SCIENCE AND RELIGION: 10-DIMENSIONAL CHRISTIANITY Sermon Nov.18, 2007
Have your teenagers reached the stage where they whine, “Oh Mom, why do I have to keep going to Church? Nobody really believes that stuff anymore. This is the twenty-first century, Science explains everything.”
The New York Times recently carried a feature where a group of scientists – astrophysicists, chemistry professors, physicists, computer scientists, biochemists and cosmologists were asked, "Does the Universe have a Purpose." Answers were, 'Unlikely, No, Indeed, Not Sure, Perhaps, I Hope So, Very Likely, Yes and Certainly'.
Even among churchgoers, many thinking adults have made an uncomfortable accommodation to two worlds. They realize Religion has an important role for them and their families. Religion instructs in morality and social codes, and is a good emotional support to deal with uncomfortable issues, such as death and other fears. And it’s important to be a good person and help others in the community and the world. But, in the end, "We live, we die, and that's that." When it comes to the "supernatural", a belief in a real God or Creator, many are uncomfortable with this. They feel deep in their hearts there is a scientific explanation for all things, and there is conflict between the scientific view and religion.
The goal of this little talk is to show, first, that Science does not yet have all the answers. Recent discoveries in Science have raised disturbing questions and doubt. Questions about the underlying causes of the facts we observe. Scientific determinism is being challenged by extraordinary new scientific data.
I am personally convinced that the more we understand science, the deeper will grow our faith in God and his Christ. We’ve had an artificial split between the world of Religion and the deterministic view of Science going on since the seventeenth century. Maybe longer. In medieval days, religious dogmatism was the rule, and you departed from it under threat of excommunication or worse. But when Empirical Science took center stage late in the nineteenth century, it began, for many, to weaken the claims of Religion. In the twentieth century, after Darwin, Freud, Mach and Einstein rolled out surprise after surprise, the tide gathered strength. Logical Positivism, the philosophy of science that strictly limited all scientific proof to positive observation by the senses was firmly established. It seemed that Science had – or was about to have – all the answers about ourselves and our world. No God needed.
But starting in the twentieth century Science has had troubling findings. Think about gravity. Isaac Newton, perhaps our greatest scientist, figured it out, right? And we all learn about it in grade school – or earlier when we fall down. But Einstein spent his life looking for the Grand Unified Theory that would explain gravity. He failed. Gravity is still a mystery. We have laws about the effects of gravity, we hypothesize that it’s an attractive force, but there’s no proven or consistent explanation.
Worse, recent astronomical discoveries with the Hubble space telescope are beginning to stretch the theory of gravity to the breaking point. Large-scale observations now show the Universe is still getting bigger and at an ever accelerating rate, driven by a yet unknown force. A current quote from NASA: The discovery in 1998 that the Universe is actually speeding up its expansion was a total shock to astronomers. It just seems so counter-intuitive, so against common sense. But the evidence has become convincing.
Cosmologists are now "patching" the gravity theory by imagining the existence of something unseen and perhaps not seeable by any senses or apparatus. They call this unseen phenomenon, "Dark Matter." In order for the theory of gravity to survive, scientists now find it necessary to make one of two choices, one as yet untestable, and the other unpalatable. The choices are: (1) Assume the existence of an as yet unseen and undetected "dark matter" and "dark energy" in the Universe to explain contradictions otherwise inexplicable by the current theory of gravitational attraction, or, (2) Assume Newton's Laws of Motion are wrong and need some fine-tuning or recalculation.
Neither of these alternatives is scientifically "beautiful." The Dark Matter and Energy hypothesis requires we accept dark matter as the largest component of all the "stuff" in the Universe – maybe 95% of the matter in the Universe. Moreover, further violence is done to Newton's Laws of Motion and Thermodynamics by the requirement that "Dark Matter" somehow replenishes itself as the Universe expands. This in turn requires a further stretch of the current attractive gravitational theory, since Newton's Laws hold that neither matter nor energy can be created; either can only be converted from one state into the other. As implausible as it sounds, a conversion of energy from an unknown source into new "Dark Matter" is required in order to keep the theory of attractive gravity whole, and not abandoned for some other explanation. This is not good science. Philosophy of Science teaches that when a theory becomes "stretched" by new findings, it is important to come up with alternative theories that could better explain the observations.
