I want to preface this by saying that this is hardly a question about the the application of faith, but more about something that I’ve thought about for a while with regards to the fundamental nature of God.
My thought process can be outlined by the following.
Assumption 1: God is Trinity
Assumption 2: The only thing which pre-exists creation is God.
Assertion 1: Because God is Trinity, the number 3 must pre-exist creation.
Assertion 2: Because 3 pre-exists creation, so does 1 and addition.
Assertion 3: Because 1 and addition generate all numbers and essentially all mathematics, all mathematics must pre-exist creation.
Assertion 4: Because God is the only thing that pre-exists creation, mathematics must be fundamentally part of God.
With regards to Assertion 1, I believe it is currently fashionable in modern philosophy of mathematics to think of mathematics as synthetic a priori, meaning that
- The things in mathematics are the same regardless of the state of the universe (since 1+1=2 regardless of whether or not it will be 70 degrees Fahrenheit tomorrow).
- Mathematics exists regardless of our ability to conceptualize or think it, because the universe obeys mathematical laws. Hence, 1+1 must be 2 regardless of whether or not we think it, since the very 2-ness of something is a fact in our universe.
So, this assertion takes a similar stance with regards to God’s nature: in order for a Trinity to exist, there must a priori exist the number 3.
Assertion 2 expounds upon this, for, “what is 3 but 1+1+1?” The very existence of 3 implies that there are three things, three 1’s, which make up the very 3-ness of 3. Hence, the “making up of the 3-ness of 3 with 1’s” is addition. So the existence of 3 implies the existence of 1 and addition.
Assertion 3 takes this a little bit further: If 1 and + exist, then every whole number exists a priori, since any number is sufficiently defined and captured in the objects “1” and “+”. Nearly all of mathematics can be constructed from these two operations, and so it becomes difficult to see how the inclusion of “1” and “+” is anything less than the inclusion of all of mathematics.
Assertion 4 ties up the claim I am making. Essentially, because God’s existence is contingent on his Trinitarian nature, God’s existence must coincide with the existence of “3”, “1”, and “+” and hence all of mathematics. Because the only uncreated thing is God, we are forced to conclude that math is part of God.
Now, the nuance here is that we’re are not saying that God is mathematical, or that God uses math to describe the universe, but we are claiming something much more seemingly preposterous: that is, that math is fundamentally part of Him. Mathematics here becomes theology, and one does not point to mathematics as a reason for God to exist, but the very essence of God littered throughout the physical universe.
There are many places to go after going down this rabbit hole. I’m curious if you think that this line of reasoning is correct?
The weakest assertion is probably Assertion 1. However, if we say that Assertion 1 is wrong, then we say that “3” is not fundamental to the nature of the Trinity, essentially saying that the Trinity is not the Trinity – that our understanding of the Trinity does not even approximately reflect what the Trinity actually is. I get the odd sense that this is dangerous territory, and Assertion 4 seems much safer than to contend Assertion 1.
Anyways, thank you for reading this. I would really appreciate your input. As someone studying to become a mathematician, I connect with God through mathematics the same way someone might connect with God walking through a beautiful forest. This ultimately not-so-discretely biases me towards these assertions.