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Thursday, February 04, 2010

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Could it be that the trinity doctrine is simply misunderstood, indeed that it means something else entirely? What if trinitarianism looks like this:
God
Faith
Man

Regards
Sheldon

Bill,

Lukas "... thinks that if we make the right metaphysical distinctions we will be able to see that the doctrine is noncontradictory."

Lukas says: we will NOT SEE there IS a contradiction. He does not say: we will SEE there IS NOT a contradiction. Distinguish absence of evidence and evidence of absence.

"If the Trinity is an unintelligible doctrine, then there is nothing for me to wrap my mind around: there is no proposition to entertain, and so no proposition to accept or reject. If it is just a mass of verbiage to which no clear sense can be attached, then the question of its truth or falsity cannot even arise."

Suppose (i) a Christian believes that there is such a proposition that the council fathers expressed it by the sentences of the Athanasian Creed, and (ii) the Christian does not entertain the proposition (directly), and (iii) the Christian believes the proposition is true.

Is this absurd? Is the Christian unreasonable?

Will someone please explain to Sheldon why his comment ought to be deleted? Be charitable.

V,

Well, now I have no idea what Novak is up to. And if Tuggy is right that the doctrine of supposita was crafted for the express purpose of saving the Trinity and Incarnation doctrines from incoherence, then the doctrine of supposita is of no interest. An ad hoc solution is no solution.

>>Suppose (i) a Christian believes that there is such a proposition that the council fathers expressed it by the sentences of the Athanasian Creed, and (ii) the Christian does not entertain the proposition (directly), and (iii) the Christian believes the proposition is true.<<

So you have some apparently incoherent verbiage, and you believe that there is some proposition that it expresses, but you have no idea what that proposition is.

That doesn't sound like the acme of rationality.

Hi Bill,

I completely agree with what you say about positive mysterianism. I have a paper, forthcoming in IJPR in which I try to press the sorts of objections you give against what I think is the most sophisticated version of it, by a philosophically astute theologian, James Anderson. The ad hoc objection is huge, and I don't think they can meet it. I also try to show that their stance can't be right, given some things they ought to concede about believers' epistemic status vis a vis the (real or imagined) contents of the Bible.

What you say about negative mysterianism I also agree with, with this important caveat - negative mysterianism comes in degrees, and what you say applies only to the most extreme version of it. Interestingly, most of the "fathers" are pretty extreme in this. But nowadays, most negative mysterians also hold to a positive view, to some model I call a rational reconstruction of the theory. When faced with difficulties, where there model just seems wrong, they bail out with the point that *surely* we don't completely understand God, and so we should expect some degree of unintelligibility in our discourse about him. I think this is a non sequitur, btw.

As I write this, I haven't got my head around Novak's view; but I saw that he was pretty quickly going for the negative mysterian parachute. Hence, my claim. But that (being to some degree a negative mysterian) is compatible with also going in for some oldschool speculation about the Trinity.

Mysterian claims aren't versions of the Trinity doctrine - they are theories about why it is OK that we can't come up with a coherent, plausible interpretation of those words.

About "supposits" being invented for theological use - I steal that point from Alred Freddoso, “Human Nature, Potency and the Incarnation” (F&P, 1986).

What Vlastimil suggests in the comment above has been discussed on trinities, parts 4, 5, and 6 here:

http://trinities.org/blog/?s=implicit+faith

I argue in the "Stalin" post that it is a dead end. As I understand it, Catholic theologians have come to this conclusion as well.

Hi Dale,

I was hoping you would stop by. Thanks. That's a very helpful SEP entry, by the way. I am happy that we agree about positive mysterianism. Don't you already have a apaper out in which you criticize Anderson? If yes, is it online? I tried to get it through JSTOR but couldn't access it for some reason. Since your IJPR paper is forthcoming, why not post it at your blog so we can get a pre-publication look at it?

I appreciate that mysterianism is a metatheory, and I suppose that is why it can be combined with "old school" speculation.

Thanks for the Fredosso reference.

Bill,

Can't the Christian (in my scenario) have good, independent (probably apologetical) reasons to believe in the way I suggested?

--------

Dale,

Can't the Christian have good (apologetical) reasons to believe in the way I suggested above, and at the same time some other good (empirical) reasons to disbelieve that Stalin always acts properly?

Secondly, are we talking about the same? Currently, I am not sure that when, say, Aquinas claims that (generally) one must believe not implicitly in the Trinity (to be saved) he wants to imply that one must believe in the Trinity not in the mere roundabout way (sketched by me above). Is not there a decent chance that the concept of a mere roundabout faith (sketched by me above) is distinct from the concept of implicit faith?

Hi Vlastimil,

Condition iii is the part which seems impossible to meet. You don't really believe the proposition in question - it never enters your mind. You might think, well, I would believe it, if it ever did enter my mind. But how could you possibly know that? (That's the point of the Stalin story.) But even if that were true, it would still be that you did not now believe it. Believing that what someone else says is true is one thing, but believing what that person said is another. No matter how good your reason are for trusting the speaker, no matter how hard you trust him, you still don't believe what he says, when what he says is something you do not understand.

I don't see any difference between what you suggest above, and the idea of implicit faith.

Best,
Dale

Hey Bill, thanks. Let me check with the editor to see if they allow draft posting.

D

I'm an avid follower of your blog, Dr. Vallicella, and I wouldn't normally dare to comment on one of your analyses, but in this case I feel something close to a moral obligation to jump in!

I don't think my account of theological paradox (which Dale categorizes as "positive mysterianism") commits me to the view that inconceivability doesn't entail impossibility. On my view, the Trinity isn't analogous to a round square. Rather, my proposal is that the set of claims (and beliefs) involved in the doctrine of the Trinity are approximations to the metaphysical truth of the matter, a truth that is (of course) logically consistent. However, due to our cognitive limitations, we aren't able to grasp (and thus express) anything closer to the truth than these approximations. In other words, there are certain metaphysical distinctions or precisifications that we're constitutionally unable to grasp and articulate. This may be an unappealing claim to analytic philosophers, but I don't think it's incoherent or otherwise outrageous. At any rate, it seems to be harmonious with a broadly Christian view of God and human beings. If this is right, it explains why our best formulations of the doctrine of the Trinity still have a residue of paradox (understood as merely apparent contradiction).

So my position is that there are certain fine metaphysical distinctions that are inconceivable for us (at least presently) in the sense that we cannot identify or entertain them. But I can't (yet) see how that commits me to the claim that inconceivability doesn't entail impossibility, or that round squares might turn out to be possible after all.

