5. Where is Heaven?

In my father's house there are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.

The Bible: John 14

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. Now we know that if the earthly tent we now live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.

The Bible: 2 Corinthians 4:17

The unbelievers rejoice in the life of this world: yet the life of this world is but a brief diversion compared with the life to come.

The Koran: Thunder 26

It is God who has created you and given you your daily bread. He will cause you to die hereafter and then bring you back to life.

The Koran: The Greeks 40

The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

The Bible (King James Version): Psalm 21

As regards heaven and its location, well, we know that it is not up in the sky. We have sent rockets up there and found empty space. Seismic study of the interior of the Earth shows us an inner solid core surrounded by a liquid core, on top of which is a viscous mantle and finally the Earth’s crust on which we all live. So where is it?

First, what does the Bible say exactly about its location and the conditions to be found there. To find that out we have to drag together isolated comments and messages in parables about that place that Jesus often refers to as his Father’s house or the Kingdom of Heaven.

It is a place where Earthly treasures have little meaning but treasures of the heart are more important (Matthew 6,18 & 19). There will be those who find life in this new environment more difficult than others, depending on how profitably they have lived their lives in a none monetary sense (Matthew 7). We will be accountable for what we have done (Matthew 12). The soul is indestructible, unlike the physical body. There is a copy of all knowledge of you. (Matthew 10). There is some sort of natural separation process that keeps like with like (Matthew 13) and impenetrable natural barriers (Luke 16). We also have a similarity in the Koran, The Heights 46. “A barrier will divide them, and on the Heights there will be men who recognise each one by his look. To those in Paradise they shall say: “Peace be upon you!” But they shall not yet enter, though they long to be there.” Normal Earthly rules about marriage between individuals do not apply (Matthew 22). Yet, the bonds that people have formed on the Earth are very important.

There is also a general feeling in most religions that time and its passage is less important than in our earthly environment.

At the beginning of the last century, every thing appeared straightforward. Positive and negative charges existed and the assumption was that atoms consisted of lumps of positive charge with the negative charges inside them like small plum puddings. Then in 1913, Ernest Rutherford working at Manchester gave two of his students called Geiger and Marsden an experiment to do. The job was to fire positively charged particles (alpha particles) at some gold foil. Gold was ideal because you could roll it very thin without it falling apart. The expectation was that the alpha particles would burst through onto the other side, strike a screen, like a TV screen and make a tiny flash of light. The idea was to see how much of a spread you would get on the screen due to them going through the foil. Then, a strange thing began to happen. Although most particles hit the screen as expected, sometimes the particles shot off at an angle. The screen could be moved to any angle around the experiment. On rare occasions, a particle would hit the screen behind the point of its origin. Rutherford did all the mathematics and realised that this could only happen if all the positive charges of the atom, the protons, were contained in a tiny point at the centre of the atom instead of being spread out. In the majority of cases where an alpha particle did not pass close to a nucleus, it would go straight on. If it passed close to the nucleus, then since like charges repel, it would feel a repulsive force and be pushed off its track and deflected. There would also be the odd occasion where an alpha particle approached the nucleus head on. Then, feeling a strong repulsive force from the compact nucleus, it would be sent back where it came from. Thus a new model of the atom was born, an atom consisting of mainly empty space with the positive protons at the centre and the electrons in orbit around the outside. To get some idea of the scale we imagine that a few peas are at the centre of the Albert Hall. This is the nucleus. The electrons are like tiny flies buzzing around the outside walls. Therefore, atoms were now not the solid plum puddings that had been imagined. They were mainly empty space and forces do the work of keeping matter solid. This model is still of some use today to help us visualise what is going on. We now know that the nucleus contains positive protons and one or more neutral particles of a similar mass, called neutrons. The electrons, which are negative, orbit the nucleus. Once this had all been sorted out, the materialistic view had to prevail. All matter was composed of these three elementary particles and there was nothing else.

