Skip to comments.Some thoughts on Holy Trinity from physicist's perspective
Posted on 10/01/2013 6:01:44 AM PDT by don-o
As a religious physicist, I have occasionally fielded questions from various people pertaining to my Faith and how I reconcile it with my understanding of physics. One point that is often brought up is the apparently "illogical" nature of the Holy Trinity, which is of utmost importance to Orthodox Christians: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. "How can three be one and yet be distinct at the same time?" I am often asked, and I never really had a good answer for that question.
Recently, however, I had an epiphany as I was thinking about the Holy Trinity from a physics perspective, which may aid in better appreciating Its' amazing significance. But to do so, I was forced to "think outside of the box (universe)" so to speak.
To begin with, we first must recognize that we live in four-dimensional spacetime (x,y,z,t). Within the confines of our universe, energy and matter (a form of potential energy) interact and move about, converting from one form to another over the past 13.5 billion years or so. Within the paradigm of physical laws, we also have the concept of wave-particle duality wherein every physical object (proton, photon, electron, neutrino, etc) can be viewed either as a particle or as a wave, quantum mechanically. Both views are just as valid despite the apparent paradox of something being a wave and particle at the same time. From this, the uncertainty principle derives which some have argued enables "free will." As I have suggested before [1-2], our universe is likely a four-dimensional "bubble" that is expanding into infinitely dimensional (or at least higher dimensional) "space." With these perspectives, we can consider the following possibility:
God, the Father encompasses all that is outside of our universe (including other parallel universes and universes of different dimensions should they exist) as the Creator of these universes and as an infinitely-dimensional entity. This is similar to a painter such as Michelangelo existing outside of his painting or the designer/engineer of a car living outside of the car. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, represents God's representation within four-dimensional spacetime, i.e., our universe, as a human being (made up of particles - matter) who suffered as a human being and then was resurrected. The Holy Spirit represents God's representation within our universe as an all-encompassing/ubiquitous wave (pure energy) which is immune/invisible to the material world - i.e. the matter-based world - but which permeates it with ease. Time stops for waves that travel at the speed of light. As long as the universe exists, the Holy Spirit will continue to roam and spiritually warm our universe. God may no longer be with us in the flesh (at least for now) but is with us in spirit (if we want Him to be).
When we pray, the Holy Spirit "hears" us. When we love God, the Holy Spirit "resonates" with us and perhaps even inspires us. In other words, we interact with the Holy Spirit.
When we attend Church and take Holy Communion, we interact/couple with the body and blood of Christ (physical particles) in accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior and look to follow Him as our Shepherd. Jesus is much easier for us to comprehend (and follow) than an infinitely dimensional and complex Creator (God the Father).
Together, all three of these entities represent God as a whole. Though we will not meet God the Father until after death, we are enlightened via the Son of God and the Holy Spirit, which existed and exist (respectively) in four-dimensional spacetime. Jesus, as the perfect human being, set the example for us to follow. Though God is likely infinitely complex (and therefore will always be incomprehensible to us), this may give us yet some more insight into the Creator of our world and possibly infinitely many more worlds.
I certainly am not pretending to "explain" God in this piece as I present an incomplete theory of sorts. Nevertheless, the more we learn about our physical universe and how it was put together, the closer we can come, I believe, to God.
The writer is an associate professor of physics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The opinions expressed in this article are solely his own.
I confess that I am not clear on the fourth dimension. The Fifth Dimension I do recall from the 60's.
Space... or time? One of those.
The original article includes Rublev’s icon of the Most Holy Trinity (represented by the three angels who visited Abraham).
Michael Pravica is a Serbian-American physicist (Ph.D., Harvard) and activist. He’s one of the good guys!!!!
Humans have a need to fit things within some sort of cohesive little sphere. There are some Entities that don’t fall within those boundaries.
Plus the stories about stuff like the Russian Army fighting off martians and stuff is a total hoot.
Just my luck here I am stuck in the 63rd dimension.But I too remember the 5th dimension from the 60’s.. and HG Wells “time Machine “ as well -still looking for where I was when I parked it.
“How can three be one and yet be distinct at the same time?”
Three Persons, One God.
It is an ineffable mystery, but it is not a case of 3 equaling 1 and not equaling 1 at the same time.
The Trinity has three Persons. We know this by Christ’s revelation of God.
But we state that God has more than one person each and every time we say that “God is Love”.
For if God was/contained only one person then who would He love while being Himself, whole and entire for the whole immensity of eternity that existed before He created angels and men?
Only the doctrine of the Trinity captures this mysterious dance at the center of all things - that God is Love and also the unselfish object and subject of that Love.
I’m an Old Testament believer where the physics therein appear more consistent to me.
