Philosophical Skeleton Keys: The Stack of Worlds & the Literal Fall; &c.

The stack of worlds implicit in Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems furnishes a way of understanding the Fall as having happened literally, and in (so far as I can tell) complete congruity with the latter day scientific model of our own world’s history – and, indeed, with that of any other – and with the account in Genesis.

This post supervenes two others in a series respecting divers Philosophical Skeleton Keys: first, The Stack of Worlds, and then, The Play: Its Wright, Players, & Characters. It will I think be easier to understand this post if you review them, before essaying this one.

I have for several years been pondering the implications of a stack of actual worlds arranged hierarchically above our own – and, perhaps, next to each other at any given level of that stack (jump up a level from our world to the Wood Between the Worlds, and then back down into the cosmos of Jadis, e.g.) – for the supernatural events recounted in the scriptures and traditions of many religions. Some of them are noticed in the second post of this series. Incarnation, the corporeal presence in our world of angels (as, e.g., at Abraham’s camp at Mamre, and a bit later at Sodom), the mystical ascent, and inspiration all make a lot more sense when we think of them as interventions in a world – ours – subsidiary to, environed by, and actual within and in virtue of, a supersidiary world.

But to my mind the most important door opened by this particular Skeleton Key is that of the Fall – the Fall of Lucifer, of his minions, of man, and of our world.

Think first of this world as it were a simulation in its immediately supersidiary heaven, in which the denizens proper and natural to that heaven could participate by playing characters thereof, in just the way that we can play characters in video games, but with one crucial difference: whereas the events within a simulation in our world are artificial and so not real (right?), those in our world are indeed real. Thus our world is not so much a simulation transpiring in its supersidiary environing world, as, precisely, an actualization thus transpiring.

Transpiration is a real procedure, after all. That our world transpires subsidiary to its proper immediate heaven does not mean that our world’s transpiration is irreal, the way that the events of a particular session of Assassin’s Creed are irreal.

Excursus: OK, take Assassin’s Creed. What makes us think that the events of a particular session thereof are irreal? The fact that apart from the interventions therein of the players, and of course the infrastructural maintenance of the game designers, the systems engineers who keep the internet running, the thousands of people working for PG&E and AT&T, and so forth, there is no such session to begin with.

The same considerations apply to any theatrical production. Would it have any reality at all, apart from the acts of agents in its supersidiary world? No. Would that fact alone mean that none of the events of such a production were utterly irreal? If so, how then to account for the crushing power of truly true dramatic productions, that ravish us from top to bottom? How to account for the puckish reality, the uncanny verisimilitude, of, say, Puck?

Back to video games: if the events thereof were *perfectly irreal,* how could we possibly care about them? If they *did not matter at all* – which is what irreal things do: they don’t exert influence upon other things, so as to matter to any other things – then why would anyone be interested in them? Indeed, how *could* anyone care about them, or even know about them?

So, here’s the thing: would there be such a thing as a session of our cosmos, absent the work of those who act to create and maintain it in its supersidiary world? Hard to tell. But intuition suggests that this question answers itself, pretty much.

Thanks, all you angels!

Here’s the thing to take from all this, and to remember: within a world, the events thereof are totally real. If that reality cannot be maintained, it is because the world is badly made. One way to tell whether a world subsidiary to our own is badly made is that we cannot of badly made, thus somehow incoherent artificial worlds maintain Tolkien’s suspension of disbelief, which is the indispensable forecondition to any true encounter with a work of fiction.

If a subsidiary world seems to you uncannily real, somehow, in a way that you find not quite possible to understand, the likelihood then is that it is indeed real in its own terms, provided those terms are coherent, so that there is in it no logical inconsistency.

On this criterion, the world of the Iliad is real – even though it is not our own (right?). So is Middle Earth. So are the worlds of The Tempest, and of Midsummer. These fictional worlds simply cannot be gainsayed.

NB: within any world, its subsidiary worlds are *all* “fictional” – even the verisimilitudinous ones, like, say, Band of Brothers. This is to say no more than that subsidiary worlds are events of and within their supersidiaries.

OK, back to the Fall. Remembering that Job may be the oldest book of the Bible, think of Job 1:6-12:

One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”

This is a scene transpiring in a heaven supersidiary to our own. In verse 7, Satan reports that he has been roaming about in a subsidiary world – ours – playing a character thereof; albeit, not, perhaps, in such a way as to be apparent to the denizens proper thereto, such as Job and his household. Confer the Prayer to Saint Michael:

… do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Hosts, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the Earth, seeking the ruin of souls.

The rude picture I developed from these divers inputs was that of a heaven supersidiary to our world, and full of spirits native and proper thereto, some of whom – both good and evil – played as characters in our world, affecting the course of her history.

