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The Secret of the Universe, by Nathan R. Wood, [1932], at

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The real Fourth Dimension—In how many elements do things happen?—The mighty Principle and Process of the Universe—"Being" versus "Becoming," in the light of the Process of the Universe—The Being of God in the Light of Space.

And now we have come to the point where we can gather together certain great conclusions. They rise, range beyond range, in almighty mountain heights. They are not of our handiwork. No principle smaller than the being of God could raise such tremendous conclusions. They are not of our making, but they are as self-evident as the vast "Circuit of the Universe" we have already seen.

1. The Real Fourth Dimension

Neither Time, we have seen, nor a series of further dimensions is that reality which is the great and final product of the dimensions of space. We must look further.

What then is the reality which those dimensions produce? We know that the motion, the existence, of one dimension, a line, generates a second dimension, thus making a plane. The motion, the existence, of two dimensions, a plane, generates a third dimension. What is it which three dimensions generate or produce?

The answer, when we brush aside all theorizing, and gaze directly at the facts, is very clear. What is it which three dimensions produce? Whatever else they may produce, whatever other dimensions they may or

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may not generate, the supreme thing which they produce is Space. For when three dimensions are combined, space becomes a reality, and not until then. Space is the product, it is the combination, it is the unity, of the three dimensions. Space is the reality which the three dimensions generate.

If there are further dimensions, the great final reality which they combine to produce is the same space. If they did not combine in the unity and reality of space, the dimensions would possess no reality. All is imaginary until there are three dimensions. Space is the great reality which they generate. And that series of further dimensions, which mathematical speculation seems to demonstrate, is simply the ever-intensifying reality of Space.

This is more clearly stated and thereby confirmed when we remember the yet higher way of demonstrating further dimensions. We have a pencil or sheaf of an infinite number of lines all passing through a certain point. That infinite number of radiating lines means, of course, three dimensions. This is the argument of descriptive geometry.

Now we can reason that we have an infinite number of such pencils passing through the point. That means apparently a fourth dimension.

Now we have further an infinite number of such points. That means equally a fifth dimension.

This is the standard argument of higher geometry for the fourth dimension. But it is after all, we can see now, essentially an intense statement of the reality of space. We have the pencil of lines passing through the point. That means three dimensions, and the reality of space. All this infinite number of radiating lines

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in the pencil produces only the one simple three-dimensional reality of space. They have not carried space beyond that simple reality.

But now there are an infinite number of such pencils. We have infinitely multiplied that simple, three-dimensional reality of space! We have an infinite repetition or intensification of that reality of space. We have carried that reality into infinity.

And now there are an infinite number of such points. With these an infinite number of times we yet further reaffirm that same infinite reality of space.

The dimensions, in other words, produce an ever intensifying, an infinitely intensifying, reality of space. The so-called fourth and fifth dimensions mean the infinite reality of space itself.

The Fourth Dimension, so much sought and so much desired, is Reality. It is existence.

The Moving Reality of Space

We see now how it is that matter or motion gives reality to space.

For we have seen earlier that real space, not a vast stretch of non-existence, but real space, consists of the outspreading of Creative power, power which can move, and does move.

Now we see that it is in the motion of space at any or many of its points, first into lines, then into planes, then into three dimensions, that space has its final complete reality, and that if there is motion into yet further dimensions they simply make that moving reality of space yet more intensely real. They carry it into infinite certainty.

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2. In How Many Elements Do Things Happen?

And we can answer now, in the light of greater, more absolute principle than any other which concerns the question, the query "In how many elements do things happen?" We can go far beyond the inadequate answer that they "happen in three dimensions of space and in one of time." For they happen in far more than that.

Einstein, and many others, have felt, as indeed we all) have felt, the fact that time is in some sense the outcome of space. But he did not realize that, with motion emerging from space and with time as the outcome of space through motion, we have an unbreakable triunity of space, motion and time. He did not realize that in saying that things happen or take place in three dimensions of space and one of time, and in emphasizing the fact that things "happen" instead of merely exist, because the physical world is a world of motion, we are admitting yet another element into the case, the element of motion.

