• Athena
    2.1k
    Don't sweat it. It's just religion. It's not meant to be taken literally or rationally. The concept of the trinity is meant to be a sort of brain teaser - the contemplation of the trinity is merely a practice that helps one to reduce dependence on reason. It is only for people interested in cultivating their religious faith.
    — Merkwurdichliebe

    Nice! I recall saying that any book, the Bibilia Sacra included, that makes the reader go huh, WTF? is either many or one giant Zen Koan(s), meant to evoke :chin: (deep thought) then :confused: (aporia) then :smile: (ataraxia)
    Agent Smith

    Christians were killing each other over the belief that Jesus is God or the Son of God. If Jesus is not God there is a very serious problem. The trinity would be three gods and not one. The Greeks had no problem with a trinity of god, but Romans didn't have the necessary word or concept for that. It took a while to create and spread a Roman word/concept for a trinity of a god. I am rather surprised that the argument has come up again.

    The modern debate seems to be having trouble with "spirit". What is it? It seems we can imagine a God and a Jesus, one as Father and the others as Son, but spirit? Isn't Satan, demons, and angels spirit?
    Is our soul a spirit? Kind of like water is a solid, liquid, and gas.
  • Athena
    2.1k
    1 = 3Agent Smith

    I think we need to think of geometry and the Triad.

    "The Triad is the form of the completion of all things." Nichomachus of Gerasa (c. 100 A.D., Greek - philosopher and mathematician.

    "All things divided into three." Homer (Ninth-eighth century B.C. )

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVu_JPj7v6A
  • Agent Smith
    6.2k


    It's possible that ancient people

    a) had a very different notion of identity.

    and/or

    b) were using loose terminology.

    and/or

    c) left to the readee as an exercise.
  • Athena
    2.1k
    What, you do not see the relationship between the ancient mathematicians and concepts related to the holy trinity? They had sacrad math and I think it is pretty awesome. It is a whole lot better than Bible stories.
  • Agent Smith
    6.2k
    sacrad mathAthena

    The term I was lookin' for! :up: & Gracias.
  • Banno
    17.8k
    The Trinity is a representation of Pierce's semiotic triangle.Count Timothy von Icarus

    How prescient of the First Council of Nicaea.
  • Agent Smith
    6.2k
    This is really old news but I heard this man, John be his first name, refer to himself as I ("Hey, I wanna talk to you about something really important."), as you ("You say the stupidest things John, the stupidest things.") and as He/John ("John is feeling sick, he went home to rest.")

    1st person (I The Father)
    2nd person (You The Son)
    3rd person (S/he The Holy Spirit)

    :lol:

    Try it out (at your own risk of course): You (1st person) can talk to you (2nd person) about you (3rd person).

    3 persons!!! :chin:
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    632

    He has a good version of the idea; the concept existed long before him in theology and philosophy in various degrees of formalization.
  • Athena
    2.1k
    Pierce's semiotic triangle.Count Timothy von Icarus

    I had to look that up.
    Peirce's semiotic triangle

    It consists of three objects: the sign (i.e. the world as filtered by the sensor), the object (i.e. the physical object), and the interpretant (i.e. the understanding reached by the observer of some sign/object relation).

    https://www.researchgate.net
    — researchgate

    That can be a problematic understanding because energy such as the Holy Ghost and atomic energy can not be seen.

    References to the concept of atomism and its atoms appeared in both ancient Greek and ancient Indian philosophical traditions. Leucippus is the earliest figure whose commitment to atomism is well attested and he is usually credited with inventing atomism.[4] He and other ancient Greek atomists theorized that nature consists of two fundamental principles: atom and void. Clusters of different shapes, arrangements, and positions give rise to the various macroscopic substances in the world.[5][4]Wikipedia

    I think Romans had a problem with thinking about things that can not be seen. If we consider India and the notion of "out of the one came the many" and the video of the trinity I posted, we might understand the whole of creation as the function of the trinity.

    "The Triad has a special beauty and fairness beyond all numbers, primarily because it is the very first to make actual the potentialities of the Monad (one)" Iamblichus (c. 250-c 330, Greek Neoplatonic philosopher.

    It was a man from Carthage who presented the trinity to the Council of Nicea.

    Tertullian (Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus) lived in Carthage and wrote around AD 197 to 215. He was the first Christian writer to write in Latin. He wrote lots of works. Around AD 210, Tertullian left the main church and joined the sect called the Montanists. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVNGUx56JDc?

