What does science have to teach us about the doctrine of the Trinity? Quite a lot I think; particularly quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics deals with what happens when you get down to the atomic and sub-atomic scale. Which, in short, is stuff that you wouldn’t imagine! Or, to use the phrase that gets used a lot when describing quantum mechanics, it’s counter-intuitive.
My personal favourite bit of quantum mechanics is quantum entanglement (not that I really understand any of it, but still…). This has been experimentally verified and is the understanding of what happens when certain particles and molecules physically interact and are then separated. Quantum entanglement is the understanding that, even after the particles or molecules have been separated, if one of the pair is measured (and so found, for example, to have clockwise spin) the other part of the pair will have the equal and opposite value (eg counter-clockwise spin). Even, and this is the really counter-intuitive bit, even if they are separated over very large distances.
Our understanding of quantum entanglement gives us another picture of how the Trinity can have unity without uniformity, can act together but be separate, can be linked and distinct. It can also give us a better understanding of how things can be counter-intuitive, but still be within (just!) our comprehension. Obviously this picture (as with any picture of the Trinity) is incomplete and partial. Most of all though (and why I was preaching about quantum entanglement on Trinity Sunday!) is that if the creation is as complex and difficult to grasp as we are discovering it is, then how much more so the Creator! I think it gives us hope though as well: if we can grasp the counter-intuitive nature of the creation, then we might be able to grasp (however partially and incompletely) the counter-intuitive nature of the Trinity.
And why does any of this matter? Because what we think, what we believe, makes a difference to how we live, what we do, and how we do it. That’s why the Trinity is so important, why understanding the unity, diversity, community, and love that is at the heart of our faith, at the heart of our God, can and should make a difference to how we live our lives. I’ve talked about that at greater length in the sermon I’ve linked to.