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 Post subject: Re: Daniel C. Peterson to Debate Michael Shermer on Faith
PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2018 5:32 pm 
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DoubtingThomas wrote:
Sounds like Mormon doctrine, you have three persons, but one Godhead.


I think they are very different, traditional Christianity has three uncreated divine persons being numerically identical in being/substance/essence/however you want to understand “greekword” and Mormons see those three divine persons as being three separate created divine beings who are a godhead because they are united in purpose.

DoubtingThomas wrote:
You said I can't shoot down the Trinity with a trivial syllogism and that God can be multiple persons. Did I misread what you said? Saying that God can be multiple persons is like saying that 185 degree Triangles exists. Sure, it is possible a three-in-one God exists, and it is also possible 185 degree Triangles exists, but it is not reasonable to make such a big assumption.


I know this was directed as PhysicsGuy but I wanted to comment that triangles with interior angles greater than 180 degrees actually do exist in non-Euclidean spaces. There isn’t anything wrong with building a syllogism that has a contradiction as a derivation, but you need to be clear about your terms. A good place to start would be with a definition of personhood that Christians would say applies to the divine persons.


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 Post subject: Re: Daniel C. Peterson to Debate Michael Shermer on Faith
PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2018 10:31 pm 
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MrStakhanovite wrote:
I think they are very different, traditional Christianity has three uncreated divine persons being numerically identical in being/substance/essence/however you want to understand “greekword” and Mormons see those three divine persons as being three separate created divine beings who are a godhead because they are united in purpose.


Not sure what you mean by "being/substance/essence". If Jesus had a body it means Father and Son weren't always identical in substance. Do you believe Jesus in the flesh is God? If Jesus in the Flesh is God, then how can the Son be everywhere?

MrStakhanovite wrote:
I know this was directed as PhysicsGuy but I wanted to comment that triangles with interior angles greater than 180 degrees actually do exist in non-Euclidean spaces. There isn’t anything wrong with building a syllogism that has a contradiction as a derivation, but you need to be clear about your terms. A good place to start would be with a definition of personhood that Christians would say applies to the divine persons.


But even multiple dimension can't explain the Trinity. You don't have the Father in one dimension and the Son in another dimension because God is everywhere right? There is just no mathematical model that can explain the Trinity.


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 Post subject: Re: Daniel C. Peterson to Debate Michael Shermer on Faith
PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2018 1:36 pm 
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DoubtingThomas wrote:
Not sure what you mean by "being/substance/essence". If Jesus had a body it means Father and Son weren't always identical in substance. Do you believe Jesus in the flesh is God? If Jesus in the Flesh is God, then how can the Son be everywhere?

But even multiple dimension can't explain the Trinity. You don't have the Father in one dimension and the Son in another dimension because God is everywhere right? There is just no mathematical model that can explain the Trinity.

Doubting Thomas, Traditional Christian understanding is that the human body of Jesus is human,from Mary, and not divine. Jesus according to first chapter of John was God before he was born so as a human was both truly human and truly God.

I have never heard it suggested that the differentiation of persons was a matter of dimensions. It is more a matter of the idea they can talk and relate to each other. As Physics Guy pointed out that distinction is not clear and Christian doctrine has no agreed theory to make it more clear. It is agreed that Father Son and Holy Spirit are one substance and power and do not have a source outside of themself being eternally what they are. Do the arithmetic however you want.

////
adding,

I find it odd to worry about the distinction of persons.

What is really hard to understand about God is that God can keep track of the problems and actions of billions of people at the same time. Then there are those sparrows God cares for and follows.


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 Post subject: Re: Daniel C. Peterson to Debate Michael Shermer on Faith
PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2018 4:32 pm 
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huckelberry wrote:
Doubting Thomas, Traditional Christian understanding is that the human body of Jesus is human,from Mary, and not divine


Do you have a reference of Christian theologians saying that the body of Jesus is not divine?

huckelberry wrote:
I have never heard it suggested that the differentiation of persons was a matter of dimensions. It is more a matter of the idea they can talk and relate to each other. As Physics Guy pointed out that distinction is not clear and Christian doctrine has no agreed theory to make it more clear. It is agreed that Father Son and Holy Spirit are one substance and power and do not have a source outside of themself being eternally what they are. Do the arithmetic however you want..


So can we say that an eternal Triangle (in 2D) can be 185 degrees?


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 Post subject: Re: Daniel C. Peterson to Debate Michael Shermer on Faith
PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:06 pm 
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Doubting Thomas,an example would be Athanasian creed.

