Any Christian worthy of his designation as such will dodge no questions, sticky or otherwise, about his faith. The logical and rational strength of “mere Christianity,” as C.S. Lewis referred to the basics of our faith, will withstand any questions that can be posited by skeptics and outright opponents. (footnote 1) In this chapter, I am going to anticipate some questions a reasonable person might very well ask, and answer them as best I can. With regard to those that I do not address, I suggest reading When Critics Ask, by Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe, who have composed an exhaustive volume with regard to ABible difficulties.”
Having dealt with “Where did God come from?” and “Why do bad things happen to good people in a world created by a good God?” I will address what I consider to be the next two most compelling questions one might want to ask a Christian: “What about fate? What about destiny? Do we have a destiny we cannot escape? Because God knows how we will end up, must we end up in the way that He knows about?” (2) AWhat of people who never knew Jesus through no fault of their own?” and “What of people who knew about Him and chose a different reason after thinking about their convictions both sincerely and objectively?”
Questions: This chapter addresses numerous other sticky questions.
The idea of predestination in Christianity links with the philosophical theory of Determinism. Both are ill-conceived. The former states that, in one could know the position of all atoms and all force particles at any particular time in the history of the universe, one could accurately predict all events at any time in the future relative to that particular time. For example, according to Determinism, if I knew and could grasp in my mind the position of all atoms and force particles, say, five billion years after the Big Bang, I could predict all events occurring today. By giving humans free will, God squelched Determinism. This is good, because the universe would be a dull and sterile place with Determinism in place.
The doctrine of predestination, the theological version of Determinism, denies that God gave us free will and states that all of us are destined from all eternity to go to heaven or hell. With the Calvinist doctrine in place, nothing we can do will change our fate. This conclusion is logical, given the Christian belief that God knows the future. It would, however, also seem logical to believe that God has the ability to control His mental processes, and, if this is the case, He would likely be able to render Himself without knowledge of futures generated by His having given humans free will. I believe He has done just that in the case of humans to whom He has given free will, the genuine ability to make choices that truly affect our futures. Fate and destiny are not words of the Christian vocabulary; they pertain to other versions of spirituality that are vague, erroneous, and possibly satanic.
If God had made the universe and its contents in a deterministic mode, His creation would have amounted to vanity — meaningless and not worth making. Its cognitive persons would have been basically characterized by two words, insignificant and pitiful, and no one would have the ability to help create his forever self, thereby gaining true individuality. The idea of predestination in Christianity links with the philosophical theory of Determinism. Both are ill-conceived. The former states that, if one could know the position of all atoms and all force particles in the universe at any particular time in the history of the universe, one could accurately predict all events at any time in the future relative to that particular time. For example, according to Determinism, if I knew and could grasp in my mind the position of all atoms and force particles, say, five billion years after the Big Bang, I could predict all events occurring today. This is, however, not the case because God squelched Determinism by giving humans free will.
The doctrine of predestination denies that God gave humans free will and states that all of us are destined from all eternity to go to heaven or hell, and that nothing we can do will change this state of affairs. The reason that some Christians believe this is that they cannot get away from the idea that God knows the future. If He is outside of time, as I believe, this is a logical conclusion. However, it seems that God probably has the ability render Himself without knowledge of this or that aspect of the future, and I believe He has done just that in the case of humans to whom He has given free will, the genuine ability to make choices that truly affect their futures.
If God had made the universe and its contents in a deterministic mode, His creation would have amounted to vanity; it would have been meaningless and not worth making. Its cognitive persons would have been basically characterized by two words, insignificant and pitiful, and no one would have the ability to help create his forever self, thereby gaining true individuality.
The Possibility of Other Ways to Heaven
In my best judgment, the question that ranks fourth in terms of numbers of people who are worried about it and the degree to which they are concerned is that of the exclusivity of Jesus as He Who can make us fit to stand before God in our imperfection where The Truth is concerned. All of us have made many bad choices, such that we are all incompatible with perfection, of which God is the personification. The ancient Jews believed that to see God was to die; this is just another way of saying that perfection and imperfection cannot exist together and that, since perfection is by definition superior to imperfection, the latter cannot stand before it. Jesus, however, is perfection, because he led a life in which all of his choices were in synchrony with The Truth.
His doing so accomplished the following: It put Him in a position of being able to judge us without committing hypocrisy, and it caused Him to have the ability, to the extent that He chooses to do so, to take on the subtractions from The Truth that we have engendered. He was God to begin with, from always (and was sent to us by God, designated as the only begotten Son of God (Footnote 4 and John 3:16; clarify all this – the Trinity, Who sent Jesus to us – God or the Father, etc.); otherwise, he could not have lived a perfect life in terms of letting selfish desires get in the way of synchrony with The Truth. Though it is not scriptural, I cannot help but wonder whether He became something like “doubly God” by way of His not only being perfection, but also via His living perfection. In no way do I say that this made Him superior to the Father, particular as it can easily be argued that He is the Father (Footnote), but it does explain why He is the “joy of heaven” (Footnote) and why the Father “gave Him everything.” (Footnote – How is He the Father and not the Father?)
Regardless of explanations, Jesus’ “both being and living” imbued Him with such power as to be able to successfully resist, combat, and, ultimately, to neutralize or even possibly to annul evil in the person of the accuser of humankind, Satan. (Footnote – include Job) Considering this power, together with the incalculable sacrifice that He made, when in no way was he required to make it, He became the uncontested Judge of humanity, Whose judgment of any man or woman is the very last word that brooks no appeal, even to God the Father.
However, what if a person has not committed to Him during Earthly life? Can Jesus give such a person a special dispensation with regard to heaven? What about the Jews? What about people who never had the chance to know Jesus? What about pagans e.g. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle? What about non-Christian heroes of humankind, such as the Mahatma Gandhi? What about six-year-old children? Can Jesus not keep these out of hell, though they never committed to Him during their time-bound lives?
As The Truth, He must maintain justice; yet, particularly because of the power that He has always had, that He has been given, and that He has commanded, and also in view of the grandest need for mercy, in these and other examples, that I can imagine, I cannot believe He is unable to rescue such souls, especially as the horror of hell, as we have explored, is essentially unlimited. In John 3:18, we read His words (King James Version of the Bible), “He that believeth on him (referring to Himself) is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” This sounds definitive and inescapable, but in the name of mercy that is part of The Truth, in view of the fact that we have reason to believe that mercy trumps justice in extreme situations where God is involved (Footnote — chapter —-Hosea — description of God’s action in Hosea), and because of the overwhelming power of The Truth confirmed in the Father and possibly redoubled in the Son, I will not be the one to say that Jesus cannot do whatever He wants to do in the case of any person who comes before Him for judgment.
