Subject: math religion

Jennifer Clare

The part of Flatland that I was planning on concentrating on was the religion aspect, for although there are priests in Flatland, they are simply organizers, intimidaters and rulers of the moral and legal matters of the land. Religion is not really addressed, in terms of having life outside of body, creation, etc. Is there a concept of God or Creator in the second dimension? There is an oppressive "you are what you were born to be" mentality, but that seems to come from the tyranny and fear of the aristocracy, and not from any fear of higher law. But perhaps that makes sense, for Heaven and Hell come along with three dimensional concepts of the heights and depths of the human spirits. Where religious success in Flatland is based on how far away one can be from a line, religious success in ourland is based on how far away one can be from being human, or threedimensional. All of the strict rules regarding repression of the id are all tenets of Western religion, bringing the person to "higher" levels. This "higher" level can obviously only exist due to our added dimension. So creatures of the fourth dimension could hypothetically conceive of a God that represented even greater dimensions within themselves. But this is not really the point because I couldn't find any relevant articles, save one discussing a doubt in God that emerged during the Victorian era. Suddenly authors started talking about God as a man-created concept. One such example was Thomas Carlyle, who discusses the insignificance of man in the world. If man is truly so insignificant, then how can he be trusted to answer any questions that are more significant than he? In particular, how can he be trusted to define God? We do not have the vocabulary or the dimensionality to explain what is "beyond" us. The concept that we, as three dimensional creatures, have created this omnipotent God who may work well for the first, second and third dimensions, but who becomes rather flat in any greater dimension. If he does apply to higher dimensions, than man can not be made in his model, or he would be three dimensional. Note that I am obviously talking about the Western idea of God. But then I started thinking about the hypercube, and about how when we see a hypercube in the three dimensional world, it becomes a cube. And then when we see a cube in the two dimensional world, it becomes a square. When we see that square in the one dimensional world, it becomes a line, and finally, a point in the no-dimensional world. Anyway, perhaps God is this infinitesmally dimensional being who, when represented by three dimensional creatures, must end up being three dimensional because it is the only thing we can grasp? That seems really interesting, because it makes me wonder how the concept of religion will enter into all of this new study of higher dimensions. Now that they can be represented by computers, are there any theological repercussions? This is a major tangent as my brain rambles, but I found it interesting, based on a very brief article on Carlyle and that religious doubt aforementioned. The other article I read was on women and the family during Victorian days. It too was not that informative, but it was interesting because it quite contradicted what Abbott posed as the situation for women during that era. This historian said that especially upper class women were quite on par with their husbands, because they were involved in such a maintenance of class against their peers, they did not spend much time warring over gender power issues. Rather, they were a team. I had never read anything of the sort before, so I thought it was interesting. The author was talking about the rise of feminism and that the reason why it did not arise until after the Victorian age was not because of oppression, but because there was not as much of a need. It was not until new, unprivileged men entered the professions, that "identity as a professional depended on lining up a distinct list of accomplishments that belonged to an individual male." It was then that the men became "gendered." The author concedes that there was inequality, but not so much as in the period that followed. That was all. I have a copy of both articles if you are interested.