Dale Tuggy

Dale Tuggy is Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Fredonia, where he teaches courses in analytic theology, philosophy of religion, religious studies, and the history of philosophy.

28 Comments

  1. How Trinity theories conflict with the New Testament (Dale) » trinities
    March 23, 2013 @ 7:34 pm

    […] here means numerical identity throughout. If x in this sense “is” y (in logic we write x=y) then x and y are one and […]

  2. trinities - SCORING THE BURKE – BOWMAN DEBATE – ROUND 5 – BOWMAN – PART 2 (DALE)
    May 21, 2010 @ 10:37 pm

    […] is confused. We must clarify the meaning of “=” here. I believe that Bowman means  numerical identity in 1. (I’m not sure – I think  his position forces him to be unclear about this […]

  3. trinities - Mysterians at work in Dallas (Dale)
    February 19, 2010 @ 9:38 am

    […] guess it is the (plainly contradictory and so plainly false) claim that each of the three is numerically identical to God, but none of them is numerically identical to either of the other […]

  4. trinities - Reader Question About Modalism (Dale)
    January 11, 2008 @ 2:41 pm

    […] as a neutral and descriptive term. (See here.) A trinitarian theory is “modalist” if it identifies one or more of the persons of the Trinity with God, or considers one or more persons of the Trinity […]

  5. trinities - The Latin Trinity Chart 1 - 8 things, 1 trinity
    October 10, 2007 @ 2:49 pm

    […] – in the widest sense of “thing”, i.e. something that may be referred to. None is identical to any other. I’ve given each one a unique one or two letter name. But there are only three […]

  6. trinities - Constitution Trinitarianism Part 3: The Meaning of “Is”
    July 5, 2007 @ 3:08 pm

    […] same thing as”, and “numerically the same” to all mean the important relation of identity – that weird relation which everything bears only to itself. Here are some random thoughts about […]

  7. trinities - Constitution Trinitarianism Part 1: Ned and Lumpy
    June 28, 2007 @ 6:33 pm

    […] different things are true of them, we know that Lumpy and the statue Ned can’t be identical. But Brower and Rea would say that the two, though not identical, are “numerically the […]

  8. trinities - Trinity Monotheism part 6: Attack of the Dan
    June 2, 2007 @ 1:57 am

    […] sets out what he calls the Challenge of Polytheism. This is: If the Father and Son aren’t identical, and yet are each divine, why doesn’t it follow that there are two divinities, that is, two […]

  9. Fadi Ramadan
    November 25, 2006 @ 8:37 pm

    and one last thing

    about jesus being fully god and fuly man
    now i think the biggest problem is in the trinity for if the trinity is false than no reson going to the fully god fully man
    but the trinity is correct then a nother question needs to be asked can god put all of earth inside a small egg while still preserving there size?
    if god is almighty i think he can doesn’t need logical explanation
    what needs logical explination is that i think god would present himself to us in a logical non contradital way thanks
    dal i am looking frw for what every you have to say …

  10. Fadi Ramadan
    November 25, 2006 @ 8:35 pm

    hey Dale
    i know that i may have entered this debate a little bit too late but i wanted to add something listin…what you are stating as a formula of contradiction is true but you made an error allow me to redemonstrait your formula

    father = f
    son = s
    holy spirit = h
    f not= s not= h
    and taking god = g
    we have f=g , s=g ,h=g
    contradiction

    okay this is wrong for one reson lets examin your fields if you pick a variable wich is x this means that there is one answer for god and you limited a god to any answer so to say father = f is false father is not one solution he is and all the infinity of solutions so then you have the following formula

    father = infinty – 0
    son = infinty – 1
    holly spirt = infinity – 2
    now-0 -1 and -2 are not acurate i’m just elimnating a digit i might as well said infinity -8 same thing
    now infinty is not equal to infinaty -1 and not equal to infinty – 2 “think of it as a set”