Nevertheless, under no circumstances depend upon the mercy of Jesus for your salvation. To do so is to tempt God, for He is God, and He is The Truth, and He brooks no nonsense. It was loving and merciful Jesus who cursed the fig tree and chased the money changers from the Temple. (Footnotes) It was also He who said (Footnote – the scripture that states that He will have to say “I never knew you; depart from me; finish this sentence after you look that up.) At the risk of compromising my prose, I feel I must say, “Do not under any circumstances mess with Jesus. He is nothing resembling a “milktoast.” He is in fact the same God who instructed the Israelites to kill the male Canaanites who resisted the Israelites who entered the Promised Land under Joshua. (Footnote – Look up details of who killed, who sold into slavery, etc., and finish this sentence.) Also remember that accepting Jesus is the way prescribed by God for entry into His Kingdom, such that any other possible way is “chancey” at best.
When one considers the magnitude of God, which we have discussed, and that He is outside of time, Perfect Being, and the Perfect Being, the possibility of accessing Him on our own would seem to be immeasurably difficult. In the Christ, God has come to us. He is a lot like a priest in this respect, and He is the only one of these that we need. Ever since God came to us, reason and logic have demanded that we reciprocate the easy way to the promptings of the Supremely Rational. It seems most reasonable to me to get ready to die right away, preparing in the best way of which I know. It seems to me that we who find ourselves in the pit of life and are aware of an elevator are best advised to take advantage of it, as opposed to trying to climb, so to speak, straight up a thousand-foot wall, especially if God prefers that we use the elevator. Jesus said that He is the way, the truth and the life. If He is The Truth, He is life, as we have discussed, and, if He is The truth and life, He is certainly the way. He also said He that no one comes to the Father but through Him. The most wonderful of three-year-old children will eventually perish in the jungle without help; the most beautiful newborn baby cannot live without nursing, but Jesus sees that all comes out well in the end for those who accept Him.
Why is Jesus so special compared to other religions, and why did He accomplish so much?
This is one of my favorite questions. The answer can be put into one word – love. Love has no evolutionary advantage that I can see. Yet, Jesus essentially conquered the Roman Empire with it and went on to become the greatest single influence in world history, surpassing even the brilliant ancient Greeks with their first democracy ever. More importantly yet, Jesus overcame evil with love, that those who seek the truth and are dedicated to live by it might be freed from the shackles that would otherwise prevent our living eternally in glory.
“What is truth,” asked Pilate? (Footnote) Did he seek it? I do not know, but seekers thereof do not always quite know the definition of that which they crave; they just somehow know it is what they need and desire beyond all else. When I was a child, my mother read me “Uncle Wiggily” stories. Uncle Wiggly is a gentleman rabbit created by Howard R. Garis. He sought his fortune, travelling far and wide looking for it, and his fortune no doubt represented the truth. This kind bunny returned home one day to find that his friends had planted his crops for him while his mind had been diverted toward thoughts of more noble things. He realized at that moment that his fortune was at home, in the love of his neighbors. Gandhi, Michelangelo, and Erasmus (Footnote) knew the definition of the truth they sought. Gandhi lived it, Michelangelo made it visible by creating the greatest painting and sculpture the world has ever known, and Erasmus translated it into two languages that expressed it far better than the Bible of the established Church of his time. (Footnote – the Vulgate) These three, and many more, have realized that the truth is The Truth of which I have written, the true God, Who speaks to us from His heart by His Word that is somehow His Son and Himself as well. This God is also love because love is the essence of truth, the supreme way in which it is expressed; love is the way, the truth, and the life, because, without love, all else is in vain. (Footnote – I Corinth. 13) The love of family, friend and neighbor is a refraction of the love of the God of the Bible, Whose Word is the Christ.
The Old Testament as well as the New is pervaded by love. We do not always see this because, in these early years, God is in the process of essentially rearing children, bringing His true religion to those who live in barbarous times, when others are throwing their children into the fire for the sake of statues that they venerate – to those who need much teaching on the subject of a God who can actually be not only a good Person, but the Best. They can hardly help believing that gods are those who viciously demand on threat of devastation that they give their all to the point of exhaustion of their identities as well as all they own. They live a life of trembling. Now, Jewish Scripture tells us that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. How shall we reconcile this? We can easily do so. The difference between the truth and the lie is often subtle: we should fear God intensely, but this fear should take the form of awe, not terror.
God must also establish justice from the first. The parent and the school teacher must do this, lest children mistake love and progressive freedom to make their own decisions for permission to let their lower instincts drive them to whatever behavior seems to feel good. Thus, a priori ideas about deity derived from the thought of naïve humans and the necessity of justice hide to some extent the love of God that passes all understanding. (Footnote) We have talked about why God created and about why He may have had to create: so that love might be manifest. (Footnote — Now, I have listen more than one item as more important than love as parts of The Truth, but I am not sure it makes sense to say that God created in order to manifest life, and communication and learning are more important than love only because, without them, love cannot be adequately actualized.)
How can we do anything outside of time? Do we not require time in order to be able to do anything? We might if only heaven were timeless, but we will be timeless ourselves. Our lives in heaven will be exclusively those of mind and thought, such that our first step in answering the question at hand is to say that we will do nothing in heaven but think. (This sounds boring, but only because we cannot presently imagine the degree, the nature, or the potency of the imagination we will have in heaven.) I speak of “the first step” because thinking in the Kingdom of God will not be exactly like thinking in time. As timeless beings, we will not have to think in the way that we presently understand thinking; we will not even have to think in order to act. We will indeed have the Mind of Christ, which is the Mind of God (Footnote); all knowledge and goodness will be before us and in us – we will have to derive nothing. We will also be connected to God and to other believers. Though we will have thoroughly distinct identities, selves that are separate from those of others, we will have communication with all of the other blessed to such a degree that we will never have to even think about it. I realize that what I am saying here is vague; you may have other ideas. I do not write to try to tell you any supposed truth that I believe you must accept; I write to stimulate you own thinking, to give you a start, hopefully a boost. We cannot think clearly about a timeless existence; it is too foreign to us.
Can We Live Forever without Being Bored to Death?
In the next life, we will possess our physicality via imagination, and will be Avisible@ to others via faith and only by way of faith. All our physical senses taken away; that sounds like the most tremendous punishment imaginable. We do not, we cannot, however, presently understand the potency, the power, of faith. Through faith, we will have all communication that we presently enjoy and more, and we will have all physical enjoyment of which we are presently capable, and more. Our thoughts outside of time may not only become reality – they may be
reality from the first. C.S. Lewis wrote that the business of heaven, our “work” there, will be joy – will be to be joyful. Thus, we can, should, and, in fact, will concentrate on being joyful (and there will be and is no greater joy than praising God and enjoying Him forever. (Footnote – catechism) Other pleasure will come to us with not effort needed on our part; other pleasures will be part of the free gift of the Kingdom, customized to fit our individual desires. (As all evil will be annulled, we will not even think of wanting to do anything that is not favored by God.)
The Mind of God is of infinite extent, of infinite interest, of infinite richness. We will explore it forever, and we may be able to participate in it, to partake in making it what it is. The tapestry of C.S. Lewis described in Perelandra is all of His thought, and it contains our contribution, in some thoroughly mystical way, to the thought, the very Mind, of the one God. The excitement of such a thing precludes from the first any boredom. In fact, even the joy that will be our work will be extremely easy. “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” said the Lord (Footnote), and we respond, “What about those of us who have lost children in spite of having dedicated our lives to you.” God then tells us, “I am talking about ultimate reality, not about your illusory existence in time.”
Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream: merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily — life is but a dream. What if I said, “Life is but a movie?” You would probably answer, “Huh?!” I mean, what if God is showing us a kind of three dimensional – really four or more – set of scenes of which we are a part, which varies in content according to the choices we make. As we respond to that which is before us, we do not entirely know which of it comes from God and which is our own making, thought the longer we are in time and in synchrony with God, the better is our perception of which is which. (If our course is basically set in the wrong direction by an erroneous worldview (Footnote), we may have no idea at all which is God’s input and which is ours.) Such a concept fits with our being part of a kind of computer program, and it fits with the illusory nature of space-time. It also solves, in an additional way, the main concern we have about God: how he can allow bad things to happen to good people.
It eliminates the significance of all tragedy, which turns out to be that which molds us and nothing more.
What about the Scriptures describing Jesus’ chasing the money-changers from the Temple (Footnote), damning the fig tree (Footnote — Mark 11:13-14 and 20-22), and telling us to make friends for ourselves by means of the of mammon of unrighteousness. (Footnote – Luke 16:9) The first of these is easy. As I have noted, Jesus was no sissy. He saw the Temple of God in its desecration and reacted with the fury of God. Yes, God is good, God is love, God is merciful, but God exhibits straight-forward common sense and in no way abides the ridiculous. To disrespect Him is to deny reality, which includes love of and respect for Him Who is The Truth, which is almost synonymous with reality. Such behavior makes Him furious. His causing the fig-tree to wither illustrated that mind subordinates matter, and, though the fig tree was alive, it was not conscious; therefore, he did no harm. He did seem to be angry at a tree for no reason, however, but He was both God and man. Here he exhibits human behavior but commits no sin.
In Luke 16:1-9, he teaches the lesson that, if we are not faithful even with minor transactions in time, how will we be trusted with tremendously higher matters? He seems, however, to take the lesson to an extreme, possibly by saying that, if we are not even faithful in our sinful activities, how shall we…? This is the most difficult passage in the New Testament. I think we should begin consideration of it by being reminded that Jesus spoke Aramaic, that the New Testament was written in the common Greek of His day, and that most of us now read it in a goodly number of translations written during the last four hundred years. We may well have a problem of translation that makes it very difficult for us to find the gist of what Jesus meant. Eugene Peterson has it thus in The Message: “Now here’s a surprise: The master praised the crooked manager! And why? Because he knew how to look after himself. Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. (I can understand this; evil people understand and have a kind of distorted respect among themselves, because they are on similar wave-lengths.) I want you to be smart in the same way – but for what is right – using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you’ll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior.” I think Peterson has it right, though I feel sure he has utilized paraphrasing here more than in any other verses of his liberal translation.
An excellent commentary, The Zondervan Quest Study Bible, Revised, states that Jesus was encouraging his disciples to be savvy about the use of money and other worldly matters, to learn to be shrewd about using material things to make an impact for eternity. This would be very pragmatic teaching, perhaps more practical and less philosophical than any other saying of Jesus. It is almost as though Jesus is anticipating the need of future churches for money and is advising his followers to take a lesson from the unrighteous with regard to innovation and persistence without copying their purposes. In some cases, they might mimic their methods, and, in other instances, they should not.
What about the retarded and the non-cognitive who cannot understand the concept of commitment to The Truth Which is the Christ? What happens to them in eternity? This is not difficult. The more that a person has, the more responsibility he has. If a person cannot understand Christian salvation, he has no responsibility to. All dogs therefore go to heaven. Though I do not think of the retarded, demented, or otherwise mentally handicapped as dogs, I do say that their situation insofar as the ultimate judge of all is the same, provided animals do go to heaven, which I believe.
Why is prayer so important? Can you show that it is effective? Jesus’ words in the gospels tell us that, the more we believe, the more our prayers will be answered as we desire, so long as God knows it is in our best interests, and that, the more persistent we are, the more likely we are to get God’s attention. The idea of asking for what we want repeatedly, as though we might badger God, seems strange. Yet, this happens in the human sphere, and we are created in His image.
Obviously, we do not always get what we want when we want it when we pray, but it certainly appears to me that if we want thus and such to happen, there is a much greater chance that it will happen if we pray for it than if we do not. I have already talked about why God cannot always answer Ayes@ and do it right away because of numerous considerations He must take account of which are beyond us. Also, again, I do not think God wants to be loved because of what He gives us, just as a parent normally wishes to be loved for him or herself and not because of gifts which amount to bribes. Thus, even when God promptly and positively responds to prayer, I think He tends to do so in a way wherein we can explain what happened naturally if we so choose. Though He is capable of setting up a world in which our prayers are not of value, I think He has decided not to do this. He wants us involved because this allows us to develop maximally into complete and fulfilled individuals; it is part of our schooling, our shaping for heavenBit participates in preparing us to be Areal boys and girls.@
Several years ago, I found that, when I prayed and focused intently on God, listening every few sentences for an answer, I would receive valuable information that was particularly helpful in with regard to choices I had to make. The feeling that my prayers were, much more often than not, answered in this manner is strictly impression, but results seemed to confirm legitimacy. More recently yet, I have the feeling that He comprehensively directs my life in answer to my requests that He do so, with the result that my life is progressively rich, comfortable, and pleasant. I have spent more time with God and have been blessed with more faith in the past few years than ever before, and my intuition strongly indicates that my good life is related to my enhanced relationship with God.
In spite of identity and individuality, we have oneness with God when we so desire and request, and He shares our wishes. In spite of our having essentially no present in space-time, we have significant intimacy with Him here; when we who fully follow His Truth have become beings and are timeless, living in an instant of present forever, we will have a relationship with Him that will cause our current spiritual childhood to pale almost to nothingness by comparison. We were created for this mutually loving relationship; it is the heart of our reason to exist. Therefore, as we exercise our most expedient way of communion with Him in our present lives, we share His power. We share, in prayer, His ability to work on the quantum level, causing things to happen there by way of observation. As we desire to be close to our children, God wants to be close to us in a setting of love. When we seek that which He seeks in a stance of the most faith garner, we join our minds to His and reap mutual happiness. What a stupendous privilege to have the ability to make God happy!
As we develop into new and individual persons in the Christ, we manifest goodness on our own, according to our choices as we pass through a life in time. Though this goodness originally emanates from God, as do all good things, it becomes our own, and, through it, we create new love. Because goodness is truth, the essence of goodness is love, and, by way of good behavior that begins by loving, thanking, and praising Him, we directly help Him to fill the universe and all realms beyond with a bedrock atmosphere of love, thus building on and into His grand plan, that we help Him to make of all reality a single sphere of peace, pleasure and glory, in which we can experience ultimate joy forever.
As we reproduce exponentially, the increase in unspoiled and ubiquitous essence of The Truth can do the same. As love abounds, the Person of love is magnified and is therefore more and more able to send abounding grace to those who love Him. When He does that, His people grow in faith, and, when they increase in faith, they love more and more intensively and with less and less discrimination with regard to who is their friend and neighbor. The result of the interaction of love, faith, and grace is an upward spiral of joy that pervades the timeless realm, particularly in a milieu of the annulment of evil. Thus forms the tapestry that we discovered in Perelandra, immersed in love of God and God’s love of His friends and progeny.
