Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Always In Need

Spiritual warfare. Its a hot topic and subject nowadays in Christian circles. After a long time of naturalism and 'man is in control of his universe' type of thinking, much of the scene, both Christian and secular are swinging back in the other direction. The reason is it can not be ignored any longer. People are recognizing there are things beyond them attempting to influence and coerce.

Today is Christmas day. One of the most spiritualized days in history. I did not expect this. This spiritual attack took me by surprise. I'm in my daily business at work, not answering very many calls because of the day. I feel the most disconnected with my Lord than I've felt in a long time. I spent time with family, talked to family back in California, had my wife over at work for dinner, so many things to be thankful for. And what rears its ugly head is old temptations and numbness.

You see, in the times of comfort and complacency are the most dangerous for me. I thank the Lord I've learned to recognize them for what they are, spiritual attacks. But that doesn't make them any easier, just possible to watch for and go to my Lord in those times of need. The enemy knows no days of ceasefire. Just reading comics online, nothing of note or innately tempting even and old images of my sins and weaknesses come to mind.

I can't really even express it. I'm not fully coherent here I realize, but its just. . . .I just need you Lord. I need you always. Please Lord may I never think I'm strong enough, smart enough, holy enough, to have outgrown my need for you. This day, of all days, I need you all the more. Give me strength.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Tesseracts, Dimensions, and Reality

Okay, the past few days I've had a bit of an obsession on my mind. You see, mathematics of almost all types have had a special attraction for me my whole life and whenever someone brings up a subject like this to think about I go a little overboard.

I've been thinking about tesseracts. For those of you who do not know what a tesseract is, it is a 4 dimensional cube. That is to say it is a cube that is extended into a fourth dimension. It is rather difficult to visualize normally because we visualize things in 3 dimensions. But one way to help with that is to think about how we extrapolate a 2 dimensional square into 3 dimensions as a cube. The old imagery used is describing how we might try to describe a cube to a 2 dimensional world by unraveling it. The image is often represented as such:

That is basically how the tesseract is produced by “unfolding” the 4 dimensional cube so to speak into 3 dimensions by extending a cube(another “side” so to speak) from each of the 6 sides of a cube with one more extended that wraps around to the final side of the hypercube. One famous representation of the tesseract is Jesus Christ on a tesseract as a cross by Salvador Dali in 1954. It looks like this.

As I struggled to visualize this mathematical abstraction I began to argue with myself whether the 8th extended cube which represents the final side of the hypercube was actually enough. Who is to say that the visualization we apply to the 2nd dimension from the 3rd will work the same way from the 4th to 3rd? After all we can't actually see a 4-d cube nor visualize it so there is no way to really verify it by simply unraveling it like we do with the cube to squares. We can only abstract it and calculate it. But after thinking on it a while I realized a couple of things.

First I tried to see a pattern, something all mathematicians do to be able to abstract or calculate something further, and the more data points you have the more you can verify your calculation. So I need a little more data so I decided to apply what we did with the cube into a 2-d plane into a 1 dimensional plane, something mind you that is actually just as hard to visualize for us as a 4-d plane. But ultimately a 1d plane is simply a line, there is no height or width to it, only length. Though ultimately our conception of a line still has those technically, we can at least visualize that to a degree. When we unravel a square into the 1-d plane we just get a longer line, 4 times as long as one side of the square actually. But then I realized, the 1-d unraveled square has 2 times as many sides as there are dimensions of the original. A similar pattern is seen of the 2-d representation of a cube in that there are 6 sides to the cube, exactly 2 times the number of dimensions. This verifies the 8 cubes representing the tesseract, being 2 times the number of dimensions. We can then subsequently extrapolate to further dimensions requiring 10 tesseracts to represent a 5-d cube in a 4-d plane. 12 5-d cubes for the 6-d cube, ad infinitum. Its simply fun mathematics.

But what about the 0-dimension? Okay, yes now you think I'm crazy, but can you think about zero dimensionality? I know that if I were to try to unravel a line into the highly hypothetical 0-dimension I would think of it as two infinitesimally small points, not having length, width, or height, merely having two points that represent the ends of a line. Thats just how I would think about it. The question is the whether the reason I think of it that way is independent of my little formula of 2 times the dimensionality we're unraveling from. In this case 2 times 1 dimension becomes two points.

