“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. | Deuteronomy 29.29
On Sunday, we talked about the limits of knowledge; the shortcomings of believing that an increase of knowledge will create an increase in meaning. Within this, we also looked at why thinking was an important part of the Christian life. Intellect is good, but has extents. These limits are known as contradictions.
This is important in a search for truth and meaning, because as we reason we eliminate possibilities by contradiction. In other words, when two things do not fit together, one of them (at least one of them) has to be false. The search for knowledge is the process of removing the false statement. But how? In some cases, we can simply observe; truth makes itself clear. Other times one option is so absurd it can be eliminated. But sometimes, both options seem equally valid (even though they are opposites).
I’ll give you some examples:
1. There is an approved struggle for power in the world and yet their also exists the belief that abuse is unjustified. Our culture simultaneously believes in survival of the fittest and supporting the weak. OR
2. Everyone should be treated the same and everyone is a unique person. OR
3. Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice
When these things present themselves, most people, through their worldview, choose one of the two and use it to prove the impossibility of the other.
1. Care for the poor means that power and authority is bad (and should be done away with). OR
2. The only way that we will have equality is to downplay differences. OR
3. Being forced not to terminate life takes away your freedom.
These views all have logical opposites. Many of the fights in society are an attempt to defend the choice of one ‘truth’ over another. They can’t both be true… or can they? Accepting the limits of the intellect means that just because we can’t rectify two things does not mean that they cancel one another. There is the possibility of paradox. Paradox is something that appears to be in conflict, but where in reality, both sides are true. Paradox cannot be rectified by human logic; it is by definition things that are beyond the scope of thought. Embracing paradox does not mean living in a world where up is now down and hot is now cold. Instead, it allows us to humbly approach things that we otherwise may have felt the need to defend. It allows us to consider things that we have easily dismissed previously.
Paradox is not an open-ended invitation to accept all things; the only way we can identify and embrace this is to view the truth through the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is in Jesus that we experience the ultimate paradox. The king becomes a servant, to give His life for those who killed Him. The gospel allows us to see how God can be both love and justice, personal and sovereign. The world that we live in was created by Him, to display Him, which means it operates by the rules of paradox.
While we can come to some truth through our own work, paradox is only possible through the supernatural revelation of God. Seek knowledge in everything, debate and philosophize, but do it all through the perspective of a Creator who is both 3 persons and 1 God. In this, we can find knowledge to be both limited and beneficial at the same time.