LOGIC and RELIGION?
A MISSION STATEMENT
Although logic, a symbol of rationality, may appear to be opposed to religion, both have a long history of cooperation. Philosophical theology, from Anselm to Godel, provided many famous attempts to prove the existence of God. On the other hand, many atheologists, such as Hume, for example, have developed powerful arguments designed to refute the existence of God. These arguments have been examined and developed in various ways by twentieth-century analytic philosophy of religion. Also, at several times, logical concepts and tools play important roles in the world's religious traditions. In the Bible, God is identified with the concept of logos; other religions, such as Buddhism, Islam, and many Hindu Orthodox schools, such as Nyaya and Vedanta, are strongly linked to reasoning. Nevertheless, it seems that as an academic field, the area of logic and religion has not yet been consolidated.
The purpose of this project is to bridge this gap by providing a place where logicians from all fields, as well as theologians of all religions, can come together to hear from one another about the latest developments in the relationship between logic and religion. This is been achieved through the event series World Congress of Logic and Religion. A second objective is to collect and publish these developments and make them available to a wider audience.
A BIT OF HISTORY
The origins of the project date back to 2014, the year in which Ricardo Silvestre and Jean-Yves Beziau conceived the 1st World Congress on Logic and Religion, which took place in João Pessoa, Brazil, in the next year. Approximately 150 logicians and theologians from around the world attended the event; it had distinguished scholars such as Richard Swinburne (Oxford), Jean-Pierre Desclés (Paris) and Purushottama Bilimoria (Australia) as plenary speakers. The 2nd World Congress on Logic and Religion was then held in 2017 in Warsaw, Poland, hosted by Marcin Trepczyński, Stanisław Krajewski and Piotr Balcerowicz. It was even bigger than the first congress. Saul Kripke (New York), Dov Gabbay (London) and Laurent Laﬀorgue (Paris) were among the plenary speakers. Among the publications resulting from the congresses are several special issues of Logica Universalis (Springer), Sophia (Springer) and the Journal of Applied Logics (College Publications).
THE ROLE OF FORMAL LOGIC IN THEOLOGICAL INQUIRY
There is a perennial philosophical debate on the relation between reason and religion. Many theologians have struggled to show that there is a place, and perhaps need, to rational thought in religion. Indeed, it can be reasonably defended that only by making use of critical rational thought could we have hope of developing theology into a mature and fruitful discipline.
Logic is the discipline that studies sound arguments. In one sense, it is the canon of rationality. As such, it is essential for critical reflection on religion. Alike to what happened with physics in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, logic was mathematized at the beginning of the twentieth century. This gave it an impressive power to deal with its basic issues as well as a remarkable interdisciplinary cross-fertilization. It also turned it into a powerful theory of representation, able to foster our understanding of a wide range of concepts and principles, such as the ones present in the living religious traditions.
Academic work done in the past half-century, of which Gödel’s famous proof for the existence of God is one of the best examples, serves as evidence that the tools developed inside the field of logic might allow us to pose in precise terms, and alas provide fruitful answers to relevant questions related to reason and religion: Is the concept of God consistent? To what extent are the arguments for and against the existence of God successful? To what extent different religions agree with and contradict each other? Can there be a scientific-like, logical account of religion?
Mosque at Hyderabad, Pakistan
Photo by HAMEED ULLAH on Unsplash