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Pythagoras




4
. God as Mathematician,
Geometrician and Designer

In Pythagoras’ Trousers, Wertheim traces the history of science and religion and demonstrates how entwined they have been.  The roots of science are traced to the mystical teachings of Pythagoras, an Ionian philosopher who studied in the Egyptian mystery teachings, lived in Babylon and returned to Greece and Italy circa 600 BC.  Pythagoras introduced mathematics to the Greeks, borrowing from the Egyptians and Babylonians. Wertheim outlines Pythagoras’ essential ideas concerning the nature of numbers:

 

Pythagoras saw the essence of reality in the immaterial magic of numbers.  He believed the universe could be explained by the properties of numbers and the relations between them, a philosophy encapsulated in his famous dictum “All is number.”   (pp. 18-19) 

 

At the heart of Pythagorean thought were the whole numbers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and so on.  Pythagoras believed that numbers were divine and he equated them with the gods.  The number 1 through 10, those of the decade, were said to be especially sacred. ... the deities had become abstract mathematical entities.  The Pythagorean world picture was ... a metaphysical dance of numbers. ... Indeed might not number be the essence of form itself? ...  The temporal numerical patterns apparent in the heavens and the spatial patterns made by numbers themselves convinced Pythagoras that all was indeed number, and that number was truly the essence of reality.  (pp. 24-27)

 

            In the earliest times, numbers were regarded as having mystical and magical properties.  The esoteric mystical and occult literature is replete with sacred numerology, geometry, symbols, hieroglyphics, myths and so on, embodying such ancient teachings.  Numbers do not simply follow each other in a linear way with each number simply being one more than the one before it.  Instead, numbers are principles inherent within the metaphysical and physical nature of reality.  Numbers, as symbols, depict the processes by which form is generated from formlessness.  

            Pythagorean thought was largely abandoned in the mainstream of religious science but has reemerged during different historic periods. In the twelfth century, the philosophy of Robert Grosseteste (1168-1253), the first medieval scientific thinker, embodied Pythagorean influences.  Wertheim summarizes Grosseteste’s metaphysics:

 

In Grosseteste’s metaphysics of light, we see the first full-blown expression of a mathematico-Christian cosmology, in which we may even recognize elements of the modern mathematical world picture.  According to Grosseteste, the universe was generated from a point of primordial light–the divine illumination, or lux, of which visible light was said to be the physical manifestation.  Now, because the definitive feature of light is that it propagates outward, like flares radiating from a candle, this original point immediately began to expand, forming the sphere of the universe.  As the first emanation of God’s power, Grosseteste believed that lux was ultimately the cause of all natural action in the universe.  Indeed it was the primal force of the world.  Man could not study the divine lux directly, but he could study its physical manifestation in light.  Thus, Grosseteste believed light was the key to understanding the working of the natural world. ... Grosseteste concluded that a mathematical understanding of light would serve as the model for understanding all natural influence, or what we would now call force. ...  this is close to what mathematical men believe today.  In contemporary physicists’ quest to understand the forces of nature, it is light that has generally served as the model.   (pp. 49-50)

 

            Grosseteste conceived of the Biblical Deity as a divine mathematician and viewed the mathematics and geometry inherent in nature as reflecting the same creative principles as inherent in the Mind or Being of God.  His scientific work was in the study of optics, the refraction of light, rainbows and the like.  In this view, creation emerged from a point of primordial light, the first point of cosmic manifestation.  The underlying lux, or supernal light, is the metaphysical principle underlying creation. 

            Many pioneering figures in science’s early years–such as Nicholas of Cusa, Copernicus, Kepler and Newton—evinced an avid interest in mystical teachings and doctrines.  Nicholas of Cusa was a fifteen-century cardinal of the Catholic Church and regarded as the primary champion of mathematical science in his era.  Wertheim summarizes Nicholas’ views:

 

In true medieval tradition, God was both the starting point and end goal of Cusa’s metaphysical speculations.  For him, the universe was the unfolding of forms already enfolded within God.  Accordingly, to know the world was to know the unfolding of God, and the way to knowing was through number.  Cusa believed that number was nothing less than the “image” of “God’s mind” –thus to study mathematics was to study the mind of God. ... God and mathematics harmonized into a mystical theology that combined both prescriptions for spiritual transcendence and scope for a genuine mathematical science of nature. … the primary purpose of mathematical study was to bring us ever closer to the undivided Oneness that is the source of all, in Cusa’s words, that we may be “elevated in accordance with the powers of human intelligence” so we may come to see “the ever-blessed one and triune God.” ...  know God through numbers ... know nature through numbers.   (pp. 56-57)

