The Trinity from Communications Science

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Homer
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The Trinity from Communications Science

Post by Homer » Mon Feb 01, 2021 6:47 pm

In his book, "The End of Christianity - Finding a Good God In An Evil World", William Dembski finds a remarkable analogy of the Trinity from communications science. In the 1940s Claude Shannon, doing cryptographic research on the reliability of transmitting information across a communications channel, came up with the following diagram in his book classic The Mathematical Theory of Communication.

See diagram here on page 4 (sorry, but I spent much time trying to make the diagram in this post and failed). The following pdf shows it exactly as Dembski has it in his book.

https://web.mit.edu/6.933/www/Fall2001/Shannon2.pdf

Dembski points to the upper left portion portion of the diagram, writing "it is no accident that we find here a 'trinity'. The information 'source' reflects God the Father, who is the source or font of all being. The 'message' reflects God the Son, the divine Logos. As the information source begets the message, so God the Father begets the son. Because this relation between Father and Son (source and message) is asymmetric (primacy in the communications act residing with the Father), we find Jesus, who incarnates the divine Logos, appropriately acknowledge that 'my Father is greater than I' (John 14:28). Finally the 'transmitter' reflects God the Holy Spirit, who takes the message and empowers it. Accordingly, what the Father purposes and the Son articulates, the Holy Spirit actualizes."

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darinhouston
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Re: The Trinity from Communications Science

Post by darinhouston » Tue Feb 02, 2021 10:33 am

Interesting -- yes, interaction among 3 things is a common occurrence in all physical existence. I find it interesting that there are 3 things involved in God's interaction with mankind, but that bears not at all as near as I can tell on any of the doctrinal issues surrounding the Trinity. Other than recognizing that the message isn't part of the sender in this analogy.

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Re: The Trinity from Communications Science

Post by Paidion » Tue Feb 02, 2021 8:04 pm

I suppose you can find an analogy to "The Trinity" in countless places. For example, the three states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas.
Ice, liquid water, and water vapour. But all this is meaningless if one does not believe that God is a trinity. I don't.

As I see it, God is the Father. Because you are the offspring of your human parents, you are human yourself. Jesus is the Son of God and for that reason is divine Himself. I believe God's begetting of His Son, was the first of His acts.

And just as you have a spirit, that is, the thinking, conscious part of you, so God has a spirit, the thinking conscious part of Him. To my way of thinking, to suppose God's spirit is a divine person who is not God the Father Himself, is ludicrous.
Paidion

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Re: The Trinity from Communications Science

Post by darinhouston » Wed Feb 03, 2021 9:14 am

Paidion wrote:
Tue Feb 02, 2021 8:04 pm
I suppose you can find an analogy to "The Trinity" in countless places. For example, the three states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas.
Ice, liquid water, and water vapour. But all this is meaningless if one does not believe that God is a trinity. I don't.
On the subject of these illustrations/analogies, it is interesting that they seem to have been criticized by Irenaeus as having been first used by gnostics in their own theories, which later seem to have heavily influenced Trinitarian discourse. This is a passage from an excellent book I'm presently reading: "The God of Jesus in Light of Christian Dogma, by Kegan Chandler".

"...One scholar reveals that there was one circumstance which “contributed much to promote in the Church the growth of the idea of an Eternal Generation… the introduction into the current language of the Church of various comparisons from the external world… these illustrations were first used by enthusiasts not sanctioned by the General Church.”[631] These “novel illustrations” of the generation of the Son from the Father include an example of “the sun, the ray, and the terminating point of the ray.”[632] George Kidd recalls that in the second-century records of Irenaeus, the comparison of the sun and its rays occurs three times. “But it is remarkable,” says Kidd, “that it is never used by [Irenaeus] to illustrate his own view of the prolation of the Logos… but is quoted by him from the language of the Gnostic heretics he was refuting, who used it to explain the emanation of the Aeons which made so great a figure in their vain Theosophy, from the Primal Divinity… Irenaeus decidedly opposed such figures and analogies.”[633] Though the earlier anti-Gnostics such as Irenaeus had condemned this model and emphasized the vanity of speculation, one scholar notes that: “This is the favorite illustration which the Fathers used for explaining the union of the Father and the Son: and though it is better not to pry too deeply into such subjects, it is perhaps the closest and plainest illustration which can be found.”[634] The same scholar also recognizes that “the soaring mind of Athanasius, as well as the restless activity of Origen” did not adhere to Irenaeus’ caution about Gnosticism.[635]"

