Saturday, October 06, 2007

Extra dimensions an ad hoc explanation?

How can God exist without a cause? Why does the doctrine of the Trinity seem so illogical? The Bible claims that God is everywhere, but why we can’t see him? Through the centuries theologians and philosophers alike have wrestled with these important questions, but Hugh Ross, astronomer and old earth creationist, solves these ageless conundrums with a single, simple answer: extra dimensions. On page 96 of his book, The Creator and the Cosmos:

. . . the Bible also speaks of the existence of dimensions beyond our time and space, extra dimensions in which God exists and operates.

The concept of the Trinity, problems with free will and God’s attributes are not problematic at all, argues Ross, because they relate to a God who operates in the context of complex dimensions, the nature of which is beyond human understanding. On page 157:

. . . these concepts are provable contradictions in four dimensions, but each can be resolved when eight or more space-time dimensions . . . are taken into consideration.

But is this a good explanation? There is an old axiom that says: an answer that explains too much explains nothing at all. I think this applies here. Ross seems to sweep away major theological and logical problems with the single explanatory broom of extra dimensions; it just seems too easy, somehow. Richard Carrier in Sense and Goodness Without God (page 72) argues that this kind of explanation seems too easy simply because it is ad hoc in nature. Ross advocates extra dimensions without first demonstrating how they do in fact solve these problems, or how a God can actually operate outside time and space. It is an easy explanation because, at the end of the day, it doesn’t explain anything.

Richard Carrier also raises an additional point: if God is dependent on extra dimensions in which to exist and operate (which implies that, without them God would not be able to exist and operate), then where did these extra dimensions come from in the first place? What caused them to exist? If God created these extra dimensions, how did he exist and operate before he created them? Within extra-extra dimensions, perhaps? If this is the case, where did these extra-extra dimensions come from?

See the problem here.

What do you think?


CyberKitten said...

It's like the old argument that *everything* has a cause... therefore the Big Bang *must* have been caused by something right? That cause was God.

But what *caused* God we ask...

Oh He is an uncaused cause, they say...

But I thought you said that *everything* has a cause?

Yes. But that doesn't apply to God - He's different you see......

So... if not *everything* needs a cause then isn't it possible that the Universe was uncaused too.....?

Jon F said...

I think part of the trouble for ex-Christians (like us) in dealing with this whole subject is because of the idea we have inherited from the christian machine that God is over there, and creation is over here. What if they were one and the same? Yes, yes .. I know pantheism is a terrible error that will wind you up in hell, but still the same ... What if God and the Creation are one and the same?

CyberKitten said...

jon f said: What if God and the Creation are one and the same?

Then why call it God?

Rodolfo said...

Multiple big bangs? I like it.

The Don said...

Sounds like deus ex machina nonsense to me. Invoking other dimensions does not a good argument make.
You read the Hitchens book yet?

Cori said...

I think what Ross is (perhaps badlyarticulating) is a somewhat deeper thing than simply giving a in-the-box answer to a lot of complex questions. I think that what he is calling us to is theologians (such as C.S.Lewis, for example) as well as philosophers and scientists (such as Kaluza, Klein and even Einstien) have pointed towards: the possibility of perceiving reality (and specifically the space-time continuum) in multiple different ways.

Margeret Wertheim also discusses this idea in The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace.

I don't think its fair to near-ridicule Ross when he is (perhaps from an amateur position) touching on aspects of quantum physics and the like, which is taken very seriously by many physicists.

The fact is that by being bound to one way of perceiving the time-space continuum we may be cutting ourselves off from much deeper understandings of reality.

Rather than suggesting some absurdly simple answer to enormous questions I believe Ross is hinting at something tremendously deep and profound that deserves a lot more exploration.

Let's not dismiss this out of hand but take the time to explore these incredible deep aspects of our reality. A good starting place may be :

I don't say that this will answer life's big questions but I do think that when we begin to realise that reality is not necessarily all we think it is (all we can manage to think it is in our tiny little brains which can only hold a tiny little bit of knowledge) perhaps a lot of things that always seemed absurd and impossible are in fact not so.

Let's not dismiss things too quickly as we may step into the trap of being blinded by (perhaps unintended) arrogance and thereby miss the truth(s)...

Aaron said...

I think Ross is a voice in the conversation, and I bet even he will admit he really doesn't know. This is his best guess.

But you are right on that God cannot be dependent upon any material dimensions. It may or may not explain how he chooses to interact with the universe, but certainly God can't be dependent upon them.

Also, just to nuance what the first commenter said, every material thing needs a cause. To say otherwise leads to an infinite regress which is an impossibility. God is not like us. He is not material. He is not created. He is.

That's what is profound about the revelation to Moses in Exodus with the burning bush. In a context and culture that believed in created and localized geographically gods, Moses has an experience and comes out of it with a name for God. That name was I AM (YHWH). God is. He is the uncaused cause. That was a game changing revelation.

I know many here have questions and doubts about God. That's okay. I think diversity helps us get to more honest answers. But lets not be surprised that if there is a God He is wholly different and unlike us. If he weren't different he wouldn't be worthy of much anyway.

Fausto Intilla (fisico teorico) said...

a)The Jungian Theory of Syncronicity, is a clear demonstration that
everything in this Universe is predeterminated.The Heisenberg's
Indetermination Principle comes from the human ignorance
(we cannot see the reality in its totality) only an ignorant,can believe in Free Will.

b)Matter is a complex form of energy; Energy
is a complex form of Information; God's Thought.

