In the last post in this series, my main focus was to show that the Christian concept of God was not an innovation that didn't have roots in the Hebrew scriptures and within the contemporary Jewish custom. If you haven't read that post yet I'd recommend starting there and coming back here afterwards. In this post I plan to step outside of the boundaries of scripture and point your attention to the book of God's works. I think in the same way that an architect may pull on his own experience and personality for a project, God has built not only mankind in his image, but in some respects the universe as well. Our universe in all of it's complexity and beauty bares God's fingerprints, and one way this can be witnessed is by taking a moment to appreciate the frequency with which this number and it's multiples seem to arise in the universe.
If you only knew the magnificence of the 3, 6 and 9, then you would have a key to the universe. – Nikola Tesla
Starting with the Universe
The universe is easily categorized into 3 fundamental aspects. Space, time, and matter make up all of the known universe. Each of these aspects can be further differentiated into their own 3 primary categories which is quite interesting as well. This "trinity of trinities" as it is sometimes referred to is described in the bible in the very first sentence. This passage while short is incredibly powerful, but the significance is often overlooked.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. – Genesis 1:1 CSB
Time (In the beginning) is something we still have a hard time defining after thousands of years of cultural development. One thing we all seem to agree on is that under normal conditions it tends to move in a single direction and it can be referenced in 3 ways. We can talk about events that have happened (past), the current moment (present), and events yet to come (future). Once the future has moved into the present it will immediately be a past event. We don't seem to be able to access the past in any objective sense, although through consciousness we can recall details. Movement through time appears to be relative to the speed you are traveling through space. For this reason we often consider time and space to be inextricably linked.
The heavens (space) are further referenced using 3 aspects. Any point in space is referenced in relation to some other point in 3 dimensions. The volume of an object is calculated by multiplying the measurements for the length, height, and width of the object. Unlike time, it seems possible to visit space that we've once inhabited, although in practice this seems to be something we probably never technically do. Since the planet is moving in relation to the sun, and the sun is moving in relation to the milky way galaxy, it's highly unlikely that we'll ever see the same space again, but it seems at least possible in a physical sense.
The material of the universe is a special case. On the one hand, according to the theory of relativity, matter is really super dense energy. Depending on how you break it down, I've seen 6, 9, and even 12 different kinds of energy. For this post, I'll mention the common method of organizing energy into 6 groups known by the acronym SCREAM. These energy categories are sound, chemical, radiant, electric, atomic and mechanical. On the other hand we have 3 phases or states of matter which simply put is determined by the amount of radiant and/or mechanical energy present in a system. So for example, ice (a solid) is low in energy, but if you apply heat, ice quickly turns into water (liquid), and with a bit more work can be vaporized which is when some of the material is gaseous while some is still liquid.
Underneath of the words themselves this passage also provides some pretty neat mathematical truths which I think are pretty amazing and point to the divine nature of the bible. Not only does this one sentence succinctly summarize the entire universe, but in Hebrew it also includes in it a way to calculate π with fair accuracy (up to 5 decimal places). The math to get there, which is based on gematria, is fairly simple in theory, but the numbers you have to deal with are quite large. For a full explanation you can read over this article on project314.org. I did the math myself as explained in the article, and I can confirm that the result is a nice approximation of π. I'm not suggesting that this was understood when the passage was first written, but imagine for a moment the remote possibility that a mathematical anomaly like this would arise without some form of divine guidance. Another thing to note is that depending on the need for precision, the value for π could technically be approximated at simply the number 3 itself rather than extending beyond the decimal place.
Life as a trinity
Interestingly enough, we can also look at how life is constructed and see yet again, a trinity of necessary components. All of life needs carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids. Each of these is distinctly unique and serves a specific purpose in building and fueling a living organism. There are other minerals and things like that that vary from creature to creature, but every animal, plant, bacteria, yeast, and mold need some selection of nutrients from these categories, or they are responsible for manufacturing the product for some themselves and others. All carbohydrates come from plants which convert CO2 and H2O into C6H12O6 (sugar) using sunlight. Notice basic glucose has a structure in which the number of molecules is a multiple of 3 in each of the constituent parts as well as the whole. Proteins are infinitely more complex, but the amino acid actually has 3 parts itself!
Each amino acid has the same fundamental structure, which consists of a central carbon atom, also known as the alpha (α) carbon, bonded to an amino group (NH2), a carboxyl group (COOH), and to a hydrogen atom.
Lipids again can be simply categorized into three primary categories. These categories are triglycerides, steroids, and phospholipids. Notice the first category even has a reference to three in it's name.
Colors of light
Light can exhibit many different hues, but what's amazing is that just like so many other things in the universe, those thousands of variations can be traced back to 3 root colors. Red, green, and blue light can be mixed together to form all of the other colors up to and including white at varying intensities. In computers, we exploit this phenomena in the idea of a pixel. Each pixel in your computer or phone screen is actually made up of a combination of the 3 primary colors.
A tricky classical physics problem calculating trajectories for 3 bodies in space which all exert gravitational force on one another.
There is no general analytical solution to the three-body problem given by simple algebraic expressions and integrals. Moreover, the motion of three bodies is generally non-repeating, except in special cases. - Wikipedia
Apparently a similar problem emerges in the quantum physics realm regarding helium (nucleus and 2 electrons)
Mind, Brain, and Consciousness
Human consciousness has been split into 3 basic levels or layers by various scientists both from the perspective of psychology as well as neurology. This has been articulated in various ways throughout history. If we start with Freud, we can see very clear distinctions being made between the id, ego, and superego. Jung spoke of the unconscious, subconscious, and conscious mind which I think is the dominant model today. In brain physiology we can see the same pattern emerge. The brain is often broken down into cerebrum, cerebellum, and the brain stem. Each of these has a particular function in the brain, and each can of course be further broken down, but these high level breakdowns are demonstrative yet again of the frequency with which 3 continues to make itself present in the universe.
I could go on and on with examples, and this post would never be complete. But to round things out, I'll pull it back to ancient Jewish mysticism which noticed this pattern pretty early on. Without getting too far into the study of Kabbalah you hit on an important separation of 3 concepts within the tradition. The tradition of the Kabbalah draws distinction around sound, geometry, and number as the fundamental building blocks of creation. This lines up with God speaking the universe into existence, and in fact it speaks to language in general. Language is the root of human civilization for sure, and it is often a combination of these 3 concepts. Any written language is comprised of some kind of geometric symbols (geometry) which represent a specific intonation (sound) and often can be associated with a numerical value (number).
This doesn't even begin to scratch the surface. Without God, the only explanation for these coincidences is just a casual shrug, but if as Christianity proposes, God is a trinity, this prevalence of the number 3 in the universe makes perfect sense. In this post I've demonstrated how our universe and the life in it exhibit a pattern in which the number 3 appears to be more prevalent than others. There are of course other numbers which play a critical role in the world for sure, but I don't think any is quite as dominant in our existence as the number 3.