What I'm suggesting, then, is that when God reveals his trinitarian nature to us, it has to be in a manner accommodated to our cognitive capacities, and that necessarily involves conceptual approximations. So what we end up with (to adapt your analogy) is a revelation involving the claim that God is both 'round' and 'square'. God in se is not literally 'round' and 'square', but these concepts (which are not compossible as such) are the closest we can get. Now, there could be any number of reasons why this cognitive situation might arise (I explore a few in my book) but unless I'm missing something, I don't think it's vulnerable to your objection.

In fact, I use something like your round-square analogy in my book. Imagine a scenario in which Edwin Abbott's Flatlander receives a revelation from a conical being (who exists outside Flatland, of course). Because the Flatlander lacks the capacity to think three-dimensionally, and thus to grasp the idea of a cone, the conical being has to reveal himself to the Flatlander as both 'circular' and 'triangular'. Of course, this revelation appears contradictory to the Flatlander, but one can argue that it isn't necessarily irrational for him to accept it, albeit with some qualification (e.g., on the understanding that the claims involved are merely optimal approximations). Furthermore, it would be wrong to say that the Flatlander's doctrine of the Cone is cognitively vacuous; that it doesn't really say anything informative about its referent. My proposal is that our epistemic situation vis-à-vis the Trinity is somewhat analogous to that of the Flatlander. And, to return to your objection, I don't think any of this requires me to say that inconceivability doesn't entail impossibility.

But suppose that it does. Why couldn't we say that inconceivability is a strong but ultimately defeasible indicator of impossibility? Wouldn't this do all (or nearly all) the useful philosophical work the entailment relation does for us? It's surely an option worth exploring.

Anyway, I go into more detail about these matters in my book. An earlier incarnation of my proposal appeared in the following paper, which interacts with Dale's critique of modern trinitarian models:

http://www.proginosko.com/docs/InDefenceOfMystery.pdf

As you'd expect, the discussion between Dale and me has advanced somewhat since then! He has been an invaluable interlocutor, and I'm looking forward (with some apprehension) to reading his forthcoming paper in IJPR.

Sorry this has turned out to be such a lengthy comment!

Dale,

-- Impossible to meet (iii)? The person just believes: there is some true proposition P aptly expressed by the Creed. Why is that impossible?

-- Moreover, is not that common for laymen beliefs in religious and scientific mysteries? Cf. Alex Pruss, The PSR, 2006, p. 199:

„The phenomenon of holding a proposition p to be true without understanding it is an interesting one in general. It might, for instance, explain ordinary linguistic practice when an educated layman makes a statement couched in scientific language which she does not fully understand, but from which she nonetheless can draw implications that she can understand. The same analysis might be brought to bear on the case of religious mysteries. For instance, a religious person need not claim to actually possess the concept Trinity to claim to believe that the doctrine of the Trinity is true. She might, for instance, believe that there exists a proposition very aptly expressible by the words of the Creed and that this proposition is true, without herself having a grasp of that proposition (Merricks, 2004).“

The reference is to Merricks's paper "Split Brains and the Godhead" -- where I was not able to find the passage Alex has in mind, though. Maybe you could help here.

Alex also notes on p. 208: "... Kierkegaard seems to think that many people of Denmark are wrong that they are even thinking the ... thought that: I am a Christian. One way to make coherent sense of this is to say that such a Dane thinks that he thinks a thought with the logical form I am a … and further thinks that the blank in the thought is filled in with the same concept that the Apostles expressed by the word “Christian”. (It is a little bit more complicated than that, actually, because Kierkegaard also throws into question the “I” part of the thought.)"

-- Ad implicit vs roundabout faith: Person believes in the Trinity explicitly iff she believes that some appropriate (e.g. Athanasian) creed expresses aptly some true proposition P and/or she believes in that proposition which she entertains/grasps. Person believes in the Trinity implicitly if she does not believes in it explicitly, but would believe in it explicitly if presented with some appropriate creed in some appropriate fashion (e.g. by her priest).

What if, according to Aquinas, even a mere explicit belief that some proposition P aptly expressed by the creed is true is enough?

-- "Believing that what someone else says is true is one thing, but believing what that person said is another."

Suppose you're right in this. Suppose the person does not believe in the Trinity, but believes in the roundabout way I described. Still, so what? What exactly is the problem?

-- "You might think, well, I would believe it, if it ever did enter my mind. But how could you possibly know that?"

Why do I have to know that? Even if I have to, why can't I have good reasons that I would? What kind of reasons? Say, the evidence that the speaker has been very trustworthy and reasonable and that I have believed him so far.

I’m afraid that I’m going to have to agree with Sheldon, above. There is a profound truth within the concept of the Trinity involving the connection between the Absolute and its expression in the human. Here is how Brunner (Our Christ, p. 339) puts it:

At the bottom of superstition's most ridiculous dispute over Monarchianism or Hypostasianism (the One God or the Three Gods, Father, Son and the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father) there lies the profound truth that no one knows the Father (the Cogitant) except the Son and he to whom the Son reveals it by the Holy Spirit. Translated into our language this means that even the spiritually receptive person "whom the Father draws" has need of the productive genius.

Dr. Anderson,

I am very happy that you joined us. First of all, you and Tuggy know this subject much better than I do, so you should have no reservations about jumping in and disagreeing with me. By the way, just today I was at the library looking for your book. Unfortunately, it was checked out. I hope to read it soon.

As I was writing the above post yesterday I was wondering whether positive mysterianism commits one to the view that inconceivability does not entail impossibility. I have no firm view on the matter, having just begun thinking about it. But I wasn't quite suggesting that the Trinity is analogous to a round square for that would be to beg the question against the intelligibility of the doctrine. My thought was that if a proposition (e.g. the conjunction of (1)-(4) in my main post) can be noncontradictory and true despite appearing (to all who carefully consider it) to be contradictory, then one is cutting the inferential link between inconceivability and impossibility, with dire consequences for metaphysics. But perhaps we need to distinguish between two theses.

T1. What is inconceivable to us may nevertheless be possible.
T2. What is inconceivable in itself may nevertheless be possible.

I take it that you are affirming (T1) but denying (T2). And so there is a sense in which you uphold the entailment from inconceivability to impossibility: inconceivability an sich entails real impossibility.

I like the Flatlander analogy. The Flatlander is subject to certain limitations that cannot be removed 'here below,' as long as he resides in Flatland, but perhaps will be removed after he dies, the veil is lifted, and he discovers that ultimate reality is three-dimensional. The Conical Being reveals himself to the Flatlander while he is still in Flastland as One Cone in two divine Guises (personae), Cone the Circle and Cone the Triangle. The Flatlander cannot understand how anything can be both circular and triangular, and yet, in ultimate 3 D reality, there is no contradiction.

