By MuslimAnswers.net Team, Checked and concurred by, Mufti Faisal bin Abdul Hameed al Mahmudi ( http://www.fatwa.ca, http://www.ilmhub.com)
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيم
When confronted about the fact that their doctrine of Triune gods is in fact addition of different parts which will always give a result of three, many of the Christians respond by saying that it is not “1 + 1 +1 =3” but rather “1 X 1 X 1 = 1”.
It is important to note that the Christian understands we are stating that he has claimed that God is divided into distinct parts, all of which have to be added in order to arrive at the whole. However, this Christian rebuttal is the height of sloppiness on their side. The Christian simply thought of some manner in which three number “1”’s could lead to a result of “1” and now presents it as “proof” of their doctrine. He did not think of what addition is in mathematics, nor what multiplication is in mathematics, nor what each of these operations means, nor why do they give the results they give.
As our response, we could mention that “1+ 1 – 1 = 1” and say that in this operation the number “1” also appears three times, so it should be a correct manner of describing the Trinity as per our opponent’s logic, with the obvious conclusion that one of the “persons” of the Trinity would be eliminated altogether. We could also say that “1 X 1 X 1 X 1 X 1 = 1”, so it is logically correct to imagine “God” in 5 persons. Or we could multiply 1 infinitely many times by itself and still get the number 1, so that would mean that the “God” who is supposed to be one can be infinitely many persons as per their logic. So the Christian logic in this case is not unique to “three persons in one Trinity”, but it can be easily expanded to include other operations other than multiplication, as well as use the number “1” as many times as one wishes and still attain the same result.
In any case, what our opponents fail to grasp is that multiplication is not even relevant in this case whatsoever, as multiplication is taking the multiplicand and scaling it by a factor determined by the multiplier. A subtle issue arises here which may not be noticed by many people: Even in this case, it is obviously known that both the multiplicand and the multiplier are indeed different entities, which combine to give some result. It just so happens that in the case of multiplication by one (the identity element), this second element gives a result which is the same as the multiplicand (the first element). But it does not change the fact that the multiplicand and the multiplier are separate and distinct elements, and that they are never treated as the same element when carrying out the multiplication- otherwise there is no operation to be carried out in the first place. This intrinsic fact inherent in all basic mathematical operations has to be kept in mind by al those who bring up this issue, so that they may realize that their example is invalid and has no merit.
So it is extremely obvious that when the Christian talks about three persons as one entity, then they are talking about composition and combination of parts to form a whole and they enter the realm of adding different parts so as to arrive at the whole. This is why it would be inappropriate for a Christian to say that “God” can exist without “The Father”, “The Son”, or “The Holy Ghost” all having existence as “persons” in the Trinity.
Now, if the Christian contends that these three are one in nature and essence (and that hence they are not parts at all), we respond by saying that the very fact that they can differentiate between these three persons and tell them apart means they are not one in nature and they are not one in essence. Otherwise the Christian could say that the Father is the same as the Son, or the Son is the same as the Father, or the Holy Ghost is the same as the Son, and so forth, a reasoning which is totally rejected in their religion.
To conclude, explaining Trinity by presenting the analogy of multiplying the number “1” by itself is utterly flawed and meaningless, as it exposes their brittle understanding of the matter at hand, as well as their denial that “three persons” will always carry with it the meaning of composition of parts into a whole.
42 thoughts on “Christian claim that Trinity is like saying “1 X 1 X 1 = 1””
“The ‘Illa (weakness) above is in saying that Allah’s Knowledge is within His Power, which is why the Christian says that God does what He pleases. But Allah’s Knowledge is an Eternal Attribute of His and is thus unchanging and Sempeternally Perfect, while Allah’s Power is tied only to those things that may change, that may come into and out of Existence and have a relational existence.”
the christian is saying that god is switching off his all knowledge attribute because his power has got control over his all knowledge?
but doesn’t power and knowledge work side byside?
if god was not all powerful how is it possible for him to be all knowing?
the attributes of all knowing and power are PART of God, right?
Allah’s Knowledge is connected to all necessary and contingent existents, as well as absurdities (that is, that which is absolutely impossible). Note that Allah’s Knowledge of all these is absolutely necessary.
