A trinity: no more absurd than the left and right versions of hand

September 10, 2015

Definitions

Unity

A unity encompasses two or more identical objects, each of which can be substituted for each of the remaining, e.g., identical triplets can wear the same clothes and, in this sense, constitute a unity. Such objects may be called examples of the unity.

Multinity

A multinity encompasses two or more identical objects, none of which can be substituted for another of which. Such objects are called versions of the multinity.

Bible

There is only one Bible, but a host of versions of this one Bible, such that the various translations/versions should count as a multinity, i.e., identical (in terms of source and original), but still different and not substitutable (in terms of expression). Two or more Bibles of the same version/translation would be substitutable for each other and thus would not constitute different versions relative to each other, but rather examples/copies of one and the same version, i.e., a unity (per the definition above).

Binity

A binity is a multinity, the count of the versions of which is two.

The Hand

One’s hand is a binity in that the left hand and the right hand are identical, but not interchangeable, e.g., identical but unable to wear the same glove.* **

* Immanuel Kant had this to say about a binity*** in his Prolegomena (Part One, par. 10): “If two things are quite equal in all respects as much as can be ascertained by all means possible, quantitatively and qualitatively, it must follow that the one can in all cases and under all circumstances replace the other, and this substitution would not occasion the least perceptible difference.” And then he goes on to show that this logic fails with regard to the left hand and the right hand (among other binities), each being the mirror reflection of the other.

** There is no definition for the left or right hand, but only for hand. The left version and the right version denote an internal difference, but which can be discerned by humans only by taking an external look. Likewise one’s ear and one’s foot constitute a binity, respectively.

**** The term Kant uses is “incongruent counter-parts” (inkongruente Gegenstücke).

Two Equal Spherical Scalene Triangles

Another example of a binity might be two equal scalene triangles on a sphere with a common base and where every two equal sides share a common endpoint. Here then each side of each triangle can be substituted for its respective, equal side in the other, and so the parts of one can be substituted for the parts of the other, but yet the two triangles cannot be substituted for each other. And so the respective sides could be examples of a unity (interchangeable), while the whole triangles would be versions of a multinity (not substitutable).

Duality of Light

In a related regard we might consider one member of the Christians’ Holy Trinity, namely Jesus, and here we can draw on an analogy with light. According to quantum mechanics light is at one and the same time both fully a particle and fully a wave (and not just partly one and partly the other, and which in scientific parlance is called a duality). In Michael Guillen’s book Amazing Truths this fact serves very well as an analogy for the Christians’ assertion of Jesus as fully human and fully divine, and since we are speaking of a single person of two versions, Jesus here in this regard would represent a binity. Such an assertion concerning Jesus as a binity may be a contradiction or paradox logically, but conceptually is no more absurd than this duality of light, an established fact of quantum science. (And this does fit well with the Christian notion of Jesus as “the light of the world.”*)

* Staying with Jesus for another moment, here is my personal speculation as to how this dual nature might work, and here I take a cue from the Hindu notion of reincarnation: when God the Son is incarnated as human (Jesus), he gives up all prior recollection (of his divinity) just as the Hindu soul, upon its alleged reincarnation, loses all memory of a past life. Accordingly then Jesus, as reported in the Christians’ scriptures, speaks not from knowledge, but from faith and then from the ensuing experience (e.g., his word makes water into wine), but which experience alone is not sufficient for perfect knowledge of his divine nature,** but only to strengthen his faith as a human. It is only upon the Resurrection that Jesus unifies his memory to include the divine and the human. So before his birth Jesus is only divine, and from the birth to the resurrection Jesus is only human (speaking here of consciousness), while since the resurrection Jesus is both fully human and fully divine (again speaking here of consciousness), i.e., a duality.

** In the Jewish context of his time, Jesus will not have been able to infer and recognize his own divinity from these reported miracles because many of the prophets of old, who were not divine, were said to also have worked miracles on occasion.

Trinity

A trinity is a multinity, the count of the versions of which is three.

