Isn't the Trinity Logically Impossible

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Reply Sat 10 Jan, 2009 12:19 am
Growing up as a Christian, I thought God could do anything, including the logically impossible. Once I became a competent philosopher I concluded, as I think most would, that God cannot make square circles. Further, I don't think it is just philosophers who've realized this, but most Christians as well. But isn't the idea of the Holy Trinity, the idea that God is both WHOLLY one and WHOLLY separate, logically impossible? Yet most Christians believe in this, and I personally have not come up with a satisfactory answer for myself. Any thoughts?:perplexed:
 
de budding
 
Reply Sat 10 Jan, 2009 04:24 am
@Axis Austin,
And the idea that God is All loving, All knowing and All powerful I find a nonsense. In regards to suffering: If God is All loving he would not allow us to suffer, so it is said the world is just like that, its out of his hands, then what of his All knowingness? He would have seen that coming a mile off, and what kind of All powerful being can not rectify such a silly little error like the invention of suffering?

I think it is blindingly obvious as well that all God's Omni-essence is just the projection of human values/desire.

Any ways, I have never seen any direct sense in the idea of the Holy Trinity either, religion worked for me until I was like 10, then when people (clergy & bible club)began to get 'clever', trying to interpret what I had assumed to be fables and myths as philosophically profound reality, I was confused and turned off. Christianity only ever worked for me as abstract & symbolic fables.

Dan.
 
Solace
 
Reply Sat 10 Jan, 2009 07:59 am
@Axis Austin,
What I wonder is why Christianity got hung up on the number three when Revelations claims that there are seven spirits of God.:devilish:
 
DJMaux
 
Reply Sat 10 Jan, 2009 08:16 am
@Solace,
The trinity is actually the 3 main forces at work in the universe.
The left path = negative infinity The right path = positive infinity and the middle path = nothing.
Like I have said before god splits nothing into the two infinitys also known as dark and light or binary code.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sat 10 Jan, 2009 09:05 am
@Axis Austin,
Shouldn't god be beyond our logic?

I mean isn't one characteristic of the sublime the fact that it is unfathomable?
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sat 10 Jan, 2009 05:13 pm
@Aedes,
The Trinity isn't supposed to be logically coherent: that's the value of the notion.

The concept of the Trinity was pioneered by Eastern Christian fathers (whose names I'd have to look up, and can if anyone is interested). For these men, the Trinity was something upon which to meditate, not dissimilar to Zen paradoxes.
 
ogden
 
Reply Sat 10 Jan, 2009 05:55 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Alot of people don't like the idea, Sir Isaac Newton didn't like the idea either, but he kept quiet because they dealt harshly with those that questioned the church.

I think monotheism was an important concept for the Hebrew and Christian religion, and the trinity diminishes that. There are advantages though. Three distinct characteristics of one Supreme Being work well. Although the bible doesn't ever mention the word trinity, there is biblical text that mentions each one. So from some perspectives, the trinity seems to be a predictable conclusion, even if logically impossible.


Sure the trinity is logically impossible, so is quantum physics! Faith requires no logic anyhow :whistling:.
 
Solace
 
Reply Sat 10 Jan, 2009 07:41 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
The Trinity isn't supposed to be logically coherent: that's the value of the notion.

The concept of the Trinity was pioneered by Eastern Christian fathers (whose names I'd have to look up, and can if anyone is interested). For these men, the Trinity was something upon which to meditate, not dissimilar to Zen paradoxes.


Actually I'd love to know who pioneered the trinity concept, DT, if it isn't too much trouble for you to find out for us.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sat 10 Jan, 2009 08:06 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;41706 wrote:
The Trinity isn't supposed to be logically coherent: that's the value of the notion.

The concept of the Trinity was pioneered by Eastern Christian fathers (whose names I'd have to look up, and can if anyone is interested). For these men, the Trinity was something upon which to meditate, not dissimilar to Zen paradoxes.
As you know, if we think this is complicated, this issue gets vastly more ornate in Hinduism.

You can swing Hinduism from anything from atheism to pantheism to monotheism to tritheism to polytheistic paganism. All the traditions and interpretations exist, and as far as I know they somehow avoid the concept of heresy.

The trimurti (trinity) in Hinduism of Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver), and Shiva (the destroyer) is often conflated into brahman, which is comparable to the omnipotent omnipresent god of western tradition. To talk about Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva (who participate as complex characters in epics, who are depicted differently in Hindu art, and who are venerated individually by different traditions), are thought of as different aspects of brahman.

