Proving that God is Love and a Trinity using Reason alone

I think in proving an intelligent uncaused cause that is pure-actuality and completely simple, you can begin considering the question of why it would create.

  1. Considering that such a being would lack any practical reason for creating anything because it is already everything that is necessary, one can conclude that there is something about it’s nature that is intrinsic to the reason why it creates things.

  2. One can also infer from the fact of creation, that what God is essentially doing is sharing his existence with that which does not have to exist, and at the same time sustaining it in existence.

  3. One can conclude from this that the only way of making intelligible sense of that act is by accepting the idea that God’s will and nature is Love and the act of creating a reality in which other personal beings emerge is a gift.

  4. If 3 proves to be the only intelligible way of making sense of God’s creative act, one can begin to consider the intelligibility of God being love. If God is love and God doesn’t have to create, then it must be that God loves himself, but if God is one person then the act of loving only oneself would be a selfish act. One could try to resolve this by saying that God created to avoid being selfish. However this would be incorrect because God’s nature is neccesarily what it is and does not change and is not forced to change by any thing or possibility. Therefore it must be true that God’s nature is love even with out creation. But if God cannot be selfish, then one can argue that the only intelligible sense we can make of God’s nature is to say that God is already a community of persons and necessarily so because love by it’s very nature is an expression shared between persons.

Conclusion: God is love and also a community of persons in one nature. This doesn’t prove a trinity but it comes pretty darn close.

One could give the defeater that it is not clear what love is or what it would mean to be a nature that is love and what about the existence of evil. But i think if it’s the only intelligible way of making sense of God’s creative act, then the rest follows necessarily.

What do you think?

I guess I almost have to respond! :slight_smile:

I realize this point is slightly circular, but I hope you get my point. There’s a difference between using reason to reinforce something that we already know because it was revealed by God and coming up with that argument exactly on our own.

Essentially what I’m saying is that even if there were a valid, strong argument for God being a Trinity, that doesn’t necessarily imply that the doctrine of the Trinity is discoverable by reason alone. Perhaps humans aren’t smart enough for the idea to ever enter our minds in the first place.

But I’m sure that isn’t really the answer you wanted :). I feel inclined to take issue with 3. First of all I get that as a Catholic we think that existence is always better than nonexistence. But that’s really not trivial. In fact Jesus told Judas that he would’ve been better off not being born (still haven’t gotten a good answer as to how that fits in).

As someone else said. God doing good to another isn’t necessarily out of Love. Perhaps the goodness done to us is merely a side effect of some greater (or lesser) purpose for creation.

looking out into the vast empty void of space. They are thinking, we have the power to create anything we want, what is the greatest good thing that we can create?

God could create all the stars and planets and be the supreme builder. He could create plants; and be the unsurpassed gardener. God could create the animal kingdom; and be the best farmer. God could create children in his own image and be the greatest father. Can God create anything greater than children in his own image?

God could love each and everyone of his children as he loves himself. Could God love us more than he loves himself?

Could there be any greater purpose for God to create the universe and life?

We are given the greatest commandments to love as God loves, can we do anything greater?

This is just a collection of words to challenge the mind to think, search for something greater

The Trinity is certainly reasonable, but we cannot have certain knowledge of it by reason alone.

St. Thomas explains in this article of the Summa:

I don’t think that self-love is necessarily selfish, insofar as one can love oneself in a healthy way. And if God knows absolutely and perfectly who he is, he’s not estimating himself wrongly or over-priding himself in the way he chooses to love himself. Therefore it does not seem necessary to suppose that God is a community of persons.

If one agrees with, for example, Aquinas’ Five Ways and the corollaries, it follows from natural reason that God wills the good of all things, that to will the good of another is the intellectual expression of love, and that it is an absurdity for God to be otherwise.

Here is a proof using reason, from another Holy Trinity thread:

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I don’t want to derail the thread, but even give such (and I think what was stated there could be improved) it doesn’t directly follow, given our understanding alone, that God would experience himself from this as three persons/hypostases.

We are a body-soul composite. Actually, we are souls with bodies. Intellect carries us only so far, as man’s knowledge; man’s capacity falls far short of completeness.

The spirit has a role in all of this. We can approach the faith only so closely via the intellect. We have spirits and they have a function. The spirit illumines, completes if you will, the intellect.

Is G-d loving Himself a necessary function of the belief in the Trinity? It just seems a bit strange to me to think of G-d loving Himself, that is, why would this be a necessary attribute of G-d? Is it because without self-love, one cannot love others? But this is based on a human conception of love, is it not?

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God is his own goodness, and his own will, and we can understand that while he wills other things contingently (it’s not necessary for his own nature to will creation) he does will his own good, as his own goodness, necessarily (because that is what he is) . And as far as love goes, we can understand two aspects of it. The first is what typically comes to mind for us, sensitive love, the feelings and emotions. The second is intellectual and rational, willing the good of another (or oneself), which God does (albeit in a transcendent way).

At least that’s the briefest of sketches in how Christian philosophers typically approach the matter from natural reason.

Theologically, the Christian New Testament is quite explicit and implicit on God being love, though it isn’t as systematically and technically framed as someone like Aquinas would put it.

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To follow up on my original reply, I will say I’m hesitant to break with Aquinas on the matter on whether the Trinity can be known from reason alone by demonstration. I find his response in the ST a little vague at times, but I would think this argument would have occurred to him.

Aquinas is not dogma, certainly, but still.

You made a good point, It’s important to have a love for ones own being, but what makes self-love selfish (and therefore a corrupt or warped kind of love) is that it does not share it’s love. God’s love would be directed only upon himself and not the possibility of loving others. Thus God cannot be that kind of love because we wouldn’t exist if that were the case.

It’s like when people say that man loves himself to much, and what that usually means is that he loves himself at the expense of the other.

But if God is just one person that would lead necessarily to the fact that he just loves himself and not another. Because by himself there is no other person. The fulfilment of his nature would literally be in loving only himself, and that would be a perfection. And in this case to have the nature of love would be to have only one person in the nature of God.

But a perfect love, loves the other, shares with the other. It’s simply the nature of love. In a sense Love is perfectly predictable in a general kind of way. And love is that way and is fulfilled in it’s nature even without considering the act of creation. So we cannot simply resolve this by saying God created things to love, because that would mean that God is existentially dependent on the other in-order to have the nature of love. Since we cannot say that God only loves himself, the only way to resolve it is to say that Love manifests as a community of persons, or that God’s eternal act is a community of persons by nature.

The argument might full short, but i think there is something there. I am not in agreement with your rebuttal however.

I think you are onto something there.

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