One of the popular objections to theological paradox is that once we admit the existence of theological paradox, we can’t distinguish an actual contradiction from an apparent contradiction.
I’ll just make a few basic observations:
1. One problem with this objection is the assumption that you can determine reality by what you deem to be certain unacceptable consequences. If you think that paradox leads to unacceptable consequences, then that’s a reason to reject paradox.
However, reality isn’t all that deferential to our prejudicial dictates. For example, apparent inconsistencies are a commonplace of human experience. So it’s not as if reality was structured to eliminate the possibility of apparent inconsistencies–at least from the vantage-point of human observers.
2. We have sufficient reason to believe a paradox in case we have sufficient reason to believe each individual proposition which taken together comprise the set of propositions.
3. Apropos (2), to ask whether we have a criterion to distinguish an apparent contradiction from an actual contradiction is the wrong question to ask. After all, there are many situations in life where we have no criterion to distinguish the two. So, both in principle and practice, that is not a rational demand.
Rather, we should ask whether we have sufficient reason to believe an apparent contradiction is merely apparent or actual.
4. Apropos (3-4), we have sufficient reason to believe an apparent contradiction is merely apparent in case we have sufficient reason to believe each individual proposition.
Conversely, we have insufficient reason to believe an apparent contradiction is merely apparent in case we have insufficient reason to believe one or more of the individual propositions.