Re: Science and eschatology

Loren Haarsma (lhaarsma@retina.anatomy.upenn.edu)
Sat, 19 Dec 1998 12:21:53 -0500 (EST)

David Campbell answered Jonathan Clarke's question:
>> How do we integrate the Christian doctrine of hope with the cosmological
>> choice of freeze or fry?
>
> Both the "new heaven and earth" of Revelation and Paul's mention of the
> fallen state of creation in Romans suggest that there are important
> differences between the present order and that to come. Apart from sketchy
> information regarding resurrected bodies, I cannot think of any passage
> giving insight into what the new natural laws would be.

I agree with David. Whether the ultimate fate of the cosmos is freeze
or fry, this cosmos is finite. I don't see any challenge there to
Christian theology. Indeed, the fact that this creation is finite
(temporally) fits right in with revelation. God's promise of eternal
life is to be fulfilled a new creation, not this one.

Jonathan Clarke also asked:
> Christians have traditionally expected the end to come next week (if
> not before). However, I presume all times are "soon" to God. What if
> human history continues for another 1,000 years? What about 10,000
> years? What if we continue for 100,000 years?

Soon or later -- neither possibility worries me theologically. If
Christ returns and the world ends tomorrow, then this planet will have
served its full purpose in human history. (God may have other plans for
other planets in this universe; we simply don't know.) It'll be time
for us to be resurrected in God's new creation. What if humanity
continues for 100,000 years and expands to other solar systems? In that
case, God will have been working with humanity, revealing himself to
humanity, right from the start of history. The Incarnation will have
happened at a strategic *early* point in humanity's recorded and
cultural history. To me, that sounds like good timing.

Scripture records that God's promises are sure, but we humans frequently
misunderstand the details of when and how they will be fulfilled. Yet
we are called to live our lives and make our choices in the conviction
that God will keep his promises. That is faith. (And it is interesting
to me that the apostle Paul mentions that faith -- along with hope and
love -- will endure after so many other things of this creation pass
away.)

Loren Haarsma