Are Heaven and Hell Real?
By Allen Epling
I watch the History Channel a lot and some of my favorite documentaries are the ones concerning biblical history. One such "doc" dealt with heaven and hell and gave the development of the concept of the two places throughout our history. There is too much "history" to go into that here, however Jesus gave us much to think about in his "Kingdom of Heaven" dissertations and parables.
The obvious question for Christians is "are they real places". If we believe Jesus and the Bible, we have to answer "of course". This is accepted on faith. However, an unbeliever may question such a statement and ask "How are they possible"? Believers may also ask that question and wonder how such places can exist without our detecting them.
It is ironic that throughout history people have asked that same question privately and the answer seemed to be unknowable. Yet it has only within the last 20 years that a serious answer has become plausible, through, of all things, science.
One of the most ridiculous comments made during the US-Russia space race was attributed to a Cosmonaut who said "I have been to space and did not see any evidence of God in the heavens". This assumed that "heaven" was in outer space.
One of the atheists' most frequent arguments against the existence of God is that they cannot find Him in any of their science experiments or anywhere else in the universe. This is another naïve view that God is a physical being that inhabits his own physical creation. You don't look for Rembrandt in one of his paintings, why do the same for God?
If God doesn't exist in the physical universe and his "Kingdom" is what we call Heaven, where is He? He will never be found in anything that is physical because he is spiritual and created physics and its laws. Heaven, however can possibly be a real physical place, but not in our universe.
In an earlier article I outlined the prevailing scientific theory of "external universes" that allows for other physical universes to exist outside our own. It is possible that two such universes are actual places described in the Bible as Heaven and Hell. The reason I believe that is true is that throughout history our concept of heaven has been seen as a place with different physical laws and properties. Jesus said to Nicodemus "If you don't understand Earthly things such as the wind, how would you understand Heavenly things if I told you about them".
When I talk of a person "being in another universe" I mean their spirit, not the physical body we inhabit in this universe. With this in mind, perhaps as a spiritual entity, we won't be restricted to any universe at all but can explore all of the cosmos. There will be however one place for all spiritual beings to congregate and inhabit, because Jesus said "I go to prepare a place for you". Apparantly there is one physical place or "city" in God's kingdom where there will be some physical laws, as described in the Bible.
Quantum physicists today, studying String Theory, think that there are external universes with different physical laws and higher numbers of dimensions than the one we live in and study. To inhabit such a place stimulates the imagination as to the possibilities.
Hell has always been envisioned as a place with a very restricted environment.There could also exist a universe that has physical properties with fewer dimensions than our own, with such restrictions that a spiritual being in that place would experience eternal anguish and remorse for being trapped in such a place.
One of the prerequisites for "heaven" is that we would be eternally satisfied and joyful there. What kind of joy is eternal and lasting, that would satisfy that requirement. I believe we have come to define "joy" on earth differently from what it would be in heaven because the joys we experience here depend on physical needs that won't exist in another universe. There is one lasting kind of joy that would qualify as eternal that I believe will be present in heaven.
After much thought and consideration on this subject I have concluded that the most enduring kind of joy is the joy of "being where you belong". That joy and the joy of being close to God will be sufficient for eternity. I do however believe that at least for a while, it will be a place that would satisfy all our curiosity about this universe and knowledge of its physics, while allowing us to be the explorers we all would like to be here.
What about "the other place"? What kind of suffering would also be so enduring as to be eternal, and even worse than the traditional "fiery" kind of place for sinners. It would have the opposite properties of heaven. It would be highly restrictive of all movement, whereas heaven would permit complete freedom of movement. The "pit" described for Satan in Revelation is highly restrictive and very binding. Combine that property with the loss of any hope for ever leaving such a place and you have the perfect "hell". The idea of being trapped "where you don't belong", away from God, for eternity is a very consuming kind of existence for anyone.
Do such places really exist? We accept it on faith for now, but for the first time in history we have science telling us that they CAN exist. Science really is catching up with the Bible.
For the book from which these thoughts were taken, visit