originally posted on March 16, 2008
As I was intently watching Discovery Channel’s documentary – Journey to the Edge of the Universe – a stunning science special that featured actual images of our universe captured by powerful telescopes and spacecraft combined with computer graphics and superb commentary, my 7 year old daughter quipped – “ is that where heaven is Daddy?” I replied ” no, that’s the heavens. Not quite heaven sweetie”. (Note: if you want to do justice to this documentary, it is an absolute must to view it on HDTV). The breathtaking voyage across the vast expanse of our universe had once again challenged my brain with the thought-provoking subject of an expanding universe. The incomprehensible notions of infinity and eternity hovered in my mind as the interstellar journey penetrated the nebulous depths of our very own galaxy, the Milky Way, continuing to probe “other distant galaxies”. The dimensions and distances mentioned are truly colossal. What if our earth is as large as Jupiter which is 11 times larger in diameter, how long will a day last ? When the narrator mentions – ” the glow of a powerful newborn star from this part of the universe will take some 25,000 years to reach planet earth” or ” our very own sun with extinguish itself in about 6 billion years from now”, I have come to realize the triviality and insignificance of my existence in the overall scheme of things in this extremely humongous and seemingly boundless and unfathomable universe. The magnificence of the cosmos makes us entertain the mind-boggling and disturbing question – how was the universe created? Disturbing in a sense because it makes us take off our religious blinders if we were to engage in a candid and healthy discussion of such a controversial subject. It is always nice to know what lies on the other side of the coin so to speak. Moreover, there is a quote that says, “ if we speak from authority in a discussion, we are merely quoting from memory”.
There are two contrasting logical views on the birth of our universe. It was either magically created from absolute non-existence, an utterly paradoxical proposal that defies logic and therefore naturally brings forth the second view, a more humanly plausible and comprehensible alternative, that the universe had always existed. In short, a timeless universe that had no beginning and no conceivable end.
Contrary to what most people think, the Big Bang theory postulated by science , as the “spark” that created universe that we know today does not preclude its non-existence. Prior to the big bang, a universe was assumed to have existed but with totally different form and physical properties, one that exists in theory and never experienced by earthlings but its properties manifested in some way in the cosmological phenomenon of the enigmatic black hole – that of a singularity. The big bang event supposedly ushered in or transformed the state of such singularity to the material world or universe that we know today, where physical properties such as time, space and matter began to exist for the first time. For a non-scientist, ordinary minded folk like myself, the previous and the next link are in my opinion the most comprehensible literature on timeless universe and singularity I discovered in cyberspace. The author calls the pre big bang universe state of singularity the White World to give it a physical dimension for illustration purposes. Give it a read if you have the time.
ETERNAL, HEAVENLY BLISS
A 2005 poll conducted by the ABC TV network showed that 9 out of 10 Americans believe that there is a heaven. What was surprising was, though many people believed that there is a heaven, most of them had no clue how to get to it. Scientists also believe that humans have what they call a God gene, something that intrinsically causes us entertain theistic notions of a deity, a creator or supreme being, without being told. The belief in a deity ultimately brings about the urge for an eventual reunion with the creator at some point, normally when human life ceases, when our soul, supposedly a higher form of ourselves is given the reward for fulfilling the creator’s wishes.
Let’s take off our religious eyeglasses for a moment , step out of your comfort zone and let me play the devil’s advocate here. Heaven in the afterlife is the ultimate reward but – where is it? Does it exist in our universe? Is it out of scope of our physical universe? If we make it to heaven, what would we be doing there? If we will be in spirit form as our soul should be, what are we supposed to do – sit idle the whole day and occasionally play hide and seek with Casper? Does heavenly bliss mean flying like a bird, playing golf and tennis the whole day, living in a castle by the clouds? Are we even allowed to tell and laugh at dirty jokes in heaven? What then is the real purpose of the eternal bliss and heavenly existence? Because we’d rather not be in hell? If there’s no hell, could there a reason for a heaven? Or can it some sort of a compensation our failed lives here on earth, that there is another one up there that really counts? Wouldn’t you at some point, be frightened with the boredom and monotony of living eternally, much like the notion of a timeless, ever existing universe?
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