I’ve been reading More Than a Theory by astrophysicist Hugh Ross, and in chapter 7 of that book, Dr. Ross presented some thoughts on extra dimensions that intrigued me.
When the Bible describes God’s triune intra-relationship (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit relating to one another) and causal activity (for example, putting his “grace” into effect) as occurring before time started (see Gen. 1:1; Tim. 1:9; Titus 1:2), it suggests the possibility of some kind of dimensionality and/or temporality or the equivalent beyond the universe. The declaration in Hebrews that the detectable universe was not made from that which is visible may imply the same possibility (Heb. 11:3). These ideas, along with the more likely biblical implication that God created the universe “out of nothing,” remain consistent with the singularity feature of most ( though not all) big bang models.
By adding one extra dimension of space, mathematicians can prove theoretically that a three-dimensional basketball can be turned inside out without making a cut or a hole in its surface. But limitations on human imagination prevent people from being able to visualize how such a phenomenon occurs. People simply cannot imagine phenomena in more dimensions than they experience. This limitation has significant theological and scientific implications.
Religions that are mere human inventions (without inspiration from a Being beyond the dimensions of length, width, height, and time) will lack any transcendent teachings. They don’t include information that demands the existence of dimensions beyond the familiar four. (Though such religions might appeal to magic or seemingly transdimensional entities, their attributes, activities, or behaviors can be comprehended fully within the dimensions of length, width, height, and time.)
By contrast, the Bible describes many extra- or transdimensional doctrines that reflect a reality beyond length, width, height, and time. Some examples include the triune nature of God (three persons yet only one essence), God’s simultaneous transcendence and immanence, and the simultaneity of human free choice and divine predetermination. Scripture also contains accounts of transdimensional or extradimensional events, such as Jesus’ transfiguration (see Matt. 17:1-13; Mark 9:2-13; Luke 9:28-36) and his physical body’s ability to enter a locked room after the resurrection (John 20:19:31). A God with the capacity to operate both within and beyond extra dimensions could make such “impossibilities” possible.
Isn’t that a awe-inspiring conclusion? The evidence points directly to the God of the Bible, who transcends the dimensions we can perceive and anything we could imagine. Dr. Ross echoes C.S. Lewis, who wrote in the classic Mere Christianity,
You know that in space you can move in three ways – to left or right, backwards or forwards, up or down. Every direction is either one of these three or a compromise between them. They are called the three Dimensions. Now notice this. If you are using only one dimension, you could draw only a straight line. If you are using two; you could draw a figure: say, a square. And a square is made up of four straight lines. Now a step further. If you have three dimensions, you can then build what we call a solid body: say, a cube – a thing like a dice or a lump of sugar. And a cube is made up of six squares.
Do you see the point? A world of one dimension would be a straight line. In a two-dimensional world, you still get straight lines, but many lines make one figure. In a three-dimensional world, you still get figures but many figures make one solid body. In other words, as you advance to more real and more complicated levels, you do not leave behind you the things you found on the simpler levels: you still have them, but combined in new ways – in ways you could not imagine if you knew only the simpler levels.
Now the Christian account of God involves just the same principle. The human level is a simple and rather empty level. On the human level one person is one being, and any two persons are two separate beings – just as, in two dimensions (say on a flat sheet of paper) one square is one figure, and any two squares are two separate figures. On the Divine level you still find personalities; but up there you find them combined in new ways which we, who do not live on that level, cannot imagine. In God’s dimension, so to speak, you find a being who is three Persons while remaining one Being, just as a cube is six squares while remaining one cube. Of course we cannot fully conceive a Being like that: just as, if we were so made that we perceived only two dimensions in space we could never properly imagine a cube. But we can get a sort of faint notion of it. And when we do, we are then, for the first time in our lives, getting some positive idea, however faint, of something super-personal – something more than a person. It is something we could never have guessed, and yet, once we have been told, one almost feels one ought to have been able to guess it because it fits in so well with all the things we know already.
You may ask, ‘if we cannot imagine a three-personal Being, what is the good of talking about Him?’ Well, there isn’t any good talking about Him. The thing that matters is being actually drawn into that three-personal life, and that may begin any time – to-night, if you like.
We are living in an age where information, knowledge, and technology are exponentially growing every day. Science and solid theology indicate a transdimensional and tripersonal God that we could not have guessed or imagined. But it had only begun to catch up to ancient revelation.
Isaiah 44:6-8, 24-25; 46:5-10 (ESV)
Thus says the Lord , the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen. Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.” Thus says the Lord , your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: “I am the Lord , who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself, who frustrates the signs of liars and makes fools of diviners, who turns wise men back and makes their knowledge foolish.
“To whom will you liken me and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be alike? Those who lavish gold from the purse, and weigh out silver in the scales, hire a goldsmith, and he makes it into a god; then they fall down and worship! They lift it to their shoulders, they carry it, they set it in its place, and it stands there; it cannot move from its place. If one cries to it, it does not answer or save him from his trouble. “Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.'”
To Christians and non-Christians alike, I would say that we have good reasons to trust in the triune Creator of the universe.
Ecclesiastes 7:19 ESV
Wisdom gives strength to the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city.