Today's post will be a little different. At times we, (mankind) can use Faith as a scapegoat to 'prove' certain things that we really can't demonstratively. We hear it all the time, especially from our protestant evangelical friends, when they say things like, 'Of course Heaven exists, its in the Bible!!!' Now this statement taken from a pure academic perspective as in 'outside the box' obviously falls short with regards to reason. The Church as has been mentioned several times on this blog has always looked to the great thinkers before Christ and even before God revealed Himself to Israel in order to show that reason alone had certain wants and needs to be fulfilled when it came to 'What is Truth?'
For those of you who are friends with me on Facebook, I usually like to start my day with a quote. Whether it be Augustine, Aquinas, Chesterton, C.S. Lewis or any other great thinker/theologian all offering one little nugget of wisdom to meditate upon for the day. I rarely quote Jesus, but instead use these thinkers, all of whom are Christian in order to dispel myths that somehow Christians are backward and unintelligent. (Sorry Bill Maher..) On Wednesday, I offered a quote from C.S. Lewis; 'Has this world been so kind to you that you leave with regret? There are better things ahead than what we leave behind.' Needless to say that generated some degree of good commentary, the kind that makes you sink your teeth into. Does Heaven exist? This is the question that arises out of Lewis statement presupposing that everything will be better when we leave our bodily existence. However, before we can even imagine Heaven, we must attempt to justify the existence of an immortal soul.
The goal of Greek philosophy was at its heart to search for the 'Arche' or origin of things. Divorcing itself from simplistic babylonian myths explaining away why its raining,.(the gods are crying,..) it sought to use reason and in doing so, laid much of the groundwork for what are now standard Christian beliefs. Human beings, argued Plato, know and understand things from both the sensible world and the unintelligible world, the world of 'ideas.' An example would be knowledge of a chair based on understanding its 'chairness' as the original 'idea.' Should we break the chair, the idea or form of 'chairness' never goes into non existance despite the fact we might throw away one tangible expression of a chair in temperal reality. Man, thus in knowing 'things' or understanding them shows himself a link between these two worlds. The soul, or 'anima' must belong elsewhere though it is trapped in its bodily prison. (Plato was a dualist.) Since only temperal sensual things can die, (corruptibility) it can be reasonable to assume that formless 'essences' cannot die because they are not sensual or temporal in and of themselves. The opposite would be harder to grasp,..How would understanding of a formless consciousness go into non-existance if it isn't bound a temporal constrainsts??? ie the body? Now remember, that all of this is before God's Revelation of Himself.
Does Heaven exist? I along with most rationalists would answer an unequivocal 'Yes!' The simple reason belongs again to our mind being able to capacitate it. How do we get 'there?' Therein again lies another problem, 'going to Heaven, as opposed to 'being' in Heaven. When mankind attempt to use words to convey Truths, we use potentials without realizing it. If God is eternal,.then we can conclude that there is no such thing as 'time' (measure of motion) when we speak of God. Thus we make Heaven a literal 'place' instead of the Beatific Vision, or seeing God face to face. Can people in Heaven hear us? Absolutely, they can also pray for us like the Saints do. ( Revelation 5:8)
Obviously this subject can have a great deal more explanation, but since this is a blog, and not a full blown book about the question, I hope to provide you, the readership with a little primer as it regards the Afterlife. Of course as Catholics, we must not forget that in speaking about Heaven it must force us to consider Hell.
Our Lady of Fatima,.......Ora pro nobis.