And so it is epistemically possible that what appears (and must appear) contradictory to us in this life is not in itself contradictory, and that once the restrictions of this life are removed, we will be able to see that what now appears contradictory is not in reality contradictory.

This is intriguing, and I am quite open to it. But it does have the consequence that inconceivability (to us) is no sure guide to impossibility. I grant that there is an entailment from inconceivability to the intellectual archetypus (God) or inconceivability in itself to impossibility in reality. But the only inconceivability/ conceivability that we have access to is inconceivability/conceivability to us. So I think you have to admit that you are breaking an inferential link that to thousands of philosophers over the centuries has seemed iron-clad.

Getting back to round squares, it seems your view allows as rational the view that there could be round squares. For it could be that 'round' and 'square' are approximations to a reality which, if we we were in a better epistemic position, we would see is noncontradictory.

James Anderson writes, "Why couldn't we say that inconceivability is a strong but ultimately defeasible indicator of impossibility? Wouldn't this do all (or nearly all) the useful philosophical work the entailment relation does for us? It's surely an option worth exploring."

I agree that it's an option worth exploring. But it can't be defeasible in every case, can it? Consider a sphere which is red all over and not red all over at the same time and in the same sense of 'red.' How could that be defeated? Or consider a plane figure that is both triangular and circular (and so not triangular) at the same time. How could that be defeated? Of course, one can ascend to a higher dimension and say that triangularity and circularity are compossible in a cone.

So what is the criterion for deciding which inconceivabilities are impossibilities and which are not?

There is a typo above. Not 'intellectual archetypus' but intellectus archetypus, archetypal intellect. As opposed to archetypus ectypus.

Vlastimil,

The following is possible:
1. There is a sentence S which expresses a proposition p.
2. I can repeat S but I do not know which proposition p is.
3. I believe that there is some proposition or other that S expresses, and my belief is true.

Now, can I be said to believe that p? No. For I have no idea what p is. I can believe, with truth, that there is a proposition that S expresses, but that is not the same as believing that p.

There is de dicto/de re ambiguity here. I can believe, of a proposition p, that it is true without believing that p is true. To believe that p is true, I must have p before my mind. But I can believe of p that it is true without having p itself before my mind.

Compare: I can believe, of Castro's island, that it was discovered by Columbus without believing that Castro's island was discovered by Columbus. The first is de re, the second de dicto. I might not know that Cuba is Castro's island.

Bill,

I thought my comment was clear, yet, I did not know the mysteries of the universe had been revealed to you. I apologize and shan't return

For the purposes of this entry let us assume Platonism regarding mathematical objects. The number two is a mathematical object. If it exists at all, it exists necessarily, it is even necessarily, it is necessarily the only even prime, etc.

Now, imagine a pair of books on the shelf, a pair of people in the room, a pair of apples on the table. All of these pairs of objects are different because they consist of different objects. Moreover, it is certainly not necessary that there should be a pair of books on this shelf at this time, or a pair of people in this room at this time, or a pair of apples on this table at this time. Still given that there is a pair of books on the shelf, there is an even number of books on the shelf; and so on. What is the relationship between the number two and these pairs?

One could say that each pair *instantiates* the number two or *models* the number two. But then the number two becomes a universal, for it is multiply instantiated: hence, it is both a universal as well as an individual object. But the fact that the number two is modeled by a pair of books on the shelf, a pair of people in the room, and a pair of apples on the table is not a necessary truth. There might not have been in the actual world any books, people, or apples to model or instantiate the number two. Under such circumstances, there might not have been any *contingent* objects to model the number two (although there still would have been necessarily existing objects that model the number two: e.g., the pair of numbers 5 and 7).

A pair of contingently existing objects models the number two because such a pair features some of the mathematical properties of this number, although it does not feature all the modal properties of the number two (e.g., necessary existence). Such *contingent instantiation* splits the mathematical and the modal properties of mathematical objects and appropriates only the former.

Suppose we take the relationship between God and the three Trinitarian persons as contingent instantiations. God is thus both an individual object as well as a universal (multiply instantiated). Each of the Trinitarian persons appropriates some of the properties of God and in this sense they are all Gods (i.e., contingently model God). Now, I suppose that orthodoxy does not claim that the Trinitarian persons exist necessarily as persons: for Jesus for instance might not have taken a human form. So at least the sense in which Jesus is a person is not a necessary truth. In a world in which there are no contingent beings, Jesus would not have taken the form of a person. Hence, since the Trinitarian persons do not appropriate the modal properties of God, they are not the one God that exists necessarily, has all its properties necessarily, etc.

The above requires modifying the formulation of monotheism along the following lines: there is one and only one God that has all its properties necessarily (except the properties involving contingent instantiation or modeling). There could, however, be many models or instances of God that feature some of this unique God’s properties, but not all.

So far as I can tell this proposal is not a form of modalism. I am not saying that the Trinitarian persons are modes of God. If anything the above proposal views some of the properties of God and attributes them as modes to the three Trinitarian persons. Is there anything wrong here?


I believe that Einstein theory of relativity is true. Now, mind you, I do not understand Einstein's theory of relativity. How is that possible? It is possible because I know that others understand the content of this theory. Hence, when I say that I believe that Einstein's theory of relativity is true, I defer to those scientists to provide a coherent content to the theory.

The case of the Trinity is different than the above (this is the point Bill repeatedly...repeats). In the above case I can legitimately say that while I myself do not understand the content and details of Einstein's theory, there are people who do understand it and their understanding provides me the grounds for believing that the theory has a coherent content. The same cannot be said at this stage about the Trinitarian doctrine, since I cannot defer to anyone who I can legitimately say that they understand the content of the doctrine. The problem is that the very content of the doctrine is in question.

Vlastimil suggestion, I think, misappropriates the case of Einstein's theory to the Trinitarian case.

Peter,

The Einstein example is a good one. As you rightly point out, "The problem is that the very content of the doctrine [of the Trinity] is in question." That's right, whereas in the cases of STR and GTR there is no doubt that the there is intelligible, if somewhat counterintuitive, content there. So it is reasonable for you to believe STR and GTR is a second-hand sort of way, by deferring to experts who know the theories first-hand. In the case of the Trinity, however, no one knows the doctrine first-hand since the content is unintelligible.