For we have seen that it is only through motion that time comes from space.

Time is related to space only and wholly through motion. Time is not the direct fourth property of space. Unity, reality, as we have seen, is the fourth property of space. Time is rather the third element in that triunity which includes space and matter and time, all three triunities in one.

If we should state the full fact we should say that things happen in three elements, not in two. Not in space and time. They happen in space and motion and

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time. Any lesser statement ignores the modern universe of motion.

If we state the fullest fact, we should say that things in the physical universe happen not in four dimensions or elements, three of space and one of time. They happen in nine elements; three of space, height, length and breadth,—and three of matter,—energy, motion and phenomena,—and three of time,—future, present and past.

Or if we put it most clearly we should say that things happen in three triunities, and in the three combined in one great triunity of Space-Motion-Time.

And if we put it most clearly of all we should say that things in the physical universe happen or take place or exist in three triunities,—space, matter and time,—and in one great triunity of those three combined,—and that these three universal triunities, and their combined all-inclusive triunity, are the absolute image in every possible way of the supreme Triunity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

3. The Process of the Universe.

It is possible to see the process of the existence of the universe, in the light of God.

For a yet further universal fact is waiting for us in regard to this process of the existence of space which reflects the existence of God.

What we have just found to be true of triune space is true also of the other triunities which compose the universe.

In space one dimension generates the second. The two dimensions generate the third. The three dimensions

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generate the reality, the existence, of space. This is the principle of the existence of space.

Now this same principle is true of the other universal triunities. It is true of matter. Energy generates motion. That is evident. Energy and motion generate phenomena. That is equally clear. Energy, motion and phenomena combined generate or constitute the existence of matter. Matter becomes a complete existence in the union of those three elements. That is basic.

The principle is equally true of the existence of time. The future produces or generates the present; the present comes wholly from the future. That is unmistakable. The future and the present produce the past; for out of the future comes the present, and out of the present comes the past. Of that there is no question. Future, present and past combined constitute or generate the complete existence of time. That is self-evident.

The principle is true also of the triunity of human existence. His essential being or nature necessitates and produces the character, the mentality, the person, whom you know. Nature and person generate personality, for the nature, working through the person, or the person, working from his inner nature, produces the personality which touches others. And the three combined constitute complete human existence.

The principle is true also of the triunity of space—matter—time. Space, the outspreading of the power of God, generates motion or matter. Space and motion combined produce time, which is the successiveness resulting as motion traverses space. Space, motion

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and time combined constitute the physical universe.

We have then in this triunity the process of the existence of space, of matter, of time, of human life, and of the space-matter-time universe. The pattern is a process.

It is the process of the universe.

It is always the same. The first factor produces the second. The first and second generate the third. The three generate complete existence.

This is the process of existence, whether of space, or of matter, or of time, or of the space-matter-time universe, or of human existence.

The heart would be weak and the mind would be dull indeed which could not be stirred by such a vision, so vivid, so real, so universal, of the almighty process of the universe, in the image of its Creator.

4. "Being" versus "Becoming," in the Light of the Process of the Universe

Systems of thought have from the beginning presented the question of "being" versus "becoming." Is "being" or is "becoming" the secret of existence?

Does this seem a somewhat abstract question? On the contrary, no broader division of the whole field of human thought can be found than the division which is described by "being" versus "becoming."

For generations ancient philosophy vibrated between the two. The march of Greek thought swung first to one side of the road, then to the other. Successive schools of philosophy were built about one point of view or the other.

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To a splendid series of thinkers the universe was a fixed fabric. It was permanent, and could be studied at leisure. It arose around one as a great framework of certainty. If one could but find the framework, the formula, of absolute "being," one had the secret of all existence.

To other strong thinkers the constant "flux" which they could see in all things, the changing positions of the stars, the turns of the tides, shifting winds, fire appearing and disappearing, the fluctuations of the soul, seemed the basic fact of the world, and they sought to find a formula to explain the universe in terms of change and motion. All things were always and every moment becoming what they were, and then immediately becoming something else. "Becoming" seemed, then, the secret of existence.

