So then we must be wary of spending all our time poring over the words, talking about them, and memorizing them, for it could well be that such activities could mask the very Word that they bear witness to. Our task is not simply to return to the Bible, but to return to the life-giving Word that gave birth to the Bible and that speaks through it—hearing the message by living it out rather than merely rejoicing in its eloquence.From The Orthodox Heretic by Peter Rollins
All I have ever said is that the New Testament plainly implies the possibility of some being finally left in ‘the outer darkness.’ Whether this means…being left to a purely mental state…or whether there is still some sort of environment, something you could call a world or a reality, I would never pretend to know.
C.S. Lewis on Hell, in a letter to his childhood friend Arthur Greeves
I think this quote encapsulates what I consider to be a much more coherent attitude than currently exists toward ideas like heaven or hell, or even angels or demons, etc. Questions like, “Do you believe in a literal Hell?” or “Do you actually believe in demons?” make little sense, precisely because we are talking about realms that our outside of the reality of our basic senses. Because what does “literal” or “actual” or even “reality” mean outside of the one we are currently swimming in? How would we ever know? When you start talking about anything metaphysical, the line between “reality” and “metaphor” gets fuzzy.
And it would be a good thing if we could be comfortable with that.
Too bad that when I was trying to explain observer-dependent reality to my kids, I forgot this little ditty from Fred Kuttner’s book, Quantum Enigma.
There was a young fellow named Todd
Who said, “It’s exceedingly odd
To think that this tree
Should continue to be
When there’s no one about in the Quad.”
There is nothing especially odd;
I am always about in the Quad.
And that’s why this tree
Can continue to be
When observed by Yours faithfully, God.
Kuttner is a physicist at UCSC. Though he doesn’t buy the old philosopher Bishop Berkeley’s idea that God is the Great Observer, collapsing all the wave forms and bringing this universe into continual existence, he does admit that the weirdness of quantum physics opens doors that more adamantly naturalistic scientists had hoped were firmly shut. This also from his book:
It is sometimes implied that the sages of ancient religions intuited aspects of contemporary quantum mechanics. The argument can go on to claim that quantum mechanics provides evidence for the validity of such teachings. The reasoning is not compelling. However, the Newtonian worldview can be seen as completely dismissing such ideas. Quantum mechanics, telling of a universal connectedness and involving observation in the nature of reality, denies such dismissal. In this most general sense, one can see physics supporting some thinking of ancient sages. (When Bohr was knighted, he put the Yin-Yang symbol in his coat of arms.)
If you are a layman in science with an interest in things like this, Kuttner’s book is a pretty thoughtful and fair discussion.