There Are No Syllogisms In Scripture

syl⋅lo⋅gism [sil-uh-jiz-uhm] –noun 1. Logic. an argument the conclusion of which is supported by two premises, of which one (major premise) contains the term (major term) that is the predicate of the conclusion, and the other (minor premise) contains the term (minor term) that is the subject of the conclusion; common to both premises is a term (middle term) that is excluded from the conclusion. A typical form is “All A is C; all B is A; therefore all B is C.” (www.dictionary.com)

My students are often reminded that there are no syllogisms in Scripture. Actually, this is not quite true, but it does capture something I hope to impress upon you now even if you have never thought of it before. Popular apologetics involve syllogisms, often lengthy and complex syllogisms, in an effort to persuade non-Christians to embrace the existence of God. The Bible never presents anything remotely similar to this method of showing that God exists.

For example, Genesis 1.1 does not read:

“1. Everything which begins to exist has a cause for its coming into being.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore the universe has a cause for its coming into being.”

Rather, it states:

“In the beginning God…”

God is in the beginning of the Bible in an account of what was in the beginning; no syllogism necessary. You did not come to believe in the existence of God through a syllogistic proof, and you are not going to convince anyone else to believe in God with such a method either. You already believed in God, and so did they.

The Bible presents the truth of the existence of God and argues that if it is rejected one is lost in total darkness, unable to make sense of anything. God is not hidden in puzzles that an ancient Greek philosopher named Aristotle thought up, He is present and plain for all to see in that He has revealed Himself to us. This is to be our message to those who attempt to deny the truth.


5 Comments

Syllogisms in the Bible | Apologetics.com

[…] There are some Christians who would like you to believe that there are no logical syllogisms in the Bible. One author, for example, wrote, […]

Cary

Chris – You might want to take a look at Kurt Jaros’s response to this post here: http://apologetics.com/blog/tkjaros/syllogisms-bible/. Thanks.

C. L. Bolt

Perhaps Kurt is being uncharitable, perhaps I was unclear, perhaps it is a little bit of both…

1. Kurt concedes my point when he states that the syllogisms of Scripture “are not explicitly in syllogistic form.”
2. Kurt concedes my point when he has to *restate* the quotes of Scripture in syllogistic form.
3. Kurt is forced to ignore the meaning of my qualifier that “this is not quite true” in order to even write his post.

That’s already three strikes, and it’s baseball season, so things didn’t turn out too well for Kurt.

Kurt does not address the main point of my post, which is that “Popular apologetics involve syllogisms, often lengthy and complex syllogisms, in an effort to persuade non-Christians to embrace the existence of God” even though “The Bible never presents anything remotely similar to this method of showing that God exists.” And it doesn’t. Look at Kurt’s examples of syllogisms in Scripture. They are far removed from the arguments of popular apologetics. How Kurt thinks he has demonstrated anything remotely addressing the concern of my post is beyond me.

But more than that, Kurt implies a few nasties in his post. For example, he writes, “I think the biggest mistake folks unfamiliar with logic make is in thinking that logic is just for philosophers.” I do not know whether this statement was pointed at me or not, but I am neither unfamiliar with logic nor am I a non-philosopher. That is not to say, of course, that I am either a gifted logician or philosopher, but Kurt’s comment on Facebook that states, ”Don’t be taken for granted by anti-intellectual folks” and “The Bible has plenty of arguments in it, you just have to know how to spot them” in reference to his post strikes me as rather arrogant and assuming, not to mention dishonest. I do not appreciate being called anti-intellectual or having the view that the Bible does not contain arguments falsely ascribed to me.

Thanks for pointing me to the post.

Kurt Jaros

Hi Chris,

I had multiple purposes for my post. Primarily I wanted to teach people about syllogisms. Secondarily I wanted to push back against what you had written. So, the “nasties” weren’t directed at you. Presups are not anti-intellectuals. No offense was intended toward you on those remarks.

To my secondary purpose: I don’t believe your language was clear enough. From your remarks it is evident that we are in agreement that there are no formal proof forms (i.e., “P1,” “P2,” “C”) in Scripture. But that is distinct from saying there are no syllogisms in Scripture. For even on the definition you provided, there are syllogisms in Scripture and instead of explaining how that was “not quite true” you

What you’ve labeled my “third strike” isn’t true, either. I do address your qualifer: “Not only is the belief that there are no syllogisms in the Bible ‘not quite true,’ but it is demonstrably false (that is, there is no sugar-coating it: we ought not tell people there are no syllogisms in the Bible).”

“Kurt does not address the main point of my post”
One thing at a time. It’ll take more than one blog post for that. I do disagree that the Bible “never presents anything remotely similar to this method of showing that God exists.” I think it does present something closer-than-remotely similar (because one may recognize the syllogisms not in formal proof form).

Thanks for the interaction.

Kurt Jaros

Above, I left a sentence incomplete. It should read: For even on the definition you provided, there are syllogisms in Scripture and instead of explaining how that was “not quite true” you opted to leave it as is. I opted to focus on how that was more that “not quite true.”


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