Allah’s Power is connected to contingents, not to that which is absolutely necessary [Allah’s Self and His Attributes] nor to “absurdities”, since none of these change.
there is also another illa/defect, if gods power can turn off his knowledge, then it can turn off power also
this means that the attribute off power, which is in control of other attributes, can cancel itself.
The Attribute of Power is necessarily connected to the contingents. To say that it can turn itself ‘off’ means that there is another “God” specifying the “on” and “off” states, and this would lead to atheism.
About 5 hours ago I added the following to my notes.all I am trying to do is gather amunition against their shirk.
Is gods all power ability in control of his all seeing ability? Can his all power attribute control and cancel his ability to see? If yes, then can his all power attribute strip god of everything? Can all power cancel itself out? If god is all seeing then he needs all power to be part of him. If he is all power then he needs all seeing to be part of him. Gods abilities cannot be dependent on one ability otherwise that one ability becomes greater than god and can control what god can and cannot do.if his power can take power away from god then power must be another god.so power and knowledge must be essential attributes of god which are eternally part of him. They are what makes god.
I guess that by “all power” you mean “His Attribute of being All-Powerful”. In any case, it is always best to keep things simple and simply say that Allah’s Power is connected with contingent existents. But what happens many times when people start to think too much about these matters, then they may fall into making seriously erroneous statements in terms of belief.
Also, I am only a lay Muslim at the end of the day, and thus, my suggestion is that you first study this matter thoroughly and then discuss any ideas you may have with proper traditional scholars in your area and in your own language, so that you can understand the issue fully Insha Allah.
what do the christians mean when they say God incarnated?
i will give an example
there are people who suffer from eczema.
if the DNA of the patient was REWIRED/CHANGED the eczema would go away. according to the doctors eczema is a life long disease.
now if a completely normal person had the ability to experience atopic eczema in its severest form, then all he has to do is make change to his dna.
what am i getting at?
when christians say that thier god felt hunger, thirst, fatigue, pain… these are all CREATED feelings because of the bodily organs.
does this mean that thier god changed his DNA to experience human feelings? did god change something in his ESSENSE?
or do they believe that god did not touch his ESSENSE but worked OUTSIDE of his essense and CREATED a human NATURE which was NOT connected to his ESSENSE? if yes, then what exactly did their god experience in the incarnation?
1. god either remained in his omni everything state and somehow wore a flesh mask
2. god made another lesser god within his OWN essense
so which one would they choose?
I hope no one actually presents this dichotomy as is to the Christians, since they may actually take one of the two totally inappropriate answers as their choice. Of course, our goal should be to explain to them that both of these choices are totally wrong and that their initial assumptions about Allah were incorrect.
“since they may actually take one of the two totally inappropriate answers as their choice.”
please explain this line
Sometimes, we hope to guide people by presenting to them a rhetorical set of questions, but sometimes our opponents may not understand that we are trying to make them understand that their underlying beliefs are plain wrong, and they will go ahead and choose one of the several wrong options, either out of ignorance or stubbornness.
This is not meant to be a direct criticism of yourself, but it is something we must keep in mind when debating non-Muslims.
i don’t know philosophy and i don’t understand big words. so i try to use basic ideas to convey something.
the sun light is feeding the plants and the process is called “photosynthesis” a process which cannot be seen by the human, yet the light is keeping the plants alive and keeping the earth alive. if gods creation can USE invisible abilities to feed plants, why then does he need to come as a man to feed man with knowledge?
is this an easy way to convey something to people who are ignorant of philosophy and don’t use big words?
If they can truly understand their errors through simple analogies, then that is well and good. However, an example like photosynthesis may have some refutations, such as the opponent saying that the sun is a physical body and that likewise humans need a “physical God” to come down and teach them, etc. But if the opponent through the grace of Allah does understand the errors of his way, then it is well and good, even though our example my not have been very thorough.
one more inquiry brother. when we ask the trinitarians if each person ETERNALLY sees everything some will say yes and some will say no. some will say that the 3 need to be together to see everything. so what this means is that each is sharing the ABILITY to SEE everything. what does SEE EVERYTHING divided by 3 persons mean? SUPERGLUE keeps things together. what i thought of was that if superglue represents ALL SEEING AND ALL POWER , then superglue bonds the 3/keeps them together. the 3 become DEPENDENT on each other and SUPERGLUE.
does any of this make sense?
