The construction of schemas in the gospel
To begin an analysis of how we represent the plan of salvation, it is necessary to understand how we elaborate the images in our mind.
The Pregnancy of Forms
Gestalt psychology (also form psychology) emerged in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. One of its laws is the law of pregnance. «This principle is based on the fact that our brain tries to organize the elements it perceives in the best possible way, including perspective, volume, depth, etc. The brain prefers those forms that are integrated, complete and stable.» (Wikipedia)
Conversely, if our brain did not have such images available, as it might have of a light bulb, it would not be able to compose the shape of that bulb from disparate elements.
we need to have seen a football before
To see a soccer ball in this image, you need to know about soccer or at least have seen a soccer ball before. That way our brain is able to integrate different shapes and compose the ball.
With the plan of salvation, something similar happens. From the revealed doctrine, we represent it in an image that makes it easier for us to understand that plan. But we must understand that we do it from «the materials» or forms with which we are familiar. The difficulty we have in doing so is that we have never seen what we want to represent.
There is nothing in section 76 and 88 that compels us to make the familiar outline of the plan of salvation. It is simply a way of representing it according to our way of seeing the world, however.
…by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will—yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man. (D&C 76:10)
Although some have had the privilege of beholding those heavenly landscapes, they have not been able to express it graphically in a trustworthy way because no images have come to the heart of man to do so.
And thus we saw, in the heavenly vision, the glory of the telestial, which surpasses all understanding; (89)
Sometimes the Lord forbids such things to be written.
«Neither is man capable to make them known, for they are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, …Which he commanded us we should not write while we were yet in the Spirit, and are not lawful for man to utter;( 116-118)
Perhaps because we cannot describe it clearly and if we tried we would twist the vision with inadequate words. And yet, behold, I am apparently attempting to describe or draw that which I declare to be impossible.
Turns and spheres
All the images and movements in the restoration appeal to a non-Euclidean (flat) geometry but to a curved geometry. However, all our representations are flat. In fact we draw the dispensations of the gospel by a straight line, when they are not. In our representations, there are no spheres or movements in space. It is not a question of means but of mentality and practicality, we cannot ask the teacher of the priesthood class to illustrate his class with ruler and compass. But another thing is our mind, there are no impediments.
Medieval art had a practical function, to teach the dogmas of religion, that is why its images are hieratic, without expression. There are no proportions with the landscape.
As we can see in this painting of a medieval city, there is no depth. There is no trace of the third dimension. The mastery of space and its representation is almost nil. As we approach the Renaissance, the soul in nature emerges. Perspective and proportions are discovered, and painting is done not only for doctrinal purposes but to enhance beauty, emotion and nature.
Drawing the plan of salvation, according to the doctrine, would require living in the world it represents and as we well know «surpasses all understanding».
That is why I propose that we make a mental construction of the plan of salvation and the kingdoms of glory. For that it is necessary to review the contribution of the new scriptures in our personal «Gestalt» vision. Let us look at what elements they contribute to this construction.
The hidden keys
- «And it became also a living soul. For it was spiritual in the day that I created it; for it remaineth in the sphere in which I, God, created it,» (Moses 3:9).
The Lord speaks of a previous world, but the word sphere does not suggest a planet but a world, that is, everything accessible to the consciousness.
- «All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.» (D&C 93:30)
This verse is incredible, unfathomable. It coincides with Moses in identifying sphere with a world or dimensions that make possible the manifestation of intelligences. For example in ours, without free will, which opens a dimension for the soul to manifest itself, there would be no existence.
- «They are limited to four individual beasts, which were shown to John, to represent the glory of the classes of beings in their destined order or sphere of creation, in the enjoyment of their eternal felicity.» (D&C 77:3)
Again we identify sphere with what is encompassable by each being or intelligence. Attention to the word glory, which we will deal with later.
- «For God doth not walk in crooked paths, neither doth he turn to the right hand nor to the left, neither doth he vary from that which he hath said, therefore his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round.» (D&C 3:2)
In this case we see the movement that he imprints on all his creation, the turning is a complex movement that affects all the dimensions of space. For a more detailed analysis see «Four movements and their properties in the plan of salvation.»
