Episode 104: He's My Cherry Pie: A Skeptic's Eye View of The Trinity
He's my cherry pie
Three distinct persons but just one inside
Taste and see it's such a tasty lie
Sweet cherry pie...
And tonight we are going to take a look at the concept of the trinity and show you how it far predates Christianity. It's vitally important that the things we cling to as truths be actually, observably, and verifiably true so if you're a fence-sitting evangelical I'm going to give you fair warning: this one could knock you right onto the right side of that fence so proceed at your own risk.
Before we get into this discussion (People are already wondering what that opening line was all about, I warrant...), Dicount McMartin Preschool hysteria that's just plain McStupid and a 100M dollars worth of blessed assurance. It's CBB: the Hamm-Handed Satanic Panic Redux edition.
First off, in "This Never Happened" news: And this is directly off of Hemant Mehta's blog
"Rachel Hamm, a Republican candidate to become California’s next Secretary of State, said during an interview Tuesday that she was nearly lured into Satanism during preschool. It’s the latest in a series of bizarre stories—all lacking evidence—that Hamm has made since announcing her candidacy."
She was speaking to an "“anointed speaker who operates with a strong prophetic anointing," Mera Crouley, on her youtube channel, describing how she rose out of a traumatic childhood. And then, as an illustration to warn others that "Satan also has a plan for your life too" she describes the following story:
When I was in preschool, my mom was a stay-at-home mom, so I was normally home with her, but then she had to have surgery on her neckm and it was gonna be quite the recovery process, and gonna be just a long journey, so my grandmother offered to put me in preschool, since it would be hard for my mom to recover and also take care of me.
So she took her up on that, and the preschool was a coven that was run by witches, and really, the cover was that it was a preschool, but in reality, it was a coven where they were training children in Satanic rituals, and in all things Satanic, and how to be a Satanist. Literally.
… It was day one… It was immediate. And I then, you know, just begged to not go back. But I didn’t say what was happening there, though, because they made you feel like you were complicit, so you would never tell because you think you’re equally guilty…
She goes on to describe the full gamut of her witchcraft training, sexual abuse, and covenants with the Devil. Unsurprisingly, she does not provide the name of the preschool in order for anyone to corroborate her story.
And this isn't a one-off story from Ms. Hamm. She has also conveyed a story in another forum that God had told her to run for office, and that her ten year old son was a prophet and "sees angels in the house".
Next up: it looks like Jesus hired a new publicist to present himself as more "relatable." A group of Christians funded by anonymous donors has gathered 100 million dollars in order to state something like, Jesus, you know...."He Gets You". The commercials depict different story types of people coping with their lives but it's okay because you know, Jesus totally gets you. He's been there, man.
"These are not ads for a particular church or denomination. It’s a catch-all campaign that’s meant to sell the idea of Jesus in the hopes that people will eventually want to connect with a church. But even if they don’t, the hope is they’ll at least be “saved.”
Here's a quote from a Christianity Today article explaining the people behind the "He Gets You" campaign:
The $100 million for He Gets Us comes from The Servant Christian Foundation, a nonprofit backed by a Christian donor-advised fund called The Signatry. (Both declined to name the donors who helped envision and pay for He Gets Us, who want to remain anonymous.)
Last year, The Servant Christian Foundation approached Bill McKendry, founder and chief creative officer at Haven, concerned that too many young Americans are leaving Christianity and that more people were growing hostile toward faith. Their idea: a national media blitz for Jesus at a scale that no single church could afford.
McKendry said approaching American Christianity’s image problem with business savvy is what Jesus would have done. “[Jesus] crafted his language and his storytelling to resonate with people,” he said. “He told agricultural stories to farmers. He told fish stories to fishermen. … This culture is immersed in media, and we’re using media to reach them for Christ.”
Unfortunately the problem with marketing Jesus is that most of the people who are 'using' the product are NOT admirable people; they're grifters, charlatans, con men, televangelists, christian movie directors, etc. Jesus definitely has a product defect and it's not going to be solved with a new ad campaign.
"Just consider the marketing campaign’s Facebook page, which has a few basic rules when it comes to interacting in the comment sections. One of them is “No Hate Speech or Bullying.” It goes on to say that “degrading comments about things like race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, gender or identity will not be tolerated.”
definitely an interesting set of rules. Unfortunately the users of the ad campaigns' product routinely disregard those very rules.
I can think of a lot more helpful ways to use that money to actually help people...it'd sure be nice if more people felt that way.
