marriage and parenthood. But maybe the defining PhD rites of passage are submission, the viva and graduation. Maybe we could think about a way of celebrating these in our local groups?

Speaking of the FiSch leader’s conference, there is another one coming up in February…

Are you a Christian postgraduate but not in a local group yet? You can find out if there is a group in your city. And if there is no group yet, why not get something going? We would be more than happy to support you! Do get in touch!

Category errors and ontological confusion

Our series on “good scholarship” has so far considered the logical and lingual aspects of reality.  Here I want to explore a particular kind of offence against principles of both logical distinction and lingual clarification.

Category errors arise when things are referred to in ways that imply they belong to a category of things to which they do not.  They were proposed by Gilbert Ryle in “The Concept of Mind” (1949).  He was concerned about the juxtaposition of “mind” and “body” as two comparable entities.  But the notion proved broadly applicable – and indeed is approached by other philosophers too.

What do category errors look like, and why worry about them?  First consider a harmless metaphor. “This book shines new light on our question”, if taken literally, would be absurd (unless it refers to a genuinely luminescent book) but unlikely to mislead anyone.  Metaphors can liven up our language and also help create terminology: think of electromagnetic “waves”, biodiversity “hotspots” or mental “breakdowns”.  It shouldn’t be difficult to agree that light waves don’t go up and down, biodiversity can’t have a temperature, and minds are not machines – so we needn’t see category errors here.  Next, what about statements?  If someone analysed this blog post, I hope they would allow my opening sentence, “Our series… has so far considered…” to pass as a harmless case. But sometimes category errors are revealing.

In reviewing a paper I once queried a phrase along the lines of, “The threat of extinctions may reduce biodiversity in this region,” because threats are mental perceptions: clearly it was the extinctions that could reduce biodiversity, not the threats.  The authors’ meaning was clear enough – but this kind of subtle category error is commonplace (not least in some student work I read).  In most cases it suggests slightly careless writing: linguistic short-cuts.  Or is it confused thinking?  Either way, I believe it’s a carelessness that can breed problems.  See what you think about the following:

  1. “The brain recognises a threat and responds accordingly”
  2. “A gene for homosexuality”
  3. “Our data reveal…”
  4. “Society expresses its disapproval”

My contention here is that our ways of phrasing ideas can reveal a lot about our worldview: especially what kinds of thing we consider able to affect each other.

So phrase (1) reminds us of the concerns of Ryle, on the grounds that minds are the locus of thought, whereas brains are body organs.  (2) stands for the widespread general denigration among biologists of hypothesising “a gene for X” – partly because  most traits aren’t simply determined by genes (or even alleles).  (3) is one that greatly interests me and needs working out elsewhere: suffice to say for now that no data have ever placed a conclusion in front of me, or spoken to me!  (4) raises the question of what we mean by “society”.

The intriguing question behind all this is, what categories ought we to distinguish?  Why are some ontologies better than others?  While Ryle was concerned with the mind/body dualism, his examples imply many other categories besides.  I’m particularly interested in the Christian philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd's approach to causality. Dooyeweerd proposed that scientific causal accounts (those based on abstractions) should restrict themselves to a single aspect of created reality.  His “aspects” are a set of fifteen categories for types of abstraction and of laws.  More needs to be said about this – but let me end by pointing out that our series on “What is good scholarship?” is based on these aspects, from the analytical aspect onwards.

Clarity as an intellectual virtue

Have you ever thought of clarity as a virtue? In the last post, Roy Clouser started our series on intellectual virtues by explaining the importance of the ‘logical’ or ‘analytical’ aspect of reality for scholarship. Clarity is a norm (a kind of goodness) that presupposes the norm of distinguishing logically; once we have good distinctions, we should seek to communicate these clearly. But why should Christians have anything to say about these basic norms?

It is interesting that the first specific task God gave to Adam, the naming of the animals, (Genesis 2:19–20) was both an analytical and a linguistic operation. Before you can give a name to a species, you’ve first got to identify what makes it different from the other species around it, and this means making generalisations from one animal to a whole group (I don’t think Adam was calling one sheep ‘Bob’ and another ‘Margaret’!). One aspect of the creation mandate for humans to ‘fill the earth and subdue it’ is the idea that we work to bring it under our mastery and into our understanding; as part of this, we need to use our God-given analytical faculties to shine a light on the logical interactions and relationships of the world around us.

