The most important thing one must remind himself of when trying to understand the nature of God is to set the boundaries of what he may attribute God with by means of definition. Unless one has a proper definition of God as a starting point, he will inevitably stand in murky waters as he furthers his quest. It goes on to say that while anyone can define the word God in any way. all but one concept of God will turn out to be inferior.

Saint Anselm of Cantebury defines God as the greatest conceivable being. [1] For instance, consider goodness. Goodness is a great-making property. A good person is greater than a bad person. To be wise is a great-making property. A person who is wise is greater than one who isn’t. To be powerful is a great-making property. A powerful person is greater than a weak person. The list goes on. To Anselm, the being which possesses all great-making qualities in their maximum configuration is the one to be identified as God. This goes on to say that if one can conceive of a being greater than what has already been conceived, that being then IS God.

Here, Anselm has struck a gold mine. He discovered through his reflections that existing in reality is also a great-making property. For instance, it is greater for a wife to be loved by her husband than for her to only THINK that her husband loves her. Love is greater in reality than only in thought. It is greater for a father to provide for his family than to only THINK that he’s providing for his family.  Everything that exists as an idea is greater if it also exists in reality. [1]

Therefore, since God is defined as the greatest conceivable being, and existing in reality is greater than to exist only as an idea, God therefore, by definition, CANNOT NOT exist. By definition alone, the existence of God is a certainty.

There is however a caveat.

Suppose there are no sentient beings to conceive of such a being, can such a being still exist? In other words, when one goes all the way back prior to the existence of sentient life forms, is the existence of God then, still unavoidable according to Anselm’s definition?

Here we see a lapse. Anselm fails to consider the fact that in the absence of a conceiver, his definition collapses. Philosopher Alvin Plantinga refines this thought by defining God rather, as ‘the maximally great being’. Through this definition, Plantinga relieves the need for a conceiver in order for God to exist necessarily. By defining God as ‘the maximally great being’, Plantinga was able to show that in the absence of any sentient beings capable of conception, God still must exist. This turns out to be a gem that solves a plethora of issues both theologians and philosophers (dare I say, even lay persons) struggle with.

First, such a definition immediately destroys atheism. If the atheist wants to show that existence in reality does not make something greater than existing only in the mind, he has to redefine the very fabric of word definitions to support his case. There is really no escape. To deny the objectivity of word definitions is to deny any real point of conversations.

This also, properly understood, helps agnostics understand that God surely exists. The only question is, which God can live up to the standards of maximal greatness. The very definition of God as the maximally great being is an absolute gem. It sets a bar so high that only the real God can stand tall.

Consider pantheism. Pantheism claims that God is the composition of all that there is. Yet in the ‘all’ we find blemishes. For instance, we find unkindness, lust, cowardice, and so forth. Therefore, the God of pantheism fails to embody maximum goodness. It is not impossible conceptually (not conceivably) that a being can be greater than this. For instance, a being which possesses all the qualities of the pantheist God, only that its morals are also in its maximum. This shows that pantheists are wrong.

Now what about polytheism? Polytheism claims that there exists more than one God. Now power is a great making property. If Person A completes Task B which can only be done in the combined effort of Person C and Person D, it makes Person A greater [2]. Therefore, in polytheism, the greatest concept of God will be that two gods creating all contingent beings. This however is a problem to polytheism. For in monotheism, there requires only one God to create all contingent beings. Therefore, since God is the maximally great being, the God of monotheism is greater than the gods of the polytheists. Therefore, polytheism is false.

Now, consider the three great monotheistic faiths of the world: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Using the proper definition of God, one can actually pit the three concepts of God from each of these faiths and see which one stands taller than the others. Islam of course teaches that God is unitarian (one person one being). Judaism teaches that God is one being but as to whether he is also one person, Judaism does not answer clearly [3]. Christianity however, claims that God is a Trinity, that is, three persons as one being.

In a future post, I will attempt to show that the Trinity is not a logical fallacy. For now however, what I’d like to do is to evaluate the Christian understanding of God as a Trinity against the understanding of Islam and Judaism. Consider this.

Is obeying a maximally good authority a good deed? The answer is of course, yes.

Can the God of Islam do this good deed? The answer is no. In Islam, God is already the highest authority. it is therefore impossible for God to obey any authority greater than himself. In Christianity however, God can. Jesus obeys the Father. [4]

Is relational love a good deed? The answer again, is of course, yes. The conceptual definition of God in Islam is incapable of doing such in the absence of creation. The God of the Christians however, is able to perform such in the absence of creation. The Son loves the Father just as the Father loves the Son. In other words, the God of Islam is thoroughly in need of creation to boost his greatness. One which Christians have no need to. Here, we see the self-sufficiency of Allah undermined by his own nature.

Judaism’s understanding of God appears to be incomplete. While Genesis 1 and Genesis 18 offers clue that God is more than one person, there really isn’t any conclusive argument for the Trinity in the absence of the New Testament, one which Judaism rejects.

Many other deeds such as relational respect, worshiping the right God, praying to the right God, compassion, empathy… these things are only possible in the absence of creation when God is AT LEAST a duality, that is, a being composed of two persons.

Now a dualitarian God is still a flawed God. Consider the following deeds: love in the third person, communitarian unity for the common good, empathy in the third person, the list goes on. These deeds are only, at the minimum, possible if God is at least a Trintiy. Now these are not simply conceptual rhetorics as good deeds can be classified into three categories.

  • First person good deeds, that which can be done to self.
  • Second person good deeds, that which requires a recipient of good deed apart from the person who does it; and
  • Third person good deeds, that which requires at least a community to perform.

Now consider this. If the Trinity is capable of fulfilling these deeds, why cannot a Quadrinity (God is four persons as one being)? Why not a Quintinity? Or a Hexinity? The answer goes back to the same argument against polytheism. It is greater for a being to perform the same task with the least amount of persons required. In other words, the Trinity is superior to the Quadrinity and everything else beyond it.

Everything that was written is not word play. Everything that was written thus far rests only on a rational man’s ability to understand word definitions. This shows that, if there be a God, the only possible God that exists is the God of the Christians.

When the word God is properly defined, one is able to weed out an enormous range of false beliefs that set themselves up against the knowledge of Him. These words echoes a lengthier version in 2 Corinthians 10:5.

Thus, the supremacy of the Trinity is clearly shown when God is defined properly.

[1] Anselm uses the word greatest to mean maximum quality, not quantity.

[2] For instance, if John takes two days to build a house while Mary and Mark combined takes two days to build the same house, John is found to be greater than both Mary and Mark as he was able to complete the same task with the same amount of time alone.

[3] Most believe that the concept of God in Judaism is also unitarian. However, such a concept fails to make sense of Genesis 1 and Genesis 18 where God, while obviously is one being, seems to exist in multiplicity of persons.

[4]  This will raise a possible objection against the Trinity which will also be discussed in my future blog post, namely, is Jesus God then, since the Father is greater than Him (John 14:28)? I have briefly tackled it as a response to Zakir Naik in this post but a lengthy, more comprehensive post is worth reflecting.

 

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

Visit our friends!

A few highly recommended friends...