From what I know, if they are really saying that there is relational dependence of each ‘person’ of the trinity on the other two, then it is definitely a case of all three ‘persons’ being needy and dependent, and that none of them can be the “Supreme God”.
One more thing: If you wish for more proper scholarly replies, if you ask the Shaykh at sunnianswers.wordpress.com, Insha Allah he may help you out in a more professional manner. Of course, I will try to answer to the best of my abilities, but at the end I am answering from a lay perspective.
The sun light travels at the speed of light.the sun remains where it is, but its light, which cannot be handled (the christian god was handled), can do wonders.Allahs created sun light, without physical body, did miracles for trees and plants. There another analogy. Doctors create instruments to understand disease, they find cures for it and write books about it, but they dont get aids to experience it. Then what does one say about the creator who knows aids dna inside out? If doctors dont need to experience aids tocure it, then GOd is greater than doctors.
Of course, the supposition that experiencing something in order to understand it fully is necessary is not at all correct when applied to Allah, since “physical experiences” are not attributable to Allah.
christians say that god loves everyone.
1. did the violent action done to jesus appease god? if yes, then did god love that he gave up his created flesh?
2. how can god love everyone when god, according to christian theology , says that human deeds are like menstrual blood?
if i do a DEED , god in christianity does not love that deed .
a paralysed human can DO no actions if he has lost the ability to move, he can only think. so ACTION is important part of being a human, so if god does not love our GOOD ACTIONS, and wants to DAMN us for sins , then where is the love?
god is LOVING his own action to himself.
then he is telling christians to RUB his “sacrifice” in his face. so THERE is no direct relationship between god and man, there is man – jesus’ violent murder – god.
if we think about it ACTION /ABILITIES god did NOT love, so he LOVED his own action to himself. so even in christiaNITY god saw ACTION as IMPORTANT .
in the torah god says to cain that he CAn (ability) to rule above sin. so there is ENCOURAGEMENT via action.
and if god did not do ACTION to himself, then the human is NOTHING in his eyes, ACCORDING to paulines.
lets look at jesus taking finiite punishment and then his father undoing it a few days later. if we look at this what we see is not love, but ARROGANCE AND pride,
no human could pay for his sins IN ANY VIOLENT way even if the human had the ability to undo temporary punishment after a few days. only god, in christianity could pay for sins by applying his punishment law of justice unto himself. notice even THOUSANDS YEARS OF punishment of SINFUL human wouldn’t do it for “loving ” god.
what more proof is needed that christianties god is not a god of love?
jazakAllah brother, hope to continue this discuss sometime in the future. meanwhile, i will take your advice and do some studying on tawheed. ma3asalaam
how do we deal with christians who give the 3 headed bull dog analogy? if each head from among the 3 is dependant on 1 body to do actions like create , then each cannot be called 100 % creator, right?
From what I understand, if there are ‘3 heads on one body’, then there are many problems, such as each head’s dependency on the body to live, then each head either having to gain permission from the other heads in order to create, or being independent in its own right, which in both cases would be deficiency and need.
However, I have not read this analogy in full, and Christians normally like to downplay their analogies having any direct link with their doctrines when the errors are shown to them; but I will see if I can comment some more on this if possible.
if the father moves his right hand and the son and the spirit moves thier right hand at the same time, then their is no freedom of movement ,each robotically follows the other. if each independantly has a will to move either left or right hand, then they can carry out conversations with each and do other action to each other. christians should stop paying lip service to monotheism and become polythiests.
From what I understand, the first problem in saying that whichever of the ‘persons’ of the Trinity ‘moves his hand’ in a literal sense, since this is already an expression of anthropomorphism, and Islam.
But even if we ignore this, then there would be the issue of either a need for consent of all three for the movement of their ‘respective hands’ or their ‘one hand’, or there is a possibility that there might be disagreement amongst the persons as to whether to actuallize the movement of the hand/hands, and both of these are expressions of weakness, and are impossible to attribute to Allah the Exalted.