The Universe is we are parts of God.

c) Every kind of "human desire",is followed by a Chain of "Electron wave
functions collapses" (in agreement with Schrödinger's Theory) which will not
follow ours expectations! ...So the paradox is: if we want to get hold of
something,we shouldn’t have to search for it. (Men stay still,and the mountains move...).
A curiosity: The connection between the electron
wave-function and the human intent has to do with the fact that
experiments have proved that the intentions of the operator of a radio
transmission facility, directly and instrumentably alter the
"footprint", the radiation pattern of the antenna. It has also been
shown that the intent of the human being causes a divergence in
the quantum field (which is the information field).
Any divergence in the information field results in
alterations of "probability", which directly influences
the outcome of any system which contains any element
of chance, directly influencing the resulting observable
events. (See the work of Princeton Engineering Anomalies
Research at


"In agreement with Henri Bergson's thought (see the last pages of "Entre
le temps et l'éternité" of Ilya Prigogine ,Librairie Arthème Fayard,Paris),
we can accept the idea of a "Space-time absolute value", where
all the "Space-time relativ values" are incorporated (in agreement with Einstein’s
theory of relativity); the conclusion is that there is only one Real
Matrix of the every other possible /potential parallel
"event/dimension/future" it's only a human illusion.

All the other parallel Universes (or Multi-Universes,as Phd. Everett said)
can only exist in our minds...perhaps whilst dreaming.

Unfortunately several physicists are conditioned by Heisenberg's Principle of
Indetermination...which, as you will know, is enough explain the
existence of Free Will.

Well, the Principle of Indetermination is hardly bound by the limits of
observations made by the human brain.

(We cannot see the reality in its totality...Bohm taught).

If we accept the idea that our Universe really is God,well,in a infinite
Caos of Energy too, there must to be a logical (but not for human
brain),exact,specific,and perfectly organized ...Plan.

How many significant (important) coincidences can happen to a person in his
life,living in a unorganizated and stupid Universe?...I think no-one.
Every synchronism in our life, is like an open-eyes-dream (Jung
taught)...and we can thank the fine intelligence of our Universe...if
they happen."

Fausto Intilla
(Inventor-scientific divulger)

Ellabella said...

I am new to blogging [and to the internet - they happened simultaneously for me] and I have been searching and searching for "intelligent" blog sites. I was totally amazed at the small talk and even crude rubbish that people talk about. I despaired of finding any that would satisfy my intellectual integrity, until I found this blog site.

What a joy to read [I am Afrikaans, so please excuse grammar or spelling mistakes]through the above blog and comments.

John Oxenham wrote
To every man there openeth
a Way and Ways and a Way
and he High soul climbs the High Way
and the low soul clims the Low
and in between on the misty flats
the rest drift to and fro
but to every man there openeth
a High Way and a Low
And every man decideth
the soul his soul shall go.

Like Einstein "I want to know God, the rest is detail." I believe I have "found" God through spiritual exercises [not necessarily religious]and disciplines, including eastern, atheistic, philosophical, religious, scientific reading, praying and agonising but in the end settled for the God of Abraham Izak and Jacob. In the process I have gone through the deepest emotional pain that anyone can ever be expected to endure, and it is my modest opinion that God can only really and truly and deeply be known through the agency of PAIN! Kahlil Gibran said that "Pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses our understanding."I will explain it in a later comment if anyone is interested.

My own problem is that now that I have "found" Him I am obsessed with "knowing" Him.

Deus Absconditus - the God who is hidden... I have found that God will often conceal Himself from us - we the very ones who seek Him! His purpose is to rouse us from spiritual laziness. His purpose in removing Himself from us is to cause us to pursue Him.

Someone wrote: "God is the summit of all possible perfection and then a perfection beyond them. He is more than we can utter, more than we can conceive; the fulfillment infinitely beyond our hopes, of our deepest longings, the reality, infinitely beyond our conceptions, towards which our highest thoughts are striving, He is the only Being who is alone worthy of worship." [Writer unknown.]

Meister Eckhardt said: "Whoso knows of God that He is unknown, that man knows God. For it is the height of gnosis and perception to know and understand in agnosia and aperception. To know Him really, is to know Him as unknowable. If I must speak of God, then I will say, God is something which is in no sense to be reached or grasped, and I know nothing else about Him. God is such that we apprehend Him better by negation than by affirmation."

I am amazed at the intelligence of writers on this blog site. I am of reasonable intelligence, but I am not articulate, therefore I make use of quotations mostly to get across what I am thinking about a subject.

John M said...

CyberKitten said
It's like the old argument that *everything* has a cause... therefore the Big Bang *must* have been caused by something right? That cause was God.

But what *caused* God we ask...

Oh He is an uncaused cause, they say...

But I thought you said that *everything* has a cause?
The logical issue here is that the "old" saying is that every "effect" has a cause. Augustine's point in saying that God is an uncaused cause is that He is not an effect. So, Augustine may have been wrong but he is logically consistent.

Anonymous said...

The just live by faith...

Man's wisdom is foolishness to God...

John 3:3
Unless you are born again, you will not see the kingdom of heaven..

John 14:17
He is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor recognizes him. But you recognize him, because he lives with you and will be in you.

1 John 4:6
We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error

John 4:24
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth

Do any of you have the spirit or ever had the spirit??!?!?

John 3:8
The wind blows where it wants to. You hear its sound, but you don't know where it comes from or where it is going. That's the way it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit

Romans 1:18-20
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse

Gino said...

Very interesting.....I read answers to questions that can not be fully answered. Human logic is trying to place a limiltless Being into a box limited to human reasoning. All good points from a human perspective but far short of the complete overal view. It is funny to hear the clay pot questioning the artist. With all respect. A brother