Modern thought too has moved in an immense vibration, first toward the one and then toward the other position. For generations great philosophy has sought the "ideal," the "absolute," the fixed "reality," the unalterable fabric of things, the changeless principle, so that we could know absolutely, and test all things by that absolute knowledge. Marvelous things the great classic masters of modern philosophy have done with the study of "being." Science too has long sought the exact and unalterable. It has desired to be an instrument of vast precision, a sextant of certainty. Fixed facts, unbroken laws, absolute order,—these, we have felt, are the pride of science.

But now what shall we do? Philosophy and science have fallen in love with the other ideal again. We have crossed the road. The new Science, the new physics and astro-physics, see "flux" as the very Fact of the

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universe. Bewildering motion, nothing at rest, universal change, breakdown of atoms, free electrons, infinite variation, transition everywhere, universal "becoming" at immeasurable speeds in infinitesimal instants, these are what we see now in the universe.

"Development" is the lens through which we gaze at all things to see them as "becoming" rather than already "being."

The theory of Evolution is in all realms the most thoroughgoing theory of "becoming" as a universal formula that the world has ever known.

Pragmatic philosophy tells us that truth is what becomes true to us in practice.

Ritschlianism in religion says to you that truth is what becomes true to you in experience.

Psychology, the study of how the soul acts and comes to be what we find it to be, takes the place of metaphysics, the study of what the soul unalterably and ideally is.

Behaviourism pictures human life as continually coming into existence by its acts, a continuous "becoming."

Relativity finds the world one vast continuous flux, one universal "becoming."

The Quantum theory depicts all things as existing by virtue of their incessant change.

The modern world of thought has truly veered far over from fixed "being" to endless "becoming." The whole swing of the world pendulum from being to becoming is expressed in the a. b. c. of a genuine modern philosopher, *—"What is the precise meaning of the word 'exist'? I find, first of all, that I pass from state to state.—I change, then, without ceasing.—The truth

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is that we change without ceasing, and the state itself is nothing but change."—"Philosophy—is the study of becoming in general."

What shall we say, then?

Is the process of existence "being" or "becoming?" Is it static or in constant flux? It is no easy choice which the ages put before us.

But must we really choose between the two? Is it truly a necessary antithesis? Do "being" and "becoming" so exclude each other as the basic process of the universe?

Shall we not look upon the universe in the light of its supreme, triune Reality?

Shall we not bring the riddle of "being" and "becoming" to the supreme Solvent?

If we do this, "being" and "becoming" as a process of the universe are seen not to exclude each other at all. Rather, the triune process of the universe, the universal process of existence, gathers together the principles of "being" and "becoming" in a great reconciliation.

For the universal process of existence, in which the first factor produces the second, the first and second generate the third, and the three generate complete existence, is at once both "being" and "becoming."

It is, in the first place, the process of all existence, of all "being," in God, in man, in space, in matter, in time, in space-matter-time, in everything.

And at the same time it is in all things physical and spiritual a process of existence, a mode of "being," which is in itself a constant "becoming," a constant generation of second from first, of third from first and second, and of existence from the three.

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We see then the almighty reconciliation.

For existence is both "being" and "becoming," at once. The circle of being is within itself an incessant and never-ending becoming.

The mighty process of existence does more than recognize both "being" and "becoming." It is both "being" and "becoming."

It is static, for it is changeless "being."

It is endless flux, for it is constant "becoming." It is both at once.

It is a universal process of existence by which "being" is itself a constant "becoming." In this triune universe, in the image of the Triune Creator, questions of "being" and "becoming" pass away. They melt before the sunrise. They merge into one supreme reality.

This is the process of the universe. This is the universal process of existence, in absolute likeness of the Three in One, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

5. The Being of God in the Light of Space.

And now we rise yet higher.

It is possible to see the Being of God in the light of His universe.

For the facts of Space cast a revealing light upon that absolute Existence of which Space is but the pale reflection in the outer universe.

