Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Heavenly Father

Our Father in heaven (Matthew 6:9)
Our Father (Luke 11-2)

Scientific view of the cosmos
There is continuous effort to reduce the complexity of theoretical explanation of the cosmos into as few fundamental Laws of Nature as possible. The Theory of Everything, a single model describing all aspects of the physical reality, is the so far elusive goal of fundamental research.

A few theories or one - this does not change the fact that in scientific research the Universe is seen as a logical whole setting the content and limits of the world as we know it. It is an iron glad cage made of unbreakable natural laws, something that can be studied experimentally and that can be analysed logically on the basis of what is known.

The fact that so many aspects of the cosmos are unknown, that there new things are discovered that fundamentally change older view like dark energy and dark matter or quantum physics, does not break this cage of natural laws. They are just new additions to the same basic quest for explanation and require modification and expansion, sometimes rejection, of currently commonly adopted views.

Heavenly Father and His Son
There is a natural tendency to understand God of Israel as someone who abodes in the sky, somewhere up there in the heavens. Modern cosmology does not, however, leave room for God's heavenly temple somewhere there behind the stars. It is a singularity, physical reality that works according to the laws of nature - some known and some unknown - with no specific room as the abode of Heavenly Father.

But here exactly the Bible blows into smithereens the natural - and widely adopted and held - mental image of God somewhere up there in the physical sky.

First, there are the apocalyptic texts that describe how sky is opened like a book scroll and a different reality becomes visible to the inhabitants of earth.

Secondly, the miracle stories break the cage of natural laws.

Thirdly, the resurrection of Jesus Christ introduces a completely different and yet somehow similar and linked reality in the existence. Jesus did not return back to this life as many mistakenly think but rather represents something entirely new and different, with roots in this our existence.

Saint Paul goes to great lengths in trying to explain this to the Corinthian Christians using metaphors, how seed is rotten but from its dead looking body grows a new plant.

Multiple reality 
Science seeks unifying physical model that explains everything by natural laws. As such it represents a mental cage that is such a source of pride to many atheists.

While Jews and Christians may have confused views of heaven and sky - the concepts are difficult - the Scriptures break the singularity of the cosmos, the One. Certain passages hint without ever giving detailed logical explanations that there is another level of reality hidden from our physical eyes but reachable through personal faith and only through faith.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Heaven up

Three-tier world view is natural to us human beings and found in many different cultures. There is this actual presence, above heavens or some spiritual concept of it, under chtonic world with its creatures and realm of death.

Geocentric view
In the natural geocentric view there is no difficulty of understanding that heavens are up, above the everyday realm of living with all that belongs there. In everyday parlance and daily life we similarly live under the canopy of heaven above us. How the heavens stay up is understood in different ways by different nations and cultures. The Bible uses the concept רָקִ֫יעַ (raqia) usually translated in English as the vault of heaven, the firmament. The waters above it are kept in hold by it, sun, .moon, planets and stars are fixed there and do not fall down before the end of the days. Genesis 1:6,7

The Latin Church developed a comprehensive world view that mapped human existence: we live in this world, God's heaven is up and Hell is down under our feet. The church is the gateway to the eternal bliss in heavens up there.

Heliocentric view
Astronomers introduced the concept of round Earth rotating around the Sun. This began to brake the harmony of the ancient static three-tier cosmology so natural to human mind. What is up, what is down if Earth is in constant movement and not a solid foundation of existence? It took the Church quite a while to adjust the angelic theological teaching that looked so perfect to this new dynamic reality.

The process of making sense of where are heavens goes on also today as believers try to combine Biblical and traditional Christian heritage with the changing realities introduced by Astronomy and Cosmology.

Modern view
Today the world is not understood in Euclidean geometry with up and down but rather as a  space-time continuum with its focal point in the Big Bang. Four-dimensional world view is not easy to grasp and not at all as natural to human mind to grasp as the geocentric world view.

Spiritual heaven
We have the old geometry in our confession of faith in the sentences about Jesus Christ who first descendit ad inferos and then ascendit ad caelos, sedet ad dexteram Dei Patris. 

However, be warned that the concept of spiritual heaven is quite complex in the Biblical texts and does not equate the sky with its many objects with the abode of God in the heavens of heavens.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Heaven - Sky (language)

The Free Dictionary defines heaven
1. often heavens The sky or universe as seen from the earth; the firmament.
2. Christianity
a. often Heaven The abode of God, the angels, and the souls of those who are granted salvation.
b. An eternal state of communion with God; everlasting bliss.
3. Any of the places in or beyond the sky conceived of as domains of divine beings in various religions.
a. Heaven God: Heaven help you!
b. heavens Used in various phrases to express surprise: Good heavens!
5. often heavens The celestial powers; the gods: The heavens favored the young prince.
6. condition or place of great happiness, delight, or pleasure: The lake was heaven.

The Free Dictionary defines sky
n. pl. skies (skīz)
1. The expanse of air over any given point on the earth; the upper atmosphere as seen from the earth's surface.
2. often skies The appearance of the upper atmosphere, especially with reference to weather: Threatening skies portend a storm.
3. The celestial regions; the heavens: stars in the southern sky.
4. The highest level or degree: reaching for the sky.

As in English language, also in German the word Himmel may refer to a physical or spiritual heaven or to the physical sky above us.

In French, heaven is similarly paradise or ciel.

In Hebrew heaven can be
גַן עֶדֶן

Astronomers regularly use the noun sky as it refers to the physical space above us. In Judeo-Christian tradition the heavily loaded word heaven causes much confusion and logical difficulties if the spiritual and physical meanings are not carefully observed.

"In the beginning God created heavens and earth" Gen 1:1 leads directly to confusion about what is meant in the text by the majestic plural shamaim, heavens.