This “Great Dance” (Footnote) particularly pleases Him because it augments His magnitude. He Who is love personified does not seek enhancement for His own sake but only because it enables Him to do more and more for those He loves. Prayer opens the channels of His doing so, and, the more we pray for others, the more the love of God is pointed in their direction because we are commissioned by God to generate and direct love in His ultimate world that we are helping to create.
Is the Bible really infallible. How can this be? Not really. The words of Jesus are infallible, provided translation is adequate. Otherwise, we must accept the fact that fallible people, albeit inspired by God, wrote the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, and fallible people decided what writings to include in the canon. (Footnote) We cannot escape doing our own interpretation and deciding for ourselves how well the holy Word of God has been transmitted to us from the time of Abraham until now. However, by way of prayer, discussion with dependable scholars and practitioners of the faith, and communication of communion with other Christian votaries, we can progress in our ability to interpret.
If we are or are to be one with God, which condition Jesus requested of the Father (Footnote), how is it that Judeo-Christianity is not pantheistic? As God’s only begotten Son is thoroughly united with the Father in the timeless state, so can we be. Yet, nothing destroys the individuality that Jesus attained on Earth, and nothing precludes our own identities as new creations of God. This may be the greatest mystery with which we must deal, and it is comparable to that of two people who become one in marriage. (Footnote) We can possibly understand all other characteristics of the one true God, but this one may not be subject to our understanding in our present state.
Is there such a thing as people who have never been born? No, this makes no sense, and the two claims that Tipler makes in The Physics of Immortality that I can believe are that all people who can exist do and that there are no other cognitive people in existence other than Earthlings. Tipler bases his belief that no one goes unborn on quantum mechanics by way of a mechanism that I do not understand. The matter of other collections of thinking individuals other than those on Earth is a matter of opinion. I think it probably takes a universe in order to create a single race of such.
Do you really believe in Satan? It sounds superstitious. The extent and degree of evil that pervades our time-bound world causes me to believe that a person of evil is indispensible. Without him, I do not think it would be possible for humans to be as perverse as we are.
How can intelligent people believe in the supernatural? Easy. Why not?It is very easy. If those who inhabit timelessness think about this matter, they probably wonder, “How can an intelligent person believe in the fairy tale of time, especially when a person of the intelligence of Einstein said it is an illusion? Whence, therefore, a belief that space-time is the milieu of all existence. There is no reason to believe this; therefore, through history, most intelligent people have believed otherwise. Science has not provides us with any evidence against the reality of the existence of a timeless realm. Whence any reason to believe there is no such thing. The answer is that such belief is based on unadulterated subjectivity, pretension, arrogance and prejudice. Such belief is not even worthy of being called opinion. It is personal arbitrary pseudo-faith. As science often deserts causation as it considers the first 10-43 second of the universe’s existence, many of its members desert logic and rely on their intuition, temporarily departing from the principles of their chosen discipline, when they respond to the question of the existence of the mystical. True science looks objectively for all of truth; pseudo-science embraces the bigotry of refusing to admit that one can be in error. We are virtually certain that we have merely scratched the surface of all there is to know on in the studies of science. As a scientist, I would never examine one hundredth of the research that has been done in any scientific sub-discipline and, on the basis of such evaluation, declare that there is no possibility that what I failed to find exists in the literature that I did not peruse.
If beauty is absolute, what if there were cogent beings on other planets where the females looked like beetles? Could we find any beauty in them? Yes, because, as I have said, our senses are not dependable. It would take large self-infusions of objectivity for us to call a beetle-women beautiful, but I could and would do so if I knew in an instance where the soul of one of my wives had somehow come to live in beetle like form. I know that I would be so taken by the personality of said beetle that I would proclaim it (her) beautiful. Our senses are sometimes right, as they are in our regard of Bach=s music and Michelangelo=s art, but they are usually wrong, as I have said. A woman with the features of a beetle in time might look entirely different when perceived by the mind’s eye, as will be the case regarding all perception when we have established our residence in the Kingdom of God.
What do Christians mean by “resurrection of the body,” and how is it that Christ arose in this manner, though our bodies may be burned up at the time of death or may thoroughly decompose after burial? Death could not hold Jesus, just as it could not hold Lazarus (Footnote) in the face of the power of God and Jesus’ timeless sacrifice. Therefore, Jesus and Lazarus arose body and all. However, I do not believe either lived forever in that arisen Earthly body. They lived eternally in bodies of their imaginations as I have described (and possibly in the imaginations of others, perhaps all others, in heaven. As I have previously requested, please do not consider such bodies “imaginary” in the sense of unreal. For the convenience of opponents of Jesus, the rumor was purposely started that His disciples stole his body from the tomb and took it to some secret place that has never been discovered. It would not make any difference whether they did or not; his resurrection could have occurred in the tomb or elsewhere, but it occurred, and He showed His disciples that His risen body was flesh, blood and bone. (FOOTNOTE AS FOLLOWS: Interestingly, this does not appear to bother even Tipler, who, as previously noted, has no place for the Son in his scheme of immortality and does not believe He rose from the dead – at least at the time of his producing The Physics of Immortality. He notes starting with the last line of page 243 that Jesus= resurrection body as described in Luke has three Asuperhuman features@ that one would expect to see in a resurrection body which represented a computer simulation [Please recall here our the thrust of our discussion in chapter 4, AThe Mind of Christ.@] Jesus could apparently modify His appearance at will, He could suddenly vanish from sight and walk through a wall [A computer-simulated body could be erased from one part of a computer-simulated universe and instantly appear in another part.], and His body was shown to be as real as earthly bodies in that He could eat, touch and be touched [A computer-simulated body would be as real as anything else in a computer-simulated universe.] Looking at two psalms, we see that David, who appears to have prophesied without knowing it at times, as in Psalm 110; quote verse says in Psalm 16: A…Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol; Neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay.@ I really think He was speaking of his descendent, Jesus of Nazareth, when he said this. I believe that decay of a body after death could be a negation, a subtraction from The Truth, evil in fact, and that Jesus= body could not decay because He, including His Body, had never had any association with evil. The other possibility is that it was in God=s thought that His body disappeared and did not undergo decay.)
What changes must be made in my reasoning if God inhabits more than one dimension of time instead of living in timelessness, as Ross believes and as Lewis may have implied. I would have to rethink everything. However, though I do not like in the least disagreeing with individuals of Lewis’ and Ross’ stature, I believe that lack of time in the Kingdom is much more compatible with the gist of Scripture, and it is certainly a lot more compatible with the consensus of many decades of Christian thinkers. Timelessness in heaven jibes more with rationality and the workings of the universe and of human lives than does the idea that there is some sort of time in the eternal realm. The feeling of Einstein that time is illusory looms large in my defense of my belief here. He may have had the highest IQ of any human ever. I can see where God=s being able to travel sideways in time, or backwards, might entail eternal life for Him, but the idea of timelessness as His state of existence is simpler and probably more elegant than any scheme of enhanced time-bound existence could ever be, and the principles of the beauty and simplicity of truth are powerful predictors of what is real and what is not.