Excursus: NB: the good or evil of a given player depended, not on the nature of the character he played in our world (remembering that while I might have played a Nazi in a video game now and then would not at all mean that I am in fact a Nazi), but on his character in his own native and proper world. An evil man in our world is evil regardless of who he plays in a video game. In our heaven – so the mystics and scriptures tell us – the wicked are such not because they are yet up to no good in our world, but first because in their own they repudiate the authority of their rightful and actual Lord. Lucifer is evil, not first because he messes with us, but because he rebels against his Lord. He messes with us only on account of his prior repudiation of YHWH. His ruin of our world is a sequela of his ruin of himself.

The notion I then developed of the Fall in the case of Lucifer and his fellow angelic rebels was that it involves their imprisonment in our world. They *cannot find a way out of the video game.* In that game, they retain all their angelic powers. But they are trapped in it, with no exit (Sartre, call your office). They can’t climb out of the simulation, back into the more actual – and far better, far more expansive – world of their origination.

The analogies with addiction then presented themselves with no effort on my part. The devils are addicted to their pride; to the pleasures of their power within the game of our cosmos. They have lost sight of the supersidiary games; of the infinite stack of worlds, that begins and ends with and upon and toward the Alpha and Omega. Such is the self-inflicted blindness of idolatry.

The problem of the devils is that they have become foolish pagans. Even the commonsensical pagans, who remember the Most High God, are wiser than they; as the washerwoman and the woodcutter are wiser than the village drunk or the whore at the corner (or her customers) – or than the witch at the bottom of the street who offers to charm or damn for a thruppence, or the warlock in his Ivory Tower, who offers admission to the Higher Levels of the Inner Circle of Initiates, and so some measure of ontological safety.

Excursus: There is no such thing as ontological safety. There is, at best, Wisdom. It is the only thing that forestalls sin among the Blessed. Fortunately for them, Wisdom is so precious and so delightful that she is to the Blessed unlikely ever to appear cheap in comparison to her alternatives, or therefore worthy of abandonment.

Excursus: Ware the temptation to Power. All temptation reduces thereto. Sc., the temptations of our Lord in the Wilderness.

Your temptation to alcohol or sex or … video gaming are all sorts of temptations to Pelagian power, inapt to such creatures as yourself.

Here’s the thing to remember: there is *no such thing as Pelagian power.* You have *no power to save yourself.* All your salvific power, such as it is – this being, in the end, the only power that ultimately matters – consists in your agreement to the salvation of YHWH. So, get over yourself.

The fact that Lucifer cannot find a way out of the game, and indeed thinks that he might have a shot at winning it, shows that he has lost sight of his native homeland. He thinks the game is the only real; he has forgotten the supersidiary worlds.

He is a materialist, and an atheist.

So far, at any rate, had my own deliberations taken me – there are lots of other things I thought of in this connection, but never mind them for the time being – when in a footnote of a book about the war in heaven I stumbled upon The Fall & Hypertime, by philosopher Hud Hudson. I ordered it instantly, and a few months later it arrived. I devoured it – one tiny bite per day – for about three months. It is a difficult and highly technical book, which I cannot recommend but to professional metaphysicians. Much of it has little to do with the subject here at hand. But – taking “supersidiary” as equivalent to “hyper” – there was this:

… given hypertime [i.e., a supersidiary world], an omnipresent and eternal God would occupy each hypertime as well as each of the spatiotemporal regions of each spacetime block found at each hypertime. At any given hypermoment, then, there would be a perfectly clear sense in which the entirety of time would be present (that is, hyperpresent) to such a being. From that being’s perspective … all the cross sections of the spacetime block residing hyperthen would be equally real, equally accessible, and equally present.

The Fall & Hypertime, page 157 ff.

Could there be a more succinct and exact reiteration of Boethius?

Think of a “spacetime block” as a world within a world; as the world of The Tempest is a spacetime block within our own.

NB: this means that such cross sections, and all that was in them, would be present to God – or any such hyperbeing – as immediately as any of them are to each other. That hyperbeing would prehend them and act upon them as they did with each other. That hyperbeing would interact with them just as immediately and straightforwardly as would, say, a bit of bread, or a sip of wine, that was native in their worlds.

Moreover, no matter which cross section or hyperplane [across a given hypotime block – across, in usual terms, a spatiotemporally extensive world] a denizen of the block might inhabit, from its perspective it would be co-hyperpresent with such a being, as well. In other words, even if the denizens of the block were found only at that single hypermoment and no other, and even if they were scattered among the different times in the block, they would nevertheless one and all be co-hyperpresent with each other and with their omnipresent, eternal creator.

