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Author Topic: Will this earth be our eternal home?  (Read 227 times) Average Rating: 0
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Volnutt
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« on: December 16, 2014, 11:03:32 AM »

I've been listening to this interview with the new Bishop +DAVID of Alaska http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/faithencouraged/even_so_come_lord_jesus

The topic is Orthodox eschatology.

One of the points that his grace makes toward the end of the interview is that we should avoid what he calls an "escapist" attitude to the environment and the related things of this physical earth as though at the end of time we will just leave it all behind. This earth will be the New Earth of Revelation.

I'm just wondering what the range of opinions on here on that and also on this article I found a while ago.

For those not familiar with the Jehovah's Witnesses, one of their emphases is that there will be a "Paradise Earth" awaiting the vast majority of the faithful. This is an ex-Watchtower website's attempt to debunk that doctrine in favor of an exclusively Heavenly reward http://www.jwfacts.com/watchtower/earth-forever.php

Much of the author's argument focuses on various poetic verses and whether they should be taken literally or not, it's not really my interest in discussing that in an Orthodox context right now. I'm mostly focused on the author's allegedly scientific arguments against the idea that this earth will be our home.

The first scientific argument that he gives against a "Paradise Earth" has to do with population:

Quote
the Population Reference Bureau estimates that 105 billion people have been born over the last 2,000 thousand years alone.

The earth has 148,000,000 km of land (although only approximately 31,000,000 km is arable). With 6 billion people the average amount of land per person is 5 acres. With 100 billion people this would be reduced to less than 1/3 of an acre each. This is unsustainable by any ecological model. However the figure is even less, as the entire world can never be arable, as this would entail not only growing crops on the highest rocky mountains, but also clearing all forests. To understand the magnitude of these figures, in 2000 China had 135 people per square kilometer; with 100 billion people resurrected there would be over 715 people per square kilometer. Emphasis mine.
Obviously, that would lead to a rather Hellish earth even if the author is being overly generous with his estimate that there have been 100 Billion believers throughout time.

The author's second scientific argument has to do with the finite life of the sun and the fact that the moon is slowly moving away from the earth. The JW response is that God will simply preserve the sun and moon as they are for eternity. The author balks at this:

Quote
Though theoretically possible for God, such a line of argument allows anyone to believe anything. This view also contradicts one of the apparent proofs for a God; the structured order in the universe. If the universe is mathematically perfect, as Jehovah's Witnesses state, God is going against his order of things to change the destiny of the sun. In fact, if with God all things are possible, why did he create things in such a way that the sun is dying? Why not just create the universe in such a way as to last forever?

In line with science, the Bible states at 2 Peter 3:12,13 that the "heavens being on fire will be dissolved and [the] elements being intensely hot will melt! But there are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell." The Bible does not clarify God's plan for this new earth so speculation is pointless.

Nature itself indicates that earthly life is not to be immortal. Well before the sin of Adam God had put into creation, both living and inanimate, the tendency to decay. Animals and vegetation did not inherit sin, yet all living animals and vegetation die as the natural order of life. Genesis 3:22 explains God removed Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden to prevent them from eating from the tree of life to prevent the from living "to time indefinite", indicating they were not created immortal. Emphasis mine.

My initial reaction to both this and the first argument is to think that the author is contradicting himself with that line about speculation being pointless. How do we know that the laws of physics on the New Earth won't be vastly different than they are now? Maybe God can sustain all nature. Maybe 100 Billion can live on this earth simply by violating the current fact that two chunks of matter cannot occupy the same physical space at the same time.

Or maybe I'm just being naive.

Thoughts?
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« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2014, 09:37:09 PM »

I'll have to listen to the podcast later. It is my understanding that the Orthodox position involves the renewal and restoration of Creation, so that yes, this earth will be the new earth, and that is to be the home of the faithful after the judgment.

I had to laugh though when I read about the population/arable land/food issue.

I fear the population is grossly misrepresented, but I may be wrong on that.

Regardless - God can build a HUGE high-rise crystal building and place us all in there if He wants. He rained down manna from heaven to feed the Hebrews in the wilderness ... how can one argue "scientifically" that we must grow our own food? Perhaps the plants will grow 100x the produce they do now. Perhaps food will only be a social thing and we won't NEED to consume x-number of calories to support a glorified body. There are so many "maybe's" that the whole argument is pointless, imo.

