Saturday, January 27, 2007

Flatland, the Movie

Suppose that reality actually consists of more dimensions than just the three (four, counting time) that our minds are structured to experience. If so, then the world is, in fact, totally different than it appears to us since we are only perceiving a fraction of a multi-dimensional reality.

In the novel Flatland, written in 1884, Edwin Abbott explored what a two dimensional world would look like to its inhabitants and what three dimensional objects would look like if they invaded a two dimensional world.

The novel helps stretch our imaginations and became a classic. Now it's being made into a movie, the trailer for which can be viewed here.

Woody Allen depicted something similar in Purple Rose of Cairo, in which a character (Jeff Daniels) in the two dimensional world of a film on the movie screen suddenly steps out of the screen and into the three dimensional world of a woman (Mia Farrow) viewing the movie all alone in the theater.

Maybe our existence is like that of the characters on the screen. We think that what we perceive is all there is, while all around us there is a wider world of additional dimensions in which people live, and move, and have their being, and we're totally unaware of it because our minds are unable to apprehend those dimensions.

Perhaps at death we, like Jeff Daniels in the Purple Rose of Cairo, step off the three dimensional screen of this world and into a multidimensional reality that we could no more imagine before we experienced it than a child in the womb could imagine the world that it would be entering when it's born.

Perhaps we are surrounded by, and embedded in, a reality which is so much richer than that which we can experience, but we are totally oblivious to it until we take on a "body" with the senses to perceive it.

As Hamlet says to his companion: "There are more things in heaven and on earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Perhaps so.


The Attack at Karbala

Bill Roggio surmises that the attack on American soldiers at Karbala in Iraq was carried out by Iranian commandos. If he's right then the new directive giving American troops the green light to kill or capture any Iranians found in Iraq makes even more sense:

On January 20th, a team of twelve men disguised as U.S. soldiers entered the Provincial Joint Coordination Center in Karbala, where U.S. soldiers conducted a meeting with local officials, and attacked and killed five soldiers, and wounded another three. The initial reports indicated the five were killed in the Karbala JCC, however the U.S. military has reported that four of those killed were actually removed from the center, handcuffed, and murdered.

The American Forces Information Service provides the details of the attack in Karbala. Based on the sophisticated nature of the raid, as well as the response, or cryptic non-responses, from multiple military and intelligence sources, this raid appears to have been directed and executed by the Qods Force branch of the Iranian Republican Guard Corps.

Read the rest of the details that have been made public about this attack at the link.


Important Work of Science

Michael Shermer, in reviewing Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion in the journal Science Magazine, closes his review with these surprising words:

"Dawkins' latest book deserves multiple readings, not just as an important work of science, but as a great work of literature."

What a very odd thing to say of a book which is devoted completely to debunking theism. In what sense is this a book of science? And why is a journal devoted to science publishing a review of what is essentially a book on religion?

Mike Gene at wonders:

Isn't it odd how a popular anti-religious book, which reports no new experiments or data, and was not peer-reviewed, has become an Important Work of Science?

Gene sees in Shermer's essay the germ of a trend to expand the definition of science to include anti-religious efforts. The irony of this, of course, is that some of the same people who blanched at allowing Intelligent Design to be taught in public schools because "it's religion, not science" are now calling books on atheism "important works of science."

As Gene says:

Now, science apparently CAN address supernatural causes. Now, science and evolution apparently DO lead to atheism. Now, there is apparently NO difference between methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism.

I'm sure that the next time the ACLU goes to court to smack down some school's effort to teach students that not every scholar is convinced that mechanical processes are sufficient to explain the complexity of life, Shermer's essay will be presented as evidence by the defense. When the ACLU witnesses testify that ID is not science they'll have a hard time explaining why a book which seeks to promote atheism is considered science by reputable science magazines.

See here for yet another example of a journal ostensibly devoted to genes and chromosomes publishing an article in which the author indulges in amateurish theologizing. Apparently religious articles are suitable for publication in scientific magazines and journals when they argue against the existence of a cosmic designer. If they argue for the existence of a designer then they are completely out of bounds. The Important Work of Science seems now to consist of trying to prove that there is no God.