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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Which Way Is It?

I want to use this post to look at 2 words; Contradiction and Paradox

Why those 2? Because I have been thinking about how people often argue/debate with each other. This point holds especially true with regard to religious conversation.

What is the definition of Contradiction? direct opposition between things compared; inconsistency

What is the definition of Paradox? a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth

Why do I bring this up? Because as you all know, I listen to too much religious broadcasting. The shows that I listen to often have guests on them that engage in debates and discussions, usually having opposing or differing views from each other. This is what I have observed-

A non-Christian can say "There are no absolutes." Then later on in the conversation they can say "1+1=2 because of the laws of mathematics." To which the Christian answers and says "You can't say that! That is a contradiction to say that there are no absolutes but that there is a law of mathematics that governs 1+1 being 2. You can't have it both ways because of the philosophical law of non-contradiction"

Then what I see on the other side is that the Christian says "God is a spirit and not a human; therefore He isn't bound to the same limitations that we are." And then later he says "God has revealed himself in Jesus Christ as God becoming flesh." To which the atheist or skeptic replies "You can't say that. If God is a spirit and not a man, then how can he be in human form? That violates the law of non-contradiction." To which the Christian replies "It's not a contradiction, it's a paradox."

So it seems that the world outside of faith is incapable of having differing beliefs/understandings/views without them being looked at as being contradictory; but inside of faith it is possible for 2 polar opposites to co-exist under the guise of being a paradox. It seems to me like the rules are being bent a little.

I guess this is the biggest bone that I have to pick against Presuppositional Apologetics with regards to the Reformed Christian faith. The main argument is that God is rational and logical and He has given man the ability also to be logical and rational. They get this information from studying the Bible. The problem that I have with that position though is that an advanced study of the concepts and actions of God in the Bible shows that God can seemingly say one thing at one time and yet do or say another thing at another time. When these words and actions are compared to our understanding of logic and the application of logical thought, the ideas don't seem to comport.

Are there certain standards that these people want to hold others to, but yet they themselves can get out of simply by semantics?

I know that it seems like an oversimplification, but really, matters of religion and faith need to be honest about inconsistencies that they have with regard to the unequal expectations that they place on those who are "outside."

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