February 26, 2009

up, up and away

MP3: Transit Ford in the Fourth Dimension (3 mb)

This passage from Mere Christianity by CS Lewis, where he attempts to explain the possibility of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost as one Being, has always intrigued me. Not so much from a religious viewpoint as from a fuller understanding of the universe kind of angle:

You know that in space you can move in three ways - to left or right, backwards or forwards, up or down. Every direction is either one of these three or a compromise between them. They are called the three Dimensions. Now notice this. If you are using only one dimension, you could draw only a straight line. If you are using two; you could draw a figure: say, a square. And a square is made up of four straight lines. Now a step further. If you have three dimensions, you can then build what we call a solid body: say, a cube - a thing like a dice or a lump of sugar. And a cube is made up of six squares.

Do you see the point? A world of one dimension would be a straight line. In a two-dimensional world, you still get straight lines, but many lines make one figure. In a three-dimensional world, you still get figures but many figures make one solid body. In other words, as you advance to more real and more complicated levels, you do not leave behind you the things you found on the simpler levels: you still have them, but combined in new ways - in ways you could not imagine if you knew only the simpler levels.

Now the Christian account of God involves just the same principle. The human level is a simple and rather empty level. On the human level one person is one being, and any two persons are two separate beings - just as, in two dimensions (say on a flat sheet of paper) one square is one figure, and any two squares are two separate figures. On the Divine level you still find personalities; but up there you find them combined in new ways which we, who do not live on that level, cannot imagine. In God's dimension, so to speak, you find a being who is three Persons while remaining one Being, just as a cube is six squares while remaining one cube. Of course we cannot fully conceive a Being like that: just as, if we were so made that we perceived only two dimensions in space we could never properly imagine a cube. But we can get a sort of faint notion of it. And when we do, we are then, for the first time in our lives, getting some positive idea, however faint, of something super-personal - something more than a person. It is something we could never have guessed, and yet, once we have been told, one almost feels one ought to have been able to guess it because it fits in so well with all the things we know already.

I have a hard time stopping there, though. What about a Fifth Dimension, where Marilyn McCoo has ten eyes and five mouths? Ha, but I'm joking. But why not a 6th, 7th or 8th dimension? If the Universe truly is infinite, couldn't there be an infinite number of dimensions as well? What do you think about that?

I think it would be cool to experience those other dimensions somehow but it would probably be dangerous, if not a little unnerving. Psychedelic in every sense...and we all know we have six of those right?

Anyway, I sent Transit Ford on a mission to check it out. Here's his report:

I'm slowly coming through my skull and out my face.

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