For this the right faith that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ become man.
He is God begotten before the ages of the substance of the Father and he is man, born in the world of the substance of his mother,
perfect god and perfect man, with reasonable soul and human flesh.
equal to the Father with respect to his Godhead and inferior to the Father in respect to his manhood.

I have no ideas about 185 degree triangles.
///
from wikapedias article,
The Confession of Chalcedon provides a clear statement on the human and divine nature of Christ:[22]

We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach people to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [co-essential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; (ἐν δύο φύσεσιν ἀσυγχύτως, ἀτρέπτως, ἀδιαιρέτως, ἀχωρίστως – in duabus naturis inconfuse, immutabiliter, indivise, inseparabiliter) the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person (prosopon) and one Subsistence (hypostasis), not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten God (μονογενῆ Θεόν), the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Chalcedon


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 Post subject: Re: Daniel C. Peterson to Debate Michael Shermer on Faith
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 2:09 am 
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DoubtingThomas wrote:
You said I can't shoot down the Trinity with a trivial syllogism and that God can be multiple persons. Did I misread what you said?

That was my conclusion, but I was trying to do more than just state a conclusion. I was trying to explain the problem with your reasoning. That's more important than my conclusion. What did you think I was getting at with my two different syllogisms, and the things I said about why they were different?


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 Post subject: Re: Daniel C. Peterson to Debate Michael Shermer on Faith
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 2:46 am 
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A sphere is a two-dimensional non-Euclidean space. A triangle on the globe, with one vertex at the north pole and two on the equator at 0° and 90° longitude, has three 90° interior angles. The sides of the triangle are geodesics (shortest distances between points if you travel within the space in question, i.e. the surface of the surface).

Geometry on spheres is perfectly logical and self-consistent; it just happens to violate a lot of the theorems of planar geometry. Parallel lines always meet, for example. Is it fair to call the geodesic arcs on a sphere "lines"? Is it right to call the figure made by joining three of them a triangle?

Meh. Why not? Words are just labels. Very short arcs on a sphere behave just like lines on a plane, and it's only when the arcs start to go a significant way round the sphere that you gradually start to notice the differences. That's how we actually use geometry on the globe, after all.

It's at least a reasonable approach to terminology to call arcs lines, and triangles triangles, but allow that they can be different on a sphere from how they are on a plane. Anyway, like it or not, mathematicians frequently classify things in ways that would surprise a schoolchild, and they give familiar English words special abstract meanings. Most specialized subjects have their jargon that way, and theology is no different.

Abstract geometry is well-defined, and it's not clear that theology is. Theology is not self-contradictory, though. The assumptions DoubtingThomas is making about what "person" and "God" have to mean, in Trinitarian theology, are like assuming that "line" and "triangle" have to have the same meanings they have in planar geometry, when in fact the subject at hand is spherical geometry.


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 Post subject: Re: Daniel C. Peterson to Debate Michael Shermer on Faith
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 2:58 am 
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My personal interpretation of the Trinity is that the distinction between the divine Persons is related to the background-pattern-detail distinction.

If I look at anything real, there are some aspects of it on which I focus. I can name them and watch them change. But the real thing always has details that I don't perceive because they are below my resolution level. And the real thing is always situated in some larger context that I do not notice because I take it for granted. All three levels of background, pattern, and detail are always present in anything real.

The three levels are never separate. They are parts of a whole. The properties of the pattern I perceive, such as its texture and color, are actually made up of details: houses are made of bricks and bricks of clay. What kinds of pattern get defined is a function of context. In the ancient arctic a house might be made of snow blocks.

Furthermore the distinction between background, pattern, and detail is relative. If I zoom in on the pattern I see, the details become the new pattern, and what used to be the pattern I saw becomes the new background, while further details remain within the ones on which I'm focusing now. If I step back, I realize that the background I took for granted is itself a changing pattern, to which the things on which I focused before are now contributing details, while beyond the changing pattern that used to be background there is always a larger background.

The fact that reality always has these three levels as omnipresent interacting parts of one whole seems to me to be a basic scientific principle which is invoked, sometimes even explicitly, whenever any theory is used or any experiment is performed.

To me the theological theory of the Trinity is the idea that God is also like that. Whether reality is like that because God is like that, or whether God seems like that to us because our world is like that, I do not know.


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 Post subject: Re: Daniel C. Peterson to Debate Michael Shermer on Faith
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 1:07 pm 
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I always find discussions about the Trinity to be a most interesting intellectual game, and the contributions to this thread are no exception.