But consider this objection. Someone might respond that there is a person who knows the doctrine first-hand and for this person the content is perfectly intelligible. That person, you have now guessed, is God. He has no difficulty both apprehending and comprehending his own triune nature. So why couldn't it be said that we reasonably believe the Trinity on the authority of God who has revealed it to us just as you reasonably believe STR and GTR on the legitimate authority of physicists who could explain it to you?

Peter,

With respect to your 'numbers' example, I don't think you understand the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity. You wonder whether the Persons exist necessarily as persons. Yes, they do. All three Persons are co-eternal and co-necessary. And the unity of the three Persons, namely God, is necessary. You could put it this way: each of the following terms denotes a necessary being: 'God,' 'Father,' 'Son,' 'Holy Spirit.' The problem of course is to explain how these four putatively distinct necessary beings 'fit together' in a coherent way that our minds can grab onto.

"Jesus might not have taken on a human form." You are confusing Jesus with the Son or Logos (Word), the Second Person. I explained this before. The Son exists whether or not Jesus exists. When the Son incarnated, the Son became a particular man. The name of the man is 'Jesus.' Since Jesus is a man, it makes no sense to say that Jesus might not have taken on a human form. 'Jesus' denotes a contingent being. Why? Because creation is contingent! Why is creation contingent? Because it is a free act.

Trinity and Incarnation are logically distinct doctrines. The first does not entail the second. The second, however, does seem to require the first. (Though this takes some arguing.)

Please note that it is not God, strictly speaking, who incarnates as Jesus. It is the 2nd Person who incarnates. The other two persons stay in heaven to 'mind the store,' to put it crudely. Otherwise, the whole of the deity would die on the cross. God the Father scrifices his only begotten Son; he does not sacrifice himself; he does not commit deicide.

It is an amazing doctrine and very few understand it. The average Catholic priest, I fear, does not understand it.

Sheldon,

Your comment at the top of the thread shows that you do not understand what is being discussed here, namely, the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity. Your comment has nothing at all to do with this topic.

What I find very interesting is that Dr James Anderson, who has published on this topic and knows more about it than I do, hesitates to comment here, whereas someone like you, who knows nothing about it, barges right in and then becomes huffy when it is gently pointed out to him that he knows nothing about it.

"Fools rush in where angels fear to tread."

Bill,

1) "So why couldn't it be said that we reasonably believe the Trinity on the authority of God who has revealed it to us just as you reasonably believe STR and GTR on the legitimate authority of physicists who could explain it to you?"

Because I do not have epistemic access to God, even if God exists, whereas I do have epistemic access to suitable scientists who can certify that these theories do have content.

2) If the orthodoxy is that each of the trinitarian persons is necessarily an individual entity, each exists necessarily, they all differ, and they are all identical to God, then it follows that they are necessarily distinct and necessary identical or that there must be three Gods. I do not see how this can be resolved rationally.

Ad 1. But you do have epistemic access to God because he revealed the doctrine to you in the Scriptures. Since you are an atheist you will of course deny that there is divine revelation. But what I am getting at is that, from a Xian point of view, on which there is God and he reveals himself, the difference between the Einstein case and the Trinity case disappears.

Ad 2. Good. Now apply your critical acumen to positive mysterianism as described by Anderson above.

Bill,

Let us assume that revelation occurs. Let us further assume that if P is a conjunction of propositions obtained based upon revelation, then P is intelligible.

Now take P to be the set of Trinitarian propositions. Since P is prima facie unintelligible, we cannot presuppose that P is indeed based upon revelation. Since we cannot have direct epistemic access to God in order to directly determine whether P is based upon revelation, we must rely upon human authority. However, so far no human authority was able to provide a convincing case that the Trinitarian propositions are intelligible. Therefore, their revelatory status is questionable. I do not see a similar situation in the Einstein case.

The issue is not whether revelation exists or not. The question is about the epistemic conditions under which a set of propositions is revelatory. I maintain that intelligibility is one of these conditions (there may be more).

Peter,

I grant that the revelatory status is questionable. But if, somehow, you knew that P was genuinely revealed by God, then, despite the unintelligibility to you of P, you could reasonably believe that P in the same way that you could reasonably believe the (to you unintelligible) propositions of GTR on the basis of the say-so of a reputable physicist.

Bill,

I maintain that P's intelligibility is a necessary condition in order for us to deem P as a genuine revelation. The requirement is not that P should be intelligible to *me*; rather I need to believe that P is intelligible to some authority on the subject. So I maintain that the following conjunction of propositions is incoherent:

(a) P is a genuine revelation by God;
(b) P is a demonstrably inconsistent set of propositions;
(c) No human authority can show how despite appearances, P is a consistent set of propositions.

Why? I take revelation to be some sort of a message that God intends to convey to humanity. Assuming that the message has a coherent content, I fail to see what motivation could God have for conveying this message in the form of a revelation that humans cannot see as intelligible. What would be the point of doing so? We are assuming that God is rational (this being part of omniscience), both in terms of means-ends rationality as well as in terms of rationality of ends. The former dictates that if God wishes to convey a message by means of a revelation, then such a message should be conveyed in the clearest and most understandable form to those whom the message is intended to reach. O/w the means defeat the end.

Some may counter by arguing (i) we simply cannot ever fully comprehend God's ways; or (ii) perhaps God's intention is not to convey a message by means of a revelation by rather test our faith by deliberately conveying an incoherent revelation to see whether we believe it anyway. I do not believe that either of these hypotheses is ultimately adequate.

If God is perfect in all ways, then God is able to portray itself to mortal such as us in ways that are clear and distinct. If God wishes us to believe the God-hypothesis, then God has the motivation to portray itself to mortals such as us in the clearest and most understandable ways to us. God knows our cognitive abilities; God wishes us to choose to believe the God-Hypothesis; God is able to present itself in a way that is understandable to us. Hence, God will portray its ways to us in a manner we can understand. Therefore,(i) is false, given these assumptions.

(ii) is also inadequate. Why should God wish to test our faith by means of an incoherent message dressed up as a revelation? After all God knows very well that as humans we are going to face the problem of the epistemic credentials of any claims of revelation. If we have doubts about the revelatory nature of a given message due to its apparent incoherence, then this shows merely that we are rational and not that we lack faith. Besides, there are plenty of other obstacles in this world to having faith that are considerably more challenging than an incoherent revelation. There is no need to present yet another one.

In a response to one of my posts Bill says: “With respect to your 'numbers' example, I don't think you understand the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity. You wonder whether the Persons exist necessarily as persons. Yes, they do. All three Persons are co-eternal and co-necessary.”