It's the the nontrinitarian belief that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are different roles of one "Unitarian" God, as perceived by the believer(like a guy who's a son, a husband and a father, but still one person) rather than three distinct persons eternally existing within the One Godhead.
**Pravda. You read that right. Pravda.**
That shocked me too.
What an elegant discussion of the Trinity.
Nice try. We humans with finite minds will never be able to understand the infinite...
This is great, thanks for posting. As a physics fan, I will find this useful in conveying a portion of the reality to some physicist friends who are groping toward the Faith. A lot of physicists are finding that, Hawking’s desperate efforts notwithstanding, they can’t really argue persuasively with Guth’s work. There are some distinguished physicists who are priests.
“I was forced to “think outside of the box (universe)” so to speak”......................
LOL. That statement says it all. Can God be contained in a box? No. That’s the answer. Faith in God is a gift, and is not confined by any mortal logic.
For the sake of some stubborn scientists/atheists, however, I applaud his writing.
I believe one of the best ways to describe the Trinity is from a Chemistry persepective: Water! Water can be solid (ice), liquid (water), or gas (steam or water vapor). Each of these forms of water is different (solid, liquid, or gas) but each are exactly the same! Water! Even Christ is sometimes described as the Living Water.
These are the three phases of nature, and each pure substance can exist in the three phases. Maybe a little reminder for us in the works of God in His universe.
We can NOT know God in His Essence. Therefore, we cannot explain God by our logic or science.
We CAN—by Grace—know God in His Energies. (Grace is one of His Energies.) This kind of knowledge is more akin to knowing another person whom we love than knowing by logic or through the senses. It may happen, for example, through the Holy Sacraments of the Orthodox Church, or via deep prayer. (See especially the writings of St. Gregory Palamas.)
Michael Pravica’s essay is useful, however, for those of us living in a science-based world, which includes all of us, even Orthodox Christians.
Meanwhile, there are some physicists and mathematicians who are trying to convert quantum theory to a branch of probability, thus eliminating the wave/particle duality, etc. (I imagine that these researchers are atheists, too.) However, in my mind, this divorces quantum theory from observation and experiment, and it thus ceases to be real science.
Perhaps... yet, the good news is- recognition does not require full understanding.
Don’t forget the shamrock begorra.
Can God be contained in a box? No.
Thank you for explaining that so that I don’t feel like I have to.
Essence vs. energies. Ousia vs. hypostases (something a lot of posters aren’t tracking).
We all know that material analogies for the Trinity, like the shamrock, fail, and fail miserably.
When asked for his favorite analogy, the priest replied, "the family, because it is a loving communion of persons."
THAT seems like a very good analogy to me.
I've often wondered about the ubiquitousness of the family in all times, and the inability of utopian societies to stamp it out, or transform it. It makes sense to me that this institution would be an image of the Trinity, since it is so mysterious, held together by love, and essentially indestructible.
God made everything. Including numbers. He can do what He likes with them.
Why isn’t it just considered a dual nature or reality instead of a 3-part idea?
In the Gospel of John 4:24, it is written that our Heavenly Father is Spirit, and we should worship Him in spirit and in truth.
The 3rd part of the Trinity just seems to be a repeat of the first part, being that God the Father is that same Holy Spirit.
In my simple little mind, it just seems like there are two realities going on, consisting of the Spiritual Body-Father in the heavenly realm, and the flesh body-Son in this earthly realm.
Perhaps inside this earthly vessel we walk around in today is our spiritual body as well waiting to cross over into that heavenly realm when we return to the Father.
I also feel that the Holy Spirit is the Holy Breath of our Heavenly Father dwelling within us and leading and guiding us.
The problem with that is that The Son was The Son before he was Jesus. He was not always from before time of the flesh, but rather became incarnate from His previous state.
Frank Sheed had a rather good explanation of the Trinity in his book Theology and Sanity. Roughly, that the Son is the Father’s knowing of Himself and the Spirit is the Love between. It’s dense, but well worth a read.
***He was not always from before time of the flesh, but rather became incarnate from His previous state***
What does that statement mean Eepsy?
What do you mean by previous state?
I’m pretty much self-taught, and yes, I will stumble along the way, but I’m having trouble interpreting that statement above, because Christ Jesus was before time of anything. He is the Word according to the Gospel of John 1, and all things were made by Him and there was nothing made without Him.
I also understand that Christ Jesus has appeared in and out of our physical realm before. He was even Melchizedek in Genesis. Christ Jesus speaks of Abraham seeing Him and was glad according to Gospel of John 8:46, and Hebrews 7:1 speaks of Him having no beginning of days or end of life.
I guess the names, places, and times can change here and there, but His face remains the same ... smiles ... I just love the LORD so much, and want to share His love with others, but I’m not too sure if I’m being misunderstood sometimes. Please help me to understand what you meant, and I’ll check back after lunchtime ... smiles again.