It also seems to me that my reasoning in AReal Men Love Jesus@ about the instants of present that become the eternal present in heaven and my belief that we must have a present that we can get a grip on in order to live eternally is compatible with the absence of time in the Kingdom and not with additional dimensions of time Athere.@ At the same time, I believe these ideas are quite likely to be true. You described intuition as a good thing, but isn=t it a lot like going by your emotions instead of your mind?@ It is, in a way, and I may have thus far de-emphasized emotions too much. In fact, it is by by virtue of being intuition-related that emotion is valid to a degree. It is basically good if not overdone, although inferior to rationality. We just need, as I said, to be careful with it. Our minds would be bland without it, and Jesus certainly possessed emotion. (Footnote – wept and upset money changers) He upset the tables of the money mongers in the Temple. The strictly rational AEnlightenment@ of the eighteenth century needed the amelioration it got in the nineteenth in favor of the emotion of romanticism. Emotion is more connected with doxa than with logos, and I in no way here reverse my feelings about rationality=s outranking dependence on our physical senses. Yet we have fine art which is a joy to the eye. Whether painting, sculpture, music or literature, it embodies emotion; yet, it also manifests Truth, forming an ideal combination when at its best.
How do we explain Jesus’ not acting like He thought He was God at times and acting otherwise on other occasions. At what point Jesus began the thought that led Him to His declaration in chapter 13 of the gospel of John (Footnote), we do not know. It could have been from the first, as the story of his conferring with the elders in the temple at age twelve suggests (footnote 46). Also, early in His ministry He tries to hide his miracles, probably in order to avoid stoning and postpone the controversy that ultimately led to His execution. (Footnote 47) Leo Durocher was not the first person to realize that, in this life, “nice guys” tend to “finish last.” Jesus may have been. If the good people of our world tend to be persecuted, which seems to be the rule, the best are not likely to last long in it, and the Perfect had to work at it in order to get through His time of ministry that took place prior to His execution. Professor Fears believes his ministry lasted only one year, and if that were true, it would not surprise me. (Footnote ) John the Baptist did not last long , and Joan of Arc was executed after only about two years of pursuing what she felt was her calling. Relatively speaking at least, it is a tribute to the liberality of the high culture of the ancient Athenians that Socrates was not put to death until he was seventy, though the Athenians revealed profound ignorance and a major character defect in doing killing him when they did. In any case, Jesus’ eventual awareness that He was doing great things might suggest He knew of His divinity early in His ministry or from the time of the advent of His cogency in childhood. Yet, there is some suggestion in the Gospel accounts of His life that He may have gradually discovered His true identity and/or His destination, His oneness with the Father. (Footnote 49– Earlier, on the other hand, He had said when someone called Him “Good Teacher,” “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”) As the person who had the greatest faith of anyone who ever lived, whether He believed so strongly from the time at which He was old enough to think about such things or whether he developed this faith more and more over His entire life, He, according to my definitions of faith, would have remembered or would have come to remember the timeless realm much more fully than anyone else in historyA growing realization on His part is what one might expect in the case of a human being, a unique one, who “made it,” who really made it, Who became one with the Father. (Footnote 50) Yet, I believe They are One from always.
Is not what we believe mostly a matter of how we were brought up? If one was brought up in Iran, how likely would it be that he would become a Christian? This question is difficult to answer; however, its legitimacy is in question. There are no accidents; God is in control. We are who we are and where we are for a purpose. We are born at a time of history of God’s choosing. God will allow no injustice. Whether He will allow, say, a parent to be devastated because of a son or daughter who does not achieve heaven is open to question. In any case, I do not believe that any person will end up eternally without ability to communicate or to sense anything because of separation from God. Such a person will at worst be annulled along with Satan. I cannot imagine a merciful God like Him of the Bible Who would allow this worst scenario that I have imagined to fall on anyone, except perhaps for a person like Hitler.
AWhy does God need or want praise, even worship? Isn=t that sort of arrogant? After all, Jesus advocated humility and washed His disciples= feet. Here we must again speak of logic and justice, which are absolute attributes of His; because we have nothing, not even life without Him and can have so much forever because of Him, we cannot overdo praise and thanks, even at times when we are in misery. If we do not praise Him, we have it better than He does, and that would not be fair, and fairness is part of the Truth. This is because, as I noted, He has all the responsibility, and He has made the stupendous sacrifices necessary for our forever welfare, our part in this having been relatively minor if significant at all. We have the best possible caretaker to take care of the needs of ours which really matter. He is ultimately doing all the real work; it=s only fair that He be thanked Ato the max.@ Any other response is just irrational. Also, if we are not in a stance of praise and thanksgiving in heaven, we cannot live thereBwe would be incompatible with the Aplace.@ This is because we must give back all He gives to us, or try toBHe will not accept it. But if we do not have this kind of relationship in heaven, the door is open to taking advantage of Him, and that would lead us into all the strife that we have on earth. Thus, again, we must go to heaven with only the good part of ourselves remaining; otherwise we will not fit inBwe will Aruin the place@ if we carry into it any selfishness or pride. We need not worry, however; the relationship He wants with us is give-give on both sides, and humility is also a part of the Truth. He has called us friends and treats us as the best of parents or brothers would. We are not doormats before God; yet, given what He does and has done vs. what our contribution is able to be, it would be appropriate. But He lifts us from that.
The Christian claim that Jesus was born of a virgin presents us with more than one question. First, does Jesus= being born to Mary make her the mother of God. Until recently, I would have said yes. But if one looks more at the origin of God as simply that the Truth is too compelling and superior not to personify, as opposed to the possibility that my Amyth@ is more or less literal, as I now do, it follows that Eternal Truth, that greatest of minds, the Father, has always been and has always purposed, by means of thought, to have a son born of woman with the result that the Son led a perfect life and therefore became one with the Father, such that in a way we cannot fully understand, He became God as well as God=s Son, since He became, like the Father always was, the personification of Truth. Thus, as I said, the Son is God but He is not the Father. Thus, Mary is Aonly@ the mother of Jesus. A more difficult consideration, one of which that I cannot plumb the depths, is that Mary was impregnated by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the most mysterious entity in the Christian scheme; Anuminous,@ Lewis called Him. The Trinity is indeed general considered by the faithful to be inscrutable, though of course I believe what I have said about it to be true, so far as it goes.. I have already talked about how I believe there came to be a Father and a Son, but I cannot fathom the Holy Spirit.
Does it seem logical that God would be masculine? The first thoughts that come to my mind are Ayes, because Jesus was a man and because God impregnated Mary.@ Now, I may have just said something that is quite sacrilegious insofar as many Christians are concerned, but I think it only seems that way because we are so used to many sins’ being in the sphere of sexuality. Scripture clearly says that Mary was pregnant with Jesus on account of the action of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is God. There is nothing wrong with sexuality properly used. (Footnote — This was because, without Joseph=s sperm, no y-chromosome would have been available, scientifically at least, such that Jesus would have had to be female. This, in my scheme of thinking, would have raised grave doubts re the masculinity of God. I am now comfortable with the conclusions to which I have come in regard to the doctrine of the virgin birth, however, though I admit, certainly, to not understanding the entire mechanism.