I grant Bill’s first sentence: despite my best efforts, I do not really understand the doctrine of the trinity. The more important question, however, is whether anyone does or can. So as not to sound arrogant, let me explain. Consider the following propositions:

(P1) Each of the persons; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, exist eternally and necessarily;
(P2) The Father *begets* the son;
(P3) The HS *proceeds* from the Father and the Son.

(P1) is a restatement of Bill’s third and fourth statements. (P2) and (P3) are the orthodoxy regarding the relationship between the three Trinitarian persons. I maintain that (i)(P1) is inconsistent with (P2); and (ii)(P1) is inconsistent with (P3).

(i) The meaning of the term ‘beget’ is subject to the following principle: if x begets y at t, then (a) there is a time prior to t when y did not exist; (b) y’s existence depends upon or supervenes on x’s existence. Thus, if the Father begets the Son at some point in time, then by (a) prior to that time the son did not exist. Therefore, the Son cannot be “co-eternal” with the Father. Moreover, the Son cannot be “co-necessary” with the Father, since the Son’s existence supervenes on the Father’s. Hence, (P2) is inconsistent with (P1).

(ii) The meaning of the term ‘proceeds’ is subject to the following principle: if x proceeds from y and z, then x’s existence depends upon or supervenes on y’s and z’s existence. Since dependence or supervenience is asymmetric, it follows that y’s and z’s existence do not depend upon x’s existence. (P3) affirms that the HS proceeds from the Father and the Son. Hence, it follows that its existence cannot be “co-necessary” with the existence of the Father and the Son, since the HS's existence depends upon the the Father and the Son's existence, but not conversely. Hence, (P3) is inconsistent with (P1).

>>(a) P is a genuine revelation by God;
(b) P is a demonstrably inconsistent set of propositions;
(c) No human authority can show how despite appearances, P is a consistent set of propositions. <<

I agree that that is an inconsistent set. I am afraid you don't understand the suggestion I am toying with (not endorsing). I am suggesting the following:
1. P is revealed to us by God.
2. We know (somehow!) that P is a genuine bit of divine revelation.
3. P is true and therefore (since dialetheism is false) P is noncontradictory.
4. P appears to us as contradictory despite its being true and non contradictory. (This is the essence of positive mysterianism.)

This is a consistent set of propositions. My suggestion is that someone could reasonably accept the doctrine of the Trinity on divine authority despite the fact that the doctrine appears (and indeed must appear) contradictory to all finite persons in this life.

Peter,

We need to distinguish between two senses of 'understand.' There is a sense in which one can understand what is incoherent. A time-travel story for example. Or the Trinity doctrine. Let us assume that there are no distinctions one can make that will render the doctrine logically consistent and thus logically possible. (This assumption will of course not be granted by Lukas Novak and plenty of others.) One can still speak of understanding and not understanding the doctrine. There are Muslims who think the Trinity is composed of God, Mary, and Jesus. They don't understand it. I understand it. But note that my understanding it does not entail that it is logically consistent.

According to the second sense of 'understand,' one cannot understand that which is logically inconsistent. I understand-1 'Snow is white and snow is not white' but I don't understand-2 it.
You do not understand the Trinity in either sense. No doubt you have a partial understanding-1 of it, but not a full understanding-1 of it since you weren't clear that the Persons of the T are necessary beings.

Tell me if you agree with what I just wrote.

M C Escher drawings. What they depict is logically impossible. And yet there is a sense in which we understand them.

Bill,

Let me address each of your propositions (1)-(4) in your first response:

Prop (1): I have maintained that no proposition P can be taken as a revelation unless it is intelligible or can be made so by human rational efforts. If P is a proposition that is unintelligible and we do not believe we can make it intelligible, then it cannot be reasonably viewed as a revelation. For what would be the grounds for viewing it as a revelation? In fact I maintain that under these conditions such a proposition cannot even be the content of a belief. Hence, Prop (1) is false.

Prop (2): How do we *know* that P is a “genuine bit of divine revelation” when P is unintelligible to us and we believe it cannot be made intelligible? Knowledge implies belief. Since I maintain that an inconsistent set of propositions P cannot be the content of belief of an agent who knows that P is inconsistent and cannot be made consistent by any human effort, it follows that under these conditions P cannot be known to be a revelation. Hence, Prop (2) is false.

Prop (3): If P is inconsistent, then P cannot be true unless there are true contradictions (which is not the issue here). Therefore, when we assert that P is true, we presuppose that P is consistent. Since we cannot presuppose that P is consistent, ‘P is true’ is not assertible by us. Therefore, Prop (3) cannot be assertible unless and until the inconsistency is removed. Therefore, the relevant portion of Prop (3) is not assertible.

Prop (4): If P appears contradictory and we acknowledge that no human effort will ever remove the contradiction, what grounds we have to believe that despite all appearances to the contrary, P is nonetheless consistent? Does the distinction between appearances vs. reality makes sense in the case of contradictions, particularly when it is acknowledged that humans could never discern the non-contradictoriness of P? If we concede this distinction under the present circumstances, then we must afford the same courtesy to every contradiction (a point I believe you yourself made in your post) and, after a bit of slippery slope, to every non-sense anyone ventures to come up with. Granting this point is giving up on rationality altogether and ceding all discourse to irrational nonsense.

The fundamental issue here is whether propositions that are viewed by a rational agent as irredeemably contradictory can be the content of the beliefs of such an agent. If you maintain that they cannot, then there is no case to be made that the Trinitarian doctrine is an irredeemable contradiction, we know that this is so, yet we still believe that the Trinitarian propositions express a revelation. On the other hand, if you deny the above principle, then I believe you give up on rationality altogether, for there is no way of stopping the slippery slope from consuming all contradictions and other forms of nonsense.

It should be obvious that I have not argued that the Trinitarian doctrine is incoherent. I only maintained that if it is irremediably inconsistent, then it is incoherent and cannot be sincerely believed by anyone who thinks it is inconsistent. I also maintained that if it is conceded that the Trinitarian doctrine is irremediably inconsistent by our lights, then it makes no sense to maintain that there is a humanly inaccessible reality in which it turns out to be consistent. Such a distinction entails giving up rationality altogether.

Bill,

Re: you second post.

Yes and No. I agree that there is a sense in which one can quite properly be said to understand a contradiction. It is simple and you gave the example:

I understand the proposition "Snow is White"; I understand the proposition "Snow is not white"; I understand the concept of conjunction. And so I understand when all three components are combined into one proposition of the form "Snow is white and snow is not white". How else could I maintain the all important claim that this proposition could not be true? Thus, the unintelligibility here is not about understanding, but about possible truth and, hence, belief.