In the middle of the last century, scientist began smashing matter into matter in colliders. All sorts of new particles began to rear their heads. Scientists had to find new and more advanced ways of grouping them. In addition, a new physics was being born called quantum physics. The old model of the atom had a simple problem. It was known that types of electromagnetic radiation such as heat, light and radio waves etc are the result of the movement of electrons. If the electrons were orbiting the nucleus, then they should radiate electromagnetic energy. If they were doing this, they should lose energy. Then since the positive charge at the centre of the atom would attract them, they should spiral into the nucleus. It would be a bit like if a planet slowed down in its orbit, spiralling into the sun. Since this did not happen with electrons, something was wrong. Quantum physics removed the problem by replacing the model with a new one. However, this model is not easily visualised. It has its roots in mathematical equations. Most people do not usually encounter it until they arrive at university. Now, the electrons have certain energy levels rather than have strict orbits around the nucleus. There is also an intrinsic uncertainty about just where the electrons are. Instead of exact positions, we have a probability of their location but not an exact one.

One of the consequences of this physics is that tiny particles can behave like waves and vice versa, waves such as light waves can sometimes behave like particles. There is also a fuzziness or uncertainty about the Universe at small scales. If you try to observe what a tiny particle is doing then you will disturb it so that you will not know what it was doing in the first place. This became known as the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle after its founder. Some people argue that this is that gives us our free will. If the whole Universe behaved like a giant machine following Newton’s Laws of Motion, then given enough information, it should be possible to predict where everything else is at some time in the future. The same rules that govern the motion of the planets around the sun would apply to tiny particles like electrons and also to our brains and our conscious thoughts. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle gets us out of this by introducing a random uncertainty in what may happen next.

Quantum physics or quantum mechanics has turned out to be a completely new branch of physics. The mathematical models and equations that now govern the very small particles or waves have been very successful. Even transistors and semiconductors found in all modern electronic equipment rely on the properties of the quantum world to make them work.

While the mathematics gives the correct results, it is not that easy to form a picture in your head of exactly what is going on. The classic experiment that illustrates this, is the two-slit experiment. We know that when waves arrive at a gap, which is roughly the same width as the wavelength of the waves, the waves spread out in semi-circles on emerging from the gap. This process is called diffraction. It is most easily visualised by thinking of water waves.

If the same waves approach a double gap then two sets of waves spread out doing the same thing from each gap. Where the waves overlap each other, they reinforce each other to produce a wave with higher amplitude or a taller wave. Where a crest of a wave overlaps a trough from the other gap then they cancel each other out and there is no wave. In science, we call it constructive and destructive interference. The result is, that if the waves eventually arrive at a wall opposite, then there will be certain places where a strong wave hits the wall and other places where no wave hits the wall at all.

The same phenomenon occurs with sound waves. If two loudspeakers produce exactly the same note then variations of intensity will result as you walk around them and enter regions of constructive and destructive interference. This is why you can get some dead spots in a concert room.

Light, because it is a wave, also undergoes diffraction. Obviously, the slits have to be very narrow because the wavelength of light is very small. The surprise is that electrons, which are particles, also produce the same pattern when fired toward the slits. This shows that tiny particles when travelling can exhibit wave like properties. Now it is easy to visualise what is going on by thinking of the phenomenon in terms of waves. However, it became possible, with advances in techniques, to be able to fire either individual electrons or even individual photons of light at the slits. Common sense appears to dictate that since we have an individual particle, which we can visualise as a ball bearing being fired towards the slits that it will go through one or the other slit and then hit the screen. Since there is no other particle going through the other slit, there is no other particle or wave with which it can interfere. The next question is what happens if we continue to fire individual electrons or photons of light towards the slits. At first, it appears that they are just hitting the screen anywhere at random. Yet, over a period of time, the interference pattern builds up again on the screen. This gives us a bit of a dilemma. Which slit did the each particle go through? In fact, if you try to find out, the interference pattern disappears. Some eminent scientists are on record as saying that it must go through both slits at the same time. This appears bizarre in itself. That is, for something that behaves like a tiny point to suddenly behave as though it were covering a large region of space and then go back to being a point again. Another way of imagining it is to say that the particles must go through one slit or the other but it must be “aware” of the other slit or even the experiment as a whole and this influences where it ends up. On a large scale it’s a bit like you taking a detour in your car because you are aware of some traffic problem 200 miles away. Mathematics will not tell you where each individual particle will land, but it gives you the probability of where it may land. This is a probability distribution, which matches the interference pattern.