As to what Christians should do, they should convert to Islam plain and simple – I know it sounds politically insensitive, but we are talking about polytheism versus proper monotheism in here, and we cannot cut corners on this matter.
salaam . do you have A Kunde’s email address?
when kunde said that jesus DID not know and God knows everything, white replied and said , ” was that the divine nature or human nature”
these people think that by giving thier god a double mind has solved the problem. if god was in need of flesh , place and time , then everything finite affected god. this would mean god was an adjusted god and couldn’t keep his powers running , but had to keep on switching. what is your thought on this?
Unfortunately I do not have the email address, since I have only started delving into some of the Christian texts and writing down what I see as being major problems therein based on my limited knowledge.
And as per your question, the truth is that the scholars of Islam will simply say that there are certain absolutely necessary attributes of Allah, one of them being the impossibility of resemblance to Creation, and what this implies of the impossibility of division, multiplicity, and partition of Himself and His Attributes; and that it is impossible to posit mutually exclusive and contradictory attributes to Allah.
Thus, this dichotomy of human versus divine nature is absolutely impossible from its very inception, and perhaps this is why most of the ‘Ulamaa do not go too deep in these matters…because the Christian must accept our grounds for argumentation, that first there is such a thing as the absolute impossibility of contradictions subsisting at the same time for any given Entity, and that there are certain absolutely impossible attributes with regards to Allah that cannot be posited of Him. If the Christian cannot accept these as basic grounds for having any discussion, then honestly it is best to walk away from this potential discussion, since it cannot come to any conclusion whatsoever, and we will only be running around in circles.
Hope this helped.
one final post brother. they say that God is JUST and that his justice requires of him to punish sin. in thier religion god designed god for his own temporary divine wrath which he applied on him. the sabbath was created for man and god was created for punishment. they always cry that Allah releasing/letting go/forgiving implies god broke his own rules. “he can’t be PERFECT in his justice” they claim. Isn’t there a verse in the Qur’aan which says that if ALLAH WERE TO apply his justice, the entire universe would be destroyed? if there god was “perfectly just” then isn’t it true that moments before he made adam , his “perfect justice” would have prevented him from bringing adam into existence? the universe? if baby jesus got a divine possession , then by the same logic, “perfectly just” god should have possessed adams flesh and every single baby fetus.
so how come god can break his own rule when he knows that human brain and human being is weak and will always sin? this is the SAME GOD who can REPLACE sinful hearts into obediants ones in less than a second.
i quote to you what they say,
in response to S Ali,
“Dr Craig proved that mercy and justice both have to be met. In your argument, God is violating his own perfect nature that requires him to be perfectly just.”
your thoughts brother
Just from what you are saying, the problem seems to be (and Allah knows best) that they consider ‘Justice’ in a way where the creation are the ‘creators’ of their deeds, and Allah is simply a judge ‘standing outside’ of the Universe, and thus He must reward good deeds and punish evil deeds as a rational necessity.
But of course, we Sunnis reject this conceptualization, since we say that Allah is the creator of the human beings and of their works. Allah is Just because He possesses all the creatures in the literal sense of the word, and the one who has absolute possession of something can dispose of it in whichever way he wills. This gets into the deeper issues of free-will, etc., but basically, from what you are presenting, the Christian conception of God in here is basically ‘Deist’, and it would seem to explain well why the Western world was almost set and ready to enter into atheism.
This is what I can see from the issue. Wa Salam
One more thing which I implied in the previous answer but I forgot to say explicitly is that the question of ‘God’s Justice’ in the sense of it being an Absolute necessity that Allah punishes the sinner and rewards the believer [and that this is part of ‘God’s Perfection’] is simply not true; if a Christian were to present this as ‘evidence’ I would simply say that the underlying assumption is not accepted, and we Sunnis stand in opposition to him on this question, mostly for the reasons mentioned in my previous comment.
The all three 1s are exactly exactly exactly same.
God,Jesus a.s. and Spirit are not 100% same at all.
The names are different,the qualities are different,the essence is different,the origin is different,the matter of mortality is different.
1= 1= 1
But God is not Jesus and Jesus is not Spirit.
i need some help bro in understanding something on these issues
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You may ask, and if I can answer I will do so or ask someone who can explain them if I can not.
i asked sam green
if you say god became weak and was fully aware of himself being limited, how has this not created “inside god” and “outside” ?
he replied to this
> “remains fully” god and @ the same time remains “limited god”
No, it is the distinction between God as he is his transcendent self, and God as he is towards us.
