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And who shaves God? Nature and role of paradoxes in science and religion communications: A case of foolish virgins

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Speaking of truth inescapably confronts us with paradoxes, i.e., correct deductive propositions like a Cretan claiming that all Cretans lie which (due to negative systemic self-reference) end up as circular contradictions, indeterminable questions, or dilemmas. Faced with the numerous paradoxical statements (apparently 82) found in the Bible, the German Protestant reformer Sebastian Franck (14991542), for example, conceded that any truth of God cannot be found in language but only in the immediate silent experience of God. Likewise, believers in an uncompromising search for true facts about this world would certainly agree with (though arguably misappropriate) Wittgenstein in claiming that Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent. Paradoxes this article claims must neither be feared, nor avoided, nor become subject to hopeless attempts in searching for logic solutions. Paradoxes lead the way to truth in demonstrating that questions of truth, or truth claims, cannot be adequately addressed within the same system of communication (ortho-system) in which they are raised. The encounter with paradoxes (e.g., a God who creates but is uncreated) elevates language and communication onto a meta-level (or system) of communication in which new means (like for instance Gdel's numbering) are needed to speak of what is real but apparently cannot be true. These means, however, will turn out to be likewise paradoxes that furthermore call for new and creative ways of speaking of such truths that previously could not be communicated. The creative admission of paradoxes into communication philosophy will not solve age-old problems or dilemmas; however, it will playfully open up the conversation of science with religion to the creative means of the arts were truth is not argued but performed in paradoxes.

Keywords: dialogue; discourse system; incommensurability; parable; paradox; truth

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Ateneo de Manila University/Monash University.

Publication date: June 1, 2010

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  • Empedocles aims to provide a publication and discussion platform for those working at the interface of philosophy and the study of communication, in all its aspects. This Journal is published in cooperation with the Section for the Philosophy of Communication of ECREA, the European Communication Reserach and Education Association.
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