If we think of masculinity and femininity in abstract form, we find that the male principle is active and supplies impetus; the female principle is more passive. Now, be assured that I use these adjectives only because there are no better ones to apply in our present situation. They could make it seem as though I believe the female mode is sort of a “do nothing” state, and I do not. The male principle does, however, include more giving and initiating than the female and the female principle more receiving and maintaining than the male. The Truth must nevertheless manifest itself in an active rather than in a passive form, though there is nothing bad about receiving, accepting, or maintaining, and these certainly do not entail subordination of female to male.
Woman is actually above man, but she is there because he has put her there. That makes things “even.” There are more parts to the states of being female or being male that entail difference and yet involve equality because any supposed privilege a male has is counter-balanced by one that the female has, whether by way of this factor’s being part of Eternal Truth or via its passing from male to female as an expression of the give-give principle. (Because masculinity and femininity are parts of The Truth, violation thereof is not to be trivialized.) A good example is the appropriateness of male leadership and initiative, which is balanced by something like the worship of femininity by masculinity.
There was once a group of rogue adolescent elephants causing a lot of trouble somewhere in Africa. These rascals could not be controlled until a few older male elephants were introduced into their midst and radically changed their behavior. The male principle embodies an element of authority that female does not. I hasten to add that, If cogent males handle this truism correctly, it is pervaded by humility, which men need just as much of as women. (Actually we need more, because we must overcome the fact that most men are much more physically strong than most women, and it is our responsibility to combine leadership without grasping it, as Jesus did not see equality with the Father as something to take advantage of (Footnote). This is difficult. Power has always corrupted to some degree, except in the case of the Son, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, unless one is God. If men cannot or do not lead, they will likely do nothing much at all, I am sorry to say, and it is vitally important that they participate in the family.
We need leaders, and we desperately need male leaders; children listen to them to a degree and in a way that is lacking in their response to female authority. I have repeatedly watched children ignore the plea of a mother or another woman to behave, to stop playing and be quiet when the situation required it. On at least 80% of these occasions, a firm word from a confident male figure, when one was available, was all it took to calm them and make them obey. Specifically, I have often had children behave thus in the setting of my physician=s examining room, wherein I simply said in a soft but determined voice, ASit down right here and do not say anything or move until I say it is all right to do so.@ I recall an elderly man in the United Protestant Church I attended when I lived in Palmer, Alaska, who could dependably quiet a misbehaving child with nothing more than a serious look of disapproval.
It is true that flowers and a few lower animals are hermaphroditic, but there is such a thing, I believe, as two beings in one physical structure, e.g.., to some degree, in the case of conjoined twins, and, again, there is such a thing as exceptions, not in the case of basic Truth, but in spheres wherein it does not really matter. Gender would seem to be of relatively little importance in the case of life that contains no mind, e.g. with plants (Some wannabe green thumbs would disagree and say that plants die on purpose, in order to frustrate us.)
Thus, God as the ultimate Leader must be male. Men are privileged to be like Him in this respect, but, as it is not God=s leadership or His masculinity that makes Him superior to us, the leadership and masculinity of men does not make them superior to women, and women are able to bear new life into the world whereas men cannot. The situation is balanced. What we see with masculinity and femininity is a matter of pleasurable difference, with the division of talents and labor, wherein some attributes and responsibilities go to men and some to women. One of the really striking ways in which George Ritchie=s book has the ring of truth is that he says that the being of light he encountered in his near-death experience, whom he identified as Jesus, was more masculine than any other man he had met. (footnote 13) The proper husband/wife relationship is that the female elevates her husband, so to speak, and he then lifts her higher than himself. Viva la diference! I implore ladies and gentlemen to give and to give – women to give up leadership and men to give up most of the rest and exercise a kind of worship as well, lifting up woman as high as he can reach. Both are to disdain pride. Behaving thus, we gain much and give up nothing worthwhile.
A question that has worried me in the past is AHow is it possible to live forever? It doesn=t seem possible to imagine anything without an end, much less live it. It seems too mind-boggling to try to think about getting up in the morning and saying, after, say, 10,000 years, AI=ll be getting up tomorrow morning too, and every day after that.@ I have recently found an answer that to me is at least fairly satisfactory. Our situation here will be comparable to what Lewis said with regard to God=s not exactly seeing the future because, to Him, there is only a present. In heaven, we will not have our minds boggled about never-ending lives because there will be/is no future Athere.@ If there is no yesterday or tomorrow, no future or past, we will simply not think about whether we will be alive tomorrow; such thinking will be as irrelevant as a fish=s wondering what it is doing in water. Also, if we need an Aalso@ here, we do not currently think about the future constantly. All we will need to do in eternity in this respect is eliminate the small amount of time we spend thinking about the future. Since, again, there will be no future, only an everlasting Anow,@ this should not be difficult. In additionBagain, if we need an addition–we will not be worried about the lack of an end in the Kingdom because everything we do in heaven will be so wonderful that we will thoroughly be content to do it forever. Now I know that sounds like the ultimate Apie-in-the-sky@ statement, but I make it after careful consideration. If reality is more or less intense relative to the length of time the present lastsBas alluded to in AReal Men Love JesusBour lives will be infinitely intense in heaven. Now, Aintense@ sounds good at first or for a while, but perhaps sounds exhausting if it relates to forever. However, I am not talking about an adrenalin rush. I am talking here about something extremely real and vivid, being alive in the most extreme sense of rejuvenation, total comfort, a feeling of being one hundred per cent rested and revived.
Ritchie (Footnote) describes what sounds like people engaged in research in his afterlife vision, and Tipler (Footnote) feels there is no limit to knowledge, to what can be learned. I can never find enough time presently to work on what I want to be doing, so maybe heaven will constitute a great relief in this respect. Dr. Tipler looks at living forever as packing an infinite number of events into a concrete length of time, the last moment of time of the universe. Though I do not agree with this thesis, this one particular thought of his may be instructive, at least in its ability to show how it might be possible to conceive of living forever and doing things in the process. In any case, if heaven is timeless as I believe, it will involve a consciousness so unfamiliar to us that we cannot contemplate what it will be like, such that any idea of monotony or any other such mental state is not something we should expect, as we have no basis on which to suspect anything at all. Anyone who is disturbed by the thought of living forever is speculating at best. We cannot an instant that lasts forever.
In his conjoint theory with James Hartle, Stephen Hawking writes in a cavalier manner of a universe without beginning or end and, at the same time, finds that God does not appear to be necessary. He is well-versed in quantum physics, however, which teaches that there is no meaningful existence without observation. Therefore, it is difficult to see why he believes he can talk about not only the universe’s existence but its existence forever with no observer in the picture.