Nothing too hard about that. It works for the Holy Trinity too.
 
Fido
 
Reply Sat 10 Jan, 2009 09:05 pm
@Axis Austin,
It is not faith because it is logical to believe..It is faith because it is impossible to believe.
 
Axis Austin
 
Reply Sat 10 Jan, 2009 09:36 pm
@ogden,
ogden wrote:
Sure the trinity is logically impossible, so is quantum physics! Faith requires no logic anyhow :whistling:.


Faith without any logic is blind belief, which is bad. Good faith is belief in the absence of complete proof. Some evidence, logic, and/or support is still needed. This idea applies to the statement that "it is not faith because it is logical to belief ... it is faith because it is impossible to belief".

The statement that the trinity isn't suppose to be logically coherent seems to take the same view as that expressed above. Good Christians trying to understand the notion of the Trinity should (and I am) seek logical consistency.

As for the origins of the Trinity, that is irrelevant (though interesting). Wherever it came from, Christians hold to it and I want to get a better understanding of it.

Finally, I understand the idea that God should be beyond our logic if he is truly sublime, but then how could we know anything about him and have any basis for a belief in him? We must be able to understand at least something about him if we can have logical basis in him.:brickwall:
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sat 10 Jan, 2009 09:46 pm
@Axis Austin,
Axis Austin;41740 wrote:
I understand the idea that God should be beyond our logic if he is truly sublime, but then how could we know anything about him and have any basis for a belief in him?
Because it's in the Book, right? How should you believe what's in the Book? Because God inspired it, so it's divine...

It all comes down to something circular in the end. That's not because it's inherently circular (though in fact it is), but because for those of us who lack omniscience, everything we "know" will ultimately fall into circular reasoning if you ask enough questions.

Quote:
We must be able to understand at least something about him if we can have logical basis in him.:brickwall:
Do you hold his miracles to the same standard of logic? And I don't mean some petty miracle -- I mean speaking to Abraham, delivering the Hebrews from bondage, speaking to Moses, the virgin birth, the resurrection...

Where in our logic can you account for patently illogical interventions like this?

Logic is a psychological tool. It is the way our minds make sense of the world. It has some correspondence to the world itself, but it's not 1:1. And this holds true for anything sublime -- be it the magnificence of a natural vista, or be it a belief tradition in a supreme deity.
 
Axis Austin
 
Reply Sat 10 Jan, 2009 11:41 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
Because it's in the Book, right? How should you believe what's in the Book? Because God inspired it, so it's divine...


I maintain that the Book should be held to external standards: it is not necessarily correct just because it is the Book. If it suggested that everyone go out and slaughter those who don't believe, I would challenge its validity.

As for the circular thing, without any argument for your assertion, I'll agree to disagree. I don't think Christian belief or all beliefs are circular.

Aedes wrote:
Do you hold his miracles to the same standard of logic? ... Where in our logic can you account for patently illogical interventions like this?


Good point. However, I do hold miracles to some "logical" standard. Miracles tend to go against the laws of physics, we have no scientific explanation for them, but they don't usually defy logic. If they did I would question them. For example, I may believe in Moses parting the Red Sea, but I would doubt the realness of a square circle.
 
avatar6v7
 
Reply Sun 11 Jan, 2009 07:53 am
@Axis Austin,
Christians beliefs are circular, as are all beliefs, Aedes is correct. However this is not a bad thing, as any theory that seeks to explain the universe has to prove itself, if it is not self-proveing then it is doesn't work logically or is insuficcent.
Btw the bible does not use the word trinity, as it is a later development, but describes the three persons of the trinity, and all are defied.
 
ogden
 
Reply Sun 11 Jan, 2009 08:15 am
@Axis Austin,
Axis Austin wrote:
I maintain that the Book should be held to external standards: it is not necessarily correct just because it is the Book.

Axis

If you need the BOOK to be held to external standards then you have alot of other questions to ask! The bible has a complex history of it's own and it's content and the history of it's origin is not without anomalies. Many of the ideas (good and evil, the great flood, adam and Eve) in the bible are predated by other religions like Zoroasterianism.


Quote:
If it suggested that everyone go out and slaughter those who don't believe, I would challenge its validity.


This makes me think of the numerous times in the old testiment that say exactly that! Again though, you can't really justify it because it meets your moral standard can you? Christ is a valid justification for marterdome!