    but in essense we all know that infinty -231234 is still infinty so you get the final result
    father = infinty
    son = infinty
    holly spirit = infinaty
    infinaty = god
    father is god
    son is god
    holly spirt is god and all are the same god
    same infinty
    but they are not equil to each other
    hope you reply thanks

    ps : sorry for spelling mistakes i’m not that good in english

  11. Leftow 1: “Anti Social Trinitarianism” at trinities
    November 14, 2006 @ 4:52 pm

    […] This part seems clear enough. He’s drawing a contrast; he goes on to point out (204-5) that whereas social trinitarians posit three tropes of divinity, because they posit three numerically distinct Persons, LT posits only one trope of divinity, as it holds that the Father just is (that is, is numerically identical to) the Son (etc.). If this was all he’d said, then I’d say it was modalism, and moreover a kind which is refutable. What would he say, I wonder, to the following argument? […]

  12. Transition, Theories at trinities
    November 13, 2006 @ 1:55 pm

    […] I purposely started with modalist theories, as they are on what you might think of as the far right wing, chistologically speaking. If Christ just is God, he couldn’t possibly be any greater. Or if he’s a mode of God, then whenever you see Christ doing anything, that’s just God himself acting. From here, I’ll start with “Latin” theories, and go “down” or “to the left” from there, till I get to theories on which Jesus isn’t divine in any strong sense. Whenever I’m doing one of these articles, it’ll have the category of “Theories” (see the list of posting categories to the right). […]

  13. Fadi
    November 10, 2006 @ 8:33 pm

    and one last thing

    about jesus being fully god and fuly man
    now i think the biggest problem is in the trinity for if the trinity is false than no reson going to the fully god fully man
    but the trinity is correct then a nother question needs to be asked can god put all of earth inside a small egg while still preserving there size?
    if god is almighty i think he can doesn’t need logical explanation
    what needs logical explination is that i think would present himself to us in a logical non contradital way 🙂 thanks
    dal i am looking frw for what every you have to say …

  14. Fadi
    November 10, 2006 @ 8:29 pm

    hey Dale
    i know that i may have entered this debate a little bit too late but i wanted to add something listin…what you are stating as a formula of contradiction is true but you made an error allow me to redemonstrait your formula

    father = f
    son = s
    holy spirit = h
    f not= s not= h
    and taking god = g
    we have f=g , s=g ,h=g
    contradiction

    okay this is wrong for one reson lets examin your fields if you pick a variable wich is x this means that there is one answer for god and you limited a god to any answer so to say father = f is false father is not one solution he is and all the infinity of solutions so then you have the following formula

    father = infinty
    son = infinty – 1
    holly spirt = infinity – 2
    now -1 and -2 are not acurate i’m just elimnating a digit i might as well said infinity -8 same thing
    now infinty is not equal to infinaty -1 and not equal to infinty – 2 “think of it as a set”

    but in math we all know that infinty -231234 is still infinty so you get the final result
    father = infinty
    son = infinty
    holly spirit = infinaty
    infinaty = god
    father is god
    son is god
    holly spirt is god and all are the same god
    same infinty 🙂
    but they are not equil to each other
    hope you reply thanks

    ps : sorry for spelling mistakes i’m not that good in english 🙂

  15. Islam-Inspired Modalism - Part 2 at trinities
    November 2, 2006 @ 9:08 pm

    […] Michel is a modalist, as I use the term. What I understand him to be saying, in my terminology, is as follows: unorthodox modalism is so because it denies one or more of these: (1) all of God’s modes are intrinsic properties (or his having of intrinsic properties), (2) all of God’s modes are essential to him, (3) all of God’s modes are eternal – none begins or ceases in time. And orthodox trinitarianism is just noumenal, concurrent modalism, plus the claim that the divine modes are essential. But what and how many modes are we talking about here? On this, as far as I can tell, Michel is inconsistent. Sometimes he seems to be espousing what I call SH modalism, and at other times, FSH modalism. In the first vein, he seems to identify God and the Father, while thinking of the Son and Spirit as his modes. Whereas Islamic faith does not address the question of modality, Christian faith holds that God’s ways are two, God’s historical self-revelation in the human person of Jesus and God’s transcendent and active presence at the heart of creation, which we call the Spirit. Thus the two divine processions and two missions of classical Trinitarian theology. (Section 3, my emphasis) […]