Three-in-One Waterfall(s)

Perhaps the easiest physical and visible analogy of what might pass for a trinity is what tipped Francis Collins into converting to Christianity from atheism, namely a single stream which, when reaching a precipice, is divided by rocks into three equal waterfalls in a row, and then after which reverts to a single stream again. This was a true three in one, for it was easy to look and see it/them both ways: here is a single waterfall and here are three distinct waterfalls.

Three Dimensions of Space vis-a-vis the Holy Trinity

Space itself may also be a good representation of a trinity. Space is singular and consists of three distinct dimensions: width, height and depth (or perspectives: left-right, up-down and front-behind, relative to the body of the viewer).* This is analogous to the Christians’ Holy Trinity, namely a singular Godhead with three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (These Persons might even be treated as three perspectives or versions or dimensions of one and the same Godhead.)

* The three dimensions/perspectives/versions of space are all of the one, single space and thus, in this regard, are identical. And yet one perspective/dimension cannot be substituted for the other. For looking at things in space as to the left and to the right of the viewer is different from looking at the same things before and behind the viewer. In brief:

Left/Right (width) and Up/Down (height) and Front/Back (depth) are all different, and yet
Left/Right and Up/Down and Front/Back are all the identical Space.

Likewise then:

Father and Son and Holy Spirit are all different and yet
Father and Son and Holy Spirit are all the identical Godhead.

Circular Motion from Different Perspectives

A final example might be two people facing each other with one tracing out a circle in a clockwise motion. The other will see a counter-clockwise motion. And a person looking from the side would see an up-and-down motion. And so here a single motion is fully clockwise and fully counterclockwise and fully up-and-down, an obvious absurdity, and yet, because we can see it, we can understand and accept it. Here again we have a three-in-one, a trinity, and each perspective of the motion would represent a version of that trinity.*

* Actually this could be more than a trinity, for someone looking from the top or bottom would spy a back-and-forth movement. And when looking from different angles than the four listed, the observer would view elliptical movements.

Analysis

While a multinity is absurd intellectually speaking, i.e., being identical and yet not interchangeable, the fact of the binity of the hand does prove the reality of a multinity. Conceptually then a trinity, as a multinity, is no more absurd than the factual binity of the left and right hand.

Comments

Two Versions of Hand versus Two Hands

In ordinary talk we speak of the human as having two hands, but in technical speech we would speak of the human as having two versions of hand. Likewise a Trinitarian God would be spoken of as consisting of three Versions of God (and not three gods), and usually referred to as Persons.

Council of Nicea

Due to the difficulty of grasping the concept of a trinity, it is understandable that it would have taken a long time before the Christian Church could finally express and accept its Trinity. Hints are given in the Christian scriptures, but the concept did not receive formal acceptance until the Council of Nicea (325 AD).

Speculations

Christian Marriage as a Trinity

Today the Christian marriage might also be considered as a sort of trinity, consisting of the two members of the physical element of the marriage joined with the person of Jesus or with the Holy Spirit, i.e., three persons/versions of one spirit. This would also be a more current take on marriage; earlier the analogy was:  Jesus rules the man and man rules the woman.

Additional Multinities

There may be additional multinities in the sense of a marriage as just described. It might be that since the same Holy Spirit resides in and guides different Christians, we could have communities which would constitute an extension of the trinity via various saints into four persons (a quadrinity), etc.

Final Consideration

It is always worthwhile to note that Kant thought that such matters as the Trinity belonged to the “theoretics” of Christianity, and that we should keep the practical aspects of this religion in mind above all else, namely: to love our neighbor as we do ourselves, and to remember that all people are our neighbors, and not to expect God to accomplish for us what we can do ourselves.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Mr. Benjamin Turnbull for his assistance regarding Latin terminology. Also thanks to Kant for the inspiration, although not for any specific suggestion, as to how the two hands, as a binity, might open the mind to an acceptance of a trinity as a concept and then, potentially, as a reality.

Note

It may also work to use Unumity instead of Unity, and Pluribunity in place of Multinity as suggested by the American motto: E Pluribus Unum, i.e., “Out Of Many, One.”

Author Contact

pmr#$kantwesley.com (replacing #$ with @)

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