Having fixed the geometrical importance of the word sphere in the plan of salvation, let us scrutinize the consequences of this with a simile.
The sphere in a two-dimensional world
The vision of the realms
Something like this occurs when we read section 76 (see publications) and section 88 in our world of three dimensions plus time. When the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon transcribed section 76, they spoke of worlds as well as Leo of circles. They traversed linearly through each of them, one after the other. Four in all. And in consonance with the scriptures, we perceive them as spheres and so draw and understand them.
If the truth were evident, there would be no need to study it. But the truth is veiled, that is why we have trouble visualizing some scriptures such as the following.
«The angels do not reside on a planet like this earth; But they reside in the presence of God, on a globe like a sea of glass and fire, where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord. » (D&C 130:6-7)
This text is difficult to understand. How can one dwell in a globe of glass and fire. In this case it speaks of a globe, not a world. So the language is more specific, referring to a concrete form and not a general concept. This language goes against our common sense. The past, present and future are all at once in its presence. But in our world these three words flow in time. When we come across texts like this, we digress and move on to something else, we don’t want to deal with this issue. It’s not that we reject it but that we don’t have a representation for it.
We read another scripture
«This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it; and this earth will be Christ’s.» (D&C 130:9)
Now our concept of space-time collapses. Do we go to the heavenly kingdom or do we stay on earth? Do we share the earth or do we seek our kingdom? Will we be a community or will we found our lineage? The elements describing the world to come do not seem to fit together to form a coherent object, there is some chaos.
Imagining the unseen
I now present two examples to better understand the above.
|Projection of a cube (3D)||Projection of a hypercube (4D)|
|Fig 1 We reconstruct a 3D cube in our mind||Fig 2 We don’t know how to reconstruct a 4D hypercube.|
In this example we can all visualize figure 1. From that planar projection we can imagine a cube, because that image belongs to our experience. But what do we see in figure 2? It is the projection of a Hypercube, can we imagine which figure it corresponds to?
Something similar happens sometimes with writings. Sometimes we can’t compose a clear image and we are overcome by the doubt, what if they are wrong?
Figure 2 is the projection on a plane of a four-dimensional cube. In the same way, the scriptures project higher truths onto lower dimensions. When we read them, we need not fear when they seem to lack coherence. They are caged in our 3D mind, they need to come out of our limitations, that is when growth is just a step away from us.
To understand the above scriptures, let’s take an example with Leo and his world.
Leo and the mystery of the box
Leo will never be able to see or access the inside of the box, he will not be able to know that there is an apple. No matter how hard he tries the inside of that box in his 2D world will forever be a mystery. Leo cannot «jump» because that movement is not only impossible in his world, but unthinkable.
However, for us it is not difficult to access the inside of the box, because we live in a 3D world. We could say that for us, inhabitants of a higher dimension, «whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to» (D&C 130:9) We do not need to be told what is in the box, we can see it naturally.
That is why the manifestation of «all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord.» (D&C 130:6) exceeds our capacity of comprehension because just as Leo cannot rise in the plane, we are unable to rise in space-time and see beyond.
Referring to the sons of perdition (who make up a kingdom or world) the Lord declares.
«…behold, I say unto you, never at any time have I declared from mine own mouth that they should return, for where I am they cannot come, for they have no power.» (D&C 29:29)
They have no power
They cannot go where He is because it is spatially impossible, not only because of His judgment and sentence. In fact that realm, is a world with three dimensions.
«…Wherefore, the end, the width, the height, the depth, and the misery thereof, they understand not, neither any man except those who are ordained unto this condemnation.» (D&C 76:48)
We see in that kingdom, height, breadth and depth. In those dimensions there is no time, that is why their «worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched, which is their torment» (D&C 76:44) The impossibility of escaping or leaving that kingdom without glory, is the same that Leo has of escaping from his 2D world.
The model of space where the statements occur in the scriptures is clearly not ours. That is why sometimes we go through scriptures that are difficult to understand, causing us a certain uneasiness. That apparent incoherence in the plan of salvation when mixing Earth, globe, celestial kingdom, Urim and Tumin etc, simply obeys to the projection of a complex world in another of 3D. The loss of dimensions by projection eliminates information about the plan of salvation.
