from O’Murchu, Quantum Theology
Diarmuid O’Murchu, an Irish Priest enjoying a considerable reputation for his theological reflections on the New Science, has written some reflections on afterlife, in light of the new understanding we have of the universe.
The new theology of afterlife has developed under the influence of our changing cosmology. With the growing realization that our world is one in all its dimensions, the notion of a next world fell into disfavour. There is only one Universe, though it may include many dimensions. Heaven is not a place somewhere outside the Universe. We have come to understand heaven, hell, and purgatory as states of being (not places) within the one world.
According to the old theology, in deaths we humans became acosmic (cut off from the cosmos). In our new understanding we become pancosmic; we enter into a new relationship with the whole cosmos. In the old theology, we could talk about “Heaven” but we were quite unable to describe it in any reasonable terms. Images we had grown up with – “God” “sitting” on a throne, surrounded by angels, etc. and souls somehow singing in adoration no longer makes much sense in our current understanding of the universe. This felt like deep loss.
The new theology of afterlife offers us so much more. In our earthly life, we were confined to one part of (and to a particular way of experiencing) the cosmos. In death, we are released into a potential relationship with the whole of universal life. We might not have any idea what this looks like, but it might relate to some current theories of the Universe in which an “Implicate Order” provides all the processes which we see in the “Explicate Order,” i.e., the world of four dimensional space-time. In the Implicate Order, everything is related to everything else, everything is connected in a dimension within the Universe but outside our spacetime continuum.
Thus we might find ourselves in deep relationship with the whole of the Cosmos in ways that we cannot possibly imagine in our limited spacetime continuum. If we believe that God is better described as action rather than a substance, and as relationship rather than a separate being, dying into God enters us into an entirely different relationship with the Universe, which Therese de Lisieux might have anticipated when she proclaimed that she would spend eternity doing good. Perhaps indeed, we will find ourselves deeply involved in the energies that attempt to bring the Universe to its evolutionary completion.
The quality of our cosmic relationship may be largely determined by how we live out our earthly life. If we alienate or estrange ourselves from the challenge of life while on earth, then we might be in an estranged relationship right through our eternal futures and this we call “hell,” being permanently out of tune with our deepest meaning. “Heaven,” on the other hand, refers to that harmonious state of being whereby we enjoy a permanent sense of attunement with the progressive, eternal nature of evolution itself. (170)