Here is the 'no' part: Something that I know cannot be true, I cannot believe. That is my central point. It is not a point about understanding. Your Escher sketch is even more complicated in terms of understanding, albeit its relevance here is questionable since there is nothing in the Escher case that we need to *believe* and my point is about belief not understanding.

Bill,

Your Escher example brings up a very intriguing subject about which unfortunately I am not qualified to speak. However, I can say this. First, when it comes to art understanding requires suspension of belief in the sense of the relevant truths. Second, in the case of some art (Escher being one example) it may even require suspension of what we believe is possible. And, third, because of the above the notion of content in art involves more than propositional content. The precise nature of this content is an area that goes beyond my expertise.

Pardon this fool rushing in.

It seems like a lot of this conversation is driven by the following steps.

1. Identify the location of the dogma of the trinity (Such as in the Athanasian Creed).
2. Translate this dogma/creed into logical statement(s)/formula.
3. Highlight problems resulting from these statements/formula.

If this is correct, then isn't there considerable risk that what's being argued about is not the doctrine of the trinity, but one or another particular and speculative philosophical statement of the trinity?

I ask this only because I'm wondering what really is being discussed here. It seems to me that there's going to be a difference between the general dogma of the trinity and any particular formulation of the trinity (unless, of course, God reveals a specific formulation. But as far as I know, revelation has never come in the form of precise and exacting logical argument.)

Not that the whole conversation isn't worthwhile and fascinating.

Joseph,

I do not think there is any translation of the statements of the trinity into logical formula. The trinitarian statements themselves appear to lead to a contradiction. The task is to see whether they can be interpreted in a manner that does not lead to a contradiction.

What do you mean by "the general dogma of the trinity" vs. "any particular formulation of the trinity"?

Joseph,

I agree with Peter that there is no translation of creedal formulations, at least not any translation that distorts their sense. What is going on is a making explicit of what is implicit in the creedal formulation, and then an examination of the mutual logical consistency of those formulations-made-explicit.

Some will object to the above proceedings in the following sort of way. "What you people don't realize is that religions are language-games and forms of life in Wittgenstein's sense. Creedal formulations are not about some game-external reality; questions of truth and falsehood and logical consistency don't arise. You either learn these ways of talking and behaving and you play along, or you don't."

Peter,

We're not connecting very well in this thread. We can hash this out the next time we meet face to face. I was hoping Anderson would come back, but he didn't.

Bill,

Sounds good.

Peter Lupu,

What I meant is the dogma as given in a creed or a statement of faith as opposed to one or another attempted rigid philosophical formulation/explanation of the trinity, such as Aquinas' or Swinburne's or otherwise. I imagine someone could say that Aquinas, Swinburne and company are all dealing with the same logical formula, but are simply interpreting the formula in different ways. But if that's the case, then it still seems to me that "translation" is really going on.

Either way, given that you and Bill have both decided to put this subject aside for the moment, I'll holster my further thoughts. It's been an interesting discussion to follow, though (including Anderson's, Vlastimil's, and others' contributions.)

Bill,

allow me just a few more comments.

First, in the initial post you list your 4 propositions and then comment:

It is obvious that if in each sentence the 'is' is the 'is' of absolute numerical identity, then the quartet of propositions is inconsistent.
This, for you constitutes "The Problem".

But I think I tried to make clear several times that the trinitarian doctrine cannot adequately be interpreted in such a way that the "is" is the "is" of absolute numerical identity. So "The problem" you describe above is not a problem of the orthodox trinitarian doctrine.

Second, you write in a comment:

And if Tuggy is right that the doctrine of supposita was crafted for the express purpose of saving the Trinity and Incarnation doctrines from incoherence, then the doctrine of supposita is of no interest. An ad hoc solution is no solution.

Let me repeat that the doctrine of supposita was NOT crafted for the express purpose of saving the Trinity and Incarnation doctrine from incoherence. If at all, it was crafted to the purpose of STATING those doctrines.

Please note: it is not so that there is some doctrine of Trinity/Incarnation which is prima facie inconsistent, and then you come with the invention of "supposita" and try to explain the inconsistencies away. No: without the theory of supposita, there is NO theory of Trinity or Incarnation, because the elementary distinction between a supposit and a nature (as captured by the liguistic distinction between concrete and abstract terms) is part of the very MEANING of the doctrine. It is not an "ad hoc" solution of a problem in the doctrine, it is part of the doctrine itself.

I apologise for being so relentless, but I really think that there is no point in trying to discuss the "problems" in a doctrine without having properly captured its elementary meaning.

Best regards!

Bill,

Suppose:

1. The Trinitarian sentences of the Athanasian Creed aptly express a proposition p.
2. I can repeat the sentences but I do not know which proposition p is.
3. I believe that there is some TRUE proposition or other that the sentences express, and my belief is true.
4. I do not (properly) believe that p.

Now, do I need to be unreasonable in doing so?

Secondly, if I am said in some standard Christian text (say, the Bible, the Catechism of the RC church, or Aquinas's ST) that I am not a true Christian unless I "believe in the doctrine of the Trinity," are the words and their cognates clearly meant to apply only to cases when I do not believe in the manner (1)--(4)? In other words, are all genuine religious believers in the Trinity proper believers in the Trinity? Or are some (or, rather, most, esp. laymen) genuine religious believers in the Trinity improper believers in the Trinity?

Peter,

You say:

"I cannot defer to anyone who I can legitimately say that they understand the content of the doctrine ..." of the Trinity.

Why do you think so? Because you've explored philosophically all the theories of the Trinity and found them all wanting and not viable? That's not my case. Why? For one, the supposit theory has not been ruled out, IMHO.

Once I mentioned Escher in correspondence with an epistemologist who commented as follows:

Image "... of an impossible state of affairs or entity ... does not have aspects corresponding to all the relevant aspects of the state of affairs or entity. E.g., in a visual illusion picture, some things are drawn and others aren't but are rather suggested to the mind. The mind contemplates the logically possible picture and vaguely reaches out towards parts of the picture or propositions about the picture not actually shown which are in fact logically incompatible and cannot be realized all at once. If this were not the case, the picture itself would be impossible to draw."

Prof. Novak,

In your recent response to Bill you argue that Bill's quartet statement of The Problem is not really a problem for the trinitarian doctrine because "the trinitarian doctrine cannot adequately be interpreted in such a way that the "is" is the "is" of absolute numerical identity."

