This is where Panentheism and the Body Metaphor falls apart.
If God is the “mind” and the universe is His “body,” where (or what?) is Heaven?
The paradox that God is both within and without the universe has to play a part here.
If God is the “mind,” then wherever He exists as such would be Heaven.
The idea that we sentient beings are the red blood cells of the universal body doesn’t make sense if this is true -– blood cells don’t “die” and go to the brain when they do. The problem here is with my metaphor and not with God’s manifestation.
Moving beyond my imperfect metaphor, how then do we understand Heaven? Ancient cultures believed the sun was god and that the afterlife was out beyond the sky. They didn’t have the technology to know what we know about space.
Yet we continue to look up.
The only way to understand the concept of Heaven is to accept the idea of an alternate dimension.
I’m not talking about parallel universes or the multiverse, which is something I can barely wrap my head around. This is reality, this is my only life, this is my soul. There cannot be billions of versions of everyone’s souls in alternate universes based on every possible decision they could have made, side by side with all the possible decisions everyone else could have made. (Whew.) While an interesting concept to ruminate over, it doesn’t make logical sense. (However, I welcome comments explaining the multiverse theory. I might consider it if I understood it better.)
Although string theory certainly tries in earnest to make the concept of the multiverse real, the truth is we cannot, in our physical bodies, experience beyond our three dimensions (height, width, depth), possibly four if we include time.
An alternative phrase for what I want to describe is “higher plane.”
I read a work of science fiction once that explained a second dimension as existing “in the spaces between atoms.” While I have no evidence this is possible, I can see how it might be. Heaven is all around us, perhaps, but in our corporeal form we cannot access it. We must wait until our souls leave our bodies to “pass through” and find the True Reality of God’s Kingdom where we are surrounded by Him. There, everything is made of His Spirit, without corruption’s interference.
C. S. Lewis had a brilliant conceptualization of what Heaven is compared to earth, which explains the higher plane much more articulately than I can. Dr. Charlie W. Starr writes:
We think of spiritual creatures (saints in heaven or angels or even God) as airy beings with no solidity like us. Lewis says we should think the other way around. We are ghosts and shadows and our world but a cheap copy of the heavenly one to come, like a landscape painting compared to the real place. In The Last Battle, the friends of Narnia enter into heaven only to find that it’s a new Narnia, like the old one, only bigger, but not really bigger—better to say, fuller, more complete. As one of them puts it, it’s “More like the real thing” (210). And because it’s more real than our world, everything in it means so much more than things do here. If you’ve ever had an experience so wonderful that it made you think, “This is how things ought to be in real life,” maybe you’ve experienced a taste of heaven, a place compared to which, Lewis says, our own world is just “shadowlands.”
Perhaps we are the ones in the spaces between the atoms of Heaven, in a temporary dimensional plane that God will erase one day as the Heavenly world evolves into the only one, once Satan is defeated.
This brings us to the question:
Where is Hell?
Is Hell even real? Returning to the body metaphor, if Hell isn’t real and Satan is the body’s cancer, where did he come from? If Satan isn’t real, why does free will provide evil as a choice? Does this make God both good and evil to provide us these options?
I will explore this in depth next week.
More information on string theory:
Parallel universe vs. parallel dimension:
C. S. Lewis’s Vision of Heaven, by Dr. Charlie W. Starr:
God bless with mother earth’s bliss.
(Art: “Alternative Reality” by Josephine Wall)