  16. The Orthodox Formulas 3: the Athanasian Creed (early 5th century?) at trinities
    September 8, 2006 @ 12:55 pm

    […] Now there are apparently consistent ways to interpret this document, for instance, using the doctrine of relative identity, or the concepts of material constitution and “numerical identity” which isn’t the relation which occurs in Leibniz’s Law. How, then, can I assert that the Athanasian Creed seems contradictory? Simply, I’m not convinced that the authors had any of these highly rarefied metaphysical notions in mind, nor am I convinced that God inspired the anonymous author of this creed to write truths the meaning of which he didn’t understand, and that indeed no one would really understand until the 1960s (relative identity) or the 1990s (material constitution and “numerical identity” which ain’t identity). Charity does require us to seek for a consistent interpretation of any document, but doesn’t prevent us from ultimately concluding that an author is confused, when no plausible consistent interpretation presents itself.     Still, having said that, I must admit that I’ve seen traces of materialistic and quasi-materialistic thinking about God in the era of the church Fathers. Tertullian, I believe, thought (like Hobbes much later) that God is a material object. And others sometimes seem to think of the divine nature (Godhead, deity) as a matter (or something like matter) which might eternally compose three divine persons – a sort of God-stuff. This sort of talk tends to disappear later in the Latin tradition, I’d guess because of the increasing emphasis on the doctrine of divine simplicity, and the Thomistic claim that God is pure act. So I’ll leave the door open to the idea that this creed’s author may have had something like Brower’s and Rea’s constitution trinitarianism in mind, though he’s less than clear about this.    I don’t think the same kind of historical considerations can help out the relative identity reading of this creed, but in any case, this version of trinitarianism, like any other, deserves to be considered on its own merits. Another day. […]

  17. If Modalism about the Son were true, then… at trinities
    August 14, 2006 @ 4:27 pm

    […] Remember, the claim is that the Son just is God, or else is a mode of God, a way God is. I think that S modalism has a couple of very unacceptable consequences. First, the theoretical ones. If S modalism is true, then: […]

  18. Dale
    August 14, 2006 @ 1:07 pm

    Hi Joel!

    As I see it, there’s a theological problem here, and a philosophical one. The theological one is this. According to Chalcedon and the mainstream tradition, the Word (the Son) was “hypostatically united” to a complete human nature, body and soul. On this doctrine, it may be natural to call this complete human nature Jesus, or (more usual) to reserve the name “Jesus” for this new thing with two natures. If one says either thing, then even if the Son has always existed, clearly “Jesus” did not.

    However, part of the idea of the Incarnation, one would think, is that the Incarnated Son retains his personal identity through the taking on of flesh – i.e. numerically the same person – Jesus/the Son – was once in heaven, and is now walking around in Galilee healing people.

    This raises the strictly philosophical problem of intrinsic change. Given Leibniz’s Law, how can, say, the two year old Joel be numerically identical to the twenty-five year old Joel? (Many things are true of one but not of the other.) Generally, how can anything have different intrinsic properties at different times?

    Now there are a number of standard philosophical solutions to this. I believe that the controversial doctrine of “presentism” best solves it, but perhaps anyone should say at least this. We know (from our own case) that intrinsic change happens. Ergo, it is possible – even if we can’t show how. So, I don’t see any particular problem for christology here.

  19. If Modalism about the Son is true, then… at trinities
    August 14, 2006 @ 11:59 am

    […] Remember, the claim is that the Son just is God, or else is a mode of God, a way God is. I think that S modalism has a couple of very unacceptable consequences. First, the theoretical ones. If S modalism is true, then: […]

  20. Joel
    August 14, 2006 @ 7:16 am

    Hey Dale,

    Here is a question I have been wrestling with for 3.5 hours tonight (putting off sleep and study) but have raised in a couple of settings more than once:

    Was the Son of God always Jesus? Or to use Johannine language: Was the Word always Jesus?

