Download FLATLAND here
If you believe in the Bible, you have to believe some very weird things. They can be summed up in one word: Spirits! Not just spirits, but a whole world - a whole universe -where the dead go (and very occasionally return).
Scientists typically cannot believe in spirits - can they? Wasn't it the enlightenment that banished the idea of "the ghost in the machine"? Surely the universe has no place for spirits? Surely there are no unexplained phenomena, and everything is like some great clockwork mechanism? Well, the "clockwork universe" idea was banished when Quantum mechanics was discovered. (Ever heard of the uncertainty principle? If not, visit http://www.aip.org/history/heisenberg/p08c.htm and prepare to be knocked sideways...)
Nowadays there is plenty of room for the spirit world, thanks to what we know about extra dimensions.
See also: The Fall and the Atonement
|A physical heaven|
Doctrine and Covenants 131:7: There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes.
Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol.3, p.367 - 369 and :
"When our spirits leave our bodies where do they go to? I will tell you. Will I locate them? Yes, if you wish me to. They do not pass out of the organization of this earth on which we live. ...
Where is the spirit world? It is right here. Do the good and evil spirits go together? Yes, they do. Do they both inhabit one kingdom? Yes, they do. Do they go to the sun? No. Do they go beyond the boundaries of this organized earth? No, they do not. They are brought forth upon this earth, for the express purpose of inhabiting it to all eternity. Where else are you going? No where else, only as you may be permitted."
How can this be? Modern science may have the answer.
I am not talking about ESP or UFOs here. No, the evidence I am looking at is much bigger than that.
First, there is consciousness.
Self-awareness. "I think, therefore I am." There are some interesting theories about it (such as the bicameral mind theory), but it can never be fully explained by science. Why? Because consciousness is bigger than science. We can only think (and think about science) as a by-product of being conscious. Also, the more significant the evidence, the more subjective it is (by definition). We know that consciousness may be more important than anything else - e.g. that the universe may only exist because it is observed. But we really do not have the tools to cope with this concept, because the tools are themselves created by consciousness itself! (N.B. It is possible to come up with physical theories for the origin of consciousness. But these all depend on very narrow definitions. This science is in its infancy - I await further discoveries with interest.)
Second, there is religion.
Of all the thousands of cultures studied by anthropologists, no predominantly atheist society has ever survived for more than a couple of generations. Atheism is cultural suicide. Religion is the natural state of human existence. And religion is full of stories of spirits. It is true that many ideas about spirits may be false. But the idea is so dominant, it does suggest some actual experience. Even in an "advanced" society like America, most people are religious, and many of them claim some kind of spiritual experience. It could be that the minority that claim no such experience are simply unobservant, or have suppressed their spiritual side. These are not facts to be ignored.
Third, and most important, there are the Bible and other scriptures: eye-witness accounts of spirits, angels, and other beings from an unseen world
Let us try to be precise, and describe what we know about spirit beings.
What the scriptures say
- Spirits and angels can exist and interact with us, yet we cannot detect them by scientific means.
- They are perfectly at home with our inner consciousness, a world that we believe must exist, but we are unable to understand or measure. (Hence, we can pray in our hearts and yet be heard.)
- They are immortal. Time does not seem to apply to them as it does to us:
Abraham 2:8: My name is Jehovah, and I know the end from the beginning; therefore my hand shall be over thee..
Alma 40:8: all is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto men.
- They can apparently cover huge distances without passing through the space in between (they are involved in creating worlds).
- They can see every particle of this world - nothing is hidden from them.
Moses 1:27: And it came to pass, as the voice was still speaking, Moses cast his eyes and beheld the earth, yea, even all of it; and there was not a particle of it which he did not behold, discerning it by the spirit of God.
- They can come and go as they please - locked doors mean nothing to them.
John 20:19: when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst . . .
John 20:26: And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst . . .
How can this all be? Well, a nineteenth century mathematician may have found the answer.
The simple explanation
The mathematician Edwin A. Abbott once wrote a book called "Flatland - A Romance of Many Dimensions." Download a zipped version here.
