Vassar College Religious Studies professor Christopher White’s book Other Worlds is a history of the western world’s search for extra dimensions and how it affected science, the arts, literature, and spirituality. Beginning with the relatively well-known 1884 book Flatland by Edwin Abbott, Chris describes the rise of science in Victorian England and attempts by some thinkers of the period to reconcile these discoveries with traditional and entrenched religious ideas.
We moved on to Charles Edward Hinton and his elaborate system of cubes which he said would help anyone realize hidden truths about higher dimensions. We examined the late 19th century astrophysicist Karl Fredrich Zollner and his clash with other scientists regarding his belief that he had found a system of laws that reconciled science and spirituality and who also enthusiastically conducted seances. Chris also delved into the visual arts with Russian avant-garde painter and philosopher Kasmir Malevich as well as iconic author JRR Tolkien, who belived his dreams contained hidden truths regarding his Christian faith.
We ended with the advent of television and how it was regarded as an almost magical device when it was introduced and the observation that many scientists and science writers still use mystical ideas and language when writing for a popular audience, and conversely, how those involved in matters of spirit and faith routinely borrow from the language of science.
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