Let’s try another one. Have you heard of "String Theory"? String Theorists are physicists and mathematicians who believe the underlying make-up of all matter and sub-atomic particles are tiny vibrating strings of energy. String Theorists surprised the world a few years ago by claiming there were Ten Dimensions, maybe Eleven. This was a big surprise because for centuries everyone believed there were only three; length, width and height. Beginning of last century, Einstein demonstrated there was a fourth dimension. Einstein added space/time as a companion to our friendly, familiar three dimensions of length, area and volume. Most of us, me included, still don't fully understand this mysterious fourth dimension, and now there are six or seven more?
What exactly is a dimension? In Physics a dimension is, "A physical property, such as mass, length, time, or a combination thereof, regarded as a fundamental measure or as one of a set of fundamental measures of a physical quantity." By the way, what exactly is a “physical” property? Doesn’t Physics’ definition of “dimension” start from an assumption that there are only our three or four familiar dimensions?
Science is a bit buffaloed by the idea of Ten Dimensions. It's hard enough being a scientist in four dimensions. After all, Science, by its own rules, has to operate in realms measurable by our physical senses. The rules of science require Science deal only with items and objects whose existence can be viewed or tracked by our physical senses. Science requires an object or it's influence to be seen, whether by giant telescopes searching the stars or powerful microscopes looking for quarks. Physical measurability or the ability to be perceived by our limited human senses is the iron rule - and shackle - of Science. Three dimensions are tough enough. Four has challenges. But the next six haven't even been named yet! Science has no measurement tools. What's a rational person to do?
Fortunately, religion has been dealing in all ten dimensions for over two thousand years. Religion deals with the entirety of human experience, not just those experiences measurable by our physical senses. The mathematicians have not asked Religion for help yet, but when they do, there are answers to what the next six or seven dimensions might be. I'll outline my version briefly, just to provoke your thinking. This dimension discussion is where Religion and Science meet. Or, where today's Science begins to point toward Religion. Maybe Science and Religion aren’t at war; maybe they can help each other.
Let's look at the familiar three dimensions. The first dimension is length, or lines. A line is the simplest of dimensions. All the points between two points. The distance between your front steps and the sidewalk, say. You can think of a line as containing an infinite number of points.
The second dimension is width, or area. Area is made up of both length and width. Think of your lawn. You can think of area as containing an infinite number of lines all stacked across.
The third dimension is height, which together with length and width, make volume. Think of your living room. You can think of volume as containing an infinite number of areas all stacked up.
The fourth dimension is time, or duration. Think of your house yesterday, today and tomorrow morning. Time is made up of an infinite number of volumes. This fourth dimension we now call Space/Time, ever since Einstein. Most of us have difficulty understanding this fourth dimension, Time. We are often confused by the idea of Time as a dimension since it has no clearly understandable physical boundaries, as do Length, Breadth and Height. But even those who are comfortable they understand the concepts of time and event horizons usually see Time as the final dimension. But String Theorists think there are a total of Ten or Eleven Dimensions, with the Eleventh a Master Dimension containing all others.
Let's do a brief introduction to the other six or seven dimensions. INFINITY The fifth dimension comes after the fourth dimension of space/time. Infinity, or infinite expansion – No End. Infinity means, "No end." Not just "very big, or very long", but no end to time, no end to space, no end to acceleration, no end to expansion. No ruler or spectroscope or nuclear microscope can show our eyes where "no end" is. No end is No end. Once we can really imagine that there are no limits or bounds to infinite space, we can conceive of other unusual ideas, such as infinite expansion and infinite acceleration.
Thinking through this dimension suggests that the phenomenon of gravity may just be the result of infinitely accelerating expansion. Everything may still be expanding at an accelerating rate. Not just at the edges. All the atoms and the spaces between them. The big bang is still going strong. Always has been. You may not need a grand unified theory to explain gravity; maybe it’s not an attraction, maybe it’s the “push” of infinite expansion. Like the g force when you hit the accelerator in your Ferrari.