In the book, Abbott describes a two-dimensional world - a world that exists as if on a table top or a sheet of paper. The people of that world understand height and width, but have no concept of "depth." A human being, existing in one extra dimension, has many advantages over the people of flatland:
- We can see them, but (unless we touch their land) they cannot see us.
- We can see and understand features of their world that they cannot.
- If their world is rolled or folded (as in a book), we can jump from one part to another part (that to them is very distant) very quickly.
- We can see every particle of their world - even seeing inside people! (see illustration)
- If we choose to step onto their world (and they will just see our footprints because they cannot comprehend the third dimension), we can easily step over walls or other obstacles. And as we step over a wall - as our foot leaves the surface - we will seem to them to disappear.
By these and other analogies, the author hoped to illustrate what it would be like to be a higher dimensional being visiting our own three (or four) dimensional world.
"Flatland" is dedicated as follows:
"To The Inhabitants of SPACE IN GENERAL...
This Work is Dedicated
By a Humble Native of Flatland
In the Hope that even as he was Initiated into the Mysteries of THREE DIMENSIONS
Having been previously conversant with ONLY TWO
So the Citizens of that Celestial Region
May aspire yet higher and higher
To the Secrets of FOUR FIVE or EVEN SIX Dimensions
Thereby contributing to the Enlargement of THE IMAGINATION
And the possible Development Of that most and excellent Gift of MODESTY
Among the Superior Races Of SOLID HUMANITY"
The author did not make the explicit comparison with the heavenly world; but the theory of extra dimensions does explain nearly everything.
Put simply, all the strange behaviour of the spirit world makes sense in terms of a higher dimension.
Science says there MUST be extra dimensions
What does science say? Could there be other dimensions above this one? Not only could there be, but there MUST be! Superstring theory, the current "theory of everything," requires at least nine dimensions. (Click here for details, or search for "superstring" and "dimensions" on any good search engine.)
The concept of extra physical dimensions is well established. But the skeptical physicist may reply that these extra dimensions are so small that they fit inside the heart of an atom. They are nothing like the dimensions we know. Well, that used to be the theory - but no more. The following is from New Scientist magazine, 18th December 1999, p.8, "The Great Beyond" by Marcus Chown. It is based on material published in the journal, Physical Review Letters (Volume 83, p. 4690).
"Space may have a fifth dimension - one more than the four we are familiar with, say two physicists. And it could be infinite, unlike the tiny extra space dimensions that have been proposed in the past."
Previous theories assumed that extra dimensions had to be tiny, or else they would show up in how gravity behaved. But now it seems that, if our present universe was just an island in a five dimensional reality, this would not be a problem. If our universe was an island in the "real" universe, everything would look much as it does now. As a physicist at the center of the research puts it:
"What's so amazing is that the theory mimics familiar four-dimensional gravity so well that it would be very difficult to tell that there is an extra dimension."
How this also explains the Garden of Eden
This may also explain one of the most amazing doctrines of the restored church: that the whole world has been and will again be lifted to a higher plane. The following is from Bruce R. McConkie, The Millennial Messiah, p..642 - 643:
"This earth was created first spiritually. It was a spirit earth. Nothing then lived on its face, nor was it designed that anything should. Then came the physical creation, the paradisiacal creation, the creation of the earth in the Edenic day and before the fall of man. After the fall, the earth became telestial in nature; it fell from a terrestrial to a telestial state; it became a fit abode for mortal life. Such is the state in which it now is. When the millennial day dawns, the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory; it will return to its Edenic state; it will be (as contrasted with its present state) a new heaven and a new earth. In the process of change the earth will be burned; it will dissolve; the elements will melt with fervent heat, and all things will become new. There will also be a short postmillennial period of which we know very little, and finally the earth will become a celestial sphere and will shine like the sun in the firmament."
For more about Eden, and the meaning of the term "the earth," click here.
This idea of nature changing so much that death is ended, or the world is dissolved and reborn, may seem hard to comprehend. But it is simple if we accept the dimensions theory. To a two dimensional person, the difference between darkness and light is unbelievable, incredible, fundamental, incomprehensible. But to a three dimensional person it is nothing special. So it is with God's ability to raise this world to different states of being.
|The great lie: a "random" universe|
Scientists who prefer the Dark Ages
The story of science is the story of finding causes. Before we learn anything, the world is just a random, confusing place. But as we learn more, we see that things do not "just happen" - every action has a cause.
