Wednesday, February 27, 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different

Science and faith can make a strange combination, but I find it a lot of fun. I believe that everything God created is truth in itself. If science discovers something which appears to be in conflict with my faith (with scripture), then I must assume that my understanding of science or of faith is in error or incomplete.

I also believe that God does not play tricks on us. Therefore, I do not believe the argument that the universe was created a short time ago with all the radiation and light already in transit, appropriately red or blue shifted, bending around gravity lenses and such, as if they have been on their way longer than that.

So... I am going to take a perpendicular tangent to what I’ve been writing on and see where things go (picture me sticking out out my right leg and sharply turning 90 degrees).

There is a cool article, “The End of Cosmology”, in the latest Scientific American about the disappearing evidence for The Big Bang. I was excited to see the blurb on the cover because so many of my Christian friends feel the theory attacks our faith, and the blurb could be interpreted to mean that new discoveries may have the theory in question. But it doesn’t and that is exciting (at least for me) as well.

The article was really about the expansion of the universe. Now, as I’m sure most of you have heard, nothing can travel faster than the speed of light (except for the “information” in tangled photon pairs which crops up in quantum mechanics and has me completely, enthusiastically, confused).

However, though nothing travels faster than the speed of light, there is a strange effect of the increasing expansion of the universe. Though everything in the universe is traveling well under light speed, the cumulative effect of all those things moving further apart makes the overall expansion of the entire universe spreading out at speeds well above the speed of light!


Imagine that. Locally we have such structures as the Andromeda Galaxy, the Greater and Smaller Magellanic clouds, all moving toward us (due to gravity interactions) everything else, and I mean everything, all the billions of galaxies with their billions of stars, are moving farther away, with the furthest accelerating away at ever increasing speeds. And if one pretends that we are at the center of things (a common homocentric view) the furthest reaches in each direction are receding at speeds that will increasingly speed them away at a perceived speeds greater than the speed of light.

Amazing! As the universe ages beings of the distant future will see fewer and fewer other galaxies until, 100 billion years from now, only our galaxy (well, our galaxy mixed with the local group of galaxies, forming a supergalaxy) will be the only thing in sight. We won’t be able to imagine anything like: “Long, Long Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far away” because we will have long forgotten that there are other galaxies.

I lost you, didn’t I?

OK, let’s change the subject.

How about a theological approach to the concept that there are other dimensions? I’m going to jog around the topic of other physical dimensions (which are obviously there, but where I am headed is even more fun).

Let’s start with this premise: God is omniscient.

Hmmm... all knowing.

Well, in terms of time alone, that would mean that He already knows everything that has and will happen.

We can’t. We can’t see the future. We can’t observe the past.

What if there was another dimension to time, just as we can easily imagine two dimensions of space (like the surface of a sheet of paper). If the time we experience is a point on a line dragging us ever “forward,” then if one could move to the right or left, or in any direction other than along the line, we could visit any time in all of creation!

Perhaps that is what Heaven is. Eternity would instantly exist if one were not bound to the movement of time dragging us ever in the direction of entropy. One could step aside and simply stay in one place, continue forever in a single instant. One could also move in any of the two directions of time and be able to go forward backward, beside it. If that is so, then I would imagine the Crucifixion to be the most viewed, the most experienced event in all of creation, God, in human form, experiencing death, in place for us all. One would be able to simply be at any instant of that event and stay there for an infinite amount of “time”.

Did I lose you? I hope not, because there’s more! If I did lose you, just think of eternity as being something not confined to being dragged forward. One could simply experience what would look like an instant of time frozen forever, or fast forward, or reverse, or skip to a whole other part of the story just as one can do in the “Scene Selection” of a DVD menu.

But... that is still not omniscience. It is the ability to view, to learn, to gather all the information throughout all of creation, but it is not the same as being able to contain it all at once.

To be able to be omniscient one would have to be able to lift off the two dimensions of time and be able to discern it as a whole.

It would be like a cartoon drawing on a sheet of paper being able to suddenly grow a third dimension and step away from the sheet of paper and be able to hold the paper in its hands.

Ah... here we are getting close to omniscience. If there were a third dimension of time then all of creation, from the Big Bang to far beyond the loss of all energy (perhaps trillions of years into a future when all energy drops away and therefore all information is lost) could be held as an “object” by such a being who could know it intimately, being completely outside of all its experience, as well within it.

So... This strange little rabbit trail of thought, or as Einstein might have been kind enough to extend his term... “thought experiment,” would mean the following:

1. We are beings of a single dimension of time.
2. Beings of two dimensions of time would be eternal and able to view all of eternity but would not all at once.
3. Beings of three dimensions of time would be omniscient, being able to view, to know, to see, and to hold all of time as a whole.

You still with me?

Before I close, you should know the following:

1. I’m a strange human being with odd thoughts.
2. Of all the things I think about and think I know, I am almost certainly wrong about nearly all of them.
3. It is fun to see how might the premises of my faith play out in the physical universe.

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