Chapter 1 How the World Began
And Why and Why Worry?
Genesis and the Great Geometer
Developing naturally along with the first stages in geometry is a cosmogony or story of how the world was made. It starts with a creator, the Great Geometer, whose benevolence caused him to undertake the work. He was equipped with a ruler and compass by which can be constructed the primary figures of plane geometry, those that correspond to the first twelve numbers (with the exceptions of the mysterious Seven and Nine and the unsubstantial Eleven). The universe was formed in the most perfect of all shapes, the sphere, represented in two dimensions by the circle. The story is that the Creator, from his position at the center, revolved the shaft of his compass, corresponding to the world pole, and swung a circle that includes everything.
A simple version of the geometer’s creation myth is in Genesis, chapter 1, where the Creator’s work is described in six stages--or seven including his Sabbath day of rest. A parallel account is given in Plato’s Timaeus, written in the fourth century BC, which has been called a commentary on Genesis with added geometrical details. There are, however, doubts about the prior antiquity of Genesis, and it may be that the Timaeus was the original version and the biblical account followed. In any case, both were derived from the same source, from the scientifically grounded, numerically structured description of the universe that was adopted by successive religions and cultures throughout the ancient world. The story that goes with it is a geometric allegory. It was never meant to be taken too literally; but since we evidently need a creation myth, it might as well be the best one. That was Plato’s reasoning in Timaeus where he accepted the traditional account as “the most likely story.”
The Number of the Universe
The universe was made spherical because that is the most perfect shape, and it was also given the perfect number. As the only created entity that is totally self-sufficient, it is the natural symbol of One. But it also has another number, that of the sacred power or principle to which it is dedicated. The practice in religious architecture was to express the dedication of a temple through the area of its ground plan. The universe was dedicated to the traditional Twelve Gods of the cosmos, each represented by one of the first twelve numbers.
The most interesting part of the universal diagram--and the main subject of this book--is its central part, the circle of radius 5040. The number 5040 stands above all others as the characteristic symbol of the traditional canon of number and proportion. This numerical code was the source and basic standard of all the arts, sciences, and institutions of ancient civilizations that were founded upon cosmological principles to reflect the order of the heavens.