    How prescient of the First Council of NicaeaBanno

    I do not understand your point. I doubt if any Romans had the perspective of math and what would be the prescient thought?
  • Banno
    17.8k
    , The simplest, most coherent interpretation of the Trinity is as the triumph of political accomodation over logic.
  • Bartricks
    5.5k
    Christianity is a monotheistic religion, thus, 1 God. That God has a set of absolute properties plus a few properties of relations. "The Divine Persons are none other than these relations" (from the same article mentioned above).A Christian Philosophy

    That seems a clear misuse of language. Relations are not persons. I am in front of my computer. That's a relation. It's not a person. There's not me and, in addition, the person of the relation I stand in to my computer.

    So, there's just one person. And a person has properties - and when the person is God, the person has the properties of omnipotence, omniscience and omnibenevolence.

    Those are not essential to being a person of course, for I am a person and I lack those properties. And so the person of God could give up some of those properties - could make themselves something less than omniscient, omnibenevolent or omnipotent - and still be the same person, it is just that they wouild no longer qualify as 'God' anymore, just as a bachelor no longer qualifies as a bachelor when they get married, but they're still the same person.

    Regarding your interpretation of the passsages: I agree that if there is a contradiction, then we must look for a different meaning.A Christian Philosophy

    Yes, if the passages can be interpreted in ways that do not contain contradictions, then those are more reasonable interpretations for that very reason.

    But when i listen to Christians talking about the trinity they seem to be uttering contradictions: they say that there are three persons in one person - which makes no real sense at all.

    There is no contradiction involved in the idea of there being one person who has incompatible properties at different times. And there is no contradiction involved in the idea of there being one person who occupies three different roles. And so I do not really understand why the passages in the bible that are appealed to as evidence for the 'three, but also one' interpretation when that's a clear contradiction and it is not something the passages commit one to.
  • Bartricks
    5.5k
    although the idea of Christ, the Father, and the Spirit as three distinct entities is definitely in the BibleCount Timothy von Icarus

    I don't think it is. Which passage commits one to the view that there are three distinct entities rather than one entity that occupies different roles or has different properties (and thus answers to different concepts at different times)?

    That all said, there is a whole ton of justification for the idea of the Trinity throughout the Bible. Just throw it into a search engine.Count Timothy von Icarus

    I did precisely that.

    If one believes that the Father, Son and Holy spirit have incompatible properties, then one is not thereby committed to the view that they are different persons. That would be like thinking that because a pyramid and a cube and a sphere have incompatible properties, they can't all be made of the same lump of clay. But they can be - the clay can be a cube at one point, a pyramid at another, and a sphere at yet another.

    Is one then a trinitarian or not? That is, if one holds that the Father is not the son and the son is not the holy spirit - just as one can hold that a cube is not a sphere and a sphere is not a pyramid - yet at the same time maintains that all three are one and the same person - just as one can hold that the sphere, cube and pyramid are all the same lump of clay - is one a trinitarian? Surely. ONe is simply not an incoherent trinitarian. For one is not maintaining that they are three distinct persons and one and the same person.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    632


    That is the beauty though for some thinkers. The seeming contradiction is the great mystery. It's the conscious overcoming of contradiction through meditation and prayer that is the revelation (sort of the same idea behind some koans).

    The difference between the Father and the Holy Spirit appear explicitly in Christ's words. He refers to them as different entities in the same sentence.

    "But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." - John 14:26

    Christ also defines himself as different from the Spirit.

    "Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come." Mathew 12:32

    All three mentioned as different entities:

    "“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you." John 14:15-17, emphasis mine. There is "me" (Christ speaking), the Father, and the Spirit, who is "another advocate."

    I would also point to Paul's description of Christ's role in creation in Colossians, when paired up against the creation story of Genesis I. There, God's Spirit is mentioned as distinct from God, as happens often throughout the Bible. God (or the Spirit) speaks creation into being. Creation is effected by words, and Christ is the Logos/Word.

    The interpretation of this go back to the early church. See: Basil the Great Hexaemeron 1.5, Ephrem the Syrian, Commentary on Genesis I. Origen has a take similar to this, but was condemned as a heretic; the Trinity shows up in heterodox theology as well. Obviously, the doctrine wasn't universal, or we wouldn't have the spread of Arianism, but it was common.

