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Other Worlds

Other Worlds

Spirituality and the Search for Invisible Dimensions

Christopher G. White

ISBN 9780674984295

Publication date: 03/16/2018

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What do modern multiverse theories and spiritualist séances have in common? Not much, it would seem. One is an elaborate scientific theory developed by the world’s most talented physicists. The other is a spiritual practice widely thought of as backward, the product of a mystical world view fading under the modern scientific gaze.

But Christopher G. White sees striking similarities. He does not claim that séances or other spiritual practices are science. Yet he points to ways that both spiritual practices and scientific speculation about multiverses and invisible dimensions are efforts to peer into the hidden elements and even the existential meaning of the universe. Other Worlds examines how the idea that the universe has multiple, invisible dimensions has inspired science fiction, fantasy novels, films, modern art, and all manner of spiritual thought reaching well beyond the realm of formal religion. Drawing on a range of international archives, White analyzes how writers, artists, filmmakers, televangelists, and others have used the scientific idea of invisible dimensions to make supernatural phenomena such as ghosts and miracles seem more reasonable and make spiritual beliefs possible again for themselves and others.

Many regard scientific ideas as disenchanting and secularizing, but Other Worlds shows that these ideas—creatively appropriated in such popular forms as C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, the art of Salvador Dalí, or the books of the counterculture physicist “Dr. Quantum”—restore a sense that the world is greater than anything our eyes can see, helping to forge an unexpected kind of spirituality.

Praise

  • With this dazzling work of intellectual history, Christopher White provides a significant contribution to the seemingly endless task of undermining the secularization hypothesis. Turning his eye to the turn-of-the-century enlivening of the dead, mechanistic universe of Newtonian physics, White attunes his readers to the metaphysical hypotheses and spiritual disciplines conditioned by the very techno-science that keeps allegedly doing away with ‘religion.’ …In eminently readable prose augmented by carefully chosen, often arresting images, White gathers together a crew of under-celebrated interlocutors.

    —Mary-Jane Rubenstein, Reading Religion

Awards

  • 2020, Winner of the ISSR Book Prize

Author

  • Christopher G. White is Professor of Religion at Vassar College.

Book Details

  • 384 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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