What does this mean for us as Christian researchers or postgrads? I think there’s a few key principles here:

  • Analysis is not a neutral act. When we attempt to make abstractions, we’re not just jumping through intellectual hoops, nor are we opening up heroic new vistas for human independence. We are doing what God designed and commanded us to do: exploring, examining and explaining His world. If we remember this, it can give us a sense of purpose in our daily work. If we forget it, we risk distorting the vision He set before us.
  • Clarity is not the same as simplicity. Thinking clearly does not mean ignoring the world’s complexities, which are testament both to God’s rich creativity and also to the chaos our sin has wreaked on our environment. The opposite of clarity is not complexity but confusion. As we approach the world analytically, through our different disciplines, we are working with its complexity, not against it – working to engage with and harness this complexity as part of our act of intellectual worship and service. We can help the church to be confident, and not fearful or suspicious, when faced with complicated truths and situations.
  • Researchers can be servants. The ability to find and describe the relationships between different aspects of reality is a gift, given by God for the common good. Our job is not to make things as complicated as possible, however much that might validate our abilities to ourselves and the academy around us; our job is to engage with complexity for the sake of our broader community, just as Adam gave names to the animals as a first step to domesticating them. Wherever possible, we should be open to ways (however unexpected!) in which our studies can bless our church family.

The Logical Aspect of Reality and Thought

Roy Clouser starts our series on good scholarship with a look at the logical aspect of reality.

We often speak of an idea or plan as “logical” using that as a term of praise. What we usually mean is that the idea makes sense or the plan appears a good way to proceed. But the term “logical” is used in philosophy and the sciences to name a specific kind of properties and laws. According to Reformational Philosophy these properties and laws form a distinct aspect of all creation. Let’s start with the most basic laws of logic, the fundamental logical axioms.

The first logical axiom is the law of non-contradiction. It says that nothing can both be and not-be in the same sense at the same time. Most people employ this law without ever having articulated it to themselves. They know that if someone owes them money, it can’t be true both that the money has been repaid and that it has not been repaid. They know that it either was or wasn’t repaid, and that it can’t be both, because of that law. The second logical law is called the law of excluded middle. That means that it must be true that either the money was repaid or it wasn’t, so it can’t be true that it was neither repaid nor not repaid. Finally, there is the axiom of identity. This law says that a thing is itself and not something else. So applied to the money owed, it says that either it is true that the money was repaid and false that it was not, or it is true that it was not repaid and false that it was.

These laws sound so obvious that at first most people think they must be trivial or simple. In fact they are anything but trivial or simple. They can be used to formulate more specific rules that can be applied to arguments in a rigorous way to determine whether arguments are valid or not.

There are also logical characteristics or “properties” that things can possess. Most views of logic think that the only things that can have logical properties are propositions and arguments, and that the only properties propositions can have are being consistent or inconsistent, and the only properties arguments can have are whether they are valid or invalid. This impoverished view is the result of missing the fact that properties can be possessed passively as well as actively. For example, the statements “The money was repaid” and “The money was not repaid” are actively inconsistent. The term “active” means that they have that property whether anyone knows it or not. But they also have such passive properties as being distinguishable and being analyzable – properties that depend on someone to distinguish or analyze them. In this same way all objects of experience, as well as all the kinds of characteristics they exhibit, can also have such passive properties as being able to be distinguished, abstracted, analyzed, and conceptualized.

For these reasons the Reformational philosophy insists that everything in creation has logical properties and is subject to logical law – not just thoughts, ideas, concepts, and theories, but also things, events, persons, relations, and states of affairs in the world around us. On the other hand, this philosophy clearly restricts the scope of logical laws to creatures. Since God is the creator of the logical aspect of the cosmos as well as all its other aspects, those laws may not be applied to Him to prove His existence. Attempting such a proof is subjecting God to the laws He has imposed on creatures, and thus lowers God to creaturely status by subjecting Him to the laws of the cosmos. Thus whatever can be proven would thereby not be God.

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