A Muslim may say that God is all powerful, all knowing, all present, and eternal; he is limitless and therefore cannot be limited to a man, but this does not understand an important aspect of how God relates to us. There is a difference between God as he is in himself and God as he is towards us. Yes, he is all powerful but he does not express all his power towards us; creation itself is only a limited expression of God’s power. He is all knowing but does not make all his knowledge known to us. He is all present yet access to his personal presence is expressed in a local way by dwelling with his people. He is eternal yet reveals himself to us in time. He is the just judge yet we do not see all his justice expressed in the world now but wait for Judgement Day. He is free to act as he wants yet makes covenants to limit himself to a particular course of faithful action, and his faithfulness is seen over time.
how can there be difference between “god as he is in himself and god as he is towards us”
green believes god can become OBJECT of his own power by experiencing its effects.
“He is all present yet access to his personal presence is expressed in a local way by dwelling with his people. ”
so god is experiencing his own effects?
if God is kind towards us does that mean God has to change into something weaker to give out his kindness?
If God is angry, does that mean he has to change into something stronger to give out his anger?
green wrote :
“Yes, he is all powerful but he does not express all his power towards us; creation itself is only a limited expression of God’s power. ”
the action of making known one’s thoughts or feelings.
do you mean that we have divine power built into us?
are we part of the divine God?
when you make a painting is the painting physically part of your thought which is unphysical?
since god is ALL powerful and does not “express all his power towards us” does that mean he limits his power towards himself when his invisible spirit becomes visible?
is god object of his own veiling?
how does experiencing an EFFECT imply god could become object and be subjected to his own limits ?
bro, don’t mean to be rude, but did you get a chance to read my comment? i wanted to know your response to sam green.
Thank you for the reminder, Insha Allah I will answer after some time.
take your time man. i usually here you make an argument that time and location cannot contain/hold the almighty
the christians say that the almighty God who is invisible became reduced in his invisible being in order to be held in finite created body
how can they say God almighty was in mary’s womb unless he didn’t make changes to his invisible being to “fit” into womb?
there logic would also imply that ALMIGHTY God was having his own mercy on him astaghfirullah
If conditions are not right then we would perish. jesus the man required the right conditions on earth to exist. right conditions can only come from ALLAHS mercy
so they make ALMIGHTY GOD SUBJECT to his own mercy
not only on as a human but in the womb of his mother .
so they seem to have an “inside” and “outside” god and they want to argue that “inside god” and “outside god” = the same god but a weaker version of him
if it isn’t a weaker version and god didn’t change in anything then what does it mean he was held by creation?
what does incarnation even mean?
This is my initial answer, and perhaps I might check more and modify the below as necessary:
The main objection the Muslim would have is our saying that Allah’s Power is connected to all possibilities, and has no Ta’alluq to instrinsically necessary or intrinsically impossible matters. This is because Power is the attribute through which the Creation of the Possible is brought about, and this is the bringing of matters from non-existence into existence and from existence to non-existence – this is what all possibilities are at the end of the day, things/events that are in need at every moment, and are between existence and non-existence. Allah is exalted above the change implied in this issue, and the position of Islam is simple yet profound in this respect, and we do not get involved in too much theological wrangling in this matter, since the potential for mistakes when one speaks too much is great, as we see with Christians, Hindus, etc.
Bringing up the matter of how ‘God relates to us’ is also a non-starter, since the above connection of Power to possibilities would not be discarded. It seems the Christians’ understanding of God is akin to a ‘Network’ where there can be a ‘Masking’, one side seeing one IP or number while there is also allowance for internal multiplicity – but the Muslim would reject this out of hand with respect to God.
The same goes with Allah’s Knowledge; His Knowledge is totally unlike what we call ‘knowledge’ – it is not that He knows quantitatively more than us while there is some real similarity between us and God in this respect; no, rather His Knowledge is of a reality that we cannot even comprehend ever, so there is even no possibility at all of God ‘making all His Knowledge known to us’ either now or at any time.