Ibid, page 158

I.e., eternity is possible to us, at least qua prehensibilium. We cannot comprehend eternity, but as in the first place ourselves operations and aspects thereof, we can indeed know something about him. One cannot be a gear in the machine and also be in complete ignorance of the machine.

Consequently, we can countenance two species of simultaneity. First, “x is (temporally) simultaneous with y” = df x occurs at the same time as y. Second, “x is (hypertemporally) simultaneous with y” = df x occurs at the same hypertime as y. Accordingly, we have the resources to say such things as this: whereas in Hypertime 1 in Frame 1, my writing these words is (temporally) simultaneous with the ringing in of the year 2013 in Bellingham, … it is not (temporally) simultaneous with either the first transatlantic crossing or the first interplanetary voyage, although it is (hypertemporally) simultaneous with both that [(temporally) past event] and that [(temporally)] future event, as well as (hypertemporally) simultaneous with the creation of our spacetime.

Ibid, page 158

Once it is complete, the entirety of a hypotemporal block is hypertemporally simultaneous. E.g., once the play has been entirely written, all its events are simultaneous in the world of the playwright – and in all worlds supersidiary thereto.

Confer Bohm’s implicate order: the determinate history of our world is simultaneous and complete in hypertimes, even though it takes time to play out internally.

Respecting the Fall in particular:

We should now be well primed for the application of our metaphysical picture of time and hypertime and of God’s powers of creation and annihilation to our main theme. Consider then the following hypothesis:

In the beginning – perhaps not at the first hypertime, but at the first hypertime to contain a block universe [or at some such hypertime, of which there might have been many], God created a spacetime and its contents whose earliest stages of growth witnessed the forming of a man from the dust of the ground, the planting of a garden into which he was placed, the adorning of that garden with trees and rivers, the imposition of a restriction on his diet, the presentation and naming of the animals, the extraction of a rib from and creation of a companion for him, the fateful discourse of a snake … and a rebellion that took the form of eating forbidden fruit. And, as the block grew, this once naked and innocent pair fashioned clothing, hid themselves and were found, confessed their disobedience, and received the heavy news of its consequences. Finally, driven out of the garden, they and their world underwent a spectacular change.

And the hypermoment the pair exited the garden … God annihilated [rather, he simply stopped] every piece of the block save that region on its outermost edge thus occupied by these ancestors of ours and then embedded that very region and its contents in a new block – a block sporting a several billion year history, replete with ice ages, long dead hominids, dinosaurs, primordial soups, condensing matter, even a big bang.

In fact, their brave new world – the very block universe that is hyperpresent now – is remarkably accurately described in great detail by the many branches of contemporary science. Moreover, this special pair of our ancestors themselves had ancestors from whom they descended in precisely the manner taught by evolutionary biology.

Ibid, page 190 ff.

Looking back from this perspective:

… in the process of entertaining this entertaining hypothesis, we would do well repeatedly to insist on distinguishing two different sets of claims, those reporting history and those reporting hyperhistory. History, for example, indeed reveals that “modern humans emerged as a splinter population from pre-existing hominid groups within the last quarter of a million years,” and perhaps our pair appeared at a unique threshold in this development as the very first creatures [of our block universe, or perhaps of our Earth therein, or perhaps of the hominids thereof] also to be persons [which is to say, rational intellects, capable of purely conceptual ratiocination (albeit not of conceptual signification, which is more basic (for, the identification of concepts is prior to intellectual operations thereupon))]. To be sure, they never lived carefree lives [in our present block universe] of safety in a garden, immune from the dangers of a world red in tooth and claw. On the contrary, their existence was one of constant peril and entirely given over to toil for food, shelter, and the basic necessities of life. But hyperhistory has a different story to tell. This numerically same pair, once upon a hypertime, lived in just such a garden and in just such an innocent state, armed with preternatural gifts, blessed and protected by a special grace. Of course, despite tremendous efforts and many false reports across the centuries, no one has ever found the least trace of this ancestral home, for the simple and obvious reason that it never existed [in our world]. It may have hyperexisted – but, well, you just cannot get hyperthen from here.

Ibid, page 191

Pretty cool, no? Insertion of a pair from some other world into our own already Fallen world; it all pans out.

Who’d ha’ thunk it?

From this point, we can proceed to wonder where on our present globe the First Parents were inserted, whence they then travelled and settled, and so forth.

Fun stuff.

4 thoughts on “Philosophical Skeleton Keys: The Stack of Worlds & the Literal Fall; &c.

  1. This was a wonderful read, thank you. I have a few thoughts that came to mind which I think reinforce or are reinforced by this article.

    First:

    On this criterion, the world of the Iliad is real – even though it is not our own (right?). So is Middle Earth. So are the worlds of The Tempest, and of Midsummer. These fictional worlds (…) simply cannot be gainsayed.

