Saturday, August 10, 2013

Universal Permanence

How permanent is our universe? When God created man, did he intend their lives to continue on earth forever? Was human life on this planet the ultimate goal of the Creator? Do the millions of created animal and plant species exist as a supporting cast to enrich human life? Did the entrance of sin by human choice put an end to the Creator’s goal of creating a perfect world and was God forced to implement a “Plan B” to remediate “Plan A?”

These questions and dozens of others pique our curiosity. Many secular thinkers speak not of life’s eternal existence but rather, its impermanence. The outlooks of secularists, therefore, are worlds apart from the answers offered by Christian theologians. Secular answers have their origin in the imaginations of human thinking. In contrast, ask a Christian theist the same question about life’s ultimate permanence and the answer should revolve around what God thinks. Not once do inspired writers of scripture ever indicate that the soul of man does not have an existential, eternal reality.

Man is uniquely able to contemplate these deep questions. Humans prepare for upcoming events in anticipation of the arrival of future events. The theistic worldview helps us prepare for eternal existence by adapting our behavior and outlook accordingly. “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men” (I Cor. 15:19 NIV). Scripture speaks of our behavior and attitude toward life not only in terms of the present but also with the permanence of existence in view. Our beliefs about the time, space, matter, and energy of the present sphere of existence relates to our parallel beliefs about eternal existence.

Personal worldview guides not only our vision of the eternal future, but our outlook for the present as well. Our worldview must have a balanced perspective on the present and the future, including our future afterlife. Our vision of the present, including our vision of the past which contributes to our present, must not overwhelm our vision of the future. Neither should our vision of eternity overwhelm our effective image of the present--the sphere in which we live. We credit Oliver Wendell Holmes for the first utterance of “You can be so heavenly-minded that you are no earthly good.”

Visions of existence in two-dimensions pervade human consciousness. One dimension is the physical world in which we are embedded. Some fundamentalist evangelical thinkers have promoted the notion that Adam’s human sin entered the dimensions of time, space, matter, and energy in which we exist at the moment of “the fall of man”. These thinkers present several passages of scripture as support for their ideas. Romans 5, for example, verse 12 in particular, states “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned…” On this passage is constructed the foundational belief that Adam’s Garden of Eden sin resulted in the first incidents of physical death for every earthly organism. Prior to Adam’s sin, they claim, physical death did not exist for any earthly organism. It is also claimed that sin also resulted in a spectrum of outcomes from inconvenience, to pain, to production of thorns and thistles, to sweat of the brow, to eventual physical death (for dust you are and to dust you will return) and to a myriad of other effects. The clear findings of totally reliable geological science affirm these events had been present on earth from the beginnings of life on earth--a very ancient earth!

What about the dreadful condition to which Adam and Eve had descended as a result of their willful sin? Guilt-ridden and devastated by their spiritual disobedience, it is easy to project guilt onto Adam and future generations. Garden-tending, farming, and family relationships would no longer be easy for spiritually degraded inhabitants of Earth. The supernaturally insulated primeval garden would no longer be hospitable for Adam and Eve. They could not stay in the garden, but were expelled to the environs of the earth outside the garden. These earth conditions had always existed outside the garden. Life had gone on in that environment for eons and it would continue for eons to come.

Idealists intent on promoting the horrific effects of sin may over-dramatize disease, starvation, global warming, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, signs in the sky, social deterioration, and political turmoil. These idealists may even claim there was “No Death Before the Fall.” These phenomena, albeit disturbing, have always been a part of the scene on Planet Earth. Realistically, some of these planetary phenomena have always been present. Some of these effects have even been improving since man has learned to apply health, agricultural, and industrial technologies according to the instructions of Genesis 1:28 to subdue the earth.

Planet Earth has been functioning with the same “handicaps” it has manifested for millions of years. Our recent and past blogs have highlighted the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics and senescence. Briefly, the 2nd Law, the law of decay, is only remotely related to senescence. But both effects result in what may be termed a “running down” of some of our operating systems. Many resources have been authored detailing the operating characteristics of our universe. Our universe, our galaxy, our solar system, and our planet compose a wonderfully operating system designed by God to accomplish his purposes in the present cosmic regime. It also functions as a prelude for the eternal realm to yet come. It has been the purpose of our blog to call attention to the beauty of our cosmic system. 

The characteristics of our cosmic system anticipate the even more glorious eternal realm of existence we yet anticipate. Revelation 21-22 describes an entirely new realm of existence yet to come for those trusting Jesus Christ as Redeemer. We rejoice in the permanence of that future realm.