    I don't think politics drove the acceptance of the Trinity. The Trinity emerges as a doctrine due to Christ referring to the Father and the Spirit as distinct entities throughout the Gospels. The doctrine was enforced to the exclusion of others due to politics, but it's present in Paul's writing, and explicit in early theologian's writing, before the Church had much political capital at all.
  • Bartricks
    5.5k
    But it is question begging to say that he is referring to different entities. The point is there are other interpretations.
    The founder, the chair and the majority shareholder can all be the same person. The founder is not the same as the chair, and the chair is not the same as the majority shareholder - these are not synonymous expressions - yet they can refer to one and the same person.
    Thus the fact someone refers to the father, son and holy spirit is not decisive evidence that someone is referring to three entities.

    Now in addition, a person can have different properties at different times and still be the same person. This makes sense of how it might be that someone might talk of giving instructions or reports to someone who will in fact be themselves. We do this all the time. It's what calendars are for. We tell our future selves about things for we know that our future selves will not have the memories that we do.
    Note too that one can be the same person and not realize it. When Winnie the Pooh follows the trail of the Heffalump he does not realize that he himself is the Heffalump. So, Pooh talks about the Heffalump as if it were a different person, but that does not entail that it is (it isn't). And thus even if Jesus sometimes talks about the Father and Holy Spirit as if they are different persons, that would not establish that they are.

    God is all knowing. But it does not follow that jesus is, even if God and Jesus are the same person.
  • A Christian Philosophy
    968
    That seems a clear misuse of language. Relations are not persons. I am in front of my computer. That's a relation. It's not a person. There's not me and, in addition, the person of the relation I stand in to my computer.Bartricks
    I agree when we speak of "persons" as used in the common language. But properties assigned to God are to be understood analogically and not literally. E.g. when we say God is good, it is not meant in the same sense are we are good, i.e., that we obey the moral laws. God does not obey the moral law as though the law is outside of him and above him. It is meant analogically. Similarly, Divine Persons are not literally the same as persons in the common language. In the same article, Divine Persons are also called Divine Relations, so you can call them relations if that makes things clearer.

    they say that there are three persons in one person - which makes no real sense at all.Bartricks
    Indeed this statement does not make sense; but in catholicism, this is false. The trinity is not 3 persons in 1 person. It is 3 divine persons in (or having) 1 nature. 3 ≠ 1, but it is possible that 3x = 1y.


    Your interpretation of 3 conditions for 1 person makes sense; but for reasons I do not know, theologians throughout history have opted against it.
  • Bartricks
    5.5k
    I agree when we speak of "persons" as used in the common language. But properties assigned to God are to be understood analogically and not literally.A Christian Philosophy

    I don't see why. Surely the literal reading enjoys the default? And if it makes sense when taken literally, that's surely the reasonable interpretation to give it? That is, it's only reasonable to give an alternative interpretation if taking it literally would betoken nonsense. But that's what is at issue: does taking what the bible says about the trinity betoken nonsense? I think it doesn't. I think the interpretations are nonsense as they involve insisting that three persons are also one person.

    quote="A Christian Philosophy;721582"]But properties assigned to God are to be understood analogically and not literally.[/quote]

    Why? Unless taking them literally committed one to saying nonsense, I see no reason not to take them literally.

    E.g. when we say God is good, it is not meant in the same sense are we are good, i.e., that we obey the moral laws.A Christian Philosophy

    Again, I see no reason to interpret 'God is good' as meaning anything different to what it means on normal usage. Indeed, I think there's a serious problem for those who do not. For what would you call a person who is all powerful, all knowing and all good in the normal sense of the term good? I'd call them 'God'. But presumably you wouldn't. Why? If you say that you understand 'good' to mean something different when applied to God, then you're saying that a person who is all powerful, all knowing and all good (where good means what it normally means) 'isn't' God. But yes they are.

    So, I think it has to be understood the normal way, otherwise you'd have to say that someone who is all powerful, all knowing and all good isn't God. But who are they if not God?

    And I see no problem in thinking it denotes exactly the same property it does when applied to us. That property being the property of possessing a character that is fully approved of by the personal source of all norms and values. That is, God is good by virtue of approving of himself. Which is what goodness in us consists in too - that is, to be good is to be such that God approves of how one is.

    In the same article, Divine Persons are also called Divine Relations, so you can call them relations if that makes things clearer.A Christian Philosophy

    Yes, to refer to relations as persons is such an abuse of language one can only assume their intention was to be unclear.