But in the twentieth century, scientists have decided to go back to randomness as the ultimate reality. This is not because the universe has suddenly become random. It is simply because human beings are too arrogant to assume there is anything we do not know.
"Random" usually means "too complicated to understand"
Mathematically, it is possible to generate random numbers. It is, according to the mathematicians, also possible to create problems with unpredictable solutions. Random numbers play an important part in probabilities, and probabilities are important tools when modeling (and then predicting) complex behaviors. But we should be careful not to mistake the model for the reality.
Twentieth century science has enthroned "randomness" as some kind of a god (e.g. quantum theory, chaos theory). But in each case it is only because we lack the tools to really understand what is happening. We use chaos theory to understand systems (such as fluid flow) that are so hugely complex that we cannot hope to follow every detail. We use quantum theory to explain the behaviour of objects that are so small, or so exotic, that we cannot measure them directly, and can only understand them in terms of mathematics. Randomness is just a way of saying "very complicated."
It is commonly said, by highly intelligent physicists, that anybody who is comfortable with quantum mechanics is a liar. It is fundamentally alien to us. We really do not understand it except at a mathematical level. So what does it really mean? I tend to side with Einstein. He did not claim to understand it perfectly, but he had a better grasp of how the universe worked than anyone before or since. And he put it bluntly - God does not play dice with the universe.
More about the famous "dice" quotation
If you search the net for the background to this dice quotation, you will find that most experts like to refute it, to demonstrate, as they see it, that the universe really is random. The logic is that, because the equations are so successful, they must represent ultimate truth. This strikes me as rather arrogant. Einstein knew enough to know that none of us ever knows everything. Einstein's experience led him to believe that there was something even deeper than quantum physics - some as-yet hidden variable. "The hidden variables approach is based on the notion, which Einstein always believed, that quantum mechanics is fine as far as it goes, as a statistical theory, but that some deterministic sub-quantum theory that lies behind physical events remains to be uncovered." (See context.)
The great logical fallacy
It is possible to model some things extremely accurately using random numbers. But that does not mean that these things are fundamentally random.
Take, for example, the normal distribution curve. The normal distribution curve is a graphical description of probabilities. Let us imagine that you took a thousand people and measured their heights, weights, incomes, or whatever. Most of your measurements would be around the average. A few would be extremely low, and a few would be extremely high, but most would be around the middle. You could create a graph to illustrate thus. It forms a bell shape. It starts low, curves up, curves down again, and ends low.
You can create a normal distribution curve by so-called random means - by tossing coins, for example. Does that mean that anything that follows a normal distribution is fundamentally random? Not necessarily. The time people spend on the phone follows a normal distribution. Is that random? The ages at which people retire. Is that random? No. The ability to model something using pure mathematics does not mean that it IS purely mathematical; it probably just means it is very complex.
The history of science is the story of finding subtle causes for things we thought "just happened." Everything has a cause. If complex behaviour can be modeled using random numbers, it does not follow that the behaviour is inherently random. It simply means that we do not yet understand it.
The great fallacy here is the classic false dilemma (for more about fallacies, click here). Modern man sees only two choices: either a deterministic, clockwork universe, or a chaotic, random one. In fact, there is a third choice: free will. If the universe is controlled by (or even formed of) independent intelligences, it is neither chaotic nor mechanistic, but free in the greatest sense of the word.
In my opinion, the doctrine of intelligences it is perhaps the most sublime and powerful of all revealed truths - it explains everything, affects everything, and is the basis for free will and ultimate hope. I cannot begin to do it justice, so I will leave you with just a few clues.
More about quantum mechanics
This web site is not about the latest scientific discoveries. That would be a good way to alienate both physicists (who would see my relative ignorance) and non-physicists (who would be bored silly). It would also provide all kinds of straw men for critics, and finally you can guarantee that whatever scientists think today (about important topics at least) they will think differently in a hundred years' time. That said, it should be noted that most of our concepts of reality, according to Einstein, are based on fundamental constants such as the velocity of light. Nothing can exceed the velocity of light, and this has implications for our notions of time, dimensions, mass, energy, and so forth.