Other experiments appear to show the phenomenon of action at a distance. That is, what happens to one particle can somehow influence what happens to another particle instantaneously, even though a large region of space separates them. It is as if the whole universe could somehow be interconnected through some other dimension. Quantum ideas have certainly made visualising what is happening on a small scale rather difficult, even though the mathematical predictions are successful.

Other consequences of quantum theory are that particles can penetrate barriers for which they have not the required energy to do so. They do this by borrowing a tiny amount of energy from nowhere. This is because of the intrinsic uncertainty there is in tiny amounts of energy. The vacuum of space is now no longer the empty space that once was imagined. Now, even the vacuum of space can have energy as tiny particles such as electron-positron pairs appear and disappear for a very short time. The intrinsic uncertainty at these very small values allows them to do so.

If consciousness has more to it than just a set of chemical and electrical reactions in the brain, then some are beginning to wonder, if consciousness has its roots and operates within the quantum world. Some scientists are now standing what appears to be common sense on its head. In a classic chicken and egg situation, they are wondering if consciousness is the prime mover of all physical reality. In other words, where we have always considered consciousness to be a by-product of physical reality, they are speculating that physical reality is in fact a by-product of consciousness. Therefore, if it were not for consciousness nothing else in reality would exist.

String theory is a very modern science that is still under development. Here we imagine particles not to be as points, but consisting of small-extended objects called strings. When I say small, I mean very small. It also talks of other dimensions being necessary to make it work. It also introduces another new concept. In order for the mathematics to add up there has to be another universe that coexists with our own right along side it but not detectable. The only thing in common would be that their gravitational attraction would influence each other. They have called these other dimensions branes which is short for membranes. These are like other dimensions running parallel and along side our own dimension and extremely close to it. They must have their own physical properties and scientific rules of operation but it is impossible for us to know what these may be.

Some physicists are quite happy now at speculating on the possibility of the Universe splitting to form other universes that are not accessible to our own, in fact infinite numbers of universes. Common sense appears to go against this concept. We could be just as silly and say, "Let's have a separate universe, each one run by all the different Gods of all the world religions”. Does it get us anywhere? Probably not.

All world religions just speak of there being another place. We would be satisfied to find one other dimension from which the life force and our consciousness could flow, backwards and forwards if you are a reincarnationist or flip over once if you are not. It would consist of some esoteric material that would not interact with our own.

We already know of particles that exist that do not interact. For example the neutrino is an elusive yet well understood particle. Millions of them are passing straight through the Earth every second. They go straight through and out the other side. The probability of any reaction taking place is extremely small indeed.

We also now know that matter itself contains more empty space than particles. If the Earth were compressed to the same density as that of a neutron star then it may not take up much more space than a beach ball. That appears hard to believe yet it is a well-accepted scientific fact.

Galactic dynamics when examined in detail appear not to fit the picture that they should. We know the mass of the galaxy itself and we know the rotational speeds of its contents. According to the calculations, the stars in the outer parts of the galaxy should fly into outer space. In other words, there would appear to be more gravitational attraction from the matter in the galaxy than actually exists. Where is this missing matter? Explanations have been tried, such as, maybe there are many small underdeveloped stars or many burnt out stars around. Is there is a lot of matter tied up in the galactic halo?

Alternatively, just maybe there are forms of esoteric matter that coexists with our own that we just cannot detect because there is no physical interaction with our own.

