A Rebuttal To The Philosophical Argument For God's Triune Nature

By Evan Minton
In my book “Inference To The One True God”, I gave an argument for a while only the God of the Bible can be the God proven to exist by The Moral and Ontological Arguments. The Argument here is that the Moral and Ontological Arguments prove the existence of a being that is morally perfect. Given that the Moral Argument and the Ontological Argument are logically valid, and the premises of both of these arguments are true, it follows that a necessarily existent, morally perfect, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, personal being exists.
Trinity Divine God
Now, in order to be a morally perfect being, this being would have to exist as more than one person. If God is not a trinity then God is not love. This is because love requires three things: someone to love, someone to do the loving, and a relationship going on between the lover and the Beloved. If these three things are not present then love is not present. But before any human beings were created, God was all by himself. So if God was all by himself, who was there to love? God had no one to love! Given that God had no one to love, God couldn’t be love or loving until he created the first human beings or Angels or any persons other than himself. But in that case God could not be maximally great or be the the standard of morality, for in order to be maximally great and in order to be the standard of morality, God would have to be morally perfect, which he could not be if God were only a single person. But the Moral and Ontological Argument established the existence of a being who is indeed morally perfect and ergo maximally great. So how does one resolve this dilemma? The doctrine of the Trinity provides the answer. If God is a trinity, then God can be an intrinsically loving being, because if God is a trinity then all of the necessary requirements for love are present. You have a lover, you have a beloved, and you have a relationship between them. The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of love. This is why I said in my book that only the trinitarian concept of God is compatible with the God demonstrated to exist by the Moral and Ontological Arguments. But the real kicker is that only Christianity has a God who is a trinity. Therefore the Moral and Ontological Arguments demonstrate the truth of Christianity.
However, I have recently encountered one objection to this philosophical argument for the Triune nature of the God of the Moral and Ontological Arguments. The objector argues that God was omnipotent even before he created the universe and he did not have an apparent outlet to display his power. The objector is arguing that according to my logic, we would have to argue that God could not be omnipotent without a physical universe. Why? Because without a physical universe, God would not be able to display any acts of power because God would be the only thing that could exist and God cannot cause any effects on himself. This would imply that either God is Not omnipotent, or he doesn’t need an outlet to display his power. In a similar way, we must conclude that if my logic is sound, then God really is not perfectly loving, or we must conclude that having other people to love is not necessary for God to be loving, and therefore God doesn’t have to be a trinity in order to be loving from eternity past.
God is omnipotent and did not have an outlet for that until he created the universe. There is a parallel there with God’s love.
Is this a good objection? I don’t think so. Let’s think about God’s omnipotence for a moment. Omnipotence is a modal property meaning that a being who is omnipotent has the ability to do anything that is logically possible. God can create out of nothing, God can make ax heads float in water, God can make a virgin pregnant, God can raise people from the dead, it cetera. It is a modal a tribute and just simply means that you have the ability to do anything that does not violate the laws of logic. Given that comma I don’t see why God would have to have a physical Universe in order to have the property of omnipotence. Omnipotence does not mean that you will do everything that is logically possible, it just means that if you are omnipotent you can do anything that is logically possible. It doesn’t mean that you will do everything that you are able to do, just that you are able to do it.
Love is different. Unlike the property of being powerful, Love Is not just pure potentiality. A person who is stranded on a desert island with no other people around may have the potential to be loving. It may be in his nature to be kind and compassionate and selfless and so on. Nevertheless if there are no other people around, he will never have the ability to express these attributes. This person will forever just have a loving potentiality, but will never have actual love. If God were only one person, then before he created any other beings, he would be like a machine that is turned off. This “Love Machine” would have the ability to be loving, but he would never actually be expressing that love. It seems very intuitively clear to me that a being who is constantly expressing love is a greater being than one who merely has the potential to be perfectly loving. But in order to be a being who is constantly expressing love and is not merely a being of potential love, this being would have to be a trinity.
In conclusion, this objector has not succeeded in showing that my Arguments for the Triune nature of the maximally great being of the Ontological Argument, and the being who is the standard of morality of the Moral Argument fail.
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3 replies
  1. Andy says:

    Interesting observation. I would like to point out a couple things concerning your post.

    First, Genesis clearly states that man was created in God’s image. But the terminology used it not, “Let me make man in my own image,” but rather, “let US make man in OUR image.” So clearly in the beginning, God has a triune nature that exists. When someone loves, it doesn’t mean that the other party has to love back. When they do this becomes a relationship. This is where it is necessary to have the three components that you have discussed.

    Second, we do not know if God was by Himself. The Bible obviously talks about angels and what not. Were they in existence before our physical universe? If so, then the loneliness argument doesn’t stand. But this is all speculatory because we do not know what was and what wasn’t before our physical world came into being.

    Third, God’s triune nature or his omnipotent power is not dependent upond our universal existence. I believe that such an idea is a Greek concept. The Greek gods were able to be gods because the humans had interaction with them. The gods drew power from their prayers, and unwavering faith.

    This is not the case with Yahweh, the God of Israel.