I figure God can handle the burning-out of the sun as well. He built the lamp, I'm sure He knows how to change the light bulb. Wink

Using science to try to debunk eternity just sounds ridiculous to me. Sorry about that. Wink
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« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2014, 11:27:30 PM »

I'll have to listen to the podcast later. It is my understanding that the Orthodox position involves the renewal and restoration of Creation, so that yes, this earth will be the new earth, and that is to be the home of the faithful after the judgment.

I had to laugh though when I read about the population/arable land/food issue.

I fear the population is grossly misrepresented, but I may be wrong on that.

Regardless - God can build a HUGE high-rise crystal building and place us all in there if He wants. He rained down manna from heaven to feed the Hebrews in the wilderness ... how can one argue "scientifically" that we must grow our own food? Perhaps the plants will grow 100x the produce they do now. Perhaps food will only be a social thing and we won't NEED to consume x-number of calories to support a glorified body. There are so many "maybe's" that the whole argument is pointless, imo.

I figure God can handle the burning-out of the sun as well. He built the lamp, I'm sure He knows how to change the light bulb. Wink

Using science to try to debunk eternity just sounds ridiculous to me. Sorry about that. Wink
No, that's probably the most sensible response, you're right.
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« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2014, 11:34:16 PM »

Something has to change.  The sun only has about 5 billion years of fuel left.  Lips Sealed
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« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2014, 11:40:30 PM »

What is the Orthodox view of 2 Peter 3:12-13?
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« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2014, 01:20:40 AM »

What is the Orthodox view of 2 Peter 3:12-13?

Again, I don't want to say I'm speaking for Orthodoxy, but back up a few verses. In v. 6 it says the world was "destroyed" by water ... yet we still inhabit the same world as before the Flood. It can be that the destruction by fire will be similar - a purging of sorts, perhaps, but not a complete obliteration.

All I have to go on is that I have heard teachings by a couple of different Orthodox priests who do say that this present world will be restored, so afaik that is Orthodox teaching. And of course our home will be the "new Earth" according to the Scriptures, and not "heaven" as people often colloquially say.

If anyone has a good resource - is there such a thing as an "Orthodox commentary"? I'd be interested to hear a direct answer to your question too. Smiley  I am not qualified to speak for the Church. That's just my best guess.
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« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2014, 08:52:27 AM »

What is the Orthodox view of 2 Peter 3:12-13?

Again, I don't want to say I'm speaking for Orthodoxy, but back up a few verses. In v. 6 it says the world was "destroyed" by water ... yet we still inhabit the same world as before the Flood. It can be that the destruction by fire will be similar - a purging of sorts, perhaps, but not a complete obliteration.

All I have to go on is that I have heard teachings by a couple of different Orthodox priests who do say that this present world will be restored, so afaik that is Orthodox teaching. And of course our home will be the "new Earth" according to the Scriptures, and not "heaven" as people often colloquially say.

If anyone has a good resource - is there such a thing as an "Orthodox commentary"? I'd be interested to hear a direct answer to your question too. Smiley  I am not qualified to speak for the Church. That's just my best guess.
You make a good point.
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« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2014, 12:36:26 PM »

A way to think about it that I find helpful is that the universe was created in perfect harmony and to be the place for life and humanity to live. The Fall disrupted that harmony, and with coming of of the incarnation and resurrection of Christ, that original "harmony" is being restored. All that has been created was created with a purpose and will continue to exist and continue to have that purpose, including the Earth, Sun, Moon, and so on.

I believe we interpret the created world through a fallen lense, so according to that disorted image, we see creation as detoriating and decaying over time because we see it's harmony disrupted, but it's not meant to be like that.
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« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2014, 12:56:11 PM »

A way to think about it that I find helpful is that the universe was created in perfect harmony and to be the place for life and humanity to live. The Fall disrupted that harmony, and with coming of of the incarnation and resurrection of Christ, that original "harmony" is being restored. All that has been created was created with a purpose and will continue to exist and continue to have that purpose, including the Earth, Sun, Moon, and so on.

I believe we interpret the created world through a fallen lense, so according to that disorted image, we see creation as detoriating and decaying over time because we see it's harmony disrupted, but it's not meant to be like that.

That makes sense.

My Protestant background was basically "God's going to wipe everything out and start over - I wonder what it will be like?"

But from Orthodoxy I tend to hear that God did it all right the first time, and sin messed it up. God is going to fix what sin ruined, and restore His Creation.

With that in mind, I wonder if the eschaton will be Edenic in nature?
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Aγιος ὁ Θεός, Ἅγιος ἰσχυρός, Ἅγιος ἀθάνατος, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς

Let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
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