Back in College a Professor mentioned an excellent book called Flatland by a mathematician named Edwin Abbott Abbott. If you have the time (and it doesn’t take much, it’s a rather short book) or the inclination, I would highly recommend finding a copy (here’s a free Kindle version). It was written in 1880 but it’s message has particular relevance to modern Christians like you and me.
The story is about a square who lives in a two dimensional land. The shapes in this 2D universe have no concept of more dimensions, they are more than happy to live their lives as squares, circles, triangles, and other various shapes. That is until one day the square meets a sphere. Then everything gets interesting. The square learns of a whole universe, one filled with cubes and pyramids and bigger spheres, it seems amazing. Then the square is introduced to the the line, the one dimensional object that cannot comprehend that there is life in two dimensions.
The original sphere, who served as the 2D square’s mentor throughout this process, is pleased with the square’s education. Until the square asks about other dimensions. Using a very logical mental process, the Square thinks t makes sense that if a one dimensional being couldn’t imagine a 2D being, and until recently he as a 2D could never have imagined a 3D universe, then the sphere might be part of a 4D universe and that universe might be part of an even larger universe. The possibilities are endless. The sphere becomes angry and asserts that 3D is it, there is nothing beyond three dimensions. Eventually the square has to go back to 2D world and he becomes an evangelist or something, but that’s not the part of the story that sticks with me.
I like the idea of a complex world, where things are more than they seem. What if the world was more complex than we could imagine? And God, whoever he is, must be so unimaginably complex that we would be remiss in even trying to understand beyond our current dimensions? What if God was infinite in His dimensions and our lives are simply the process, the journey, the story of being moved through those dimensions so that we can better know him?
Lately I have been struggling with some very difficult theological concerns, but thoughts like this bring me peace of mind. They make me happy. I have never been an advocate of blind faith, believing something just because it’s written somewhere or because your gut tells you to. Instead I have always assumed that my faith was built on belief, grounded in reasonable assertions. But what if those assertions are wrong? Then you have the choice to believe anyway or re-question your assertions.
I’m choosing to do both but I am comforted through the process with the thought that life is both much more complex, and probably more simple than I believe it to be. In other words, no matter what questions I have, there is probably a logical answer, a good answer. I just might have to visit another dimension to get it.