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Newton could not make any sense out of the Trinity and neither can I. Christians all along seem to have taken the following defensive tactic: "God is three persons in one substance. Prove us wrong!" And, of course you cannot. Suppose a guru were to announce: "Wholeness is quietness centered in stillness. Prove me wrong!" Of course you couldn't. There just is not enough to go on here even to prove it wrong. It is tempting to say, as the famously acerbic Wolfgang Pauli commented when he heard a particularly obscure assertion by another physicist, "That is not even false!" But with the Trinity, or the guru's assertion, you cannot prove it incoherent either. You have to have SOME discernible content even to prove incoherence. "Hey nonny nonny" (Shakespeare) and "Awop bob aloo bop awop bam boom" (Little Richard) are not even incoherent. With such locutions, you just have to shrug and admit that you have no idea what is being said. If you listen patiently to attempted explications without enlightenment, then you just dismiss it. This is not being arrogant. There just is not anything else to do.
I see only one way to respond to the argument here, and that is to pull a Bill Clinton and insist that “it all depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.” The ‘is’ in premise 2 is the ‘is’ of predication. It certainly appears that the ‘is’ of premise 1 is the ‘is’ of identity. But I expect, given the history of theological discussion of the Trinity, that the reply will be something on the order of “well, yes and no….”
The doctrine of the Trinity has always run into this sort of problem: How can the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be identical and yet have (or manifest, or mumble-or-other) non-identical properties?
I think the problem with understanding the Trinity is the old Kantian problem with metaphysics in general. We use concepts, like "person" and "substance," that have relatively clear meanings in familiar contexts. For instance, when we speak of a chemical substance, sulfuric acid, say, we have clear rules for the identification of such substances. They are identified by their chemical formula. With "person" the concept is somewhat vague, as shown by the fact that we can debate, for instance, whether a fetus is a person. Still, in order to be a topic of debate, the contending parties must at least know in a general way what they are talking about.
Yet, when we are attempting to apply those concepts to God, a transcendent being, our familiar concepts do not easily apply. For instance, we normally think that each person is a distinct being. My wife is one person and I am another. I think my thoughts and have my feelings and she has hers. Personhood normally entails individuality, with the possible exception of pathological cases like multiple-personality disorder. Yet such a concept of personhood cannot apply to the Christian God. It would be heresy to say that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are distinct individuals. That would be polytheism (as Muslims and Jews have always charged).
Christians deny the charge of polytheism by saying that these three persons, while distinct in some way, are part of the same divine substance. But the production of a verbal formula is not the same thing as conveying comprehensible information. If you accuse someone of being an arrogant bastard and he says that his form of arrogance is non-bastardly, then we will, at the least, require a satisfactory explanation from him before we allow that he has evaded our charge. But to understand how three persons can share the same substance requires a better understanding of both "person" and "substance" than seems possible here. It has to be a concept of personhood that does not entail individuality and a concept of substance that can be shared by three persons that must be distinct in some way while not being separate individuals.
Christians may feel that they understand these formulae, but a feeling of understanding is not the same thing as understanding. The true test of understanding is whether you can communicate that alleged meaning to others. If, despite honest efforts, others still cannot understand you, then they will rightly conclude that you do not really know what you are talking about.
I think you have explained the issue very well here.
I wish you the best of luck in your attempt to nail jello to the wall.
Newton's rejection of trinity was Textual not logical,.
The true test of understanding is whether you can communicate that alleged meaning to others. If, despite honest efforts, others still cannot understand you, then they will rightly conclude that you do not really know what you are talking about.
of course that assumes the people being communicated to want to get it, of the handful here who want real discussion are still under just as much pressure to think it can;t be gotten as i am to think it can be,
>>>"of course that assumes the people being communicated to want to get it"
That assumes the people communicating do not use dodges to rationalize their inane concepts like 'God is beyond understanding' (or using the Catholic terminology 'mystery'). If all there is to go on are communicating concepts they better make sure the concepts are sound, and they need to remember that if they do use a non-explanatory 'explanation' to prop up their concepts the fault lies with them, not with the person(s) being communicated to.