However, it now appears that some things can exceed the velocity of light. In 1982, experiments with polarized photons demonstrated that changing the nature of one half of a split particle will instantly change the nature of its twin. So what? So, if the particles are a vast distance apart, some kind of communication must pass between them, at more than the velocity of light. "So what?" you still ask? So how can something cross such unimaginable distances instantly? But if these things take place via an extra dimension there is no problem. After all, the distance between one side of a page and the other is practically nothing, even though a reader would have to plough through many lines of text to get from one point to the other.
All kinds of strange phenomena make sense when we accept that this universe is only a small part of a much larger reality.
"Evil spirits" and randomness
Nothing makes atheists scoff more than the concepts of evil spirits possessing a body. They think that, because they have traced physical actions down to the level of quantum randomness, they have done away with the need for spirits. Not so! They have actually just made the need for spirits more obvious (or else they have shown their own essential ignorance, blaming everything on random processes).
All the talk of spirits may be just a grossly simplified attempt to explain the following:
Every atom has a limited amount of free will.
Hence every atom (or atoms in groups) can potentially be influenced by some small or simple form of spirit.
Remember that our understanding of the concept of spirit is VERY limited - we only catch a small glimpse of the truth.
So, while it is true that everything in this world has a physical cause, there is plenty of scope for intelligent control of every detail.
In this light, consider the words of Brigham Young (JD, vol.4, p.132):
"When he [brother Grant, now deceased] was here the devils had power over his flesh, he warred with them and fought them, and said that they were around him by millions, and he fought them until he overcame them. So it is with you and I. You never felt a pain and ache, or felt disagreeable, or uncomfortable in your bodies and minds, but what an evil spirit was present causing it. Do you realize that the ague, the fever, the chills, the severe pain in the head, the plurisy, or any pain in the system, from the crown of the head to the soles of the feet, is put there by the devil? You do not realize this, do you?
"I say but little about this matter, because I do not want you to realize it. When you have the rheumatism, do you realize that the devil put that upon you? No, but you say, "I got wet, caught cold, and thereby got the rheumatism." The spirits that afflict us and plant disease in our bodies, pain in the system, and finally death, have control over us so far as the flesh is concerned. But when the spirit is unlocked from the body it is free from the power of death and Satan; and when that body comes up again, it also, with the spirit, will gain the victory over death, hell, and the grave.
"Perhaps you do not understand me. Take a spirit that has gone into the spirit world, does it have control over corruptible bodies? No. It can only act in the capacity of a spirit. As to the devils inhabiting these earthly bodies, it cannot control them, it only controls spirits. But when the spirit is again united to the body, that spirit and body unitedly have control over the evil bodies, those controlled by the devil and given over to the devils, if there is any such thing. Resurrected beings have control over matter as well as spirit.
"One of our departed brethren can control millions of disembodied evil spirits; [but] while they were in the flesh they were afflicted by them. Is this not a great consolation to us? Some one may ask me for the proof for my statements, and may enquire whether it is in the Bible; yes, every word of it. I could prove it every word from that book, but I do not need to go to the Bible, my scripture is within me.
"You know nothing about what I am telling you concerning the spirit world any more than brother Grant's friends knew about what he told them [about his visions]. Why? Because we are encumbered with this flesh, we are in darkness; the flesh is the vail that is over the nations. When we go from the body, we have eyes to see spiritual things and understand them."
Conclusion: what is the fifth dimension?
So, what is the fifth dimension? We know that it exists. It is a physical reality. We know that God, being omnipotent, must be comfortable with it. But as four dimensional beings, we have as much hope of understanding it as a two dimensional being has of understanding our own world. All we know is that it includes our own reality and a potentially infinite number of other realities. Through this super-reality (which we may as well call heaven), God and angels have the freedom to know, to move, and to act, in ways that we cannot even imagine. We can barely comprehend he tiniest part of what it is like. But heaven, it seems, is a physical fact. It is literally all around us (just as a three dimensional space surrounds two dimensional space). But there is a veil over our eyes that prevents us from seeing the bigger picture. Our minds simply cannot cope.
The bottom line
To believe in science, you must believe in at least nine dimensions. To believe in religion, you only need five.