My own contribution to the philosophical issues would be negligible if I tried to offer one, but I would point out that there is a historical element to all of this. The discussion so far treats the Trinity as a synchronic doctrine when it fact it was developed piecemeal as a series of responses: a response to the contradictory problem of strident (and persecuted) monotheists who also worshiped human-like figure named Jesus, and above all a response to the growing political power of various churches throughout the Mediterranean world whose members often had variant views about just what Christianity was. The doctrine of the Trinity is really something of a compromise that could win broad support among the various communities that called themselves Christian, and the traditional heresies tended to be ideas that emphasized one aspect to the exclusion of others, thus potentially alienating socially and politically powerful blocks and threatening a fragile unity (an example of this might be the monophysites, who were quite unwilling to compromise and duly insulted the wielders of power who were usually more interested in social and political stability than philosophical coherence).

Something that Mormons like Nibley and his followers have never bothered to understand is that the classical doctrine, then, is really about providing a universal (= Greek katholikos) framework for talking about god. It's almost more of a discourse than a doctrine. Thus, the historical contingencies out of which it arose should leave one open to the possibility that, in fact, it is not entirely rational internally because of its ad hoc malleability. But at the same time, it really leaves quite a lot open in a way that Mormonism doesn't. I wouldn't go as far as Physics Guy in suggesting that Mormonism's materialist conception of god is tantamount to a kind of atheism, but I would say that Mormonism is more of a throwback to pre-Christian European conceptions about gods, who in most traditions we know anything about, were largely thought of as embodied superhuman beings. Traditional Christianity, Islam, and Judaism all stem from a common core, which is Hellenized Judaism and Greek philosophy. This is why the discussions of deity in any of these theologies is highly abstract and generalized, whereas Mormonism's conception of deity, like most ancient forms of polytheism, is particular and concrete. I think Joseph Smith always had this very concrete sense of god but he was of course a Protestant attuned to Trinitarian discourse. This is why you will find some Trinitarianism in the Book of Mormon in some parts but in others a kind of modalism, and still in others a foreshadow of Smith's more developed theology. He knew the discourse of the Trinity but didn't fully understand it, and in working his way through it as he composed the Book of Mormon and later in Kirtland—without the benefit of a theological education, or hindrance, if you prefer—he abandoned it.

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 Post subject: Re: Daniel C. Peterson to Debate Michael Shermer on Faith
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 4:27 pm 
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Physics Guy wrote:
That was my conclusion, but I was trying to do more than just state a conclusion. I was trying to explain the problem with your reasoning. That's more important than my conclusion. What did you think I was getting at with my two different syllogisms, and the things I said about why they were different?


You told me Trump is alive, Obama is alive, so Trump is Obama. The problem I see is that billions of people are alive. In Christian theology there is only one god. If we assume there is only one god, and if we say the Father is god, and Jesus is god, then it logically means Jesus is the Father. It works. My logic works unless there are many gods in Christian theology.

But I understand the Trinity is a mystery. It is possible that some infinite god can be three in one at the same time, but I just find it very hard to believe it. For me it is easier to believe in some extraterrestrial god somewhere in the Universe.


Last edited by DoubtingThomas on Sat Jun 23, 2018 5:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Daniel C. Peterson to Debate Michael Shermer on Faith
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 5:02 pm 
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Physics Guy wrote:
Meh. Why not? Words are just labels. Very short arcs on a sphere behave just like lines on a plane, and it's only when the arcs start to go a significant way round the sphere that you gradually start to notice the differences. That's how we actually use geometry on the globe, after all.


Not sure how that explains the Trinity.


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 Post subject: Re: Daniel C. Peterson to Debate Michael Shermer on Faith
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2018 10:51 am 
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Symmachus is right, the Trinity is a discourse more than it is a dogma (although it's obviously been treated as a dogma). The baffling talk of "three persons in one substance" and so forth also makes a lot more sense when read against the backdrop of Platonist philosophy. That's the explanatory key to this stuff.


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 Post subject: Re: Daniel C. Peterson to Debate Michael Shermer on Faith
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2018 5:52 pm 
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Thanks to Symmachus and Johannes for the informative posts.


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 Post subject: Re: Daniel C. Peterson to Debate Michael Shermer on Faith
PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 5:47 pm 
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Philo Sofee wrote:
At least that is what he claims he is about to do.


So did it happen?


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 Post subject: Re: Daniel C. Peterson to Debate Michael Shermer on Faith
PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:01 pm 
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I have a question wrote:
Shermer will rebut him by showing that whatever he comes up with as a proof of God, could equally be applied as “proving” Zeus, the Sun God, Ganesh or even the FSM.

If Shermer tried to pull that on the FSM, I hope Dr. Peterson could produce a jar of marinara sauce as a rebuttal.

This debate will prove more interesting than any Punch and Judy show.

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