Bible verse used in podcast:
- John 1:1-3
- Isaiah 45:7
- Genesis 2:8-9
- Romans 5:12
Law of Noncontradiction
Is Truth a single sentence?
Often, when reading different Bible passages, they can have multiple layers of meaning. They have a literal meaning, spiritual meaning, historical, prophetic, and so on. It isn’t uncommon for a passage to have multiple meanings like Hosea 11:1. It isn’t always easy to tell when it does or doesn’t because we don’t have other Bible verses pointing to it saying, ‘this verse has these applications.’ But regardless, you can always find nuances on the same text in different contexts. But does that mean there are multiple parts to Truth?
Imagine having a pen on a table. I ask one simple question, where is the pen on the table? To answer this you might go get a ruler and put in on one edge of the table and measure how far from the edge that pen is. You come back and give an answer to where the pen is on the table to the best of your ability. Then I ask another question, does that truly reflect where the pen is on the table? To some extent, yes, but at the same time, no. If I keep that ruler on one edge of the table and slide it back and forth, you can get the same answer multiple times using only one direction.
To solve this problem, it makes sense to then grab 2 rulers. One to check the length and one for the width. That way you can get a more clear picture of where the pen is on the table. Instead of giving one number as in “8 inches,” you can give a more precise answer, “8 inches from the left, 5 inches into the table.” This helps you capture more accurately the reality of where the pen is on the table. But now I have another question, is the pen actually on the table?
Simple observing, it should be. But the pen is not flat. It comes up from the table a bit. So if you grab another ruler, you can then go around the pen and have even more precision on explaining exactly where it is on the table. Not only that, but you could also even start tracking the pen on paper and give profiles from different points of view. Having more rulers gives you more power to describe the pen more accurately. Of course, if you want to get a more clear understanding of the pen you will need a lot more. When was the pen there? You can’t use a ruler to answer that, now your tool changes. What color is the pen? What material is the pen made out of? Is the pen the same color or material through the whole thing? It seems we can always ask more and more questions about this pen to understand it better.
Taking a step back, when looking at Truth, we expect that things are either true or false. This means there is something or the opposite of that something. You can not have that thing and the opposite of it at the same time. A person can not be both in the room and out of the room at the same time. Unless they are standing in the doorway but then you need to define what it means to be “inside of the room”. If someone goes on video chat with someone in the room, some may consider this to be in the room but to others, maybe not. Once you start making definitions and defining rules, you start getting situations of either is or is not, true or false.
The Law of Contradiction
Often this is called the law of noncontradiction. Something can’t be true and false at the same time. If it is, then it is a contradiction and logical problems start happening from it. Interestingly enough you can find this topic pop up in the bible. For instance, did God create everything? If you say yes, does that mean truly, EVERYTHING? What about sin? Did God create sin? Of course, this is just a review of some of the things I talk about in “if God is a love, God….”
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.John 1:1-3 ESV
At the very least, if something was created, or if it has a beginning, then God created it. So does sin have a beginning? Of course, one can go to Romans 5:12 and bring up the verse about how death and sin enter the world through one man; Or you can go to Genesis 3. But we want to do something better than that. We don’t want to get indirect evidence that God created these things, we want direct evidence:
7 I form light and 7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.Isaiah 45:7 KJV
As a side note, the word for evil is H7451 – רַע ra`, it appears 663 times in the text and is translated evil 442 in the KJV. It is normally translated as follows:
Evil – KJV, DBY, YLT, NHV, WED, DSV
Calamity – NKJV, ESV, NASB, NET
Disaster- NIV, CSB
Bad – NLT
Woe – RSV
It doesn’t matter which translation you want to pick. In the LXX you can find G2556 -κακός kakos which is something bad in nature, evil, harmful, and so on. But the problem is, Why would God create something that is not good?.
God himself says that he created evil. But you remember back in Genesis, God looked at all of his creations and called it good (Gen 1:31). Of course, sin did not enter the world at this time. Instead, the concept of sin existed at that time, even if it didn’t physically exist at the time. We know it had to because the tree of good and evil was planted by God:
8 And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.Genesis 2:8-9 ESV
Multiple parts to Truth
How can this be? This is where all those jumbled pieces start coming together. Fundamentally you can break everything down into true or false; is or is not. When you do this, once you create a rule, the opposite of that rule is created as a consequence. So if God defines good, bad (or evil) also exist. If I have a car that works then, by comparison, there exists some way that there is a car that doesn’t work. If something is living, then there is a state in which it is dead. Creating one automatically creates the other.
But what happens when you have more than one rule or condition? For some simplistic reason for later, we will call this an axiom, the most simple basic rule we can use to build up things we know to be true. When you have multiple of these rules or axioms, more interesting things happen. This is like getting back to the pen on the table. You can use the ruler to ask a simple yes or no question (or set of questions). Is the pen 1 inch from the edge, 2 inches, 3 inches, and so on? Once you get another rule you can ask the same question, but you can get more clarity of the pen. What happens is, once we get more axioms, we can make more and more conclusions about what we know. This ends up making a system of knowledge that we can use to explore what is true. Just like how using pens can help us describe the pens better, the more we get basic units of truth about God, this can help us understand the greater picture of God.
Of course, as some closing comments, there are some things we would expect from this system of knowledge we just came up with. We would expect that using what we know, we can’t use our knowledge to come to a contradiction. Like God created evil. This is fine because evil is defined by good. God created everything in the universe with the intention of it being good. But just as it has the potential to be good, it has the potential to be evil. In general, if we get a contradiction then there are probably 3 things that happened. We used the axioms wrong. God can create everything and he is all perfect and all love, but that doesn’t mean he can’t create evil in a meaningful way. If not, then maybe the axioms we have are wrong. Another situation could be that maybe we are missing something in our understanding, like understanding the opposite of good is evil by definition. Going even further, we would want this system to be able to explain everything relevant to what the system is trying to explain. For instance, we would like to read the Bible and find all the answers we need to understand God, morality, and what is true about our humanity. And of course, we want this system to explain as much as possible. We can only use rulers to talk about positions in the standards of the pen. The more rulers we have, the more we can talk about this in greater detail. But there comes a point where rulers aren’t enough. If I ask when the pen was there, no rulers are useless. We would want our system of knowledge to explain as much as possible with the limitations it has.