Otto, yep, I think that when Christians and non-Christians try to discuss the Trinity, communication just breaks down. I honestly don't think that either side is necessarily being obscurantist or obstinate. I think that the problem is that for Christians the Trinity is a meaningful mystery (if that is not too oxymoronic), while for non-Christians it is just mystifying. I suspect that the Trinity seems meaningful to Christians because it reifies their experience. They interpret their experience as an encounter with God as Creator (God the Father), Savior (God the Son), and Inspirer (God the Holy Spirit). The doctrine of the Trinity gives ontological status to that experience.
I agree Keith and if Christians just proclaim this is what they believe regardless if it makes complete sense or not I can get understand that, even if I do not agree. What aggravates me is when it is presented as if it is completely rational and anyone who does not agree with its rationality is being willfully ignorant or is just being overly difficult.
you are not interested in answers but more true of Kevin K
It is true I am not interested in made up answers...only what can be demonstrated to comport with reality.
It is rational,I was an atheist too.,Thought it was crap too,then I learned about i I listened to the scholarship,I took part in discussion with people knew and I realized it not so hard, you don;t want to know you don't want it to make sense,you have a vested interest in it not making sense,
Oh man, now you're down to the phony 'I used to be an atheist' claim.
Damned desperate times!
This troll claims many things. Mostly contradictory. Has claimed to be have a Ph.D. in History, but then changed that to a Ph.D. in sociology. Etc.etc. It is amusing in some respects but really just pathetic that it can't keeps its own lies straight. Unless we want to believe we are dealing with a supreme intellect with multiple Ph.D. and a true genius. Evidence does not support this conclusion.
Poppycock...I had 12 years of religious education.
I don't need to know every detail about astrology to come to a conclusion about the veracity of the claim.
I have a masters degree from a major seminary. Trinity makes sense to me.
I never claimed to be an expert. Like I said I don't feel like I have to be an expert in things like palm reading or healing crystals to judge the merit of the claims.
If 12 years of Christian education (not Sunday school) can't present a reasonable argument that can at least pass the smell test I don't see what you are going to provide that does that, especially when the first premise you want stipulated is 'God is beyond understanding' (which by no coincidence is the same rationalization that was fed to us in our Christian education) ... and now you think I am going to accept your claim of 'understanding'? C'mon...you lost before you started.
the doctrine makes sense to me, it does so because understand it, i can tell from the things you say you do not understand as I do, I may be wrong but that's the way it stacks up for me.
And yet you come here to 'fix' us while remaining broken yourself.
I have never said anything to the effect that I',m here to fix you, My original votive was was to build traffic for my blog don't give adman where you go after you die, that is true,I do not care if you burn in hell or spend paternity in heaven with me, just so I don't have to sit next to you in church.
My reason for continuing is that It's hard to get a good intellectual discussion on the net and I like Jeff,Eric, Keith Bradley and a couple of others,
And her trolly mctrollface admits to being a person from the world under the bridges. Good job outing yourself. Saved me some work.
> My reason for continuing is that It's hard to get a good intellectual discussion on the net
You are living proof of that.
Lots of people understand astrology a whole lot better than me too.
that's not analogous, the list of great thinkers who believe in god is far longer than the list that doesn't. Belief in God is much intellectually respectable than atheism especial the Dawkamentalism.
Ohh, so now you have a masters? What happened to the 2 Doctorates you claimed to have? Did the dog eat them? I also notice you just claim "from a major seminary". Are you too ashamed of your school to name it, or are they too ashamed of you? Silly troll, learn to keep your lies straight if you wanna play with us smart folks. Even my imaginary invisible pet dragon can see through your BS.