The first point I wish to make, if you don't mind, is that Bill's statement of The Problem is conditional. That is, *if* the 'is' in the statements of the trinitarian doctrine is interpreted as the *is* of absolute numerical identity, then there is a logical problem. This allows for a different interpretation of the 'is' in the relevant statements. Bill's conditional statement of the problem would still be true even if such an alternative would prove adequate. The criteria of adequacy of an interpretation are (i) logical consistency; (ii) conformity to orthodoxy. I think this is Bill's construal of the problem, at least as I understand it.

If someone thinks that Bill's formulation is vacuously true because the antecedent completely misconstrues the intent of the trinitarian doctrine, then they are obliged to present a formulation of each statement in Bill's quartet which conforms to the intent of the trinitarian doctrine. e.g., they are obliged to produce suitable replacements for such statements as "The Son is a God", "The Father and the Son are different entities", and so forth and demonstrate why the proposed replacements are superior to the ones Bill offered.

Joseph,

"What I meant is the dogma as given in a creed or a statement of faith as opposed to one or another attempted rigid philosophical formulation/explanation of the trinity"

Could you produce a statement of this "dogma as given in a creed" that is substantially different than the "rigid philosophical formulation/explanation" of the trinitarian doctrine?

Vlastimil,

You inquire why do I think that there is no one to whom I can defer regarding the intelligibility of the trinitarian doctrine, a situation that is unlike the case of Einstein's theory. The answer is this: there is simply no consensus that there is as yet a logical solution to the trinitarian problem (if there is a problem, to acknowledge Prof. Novak's comment above). Even if a particular solution is not ruled out; e.g., the supposit-theory, this theory has not been accepted as the standard solution.

Now, one might be tempted to present the case of Quantum Mechanics in order to counter my claim (I think this is one of Bill's issues with my claim). Quantum mechanics may be compared to the case of the trinitarian doctrine because it suffers from somewhat similar internal problems of coherence. However, my response to such an example is that, unlike the case of the trinitarian doctrine, QM has an extremely high predictive value. This predictive value forces us to provisionally accept QM but still attempt to resolve the interpretative difficulties it faces. However, I must acknowledge that I chose Einstein's theory as an example rather than QM precisely for this reason. I understand neither, but I have more confidence in deferring to the scientific community in the case of the former than the later.

Peter,

of ocurse I agree that "the conditional statement of the problem would still be true even if such an alternative would prove adequate". I tried to point out the vacuousnes of this way of approaching the problem and did not question the (quite evident) truth of the conditional.

Regarding your second paragraph: I deny that I have such obligation. I do not reject the propositions but their interpretation as strict numerical identity. I have repeatedly tried to explain how they should be interpreted in order to express the orthodox doctrine.

Prof Novak,

I do not think we actually disagree on my second paragraph. You maintain that you have offered a suitable interpretation that would replace the numerical identity such that it avoids contradiction and conforms to orthodoxy. If this is what you think you did, then that is exactly what I meant by the requirement stated in the second paragraph.

The remaining question is whether the interpretation you propose in terms of the supposit-theory is adequate on account of the metaphysical distinctions it proposes. This I am not qualified to judge, but I think that is the crux of the debate pursuant to your proposal.

Incidentally, Bill's comment to me that we should not pursue any further our disagreements was addressed to me and me alone. He thinks we have exhausted on this thread our viewpoints and so we should continue in a private meeting. This pertains only to me and does not pertain to anyone else. Therefore, no one else should hesitate to post further comments on the matter.

Lukas writes: >>First, in the initial post you list your 4 propositions and then comment:
It is obvious that if in each sentence the 'is' is the 'is' of absolute numerical identity, then the quartet of propositions is inconsistent.
This, for you constitutes "The Problem".

But I think I tried to make clear several times that the trinitarian doctrine cannot adequately be interpreted in such a way that the "is" is the "is" of absolute numerical identity. So "The problem" you describe above is not a problem of the orthodox trinitarian doctrine.<<

Sorry, but I must disagree. The fact that you offer a solution to the problem does not show that the original problem is not a problem. The fact that you try to solve it shows that you understand it as a problem.

Besides, why do countless writers on this topic set up the problem as I have?

The creedal statements seems to be identity statements as countless writers appreciate, but then logical difficulty ensues. That is the problem in a nutshell. The creedal statements do not contain any fine and fancy metaphysical distinctions. You are free to interpret the creedal statements in the light of your distinctions in an attempt to make sense of them, but you ought not confuse the creedal statements with your interpretation of them.

I endorse what Peter says to you on this particular point.

Bill, I disagree with your statement that "the creedal statement does not contain any fine and fancy metaphysical distinctions", if the disrtinction between the nature and the supposit is included. With an authority of a Catholic educated on that subject I assert that these distinctions are part of the very meaning of the trinitary dogma. They are not just an interpretation of that dogma (the doctrine of the begetting of Son by the Intellect and of the Holy Ghost by the Will is an interpretation of the dogma, but not the very basic claim that there are 3 supposita sharing one singular divine nature in God). I refer you to the Ott dogmatics referenced to Dale Tuggy to check.

The interpretation of "is" as strict numerical identity is a modern post-Fregean approach which is quite foreign to the implicit semantics of the dogmatic theses. The fact that modern analytical philosophers tend to read "is" between what looks to them like proper names as identity does not imply that this is the "face value" of term as originally meant by Athanasius or the classical authors who wrote on Trinity during at least one millenium.

I did not deny that there is a problem. There certainly is a problem in a doctrine that assumes the four propositions in the sense of numerical identity. But I am not attempting to solve this problem. I am attempting to persuae you that this problem is not a problem in the orthodox doctrine, because the four propositions thus understood do not do justice to the very meaning of the orthodox doctrine.

Sorry for not returning earlier, Dr. Vallicella! I treated myself to a blog-free weekend.

Since it's getting rather busy down here, I'll restrict myself to just a few comments following up on your response to my earlier comment.

The more I think about it, the less inclined I am to accept that inconceivability entails impossibility.

In the first place, I doubt that there is such a thing as inconceivability an sich. Surely inconceivability is always relative to a mind, and thus must be indexed to the particular abilities of that mind. By extension, we can speak of conceivability with respect to a kind or species of mind, e.g., the human mind or the divine mind. But I don't think it's right to speak of inconceivability an sich.

I suspect we may actually agree on this point. And we certainly seem to agree that inconceivability to God entails impossibility.

But even though we have no direct epistemic access to any other inconceivability than our own, and despite the formidable historical pedigree of the idea, it still strikes me as implausible to maintain that inconceivability to us entails impossibility. (And who precisely counts as the 'us' here? Humans in general? Philosophically sophisticated humans? Humans in this life? Humans in the next life?)

