“Not the end of the world, Tom. The end of time. To free humanity of time. For time is the great enslaver of us all. Time that ages us, time that limits us. Think how often you have wished to have more time for something, or wished you could go back a day and do something differently. When humanity is freed of time, old wrongs can be corrected before they are done.” Robin Hobb, Assassin’s Quest (Kindle: Del Rey, 1997)
It’s been a few weeks, but I wrote most of this right after writing my last post. I just keep getting sucked into a house or yard project – or, well, kids. So I’m just going to jump back in.
This whole idea of God being outside time brings up some really fun ideas. And this is complete speculation on my part, but like I said, I like to look at things from a perspective that makes God look awesome (in the original sense. But better ‘awesome’ in the current terminology than ‘awe-ful.’) and this does it, for me.
What if . . . we were also made to exist outside time? What if God exists, and made our souls to exist, in another dimension that is not bound by time? It might partly explain the popularity of Dr. Who. And I’m not even joking! Why were the ancients so fascinated with the heavens? Why is science fiction so popular? Why do we love to dream up what could happen if we could break the barriers of time and space that limit us? “He has put eternity in man’s heart . . .” after all.
When people think of heaven they almost always think of it as a literal, physical place – in our understanding of physical. At least, I always did, and it’s what pastors and others I heard always reasoned from. But what if the heaven John describes in the Revelation is the result of his attempts at conveying what he experienced in another dimension – but in ways that we humans-still-on-earth, with our limited senses, can (sort of) understand. So it all sounds very solid – I mean, measuring sticks, after all – but what if it were solid on a different plane?
I have a physics-and-math-loving son. So one day we watched a few videos exploring the idea of a fourth dimension. A line is one dimensional. A square is two. A cube is three. And that’s as far as our senses allow us to experience. Mathematics and physics, as I talked about with the idea behind The Physics of God, indicate the existence of one or more other dimensions beyond that. And some scientists have actually tried to design experiences that give us an idea of what it might be like to experience a fourth dimension. Like if you have a square on a piece of paper, and you imagine a being existing in that dimension. (as in, a two-dimensional being. Remember that part from A Wrinkle in Time?) Anyway, you take a cube and you drop it through that dimension on the edge, to that being, it would look like a line which becomes a small rectangle, which gets bigger and bigger and then smaller and smaller until it becomes a line and disappears as it moves out the other side. (Here’s one of our faves where he uses that image https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wAaI_6b9JE . And here’s another really cool one about projecting four dimensional shapes, but hard to follow and a tad annoying because Matt keeps interrupting Henry. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOVzytir7bM .) It just helps me begin to understand how limited we are; how much may exist that we cannot see or understand – but which we try to imagine. And how even that imagining could be an echo of what God has created us to experience.
Reading The Physics of God in tandem with the end of Perelandra is a revelation. If you have a leaning toward science and challenging concepts, I’d highly recommend it. Then add in I Peter 3:1-8 and Romans 8:18-25.
Our concept of heaven has always involved the idea of something beyond the circle of the earth’s atmosphere. I don’t believe it’s an accident that our word for the place where God dwells is essentially the same as that for whatever exists beyond the bounds of our planet. The heavens. The “firmament” in Genesis is essentially that “firm” thing that keeps the atmosphere in and everything out there out.
So, what if ‘going to heaven’ is moving out there, into the dimension where God exists!? Beyond time and space as we are able to experience it now? We are told that we will have a body – but a different one. A body like Jesus’s post resurrection body. You know, the one he placed into certain times and places on earth – like when he accosted Paul, and possibly in certain places in the Old Testament, as in to Abraham at Mamre and wrestling with Jacob. A body that simply placed itself into a locked room and scared the disciples out of their wits! I think Madeleine L’Engle would like the idea. Of course, she was probably thinking about something similar all along.
And – even more fun – if that is so, and if, as Paul says, all of creation is groaning to be set free from “decay” (how’s that for being linked to time?) as we wait for the redemption of our bodies, it seems quite possible that God intends even to translate the universe itself into that other, well, I’ll call it dimension for lack of a better word.
Like I said, this isn’t something I think is definitely true. It’s just, I think, a reasonable possibility. It gets me a lot more excited than clouds and harps, anyway. And please don’t ask me what I think our bodies will be like or what super powers we’ll have or whether we’ll be able to come back to earth or watch our lives like tv. I don’t know. I had a bit of this discussion with my 8 year old the other day. It was fun.
This is just something that makes me more awe-struck at the power and beauty and creativity of my God. So I’ll think of it this way, until and unless He leads me to another way to look at it. Thanks for reading my ramblings! I’m hoping get back to Lewis next week.
As always, I’d love some discussion on the topic. Tell me what you think!
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