So this second Person of the Trinity pre-existed eternally. He is co-eternal with the Father, according to Scripture.
When "the Word" was made flesh and dwelt amongst us, He took up and assumed a human nature and was conceived in the womb of the Virgin. Very recently: only about 2,000 years ago. But that same divine Person was always God through all eternity.
***So this second Person of the Trinity pre-existed eternally. He is co-eternal with the Father, according to Scripture.***
Hi Mrs. Don-o ... pretty kool dual effort going on ... smiles
I guess you can see we were posting within seconds of each other, and I do believe the Father/Son are one, and if you have seen the Son, you have seen the Father according to the Gospel of John 14:9-11, but I think I’m being misunderstood in my assertion of the “Trinity”.
Maybe I can state it clearer somehow about why I look at it a little bit differently than others.
Trinity: 1) Father - 2) Son - 3) Holy Spirit = ONE
All 3 are One and the same, but it seems like Number 3 is already stated in Number 1 ... being that the Father is the Holy Spirit already as written in the Gospel of John 4:24.
Then to elaborate further:
There’s a Spiritual realm, and than there’s a physical realm-(flesh body). Father/Spiritual realm - Son/physical realm.
All that I’m trying to state is that the Father is the same thing as the Holy Spirit, and it’s just duplicating what is already known, that the Father is Spirit.
I guess I tend to look at it this way because after many years of discussing the Trinity with those of the world that think Christians worship 3 Gods instead of one, that it got me to thinking that the Holy Spirit is already God the Father, so why duplicate it again to end up with 3 forms.
It just made more sense to me that there is a Spiritual realm and a physical realm to explain it better, and at least I got some people to think about this 3 God theory they keep throwing around town, and I’ve basically narrowed it down to a 2 God theory so far ... smiles and shakes my head.
So I do feel like I’ve made some progress being that their foreign teachings of their book do state that Christ Jesus is the Word and Spirit of God-(quran/surah 4:171), which makes them rethink their stand.
They even thought the Virgin Mary was part of the Trinity too, because that’s what their book states, and I just shake my head and wonder how in the world did they come up with such stuff, but then again, the fruit of their tree explains it all.
I wanted to ask you something else, but it is on a different subject and I don’t want to throw the thread, plus I’ve already taken up enough space here already ... smiles again
It seems that the Great Commission with its instructions for Baptism in the Three Names, and the theophanies at Jesus' Baptism and at Jesus' Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, indicate the Threeness in the Oneness of God.
I can't go much beyond that. I hardly think I'm right to even discuss such things, except on my knees.
Goodbye, I must clean up my kitchen!
***...but was not physical until his conception in the womb of Mary.***
I can’t help to think that I just wore out my welcome...sighs.
Anyhoo ... Christ Jesus has been in and out of our realm in physical form, because even Abraham seen Him and was glad. He can be in the Spiritual realm and in the physical realm at anytime He needs be.
By stating it the way I state it is not undermining His Power or Authority at all. For it is all His. Be He here, there, or anywhere. When we cross over to the other side of this reality we will be in spiritual bodies too, but while we are in this earthly reality we have a physical form. That’s all it means.
Forgive me for imposing upon you in my learning process, and I hope for a restful evening for you and yours. Merci beaucoup
So God's like a balloon, and we're all inside the balloon. God sticks his fingers into the balloon from the outside, so the balloon fingers are inside the balloon. Those fingers are the Son. Then the fingers move around and do stuff. The movement of those fingers is the Holy Spirit. And what those fingers accomplish while moving around, is Grace.
So how can God be both the balloon and the hand poking into the balloon?
Well, God is like a tree. The trunk of a tree is solid like the balloon, but the branches can bend all the way around and poke into the trunk.
And that's it. God is like a tree acting like a balloon, and thereby manifesting the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
All these things spoke Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spoke He not unto them. Matt 13:34
Jesus is the Word incarnate.
God is the Lord God Creator King who spoke(sung maybe) the One Word (Uni-Verse, is that the meaning in Latin?) through the Holy Spirit. There is a Chorus of Angels and we are His Refrain. Alleluia Alleluia
First we have Putin being more Christian than the putz who currently resides in the White House, and now this from Pravda?
It reminds me of the passage in the Book of Acts where they talk about the world turning upside down for the sake of Christianity.
“These are the three phases of nature, and each pure substance can exist in the three phases.”
But the difficulty in relating this to the Holy Trinity is that a substance can be in only one of the three states at a time, moving from one state to another via a phase change.
Whereas the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit exist together simultaneously at all times. At least, that’s the impression I get from my meager reading of the Bible. :)
“I confess that I am not clear on the fourth dimension.”
