The Reconquista Initiative
The Trinity in Nature & a Biblical Explanation
The Trinity: one God; three persons. A fascinating concept, but one which many people have said is mysterious, difficult to grasp, and hard to accept. Yet we can rightly wonder whether we make the Trinity more mysterious than it actually is, especially since, when we look at our own world, we can see analogous examples to it existing in the here and now. Indeed, how can the Trinity be so difficult to understand and accept when we have an example of something very much like the Trinity in nature. After all, consider, for example, the story of Krista and Tatiana Hogan, which is a real-life case of conjoined twins where we have two distinct individuals with two centers of consciousness, and yet, given its interconnectivity and inseparability, these two people share one large and unique brain. And miraculously, these girls, being connected as one, can see through each other’s eyes, can share sensory inputs, and might even be able to share the same thoughts. But don’t take my word for it; instead, here is a snippet—which has been edited for relevance—of an article from Denis Ryan of the Vancouver Sun newspaper, published on the 2nd of January 2014, and accessed on the 27th of October, 2016:
Tatiana and Krista Hogan hold hands. …they perch on a sofa between the two women raising them in Vernon — their grandmother, Louise McKay, and their mother, Felicia Hogan.
Louise covers Tatiana’s eyes.
Felicia holds up a small stuffed animal in front of Krista’s open eyes.
“What am I holding?” she asks Tatiana.
Tatiana, her eyes completely covered, hesitates.
Her mother prompts her. “Tati, look through your sister’s eyes.”
…Tatiana, eyes covered, somehow floats into her sister’s brain: “The Lorax!” she announces.
In order to see through each other’s eyes there is some internal shift, a decision, as if each sister’s soul moves over and makes space for the other.
The moment, repeated at will or on request, is as magical every time as the last. Each girl can see through the eyes of the other: a purple crayon, a teddy bear.
Recent functional MRIs demonstrate that physical sensation can be a shared experience too: one can feel the touch of a hand on the other’s kneecap, identify a particular toe being tugged, laugh when her twin is being tickled. They also may share some motor function.
This seemingly magical ability — to see through each other’s eyes, to feel what the other experiences, perhaps even to share thoughts — has stunned neurologists and makes these tiny girls unique in the world.
They are conjoined not just by flesh and bone. Their brains are “zippered” together by a neural bridge between the thalami, the sensory processing hubs of their brains.
This bridge, which the girls can flitter across at will, has raised questions and inspired a sense of wonder among even the most seasoned specialists.
How does it work? What are its limits? What could it mean to our understanding of the ability of the brain to change and adapt? What does it mean in terms of how we understand the development of personality, empathy and consciousness?
What does it feel like to literally see through another’s eyes?
So here we have, for all intents and purposes, two people in one brain. Two people who can share what they see, what they touch, and what they sense. Two people who might very well share their own thoughts with each other directly and without the medium of verbal communication. And so, in this real-life case, it is possible to see and understand how a thing that is ultimately one in its ‘whatness’, namely their one unique brain, can be two in its ‘personhood’. But is this not analogous to the Trinity, in that the ‘whatness’ of God is shared by three persons. And while such an analogy for the Trinity is, of course, not perfect—for no analogy is—this analogy nevertheless does provide us with a living example of two centers of consciousness in one brain sharing sensations and perhaps even their thoughts, which is precisely what the Trinity is said to do. Thus, this real-life case does serve as an example which should diminish the mystery that surrounds the Trinity itself, for here we have an illustration, in nature, of two persons being able to act in a manner reflective of how Christian theology teaches that the Trinity can act.
At the same time, I also wish to point out that the Bible itself, in its interesting distinction between a ‘spirit’ and a ‘soul’, as found in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 and Hebrews 4:12, might also provide us with the very means to better explain the Trinity, for God could be one soul with three spirits, or vis versa, just as Krista and Tatiana Hogan are one brain with two persons. Indeed, in such a case, the soul would be analogous to the body and the spirit would be analogous to the mind of a person (or vis versa). Furthermore, since, in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, the New Testament states that a human person is a mix of soul and spirit and body, and since the Bible, in Genesis 1:26-27, also says that men are made in the image of God, then this gives us yet further reason to think that God is a mix of soul and spirit. Finally, Isaiah 42:1 also hints that God is indeed both soul and spirit when it says, speaking in God’s voice, that “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him (NASB)”. So the idea that God is both soul and spirit, and that the Trinity thus could be three spirits in one soul, has some Biblical support. Thus the Bible itself, through its division of soul from spirit, when combined with the real analogous example of two persons sharing one brain, provides us with yet further means by which we can better understand the Trinity.
And so the long and story of it is this: not only does nature provide us with a living example of something that is analogous to the Trinity—namely, two persons in one brain—thereby lessening the alleged mysteriousness of this Christian concept, but the Bible itself gives us the grounds to understand that the Trinity might be structured in a similar way, namely three spirits, or three minds, in one soul. And there is nothing contradictory or overly difficult to grasp about that.
Anno Domini 2016 11 11
Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam.