Thursday, 13 October 2011

Overlapping Earth and Heaven

While being given a scientific mind I nevertheless enjoy the much more vague discipline of philosophy very much. For those of you who do likewise I can only suggest to read the introduction to Christianity “Simply Christian” by Tom Wright; who manages to explain the different ideas of believing in God in a way that suits amateurs like me very well.

He distinguishes between the two spheres Heaven and Earth; Heaven being where God resides and Earth being the world we can see and touch around us. There are three theories describing the relationship between those two spheres:

Pantheism: The two spheres are in fact one and God is everything and everything is God. The difficulty with this theory is that if God is everything, how can we be sure what is good and what is evil? If God is both, why would we strive towards only one? It wouldn’t matter what we do and this goes against that knowledge of right and wrong that all humans have.

Deism/ Epicurean: The two spheres are completely separate and do not overlap. God made the universe but now is a distant observer at best. While this makes sense, it does seem kind of pointless to go to all of the trouble of making such a marvellous and intricate thing, including a sentient species in whom there is a knowledge of what is good and bad and then not interacting with it. At all. It would mean that we are just a cosmic joke.

Judaeo-Christian/ Muslim: At this point I just have to say, I really don’t like the word Judaeo-Christian. Most of the time it is used, one really should add “Muslim” as well, yet somehow we tend to ignore this whole other, really popular, religion when talking of our background. But, back to business. While there are two separate spheres, there are also overlaps. For example, God spoke to Abraham, Jacob saw a ladder between Earth and Heaven, God guided Israel as a fire column etc. etc. The largest overlap, from a Christian point of view being, of course, that God himself became human in Jesus Christ. This allows for God to take an interest; to perform miracles and to try and save us from ourselves. It says that God has remained in a close relationship with the world, and therefore us.


  1. I really enjoyed this. I had read similar things to this point before. But was very pleased to read it again by you.: )

  2. Firstly for Judaeo-Christian/ Muslim you can always say "Abrahamic Faiths."
    The other point I wanted to make was that there is a fourth view that I think Tom Wright dismisses in his books but other Christian theologians support; Panentheism. Panentheism says that as God is the creator and sustainer of everything somehow He is present in all of His creation. This is not to say that creation is God (that's pantheism) but that all of creation is held within God.

    God bless


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