The presbyterian catechism says that in heaven we will be occupied in worshiping God and enjoying Him forever, and I do not deny the truth of that contention; in my view, enjoying God forever may be so wonderful andByesBinteresting as well that we need not talk further at all about what action heaven affords. For one thing, the proceeds of this catechismal answer may mean full or at least extensive access to His Mind, and His mind is in my view the Source of all events of our lives; at least it is the initial impetus thereofBwith free will endowed by Him, we can alter His original intent. I think it would.
Another troubling consideration might be that I have made a lot out of light and sound, especially re music in regard to the latter, and this might seem unfair to the blind and/or deaf. When we dream, however, we see without eyes and hear without ears. Mind is mighty to the degree that it does not need our five senses in the final analysis of things. Though the speed of light in a vacuum seems almost sacred in our universe, memory and imagination will suffice and even exceed sight in the eternal realm. Besides, in situations where we need light, enlightenment often suffices.
When will the world end? Even Jesus said He did not know the answer to that one. (footnote 24) I will only speculate. I think the Avein of gold@ to which I compared The Truth in AThe Truth Is Inevitable@ may peter out to nothing so far as this universe is concerned, and that there may actually be a final believer, the last person to ever be in synchrony with The Truth in space-time. I think that God will wait long enough to terminate the world that nobody will be lost. That of course does not mean there will not be billions of people on earth with the last person of Truth.
Will we be with loved ones in heaven, and do those who have already passed on see what we are doing and/or affect us in any way? Can we convey messages to them? What about loved ones who did not enter the KingdomBcould we not have some misery in a place where everything is supposed to be wonderful if one or more of them were missing? I believe that in heaven one will be with everyone with whom he/she was on earth to the extent that he/she wants to be with them. If we want to be with them and they are not there, we made the wrong choice of loved ones, in the cases wherein we were able to choose. In cases where we could were not able to choose, such as with our children, we may need some serious help from God, and I think He will help us. The only comfort I can think of here is C.S.Lewis’ belief that everyone who wants to go to heaven will do so. I don=t think it is important whether or not humans already in heaven can observe us from where they are, and I doubt whether they can affect us. I think we are to keep our eyes on the Christ and have nothing to do with anything which smacks of ancestor worship or trying to contact the dead. We do not need them to intercede for us, and for anybody in this world, e.g. money, possessions, hiring a medium, to get between us and Jesus is a bad thing. Trying to contact the dead opens us up to being led astray and wasting precious time during which we could be helping to develop our forever selves in a positive manner. If anyone we try to contact that has passed on is not in heaven, we place ourselves in especial jeopardy when we engage in such activity. Also, I have an idea it would be a problem for the heavenly person to respond. My opinion here has to do with C.S. Lewis= belief, expressed in The Chronicles of Narnia and probably elsewhere, that each of us Ahas his/her own story which nobody else can know;@ it seems to me that this precept could be violated by communication across the veil. Again, J.B. Phillips said he saw C.S. Lewis after the latter had died, and I have to believe him because I think his dependability is virtually unquestionable. This relates to God=s allowing some exceptions to the rules, so to speak, especially among very dependable people; this is related to approximation and has also, I suspect, to do with miracles and the rarity thereof.
If Jesus is God, why did He say that only God is good when someone called Him good? (footnote 25) At the time He said this, He had not yet completed a perfect life and thus, from an earthly perspective, was not yet God. Though He had not yet sinned, He still had the potential to do so. His statement to the Syrophoenician woman, AI was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,@ is similarly puzzling. Perhaps He did not know until later that He was sent to all the world, or perhaps the occasion of the exchange He had with her is when He began to realize it. (Footnote 26)
Why does Jesus ask on the cross, AMy God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?@ (footnote 27) This used to trouble me. It sounds like He decided that He had been wrong all along in His ministry, in what He had done and said. However, I think this statement constitutes a major part of the ring of truth of the Gospel. Jesus was taking on all the sins of everyone who had accepted Him or who would ever accept Him, and possibly those of some others as I have discussed. He became sin. He became the antithesis of the Truth. In this hour, God could have nothing to do with Him.
What did Jesus mean when He said that He had other groups to whom to minister? (footnote 28) Mormons believe that He came to the Americas and preached to the inhabitants thereof. I would not say that is impossible. His statement could also mean beings on other planets, or even other universes; perhaps we will get to know these people and places when time shall be no more. Alternately, these other flocks might consist of beings to whom we will minister in the Anext life,@ or they could be those in Sheol, if there are such. The MWI may provide some of the answer to this question, though I doubt it. Finally, of course, these other flocks might be any combination of these.
What about miracles? Are they real? If God thinks things into existence and the world consists of His thought, I do not know why He could not violate natural law occasionally and cause something out of synchrony with same to happen. This would mean that natural laws either are not a part of Eternal Truth or they are a part of the Truth which is not totally necessary because it has nothing to do with justice or ethics. If He causes miracles, I don=t think He does it very often, partly at least because, again, He is not prone to parlor tricks.
If Jesus attained equality with God by virtue of a perfect life, why will we not arrive at the same state by virtue of being Awashed clean@ by Him? I would say that, having required Awashing,@ we will be entirely Truth, but we will not be the whole Truth, which is what Jesus and the Father are. We are Aliitle spirits@ compared to them, and this will always be; furthermore, the difference is large. Also, most humans would not disdain the opportunity to be equal to God, were we to have it. Jesus, as we have said, did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped; I daresay most humans of all times would. If we had the opportunity and did not disdain it, we would not be fit for heaven; so the state of affairs which exists here is ultimately to our benefit. Attempting to attain equality with God constitutes a sin which Jesus cannot, according to the innate nature of the thought and the act, excise out of our forever selves.
If Jesus took on all our sins, why did He not go to hell? As I previously noted, many Christians believe that He did, and I am one of them. But hell could not hold Him, because He was and is Truth personified, and the Truth is the most lively and positive entity there is and is not miscible with the negativity and death of hell. Jesus died, in a sense, in two states: perfect, with nothing negative in His life-print, and massively sinful. Thus He went to hell. But He had already refused to serve Satan when He was thrice tempted shortly after His baptism, and He had lived all His earthly life without any personal sin. Thus, He indeed went to hell, but He burst its bounds, and He may have brought others out with Him. The latter would jibe with Lewis= belief that everyone in hell wants to be there (partly if not entirely due to their inability to conceive that there could be anything better, often at least because they were too busy working against the Truth during their earthly lives to learn about it.) Dante, in the AInferno@ part of his Divine Comedy, spoke of Alimbo@ as the abode of the best people who lived on earth before the time of Jesus, and the ancient Jews pictured Sheol as a shadowy place where even champions of their faith like Samuel went. Dante=s limbo was presented as a part of hell, albeit the uppermost level where one could be reasonably happy, and Sheol sounds more like hell than heaven. Perhaps Jesus was able to preach to those in limbo and at least some part of Sheol, if either exist(ed), and remove those who desired to leave and were repentant.
Why did God come to earth as a man when He did? This one is easy. I suspect that He wanted to come as soon as possible, but the time was not right until the pax Romana. At that time the world was unified and at peace to a degree that was greater than ever before. Admittedly, communication is vastly better in modern times, but I don=t think God felt it expedient to wait until the twentieth or twenty-first century. We needed Him before that. Also, He needed to take into consideration the receptivity of humans which has decreased so far as the supernatural is concerned in our present age.
