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.


  1. Bálint
    May 11, 2017 @ 4:01 pm

    Hi Dale,

    Thanks for this post! This sheds even more light on some of your logic. However, I have some objections. Let me use one of your arguments to illustrate my problems:

    1. Jesus is divine.
    2. The Father is divine.
    3. There is only one being which is divine.
    4. Therefore, Jesus is the Father.

    This argument, it seems, is invalid. Here are the missing premises:

    A. Jesus is a being.
    B. The Father is a being.

    In the sense that orthodox theology asserts 3, it denies A and B. Now you may use “being” in a broader sense and call subsistences beings, but then 3 is false on Christian orthodoxy. Your formalized version of premise 3 shows another side of the problem:

    3. ?x?y((Dx ? Dy) ? x=y) [Notice how your “translation” of this differs from your original English premise 3!)

    The problem here is that you do not define the set or universe that you’re quantifying over. If it is “beings”, then the argument is invalid; if it is “beings and subsistences”, it is false. If you believe that the notion of subsistences or persons as opposed to beings is incoherent, you need to formulate an argument for it–however, an argument for Jesus being a being (heh) is in itself an argument against Christian orthodoxy, nevermind the Trinity. In general, It seems to me that if in your metaphysics (x and y differ) unconditionally implies (x and y are different beings), and if you argue from that metaphysics, you beg the question against orthodox Trinitarianism. I suspect you use the word “being” differently.

    (Now I’m fully aware that my objections have wide-ranging theoretical implications. Am I proposing a non-objectionable Quadrinity? Are there two ways to be divine? Am I suggesting Plantingan Arianism? Does this objection imply “ontological pluralism”? Whatever the answers may be to these questions, they don’t change the fact that your argument as it stands is not valid.)

    • Bálint
      May 11, 2017 @ 4:03 pm

      Oh man, I wanted to be all cool and stuff with my proper notation, but the site messed it up and now it’s all question marks. However I’m pretty sure you can figure out what those are standing for.

  2. RonH
    May 10, 2017 @ 11:17 pm

    I can’t seem to shake the intuition that logic isn’t capturing enough of what’s going on here.

    Remember Flatland? A sphere as such cannot be perceived by the Flatlanders. In fact, they have no frame of reference to even fully conceive of one. However, a sphere can intersect with Flatland, and Flatlanders can see that intersection as a circle, albeit with rather strange properties (such as a constantly-changing size). Is the circle which is the intersection of the sphere in Flatland identical with the sphere? Clearly not. However, the circle very much is the sphere, as much as anything in Flatland could be said to be the sphere.

    Could the Incarnation not be something along these lines? God the Father is clearly a being incapable of existing in our world as himself. But if Jesus were the intersection of God with our three-dimensional space-time, then he would both be God and not be God much like the circle in Flatland both is the sphere and isn’t it. Just because our “geometry” can’t completely describe their relationship doesn’t mean their relationship is impossible. It could just mean our geometry has limitations.

  3. James Goetz
    May 10, 2017 @ 9:12 pm

    Hi Dale,

    Thank you for this blogpost. As you may recall, I propose that my Relative-Social Trinitarianism resolves all of your criticism about logic, identity, and the Trinity (http://journalofanalytictheology.com/jat/index.php/jat/article/view/jat.2016-4.181919061425a/283).

    By the way, I am still working on the outline for my analysis and proposal of my two-nature Christology in response to your propositional logic in “Podcast 145.”