    If the entire population of the world became atheistic, that does not destroy God or who He is or his existence. He would still have power, He would still love, He would still be love, and He would still have a triune nature. We are the product of His nature. Not the power source.

    But we cannot rely too much on human understanding to know God and His abilities.

    Omnipotence, I believe, is not being able to do all that is logically possible. Why? Because what is limited in our physical may not be limited for Him. For example, in our physical world, we cannot have a round square. But God may be able to make one. The limit of our understanding cannot comprehend this, because ist defies that obvious limitations set on our physical world. However, having such great power has limitations. God cannot contradictions. He is too powerful too. He is obviously all knowing, which adds such limitimitations on His omnipotence. Same with His Omnibenevolence. He is all good, which means He cannot do what is evil, nor can He lie. And this limits His abilities.

    Does that then mean that God is not all powerful? No, He is all powerful because He can do those things if He chose to go against His nature. We did a similar thing when we sinned. We went against the image God gave us, the nature God gave us, and did what was evil and not of God.

    But God does not go against Himself. And of course this is really mind twisting in a sense because we’re limited beings, and cannot comprehend all that God can. So even my arguments are flawed in a way, and I admit that.

    What does Scripture say about the Triune nature? Well, it obviously existed before humanity. The Spirit existed before Christ came in the flesh, but also the Messiah existed before He came in the flesh. The moment that Moses is at the Burning Bush, He is actually talking to Yeshua, the Messiah. (Hebrew name of Jesus.) The Spirit obviously existed before the birth of Christ because, it was the Spirit that helped Mary conceive Christ. They all exist as one, but have different roles in a sense. The Father gives and takes life, while the Son redeems and saves, and the Spirit teaches and guides. Of course some of these roles do overlap, thus negating the possibility of them being completely separate entities.

    The Father is the Son.
    The Son is the Father.
    The Holy Spirit is the Father.
    The Father is the Holy Spirit.
    The Son is the Holy Spirit.
    The Holy Spirit is the Son.
    They are all God.
    And we cannot comprehend it with our futile human minds.

    And I can back up what I have said with Scripture, which is what I rely heavily on.

    Now, I do not recommend building a doctrine out of any of this. We need less doctrine and more relationship with God. For the thinker who wants to take on the challenges of understanding God, it is a vain mission. No one will ever understand. But God gives us the ability to know Him how He wants us to know Him. As His people, as He is our God, and Father, who loves us and sacrificed so much to have such an opportunity to have a relationship with Him. That is what matters most.

    Intersting article. God Bless.

    Reply
    • Evan Minton says:

      There was a time before even angels existed. We’re not told WHEN angels were created, just THAT they were created. And in that case, there was a time where God and God alone existed. Even if angels pre-date the physical universe, they still post-date the existence of God. So the argument still stands.

      Furthermore, denying that what God can do is restrained to what is logically possible is very problematic. Forgive me if I’ve misunderstood you or straw man you, but you appear to be saying while God might not be able to actualize a square circle in the physical world, maybe in the non-physical realm, things are different. But logic itself is an immaterial reality. As Frank Turek likes to say “You’re not going to find the law of non-contradiction in your sock drawer”. Logic grounds all reality, not merely that which is physical. To see the point: think of this: could an angel be both and good angel and demon simultaneously? Could an angel (a being without a physical body) be good and evil? I don’t think anyone would say that. To answer in the affirmative is a contradiction and a contradiction cannot possibly be true. Angels and demons aren’t physical reality, yet I think we all realize that the law of non-contradiction applies even there.

      You said \\”For the thinker who wants to take on the challenges of understanding God, it is a vain mission. No one will ever understand.”\\ — This is only a half truth. It’s true we will not and cannot understand EVERYTHING there is to understand about God, but surely there are many things we can understand about God. In fact, it that weren’t the case, there’d be no point in God telling us about Himself in a written revelation.

      William Lane Craig phrased it nicely “Whereas easy appeals to mystery prematurely shut off reflection about God, rigorous and earnest effort to understand him is richly rewarded with deeper appreciation of who he is, more confidence in his reality and care, and a more intelligent and profound worship of his person.”

      I believe Craig is right. While we can’t understand everything about God, but we can understand a lot, and if we really put forth the effort, we might be surprised how much we ARE able to grasp. And in my case, it has enhanced my worship of Him.

      Reply
      • Andy says:

        I agree with Craigs statement. I meant we could not understand everything about God. It just didn’t come out that way.

        I believe I understand what you’re saying about God’s omnipotent nature. I believe God can do everything, but He only does what is logically possible. What is the limit of what is logically possible? It is an immaterial thing, so what is not logically possible here, might be logically possible in a non physical dimension.

        Why do is say this?

        Well, our universe is bound by natural laws, which means that some things are not possible with these laws in place. In a spiritual realm, we do not know if such limitations exist. And I’m merely contrasting abilities based upon human understanding in a physical realm vs spiritual. There’s many things I don’t know yet that could prove me wrong. I have not encountered such things yet, and I’m always open to seeing such things be presented.

        Reply

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