Wei Wu Wei

12-19-2010, 01:53 PM

I find that many atheists have interesting ways of conveying what they consider to be the silliness of religious believe. I find many of their examples and metaphors to fall short, preferring a simplistic idea of God that is easy to discount.

I'm sure most are familiar with the idea of Flatland, a 2D world often used to explain higher dimensional movement.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWyTxCsIXE4

Starting with a 0-dimensional point, you can move up a dimension by moving away from that point.

Here you have a 1-dimensional line. In this direction, there are only 2 directions, forward and backward. There is no such thing as width, it's nonsense in this dimension. However, to move up a dimension, the idea is similar: you must move in a direction that takes you further away from every point on the line, simultaneously. This cannot be done by moving forward or backwards, because any motion in those directions would bring you further from some points and closer to others. In order to move away from every point at once, you'd have to move sideways.

This creates a brand new dimension, what we know as width. if we equally fill in the space between all the points we want with a finite length, we end up with a 2 dimensional Circle. Here we have a 2-dimensional figure.

Again, a similar move can be made to jump up into the inconceivable-to-a-flat-lander 3rd dimension. Starting at the center of the circle, you have to move in a direction that takes you away from every point on/in the circle simultaneously. there is no direction like this in 2 dimensions, and it requires the mind-blowing jump up a dimension, as illustrated in the flatland example.

So here we are in 3 dimensions. 3 or 4 when you consider time as a function of space.

Now, if we were all 2 dimensional, and someone spoke of a 3rd dimension we'd think they are crazy. If they said that through this direction that cannot be explained, they are able to have knowledge of everything, inside and out, albeit in a way that is almost impossible to explain in a 2-dimensional framework. This direction would allow for incredible insights and self-knowledge, even though it would be impossible in 2-dimensions. A scientific community that looks only at empirical, measurable reality would totally miss the "extra" dimension, because the reality they know lacks any tools or even reference points for this extra dimension: there simply is no such thing as "up".

Imagine that spirituality functions is a similar way, perhaps through prayer, meditation, or other spiritual practices, one can experience another dimension of reality, one that allows movement towards and away from everything that exists, simultaneously. One that offers insight, foresight, and self-understanding in a way that is simply incomprehensible in our rigid empirical understanding of our world-as-we-experience it.

If you asked a flatlander about the scientific plausibility of a third dimension, they'd say it's nonsense that can only be taken by weak faith, as opposed to empiricism and rationality which explains their 2-dimensional world perfectly and consistently.

Is that not analogous to the scientific position on spirituality?

Some more to come.....

I'm sure most are familiar with the idea of Flatland, a 2D world often used to explain higher dimensional movement.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWyTxCsIXE4

Starting with a 0-dimensional point, you can move up a dimension by moving away from that point.

Here you have a 1-dimensional line. In this direction, there are only 2 directions, forward and backward. There is no such thing as width, it's nonsense in this dimension. However, to move up a dimension, the idea is similar: you must move in a direction that takes you further away from every point on the line, simultaneously. This cannot be done by moving forward or backwards, because any motion in those directions would bring you further from some points and closer to others. In order to move away from every point at once, you'd have to move sideways.

This creates a brand new dimension, what we know as width. if we equally fill in the space between all the points we want with a finite length, we end up with a 2 dimensional Circle. Here we have a 2-dimensional figure.

Again, a similar move can be made to jump up into the inconceivable-to-a-flat-lander 3rd dimension. Starting at the center of the circle, you have to move in a direction that takes you away from every point on/in the circle simultaneously. there is no direction like this in 2 dimensions, and it requires the mind-blowing jump up a dimension, as illustrated in the flatland example.

So here we are in 3 dimensions. 3 or 4 when you consider time as a function of space.

Now, if we were all 2 dimensional, and someone spoke of a 3rd dimension we'd think they are crazy. If they said that through this direction that cannot be explained, they are able to have knowledge of everything, inside and out, albeit in a way that is almost impossible to explain in a 2-dimensional framework. This direction would allow for incredible insights and self-knowledge, even though it would be impossible in 2-dimensions. A scientific community that looks only at empirical, measurable reality would totally miss the "extra" dimension, because the reality they know lacks any tools or even reference points for this extra dimension: there simply is no such thing as "up".

Imagine that spirituality functions is a similar way, perhaps through prayer, meditation, or other spiritual practices, one can experience another dimension of reality, one that allows movement towards and away from everything that exists, simultaneously. One that offers insight, foresight, and self-understanding in a way that is simply incomprehensible in our rigid empirical understanding of our world-as-we-experience it.

If you asked a flatlander about the scientific plausibility of a third dimension, they'd say it's nonsense that can only be taken by weak faith, as opposed to empiricism and rationality which explains their 2-dimensional world perfectly and consistently.

Is that not analogous to the scientific position on spirituality?

Some more to come.....