The Bible says that God is the creator of the universe and also of man, whom he created in God’s image, so we could expect to find similarities between the concept of the Holy Trinity, suggested in the Bible and explicitely formulated in the Nicene creed, and the nature of matter, the origin of the universe and the nature of man according to modern science (quantum mechanics and neuropsychology). In this article I am going to outline some parallels that I have noticed.
The Holy Trinity is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The Father is a creator and a source from which the Son is “begotten” and the Holy Spirit “proceeds.”
The Son appears to be an individuality with clear, firm boundaries of form, like a human son. He is also referred to as Logos, which in Greek means Word. All things were created through the Word. It seems that when we name things we emphasize or acknowledge their existence as individual entities, real or imaginary, but distinct from other entities. By words we define things and thus signify their boundaries that distinguish them from other things.
The Holy Spirit is also referred to as Pneuma, which in Greek means Breath (or Air, Wind). Breath indicates a diffuse, amorphous form, with unclear or indefinite boundaries. Believers are said to be “filled” with the Holy Spirit. God promises to “pour out” His Spirit. While the emanation of the Son from the Father is described by the word “begotten,” the emanation of the Holy Spirit is described by the word “proceeds”. The word “proceeds” seems to indicate a flowing movement while “begotten” is more like being born like a child. When the Holy Spirit is described in a concrete form it just seems to be a metaphorical description, for example a dove or tongues of fire. God uses the Holy Spirit in creating too. Metaphorically, speaking of words is accompanied by the flow of breath. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 292, creation is described as the common work of the Holy Trinity where the Father is the creator/author and the Son and the Spirit are, so to speak, his hands.
If a definite form is characteristic of the Son and an indefinite form is characteristic of the Holy Spirit, what kind of form is characteristic of their source – the Father? It seems that none. Some verses in the Bible suggest that the Father is formless (or invisible):
No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known. (John 1:18)
…who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen. (1 Tim 6:16)
The indefinite form of the Holy Spirit seems to be an intermediary form between the definite form of the Son and the absolute indefiniteness (formlessness) of the Father.
The Trinity and its manifestation in the world can be portrayed with the image of the cross:
The upper half of the cross represents the uncreated/unmanifest/formless/transcendent aspect of reality (God) and the lower half of the cross represents the created/manifest/formed/immanent aspect of reality (world). Son and Holy Spirit are both contained in the formless source (Father), as spontaneous (uncaused) forming tendencies, and they also manifest in form (Body). Body – in the most general sense any physical or mental form – is formed in space and time under the creative influences of Son and Holy Spirit, issuing from the source. Son (Logos) defines and separates, Holy Spirit (Pneuma) diffuses and merges; their interplay evokes and transforms the universe.
Nature of matter and origin of the universe
Quantum mechanics, the physics theory describing fundamental properties of matter, discovered that all matter manifests itself as particles and waves (the wave-particle duality of matter). It depends on the situation, on its interaction with the environment, whether matter manifests its particle-like or wave-like aspect. Particles have a definite location while waves have an indefinite location expressed in probabilities. More precisely, a wave expresses probabilities that a particle is located in particular places at a particular time. So a wave in quantum mechanical sense is different from ordinary waves like those on water surface or sound waves: a quantum mechanical wave is made up of things that could exist (or only exist with some probability) while an ordinary wave is made up of things that exist. Despite being only probabilistic, quantum mechanical waves can interact (interfere) with each other like ordinary waves. In the following picture is an example of a quantum mechanical wave that expresses probabilities with which we could find a particle in particular positions on the horizontal plane (the higher the peak the higher the probability that a particle is located in that place):
1. Quantum mechanical wave.
A quantum mechanical wave spreads out across the whole universe but positions with high probability of the particle’s location are concentrated in a small area on the scale of an atom. Outside this area the probability of the particle’s location is very low and that’s why we don’t observe quantum uncertainty in our daily life.
The wave aspect of matter is also associated with the phenomenon of quantum entanglement. It is a strange connection between particles that are separated from each other and exhibit correlated (coordinated) behavior. These correlations occur immediately regardless of the distance between the particles, so at first sight it seems that the particles communicate with each other at a speed greater than the speed of light, which would violate Einstein’s special theory of relativity. Einstein disbelievingly called this phenomenon “spooky action at a distance.” It became clear though that relativity theory is not violated by this because there is no transfer of information in quantum entanglement – information originates in separated particles simultaneously without being determined by any of the particles. Quantum entanglement can occur under special conditions, namely when the particles have already interacted before (for example when they come from the same source) and are shielded from disturbing influences of the environment. As a result of disturbing influences of the environment this phenomenon is practically nonexistent on the level of macroscopic (many-particle) objects which we encounter in daily life. (Macroscopic entanglement was accomplished in research where it manifested in superconductivity and superfluidity of materials and it is also pursued by researchers into quantum computers.)
