I watched Interstellar this past weekend. I never took physics, thus Mike had to give both Jen and I a lesson mid- and post-movie, regarding Einstein’s theory of relativity, gravity, black holes, and wormholes.
- Gravity bends both time and space.
- Speed has an inverse relation to time (as you speed up, time slows down, and vice versa).
- Space-time bridges (aka, wormholes) theoretically allow for travel across dimensions.
- Gravity also bends brains, as mine is still flexing to grasp these concepts.
What I found most intriguing, however, was the movie’s take on a fifth dimension. Before proceeding, it might be best to review the first-fourth dimensions:
- First = one-dimensional objects, such as a straight line. The line has one dimension. Length.
- Second = two-dimensional objects, such as a square. The square has two dimensions. Width and height.
- Third = three-dimensional objects, such as human bodies (or any object in the real world). Human bodies have three dimensions. Width, height, depth.
- Fourth = time (according to Einstein) or space-time (according to present day physicists). This is something we cannot see, and barely comprehend.
In the movie, the fifth dimension represents a “they” which stands outside of time (the fourth dimension), experiencing it as an instantaneous snapshot, in which past, present, and future are tri-occurring. The movie concludes that this “they” is us—humans who have figured out how to bend time in such a way as to interact across the dimensions—and also flirts with the idea that an all-powerful “force” outside of ourselves prompts us to communicates in and through time. What exactly is this “force?” Love.
Anne Hathaway’s character, Dr. Amelia Brand, states the following:
In our scientifically geared world, calling this “higher dimension” God, makes us a bit squeamish. We’re more comfortable hedging our bets with a theoretical wormhole, than embracing an Intelligent Designer. Yet, despite its non-religiosity, Interstellar, and more specifically, Dr. Brand’s commentary, does some hard-hitting theology. If we understand the fifth dimension, the “they,” as the biblical God rather than ourselves, and the “force,” which is love, as the essence of, and means by which God communicates, we begin to grasp the core of God’s character.
In both the Old and New Testaments, God is a revealing God. As such, he manifests himself in and through time. Though outside of our world, he is not aloof or distant, or a maniacal puppet master, but rather, a relational Being who lovingly reaches across the universe’s dimensions into our existence. We witness God in the burning bush, on Mount Sinai, in the cloud that guided the Israelites, the ark, and ultimately, in the manger. In Jesus Christ, God definitively reveals his character. He humbly transforms himself, taking on flesh, crossing the dimensions in order to communicate with his Creation. What prompts this revelation? Love.
In one of John’s letters to early Christians, he states that “God is love” (1 John 4.8, 16). He goes on to say, that we know, and perceive this love, because, to quote Dr. Brand, it’s an “artifact” of a higher dimension. For John, the Incarnation (and the ensuing atonement) is the paramount “evidence” of God’s love. It is powerful, because it is God. It is observable, because it is God-revealed. It does mean something, because it points to something more profound than ourselves. We didn't invent it; it originated with the Creator of the world. Though we may not be able to see God, or fully grasp his vastness, we sense, experience, and comprehend this transcendent gem.
A God for whom love is the primary mode of connection, is the type of God I’m willing to place all my bets on.