 

Nicholas’s quest was to see into the mind of God, understanding both metaphysical and physical laws through numbers and to “behold God’s cosmic mathematical plan.”   The mystical perspective regards creation as the unfolding of number patterns or forms already enfolded in God.  The plenum contains all possible things in all possible states in an un-manifest or undifferentiated form.  Creation occurs from within-without from zero point dimensions as divine principles are mathematically embodied in the generation of form out of formlessness.

            In the seventeenth century, Kepler was “the first true mathematical physicist” and one of the “great mathematical mystics of all time.”  Again, we find the Pythagorean number philosophy:

 

... Kepler saw the world as the material embodiment of mathematical forms present within God before the act of Creation.  “Why waste words?” he wrote.  “Geometry existed before the Creation, is co-eternal with the mind of God, is God himself. ... geometry provided God with a model for the Creation.”  Thus, “where matter is, there is geometry.”....

            Just as geometry had provided God with the model for the Creation, Kepler believed that geometry was “implanted into man, together with God’s own likeness.”  For Kepler ...  “the human mind (was) a simulacrum of the divine mind,” both being essentially geometrical.  The implication was that man, as mathematician, was the true human reflection of God: that it was through mathematical study of the world that we could truly participate in the divine.  (Wertheim, p. 71)

 

According to The Secret Doctrine, a human being embodies the same numerological principles of enumeration or form-generation, as embodied in the dynamics of the creation of the larger universe.  

            In the seventeenth century Sir Isaac Newton established physics as the “queen of the sciences.”  Newton formulated the law of gravity and three laws of motion governing material objects.  Newton’s principles stood until Einstein’s theories of relativity were formulated three hundred years latter.  However, in addition to his ‘legitimate science,’ Newton left behind over “a half million words on alchemy.”  Newton held highly mystical views of space and its relationship to God.  Wertheim explains:

 

Newton’s God did not oversee the maintenance of the world from some remote pinnacle; ...  Newton’s divine overlord was present throughout the material world.  He achieved this omnipresence through the medium of space, which, for Newton, was nothing less than God’s sensorium.  By his omnipresence (mediated through space), God was all seeing, all-discerning, and finally, all ruling. In Newton’s words: “He is eternal and infinite; omnipotent and omniscient; that is, his duration reaches from eternity to eternity; his presence from infinity to infinity; he governs all things, and knows all things that are or can be done.” … Most important, he argued that space must be absolute because it was synonymous with the presence of an absolute God.  (p. 123)

 

“Space” is the medium of God’s omnipresence and omniscience.  Newton regarded himself as a restorer of the ancient wisdom which God had given to humankind and his ideas allowed for a synthesis of science and Christianity in his era.  Historically, many scientists have held spiritual and/or mystical ideas about the nature of creation and its relationship to God.

            Einstein’s theories of relativity and the development of twentieth century quantum theory led to the discarding of several essential ancient ideas–such as those of Absolute Space and Time, and of the “aether”, an immaterial something said to pervade all Space or to constitute Space itself.  However, new concepts in physics—concerning hidden compacted space dimensions and/or hyperspace and the mysterious quantum vacuum with its zero point fields—provide new ways of understanding mystical concepts about creation physics and metaphysics, and concerning the nature of the Ether.  Space provides the medium in which everything occurs.  Newton describes Space as “God’s sensorium”—a remarkable phrase! 

            From the turn of the last century, the development of modern science has led to an increasingly materialist philosophy of science and a divorce between religion and science.   Scientists regard the laws of nature as inherent principles of matter and the idea of supernatural causes behind these laws has been dismissed.  Materialist scientists reject a priori the idea that reality might be the embodiment of Divine Mind or Spiritual Intelligences, or that forms of such hidden sacred geometry are at work in the generation of form out of formlessness. 

However, many of the seemingly bizarre concepts and claims of mysticism are in fact quite conceivable and understandable–in the light of the new concepts emerging within modern science. Unfortunately, physicists are simply speaking metaphorically about the mind of God and not seriously exploring such esoteric possibilities.  Blavatsky took such comparative study of the wisdom teachings and the science of her day most seriously. 

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