Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The world to come

Here's a sequel to a related post:

For reasons I've stated in the past, I don't think stock objections to the resurrection of the body are impressive. But for the sake of argument, suppose the intermediate state is the final state. 

1. One question is whether the resurrection of the body is superfluous. It seems to be unnecessary if a disembodied state can simulate an embodied state. Examples include a vivid collective dream. God inspires an eternal dream for the dead. That would make it stable, and give it a coherent plot and landscape. For the saints, it would be Edenic, and for the damned, it would be nightmarish.

A more hitech analogy is virtual reality, a la The Matrix, Harsh Realm. But it's the same basic principle. A psychological simulation that's indistinguishable from embodied experience. 

There are certain prima facie advantages to this. For one thing, you don't have an overcrowding problem on the new earth, or natural disasters. It could be customized so that the saints can experience different historical periods, if they wish.

2. The obvious objection to this is that Scripture describes the final state as a reembodied state. And the resurrection of Christ is the template. 

Suppose, though, we consider that depiction to be a divine accommodation. There really is a world to come. But it's incorporeal. 

Now, what would be the most effective and convincing way to convey that to people? 

i) Someone physically dying, being dead for about 36 hours, then coming back to life, is more convincing than a promise about the afterlife. And it's more convincing than a ghost or vision, which might be dismissed as a hallucination. So that would prove there really is an afterlife.

ii) In addition, if the afterlife is like physical existence, even though it's not physical existence, the simplest way to convey that idea is to describe the afterlife in physical terms. That gets the basic point across. After all, they're phenomenologically interchangeable. 

By contrast, attempting to explain that the afterlife resembles embodied life in a physical environment, even though it's not actually physical, is more cumbersome to articulate, especially for ancient readers who haven't been raised on science fiction. It's hard to think of a simple way to express that idea. It would take a lot of exposition. So God describes the world to come as if it's physical, since:

i) They're comparable. 

ii) It's the best way to communicate. Audience adaptation. 

iii) Although they're metaphysically distinct, you can't tell the difference. The experience is identical. Psychologically equivalent. 

Moreover, eschatological imagery is often figurative. So where to draw the line?  

Certainly we can draw a line with Christ, since my scenario affirms the physical resurrection of Christ. 

No comments:

Post a Comment