Christians claim that the single God exists as three distinct persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We claim that this belief is false, because several absurdities follow from it. In this article, we will demonstrate one such absurdity. We argue:
- If the persons of the Trinity exist, then they would be either qualities, or beings.
- The persons of the Trinity are neither qualities nor beings.
- Therefore, the persons of the Trinity do not exist.
Premise 1: If the persons of the Trinity exist, then they would be either qualities, or beings
This premise is true, because existent essences either:
- Exist while subsisting within some other essence.
- Exist while not subsisting within some other essence.
The first option is the negation of the second, so they cannot be both false. And the first case describes a quality, whereas the second case describes a being. As such, it is impossible for that which exists, to be neither a quality nor a being.
Given the above, and since the Christian claims that the persons of the Trinity exist, this means that the persons of the Trinity would have to be either qualities or beings.
Premise 2: The persons of the Trinity are neither qualities nor beings
If the Christian claims: “the persons of the Trinity are qualities of God, that subsist within His being.”
We respond: in that case, there would be no reason to limit them to three persons. If the Christian were consistent, he would have treated other qualities (such as Power, Will, and Knowledge) as divine ‘persons’ as well.
Moreover, it is impossible for the qualities of God to separate from Him. Yet the Christian believes that the Son and the Spirit entered the world. So how can he then claim that those persons are qualities?
And if the Christian claims: “the persons of the Trinity are each a divine being, such that each is attributed with all the divine qualities.”
We respond: this is blatant polytheism. In that case, you would be no different than the polytheist who believes in a single family of gods, comprised of a multiplicity of individual deities.
Therefore, the persons of the Trinity do not exist
The two premises are true, so the conclusion necessarily follows. Therefore, the persons of the Trinity do not exist.
 Apart from the absurdity demonstrated in this article, the Trinity is also a false belief for the exact same reason polytheism is so. Two proofs- Burhan Al-Tamayuz, and Burhan Al-Tamanu’– have been offered against polytheism, and those two proofs work just as well against the Trinity.
 If this were possible, then this would make those qualities accidents. And accidents are emergent, as they are other than the being they are attributed to. However, the Christian claims that the persons of the Trinity are beginningless, not emergent.
12 thoughts on “The Trinity”
when they say that the son is “fully 1 being” and that the father is “fully 1 being,” then are they saying that the “one being” is existing as “fully father” and “fully son” who are differing beings ?
so are they saying that the “one” is differing beings ?
either “one” transforms the TWO into one or “one” is abstract for two differing beings ?
Wa ‘Alaykum Al-Salam,
You make an excellent point. We can make this clearer by substituting “Father”, “Son”, “Spirit”, and “God” with variables. So we say:
“A” represent the Father. “B” represents the Son. “C” represents the Spirit. And “X” represents God.
1. A = X (the Father is God)
2. B = X (the Son is God)
3. C = X (the Spirit is God)
4. A ≠ B ≠ C (the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are distinct).
What follows from this (since A and B and C are each equal to X) is:
5. X ≠ X ≠ X
This is a violation of the law of identity (X = X), and is as such a logical impossibility.
The fact of the matter is, the only way to make sense of the Trinity, is to treat each of the three persons as particulars in a single “god” universal. Such that each is an instantiation of this “god” universal. And there is no doubt that this is no different from polytheism (a single group of three gods). And whatever they append to their catechisms to avoid this (e.g. “…but there is only One God”), is simply a vacuous claim, that only serves to make their beliefs even more contradictory.
Also: I don’t know who this Ken temple is, but if the opponent submits that the “persons” are not qualities, and if the opponent claims that those persons exist, then what follows is that those persons are beings.
“As such, it is impossible for that which exists, to be neither a quality nor a being.”
yes, this is what i used to ask ken temple, how can the “person” be “being less” person ?
One of the main criticisms that I had of Christianity was that the doctrine of the Hypostatic union was problematic. It entailed that there could be one person, namely Jesus Christ, who could have 2 contradictory natures namely a divine and a human nature. This would of course would be impossible and contradictory since Jesus could not be both material (qua human nature) and immaterial (qua divine nature); Jesus could not have been both perfect (qua divine nature) and imperfect (qua human nature); he could not have been both omniscient and ignorant and so on. Yet, Aquinas seemed to have a good answer. I think his model could make sense. He begins by arguing that these properties belong to separate natures and so they can not be contradictory since they are not possessed by the same being. So the human aspect of Jesus would in fact be material, imperfect and ignorant yet the divine nature of Jesus would be immaterial, perfect and omniscient. Since these properties refer to different substances or beings altogether, then they are not incompatible. The person of “Jesus Christ” would just be referring to the union of the two natures. Thoughts? Sorry, I’m not too well versed in kalam, otherwise I would’ve refuted it myself.
The opponent claims that there is a “union of the two natures”. So either those two “natures” are possessed by one being, or by two different beings. If the former, then the contradiction you mentioned earlier will follow. If the latter, then there is no “union of the two natures”.
