Heaven is Illogical?

Having been approached often via MySpace by self-proclaimed skeptics/free-thinkers/atheists, there are a number of very common critiques, questions, and issues that have come up. As a sort of ‘clearing house’ I’m going to post a number of those critiques and my responses. If you’re a christian who finds him/her-self in conversations with atheists on occasion, or if you’re a skeptic yourself, maybe these responses will help – at least a little bit – answer those questions or concerns. I don’t claim to know everything about everything, but I do try to understand a little bit about everything! Also note – these responses are ALL directly off the top of my head, and not entirely thought through – I do make mistakes. Enjoy…

1.) Belief in “Heaven” is illogical, and therefore Christianity is untrue.

The universe, last I read, has mathematically been shown to have at least 11 dimensions, at least 6 of which are physical (including the 3 we perceive and experience as height, width, and depth). Though it is nearly impossible to conceive of this, the science seems solid, and I trust the numbers so far. We, as physical beings, ‘exist’ and are aware of, and able to interact with, the first 3 – which we experience as height, width, and depth – and are bound and controlled by the dimension immediately ‘above’ us, which is time. Though we experience time differently, it is simply another dimensional reality just like height, width, and depth, which explains it’s dependence in many formulas upon ‘space’, and why we often refer to the reality we experience as ‘space-time’: the two are totally inter-connected and inter-dependent. There are physical dimensions ‘above’ the dimension of time, and if one we were to imagine living there we would then experience our dimension of time the same way we now experience height or depth – we could interact with thing within it, instead of being, in a sense, ‘drug along’ through it’s continuum. You can attempt to imagine it this way – if you were to take a 2 dimensional being (say a physical being was able to exist in 2 dimensions – only height and width – say a drawn cartoon character was somehow given life, it would be ‘bound’ by the sheet of paper – which would be ‘depth’ – much as we are by time) – depth would be inconceivable to it, though actions in the dimension of ‘depth’ could be perceived by them – if you pressed your finger into the paper they would only see the sliver – a 2 dimension ‘cut-away’ or dissection – of your finger…it may seem to be a simple ‘line’ that appears out of no-where to them, as they can’t conceive of a 3rd dimension. Though, if they did the math, they could ‘prove’ that such a dimension must exist to explain some of the rather unusual things they experienced within their two. The same is true of time, and the other dimensions for us. This explains, in large part, the incredibly confusing nature of light, and quantum particles.

For instance, experiments have been done on particles of light, where-in a single light particle was fired at a light sensitive target, and the particle was shown to pass through multiple light sensitive ‘holes’ in a board AT THE SAME TIME and still arrive at it’s target as a single particle of light. Measuring it’s activity from an angle showed now a single light particle, but a wave of particles, yet the particle still arrived at it’s target as a single particle of light, having traveled through multiple places in space-time simultaneously. The same is true of quantum particles, which is why you can’t know both the weight and the location of a quantum particle at the same time. In fact, it’s been suggested by the numbers, that a particle is only ‘probable’ as to it’s location, but any single particle of light is physically, in our 3 dimensions, potentially across the galaxy – or universe – any given millisecond after it’s bathing our body with light, then potentially back the next millisecond. Hard to imagine, but true none-the-less. Light most likely operates on, and when observe it we are perceiving an event taking place on, a higher ‘dimensional plane’ than our own – we can understand the numbers, but conceiving of it is nearly impossible for us without analogy.

That is all to say, scientist connect ‘matter & time’ – at the Big Bang all 11 dimensions came into being…time is just one dimension of ‘space-time’, which is all that ‘physically’ exists as a result of the Big Bang. If I can use the term ‘prior to’ or ‘where matter was not”, where matter isn’t there is not time, and prior to the Big Bang – a hard concept to grasp – there was no time. Where there is no time, there is no beginning or end, and therefore, whatever ‘thing’ may have existed ‘before’ the Big Bang needed no ‘creator’ because the concept of ‘before’ and ‘after’ would not, and could not, apply to it, since time did not exist apart from matter, and “before” & “after” only exist within space-time. So, in a sideways manner, this answers the question – “Who made God”…no one needed to, since time, and before and after, didn’t exist outside of the creation event of the Big Bang. Hard to conceive of, I agree, but we have a hard time conceiving of ‘time’, which is only one dimension above us, let alone the other 7 above it…who’s to expect to fully grasp the One that thought up space-time?

Heaven – which I don’t believe we will ever ‘go to’, which is another matter entirely, could easily be understood as one of the 3 higher physical dimensions, or something else entirely. Philosophically, though the concept of a ‘heaven’ is not beyond the possible, only hard to conceive of.