So, particles are definite, localized, separate entities while waves are less definite entities that spread out in space and in a sense contain, connect and merge particles in their indefinite, probabilistic character. So the dual nature of matter could be described as a product of the forming influences of the defining Logos (Son) and the diffusing Pneuma (Holy Spirit), their source being in the formless Father, the source of the universe, from which they spontaneously (without a cause) emerge. The source of the universe can be physically described as an initial state below the so-called Planck scale, i.e. below the smallest possible length of space and time. The Planck boundary is not zero but there is no space, time or energy below it. However, thanks to the indefinite, probabilistic aspect of matter it is possible that this state spontaneously (without a cause) changes into a state where space, time and energy exist (emergence above the Planck scale), and this is one of the scenarios of the origin of our universe and thus all matter with its dual nature.
The duality of definiteness and indefiniteness also manifests in human consciousness and brain. The cortex of the human brain consists of two hemispheres, left hemisphere and right hemisphere, and it was found that these two hemispheres process information in different but complementary ways.
The left hemisphere is said to be analytic (“analysis” means “breaking up into parts”) because it focuses on differentiation of details. This differentiation also seems to give rise to our sense of individuality as something separate from others. And the left hemisphere is also specialized in processing of verbal language (words).
The right hemisphere is said to be holistic because it grasps the whole, giving us a larger picture, the context, but details within the whole fade away. It’s like an intuitive diffusion of perception or thinking to a broader but less differentiated area. The right hemisphere has a role in language processing too but it captures the more fuzzy or contextual aspects of language such as metaphorical meaning, emotions and the tone of voice.
So, I would compare the consciousness of the left brain hemisphere to the Son, and the consciousness of the right brain hemisphere to the Holy Spirit. The former is a consciousness of a separate individuality and the latter is a more amorphous, less differentiated consciousness transcending the boundaries of separate individuality.
It’s like there are two persons inside man, unified in a whole, as it is portrayed here:
Complementary aspects of man.
And where is the parallel with the Father? It should be an element that is the source of the two perspectives, unifies them, combines them and uses them in creation.
The trinity of man is often described as mind, spirit and body (or the word “soul” also seems to be used interchangeably with the word “mind” or “spirit”). Mind and spirit can be understood as the two fundamental perspectives or orientations reflected in the cognitive styles of left and right brain hemispheres, respectively (I would attribute an analytic character to the mind and a holistic character to the spirit). Body could be seen as the unifying element that contains the two, but the unifying element could also be the source of mind, spirit and body. In that case the body is a form through which the trinity of man (source, mind and spirit) expresses itself and the model of man is analogous to the model of manifesting God in the first picture.
It also seems that the duality of analytic and holistic orientations manifests to some degree in a number of well-known opposing human tendencies. One of them is masculinity and femininity, where masculinity seems to be characterized by differentiation, individualism, focus in a single direction, certainty, hard boundaries (in both mental and physical sense), and femininity by connecting, solidarity, intuitive diffusion, uncertainty, soft boundaries. Regarding this, let’s take notice that in the biblical verse about the creation of man in the image of God there is also a mention of the sexual difference:
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. ( Genesis 1:27)
A similar duality in tendencies can be found between science and religion (the former emphasizes strict logic and facts, while the latter emphasizes faith in invisible things and intangible things like meaning of life, love, morality), between technology and art, between structured religion (doctrines, rules, rituals) and unstructured (intuitive) spirituality, between political right (individualism, capitalism) and political left (collectivism, socialism), and between Western culture (individualism, capitalism, emphasis on science, technology and material progress, separation of God and man) and Eastern culture (collectivism, socialism, emphasis on the oneness of the universe, fusion of man and God (universe and source)).
The spreading of knowledge, products, information and diverse views during globalization and the increase of human population intensify the interaction between these tendencies on social levels ranging from global to individual. This process brings tensions and threats, but also opportunities to deepen and integrate complementary sides of human nature. Could this be the fulfillment of the apocalyptic prophecies that predict the arrival of God’s kingdom on earth?