Is God Controlled by Logic?

Frank - church at night

Frank - church at night

Christians agree that God is omnipotent and sovereign, meaning that He is able to do all things. The Nicene Creed proclaims faith in “one God, the Father almighty.”

However, what does that complete power truly mean? According to Dictionary.com, omnipotent means “infinite in power” and “having very great or unlimited authority.” Can God then do anything at anytime He wishes, or are there some limits that even God has?

Some philosophers and theologians have argued that God cannot do the illogical. The reasoning follows as such:

  • Just as God is the essence of love and good, He is the epitome of reasoning and logic. Human logic is one part of being made in His image.
  • God is honest and never contradicts Himself: Hebrews 6:18 “It is impossible for God to lie.”
  • If God acts illogically, He is contradicting His very nature.
  • If God were to contradict His nature, He would no longer be a just and moral God.
  • Therefore, God cannot act illogically.

One respected Christian who believed this idea was the beloved author C.S. Lewis. In Problem of Pain, Lewis attempts to explain the nature of God’s power and love while evil exists in the world:

“His Omnipotence means power to do all that is intrinsically possible, not to do the intrinsically impossible. You may attribute miracles to him, but not nonsense. This is no limit to his power. If you choose to say ‘God can give a creature free will and at the same time withhold free will from it,’ you have not succeeded in saying anything about God: meaningless combinations of words do not suddenly acquire meaning simply because we prefix to them the two other words ‘God can.’ It is true that all things are possible with God: the intrinsic possibilities are not things but nonentities. It is no more possible for God than for the weakest of his creatures to carry out both of two mutually exclusive alternatives; not because his power meets an obstacle, but because nonsense remains nonsense even when we talk it about God.”

This reasoning makes sense. However, putting logic above God by using it to constrain Him is unnerving. Even if it is an aspect of Himself, how can we say that God is unable to do something because of logic?

God, after all, is all-mighty and powerful, as mentioned previously. The Catechism of the Catholic Church proclaims this in sections 268-269:

“Of all the divine attributes, only God’s omnipotence is named in the Creed: to confess this power has great bearing on our lives. We believe that his might is universal, for God who created everything also rules everything and can do everything. God’s power is loving, for he is our Father, and mysterious, for only faith can discern it when it “is made perfect in weakness. . .The Holy Scriptures repeatedly confess the universal power of God. He is called the “Mighty One of Jacob”, the “LORD of hosts”, the “strong and mighty” one. If God is almighty “in heaven and on earth”, it is because he made them. Nothing is impossible with God, who disposes his works according to his will. He is the Lord of the universe, whose order he established and which remains wholly subject to him and at his disposal. He is master of history, governing hearts and events in keeping with his will: “It is always in your power to show great strength, and who can withstand the strength of your arm?”

Perhaps the dilemma comes in when we realize that our grasp of logic is faulty. Just as we cannot fully understand or express God’s love, we fail to totally reason with His logic. Our human nature keeps from truly experiencing logical principles as they really are. At least during this life, humans must grasp onto revealed glimpses of love, logic, mercy, beauty, and other virtues.

So, is God controlled by logic? Perhaps this question makes as much sense as wondering if God is controlled by love. Neither of these control God; instead, they are attributes of Him. Instead of saying “He cannot act illogically,” we should affirm that He is logical and honest. This emphasizes the fact that He holds the standard of logical that we are attempting to meet.

Humans will never fully be able to be as loving or logical as God (unless this happens in heaven) because God is so much greater than us. Still, our aim should be to get as close to God’s nature as possible.

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13 thoughts on “Is God Controlled by Logic?”

  1. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts: nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord. ” Perhaps logic is not the acme of understanding which we mortals hold it to be. It may be the highest of which we are capable, but, for God, there may be something which transcends logic as human logic transcends the scurryings of an ant hill. (And, perhaps, that something may be the fullest form of love?)

  2. Anna Rose thank you for this insightful, and faith building article. I love how you put all this together, including the quotes from the Catechism, and C.S. Lewis. Just wonderful!

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  5. Anna Rose, what a perfectly logical article. I have long thought of this theme but never had the wisdom to put it into words.

    1. Keep on studying, learning, and praying Anna Rose. It will be of infinite value to you in everything you do to realize this world butts up against the limits of human reason and says “I can go no further.”{Science turns this into scientific dogma; ans some use this dogma to say faith is foolish). It also belittles and even condemns those of faith who say you can go on, especially those who say, come with me and we will find the Answer together. With faith, and hope, you believe there is mystery if you only go on, to the “love that is beyond human knowledge” and the “peace that surpasses understanding.” Anabelle, isn’t it comforting to know someone younger than us think, and prays, and loves, and writes? Guy McClung, San Antonio

    2. I will certainly continue to do that. “Taking a leap of faith” has become a cliche saying but still holds great truth. We are so small compared to God. He does amazing things that we do not understand. That is painful now at times, but He will bring about good in the end. One of the greatest comforts is that God is love and will guide us even if we do not (and can not) fully understand Him.

  6. Thanks for your post.

    Perhaps we struggle with the false dichotomy of the logical (rational) versus the illogical (irrational) by assuming the logical (rational) covers all that is meaningful.

    When we run up againt the limits of the logical (rational), for example when we try to understand the meaning of a sentence like this: “this sentence is false,” we may come to undertand that there is not only contradiction but paradox in language and in life.

    These discovered limits help us understand that there is indeed rational and irrational, but also non-rational.

    So much exists in the non-rational world. The why questions arise there for example.

    When we admit that we cannot comprehend God but understand that God comprehends us, we may see better that God’s ways are not always comprehensible via human logic and human reason. Rather they are understood on the basis of our faith and hope that God is Love and actually loves us more than we can ever know.

    Like a father or a mother of children or lovers who have mutually surrendered to each other.

  7. And how do we “get as close to God’s nature as possible”? this is your next article. My opinon: we do this when we do a free human act of love-an act that aligns our will with the will of God and is directed to the good of someone else – ultimately the ultimate good of being with God for another person..

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