Notes on Eschatology

-For a Christian to put all their hope in a disembodied post-mortem existence is to limit themselves to a Gnostic eschatology. This is not a call to cast out disembodiment, but to work it into a more complete eschatology.

-If disembodiment is transitory, it shares this character with our life now.

-Eternity will always involve some negation of history.  In calling the universe eternal, Aristotle meant inter alia that going back in time provided no new information about it. One simply saw rotating orbs, blossoming trees, and cows birthing cows ad infinitum. Einstein goes beyond Aristotle by saying that the “passage” of time does not involve anything becoming real that was not real before. Time “passage” involves new ideas arising in a finite mind but not any new realities in the universe (what sort of ontology of knowledge would this require?)

-Ratzinger is the first theologian I know of to insist that the disembodied are still involved in history, though the Church wasn’t hiding the point. The saints give patronage, intercede, and were once seen as far more involved in the life of believers. All liturgies are conducted in a crowd of disembodied witnesses. The disembodied are integral to the incomplete universe.

-It is unsatisfying to see the cosmos either as indifferent to us or as destined to be a ghost-town. But these are our only options if disembodiment is not transitory.

-The ancients tended to see logos as read off the universe, science shifted to seeing it as imposed on the universe, though in such a way as to still be objective. What sort of ontology allows for “imposed objectivity”?

-Say some alien race finds the voyager record, plays it, and perceives what we perceive as sounds as shifts in color. What are they talking about when they talk about our color signals? Is this imposed objectivity? Say they marvel at the beauty of the colors. Are they marveling at our art?

-Say the universe is just the signal, that is, a pure order that can be encoded in multiple ways just like a message might be encoded in sound or color. But if this is all it is then it is no longer sensible or even physical. We saw off the branch that intelligibility is sitting on. No, a physical universe must be defined – it must exist – relative to an intelligence knowing through sensation. But to make such an intelligence exhaust its existence, as though it projected itself into non-being, also fails to explain the intelligibility of the universe.

-The upshot is that humanity and the cosmos share a common destiny. Resurrection is part of this common destiny.

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