    Your interpretation of 3 conditions for 1 person makes sense; but for reasons I do not know, theologians throughout history have opted against it.A Christian Philosophy

    Yes, I am puzzled too.
  • bert1
    1.2k
    Sancta trinitas unus deus.Agent Smith

    Frater domi dormit

    Pater non domi scribit et studet
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    632


    But it is question begging to say that he is referring to different entities. The point is there are other interpretations.
    The founder, the chair and the majority shareholder can all be the same person. The founder is not the same as the chair, and the chair is not the same as the majority shareholder - these are not synonymous expressions - yet they can refer to one and the same person.
    Thus the fact someone refers to the father, son and holy spirit is not decisive evidence that someone is referring to three entities.

    Sure, but generally if you're the founder, the chair, and the president, you're not going to say "the founder told me I have to go, but don't worry, he's going to send the chair to help."

    Which is a point against the 3 = 1 position. However, on the other hand you have many references to a single God creating the world (but then again, also Christ's involvement in creation).


    However, it's worth noting that there is an absolute ton of paradoxes when it comes to the idea of identity. Identity, as commonly defined, requires the satisfaction of:

    A reflexive relationship, G = C
    Liebnitz' Law: whatever can be said of G can be said of
    That these relationships are necessary.
    Necessary distinctness: if G is not x then this is true by necessity

    The Trinity, inasmuch as it asserts that all three parts share an identity, fails to meet this criteria. That said, I'm not sure how big of an issue this is because it's unclear if the definition of identity has serious issues. There are tons of unresolved paradoxes that emerge from this definition of identity. Introducing the idea of relative identity solves some issues, but opens up others. Not being able to live up to the bar of a broken definition is not necessarily a huge issue.
  • Bartricks
    5.5k
    Sure, but generally if you're the founder, the chair, and the president, you're not going to say "the founder told me I have to go, but don't worry, he's going to send the chair to help."Count Timothy von Icarus

    But that's why i mentioned other cases. We ourselves give ourselves instructions. We do it all the time. We leave instructions for our future selves. Those are not distinct persons, but just us in the future.

    There is nothing incoherent about it - giving an instruction to oneself is coherent (unlike the idea of three distinct persons also being one and the same person).

    And it is to be positively expected if, say, you do not realize that you and the person you are giving the instruction to are one and the same person.

    God is omniscient. But Jesus could be the same person as God and not be omniscient. Just as I know more than my child self, yet we're the same person.

    So, let's say I have forgotten entirely that I am the chair of the company. I know I am the majority shareholder, however. Someone wants me to use my position as the majority shareholder to influence the chair into doing something. I decide to play ball and say "I will visit the chair and ask the chair to implement the thing you want implemented". I then set off to see the chair and find myself directed to my own office (whereupon I remember that I am the chair).

    All perfectly coherent. Unlike the idea the three persons are also one person, which is just straight nonsense.

    The mistake that many theists seem to be making is to think that if God and Jesus and the holy spirit are all the same person, then they must all have the same properties - which is false. God is god in virtue of possessing certain properties - the omni properties - but those are not essential to him being the person that he is. And so he can divest himself of those properties and still be the same person. So, God can be Jesus and Jesus can lack omnipotent, omniscience and omnibenevolence. They can be the same person, even though when God the person has different properties to Jesus. And Jesus can be unaware - or sometimes unaware - that he is the same person as God, consistent with God being omniscient.

    I just think most theists don't realize this or have simply fallen into the habit of thinking that they are somehow committed to believing a contradiction: that three persons are also one person, and thus they find themselves committed to talking nonsense or abusing language to disguise the nonsense they are uttering.
  • Bartricks
    5.5k
    However, it's worth noting that there is an absolute ton of paradoxes when it comes to the idea of identity. Identity, as commonly defined, requires the satisfaction of:

    A reflexive relationship, G = C
    Liebnitz' Law: whatever can be said of G can be said of
    That these relationships are necessary.
    Necessary distinctness: if G is not x then this is true by necessity

    The Trinity, inasmuch as it asserts that all three parts share an identity, fails to meet this criteria. That said, I'm not sure how big of an issue this is because it's unclear if the definition of identity has serious issues. There are tons of unresolved paradoxes that emerge from this definition of identity. Introducing the idea of relative identity solves some issues, but opens up others. Not being able to live up to the bar of a broken definition is not necessarily a huge issue.
    Count Timothy von Icarus

    I do not follow. I am the same person as my child self. Yet my child self has all manner of properties that I lack and vice versa. Indeed, I am the same person I was a moment ago, yet I had different properties a moment ago.

