A Mathematical Model to Investigate Non-Material Realities

By Mahyad Zaerpoor-Rahnamaie

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #88
Bosch Bahá'í School: Santa Cruz, California, USA
May 28 – June 1, 2009
(see list of papers from #88)

Next presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #89
Center for Bahá'í Studies: Acuto, Italy
June 28 – July 1, 2009
(see list of papers from #89)

    The Bahá'í Faith is the first major religion that encourages its followers to seriously and deliberately make a good use of the human rational and intellectual powers to get a more profound understanding of the multi-layered language of the sacred texts. It supports the idea that there has always been an essential and reciprocal relationship between the divine revelation with its hidden meanings on one hand and the fruits of human social/intellectual/scientific endeavors on the other. This mutual bond between the divine and the profane constitutes the backbone of what the Faith offers as a new paradigm for an "ever-advancing civilization".

    The symbolic and multi-layered nature of the divine scriptures is, by design, a renewable and ever-lasting source of inspirations. It is up to us to delve into this fathomless ocean to grasp new meanings for, and relevance to, human condition. As humanity progresses in intellectual/scientific/technological fields, unprecedented opportunities arise to re-examine our historical and gradual understandings of the holy writings. One area of the Bahá'í Teachings that has a unique potential for further explorations is the vast field of non-material realities and, especially, the age-old question of "life after death". Such an abstract concept may be examined more closely when applying some of the insights offered in mathematics.

    In our constant struggle for finding deeper meanings, relevance, and immediacy in abstract spiritual concepts, we have an, as yet little explored, ally of new developments in abstract mathematics. From the very beginning, starting from Pythagoras, Thales, and Euclid, many basic mathematical axioms, starting from the very notion of numbers, embodied many strong mystical/invisible/otherworldly components, setting them apart from other domains of human intellectual activities. In the writings of the Báb also we see continuous references to the mystical symbolism of numbers. The ancient association between the letters of Alphabets and their numerical values has always played an important role to add yet a new layer to the complexity of symbolic messages.

    Does our cumulative knowledge assist us in better understanding of the Holy Words? Can mathematics act as a viable source of inspiration in seeking spiritual truths? Do some of the mathematical concepts have any counterparts in the realm of the spirit? To further explore these notions, the present talk will focus on the following four questions:
    • What are some of the basic mystical components in the history of the development of mathematics?
    • What are some of the features of n-dimensional spaces?
    • What are some of basic teachings of the Faith about the survival of the soul beyond this material world and the conditions of its progress?
    • What are some of the applications of n-dimensional spaces in offering a model to further explore the concepts of "Other Worlds of God" and the "Progress of the Soul" in the Baha'i Writings?

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