In regards to the odd picture of heaven many Christians believe in, many of our modern day beliefs do not necessarily come from the Scriptures, but from a rather modern spin on the Bible that has only existed for the past 187 years, and differs starkly in both their understanding of heaven, the gospel, and the end times, from much of what was taught by the protestant and also the catholic church for the past 2000 years. Primarily, Heaven is not emphasized or often spoken of in the Bible. Usually when Jesus appears to speak of ‘Heaven’, as in the case of the phrase, ‘the Kingdom of Heaven’, it should be noted that the term “Kingdom of Heaven” is only used in Matthew’s gospel, and given that Matthew was a Jew and writing to Jews, and that Jews in that day (and some still today) didn’t think it right to speak God’s name in public, it was very likely that Matthew paraphrased Jesus (who was, by all accounts, far more radical than any who have followed him, which is part of they had him killed – blasphemy) replacing “God” with “Heaven” or “the Lord” (which meant “Master” or “King” – not “God” – in that culture). You will notice that in all of the Gospels written without a specifically Jewish audience (Luke, for instance) the parallel passages are worded almost identically but with the phrase “Kingdom of God”, which in almost every case refers not to some “pie in the sky, by and by”, but to God’s rule on earth, here and now, in the hearts and lives of those who accept Jesus as their king. Brian McLaren does a good job of clarifying this in his new popular book, “The Secret Message of Jesus” (and that’s coming from a non-McLaren fan!), or for a scholarly addressing of this issue, read just about anything by N.T. Wright. Of course, this isn’t anything new – it’s what Calvin, Luther, and even Jonathan Edwards taught on the subject as well, and was simply lost during the 1800s when dispensationalism – which simplifies the scriptures to the point that anyone can read just about any concept they wish to see into the Scriptures – began to take over as the primary ‘conservative’ expression of the faith, the largest of it’s proponent of which were mostly – I might add – uneducated popular public preachers, and not legitimate Bible scholars.

That is not to say that I don’t believe in Heaven – I do (and as I stated above, I don’t believe it illogical to do so), but my primary reason for believing in the Biblical portrait of Heaven begins with Jesus, and not the other way around…I trust the person of Jesus. From there I have faith that a Heaven, from which He came, exists.

More questions on the subject are welcome!

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~ by heatlight on September 13, 2007.

3 Responses to “Heaven is Illogical?”

  1. Hi there, Shannon is it?

    I cannot tell from this article, but I hope you are not making the mistake that many Christians do, and equate the remaining 6 or 7 dimensions hypothesized by string theory to be the ‘spiritual realm’.

    If the ‘spiritual realm’ rests outside of those dimensions, than I have no problem with that. But many apologists have grabbed onto the idea of extra spatial dimensions that we cannot perceive as evidence of God’s spiritual realm, and when they do that, I think they are sadly misinformed about what is really implied by their alleged existance.

    Can you please clarify how you view that?

  2. I am not postulating that heaven is part of one of the other higher dimensions, only suggesting that it COULD be there, and that the concept of a ‘heaven’ (not as in an ‘afterlife’, but as in ‘the home of God’) is not, by necessity, illogical, nor can it be dis-proven. I honestly don’t know WHERE the ‘spiritual realm’ resides (though I believe that much is going on right here around us that we are simply not aware of), nor if I’d even call it a ‘spiritual realm’ – that term implies something mystical and etherial, and if a ‘spiritual realm’ exists it’s as real as you and I.

    It does, however, seem to me that light is likely our perception of an event primarily taking place on a higher dimension than our own, which is why it doesn’t seem to ‘fit’ the usual physical laws – as may be many quantum events. That being said, it could be a good analogy of how God, and his messengers, operate in relation to us, I do believe.

    Thanks for your note – keep enjoy ‘Yes’!

  3. If there is a spiritual realm, it is not in one of the higher dimensions proposed by string theory. They came into being at the same time as our more familiar space/time dimensions, and are curled at the quantum level. Recent tests have shown that *if* they exist, they are curled to no more than…. I think it is 14 microns, but I am going off memory on that number. But it is a small length.

    So what many apologists do is invoke the old ‘Flatland’ analogy, but it does not work in this case. They are not parallel dimensions, they are curled dimensions – curled at the quantum level. In other words there is no space in those dimensions to work in.

    Actually, I have not listened to Yes in some time. They have not released anything new since Magnification in 2001, and it looks like they have retired from band projects. That is ok though, there is plenty of great new music out there that I have discovered thanks to the internet.

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