The Conscious Mind and the Begottenness of the Son

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Working within the context of my theory on trinitas hominis, the trinity of human, has led me into several discussions with the concept of human consciousness. Is there a separate ‘thing’ we can call consciousness or is it just a construct (or delusion) produced by chemical-electric interactions within the human brain? Do we have a mind separate from but interactive with our physical brain or is do the neurons in certain groups of apes fire in such a way that it produces an odd sensation some of those apes call ‘consciousness’?

(I’m sure once I’ve re-read that paragraph I’ll recognize that I’ve presented this as a powerful either-or scenario and only spoken to the two extremes, but as I have been pulling hard against the materialist stance, it is important for the presentation of how I’ve arrived at my new thought.)

I see now that it should not matter if the conscious mind is a construct of the physical brain; even so, my conscious mind is ontologically real, is ontologically ‘me,’ and is as necessary as the physical body for the totality of the person writing this article. To put it another way, even if my mind is begotten of my physical brain does not devalue it as an integral part of my being. Let us proceed with the assumption that the construct theory of mind is accurate so that we can see what it teaches us.

Back-tracking over the bridge of quid docet nos trinitas hominis de sancta trinitas dei (what does the trinity of man teach us about the Holy Trinity of God) as my theory so often does, why does the Creed say that the Son, physical hypostasis of God, is begotten of the Father, the willful hypostasis of God, if the reverse is true of humanity? Here we see a place where my theory limits itself in the comparison between the Trinity of God and the trinity of man. My conscious mind may be a construct of my physical body, which was conceived without respect to my will; but it is foolish to say that the will of God was produced by that which interacts with the non-divine. Indeed, it shows an important way in which God is greater than us: the one who wills the all that is into existence also wills God’s own ability to interact with that which is not God. This does, however, give us an insight into the weight of begottenness (I originally wanted to write “the meaning of begottenness” but that seemed to imply something of the mechanics of divine begottenness, which is probably beyond human comprehension, and I only mean to show that begottenness does not make the Son less divine), namely that the eternally begotten Son is, in every way, God just as much as the Father. The difference between them is in some way similar to the difference between my body and my mind.

As I’m writing this, I am wondering if there may not be a further step to take. Continuing under the assumption that the conscious mind is a construct of the physical brain, when does this construction occur? Is there a point at which the brain exists without a mind? If not, then that would surely fit with the classical Trinitarian model of “eternal begottenness,” that the Father was never without the Son or that the Son as always been begotten of the Fath, obviously not that the human body or mind is eternal, but that there has never been a time when my body was without my mind. Has my body ever existed without begetting my mind? Unless there is another breakdown in the parallelism between the Divine Trinity and the human trinity, the answer may in fact be a surprising, ‘no.’

I am not entirely convinced of the idea that the conscious mind or human consciousness is ‘merely’ a construct of the physical brain, though that model does seem to have a more stable stance from which to approach the idea of the origin of consciousness and of course is wrapped in the intellectually-comforting cloak of current scientific inquiry, but that is another matter entirely. Whether the conscious mind is an illusory fiction which the human animal has developed in its struggle for survival or some ethereal other material like the spirit, my theory of the trinity of man will fit into either, and if the former is true, may in fact tell us more about the nature of God.

Trinitas Hominis: doctrina imago dei demonstrato doctrina trinitas divinus

My first thoughts on this concept began when I was roughly 18 years old, and I think this primal form of the theory should be the entry place for its explanation. Only three years had passed since I submitted to Christ’s lordship, but in that time I had deeply embedded myself in the study of the Bible and theology. I was baptized in a Southern Baptist church; Trinity was a mysterious doctrine we believed, but not a central part of our worship as it is in many other churches, including the Episcopal Church in which I was recently confirmed. While it bothered me that the Trinity was not a central part of the worship I encountered, I just chalked that up to the incomprehensible mystery being too much for liturgical use and focused on the theology. I had already encountered basic trinitarian theology early on (being baptized in the Triune name will have that effect), but I was dissatisfied with the analogies used by many pastors to describe and/or explain the Trinity. The wisest of these always ended with a disclaimer that all analogies break down at some point, but I felt that there must be something more apt to explain what seemed such a central concept to our understanding of God. Continue reading