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Homer
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Re: The Trinity from Communications Science

Post by Homer » Wed Feb 03, 2021 11:50 am

Let us examine what Dembski said:

Accordingly, what the Father purposes and the Son articulates, the Holy Spirit actualizes."

Is this statement true or false?

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Re: The Trinity from Communications Science

Post by darinhouston » Wed Feb 03, 2021 1:24 pm

Homer wrote:
Wed Feb 03, 2021 11:50 am
Let us examine what Dembski said:

Accordingly, what the Father purposes and the Son articulates, the Holy Spirit actualizes."

Is this statement true or false?
I think that's a fair representation of how the three work together at times, though it may be a bit simplistic. For example, there are times in which the Son is actualizing something. There are, likewise, times in which the Spirit is articulating/teaching/instructing us or the Son. While at other times it is the Spirit which is empowering. Sometimes, like the Son, it is we who are actualizing and perhaps in the case, for example, of Prophets - articulating. So, it's interesting to think of, I suppose, but I don't know how helpful it is to a Trinitarian discussion.

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Re: The Trinity from Communications Science

Post by darinhouston » Wed Feb 03, 2021 1:47 pm

darinhouston wrote:
Wed Feb 03, 2021 1:24 pm
Homer wrote:
Wed Feb 03, 2021 11:50 am
Let us examine what Dembski said:

Accordingly, what the Father purposes and the Son articulates, the Holy Spirit actualizes."

Is this statement true or false?
I think that's a fair representation of how the three work together at times, though it may be a bit simplistic. For example, there are times in which the Son is actualizing something. There are, likewise, times in which the Spirit is articulating/teaching/instructing us or the Son. While at other times it is the Spirit which is empowering. Sometimes, like the Son, it is we who are actualizing and perhaps in the case, for example, of Prophets - articulating. So, it's interesting to think of, I suppose, but I don't know how helpful it is, doctrinally, in support of a Trinitarian discussion.

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Re: The Trinity from Communications Science

Post by Paidion » Thu Feb 04, 2021 8:19 pm

Clearly, we have, not only body, but spirit, which is the conscious aspect of us, But this fact does not imply that we are therefore two persons. Similarly because God is holy and has spirit doesn't imply that his spirit (which is holy) is another person.

Because Trinitarians have translated the Bible, they always place the article "the" before "holy spirit" and capitalize "holy spirit". However early copies of the New Testament were written ALL in capitals, and so no such distinction could have been made. Also, frequently there is no "the" before "holy spirit".

For example, in the Greek gospel of Luke, the article "the" occurs before "holy spirit" in 2:26, 3:12, 12:10, and 12:12 but, does NOT occur before " holy spirit" in 1:15, 1:35, 1:41, 2:25, 3:16, 4:1, and 11:13.
Paidion

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Re: The Trinity from Communications Science

Post by dwight92070 » Mon Feb 08, 2021 1:57 pm

Paidon,
Why wouldn't John 14:16 tell us that the Holy Spirit is another person?
"I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth ..."
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Re: The Trinity from Communications Science

Post by Paidion » Mon Feb 08, 2021 7:43 pm

Why wouldn't John 14:16 tell us that the Holy Spirit is another person?
"I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth ..."
Dwight
It might if the second "He" referred to other helper. But if "He" in both cases refers to the Father, this wouldn't seem to be the case.

In order that He, the Father, may be with you forever, He will give you another helper, namely His spirit, the spirit of truth, not another person, but the extension of His own person.
Paidion

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