    “In the beginning was the Word. “And the Word became flesh.” Jesus had a birthday way after ‘the beginning’…

    Does the identity equation ‘Word (or the Son) = Jesus’ violate Leibniz’s Law?

  21. the evangelical outpost
    July 28, 2006 @ 4:47 am

    Outtakes07.28.06…

    The Mapmaker — Ever wonder how Google Maps knows how to tell you to turn left at I94 or that its .2 miles until the next turn? It’s because this guy drives around and maps out the directions. (HT: Google……

  22. Dale
    July 6, 2006 @ 1:48 pm

    Hi Christian,

    You raise a number of interesting issues! The three “whatevers” is a real can of worms.

    I should probably hold off on them, though. I’ll probably post on Merricks some time. All I’ll say now is that I wasn’t convinced by his paper that we don’t know what a person is.

    And you do raise an important question: Why does the NT characterize Jesus and God’s “Son”? That has always proven very offensive to Muslims, for one.

    The claim is of course to be taken non-literally. The concept of sonship seems two-sided to me: part of it is functional. Being a full-fledged son means relating in a certain way to one’s parent(s). Another aspect of it is origin. A son is in some sense from his parents. This latter aspect is perhaps the more troubling one when it comes to trinitarian doctrine. Both aspects it seems to me, require that the son not be identical to either parent, as you point out.

    D

  23. Christian
    July 4, 2006 @ 7:33 pm

    Dale,

    First, I agree. I don’t like this option.

    However, it does raise an issue worth exploring in the debate.

    The modal objection says the trinitarian cannot make sense out of the claim there is one god, but three distinct persons in a sense in which the claim “there are three persons” is consistent with what we mean by ‘person’.

    This is bad because trinitarians seem to think that there are three persons in the trinity. The claim is one they are committed to.

    Another objection is the one above. Trinitarians cannot make sense out of the claim that there is one God and yet two distinct “whatevers” such that one whatever sent the other whatever to do something.

    I don’t know how committed to this claim a trinitarian is, as opposed to a person who believes claims expressed in the bible or claims associated with the Jesus story.

    But the idea is that the claims are different and one claim might be easier to reconcile with the claim that there is one God. But that needs to be shown. Perhaps the claim that Jesus is son of God is harder to make any sense of than the claim that there are three persons in God.

    One reason might have to do with the following kind of consideration: we don’t know what it takes to be a person, that’s a real tough question! Trenton merricks has recently written a paper on the trinity that to my mind exploits this fact.

    But, we do have a pretty good grasp on the the ‘son of x’ relation and it is one that requires numerically distinct relata to be instantiated. So, the idea is that one can object to the trinity not by talking about the personhood claim, but by talking about some oher claims that attribute, say, asymmetric relation or intransitive relations to its members.

  24. Dale
    July 3, 2006 @ 4:09 am

    Hi Christian,

    I guess I think that this approach is pretty hopeless, on New Testament grounds. Jesus talks about being sent, not about sending himself, or just up and coming on his own. And the one who sent him is the Father, and Jesus in the gospels says and does many things that presuppose or straight up imply that he’s not identical to the Father.

    A particularly vivid example is the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus basically prays – “I don’t want to do this. Can I not? But if you want me to, I will.” However you make sense of this episode, it’s going to involve attributing a feature to Jesus, or to his Father, which one denies of the other – such as: knowing that God’s will is for Jesus to be crucified. So, on any such reading, it will be false that Jesus just is his Father.

    Ole Leibniz’s Law is pretty hard to get around…

    Dale

  25. Christian
    June 30, 2006 @ 5:56 am

    Hi Dale,

    Here is a rough sketch of the idea.

    First, accept monotheism.

