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. 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 or 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 two versions of a single person, 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.”*)

* Here is my personal speculation as to how this dual nature might work, and in this regard 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.

Circular Motion from Different Perspectives

A good example of a trinity 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, straight-line motion. And so here a single motion is fully clockwise and fully counter-clockwise and fully straight-line, 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.

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 versions: 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.

* The three dimensions/perspectives/versions of space are all of the one, single space and thus, in this regard, are identical. And yet one version/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: there is a single, all-encompassing space. And there are three ways of viewing this space: left-right, up-down and front-back. They are all different, and yet they all represent the same space. They are different versions of space.

Likewise there is a single, all-encompassing Godhead. And there are three ways of viewing this Godhead: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They are all different, and yet they are all the same Godhead. They are different versions of the Godhead.

The Trinitarian Godhead then makes no more, and no less, sense than space itself. And so if we count the Godhead as absurd, we must also count the space we see about us as absurd. But this would not keep space from being a reality. And so may it be with the Trinity.

Conclusion

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, or the factual trinity of three dimensional space or the three simultaneous and different motions which are one and the same motion.

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).

Three-in-One Waterfall(s)

Perhaps the easiest physical and visible analogy of what might pass for a trinity is what tipped a young, questioning 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.

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 spirit of Jesus or with the Holy Spirit, i.e., three persons/versions of one spirit. This would also be a more modern take on marriage; earlier the analogy was:  Jesus rules the man, and man rules the woman. (See also God’s Left Hand Joke.)

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.

Universal Contact

In a rather parenthetical vein, it may be interesting to note that a threesome is the largest group of humans in which every member can hold hands (via immediate grip) with all other members. And so perhaps the trinity was also necessary in order to convey to the humans this sense of solidarity and universality.

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 count all people as 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

Author contact: pmr#$kantwesley.com, replacing #$ with @

Website: kantwesley.com

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