Friday, June 1, 2012

1, 2, or 3 Trinity, Duality, or Unity

It is noised abroad that God is complex numerically. Perhaps we should use mathematical notation like the tuples of complex numbers to present a thesis.

But first: What possible experience can we establish as common in order to explore the problem space? I have always wanted to reason from the primal shared experience of the heavens and the earth to the postulates of Godhead, but this is one person's speech and may be subjective. Then again, perhaps I should study the written record before speaking. If I did that, I would never speak. As a blog post, this is of necessity, short. And there are so many opinions and confessions.

I base my thinking on the TNK and NT, and being biased towards chiasm, the K is my focus (joke). So I will begin with Psalm 8.4, picking one psalm about the heavens and the earth at random. We all, from cabbages to kings, have some experience of the heavens and the earth.
כִּי אֶרְאֶה שָׁמֶיךָ
מַעֲשֵׂה אֶצְבְּעֹתֶיךָ
יָרֵחַ וְכוֹכָבִים
אֲשֶׁר כּוֹנָנְתָּה
8.4
Hebrew
numbering
For I see your heavens
that your fingers make
moon and stars
which you have established
A bone one might pick with the poet of the Psalms is that this particular sentient being composed the poem in the first and second person singular, using I and thou, implying some individual or singular corporate personal aspect to the sensing of the body, eyes, and ongoing interrelationship of subject and conversation partner.  So there are immediately two dimensions to the record of this conversation, in the eyes of the poet: self and other. The thou (you) in this conversation is invisible. What the thou made is not. We could spend a book on this word heavens, not to mention the earth or the sea (as Jonah does). And there is a third issue hinted at in the psalms, a singular-plural tension, the I and the we, the subjects. Does this imply that there might be a singular-plural tension in the thou?

Skipping right on, there seems to be some insistence that the other is singular.  But the other is not particularly clear about it. The unity is a complex unity. So Deuteronomy 6:4, שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָֽד, Hear Israel יְהוָה our God יְהוָה one.  You put the verbs and punctuation in this sentence as you wish. God is plural. This is not monotheism, this is unity, a similar unity as might be found in a people, a nation, a congregation, or a family. It is possible for many voices to be in unity. So it is with singers and even those profane dancers (Psalm 87). So it may be with a single voice speaking on behalf of the many (Lamentations 3, or Psalm 42-43). Once this is admitted in one place in the Writings, a question arises as to when the person really is singular or not.

Moving right along again, what makes a relationship work? Force, fear, dread, terror. I am sure that Tim will get to it in his 5-minute Bible noted above. And the other side of fear - love? (Psalm 18, or 139 or the Song.)

So in the theological complex number, there are two (at least) dimensions

Dimension 1 - the self, us, me.
Dimension 2 - the other, unity and plurality.

In the physics and math that we use, the second part of the complex number is multiplied by the square root of -1, or i. You will know that there is no possible way that the same number multiplied by itself can be negative. (-1 x -1 = 1) So the second dimension is called imaginary. Hence the i. This imaginary number is nevertheless real. Without it, there would be no science! No bomb! (No trinity! the name of that bomb.) Probably no I-phone and no Blackberry Torch either. Maybe even no probability. The imaginary is real. And it is dreadful as those mortal salt-sea-farers knew (Jonah 1.5, 10).

There appears to be evidence (Psalm 34, taste and see), and speech where there is no speech (Psalm 19) from the same heavens. But there is a second tension implied by fear. It has to do with will to power and violence in the party of the first dimension. In a word, all is not well amongst those who perceive. When what is not well is put well, (Psalm 103) there seems to be some cross over between the dimensions. In math, this would be odd behaviour if one considers the mutually orthogonal nature of dimensions. But there may be moment and inertia in their interaction. And there may be mysterious expressible transcendence like (e^(i * pi)) + 1 = 0, Euler's identity.

This mysterious interaction, coming back to the theological problem, is expressed in the story of Israel. It includes creation - redemption - wilderness - promise - exile - and restoration. Many possible books here too beyond the blog post. It is story through and through (and so is the NT). But it is story expressing the transcendent for the benefit of all.

This post went in a strange direction. I still don't know if I can allow the imaginary dimension to include any number 1 to n multiplied by i.  I don't see why not. So it may be that we fight over the 1 or the many, but the voice of many waters (Ezekiel 43.2) וְקֹולֹו כְּקֹול מַיִם רַבִּים as a cypher for the voice of God might allow us a certain patience with our reasoning.