But think about it, does 0-dimensions really sound so off track to you when you think about black holes? Now I'm not saying I believe they exist because I disagree with the whole reason for postulating their existence, but those who do think they exist seem to be describing exactly what I'm postulating with my 0-dimension to me. Sure they'd argue semantics with me saying that in actuality there are dimensions, they're just so tightly wrapped infinitesimally small, kind of like the postulation of the big bang where the dimensions supposedly popped out of. Both of those are postulating pretty much what I'm describing here. Ultimately this is all still just idealistic mathematics.

But mathematics are not reality. They try to describe reality, but they are not reality. We could postulate various versions of universes that do not follow the laws of physics that we observe and still come up with completely legitimate mathematical equations to describe them. Thats why mathematics is so clean. It is idealistic, not realistic. And when we come to the question of dimensions I have the question the cohesion between this mathematical idealism and what the dimensions we observe and postulate are really like. Quantum physicists now postulate 10 dimensions of reality, or traditional 3 dimensions, a fourth we haven't really thought about much as a dimension in history as time, and 6 others that are supposedly tightly bound up with one another. The idea of the tesseract and its 3-d representation is based on the assumption that all of these dimensions are ultimately the same and we can unravel them all in such a manner so to speak. Thats what I take issue with, that assumption that all dimensions are basically the same in nature. Why do we assume this?

Take time for example. We recognize it as a dimension and in fact Einstein concluded he could not separate space and time. But in our normal 3 dimensions we can measure everything using the same measurements, such as meters. Whether it is up, down, forward, back, left, or right it can all be measured in a spatial manner. Time can not be. If we were to involve time as the 4th dimension in our tesseract we can visualize it as a further dimension. The longer the cube is in that dimension as we measure it, the longer that dimensions is. Ultimately though to make a cube all sides must be equal right? So then, how many seconds equals a meter? They are fundamentally different. Another thing is that we can somewhat freely move about in our 3 dimensions as I can choose which direction I move within the bounds of our physical laws such as gravity. However with time I can not choose a direction. It is unidirectional. And that in itself shows us its fundamentally different nature from the other 3 spatial dimensions. So why can't the other dimensions be fundamentally different as well? Is there any spatiality to them in the way we understand it? What if the other dimensions have nothing to do with moving through space or time, but rather measure the amount of energy of something or the electromagnetic orientation or such things as that? What if some of the dimensions are binary, rather than being able to move “infinitely” in either direction? Some of these questions have a few answers such as the nature of some or all of these dimensions I'm sure by physicists and I'm only asking questions. But I still think that the dimensionality is not quite so simply as unraveling the hyperdimensions in the same way we can from 3 dimensions to a 2 dimensional plane. Thats all I'm thinking.

Ultimately though dimensions are measurable and finite. How do we understand eternity in a time-bound reality? How do we understand an infinite God in a finite universe? Only through revelation. We are a 2-dimensional people being shown a cube outside the bounds of our universe and given glimpses of that larger reality through revelation. The revelation of Jesus Christ, being the Son of God, born as a man. He entered into our finite existence in order to show us and bring us into an infinite reality for which this reality is but a reflection and shadow. If you take it down to the Planck length of space and time, many have concluded that we ultimately live in a holographic universe. Something humbling and enlightening when you consider that Paul tells us the same thing when he says we see but a dim reflection. This reality is only a curtain. One day it will be pulled back entirely as we stand in the presence of a Holy God. When that happens, you'll either be ready for it or you won't. I suggest you be ready for it by getting to know what you can of Him now.

For His Glorious Name,

Monday, 10 December 2012

Look at this hand

Today I was reading an online comic that I read each time there is a new one. I read it because it provokes thoughts even though quite a few of the conclusions the writer draws are different that what I would conclude. Today was a particularly interesting comic dealing with the color of the sky: blue. The question asked by the child is why isn't the sky violet? The question is based on the fact that the common answer for the sky being blue is that light is scattered by the molecules in the atmosphere and blue is scattered to the greatest degree so while the sun is high in the sky that is what we see. But violet is even shorter in wavelength than blue and thus is scattered at even greater angles. Anyhow, the comic can be found at http://xkcd.com/1145/ and also has a mouseover comment about something similar which is why are words held up in the mirror reversed from left to right but not vertically?