    We should also note that there is no necessity to anything if God exists, for God can do anything and so nothing is necessarily the case. Any argument that appeals to necessity to try and raise a problem for God is question begging then, as it assumes the existence of something - necessary relations - that would not exist if God exists.
  • Cuthbert
    900
    Foster: I'm still a bit hazy about the Trinity, sir.
    Schoolmaster: Three in one, one in three, perfectly straightforward. Any doubts about that see your maths master.
    — Alan Bennett, 40 Years On
  • A Christian Philosophy
    968
    what would you call a person who is all powerful, all knowing and all good in the normal sense of the term good? I'd call them 'God'.Bartricks
    There is a distinction between having properties essentially and having them non-essentially (or accidentally). It would be possible for a being to be all powerful, all knowing and all good in a non-essential way, which means they could lose these properties without losing their identity, and thus they would not be God. They would have these properties but not be these properties. God is identical to those properties.


    I see no problem in thinking it denotes exactly the same property it does when applied to us.Bartricks
    They are not wholly the same because we can grasp the concept of goodness as it applies to beings to varying degrees (e.g. we understand that a sinner has a lower degree of goodness than a saint), but we cannot grasp the concept of a being that is goodness essentially.


    That property being the property of possessing a character that is fully approved of by the personal source of all norms and values. That is, God is good by virtue of approving of himself.Bartricks
    Indeed God is also the source of these properties in the creatures (the things he has created). But these properties also need to be essential to him. He could not simply be able to disapprove of himself. I.e. the statement "I, God, am not good" is a self-contradiction.
  • Bartricks
    5.5k
    There is a distinction between having properties essentially and having them non-essentially (or accidentally). It would be possible for a being to be all powerful, all knowing and all good in a non-essential way, which means they could lose these properties without losing their identity, and thus they would not be God. They would have these properties but not be these properties. God is identical to those properties.A Christian Philosophy

    They're not essential properties of a person. They are essential properties of God. But all that means is that to qualify as God you need to have them.

    For instance, it is an essential property of a bachelor that they lack a wife. That does not mean that a person who is a bachelor is essentially wifeless. It just means that you have to lack a wife in order to qualify as a bachelor.

    That's the same with God.

    If a person is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent, then they are God. If you deny that, then you're just misusing a word.

    But that does not mean that the person who is God is essentially omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent. That's as confused as thinking that a person who is a bachelor is essentially wifeless.

    Indeed, it is more confused than that. As there is a contradiction involved in the idea. If the person who is God is essentially omnipotent, then they are not omnipotent. For to be essentially omnipotent is to be incapable of not being. But then that is a restriction.

    Even I can divest myself of power. It is absurd to think that God - who is all powerful - lacks that ability.

    So, the person who is God is demonstrably not essentially omnipotent. THey are omnipotent. But they are not essentially omnipotent. To be essentially omnipotent is to be manifesting a contradiction: it is to be unable to do a thing and to be able to do anything at the same time, which is incoherent.

    I also see nothing in the bible that commits one to the view that God has the properties of omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence essentially. Indeed, quite the opposite. God, Jesus says, can do anything. Well, then he can divest himself of those qualities if he so wishes. And presumably did do when he became Jesus.
  • A Christian Philosophy
    968
    For instance, it is an essential property of a bachelor that they lack a wife. That does not mean that a person who is a bachelor is essentially wifeless. It just means that you have to lack a wife in order to qualify as a bachelor.Bartricks
    What you say is true of concepts like bachelor because bachelor is a property and not a substance. Many things can be bachelors. It would also be true of gods (lower case g) such as in the greek mythology. But God in Christianity is not a property but a substance. That substance is goodness, is power, etc.


    For to be essentially omnipotent is to be incapable of not being. But then that is a restriction.Bartricks
    This is in agreement with the Catholic doctrine. God can do anything that does not contain a contradiction. God being all-good, all-powerful and all-actuality means he cannot be evil, weak, or cease to exist. In general, this means God cannot have what would be seen as negative properties or conditions; but by common sense alone, this would not be considered a weakness.