PROMO – Religious Relics (and why they don't matter)
You know, when I think back to my teen years and the oohs and ahhs they managed to elicit from us over this subject, I don't know whether to laugh or lose my shit. On the surface, some of it made perfect sense. One of my counselors at Word of Life tried to tell me that the Trinity was a scientific concept that can be observed throughout nature. “All chemical elements exist in three forms: solid, liquid, and gas. Water is still water whether it's water, steam, or ice. Well, God is still God whether he chooses to come to us as Father, Son, or Spirit.”
It was a mind-blowing concept at the time for sure, but as I got a little older it occurred to me that unless the point here is that God is a chemical element, the argument doesn't fly. And if I'm created in God's image why can't I choose my form? Why can't I be me now, a puddle in a bucket later and a misty non-corporeal spirit when it suits me? SO many holes in their narrative.
The craziest one I remember (and you can find this on YouTube) is Mike Warnke's “Contemplating Cherry Pie.” To paraphrase, he says that if you cut a cherry pie that's “made right” into three slices, you can see three distinct pieces, but underneath all the filling flows together, still as just one thing. I think about that and I think to myself, “Mike, add a little cornstarch and your entire argument flies south for the winter...”
Whether it's solid, liquid, gas, or a tasty pastry, the arguments out there for why the trinity is a real concept are very shallow at best.
Oddly enough, I found a really good primer on this subject in a blog post on UCG.org. That's the United Church of God, folks... and they present this in a very neutral sort of way.
They lay the foundation with a quote from Old Truths in a New Light by Marie Sinclair, Countess of Caithness "It is generally, although erroneously, supposed that the doctrine of the Trinity is of Christian origin. Nearly every nation of antiquity possessed a similar doctrine.”
St. Jerome, one of the first Catholic theologians even stated that, “All the ancient nations believed in the Trinity.' Well, they believed in a trinity, Jerry. They couldn't believe in the Trinity as you define it...
The concept of trinities and triple deities dates back to the literal beginnings of human history. It is believed by a majority of anthropologists that documented human history begins with Sumer and Sumerian mythology clearly defines the trinity as a religious concept.
According to the Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology, the Sumerians believed that, "The universe was divided into three regions each of which became the domain of a god. Anu's share was the sky. The earth was given to Enlil. Ea became the ruler of the waters. Together they constituted the triad of the Great Gods."
Western pagan traditions also use a variety of symbols to convey the concept of three. Three is a power number and shows up a lot in many aspects of paganism and witchcraft. Triangles, Triquetras, and triskelles are very common examples.
Druidic traditions also recognize the Land, Sky, and Sea concept with a god or multiple gods having dominion over each. This concept later evolved into the Four Quarters or Four Elements, adding fire as a fourth elemental. But the oldest roots of this concept do, in fact, involves three deities or a single deity with three distinct attributes or “persons.” I'll get into that concept in greater detail in a few minutes.
The ancient Babylonians also recognized the concept of the trinity. Thomas Dennis Rock, in his book, The Mystical Woman and the Cities of the Nations said, "The ancient Babylonians recognised the doctrine of a trinity, or three persons in one god—as appears from a composite god with three heads forming part of their mythology, and the use of the equilateral triangle, also, as an emblem of such trinity in unity" (Thomas Dennis Rock, The Mystical Woman and the Cities of the Nations, 1867, pp. 22-23).
Even Hindu mythology acknowledges trinity and trinity imagery as part of their religious practice. In fact, “The Puranas, a 3000 year old Hindu holy book contain the following passage:
'O ye three Lords! know that I recognize only one God. Inform me, therefore, which of you is the true divinity, that I may address to him alone my adorations.' The three gods, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva becoming manifest to him, replied, 'Learn, O devotee, that there is no real distinction between us. What to you appears such is only the semblance. The single being appears under three forms by the acts of creation, preservation, and destruction, but he is one.'
"Hence the triangle was adopted by all the ancient nations as a symbol of the Deity . . . Three was considered among all the pagan nations as the chief of the mystical numbers, because, as Aristotle remarks, it contains within itself a beginning, a middle, and an end. Hence we find it designating some of the attributes of almost all the pagan gods" (Sinclair, pp. 382-383).
The ancient Greeks also had their take on this. In his book Paganism in Our Christianity, Arthur Weigall tell us, "In the Fourth Century B.C. Aristotle wrote: 'All things are three, and thrice is all: and let us use this number in the worship of the gods; for, as the Pythagoreans say, everything and all things are bounded by threes, for the end, the middle and the beginning have this number in everything, and these compose the number of the Trinity...”