    Second, infer from this that Jesus is identical to the Father and the Holy Spirit.

    Third, explain away claims that purport to show these claims are false.

    There are a variety of ways to do this. One way to do this is to argue that ‘Jesus’ carries with it information like the individual who is the son of God. Suppose one also believes that if x is the son of God then x is not identical to God. From this it follows that ‘Jesus’ carries with it, together with background beliefs, the idea that Jesus is not identical to God.

    But since Jesus is identical to God, it follows that either Jesus is the son of Jesus or that Jesus is not the son of God.

    One then argues that one of these claims is true despite the fact that both seem false. We then explain away intuitions to the contrary by noting the fact that a false claim, for example, Jesus is the son of God, is associated with ‘Jesus’ and we are lured into thinking that the claim is true.

    More generally, the reference of a name can be fixed by a description some of which is false. This happens with ‘Jesus’.

    Now, I know the response is “Well, Jesus is the son of Jesus is false.” What is the argument to the contrary?

    Suppose one uses the inconsistency of the trinity as such an argument.

    The question is then: why is it false that Jesus is the son of Jesus?

    Let me just pose that question for now. I’m curious whether the reasons offered in support of this claim will be more reasonable for a theist to believe than the view that the trinity is coherent.

  26. Dale
    June 29, 2006 @ 9:42 pm

    “the details are somewhat obvious”? 😉

    I guess I haven’t thought too much about any Christian biting the bullet, and saying all those claims are true.

    Is your idea something like this? Suppose you’re OJ Simpson’s daughter, and you hate your mother’s killer, and you think OJ ain’t the real killer. And, let’s suppose, as.. ahem, a few have maintained, that OJ just is the actual killer of Nicole.

    So a lot of philosophers would say, that it’s true that his daughter hates her mother’s killer, but it’s false that she hates OJ.

    On the other hand, some would argue, that she does in fact hate her father, though she doesn’t presently realize it, and would answer “no” if asked, “Do you hate your father?” I kind of like this answer.

    But I guess I’m not really grasping your suggestion. Can you say more about how it would work? I guess I’m not getting how descriptivism about names is supposed to help…

  27. Christian
    June 29, 2006 @ 5:25 am

    Dale, so you give these examples:

    The Father was born of Mary, and was later crucified.

    Jesus sent his only Son into the world, to redeem humankind.

    There are three persons within the Father.

    Jesus is a Trinity.

    You point out that trinitarians typically take these claims to be false, thus motivating the need to understand the ‘is’ in the relevant statement of the trinity to express some relation other than identity.

    A different attack would be to systematically deny the claims above are false. One approach would be to endorse a descriptivism about names (even if not their semantic values, but at least about some information the names carry) and then to explain away the appearance of falsity to the claims above. In fact, the story would go, the claims are true, but we take them to be false because the names that occur in them carry information about the relationships between the member”s” of the trinity that is false.

    For example, in “The Father was born of Mary, and was later crucified” the name ‘The Father’ may be thought to convey the “false” information of “the god that is the father/begettor of Jesus who was the only individual that was both a son of Mary and crucified.” Together with background beliefs like ‘Jesus’ is the name of the son of Mary that was also crucified and if x is the father of y and y is the only son of z, then x is not the only son of z, and…I hope the details are somewhat obvious.

    Anyway, I’m not endorsing this position, but it is one that should be objected to. I also suspect that there is room for the common arguments for the failure of substitutivity of co-referring names in opaque contexts that might come into play here in exlpaining away the intuitive data the claims abocve are supposed to provide.

    What do you think?

  28. Diagram: Shield of Faith at trinities
    June 28, 2006 @ 10:26 pm

    […] We naturally assume that “is” (est) means the same thing all around. What then, does it mean in the negative parts, e.g. where it says that the Father “is not” the Son. Presumably, one has noticed that some things are true of the Father, that are not true of the Son, and vice versa. By the kind of reasoning we looked at last time, then, the chart is asserting that Father and Son are not identical. […]