Founding Paradox

Philosophical systems based on logic can never explain their founding paradox. An example is the relativist’s belief that “all things are relative”. The proposition that “all things are relative” is only true if it is true all the time. This makes the statement “all things are relative” an absolute truth. If there is one absolute truth, then all things are not relative. So the statement “all things are relative” is actually a statement that contradicts itself.

Therefore, if the statement “all things are relative” is true, then relativism must be false, because this one statement is never relative. Of course, this can be fixed by saying the statement “all things are relative” is itself relative (i.e. is not always true). And that would mean that there are some things are not relative. So again, that would make relativism false. Therefore, the Relativist must believe the founding proposition “all things are relative” even though it is based on a logical contradiction. Because human beings are finite and our understanding is limited, every worldview ultimately rests on a foundation of faith.

Other examples of founding paradoxes are Buddhism’s belief that the ultimate reality is that there is no reality. Since this founding principle is logically inexplicable, the only way to accept it is apart from logic, by faith.

Similarly, the materialist believes the idea that “the only thing that is real is matter.” If this were true, then the materialist’s idea that “the only thing that is real is matter” must be material. But of course, an idea cannot be material. Therefore, the founding premise that “the only thing that is real is matter” is only true if this non-material statement is real. Which, if true, would contradict the founding premise.

Neither the Buddhist nor the materialist can logically explain these founding paradoxes with any satisfaction – they can only accept them as true and build upon these presuppositions.

The Bible does not present itself based on a foundation of human logic. It opens with “In the beginning God.” It says of our attempts to comprehend God:

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:33-36).

God answers Moses’ request to know His name by answering that His name is a Hebrew word that means “I Am.” It might be interpreted “Existence.” God is the beginning point for all that is. This includes comprehension. Therefore, if God is the beginning point for understanding, we should expect that God will not be subject to the constraints of human reason. God is paradoxical, but not illogical, because God is the definition of all that is. “All that is” stems from God’s existence.

The Bible’s founding paradox conflicts with that of other worldviews. The Bible presents God Himself as the founding paradox; a God that is one and many. A God that is fully divine and fully human. A God that is beyond explanation. All explanations stem from God, not the other way around.

Since God is paradoxical, and God created all things, we should expect that reality will also be paradoxical from our perspective, and it is.

For example, in the physical realm physicists believe that most of what is must be explained by what cannot be seen or measured (a concept they call “dark matter”).

Likewise, most if not all biblical spiritual truths are arguably paradoxical. For example, Jesus stated that we gain our lives by laying them down (Matthew 10:29; 16:25). Jesus is fully human, but also fully God, which is beyond human comprehension.

Further, God is presented in the Bible as fully sovereign over all things, while simultaneously making it clear that humans have real choices, for which they will be held accountable.

Check out our other commentaries:

  • Exodus 35:20-29 meaning

    After Moses’ call for the people to give materials for building the tabernacle and for skilled craftsmen to build it, the people departed from his......
  • Ephesians 1:3-6 meaning

    Paul explains how the Trinity of God (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) are all at work in saving believers from sin. God......
  • Psalm 8:6-9 meaning

    All of God’s creation was given to Man to rule over, from the animals on land to the fish in the sea. David concludes his......
  • Genesis 12:11-13 meaning

    In Egypt, Abram asks his wife to only say she is his sister for fear that the people will kill him and kidnap Sarai because......
  • Deuteronomy 16:16-17 meaning

    The celebrations of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Booths every year at the central sanctuary are summarized.......