A geometry for the plan of salvation
The worlds, spheres, globes mentioned in the scriptures are the shadows or projections of more complex objects. and we know that they are more complex because of the properties we have seen before.
- Things present, past and future are manifested.
- All things of lower realms will be manifested.
The circle is the projection of a sphere in a 2D world and the spheres of the scriptures are the projections of a higher world in dimensions. This was fiction before now it is searched at the LHC in Geneva. Gravity is something that connects all realms, large and small.
If someone like Joseph Smith or yourself, dear reader, were to see a hypersphere in a 3D world like ours, he would see a succession of spheres before him, just as Leo saw a succession of circles. It is what we see in section 76 a succession of worlds or spheres, as we represent it on paper.
If we look up and read «all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest» we immediately get the idea of information being transmitted, going up and down, through the hierarchy of a realm, reports, visits etc. A model like the one we have now. But the scriptures suggest another system «where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future,» (D&C 130:6-7) Which shows a higher mode where facts are not reported or transmitted, but are present. As when we see the apple in the box, it is manifested.
There is no correspondence between what is stated and the above scheme we all use.
For example in saying «…and this earth shall be Christ’s» I ask myself, in the above scheme where is the earth, and I keep asking myself, where is the earth really now?
«And there shall be silence in heaven for the space of half an hour; and immediately after shall the curtain of heaven be unfolded, as a scroll is unfolded after it is rolled up, and the face of the Lord shall be unveiled;» (D&C 88:95)
We do not travel to Kolob on planet Earth, it would violate Newton’s laws. Rather, space is something that coils and uncoils. Something stranger than we think.
A new way of imagining
The idea of higher dimensions such as the hypersphere projects a different representation of the plan of salvation and the kingdoms of glory. We move from a linear sequence like the one above to one that is certainly more complex, but which better responds to the properties of the kingdom of heaven mentioned in the scriptures.
In the above scheme, the one we all use, the relationship between the kingdoms is at a distance. To place the earth in that scheme, the kingdoms and worlds, the present past and future exceeds our capacity. All this is a puzzle that is insistently asking for a new dimension of space.
This is a representation of a hypersphere. If we could observe one in our world, we could describe it as a succession of spheres. Something similar to section 76 of D&C. Inside it all points of view are visible, all parts are interrelated. If we look above and read «All things of lower realms will be manifested» we observe that this figure is closer to that concept than our usual representations. His realm is more compact, more interrelated and cooperative.
Carlos Admapol, a photographer, made a simulation of what it would look like inside a hypersphere. Although his background is not scientific, I am interested in his spatial ideas, he comments:
«Looking at something from all points of view provokes a sense of omnipresence, a leap into a world that is not ours, a holistic view of the time in which we live and at the same time the ability to go beyond that time and look at the essence of what is happening. «
I was struck by these words from someone who has been working for months on a visual proposal of this description.
The necessity of a new geometry for the plan of salvation
Physics is currently facing its great challenge, the great unification of all the forces of nature (four). Scientists increasingly agree that the laws of physics cannot be understood without the existence of more dimensions.
In his book «Hyperspace» by Michio Kaku he quotes the eminent physicist Peter Freund who states.
«The laws of nature become simpler and more elegant when they are expressed in higher dimensions, which are their natural realm.»
Nature dresses itself in glory to sustain life
I am certain that by studying the scriptures with candor, by accepting at times the breakdown of our common sense, we are in an environment close to the truth. The Lord will provide us with the means to expand our point of view. We need not be afraid to touch the impossible, it is only a stepping stone.
«The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.» (Ps. 19:1)
Something important is happening, it is the beginning of something wonderful. The convergence of the language of scripture with the latest discoveries in advanced physics. Our intention at teancum is to be present to tell the tale, dear reader. With prudence, with caution, without forcing the facts. Scrutinizing the scriptures with the knowledge of our time and the testimony of the restoration. In short, telling the greatness that the new heavens discover. We know more and more about them and therefore we see more and more the greatness of their works and their kingdom.
Nature is dressed in glory to maintain life on Earth. It seeks not only effect but aesthetics and beauty. I look for beauty in the gospel forms, because in their geometry, we can enliven our understanding and better understand the things of God.