THE TRINITY AS ROCKET SCIENCE
Fra. D.W. Heller, IV*
Aug. 12, 2006
Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary defines Trinity as "the unity
of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three persons in one Godhead according
to Christian dogma." It is partly because of definitions like this
that most people regard the Trinity as some spiritual idea made up out
of whole cloth by some ancient Christian committee to describe some
It does not take much scholarship to discover that the concept of a
Trinity as a model of the nature of the Supreme Being can be found in
practically every culture and religion. There is a tendency for scholars
to attempt to trace the genealogy of spiritual ideas, as if someone
invented the concept in the dim past, and the ideas have been transmitted
from culture to culture. This merely shifts the idea of the origin of
the concept from being only a Christian idea to an earlier source, and
does nothing to show the Trinity is more than some human invention.
It is easy to find compiled tables of the Trinity through the ages,
generally consisting of a Father-aspect (Osiris, Jupiter, the Sun),
a Mother aspect (Isis, Hera, the Earth), and a Son aspect (Horus, Hermes,
the Adam). This only provides symbolic Names, and still does nothing
to show the Trinity is more than some human invention. But it does imply
that there may be an underlying truth, an underlying reality to the
Trinity, which has been realized by various avatars throughout history.
These individuals all seem to have had a mystical experience, and of
course there is no objective vocabulary to describe such an experience.
We only have words to describe shared experiences. Filtered through
their own background and command of language, the vision is inevitably
described in anthropomorphic terms. As the experience is generally a
religious one, the terms are usually of gods.
If there really is an underlying reality to the Trinity, it should be
manifested on Earth, and amenable to scientific inquiry, and even to
common sense. As Hermes said, as above, so below. One problem is that
science has traditionally had no interest in investigating this concept.
So let us investigate the Trinity, not as esoterica, but as a general
principle. A teacher once told me that if you really understand something,
you should be able to explain it to a six-year-old. From the viewpoint
of common sense, that is, demonstrable to a six-year-old from observation,
what are the necessary and sufficient conditions for life? As an experimental
model, consider a seed planted in fertile soil. To prosper, there are
needed exactly three fundamental items, each one totally unique and
distinct from each other. First, we need the Earth and all its atoms.
This includes the water, the air, the soil, all the molecules which
exist. It is that which permeates and is within all things. Second,
we need the Sun, the source which provides the energy, without which
no life is possible. Third, we need the germ of life in the Seed. None
of these three can produce any of the others, each is totally unique,
and life depends upon all three, in perfect balance.
The Sun is like the Father, remote, powerful, yang, and potentially
dangerous without the protection of the Earth. The Earth is like the
Mother, enfolding, nurturing, yin, and potentially smothering without
the energy of the Sun. And the Seed is like the Son, actively producing
and communicating with other life, the channel through which free will
operates, and so potentially good or evil without awareness of the oneness
of the Trinity.
It seems clear that the Trinity is the foundation of life, but what
about science? In the Fellowcraft degree, we imply that the seven liberal
arts and sciences are on the pathway to light, but only dwell on Geometry.
We do not relate the threeness to any of these seven, but encourage
the study. Geometry is easy, as our world is only perceivable three
dimensionally, and the triangle is the only stable figure. But the Trinity
appears to also be the foundation of all the sciences. The following
brief descriptions are offered as simplified metaphors which could lead
the contemplative Mason to a deeper appreciation of the Universe and
its great Artificer.
Grammar is the foundation of communication, and defines the minimum
structure necessary to communicate a unit of activity, namely a Subject,
a Verb, and an Object. In different languages, the order of these can
be S-V-O (English, Indonesian), S-O-V (Japanese, Turkish), V-S-O (Welsh,
Zapotec), V-O-S (Malagasy), etc., but three in most languages.
Rhetoric, the art of persuasion, perhaps of imposing the will, is a
three-pronged tool, consisting of forensic, deliberative, and epideictic
methods in Aristotle's analysis. He defined the meaning of these terms
as forensic (legal speech, determining truth, or the strength of the
argument), deliberative (political speech, whether actions should be
taken, the wisdom of the argument), and epideictic (speech of formal
events, concerning praise or blame, the beauty of the argument) methods.
I selected Aristotle's analysis to illuminate its resonance with the
Logic, whether Aristotle's traditional term logic based upon the syllogism,
an inference in which a conclusion follows from two premises, or modern
logic, which formalizes these propositions and operators and expands
to include arithmetic and calculus, follow the same arrangement.
Arithmetic, of course, explicitly manipulates triplets. We all remember
the components of division, the dividend, the divisor, and the quotient.