In the ancient Egyptian text The Hymn to Amun we are told that 'No god came into being before him (Amun)' and that 'All gods are three: Amun, Re and Ptah, and there is no second to them. Hidden is his name as Amon, he is Re in face, and his body is Ptah.' . . . This is a statement of trinity, the three chief gods of Egypt subsumed into one of them, Amon. Clearly, the concept of organic unity within plurality got an extraordinary boost with this formulation. Theologically, in a crude form it came strikingly close to the later Christian form of plural Trinitarian monotheism" (Simson Najovits, Egypt, Trunk of the Tree, Vol. 2, 2004, pp. 83-84).
"The ancient Egyptians made a practice of arranging their deities into trinities:
Osiris, Isis, and Horus
Amen, Mut, and Khonsu
Khnum, Satis, and Anukis
and those are just a few examples.
Many other cultures had their own divine trinities. In Greece, Zeus, Poseidon and Adonis made up a trinity. That wasn't even the only Trinity that had Zeus in it! In Phoenicia, it was Ulomus, Ulosuros and Eliun. In Roman mythology, Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto were a trinity. In Norse mythology, we read of the trinity of Wodin, Thor and Frigo (or Fricco).
“Triple goddesses” are a staple of Pagan pantheons
(Hekate - Maiden, Mother, Crone) – also has a symbol that conveys the concept of three: the stropholos, AKA Hekate's wheel
(Brighid – Poet, Healer, and Smith)
And there are so many examples of both gods and goddesses and combinations of both (often involving parental figures and their children... hrmmm...) I'm going to share just a tiny sample of the examples I found on fandom.com. This site is wicked useful for stuff like this...
So that was fun... remembering some of this stuff does have a particular fondness for me. I miss the security of deities. I really do, but I'll say it again: what good is a false sense of security?
Now let's turn the spotlight on Christianity. Arthur Weigall makes a valid point that brings things much closer to home that might surprise some of you:
"It must not be forgotten that Jesus Christ never mentioned such a phenomenon [the Trinity], and nowhere in the New Testament does the word 'Trinity' appear. The idea was only adopted by the Church three hundred years after the death of our Lord; and the origin of the conception is entirely pagan.” And in case you didn't catch it, this guy is a Christian. And he gets this.
That's right, folks.... the concept of the trinity is 100 percent extrabiblical. And yes, the NT does identify three distinct persons that are all related in terms of their origins, but Jesus never refers to himself as a member of a trinity. The Trinity is never seen together and we are never given an example of their interactions. Genesis 1:26 does have one of those anomalous lines wherein Yahweh says, “Let us make man in our image...” That proves nothing, though. If the Trinity existed in Genesis, where were Son and Spirit? Yahweh had no documented co-conspirators in the OT. None.
When I look at the related biblical passages, I see that God fathered Jesus and Jesus sent the Holy Spirit after his post-resurrection departure (I'm speaking in purely literary terms... this is according to NT narrative). The assertion that all three of these manifestations are actually all the same deity goes back to what we see in Dt. 6:4 (and is repeated by Jesus in Mk. 12:29) – “Hear, oh Israel, the lord our God is one Lord.” But again, if this was a thing from the beginning, why, in 39 books, is the subject never addressed?
The concept was definitely in place but never referred to as “the trinity.” Did the NT writers present the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in this way on purpose? Who knows? We still don't have any original documents so who knows what got added over time. The trinity concept could have come later or could have been the result of biased redaction by people who had their own agendas and convictions. But it was the existence of the Father, Son and HS that was in part responsible for the “filioque” debate that followed the Council of Nicea. The original Nicean creed did not contain the word.
So what is this whole fillioque thing all about?
Early Christians never had the first intention of applying the idea of trinity to their own faith. There was God the Father and Jesus his son and this rather vague concept called the Holy Spirit (who itself is described as having multiple functions and attributes). But before the Council of Nicea and the controversies over the concept that followed, there was really no thought of all three being an actual Trinity.
The very pagan concept of Trinity could only be applied to Christian doctrine by inserting language that required the Holy Spirit, the required third person, co-equal status with the other two.
“The idea of the Spirit being co-equal with God was not generally recognised until the second half of the Fourth Century A.D. . . . In the year 381 the Council of Constantinople added to the earlier Nicene Creed a description of the Holy Spirit as 'the Lord, and giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and Son together is worshipped and glorified.”