    I also see nothing in the bible that commits one to the view that God has the properties of omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence essentially.Bartricks
    Catholic theology is not solely derived from the bible but relies heavily on philosophy and science. A catholic saying is that God wrote two books: scripture and nature. These essential properties might be found in the works of scholastics who combined the bible with Aristotle, especially Aquinas' book called Summa Theologiae.


    As for Jesus, I believe the short answer is that he was not omnipotent in his human nature. But that's a whole other can of worms which arguably is even more challenging than the topic of the Trinity haha.
  • Bartricks
    5.5k
    What you say is true of concepts like bachelor because bachelor is a property and not a substance. Many things can be bachelors. It would also be true of gods (lower case g) such as in the greek mythology. But God in Christianity is not a property but a substance. That substance is goodness, is power, etc.A Christian Philosophy

    I believe that's incoherent. Yes, the person of God is a substance -a mind. And, qua God, he has the properties of omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence. But he, the person, is not one and the same as those properties.
    A bachelor is wifeless. That 'is' is not the is of identity, though - it does not mean that the bachelor and wifelessness are one and the same. It just means that a bachelor is a person who lacks a wife.
    And that's the same with God - God is 'all powerful'. But that does not mean that God and all-powerfulness are the same. It means that God is a person who has, among other things, the property of being all powerful.

    As I said earlier - take a person and give them omnipotence, omniscience and omnibenevolence. Well, that's now God. If you say otherwise, you're abusing language.

    This is in agreement with the Catholic doctrine. God can do anything that does not contain a contradiction.A Christian Philosophy

    You're ignoring the philosophical point. A person who can do anything but also not do some things is a contradiction, yes?

    So, a person who is unable to do some things - things that even I can do, incidentally - is not omnipotent.

    Being omnipotent means being able to do anything. Anything, Jesus is very clear on this: with God all things are possible. Not some things and not others. All things. And that's quite right - that's real omnipotence.

    If you say - as so many confused theists do nowadays - that God is constrained by logic, then you are not dealing with an omnipotent being any longer but one who is constrained by something outside of him - logic.

    But God is not constrained at all. And thus not even logic constrains him. (Logic is not without him, but within him - it is up to God what the laws of logic are and thus he is not constrained by them).

    That does not mean that any contradictions are true. On the contrary, we are told, by our reason, that no contradictions are true and to reject any view that entails them.

    THe view that God is all powerful yet unable to do some things is a contradiction and thus false.

    Note, when someone says 'God can't lie' the word 'can't' is ambiguous and the expression is not open to just one interpretation. If I say, for instance, "I can't stand it!" I am not saying that I am incapable of standing it. I am expressing my disgust. And so likewise, when the bible says - if it does from time to time - that God can't lie, that is how that should be interpreted. For to interpret it differently is to say things that are plainly contradictory, for it is to say that a person who can do anything at all can't do some things.

    I am not concerned with what Catholics believe. I am concerned with whether or not the bible commits a Christian to nonsense of the kind that many Christians - including many Christian scholars - spout.

    I am not a Christian. I am a theist. But I am a theist on the basis of the evidence. It just seems to me that many CHristians say things that make not a blind bit of sense and when I check out whether the bible commits them to saying such things it seems clear that it does not.

    So, that God is constrained - where is that in the bible?

    That God has his properties essentially - where is that in the bible?

    That God is one person and three persons - where is that in the bible?

    There seem no passages that commit one unequivocally to these views, even if there are some passages that can taken that way. And yet there is excellent reason - decisive reason - to resist such intepretations, given they commit one to complete nonsense.

    If you say that God 'is' omnipotence, that's nonsense.

    God is a person.

    He is omnipotent.

    He is not omnipotence, though. He 'has' omnipotence.

    And if God has his properties essentially, then he's not omnipotent - that's just an outright contradiction.

    if you think God can't do contradictions (itself a contradiction - he can), how did he do that one!?!

    And if God is one person, he is not also three distinct persons.

    If Catholic doctrine says otherwise, so much the worse for Catholic doctrine - it's demonstrable nonsense.
  • A Christian Philosophy
    968
    I am not a theologian, so I cannot defend the catholic premises about God. All I can do is show that they do not entail any contradictions.


    But I do not fully understand your view. If God can do anything such that there is nothing that he cannot do, then why also claim that he cannot become 3 persons and 1 person at the same time?
  • Bartricks
    5.5k
    All I can do is show that they do not entail any contradictions.A Christian Philosophy

    I think they do - if you claim that God is unable to do some things and that God is also able to do anything, then that's a contradiction.