And the components of subtraction, the minuend, the subtrahend, and
the difference. As this science progresses to algebra, we see that expressions,
operated upon by functions, yield solutions, written in general as y
= f(x), where f is the function which operates on the value x to produce
a new value y. In rocket science, a vector which defines the state (position
and velocity) of a spacecraft, is operated on by a matrix which defines
a maneuver (a translation and rotation), to produce the desired new
state, the propagated vector. Even the classic inventory uses this fundamental
principle, in which an old list of items (products, quantities, prices)
is acted upon by a transaction file (adds, deletes, changes) to produce
a new list of items. This is the basis of fourth generation computer
languages, and the reason why it was invented. In fact, this is the
reason for the explosion of personal computers in the world. Before
this realization, the president of IBM thought there would only be need
for perhaps ten computers in the entire world.
Geometry, the basis upon which the superstructure of Freemasonry is
erected, has already been explained to you by your guide.
In Music, each major chord consists of exactly three notes, called the
First, the Third, and the Fifth. For example, in the case of the C major
chord, the first is the C note, the third is the E, and the fifth is
the G. The C is the root note, which defines the chord and names the
key. It determines the entire scale of seven notes. Three, five, and
seven, how very familiar.
Astronomy studies celestial bodies, their motions, and constitution.
All measurements are founded on geometry, of course. The motions of
the bodies are described using Kepler's three laws, which he deduced
from observation. His laws can be derived using Newton's three laws
of motion. The constitution of stars is especially interesting from
a Trinitarian viewpoint. The material of the star, that which is acted
upon by the two other principles, is hydrogen, the simplest "seed"
atom, consisting of only one proton and one electron, from which all
elements are created. This mass is gathered toward a common center under
the influence of gravity, a very weak force compared to the force between
oppositely charged particles, and especially compared to the force which
binds protons together in all other elements despite their powerful
electrostatic repulsion as charged particles. But gravity eventually
overcomes all these forces, and as the hydrogen is drawn in and compressed,
the temperature rises to millions of degrees. If unchecked, gravity
would cause the atoms to collapse into neutrons, and eventually into
a black hole. This is evocative of an extreme dysfunctional female principle,
an unbalanced yin force, where nurturing devolves into suffocation.
When the temperature reaches a critical value, the hydrogen atoms begin
a process of fusion, similar to the thermonuclear fusion of the H-bomb.
This violent process, is evocative of an extreme dysfunctional male
principle, an unbalanced yang force, where action devolves into destruction.
Fortunately, when these two forces are perfectly balanced, we observe
a beautiful star. Our personal star, we call the Sun, an interesting
coincidence. It is interesting to compare this idea with that of the
middle pillar as the balance and control, standing precisely between
the two pillars each time we were received in the Lodge. It is also
interesting to compare this idea with the lesson of the 32 degree. Pike
goes to great lengths to describe the profound implications of this
Royal Secret of equilibrium and balance of the two forces. He uses the
Kabalah to illustrate how the mystery of the balance is relevant between
the pairs, such as Wisdom and Power, Justice and Mercy, Necessity and
Liberty, and applies this principle to all our actions in the world.
Many years ago, when I was an undergrad in engineering school, I was
intrigued by a paragraph in an electronics book which remarked, as an
interesting coincidence, how the basic Ohm's law of electricity, E =
IR, had the same exact form as the equation describing viscous fluids.
I eventually came to believe that this similarity was a fundamental
principle of the universe.
Looking at Ohm's law a little closer, we observe the similarity between
the three elements of the equation and our familiar Trinity. The term
"E", which we always call Voltage, in honor of the physicist
Alessandro Volta, really stands for EMF, or Electromotive Force. This
is the force that causes the electrons to move through a wire, or speed
towards a television screen. It justifiably has the reputation: "Danger,
High Voltage", and is truly dangerous, like the Sun. The term "I",
which we always call Current, because the electrons flow like a river,
and some call Amperage, in honor of the physicist Andre Ampere, really
stands for Intensity. Electrons permeate and are within everything,
of course, like the atoms and water and soil of our first example, and
the current is the gushing flow of these electrons. The term "R",
or Resistance, is so evocative of the third of our Trinity, represented
by Man. The higher the resistance to the flow, the hotter the resistor
becomes, and the more the flow of current is impeded. A current can
be induced in a closed loop of wire, but as soon as the Electromotive
Force is removed, the resistance in the wire will cause the current
to be dissipated as heat. A superconductor has no resistance at all
to the flow. Once a current is induced, it will flow continuously. The
Trinitarian might envision that everyone has more or less resistance
to the Current, or Holy Spirit, that attempts to flow through us, with
One exception, a Superconductor whose flow never ceases.
The more your education progresses in math and physics, the more compelling
the examples become.
In conclusion, there is a compelling reason to adopt the model that
the Trinity is a fundamental principle of the universe. Since it applies
to both esoteric and exoteric landscapes, perhaps it will help to dissolve
the assumed barrier, and the incidences of hostility, between science