The concept of infinity. It’s something Religion has been talking about for millennia. Faith asks us, challenges us to wake up and step into eternity, to imagine the reality of Infinity. We can think of Infinity as Time and Space with No End. No end to motion, no end to space, no end to time. Jesus said, "Before Abraham was, I am". And as we sing in the Gloria, "World without end." Amen?
That's a mind-stretcher, this 5th dimension of Infinity. But what comes next? What's after "No end"? Well, it's not after, because dimensions intersect. All the dimensions, all ten, all are present and operating at the same time. Right now. We just don't see them very clearly. Although we do see and feel their impact on us and the world around us.
OPPOSITION The next, the Sixth dimension is Opposition. We know, scientifically, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Newton described this as inertial resistance. Yes, but this resistance, or opposition extends to all forces, all energy, thoughts and motives as well. Every thought and intention has an equal and opposite counterpart. In religion, opposition is called The Opposer, The Devil, or Satan. He, or it, is always with us. In the scientific arena, the impact of the Sixth dimension of Opposition is visible in Black Holes, and in the existence of anti-matter and anti-particles. You can think of Opposition as limiting or defining Infinity. You can also think of Opposition as infinite inertial resistances. Resistance with No End. Not a bad description of Satan.
EQUITY The Seventh dimension is Equity. Equity is the natural balance point of action and reaction. Science understands that Nature seeks a balance of opposing forces. Scientists call this entropy. The breakdown of complex into simple. Gases try to level out and fill all available space equally, for example. You can think of Equity as a balanced result of an infinite number of actions and opposing reactions. Humans, too, are capable of equity in human interactions, but our animal nature opposes it. We instinctively want to maximize our own pleasure, our own safety and our personal control, no matter what. This maximizing of our personal safety, our personal pleasure and personal control is often called sin. One of the great roles of religion is to teach us to overcome these instinctive original animal drives by an act of human Will, to overcome these drives and achieve equity.
Religious teaching has a lot to say about equity. Equity is also called Justification or Righteousness. You know the Justification tab on your word processor, the margins are equal, the words are balanced left and right? That's also the principle of Equity. Balance. Equity is a movement to balance opposition. At a human level, we sense when injustice is being done, and we resent it – particularly when we are the sufferers of the injustice or distortion. Our moral sense wants "Justification, Equity, Fairness." We sense when things are wrong and want matters corrected. When the energy of the field in which we live is distorted by inequity there is tension straining to be unwound and released.
You can chuckle at my dimensions, but it does help me think about the multi-dimensionality of Jesus' message. Parables are analogies, which teach by example. Parables are practical examples of isomorphism, analogy. We all notice similarities of relationship between huge planetary systems and tiny atoms. Parables teach us that as it is in one matter or system, so it is in another matter or system. Parable has no regard for the size of the system. Only the relationship of elements within the system. The tiny and the huge are the same. So, when we do even small things like preserving the life of an annoying insect in the room, or picking up someone else's trash, or even aligning the window blinds, we are "in a small way" attuning ourselves to be instruments of balance, or Equity. As the song says, "Little things mean a lot." Even the little acts we do affect the cosmos. Equity also sets the stage for the entry to the next dimension.
LOVE The Eighth dimension is a state not achievable by anything in nature except human beings. Which may be why God created us. The eighth dimension is Love. Love is conscious awareness of our connection to others and all things. This is a state of compassionate, active, empathetic identification. Nature, as well as humans, demonstrate and play out the first seven dimensions, even Equity. But Love is the first of the dimensions that can only be reached by human beings. Nothing else in nature is capable of expressing and experiencing this unnatural, empathetic identity with God's creations. Dogs, dolphins, horses and elephants may be intelligent, intuitive and even attached. But they cannot willfully decide to love. Love, is what makes humans human. Here is an important point about Love; you cannot advance to a higher dimension without manifesting the prior dimension. You cannot have area without lines, you cannot have volume without area, and we cannot fully Love until we reach a state of Equity. You cannot Love without being in equitable balance. You can think of Love as infinite Equity.