It may be that the endless quest of mathematicians, and of other seekers after reality, the constant search for the Fourth Dimension, really gets its urgency from the deep, unconscious thirst of the soul for God. It may be no abstract curiosity, but an instinct that beyond these three dimensions lies the supreme Reality.

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The vision of the Being of God which breaks upon us when we see it in the light of Space does not depend upon the facts of Space. The facts of Space simply call our first attention to that vision. Once seen, that Being of God is self-evident. It cannot be forgotten. It becomes the Reality at the heart of the universe.


The Divine Triunity is not 1 + 1 + 1.

A crude objection has sometimes regarded it so, and pointed out that 1 + 1 + 1 = 3, not 1. It sums up the one great objection to the Trinity. How can there be unity in 1 + 1 + 1?

A surprisingly large number of earnest and thoughtful people through the ages have been influenced by this objection. The vast majority of those who know God have not indeed been deeply moved by this objection, for they have felt instinctively that the life of God is an infinitely more vital thing than can be expressed in a crudely materialistic formula such as 1 + 1 + 1.

But we can learn here from the intensive nature of space and its dimensions, as those dimensions combine to produce reality.

Here then is the great answer, revealed by the nature of the unity of space, but self-evident in its own right:

The Trinity, the Divine Triunity, is not 1 + 1 + 1. It is no more so than space is. Space is not height + length + breadth. That would be a childish conception of space. Space is too immaterial a thing for such a crudely materialistic formula. Add two dimensions together, and you do not get the area of a square.

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[paragraph continues] Add three dimensions together, and you do not get the contents, the total space of a cube. Space is not height + length + breadth. Everybody knows this. When you have three dimensions you never add them. That is meaningless. You multiply them. Space is height × length × breadth. You multiply the three dimensions, and you get the contents, the space, enclosed by the three dimensions. Height × length × breadth = space. Until you have the three dimensions, multiplied by each other, you have no space. You have only an imaginary line, or an imaginary plane. Space and reality come when you multiply the three dimensions. Height × length × breadth = space and reality.

So is the Divine Triunity. The Trinity is not 1 + 1 + 1. That is a childish conception of it. The Trinity is an even more immaterial thing than space. If it is anything at all, it is life. It is the life of God. It is not like adding blocks of wood to each other. We have put away childish things. We are dealing with life, and Divine life. The Trinity is not 1 + 1 + 1. No such crudely material conception means anything in connection with it. The Trinity is 1 × 1 × 1. That is life. 1 + 1 + 1 = 3. But 1 × 1 × 1 = 1. That is God.

The Three in One as brought to us in the God of the Bible and of the universe of space, matter, time and men is that kind of absolute unity in which each of the three is the whole. Each is not a part of God. Each is God. Each is the whole. We have seen such Unity reflected, infinite, Divine and spiritual though it is,—in space, in matter, in time, in man, and in the space-matter-time universe. May we now see its mighty significance, not reflected, but in Itself?

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In 1 + 1 + 1 each is a part of the whole. Each is one-third of the whole. But in 1 × 1 × 1 each is the whole! For in such multiplication each unit multiplies and permeates every part of the whole. Each is most intensively the whole, and every part of the whole. The Trinity is not an inert division of God into three parts. It is not 1 + 1 + 1. It is life. It is 1 × 1 × 1. It is One × One × One = One. It is multiplied, infinitely intensified Reality.

It is a living, active, intensive mode of being, in which each of the Three interacts, penetrates, intensifies, lives in the other Two, and each is the Whole.

One × One × One produces an intensive, multiplied Unity, deeper, greater, more One, than simple Unity could be.

God is more deeply, infinitely One than He could ever be if He were not also Three.


O God, we adore Thee! O God, Thou art Life! Forgive us if we have ever talked of Thee as though Thou wert material, or arithmetical, or anything less than infinite, immortal Life; and have tried to measure Thee, who art Life, by our little formulae; and doubted Thee, because one stone plus one stone plus one stone makes three, not one, when Thou art not stones but Life. We adore Thee, who art Life, and art infinitely more One because Thou art forever Three.


172:* Bergson, "Creative Evolution."

Next: VI. The Secret of the Universe and the Problem of Change and Progress