Reading through the commentary on a friend’s recent video discussing religion, I noted some confusion with regards to the Christian faith’s tenet proclaiming Jesus to be the Son of God and God. Indeed this duality is a mind boggler that seems to steer right into paradox – is Jesus Son of God and God? Are there 2 Gods? Is Jesus God? Is God Jesus? Did Jesus create the heavens and the earth?
I found myself wondering how I might explain this in a way that makes sense and my thoughts drifted towards mathematics. It seemed a good place to look – counter-intuitive constructs with rational explanations are not strangers in this domain.
So God is infinite, maybe like the set (collection) of positive integers. Thinking of a father and son relation in this sense it instinctive feels that a son is in part the father. In terms of sets, perhaps a subset (part of a set). So lets say that Jesus is the set of positive even integers. Now you might be thinking that this can’t work; I’ve just downsized Jesus. It seems that the Jesus set has only half the numbers that the God set has. With finite sets it would indeed be a downsizing but with infinite sets, magic happens.
Counter-intuitively, the set of all positive integers and the set of all positive even integers actually have the same cardinality, or size if you will. Keeping it simple, imagine that you have a ticker for each set. Now we will count both sets in parallel. The first number in the God set is 1 and the first number in the Jesus set is 2. Both sets have a number at the first position so we can safely increment both tickers. The second number in the God set is 2 and the second number in the Jesus set is 4. Both sets have a number at the second position so we can safely increment both tickers again. Continuing, we can do this for the third position, the fourth position, and so on. In fact, there is no reason why we can’t keep this up indefinitely, infinitely. Logically, both sets seem to contain the same amount of numbers!
Effectively and rationally, the Jesus set is a proper subset of the God set and yet is still as great in cardinality as the God set – a father and his son a part of him, both infinite. Surely this analogue provides some clarity to understanding the relation between God and Jesus. It’s paradox-free and makes sense; I’m comfortable with the God/Jesus relation presented this way. However I can’t help but grin at the irony in that the analogue borrows from infinity and infinite sets, historically considered taboo by the Church and firmly opposed.
I would like to end this with another perspective on the relation between God and Jesus, the relation of the Trinity in fact, gleaned from the commentary of said video.
We believe in one God who intervenes through Three Persons, each having different roles. God the Father is the Creator, God the Son is the Savior and God the Holy Spirit is the Consoler.