I engaged in discussions with a close friend some years back. He had taken up the task of reading through a manuscript I had penned, offering his insights as part of the preparation for its publication. During our conversations, we delved into the intriguing question of whether this very cosmos would one day be erased, making way for a new creation, alluding to the concepts found in Revelation 21:1. To my astonishment, my companion, holding a Master’s degree in theology, responded by pondering where God would reside if this universe were indeed erased. The profundity of his perspective left me taken aback, as it implied that he subscribed to the belief that the universe encapsulated God’s central dwelling. This encounter prompted me to contemplate the prevalence of such a notion – if someone with a robust theological background could hold such a perspective, how widespread might this particular misunderstanding be?
Within the scope of this article, I intend to share the insights I have acquired throughout my extensive exploration of theology, physics, and cosmology, shedding light on the predominant dwelling place of God. While it holds, to a certain extent, that God’s presence permeates all corners of existence, it is crucial to recognize that His central dwelling extends beyond the confines of our universe. This foundational concept finds support not only within the realms of scientific inquiry but also resonates within the pages of Scripture.
Approaching the matter from a scientific standpoint, it becomes evident that the universe underwent a beginning and seems destined for a conclusion. It is essential to acknowledge that numerous theories challenge this assertion. For instance, some propose that our universe sprang forth from a preceding cosmic occurrence – like the collapse of a former universe. Alternatively, it’s been posited that a black hole’s emergence within a vaster reality could have triggered the birth of our universe. Another notion suggests a multiverse framework, where universes materialize and disappear cyclically within a grander context. Despite these diverse ideas, the prevailing consensus aligns with the concept that our universe originated roughly 13.8 billion years ago through the cataclysmic event known as the Big Bang. Furthermore, this consensus maintains that the universe’s ongoing expansion, influenced by the collective mass of visible and dark matter and the interplay of energy and dark energy, will ultimately culminate in its eventual termination. It’s worth noting that our current scientific comprehension falls short of pinpointing the precise cause behind the universe’s existence. This raises the contemplation that its origin must transcend the boundaries of our present understanding of reality as defined by current scientific inquiry.
Viewed through the lens of biblical insight, it becomes evident that the divine utterance of God catalyzed the universe’s inception. This profound truth underscores that God possessed an abode before the universe’s emergence, positioning His central sphere of being beyond the universe’s confines. Scriptural teachings reveal the transient nature of the observable world, contrasting it with the enduring nature of the unseen realm. That which is visible is temporal, and that which is invisible is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18). The entire fabric of this universe, intricately woven by the hand of the Creator, holds a purposeful existence and will eventually transform the culmination of its intended design.
In our quest for a comprehensive understanding of this matter, let us delve into the insights offered by Scripture concerning the various strata or dimensions of reality. As depicted in Genesis 1:1, the divine act of creation is attributed to God fashioning the heavens alongside the Earth. The terms heaven and Earth jointly signify the totality of all that makes up this reality; space and matter are more familiar representatives. The Hebrew word employed for heavens, namely šāmayim, emerges in plural form, signifying that God crafted not singular but multiple spatial planes or dwelling places within our universe.
In 2 Corinthians 12:2, the Apostle Paul recounts an extraordinary encounter where he was transported to the third heaven. Subsequently, in the ensuing verse, Paul narrates another occurrence where he was ushered into paradise. Commonly, an erroneous assumption arises that these two passages describe a single incident, assuming paradise and the third heaven coexist within the same domain. However, examining the Greek text carefully dispels this misconception, revealing that Paul recounts two distinct episodes. In essence, Paul’s account signifies that he was granted the remarkable privilege of traversing all three heavenly levels: the first, second, and third heavens.
The First Heaven
Many folks mistakenly believe Earth’s airy atmosphere envelope is the first heaven. However, let’s fine-tune our understanding. Scripture uses the term heaven to describe space that is suitable for habitation. The first heaven is the very fabric of our daily lives. It unfolds in three spatial dimensions accompanied by the flow of time. An interesting twist here: We journey through time at the speed of light in a direction known as entropy (or traversing time from higher to increasingly lower states of order). This perspective hints that we only tap into half of this time dimension.
It’s essential to recognize that Earth’s atmosphere and outer space, encompassing celestial expanses, all constitute components of the first heaven – or the primary matrix of spatial dimensions that contain existence – encompassing not only the celestial realms but also the terrestrial realm, including life on Earth’s surface. Stated differently, the first heaven comprises the entirety of this reality we can apprehend through our senses – sights, sounds, touches, tastes, smells, and quantifiable measurements. Our daily lives are carried out within the first heaven or the first spatial plane of existence.
This is the most temporary of all the inhabitable spaces. Life as we know it is only sustained within this first space for perhaps a hundred years, give or take.
The Second Heaven
So, the question remains: Where exactly is the second heaven situated? This has proven to be a source of significant confusion within Christian teachings. Numerous interpretations posit that the second heaven pertains to the vastness of star-studded outer space. However, an enhanced degree of precision is required in this delineation. Since the first heaven encompasses everything our senses can perceive, and the second heaven is contained within this universe, it is apparent that it denotes an additional ensemble of spatial dimensions nested within this universe that are obscured from our direct perception—a hidden layer of reality.