The teachings on Love represent the change, the clarification of message from what we call Old Testament, the Law and the Prophets, to the New Testament, the Gospels and the Letters. The Law and the Prophets were given to Mankind before the Gospels. We were not ready for the Gospel until we achieved Equity, some level of knowing right from wrong, and how to go about righting our own wrongs. Pagan, feral mankind had no sense of equity. Think of a two-year old. It's hard to explain sharing or self-denial to a two-year old. In God's time, he first revealed the concepts of Equity to us. The concepts of Equity are Justice, Righteousness, Mercy, Repentance and Forgiveness. Only after absorbing the dimension of Equity is mankind – and Man – ready for the higher dimension of Love. As you cannot proceed from one dimension to a higher dimension without fulfilling the earlier dimension, so we cannot proceed directly from Opposition to Love. First we must learn and practice Equity.
Look at the Christian Bible. The first 900 pages are Law, Prophets, and the Writings - the Old Testament. Only then come the 300 pages of Gospel and Letters. The Old Testament focuses on Equity; the New Testament explores Love. All translations use the same order. Line must go before area; Equity must go before Love.
SACRIFICE Once having achieved the dimension of Love, we are poised to reach the ninth. The ninth dimension is Sacrifice, the willing death of self. We can think of self-sacrifice as infinite Love. Jesus demonstrated this for us all. The process of killing our egos, diminishing our sense of a separated self is difficult. The road is arduous and narrow. The ego does not want to die. It must learn to give itself up willingly. The Old Testament taught us to sacrifice our possessions. It also taught us that sacrifice of blood was critical. Abraham's binding of Isaac foreshadowed the sacrificial death Jesus would accept in the New Testament. This was preparation and training – for us. The Gospel teaches us to sacrifice our selves. This is the dimension of Holy Sacrifice.
PEACE The Tenth dimension, the dimension beyond willing sacrifice of ego, letting go of Self, is Peace. The mystics call this Unity and Union with God. This Tenth dimension is also called the Kingdom of Heaven. We can think of Peace as sacrifice of self with no end, Infinite sacrifice.
That's Ten. The Eleventh? Mathematicians believe the Eleventh dimension, called the M dimension, is a Master dimension which contains the other ten. This is a reasonable description of the infinitely loving, infinitely self-sacrificing, infinitely patient, infinitely merciful Creator.
So, here are the ten dimensions:
Volume Duration Infinity Opposition Equity Love Sacrifice Peace The Eleventh is outside of and contains the Ten. God contains all and is.
Here is the point of this "10 Dimension" discussion. What have Science and Religion got to do with each other? Everything!
Science is a wonderful tool, also a gift. Science is a process of making sense of the particulars that our physical senses can see, measure and explain to others. We use induction to hypothesize, to create and formulate propositions. We use deduction to test these propositions, to corroborate or disconfirm the propositions. We organize the surviving hypotheses into laws, and use our imaginations to derive theories from the laws. Scientific method demands that all theories are temporary and subject to continuous testing. We test through making more precise observations and deriving hypotheses from the new observations. We test and retest. When the current theory no longer comfortably holds the new tested observations and derived hypotheses, yet researchers persist in stretching the current theory to fit the data, philosophers of science call this "holding the theory together with chewing gum." At some point, we are obliged to try on new theoretical structures to explain phenomena. If we do not, we are as blindly stuck in rigid scientific dogma as was religion in the fifteenth century.
10 Dimensional Science Science is unearthing mysterious signs that there may be ten or eleven dimensions, well beyond our scientific capacity to measure and test. Religion has been studying human experience in ten or eleven dimensions. Call me silly, but maybe they should work together? I would like to see Scientific Method open a new front, a front that understands the limits and boundaries of sense perception and is willing to explore and create new ways to test and corroborate, new ways to open science to explore the totality of human experience. Think of it as 10 Dimensional Science, a use of structured tools and controlled exploration of the Ancient Revealed Wisdom.
So what does all this this say about the intersection and integration of religion and science? Paul teaches in First Corinthians; "For we know in part ... but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away... Now I know in part; but then I shall know…" Science today knows in part. It has barely entered the fourth dimension. It will advance over time. Jesus teaches in all ten dimensions. Science' knowledge is partial. God is complete. Jesus teaches us to believe in and act on that we cannot yet see. Our faith is confidence that what we cannot yet see, IS. Faith gives understanding where current scientific theories of reality fall short.
Sir Isaac Newton, himself a devout Christian all his life, wrote, “I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy, playing on the seashore and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or prettier seashell than ordinary, while the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”