Heaven Cannot Be Graphed

This is because it keeps leaping to new and richer axes.

Eternal life means having time to read forever (as new books are forever being written)—but no one in heaven actually does this, or not JUST this, because books are not meant to just be read, but to complement an actual life.

Eternal life means having time to explore (and renovate!) the universe forever—but no one actually does this, or not JUST this, because it is soon found that exploring and renovating are components of the good life, rather than comprising it.

Eternal life means having infinite progeny, worlds without end—but no one actually does this, or not JUST this, because joy requires much more than numbers.

And lest you imagine that it’s just an ever-accelerating parade of Kuhnsian paradigm shifts, leading to future shock—all of this is measured and evaluated in terms of relationships.

There are many different infinities, indeed an infinity of infinities—the natural numbers, all the real numbers between 0 and 1, the set of all possible books, the space of the universe, all possible paintings—but some of them are better and richer than others.  It would be a poor life indeed (though infinite!) that consisted of counting the natural numbers.

Heaven is to our conception of it, as the set of all books is to the set of natural numbers.  But more so. And the gap is ever widening.

2 comments on “Heaven Cannot Be Graphed

  1. citizen1 says:

    This is the first time I have heard someone actually expand on the idea of eternal life. As a computer science guy, I am familiar with the concepts of infinities. As a former christian, I am familiar with ideas about the unknowability of god. I am kicking myself that I never stopped to tie the two together and think about eternal life. Diggin it.

    Most of us think about it as an eternal continuation of our life and identity here. I am now thinking eternal life might look like the absence of identity.

    • Hey, I hadn’t seen your comment until now, thanks for stopping by.

      I think I am part of that “most of us” that think of eternal life as a continuation. The Resurrection made that point quite clear, I think; one recurring theme of Christ’s postmortal ministry was reassurances to the effect of, “No, I am not spirit, come here and shake my hand to see.”

      That said: while we live in the world and should do our best with what we can while we are in it, we know that it’s eventually all for naught. Cure cancer, and everyone dies anyway; forge an empire, and it will fall apart. But we have the promise that this will not be so in the next life. So in that sense, an important distinction indeed!

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