All this talk of the Holy Trinity and dimensions kinda reminds me of C. S. Lewis’s attempt to clarify it:
“In God’s dimension, so to speak, you find a being who is three Persons while remaining one Being, just as a cube is six squares while remaining one cube.”
The passage is from Mere Christianity.
Recall how He appeared after The Resurrection. On the Emmaus road, the was not recognized by the disciples until He broke the bread. Was His physical appearance changed? I have wondered about that.
The Apostles recognized Him, but thought Him to be a ghost. Later, when Thomas saw him, The Lord told him to touch him and put his hand into His wounds to confirm that He was solid matter.
Then, at the end He levitates before their eyes.
We are not given clear explanations of how all this hangs together, because our puny minds are incapable. But, He said that he would return to the Father - which to us might indicate a place. Or we might understand it as a spiritual state. But, does our understanding of "spiritual" completely define what that state is in reality? I think not
"Eye hat not seen..."
For the record, I submitted this piece to over 20 MSM newspapers in the US to find it censored. Pravda is one of the few international media outlets willing to present alternative points of view from what the US State Department wants you to hear. Let’s face it folks, our government is anti-Christian! Thanks to everyone for you interesting comments on my article!
***We are not given clear explanations of how all this hangs together, because our puny minds are incapable***
Yes, I agree, and mine can be most puniest, but I’m so fascinated and intrigued by it all so much that I love sharing thoughts back and forth as I try to absorb it all, and perhaps open new avenues of thought in my own simple little mind ... smiles.
I also wonder if there is perhaps a thin veil sort of between the spiritual realm and the physical realm.
I’m still studying it all but somewhere I recall reading a passage about these men going to battle and the person asked God to reveal to his friend that there was a great league of angels right above them to go into battle with them. I was like “wow, that is so kool”.
Last night I pondered about the times Christ Jesus was in and out of our realm, and that passage of the fiery furnace came back to mind with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The king Nebuchadnezzar could see 4 people in the furnace instead of the 3 he had thrown in, and he states that the 4th looked like the Son of God. (Daniel 3:25)
I find so much truth in His WORD, and I take great comfort in it, because once upon a time I was on the wrong path and searching for something that was there all along. I just needed to face it, and embrace it, and finally I did.
I don’t think I would still be here if I hadn’t because my ways were so destructive, and I was spared death more than once. When I read Psalms 91:11-12, I was like “wow Lord”, it was Your Angels who picked me up and placed me on the side of the road when that car was hitting me as I crossed the street.
I told a friend the other day that I feel like this woman in scripture that touched the hem of His garment and that I’m clinging to it now and I’m not letting go for nothing in the world.
Forgive me for taking up so much space and time. I’m just so impassioned with the wonders of it all, that I just want to stand on a mountain top and shout it to the whole world ... smiles ... yea ... I can be crazy sometimes, but it’s a good crazy.
Thanks again Don, and please tell Mrs. Don that I didn’t mean to overwhelm her with all my thought patterns yesterday. I’m just a curious and thought provoking child that likes to share things back and forth. It helps me to understand more, and maybe it helps others too ... smiles again and thanking the LORD too for all His wonderful children.
Oh Don, and just one more thing. I’ve only been here less than 2 years, with very little history on this site, and I can’t seem to reply to private messages that I’ve received over the past year. Is there a special requirement before I can reply? I don’t want peeps to think I’m dissing them or something ... smiles
Thank you for signing up and joining the thread!
It was I who found the article(I follow Pravda on Twitter).
I look forward to seeing your posts on Free Republic, if you have the inclination.
One blog has linked to this thread. Perhaps the “alternative media” will pick up your essay.
Submmitted to Bozell’s Media Research Center
Thanks for posting my article! I will post articles here in the future.
All the best,
Please ping me when you do post.
I wish that FR could have a ‘like’ function, so I could ‘like’ what you wrote in post 18.
Looking forward to your future articles! Welcome to FR via Pravda, Wow! Good for you not to have given up on publication after your 20 US media rejections.
I’m not a quitter - especially on issues that I believe very strongly in such as God’s infinite love of humanity. It’s just sad that you have to write outside of this country to get these non-PC issues published.
Um, no, this isn’t “Modalism” and you completely missed the essence of my argument. If you understand physics, there is a fundamental paradox of wave particle duality wherein waves are distinct from particles and yet representations of the same thing. When you do one kind of experiment, you get one answer (e.g. it is a wave). When you do another experiment, you get another wholly different answer (e.g. it is a particle). I am suggesting that fundamental paradox is somehow coupled with/related to the apparent (to us) paradox of the Holy Trinity. Waves are distinct from particles - they are not the same thing. Regarding your immature “heresy” comment: It is one thing to think you know Christianity but it is wholly another to actually practice it. Love conquers all.