Quote:
As for the circular thing, without any argument for your assertion, I'll agree to disagree. I don't think Christian belief or all beliefs are circular.


This is the great thing about philosophy, it leads us to question what we know and how we know it. When you realy dig in, you find that many (if not all) arguments circle back around. It is also one of the most frustrating things because it is incomfortable to have doubts or question your core beliefs/knowledge.


Quote:
Good point. However, I do hold miracles to some "logical" standard. Miracles tend to go against the laws of physics, we have no scientific explanation for them, but they don't usually defy logic. If they did I would question them. For example, I may believe in Moses parting the Red Sea, but I would doubt the realness of a square circle.


This is comparing apples and oranges. Parting the sea is an act of divine intervention that are contrary to the laws of physics. A square circle is a LOGICAL imposibility. I say logical because there is no such reality as a circle or a square, they are both consepts that humans created to represent something. What is reality? How do we know what is real?
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sun 11 Jan, 2009 04:47 pm
@ogden,
The notion of the Trinity is often credited to the Council of Nicea, and thus to Athanasius and his crew. And while the Nicean creed and the theology of Athanasius comes close to the Trinity, it was until three outstanding theologians in eastern Turkey that the concept of the Trinity reached maturity; it would take later theologians to develop the idea completely in the West. Basil, Bishop of Caesarea, his younger brother Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, and their friend Gregory of Nazianzus created the Trinitiarian notion that satisfied the Eastern Church. These were spiritual men who, like the Buddha, thought some questions were inappropriate because they refered to realities beyond the reach of language. The Trinity was for these men, and the same became true in the West if I recall, an introspective technique of contemplation.

This explanation relies exclusively on Karen Armstrong's A History of God. Given the preponderance of theological questions on the forum today, I recommend this book. Seriously, go get it, read it.

Axis Austin wrote:

The statement that the trinity isn't suppose to be logically coherent seems to take the same view as that expressed above. Good Christians trying to understand the notion of the Trinity should (and I am) seek logical consistency.


No, good Christians seek to live a Christlike life. Understanding the notion of the Trinity is supposed to be a contemplative, introspective struggle: it's a spiritual practice, and certainly not an easy one. The Trinity is an explantion of God, and as God is beyond language, logical consistency is irrelevant; forcing logical consistency upon notions of God, like the Trinity, is also dangerous. If you need logical consistency in your notion of God, leave Christianity behind and convert to Aristotleanism.

Axis Austin wrote:
As for the origins of the Trinity, that is irrelevant (though interesting). Wherever it came from, Christians hold to it and I want to get a better understanding of it.


But in understanding th notion, the origins of the concept is important. If we seek to understand without first knowing the history all we have really done is invent a new notion which we call "Trinity".

avatar6v7 wrote:

Btw the bible does not use the word trinity, as it is a later development, but describes the three persons of the trinity, and all are defied.


The Bible doesn't use the word "monotheism", either.
Though, I'm not sure we can say that the Trinity is entirely a later development: in the Gospel of Thomas, there is a passage in which blaspheming the Father, Son and Holy Ghost is mentioned. Granted, that's not a Biblical reference, but it is a scriptural reference from the same time as the New Testament, and in the case of some of the texts of the New Testament, it is a reference that predates the New Testament.
 
Solace
 
Reply Sun 11 Jan, 2009 05:31 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Quote:

in the Gospel of Thomas, there is a passage in which blaspheming the Father, Son and Holy Ghost is mentioned.


Actually I'm pretty sure it's in the Bible as well, cause when I read it in the Gospel of Thomas I thought that I'd read it somewhere else before. Anyway, thanks for the history lesson DT.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sun 11 Jan, 2009 05:33 pm
@Solace,
Perhaps you read the Gospel of Thomas in another life? Seriously, though, a similar passage may very well exist in the canonical texts; I just can't think of one. If someone can find one, that would be quite interesting.
 
Solace
 
Reply Sun 11 Jan, 2009 05:40 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
I think this is it, although worded a little differently, Luke 12:10. Also Mathew 3:29 is similar. Online bibles are useful after all...
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sun 11 Jan, 2009 05:45 pm
@Solace,
Luke 12: 10 is similar, but does not mention the Father.

There is no Matthew 3:29, though 28:19 mentions the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Online Bibles are great: you can compare translations, check out the earlier Greek texts, and all sorts of things.
 
 

 
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