Studies have been made of clusters of galaxies and the movement of the individual component galaxies. The Virial Theorem states that for stability within a cluster, which is how things appear to be, the kinetic energy of the galaxies should be roughly equal to the gravitational potential energy of the cluster. If the galaxies have too much kinetic energy then the cluster should eventually fly apart and too little, then it should collapse. By equating the kinetic energy and the potential energy of the cluster, it is possible to work out the mass, which the cluster should possess. It is also possible to estimate the mass by adding up the masses of the individual visible constituents. The only problem is that when you do the calculations for this, you end up with an answer of only about a tenth of the mass of that which the Virial Theorem predicts. So once again, we have to speculate as to the nature of the discrepancy. There must be a large amount of hidden matter within the cluster itself. The only question again is just what is the nature of this hidden matter. Is it hidden because it is dark matter, which cannot be seen, or once again is it some sort of esoteric form of matter, which coexists with our own dimension without directly interacting apart from its gravitational effect?

Whatever the scientific fact turns out to be, it is interesting to see that modern science can in fact speculate about that which is not directly detectable by the five senses or scientific apparatus. In addition, we have the possibility of the existence of another dimension or dimensions to the everyday reality that we all experience. If Jesus was physically present with us today, perhaps he would say, "In my Father's house there are many dimensions; if it were not so, I would have told you."

All we need now is a gate from one dimension to the other. It could be that the gates of heaven are not so much pearly gates, but more akin to electronic gates with which we are more familiar. In this case, they would have to be spiritual gates through which the life force could pass. As with any gate you can only be on one side of it at once, or going through it from one side to the other. You cannot have access to both dimensions at once. There is always the possibility of course with dimensions that one dimension could have access to the other but not vice versa. In other words, they could be fully aware of us, but we could only fleetingly be aware of them. An analogy between three and two dimensions makes this clear.

Imagine a two dimensional world populated by flat ants all getting on with their jobs. Since they are only aware of the existence of two dimensions they cannot look up or down but only side to side. Therefore, they would be unaware of anything in the upper or down direction even though this represented the far greater reality. However, from the viewpoint in the third dimension, creatures would be able to see them and what they were doing with no problem.

Transferring the same ideas to ourselves, who live in three dimensions, would mean that, if there was a fourth dimension, then we would not have direct awareness of it, but inhabitants of that fourth dimension would have awareness of us. It sounds a bit like Heaven and Earth.

Why should it be then, that we should not have direct access to this other dimension? Spiritualists do believe that they have a method of accessing this higher dimension, as do some other beliefs. Yet why is it so elusive? Why is it beyond scientific proof that such a place exists? Why do we have to accept it as a matter of faith rather than scientific fact? The question we really have to answer is, would evolution have taken place if the existence of a higher dimension were a scientific fact? The answer is probably no. Although life is generally good, it does have its bad parts and obstacles to overcome. What would happen in the early stages of evolution as soon as life became a little difficult if there was a certain salvation to fall back on, in a dimension that was a big improvement on the one in which we live? The answer is, there would be an immediate opt out for all life forms. It would be a case of, "Sod this for a game of soldiers; I'm off!" Thus, it is questionable if the evolutionary process would take place at all. Another point is that we have also seen the destruction caused by those fanatics who consider they have nothing to lose in losing their own life and are quite happy to destroy many others in the process. If that type of thing had been going on when the earth was sparsely populated, human development with all its frailties may well have been restricted. A sense of self preservation is beneficial.

Fortunately, all we have been asked to do is accept as an act of faith, or believe that this other place exists. This is not the same as knowing that this other place exists. For example, I know where I am at the moment. I know what I am doing. On the other hand, I believe that the ten thirty bus will arrive shortly. I believe that there may be life on some planets orbiting other stars. I believe there is another dimension very close to our own which supports the continuity of life and consciousness.

For further information, try the following key words in your search engine in different combinations: dimensions, string theory, membranes, missing mass, universe.


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