For the principle in question is logically equivalent to the principle that possibility entails conceivability. But is it plausible to think that absolutely whatsoever happens to be possible in this mysterious universe and beyond must be conceivable to the human mind, at least in principle? Can this really be right?

I want to emphasize that I'm not advocating some form of modal skepticism, i.e., the view that our intuitions as to what is possible or impossible are generally unreliable. On the contrary, I think they're reliable. I just deny that they're infallible. But it doesn't follow that they can't do a great deal of useful philosophical work. (Incidentally, I'd argue that only theism can underwrite the reliability of our modal intuitions.)

As to the question of whether my position suffers from ad hocness: I address this in my book, but my short answer is that only divine revelation has the epistemic authority to trump our intuitions on matters of broad logical (i.e., metaphysical) possibility. After all, who else could be in a position to correct, where necessary, our fallible inferences from inconceivability to impossibility but One for whom inconceivability really does entail impossibility?

Peter,

Suppose:

1. The Trinitarian sentences of the Athanasian Creed aptly express a proposition p.
2. I can repeat the sentences but I do not know which proposition p is.
3. I believe that there is some TRUE proposition or other that the sentences express, and my belief is true.
4. I do not (properly) believe that p.
5. There is simply no consensus that there is as yet a logical solution to the trinitarian problem. (Similarly as there is no consensus about miracles or theism.)

Now, do I have to be unreasonable in doing so? I do not see that.

(By the way, I know an esteemed epistemologist and historian of science who seems to believe that, say, the resurrection of Jesus is better established, by the available, public evidence, than, say, the theory of relativity, in spite of the absence of the consensus about the resurrection.)

Edward Feser sketches an apologetical project for a defense of a position similar to that I've suggested:
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/06/trinity-sunday.html

HT: Dale Tuggy, Trinities Blog

Vlastimil,

(A) Classical Logic: For every proposition Q, if Q has the form (P & ~P), then Q cannot possibly be true.

(B) TD: The Trinitarian Doctrine appears to have the form (P & ~P).

(C) The Collapse Principle: If a proposition Q appears to have the form (P & ~P) and it is agreed that human conceptual resources cannot and never will able to reinterpret Q so as not to have the form (P & ~P), then Q really does have the form (P & ~P).

(i.e., under the conditions specified, the appearance of a contradiction collapses into the reality of a contradiction).

(D) It is agreed that human conceptual resources cannot and never will be able to reinterpret the Trinitarian Doctrine so as not to have a form other than (P & ~P).

Therefore,

(E) The Trinitarian Doctrine cannot possibly be true.

The above argument is valid. There are several ways to resist the conclusion and deny its soundness.

(I) Deny classical logic; i.e., reject (A) above and accept true contradictions. No one on this site at least opted for this solution.

(II) Deny (B) above; i.e., maintain that TD does not even appear to have the form (P & ~P), if properly understood. This, I believe, is Prof. Novak’s official position. This solution is vulnerable to the charge that it conflates a theory about TD with the authentic statement of TD itself.

(III) Deny (D) above and attempt to find a solution which shows that TD does not have the form (P & ~P).

(IV) Deny the Collapse Principle (i.e., (C) above). I take it that this is roughly Prof. Anderson’s position. It is vulnerable to the following objection: Every position that entails a contradiction can now be *saved* by maintaining that it only appears to our limited human mental capacities that it entails a contradiction, but in fact it does not entail a contradiction, although we would never know whether it does or does not. This consequence renders all rational discourse completely useless. Since any position can be now saved come what may, no position is rationally superior to any other and this is the end of rational philosophy. Bill just posted an example regarding how to save materialism along these lines.

In fact we can even save the flat earth hypothesis along similar lines. The flat earth hypothesis entails that such-and-such should be observed: call this prediction O. We observe ~O. So the evidence appears to contradict the hypothesis’ predictions. No problem! Simply maintain that even though (O & ~O) appear to be an instance of a contradiction and we never will be able to prove that it does not have the form of a contradiction, still in reality there is no contradiction between the prediction of the flat-earth hypothesis (O) and the observation (~O). Therefore, the flat earth hypothesis cannot be dismissed and it is as good as its alternative.

Incidentally, I do not see why people who wish to reject the Collapse-Principle do not explore rejecting classical logic instead (i.e., reject (A) above). Can someone explain this to me?

James Anderson,

Thanks for responding. I hope to discuss your ideas further in a separate post. This thread is getting rather long.

Peter,

That last entry of yours is excellent (like most of your entries). I am tempted to make a separate post of it.

Peter,

Thanks! I would opt for dening (B) or (D).

Bill,

Do it.

Peter,

Having just consulted my notes from fundamental theology, it appears that it is a Catholic doctrine that (B) holds. So, I guess, Lukas would not embrace thee denial of (B).

The doctrine seems to say at least that: generally, TD seems to be contradictory to any created reason, at least prima facie, although TD is not evidently contradictory to any reason.

Sorry for the typos.

Vlasitimil,

If you deny (D), then you hold that there is a way of reinterpreting the Trinitarian doctrine in a manner that it does not have the form of (P & ~P), which is what many attempt to do.

Vlastimil,

You seem to presuppose that it makes sense to admit a gap between the appearance of a contradiction and its reality, a gap that human reason can never close. I maintain that such a position is incoherent because it undermine all human reason for good.

"... there is a way of reinterpreting the Trinitarian doctrine in a manner that it does not have the form of (P & ~P)."

Yes. Lukas's theory is of that kind, IMO.

"You seem to presuppose that it makes sense to admit a gap between the appearance of a contradiction and its reality, a gap that human reason can never close."

Where and how?

Vlastimil,

You say: "TD seems to be contradictory to any created reason, at least prima facie, although TD is not evidently contradictory to any reason."

What does this mean other than that TD *appears* contradictory to the reason of those who were created (namely, us), but in *reality* it is not contradictory to uncreated reason; namely, God's.

"What does this mean other than that TD *appears* contradictory to the reason of those who were created ..."

Consider Lukas's last comment on the Trinity doctrine in the thread on Materialist Mysterianism: "Expressed in certain lax way it appears contradictory, after the meaning is properly explained the apparent contradictions evaporate, but it remains obscure and little comprehended all the same."

Secondly, why should I embrace that "it makes sense to admit a gap between the appearance of a contradiction and its reality a gap that human reason can NEVER close"? Because I've explored philosophically all the theories of the Trinity and found them all wanting and not viable? That's not my case: I haven't -- I haven't explored all the theories, and I haven't found the supposit theory wanting.

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