This question connects with another: Why does God not show Himself plainly to us. This has more than one answer, but the first that comes to mind is that He did and we killed Him. He told and showed us The Truth, and most of the people who were in His vicinity at the time He was here responded with hate. In the present day, we see pastors dismissed from churches when they preach the truth about their congregations, and I have spoken extensively already with regard to the ANice guys finish last@ phenomenon.
What about Max Tegmark=s beliefs with regard to parallel universes, especially those relating to the nature of time? Can they jibe with Einstein=s view of time and with C.S. Lewis= treatment of the production of our eternal selves as you have incorporated it into your thinking? If the multiverse exists and goes so far as to exist at Alevel III@ in his scheme, a state which is able to constitute reality by virtue of the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics (See ALevels.@), not only do enough universes exist so that all events which are not non-sensical can and will occur, including the lives of all cogent beings who can possibly ever exist, and not only do possibly infinite varieties of lives exist for each of these beings, in that each choice each of them makes causes the development of an alternate life, but: each life of each cogent being consists not of going through time as we understand it, but going from universe to universe, insofar as consciousness/access is concerned, often, as time seems to pass. If I understand, in other words, what Tegmark is saying, a given person would inhabit gigantic numbers of universes in his/her lifetime, and these would be Aoff-set@ from one another by periods of time corresponding to the length of time which passes between decisions/choices one makes. As in the MWI one goes in a certain direction in life because of a choice made and has an alter-ego which goes in the other direction in a different universe which comes about as a result of his choice, in the level III multiverse time seems to pass because of shifts from universe to universe. (Note here the extreme pre-eminence of mind with regard to all events of all universes in all times, as making choices, insofar as the MWI, accepted by many if not most quantum physicists, is concerned, creates entire universes Aon the spot.@) This seems to me rather disorderly and inelegant, however, because of the varying amount of time between decisions (e.g., in the reader=s case, whether to stop reading immediately because the author appears insane or whether to continueBbut remember, my appearance of insanity relates to my recounting of ideas of science, not those of theology). Therefore, I feel compelled to consider the possibility that in a level III multiverse, one would shift from universe to universe with the passage of each 10 to the minus 43rd second, as this is the only length of time which constitutes a basic building block, an unit of time which was discovered, not made up and conventionalized, one which is Aout there.@ If we are to think about a level III multiverse, we must think big anyway; we might perhaps just as well Athink huge@ B Athink unimaginably huge@– and consider that in each second of our lives we inhabit 10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 universes (Yes, forty-three zerosBcount >em. If there can be more than ten to the one hundred eighteenth power universes in existence, as Tegmark says, there can be any number of them, as further argued below. Even for a single personBtalk about birthday presentsBinstead of a bicycle or a book every year, you get a new universe every 10 to the minus 43rd second for the single life you are accessing, plus unimaginably more universes for those of which you are not conscious. The accessed life consists of going through universes Aoff-set@ by 10 to the minus 43rd second, universes which are static with regard to time but in which, as they exist in sequence, in series, you are 10 to the minus 43rd of a second older with each passage from one to the next. Unconscious, non-accessed, lives, if either adjective is appropriate here, would occur in the same way and would multiply exponentially because each choice represents, figuratively speaking, a fork in the road, and, in going in both directions as opposed to going in just one of them, one soon comes to forks in each of the two roads taken, etc., etc., etc. On the other hand, utilizing Planck-time in this manner doe not fit the MWI, which a level III multiverse is supposed to do, such that it may have no credibility. The MWI may not fit well with the concept that our eternal selves consist of the good choices we make during our stay in space-time, though some, perhaps even many choices, may be between two good things, such that Jesus= death and resurrection may not have to eliminate either of the outcomes which occur in different universes. Again, Jesus Himself made all choices correctly, and, if the MWI is valid, would have lived various lives, most of which we may know little or nothing about (Information about some of His activities in other universes might come to us via inspired Scripture, and here we have yet another possibility re his AI have other flocks of which you do not know@ statement.) However, Scripture tells us that Jesus had some choices between bad and good, in fact between evil and glorious; in His case, it is therefore irrelevant to talk about His choosing between good and better, as we will shortly see. With both Einstein and Tegmark, our usual concept of time is illusory, Ain the eye of the beholder,@ as the latter puts it. That situation supports Tegmark, but I think that a multiverse exists on the basis of its being non-sensical; part of my reasoning here is intuitionalBthey seem awfully fantastic, rivaling his mentor=s idea of their being only one electron in our universe. However, I believe I can get a better grip on it than that. With the multiverse, one goes around his elbow in order to get to his thumb, so to speak, violating the principle of Occam=s Razor. In fact, logic suggests that there must be either one universe or there must be an infinite number of them, as there would seem to be no purpose in their being any particular finite number. An infinite number of them would seem to violate Occam infinitely. If the level III multiverse exists, the MWI is of course correct, and the latter is, as we know, far from proven. If both are correct, it would appear that Jesus would have to have been born into all universes in order that every person would have the opportunity of salvation. As I believe that the multiverse, if it exists, is the thought of God and that God lives forever, He in this instance would have Aplenty of time@ to think of Jesus as inhabiting every universe. It would also seem logical that one=s accepting Jesus in any universe would Acount@ as one=s having accepted Him in all. HoweverBand this is the crux of any consideration of the truth of Tegmark=s level III multiverse and the MWI as they would relate to Christian beliefBwith the MWI, Jesus would have had to have made bad choices which would have been relegated to different universes from ours, and He could therefore not have been sinless. If Jesus was not sinless, we have no basis for the existence of anything, with regard to any of the three possible schemes of origin which I put forward in chapter 2, and I challenge anyone to come up with any better Answers with regard to ultimate origin. Thus I cannot correlate the MWI, or, therefore, the level III multiverse, with Christianity, and I claim there is no necessity to do so. it seems to me that Einstein=s view of time, as I elaborated upon it, is compatible with the Gospel, whether parallel universes are or not. It seems to me that the innumerable universes of which I have been speaking correspond well with the geographical locations of which I spoke in attempting to analogize Einstein=s concept of the passage of time, and his belief that time is illusory implies that it can and does not do us the harm that our senses tell us it does. As time does not pass, but only appears to do so in all universes containing cogent beings, there is no reason to believe they do not last forever, once having emanated from the Mind of God (such an origin to be contemplated below.) Once one dies, he or she leaves time, which, as previously discussed in the geographical analogy above, would appear to result in his/her being free to access all these universes. In order not to be hopelessly confusing, this access would have to be sequenced, and that ordering, I believe, could be done by a mind formed in its passage from universe to universe and subsequently freed into a realm wherein it could supersede these universes. (Remember, mind is not in the universe.) Such an ability of a timeless spirit, if you will, could eliminate concern with regard to what one might do to occupy him/herself in eternity, especially as Tegmark considers that the number of universes in a level III multiverse to be infinite. Tipler agrees that no problem exists with regard to our occupying ourselves in eternity, though his omega point theory comes to this conclusion via a far different route.