Two Arguments Against the Doctrine of the Trinity
Nick writes, “I think Ryan’s position on this is a case of missing the forest for the trees. The biblical writers might not have had the means to study the universe that we do, but they certainly had the means to know and experience God.” Alright Nick. I said I’d take you to task on this. So here goes. I shall start with three propositions that I’m fairly confident that both Nick and I accept:
(1) The Bible’s historical propositions are trustworthy.
By trustworthy, I mean more likely to be true than to be false. Thus the Bible contains more true historical propositions than false ones. Both Nick and I are likely to argue that significantly more likely to be true, but for the purposes of the argument, it is enough to be more than 50%.
(2) The Bible contains a set of propositions which entail a Trinitarian doctrine. These propositions include:
(T1) The Father is God.
(T2) The Son is God.
(T3) The Holy Spirit is God.
(T4) The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct from one another.
(T5) There is one God, not three.
For sake of convenience I will refer to these as Trinitarian propositions, even though none on its own entails a Trinitarian doctrine. I will call the resolution of the Bible’s Trinitarian teaching the doctrine of the Trinity, that is, the doctrine that God is one substance consisting in three persons. Nick and I agree that the Bible’s Trinitarian propositions entail the doctrine of the Trinity.
(3) A person is an orthodox Christian if and only if that person accepts the doctrine of the Trinity.
This proposition is not necessary for my argument, but I want to highlight the areas where Nick and I agree. So because I accept (3), I am aware that my doctrine of scripture is not sufficient if it is to be Christian. What I am looking for is a new doctrine of scripture (or some other argument) that shows explicitly why the Bible’s Trinitarian propositions are in fact trustworthy. Now let me move on to lay out my own argument more explicitly than I have done to this point.
(4) The Bible contains propositions about matters that, when originally written, were untestable.
I shall refer to these as remote propositions rather than untestable propositions because some of them have since become testable.
(5) There is no evidence that any of the Bible’s remote propositions are trustworthy.
(6) The Bible’s Trinitarian propositions are remote propositions.
(7) There is no evidence that the Bible’s Trinitarian propositions are trustworthy.
This is what I mean by saying that there is no good reason to accept the Trinity. Nick wants to argue that the Bible is trustworthy in it’s Trinitarian propositions and takes it as a given that I should accept his conclusion. He obviously holds a presupposition that I do not as to why the Bible’s remote propositions are trustworthy. I would like to know what those presuppositions are, since I have not found any compelling reason for such a view, try as I might. This argument alone places the burden of proof on him rather than me.
But I shall go on to present a second argument. Based on the above definition of what constitutes trustworthy propositions, we may say:
(8) If the Bible contains more remote propositions which are demonstrably false than demonstrably true, then this counts as evidence that its remote propositions are not trustworthy.
(9) Some of the Bible’s remote propositions are demonstrably false, i.e. its cosmology.
(10) The Bible contains no remote propositions which are demonstrably true.
(11) There is evidence that the Bible’s remote propositions are not trustworthy.
And referring back to (6) above, we conclude:
(12) There is evidence that the Bible’s Trinitarian propositions are not trustworthy.
As far as can tell, I have constructed two valid arguments. That is, if you accept my premises for the sake of the argument, then the conclusions necessarily follow. (This argument took me all stinkin’ day, so had better be a valid argument!) This is why I cannot accept Nick’s assertion that, “they certainly had the means to know and experience God.” So if Nick is going to deny my conclusions (7) and (12), he will have to show which of my premises are not warranted and why. (I sincerely hope he or someone else does.)