Probably one of the best books to start thinking about multi-dimensions is Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions. It was written by Edwin Abbott and first published in 1884. In Flatland, to help see what a higher dimension would be like, we actually picture a LOWER dimension. So, imagine a world that is 2-D. It’s basically like an infinitely long and flat piece of paper. Paper isn’t a perfect analogy, because it actually does have thickness. So imagine a really, really, really thin piece of paper. And now imagine it is populated by 2-D beings who are born, who live lives, and who die.
In the book, we are introduced to a Square, who narrates the story. His entire world is completely inside the piece of “paper”. Different classes of beings have different shapes – some are pentagons and some are hexagons and higher classes even become close to circles, while women are 1-dimensional lines. From the point of view in the paper, everything looks like a line, kind of like looking at a penny edge on. So, how does the Square know which is which? There is a fine mist that causes things to dim the further they are away. Because different shapes dim at different rates, they can tell each other apart just like you and I. They can also use sound and other ways. The book goes through designs for houses and furniture and doors and everything else. We are also introduced to Lineland populated by 1-dimensional lines and particles. It is actually quite fascinating. It is also a great social commentary on life in Victorian England.
Things get really interesting when A Square is visited by a Sphere from Spaceland, a 3-D world similar to our own. The Sphere can talk to A Square, but A Square cannot see him at first, because he is just outside Flatland. As Sphere gradually enters into the closed room where A Square currently is, he gradually appears. When just the tip of he Sphere is in the plane of Flatland, he appears as a dot. As he gradually moves into the plane, the dot grows in size until he looks like a circle to A Square. To A Square, it seems as though the circle just appeared in a closed room. When the Sphere leaves, he shrinks down to a dot and just disappears.
While he is visiting, the Sphere tries to explain Spaceland to A Square, but it is impossible. A Square cannot even comprehend what would be outside his 2-D world. Eventually, the Sphere lifts A Square out of Flatland and lets him see everything from “Above”. All of Flatland is before him, as far as he can see. He can see “inside” everyone in Flatland, including their “guts” and vital organs. He can make things magically appear and disappear. When A Square eventually goes back to Flatland and tries to explain what he has seen to everyone else, he can’t. There aren’t words to explain it. He can’t point in the direction he visited. It is a mystery.
It’s would take too much time to explain here, but if you think about things for a while, you can start to think of 4-D worlds a bit. You can think about hypercubes and how things would act. It’s may cause a brain-cramp at first, but if you hang in there, you’ll get it.
So, what does this have to do with Moroni and religion? A lot. Many things that seem mysterious or “magical” in religious experiences make a lot of sense when seen as manifestations of a higher dimension.
Let’s look at some examples:
– Visitations: Joseph Smith describes visitations from God and Christ. He talks about Moroni appearing out of thin air in his room, multiple times in a single night. There are many other examples, but they all seem to have similar characteristics. To us, it is mysterious. Using the example of the Sphere, however, it is perfectly natural. If God and others exist on a higher dimension, it is easy to visit us by entering our “limited” 3-D world. It would appear like they just “appeared”. They could talk to us. And just like the Sphere appeared just like a circle to A Square, they could look just like us in a 3-D representation of a “higher” form.
– Voices of the Spirit: When the Sphere talked to A Square, just a few mm above Flatland, A Square couldn’t see him, but felt like the voice was coming from “inside” him. This is how the “voice of the Lord” or the “spirit” is often described as occurring. It is often not described as an audible voice, but something heard just the same.
– Seeing all Things: Various prophets, including Moses, etc., have been given a vision of all of the earth and other of God’s creations. They are also told that their “natural eye” can’t comprehend this. This makes sense if our natural eyes are 3-D, but we are lifted into a “higher” plane like A Square. If we could see things from a “higher” dimension, everything would be spread out before us. But as was told to Moses, if we could truly see everything, we couldn’t return (kind of like the end of Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader).
– All Things Before God: Similarly, we are often told that all things are “before God”. In a recent post about Kolob, people talk about vast computers and planet-sized storage units. In some of my comments there, I explained how there isn’t enough physical space in a 3-D planet to store that information. But if God was “above” our dimensions, there isn’t really a problem. Nothing really needs to be “stored”, but it is all “before God”.
– Light of Christ / Holy Ghost: We often talk about the influence of the Holy Ghost being in all places at once. How this can occur within our universe is somewhat difficult to comprehend. But imagine it like a sun lamp shining down on Flatland. It could be “felt” by everyone that is “in tune”, although no one could point to its source.
– Spirits All Around Us: This will get into even higher dimensions than 4 in a few posts, but prophets have often told us that spirits are all around us. There are hosts of heaven nearby, and if our eyes could only see them, they would be there. And just like in Flatland, there could be innumerable spheres around A Square that he just couldn’t see.
– Christ’s Second Coming: We are often told that when Christ comes again, that we will ALL see Him at once. I’ve often wondered how this could be. The earth is a sphere. And just like sunlight, something on one side is obstructed on the opposite side. Does it mean Christ’s coming would be broadcast on TV? But what about people who don’t have TV? When the heavens roll back and we all see Christ, again imagine Flatland. What if by some power the 2-D constraint was somehow lifted and everyone in Flatland could see the third dimension? What if Christ was there? It might be akin to the heavens rolling back. And ALL the inhabitants of Flatland would see Christ, no matter where they were, inside or out. Some might try to hide under a rock or somewhere, but there would be nowhere they could go.
I could go on, but those are probably enough examples. I like thinking about multi-dimensions, and posts like this are where I think the intersection of science and religion is really cool. There are many things that we read about in the scriptures and perhaps experience in our own lives that seem impossible. Yet sometimes just “thinking outside the box” (literally), makes everything come together. It is far easier for me to believe that God is in a higher dimension than some of the convoluted ways people have of constraining God in our physical 3-D universe.
- -How many people have read the book, Flatland?
- – Has anyone else really tried to think in dimensions greater than 3, or am I just weird?
- – These examples seem fairly straightforward when seen as involving another dimension. Do they make sense to you in that regard or are they too convoluted?
- – Is it instead easier for you to picture God as a 3-dimensional Being within our physical universe? How do you resolve the conflicts this raises (ie. informational capacity, speed of light constraints, etc)?
- – There’s no real way of testing this theory. Does that take it past the realm of “science”?
The next few posts will talk about Time (including as another dimension), Strings and Spirits (get ready for 10 dimensions !), and Kolob (including black holes). If you’re interested in any of the posts leading up to this one, just click on Mike S in the Authors list to the right, and they’ll all be listed there.