And yet you are illiterate.
obviously I'm morel iterate than you, you are not a scholar you were not aPh,D candidate you haven't read half the stuff I have you never understand what I'm talking about,you hare not worth my time.
I've issued a standing nvitation to your idiots to come over to my blog or my 1x1 board and debate me you are cowards, yud on't show you never will because I will kick your asses.
If you had to actually debate and not rely on little snide comments you would melt like hot knife through butter
"I'm morel iterate than you" classic. I'm more recursive than you. AND I can program in languages that actually require proper use of both concepts. Why don't you slow down and stop typing with a Lisp.
I can point you to people with master's degrees and PHD's from seminary's that accepted the Trinity and were believers and are no longer because it does not make sense to them, does that make their opinion valid as well?
grow up and use your brain. there are many different idea floating around in the academic world we be mature enough to analyze them analytically not emotionally.
The day you react without emotion will be first. I'm not holding my breath.
That didn't answer the question....not that I am surprised.
You sure do like to throw around the personal insults...you argue like a 12 year old.
that is so stupid, you are really are stupid, Obviously my stamen about growing was an answer to your obviously rhetorical question about the validity of people;s pinons.
Amy moron can see plainly that i was saying of course you have a valid opinion and arrive that differs from mine. that is proof of your position,
My point is having a Masters or a PHD in theology does not make a ones theological opinion logical...it literally does not matter.
Just out of curiosity what exactly is my (our) vested interest?
This seems like a bit of projection considering Christians actually do believe there is a benefit to their religious belief and therefore do have a vested interest.
one major motivation for atheists especial the kind who need to mock and ridicule is self esteem. Of course no one will admit to that problem but a lot of psychological research shows that some atheists and certain kinds of Christians have major self esteem issues connected with their concept of God., they need to boot themselves up by putting the other side down,
beyond that we all need to feel we are right, we all have our biases.
"[T]he other side" needs to come up with some evidence for their imagined fairy beings and lands of wizardry.
you can't answer the evidence we ha e offered, rad my book and debate me o it, you ca';t answer q single thing, all atheists ever do is obfuscate.
> you can't answer the evidence we ha e offered
You have offered no evidence.
I told you...that's pretty much all you're going to get from him.
Playing chess with a pigeon. That's what this is.
Indeed. Maybe he'll buy a new box of cornflakes and get another 'PhD'.
Opening to his dissertation.
"Hi, my name is Kent Hovind Joe Hinman."
So basically my 'vested interest' is that I feel I am right...just like everyone else including you. So you have at least the same vested interest on your side (and I would argue actually much more because you have apparently invested far more time in this issue than I ever will).
Additionally I would argue I had every reason not to change my mind and reject Christianity. I live in one of the more religious States of the country, 95% of people I know including my closest friends and family are Christians. I literally gained nothing by rejecting Christianity and risked much. So you can save your 'vested interest' claim with me, it doesn't fly.
of course I have a vested interest I do;t believe i made a comment about you personally, the point is n t to be rid of bias but to be aware of your bias,
You don't believe you made a comment about me personally...?
"you don;t want to know you don't want it to make sense,you have a vested interest in it not making sense,"
So like I said...you are talking out you ass.
ok sorry about that, i meant you guys in general,
"some atheists and certain kinds of Christians have major self esteem issues connected with their concept of God" Maybe you need to do a bit of hard research here.. Try opening a dictionary and look up the word 'atheist'. We have NO concept of god because there aint no such critter. Whatever school supposedly gave you your Ph.D or Masters or star on your 3rd grade report card should be ashamed.
communication breaks down because either atheist start feeling intimidated by knowledge they don't possess or they don't care a out answers they just want to ridicule, of course not true of all. some not in either category.
i you want to know why it breaks down ,read the responses of people blow this mark, I admit I fed the Trolls. always a miaskte,
This is nothing but shifting the blame, because of course the problem could never be with you or your theology.