What, then, is the underlying purpose behind these supplementary imperceivable dimensions of space? This is where the realm of spiritual entities unfolds, intertwining with our existence within the parameters of this universe. Within this second array of spatial dimensions, a realm is inhabited by beings, such as angels and demons, interacting with our reality. I have concluded that our spirits also dwell within this secondary set of dimensions. While our physical forms inhabit the primary spatial dimensions (first heaven), it is within the secondary group that our spirits find their abode. As long as our physical bodies are animated by life, our existence remains simultaneously intertwined within both categories of realities.
At the juncture of our passing, our corporeal vessels relinquish their function, liberating us from the constraints of the temporal realm (first heaven). Subsequently, our beings fully transition to the second heaven or the subsequent plane of existence. Within this realm, we encounter paradise, a concept Scripturally located at the heart of the Earth (Matthew 12:40, Luke 23:43, Ephesians 4:8-10). However, the heart of the Earth here is not found within the physical spatial dimensions occupied by the Earth’s core and molten depths. Instead, a designated space within the second set of spatial dimensions has been prepared to accommodate our spiritual essence.
A word of correction is warranted here as certain teachings suggest that Jesus transferred paradise to the third heaven upon His ascension, where He and the Father reside. Yet, this interpretation lacks coherence when viewed in the broader Scriptural context. A forthcoming book is slated to delve into this topic extensively. Until the advent of Christ’s return, believers are destined to dwell in paradise – situated at the heart of the Earth – within the context of the second heaven or the realm of subsequent spatial dimensions.
The imperceptibility of this second set of dimensions within our universe stems from their existence on a higher plane. Within this higher dimensional framework, entities can observe occurrences within their realm and those confined to lower planes. However, individuals residing within the lower dimensional echelons lack the ability to apprehend events happening within higher dimensions.
It’s crucial to acknowledge that the second heaven diverges from the first regarding the fundamental nature of matter it encompasses. The first heaven contains material substances characterized by their impermanent nature. In contrast, our sojourn within the first heaven is gauged within roughly a century, with some variation. By comparison, our existence within the second heaven will extend across thousands of years as we anticipate the second coming of Christ.
The presence of an additional set of spatial dimensions within the universe shouldn’t surprise, given that specific scientific disciplines have already postulated their existence. One such instance is string theory, which posits that the universe, as we perceive it, necessitates the presence of between 11 to 26 dimensions contingent upon varying sub-theories.
If string theory aligns with reality (an understanding that will likely remain elusive within our lifetimes), these supplemental dimensions of space are conjectured to manifest in the form of structures known as Calabi–Yau manifolds.
This theory proposes that these supplementary
spatial dimensions remain intricately wound within minute, inaccessible recesses that elude our ability to engage with them. In other words, matter, as we know it, could not be contained within these extra spatial dimensions. This striking notion echoes the insight from Scriptural teachings regarding the essence of this secondary spiritual dwelling abode. Given that this realm exists devoid of material constituents, its spatial dimensions need not parallel our own, underscoring their dissimilarity.
Image courtesy Wikimedia
The Third Heaven
Consequently, as we ponder the universe’s genesis, it becomes evident that God’s primary dwelling finds its nexus within the third heaven – an exalted sphere that predates the universe and is untouched by the constraints of commencement or conclusion. While our existence within the first heaven spans a mere century, unfolds across millennia within the second, and extends limitlessly within the third, the latter remains impervious to the tides of change even as the universe undergoes transformation and renewal. Within this celestial realm, the Apostle Paul embarked on a profound and unparalleled communion with the divine, traversing the threshold into an eternal domain wherein God’s timeless presence is unceasingly manifest.
I am developing a theory that we cannot detect dark matter and dark energy because they exist in higher spatial dimensions. We know that the one thing matter and dark matter have in common (as well as energy and dark energy) is gravity. Gravity may be shared between these two sets of spatial dimensional planes. Perhaps this is also why gravity is so profoundly weaker than the other three forces at work in our universe (electromagnetism, weak nuclear force, and strong nuclear force) to be 10^40 times weaker.
I am formulating a theory positing that our inability to detect dark matter and dark energy stems from their occupation of the higher spatial dimensions. Notably, gravity is a common denominator shared between matter and dark matter, along with energy and dark energy. It’s plausible that gravity bridges the gap between these distinct spatial dimensions. This intriguing notion might also explain the striking weakness of gravity in comparison to the other three fundamental forces governing our universe – electromagnetism, weak nuclear force, and strong nuclear force – a discrepancy that amounts to an astounding weakening by a factor of 10^40.
In summation, it becomes evident that God’s abode resides within the eternal expanse of the third heaven. The second heaven serves as the domain wherein spiritual entities live and interact within our universe, while the first heaven constitutes the present realm of our existence.
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- Brian Greene (Author)
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