This is where the ship started being steered toward the concept of one god, three parts. It didn't start with Jesus or any NT writer. In the 7th century, the concept was solidified further when many Christian sects began using the term “who proceeds from the father and the son” to describe the person of the Holy Spirit. Filioque is what adds the “and the son” part of the position.
Several of the Eastern churches claimed that this diminished the power of the Spirit. Ultimately, the debate over this clause (and other matters) brought about the separation of the Eastern Orthodox churches from the Western Latin churches in 1054. https://www.worldhistory.org/Trinity/
I remember doing a paper in college for one of my Theology classes on the filioque controversy, but with the way we were thinking during that time, I didn't think of this as being an argument about the Trinity. I thought of it as simply an argument about wording in the Apostle's Creed.
The Bible never ties the Trinity together in this way at all. Like pretty much everything about this religion, eventually, someone decided this was going to be a thing and it became a thing. But like many things the Catholic church did in the Middle Ages, the concept of the trinity was devised mostly to attract pagan converts. Most pagans would have felt right at home with a three-person deity.
Now, in my never-ending attempt to give these people equal time (and failing miserably owing to the sheer baselessness of any argument they make about anything) I actually clicked on an article that purports to offer PROOF that the Trinity is not Pagan in origin. This is a site called bible.ca. It looks like it was made with GeoCities circa 1996. That was my first impression. My second was, “my but there are a lot of exclamation points around here...” I swear, just reading this felt like I was reading the rantings of an unruly toddler:
I'm literally only giving this attention as a means of injecting a little comic relief... ok here goes:
There are a LOT of shoutpoles on this website and animated gifs and very bright colors...it was very nostalgic. And you really did get the 'unruly toddler' tone very clearly.
It all sounds way more batshit on the heels of a practical, reasoned discussion on the subject, doesn't it? To me, that page encapsulates well the desperation and ignorance that proceeds from evangelical thought. These people are so desperate to be right, they're willing to look like fools, making arguments that are so easy to overturn it's almost embarrassing just reading them out loud, asserting their point of view as fact, and practically throwing a tantrum in their attempt to be convincing.
And as we close things out tonight, that is what I want you thinking about: the ridiculousness of the way these people organize their arguments and their obvious fear of the real truth. Keep in mind that if something isn't factual, it also isn't true. If you can't offer evidences for what you believe, you cannot assert that those beliefs are true. If being asked to provide evidence brings out nervousness, defensiveness, and anger, you clearly know that what you believe isn't true. And if what what you believe isn't true it can't save you. After all, even Jesus said that it's the truth that sets us free.
Here are a few facts that we can observe and demonstrate:
The concept of trinities is way older than Christianity
The Bible never uses the word trinity or any related word or phrase
Most early Christians didn't view Jesus as part of a trinity
The concept of a trinity didn't even crop up around Jesus for more than 300 years
The existence of the trinity was decided with the insertion of a phrase into the Nicean Creed
The concept of the Christian trinity was clarified with the settlement of the filioque argument and that final redaction of “who proceeds from the father and the son” as it appears in the creed is the foundation of all doctrines of the Christian trinity. Not the bible, not the words of God or Jesus, but a stamp of approval from a group of people who decided it was true largely by majority vote.
This is what you're staking your eternity on: the opinions of a bunch of self-pious dead dudes.
See, I'm not in the “do your own research” camp when it comes to helping people get their lives back. I'm happy to do it for you. But that being said, I do hope you'll look at the links in the show notes and maybe look a little beyond them to corroborate what I'm saying. And the more you dig, the more absurdity you're going to uncover. The more you're going to see just how little of what you believe actually originates with your god and how much of it has much more to do with in-fighting among the ranks of so-called scholars and theologians all vying to have their opinions adopted over the other guy's. The Great Schism was a response to the Filioque argument. Eastern and western traditions split over it and each went back to their neutral corners convinced that they were right.
So let me ask you: if God is real, why doesn't he simply clarify things so we know who he is and how he feels about all this? If the Christian trinity is truly unique and not a construct of a much older concepts, why is there so much overwhelming evidence to the contrary? Why do cultures that are literal millennia older than Christianity profess things like triple goddesses and trinities within their pantheons?
These are questions worth pondering, although I will warn you: the wider you make your search for the truth, the more lies you uncover and those lies are the things that unravel your faith. You can either commit to seeking the truth wherever it leads or you can go on nodding your head to the likes of the author of that idiotic blog post and drift off into the great nothing blissfully unaware of how badly you've been duped. I choose the truth. I choose reality. I choose to think rationally and hear all arguments before making a decision. It's good policy, but more, it keeps us on a path to getting and staying unbound.