Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Flatland… (Geometry of Faith)

I wrote and drew this entry in my old-tech blog, my Moleskine notebook, where I relate about how greatly the works of C.S. Lewis, particularly his essay on Transposition had influenced the way I look at my own faith. Moved with the imageries he used in that essay, I often borrowed his ideas when discussing about my faith. I often find myself extending the use of these imageries to the domain of geometry, something that almost everyone understands better than abstract concepts. With the aid of a visual demonstration, a more creative way of teaching… here is my attempt in capturing that idea, which I call "The Geometry of Faith"…


I always upload my notebook entries to my DeviantArt and Flickr accounts (I have yet to compile more spreads before I create an album in Multiply). One of my contacts in DeviantArt, scalpod, after reading my piece referred me to an 1884 novella by an English clergyman named Edwin Abbot Abbot. I have no idea of his work yet but the title of the book was enough to push me to read it… Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

The story is narrated by A. Square (literally a square), who guides us through life in the two dimensional world which is called Flatland. It is quite amusing how Abbot manages to describe the society and culture in this world, ranging from a caste system dictated by the number of sides one has (Circles are the most respected and women are mere lines) to the daily nuances of two dimensional life. He is then visited by a 3-dimensional sphere, but he seems unable to comprehend the third dimension until he was brought into it. Imagine how this realization opened his mind to new realities, but how futile his attempt was to share this experience to his fellow Flatlanders.

Here is an excerpt from the Preface of the book:

"I admit," said he -- when I mentioned to him this objection -- "I admit the truth of your critic's facts, but I deny his conclusions. It is true that we have really in Flatland a Third unrecognized Dimension called 'height,' just as it also is true that you have really in Spaceland a Fourth unrecognized Dimension, called by no name at present, but which I will call 'extraheight.' But we can no more take cognizance of our 'height' than you can of your 'extraheight.' Even I -- who have been in Spaceland, and have had the privilege of understanding for twenty-four hours the meaning of 'height' -- even I cannot now comprehend it, nor realize it by the sense of sight or by any process of reason; I can but apprehend it by faith."

The book is an impressive piece of work, and though it is a classic piece, it is amazing how its premise still pervades current thinking, from scientific (quantum physics) to religious (faith) and even revived as an educational tool (mathematics and geometry), entertainment media (there are currently 2 new animated movie adaptations), and a library of literary and visual pieces.

From Flatland: The Movie:

From Flatland: The Film

Carl Sagan on the 4th Dimension

Dr. Quantum on Flatland

I was about to create my own "romance" about the circle and the sphere, perhaps I will develop it into a graphic novel of sorts in the future. But this "geometry of faith" has truly added a new dimension to the phrases "Christ Passing By" and "God Among Us" and has even brought me closer to understanding, at least in its basic form, certain mysteries, for example, the Holy Trinity. But most of all, I think, these books by C.S. Lewis and Abbot, though in the form of fiction, serves to create in us a kind of humility… an acceptance that there is something greater than us… to us… to our lives… and indeed we need a leap of faith to believe in this greater…or rather infinite dimensionality and the hope that we can be part of it.

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimension may be downloaded online through the following links:


Julius said...

Your blog continues to inspire!

Check out my latest attempt at blogging:


Take care.


Rev Cruz said...

Thanks Julius! Nice blog you have! Inspires me to go to the kitchen and grab something to bite :-)