    Have you heard of or played the 1990’s computer game “Myst”? There are books someone wrote for this too. The premise is that there are books that literally transport you to other worlds, and the author of these books can populate it or change it or (in the games) Imprison people in them. It makes intuitive sense to me that works of fiction which feel real are in some respect real. It feels more like Tolkein discovered Middle Earth than created it.

    Second:

    a stack of actual worlds arranged hierarchically above our own – and, perhaps, next to each other at any given level of that stack (jump up a level from our world to the Wood Between the Worlds, and then back down into the cosmos of Jadis, e.g.)

    This made me think of the Matrix movies, with the twist that you could download into different worlds but the supersidiary heaven is kind of like the “real” world outside the matrix. From this thought I arrived at purgatory. Heaven as a supersidiary world cannot accept incompatible creations, hence the purification required in purgatory. You might say the files we create on earth must be reformatted to be readable in Heaven. It occurs to me that it is a kind of birth wherein we pass between worlds through pain and trial. The passage is real and so costs something.

    Third:
    The Eschaton could conceivably be described as a reconciliation between the stacks of worlds. A divergence, after all, would be somewhat disorderly, but the fact that Christ intends to return here to take up his throne on earth and so in our world makes me think that our cosmos would undergo a purgation of a like kind as our souls, such that Christ the King can transcend the matrix and take up permanent residence here from a supersidiary heaven. The Eschaton is the collapse of these worlds into one world, but one which is perfected and orderly. It is one thing for our souls to pass between worlds, quite another thing for us to take our cosmos. The painting “The Great Day of His Wrath” by John Martin or the description in Revelation of the stars being rolled up like a scroll suddenly make sense if you view the entire cosmos as passing a threshold between these stacked worlds.

    • Thanks, Scoot. It was fun to write. There was lots more, but I wasn’t able to get it all down before it vanished from my wits.

      First:

      My son had Myst, and I helped him install it, but he never got into it much. I remember it as extraordinarily beautiful, and portending great depth and seriousness of purpose, but beyond that …

      I, too, have often thought that in writing about Middle Earth, Tolkien might have been as it were transcribing information downloaded from a supersidiary world about a world at the same level in the stack as ours – a iuxtasidiary world.

      Second:

      Heaven as a supersidiary world cannot accept incompatible creations, hence the purification required in purgatory. You might say the files we create on earth must be reformatted to be readable in Heaven. It occurs to me that it is a kind of birth wherein we pass between worlds through pain and trial. The passage is real and so costs something.

      Hah! That was one of the insights that escaped me before I could get it down! Putting the same notion in Platonic terms, the form of the being must be reformed and perfected before it can be formally accommodated without discord and discomfiture in a perfectly executed version of its natural world. If the form of the being has not been thus reformed according to its original nature, it will experience the perfection of its natural world as painful, inasmuch as it will disagree with the form of that world *essentially.* We experience this sort of pain already, even in our defective world. To disagree with the environment, to be poorly adapted thereto, is to suffer pain.

      Third:

      Yes. No rebirth without first a death, either for humans or for their world. What is more, there can be no perfection without purgation: reformation is costly, which is to say, painful, destructive. But then, processes of pain and destruction are endemic in this defective world already. Referring back to the Noachic purgation, and to the destruction of Babel: the only way to get rid of an endemic evil is to wipe out the niche in which it has settled and taken root.

      By the same token, defection is similarly costly and painful. The pain so prevalent in our cosmos *just is* the pain of its Fall, consequent on the Fall of her seraph. This, in rather the way that the entire cosmos is still contained in the Original Singularity, which is not located anywhere, but in which all the loci of our cosmos are situated; or, as in rather the way that all the energy (and mass – all the reality) of our cosmos is still the Big Bang. As we are still in the Big Bang, which is transpiring in and as a singularity, so are we still involved in the Fall of our cosmos, which will not end until the eschaton; at which point our cosmos will die, and be utterly destroyed. Whereupon, it shall be – rather, is being – resurrected:

      Behold, I make all things new.

      Revelation 21:5

      Note the present tense in that statement of Jesus. The eschaton is already under way; as a man begins to age and die the moment he is conceived, so the Fall is the process and terminus ad quem of the eschaton. This means that the Resurrection of the world is also already under way.

  2. Good post. I also agree that angels have some role in keeping our world running. And perhaps the more powerful the angel, the more subtle and fundamental feature that they oversee.

    Scoot, I also find the image of the sky being rolled up like a scroll to be very evocative and powerful. Interestingly enough, in Plato’s Timaeus, he has Timaeus say:

    “Time, then, and the heaven came into being at the same instant in order that, having been created together, if ever there was to be a dissolution of them, they might be dissolved together.”

    So, in Plato as well, we see the idea of the sky being dissolved at the end of time.

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