Friday, December 3, 2010

Chesterton on logic and reason

G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936) is an English writer who used his belief in the Christian orthodoxy to reveal how our world, today, is affected by the work of evolutionists. In Orthodoxy he states how the “Ethics of Elfland” are far more reliable and logical compared to what people have come to expect of the world. Chesterton believes that the “logic” scientists follow are based on false perceptions of cause and effect. To illustrate, just because the sun came up this morning, does not mean that it will return tomorrow. We have come to rely on the fact that the sun revolves around the Earth; but, what is stopping the sun from changing its course? When someone drops something, is the only option that it hits the ground? Chesterton would argue that because we cannot see any physical mechanism at work within the cause and effect relationship, we have no reason to believe that every action will have the same outcome. In stopping to think about this, you may be surprised to find that Chesterton has a valid point. How can we truly understand what we cannot see?

Chesterton instead relies on a logic that is grounded and reliable. He believes the only logic we should follow, the logic learned in Fairyland, is the one we can see: so if Jack is taller than Jill, then Jill is shorter than Jack; if there are four men then there are 4 heads. This is a “true law” he would say. Men such as Newton, on the other hand, believe in a “law of reason” (46). Chesterton understands that “certain transformations do happen” (he is not denying the work of scientists and naturalists); however, “we should regard them in the philosophic manner of fairy tales, not in the unphilosophic manner of…the ‘Laws of Nature’” (47). In essence, Chesterton is saying we should believe in magic.

For someone living in the twenty-first century it is quite bizarre to read these ideas on logic and laws. Most people nowadays do not challenge the laws of science because of the immense amount of detail and knowledge that scientists have about our physical world; but, what if we were to question these laws, like Chesterton does, and believe in magic? How would this change our view of life on Earth and what we take for granted? This is something to ponder but difficult to reason as we take for granted the scientific ‘facts’ that explain world we live in.

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