Also, what I understand of God being ‘all present’ in the quote of the Christian is in the sense of dwelling, and Islam rejects this as well, whether the implication is a ‘total dwelling’ or a ‘limited dwelling’. Additionally we do not accept that Allah is a ‘spirit’ (i.e. He is neither Spirit nor a Body, not even an ‘Invisible Spirit’, since that would imply similarity to other spirits like angels, etc.).
Concerning your question “are we part of the divine God?”, what I understand of the Christians is that (traditionally) they did take the Eucharist to be a literal ‘eating’ of God, of His alleged body and blood [thus the huge arguments about transubstantiation, cosubstantiation, etc.] and the Muslim theologian would reject this out of hand due to again the definition of Allah’s Power and its non-connection to logical absurdities.
“Bringing up the matter of how ‘God relates to us’ is also a non-starter, since the above connection of Power to possibilities would not be discarded. It seems the Christians’ understanding of God is akin to a ‘Network’ where there can be a ‘Masking’, one side seeing one IP or number while there is also allowance for internal multiplicity – but the Muslim would reject this out of hand with respect to God.”
if possible respected brother a simple example would make sense to my not so clever brains.
the trouble i am having in understanding is the following:
It seems the Christians’ understanding of God is akin to a ‘Network’ where there can be a ‘Masking’, one side seeing one IP or number while there is also allowance for internal multiplicity – but the Muslim would reject this out of hand with respect to God.”
That was one expression I was thinking about and ‘wrote it out loud’ about how some Christians try to present their Trinitarian concept to people like us Muslims; the problem is that historically they have to try to stay between the two positions of Tritheism (three gods) and Modalism (different modes or aspects of One God).
So sometimes their explanations seem to go this way and sometimes that way, and even if one watches their debates with Muslims one sees them undulating between this and that (though I do not recommend people to watch debates); besides, they have had many, many conflicts in their history due to the inherently contradictory nature of the Trinity and its theological consequences, some of which like the Monophysite Controversy or the Filioque Controversy are still affecting parts of the Christian world in one way or the other and are in fact more fundamentally schismatic than even the Catholic/Protestant split.
a 15 watt light bulb is able to light every part of an empty room
what we see is that the illumination is powerful enough to cover every part and it is not becoming something
the wall isn’t holding the light
the wall and the light are two separate things
neither is the light becoming a wall and named “wall light”
trinitarians say that god had to become empty before he could be held by flesh / reduced his powers
can the light analogy make a defence for islam?
or do you think the trinitarian can use the light analogy in defence of incarnation? note again that the light which hits every part of the wall is not becoming anything ,its illumination can stay in one place and cover all the walls in a room
the trinitarian god has to become weak before he enters creation
assuming for a moment that ALLAH can be SEEN and His light can be SEEN, then can the light analogy i gave above work in defence of islam? and as i said SEEING ALLAH does not mean that the sight held ALLAH like the trinitarian god which is HELD by created flesh, time and location.
salafis believe that God can act in time, does this imply then that time would be infinite with Allah?
Just as an initial response, I would say the traditional Sunnis do have problem with the Salafi understanding of Allah in many respects. I will try to give a more detailed explanation as soon as possible, but the way we understand those texts referring to Allah and His Actions is within certain nomenclature, and it does differ with what other sects (at varying levels of deviancy) put forth.
I am answering on this thread after a long time; but after looking at the link and also taking a look at some notes I had from one of my classes, I can say the following few points about this issue:
* Time is a Limit, and limits are not applicable to Allah the Exalted, in the sense of a beginning in time. This is because anything that is inseparable from an originated characteristic is itself originated, and this is inapplicable to Allah.
* The ‘Then’ of time does not relate to Allah, it is only the limitations in our conceptualization and understanding or articulating these issues with our mostly Earth-based languages that we can only say: “Allah Willed this, then He created it”.
* The problem with some people is in their taking the Nusoos (the primary Islamic texts) as explaining exclusively physical matters. There can be a lot of discussion about their presentation of matters, but it will be extremely important that this notion, that the Islamic texts always refer to physical matters, is one that must be dropped when we make reference to Allah the Exalted.
* We can say that the Actions of Allah are the relationships between His Power and what He creates with His Power. This relationship is manifested within the bounds of time and space.
I am sure that there is much more that could be said about the link in the Ahl al Hadeeth forum, but as far as the traditional Sunnis are concerned, basically all the contentions will come back to one of the above points.
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