In any case, the only way to coherently understand the hypostatic union is what you mentioned initially. The “two natures” refers to two sets of qualities that a being is attributed with, not to two different beings. Such that the one being, who is Jesus, is attributed with those two natures. One Divine, and one human. And that is contradictory for the reasons you mentioned above.
“So the human aspect of Jesus would in fact be material, imperfect and ignorant yet the divine nature of Jesus would be immaterial, perfect and omniscient. ”
i don’t understand this.
human beings have non- physical emotions.
if the “person of god” experiences non- physical powers, how is it that same person experiences all the following non-physical emotions :
Fear → feeling of being afraid, frightened, scared.
Anger → feeling angry. A stronger word for anger is rage
Sadness → feeling sad. Other words are sorrow, grief (a stronger feeling, for example when someone has died)
Joy → feeling happy. Other words are happiness, gladness
Disgust → feeling something is wrong or nasty.
Surprise → being unprepared for something.
Trust → a positive emotion; admiration is stronger; acceptance is weaker.
Anticipation → in the sense of looking forward positively to something which is going to happen. Expectation is more neutral.
you can’t see the fear some one is experiencing, right?
how did “person of god” EXPERIENCE fear when he exists in a state which is OPPOSITE of being afraid ?
>If the latter, then there is no “union of the two natures”.
Could they not just say that there is a union in virtue of sharing some properties, like having the same will or the same knowledge while also maintaining that other properties like materiality and immateriality vary between the two natures?
A quality is individuated by virtue of the being it is attributed to. So claiming that a single quality is attributed to multiple beings, is to claim that the quality is both singular, and multiple, and that is contradictory. There is also the contradiction in affirming a quality of the necessary being to a contingent creature, and a quality of a contingent creature to the necessary being. Not to mention of course, that this response does not even answer the objection raised above, since those contradictory qualities that are not shared by the two natures, still allegedly subsist within the same Jesus – the Christians claim that he is fully God after all, not just a human possessing some of God’s qualities.
As salaam alaikum akhi. I shared your article with a friend of mine and this is what he said .
In the justification for the first premiss, it is claimed that anything that exists,can exist in one of the following two ways:
1) existing while subsisting within some other essence
2) existing while not subsisting within some other essence.
It is then claimed that the first option describes quality.
I have a question:
Is it possible to counter the claim that option 1 describes quality by saying that
Yes, it describes quality. BUT, it also describes something else – a person! A person is NOT a quality. And yet it falls within option 1. That is to say, while quality is described by option 1, it is not the only thing described by that option.
Persons, too, are described by it.
What do you think?
Wa ‘Alaykum Al-Salam,
His saying: “Is it possible to counter the claim that option 1 describes quality…”
No. The fact that option 1 refers to a quality is not a propositional statement. It is an assignment of a meaning to a term (i.e. a definition). In other words: all we mean by “quality” is an existent that subsists within another essence. So your friend is only arguing semantics.
And the Christians do not believe that the persons of their trinity are existents that subsist within God’s being. They believe each person is fully God. So you should ask him what he means by “person”, in particular how he distinguishes it from “quality”, and take it from there. My first comment on this blog entry might also be helpful.
so the argument goes that Allah is self sufficient, but He “needs” His creation to be merciful, this means Allah SWT “is not self sufficient”
How would you address this ?
isn’t manifestation of mercy and having the attribute of mercy two different things?
isn’t having an inherent attribute and doing action through that attribute two different things?
Wa ‘Alaykum Al-Salam,
Mercy is not an attribute of meaning. It is an action of Allah, that occurs by His Power and in accordance with His Will. It is those blessings which He creates for His creatures. This is why Allah ﷻ says:
َوأََّما اَّلِذيَن اْبَيَّضْتُ وُجوُهُهْم فَِفيَ رْحَمِة اللهَِّ ُهْمِ فيَها َخالُِدوَن
As for those whose faces will whiten, in Allah’s mercy [i.e. paradise] they will live forever.
وَهُوَ الَّذِي يُرْسِلُ الرِّيَاحَ بُشْرًا بَيْنَ يَدَيْ رَحْمَتِهِ
And He is the one who send the winds as glad tidings before His mercy [i.e. before the rain].
Allah is called merciful because He creates those blessings, not because He is attributed with a quality called mercy. In the same way, Allah is called “Al-Mumit” because He creates death for his creatures, not because He is attributed with death. And given the above, Allah is merciful because He chose to, and if He had chosen otherwise He could have shown no mercy to anyone.
The above is contrary to the attributes of meaning, like Knowledge for example. Those exist necessarily, and so are not the subject of His Will (i.e. Allah ﷻ did not will Knowledge for Himself, His Knowledge exists necessarily).
I don’t see how your comment is relevant to the subject of the Trinity. So I’m not sure why you posted it here.