Both of these questions are magic tricks in essence. The core of magical tricks are distraction and misdirection. Look at this hand while something else is happening elsewhere. The first question asks why the sky isn't violet, and the reason has nothing to do with the physics and the wavelengths of light present in the sky because ultimately there are nearly equal parts blue and violet wavelengths in the sky we look at. The reason we see blue has more to do with perception and our eyes than what is present in the sky. See the article here for a short explanation. Likewise the question about the mirror has to do with perception and not the horizontal and vertical axes. The reason its reversed is because we are holding a sign in the opposing direction, away from us. We have reversed the direction horizontally by turning the sign around. We haven't turned it around vertically, so the writing is not reversed vertically, but would be if we had turned the sign that way to flip it around. It would be reversed vertically, but NOT horizontally. Also think of it this way. If you had a glass board or something transparnet on which to write with some markers, we could write a sentence and hold it up to the mirror(without turning it around) and what we would see by the mirror is the writing in the correct order and orientation. Its not turned around because of the mirror. It is turned around because we turned it around.

This started me all on a whole other frame of thought. This type of questioning is very common when we think about it. Especially in the realm of debate on controversial subjects such as Evolution and Creation. One of the most common questions I hear evolutionists ask creationists is if the earth is so young, how do you explain dinosaurs? Its yet another misleading question! The age of the earth has nothing to do with dinosaurs, only to do with our perception of where they come from. The Bible does not deny the existence of dinosaurs. In fact, several terms used to describe certain types of beasts in the Bible can easily be attributed to what we now call dinosaurs(a term that is rather recent, hence why the term is not used in the Bible). The question builds within itself the assumption that it is supposedly trying to prove, the age of the earth and evolution. Of course its easy to prove something when your explanation assumes as true that which you're trying to prove. Thats why much of modern explanations about the history of the earth are more akin to magic tricks than anything like science. They have very little to do with the actual physics and science of the events but rather the perceptions and assumptions of the ones looking at it. Just keep that in mind. How many times am I doing this myself? How often do you?

For His Glorious Name,

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Setting aside idols

In the summer of '09 I went to Tanzania. We traveled around quite a bit in the western half of the country mostly close to the lake. We shared the Gospel and cleared roads. We built foundations for churches and researched where the Gospel had not reached. In one remote village we had an interesting encounter.

While we were there we taught children Bible stories, baptized new believers, and did all manner of missionary endeavor. I was usually playing roles of support getting things done in the backgrounds this summer, but one day Pastor Mikos one or two other people and I were approached by a man of that village. He wished for us to come to his home so that we may talk.

As we entered his small home I took notice of his sleeping mat on the floor and two even smaller rooms on each side. He sat us down and began to confess his sins. He had two wives and had been very cruel with them. He would often beat them and get drunk as he pleased. As he confessed his sins he began to gather up small vials of liquid that were hanging around the room, especially over openings like windows and doors. He explained to us that he had trusted in these vials that he had purchased for quite a bit of money(in the villages terms he was somewhat wealthy) from a local witchdoctor to keep evil spirits out of his home. But with the Gospel being preached he wanted to put away his old self and become new in Christ. He was confessing his sins and wanted to stop beating his wives, stop drinking, and most importantly he wanted us to dispose of his vials. The things he had put his trust in to keep him safe. As I write this it seems so very difficult to express how moving this was for me as this man put aside all the things that he trusted in to make Christ his only source of protection.

And I have to wonder at times when I put too much trust in things nowadays. We often think idolatry is something of the past in primitive cultures and that the worship of idols is not something we need to worry about in modern culture. But idolatry is alive and well in our culture too as people put their trust in money, insurance, governments, and many other things. I just warn you not to put trust in these things that can never satisfy and will ultimately ALWAYS fail you. Your trust should be in God alone, nothing else can substitute.

For His Glorious Name,