    If you maintain that God is able to do all things that logic permits, but not those things that logic does not permit, then God is constrained by logic and thus not omnipotent - which is a contradiction.

    To be omnipotent is to be able to do anything. After all, someone who can do anything is manifestly more powerful than someone who can only do some things and not others. So, God can do anything. And that means there's nothing he's unable to do.

    Any biblical passage that could be read as suggesting otherwise should be interpreted to be employing words like 'can't' expressively rather than descriptively (as in "I can't stand it any longer!!").

    But I do not fully understand your view. If God can do anything such that there is nothing that he cannot do, then why also claim that he cannot become 3 persons and 1 person at the same time?A Christian Philosophy

    I did not claim that he cannot be three persons and one person at the same time. My claim was that the idea is incoherent as it involves a contradiction. And that's sufficient grounds to reject it, as no contradictions are true.

    God can do anything and so he can make contradictions true if he wants. But that's consistent with no contradictions being true. And our reason - which is from God - assures us that no contradictions are true and to reject a theory if it entails one. So we are told - by God - to reject the idea that he is three persons and one person at the same time.

    That God is not three persons and one person at the same time is entirely consistent with him having the ability to be.

    I am not in Paris. But I am able to be. But I am not. I really am not in Paris. I can be. But I am not.

    God can do anything. But he does not, in fact, make contradictions true. Indeed, he tells us that none of them are true. And we call that the law of non-contradiction. But true though it is, it is true because God makes it so, not because God is himself subject to it.

    So, that which is nonsense is nonsense because and only because he deems it so. And God deems it nonsense that 3 persons can also be 1 person. And so nonsense it is. And we should reject that which is nonsense - to not do so would be to not listen to God. But he can make it make sense if he so wishes.
  • A Christian Philosophy
    968
    If you maintain that God is able to do all things that logic permits, but not those things that logic does not permit, then God is constrained by logic and thus not omnipotent - which is a contradiction.Bartricks
    Sure. But in catholicism, the term omnipotence is meant in this sense: The ability to do anything that is logically possible. With that definition, there is no contradiction. Now if this is not how the term "omnipotence" is commonly used, then another term could be used instead.


    That God is not three persons and one person at the same time is entirely consistent with him having the ability to be.Bartricks
    Gotcha. It is possible for God to become 3 persons and 1 person at the same time, but he is not that in actuality.
  • Bartricks
    5.5k
    You are ignoring the philosophical point and telling me what Catholics think.

    Omnipotence is latin for all powerful.

    One can use the word omnipotence how one wants. One can insist it be used to denote a type of cat and insist that God is a cat according to Cat-olics. It misses the point.

    Whether one calls it omnipotence or another thing, the simple fact is that God denotes a person who is all powerful. And jesus says that God can do anything. So, if you want to use it to mean something else, then you are just no longer talking about the person jesus was talking about. I am talking about that guy. The guy in the bible.

    Now for the philosophical point (remembering that I don't care what Catholics think, I only care about what makes sense - which seems very different). If a person is constrained by logic, then they are less powerful than someone who is not. You can call them omnipotent despite this if you want, but then you are just mucking about with labels. Hell, you can call me omnipotent if you want - I am constrained by all manner of things. But if we are talking about power,then clearly a person who is able to do more than another is more powerful than another. To think power involves lacking abilities is just confused. So, a person who is not constrained by logic is more powerful than one who is. God is by definition all powerful, and thus God is not constrained by logic.
    That does not mean logic is false and provides us with no insight. No, it is true and does. It just doesn't constrain God. We can still learn about God from it. Indeed that is how God tells us about himself. He tells us he is not three persons and one person by telling us that's nonsense.
  • A Christian Philosophy
    968
    I don't think it is possible to go beyond or change the laws of logic when the concept is properly understood. As an analogy, one that doesn't understand the concept of pressure may think it is possible to have negative absolute pressure, but properly understood, we know it is not possible.

    The laws of logic are not like the laws of physics which are what they are but could have been otherwise. As you say, anything that is not logical is nonsense. But even an omnipotent being cannot do nonsense, not because they are limited, but because nonsense is simply meaningless. To say that God can create a rock that he cannot lift is as meaningless as saying that God can "afgnzx", where the term "afgnzx" is meaningless.
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