For science to be unified with religion, heaven will need to be understood and explored from both a scientific and faith-based perspective.
If heaven really exists, what kind of place can it be? Artwork depicts heaven as high up in the sky, above the clouds. This depiction of heaven does not pass scientific muster. No angels have been observed flitting about the clouds over earth. If you take the position that these are heavenly clouds, then angels live in a boring world of unending sensory deprivation.
Even on earth, paradise is described in Scripture as a beautiful garden, with trees, flowers, fruit, and animals of great variety. Without such things to behold and enjoy, the human mind suffers and languishes.
This has caused some to believe that when the Lord returns He will create a new heaven and new earth, and restore our physical bodies in a way that will be immune to the ravages of time. This is also seemingly confirmed by the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, descending from heaven.
But how can something from heaven float down as a fully-built city? How will we all squeeze into this one city and prime real estate, made of precious stones and pearls? How could such a city function without a sun or moon overhead? Are we talking about a Las Vegas-type of city here, with plenty of nightlife and lots of electric lights?
This is also in contradiction to the Lord’s ascending into heaven for the purpose of preparing many mansions for us. What building materials are at hand in the non-physical realm of heaven? Are there trees and stones in heaven? What resources would the Lord use to build such splendid places for out eternal habitation?
Perhaps, heaven is not a place at all! Perhaps its buildings, trees, and gardens are all psycho-topological. What would that mean?
It would mean that everything in the spiritual world is a holographic reflection of the various qualities of our heart and mind—our spiritual reality. Can our ideas, thoughts and feelings find their equivalence in non-physical flora and fauna?
The knowledge of religious faith is like a heavenly seed planted by God that takes root in the soil of our mind. Faith then grows, branches and leafs out, blossoms, and finally bears fruit. Heaven’s landscape would then be the result of God’s gardening our inner world, producing a spiritual environment that mirrored one’s religious belief-system.
In the same way plants and trees create a perfect environment for animals, such an inner landscape of the spirit would attract new emotions and feelings, representing a new movement and animation within our hearts. We certainly describe the characteristics of people by using different animals. One can have the heart of a lion, act like a snake in the grass, be as sly as a fox, as gentle as a lamb, as strong as a bull, or as innocent as a dove.
Since our thoughts and emotions are who we REALLY are, these are the materials the Lord would use to create a heavenly environment and non-physical abode for us. Our spirit’s habitation would be formed out of the building materials of our faith—because this is where we inwardly live!
The fact that we organize our experiences and knowledge points to the reality of non-physical structure. The human race has evolved an intelligence and consciousness to internalize the world, and reconstitute its information according to our values. Religion is God’s strategy for extending the biosphere into a non-temporal and non-spatial world.
Religion offers the appropriate values for ensuring that one’s spiritual bio-complexity is organized according to heavenly order. What we love forms our spiritual bodies and our spiritual landscapes.
No one is sent to heaven or hell. We go inwards—where our heart is.