Does heaven exist
Where is Heaven - where is God?
A kingdom of heaven for religion
In the Christian worldview, heaven is the place where God is and also the place to which the disembodied souls of the deceased strive. For a long time, the three-storey idea prevailed in the Christian worldview, according to which heaven is actually physically above and from which Jesus descended to earth.
However, since science has penetrated more and more parts of the universe, it should be clear that heaven is only a symbol.
Heaven is the place and state of infinite bliss - but what it looks like cannot be found out during one's lifetime. Or as the Swiss theologian Hans Küng puts it: God does not exist like an object in space and time that can be scientifically researched and proven. So neither does Christian heaven.
There are also notions of heaven in other religions. In Judaism, the Torah speaks of seven heavens. The two lowest are interpreted as the earth's atmosphere and the physical universe, the rest is invisible to humans or purely spiritual.
In contrast to Christianity, the term heaven is not used for the concept of the hereafter, because for the Jews life after death does not begin until the arrival of the Messiah.
As in Christianity, there is a very figurative conception of heaven in Islam. "Djanna" (Arabic for: garden) is described in the Koran as a paradise for believers, a garden in which rivers of water, milk, wine and honey flow.
Reaching for the Stars - Astronomy
As measured by the length of the history of the universe and mankind, astronomy has undergone rapid development in a very short time. From early observations of the sky by the Babylonians, Egyptians and Greeks to the development of the Copernican view of the world over 500 years ago to the present day.
Astrophysicists have calculated that the universe is around 13.7 billion years old and is believed to have a flat shape. As an inhabitant of the Milky Way, our closest neighbor is the Andromeda Nebula - and it is around two and a half million light years away.
In 2003/2004 it was possible to use the Hubble space telescope to take pictures of an area below the constellation Orion, where otherwise nothing can be seen even with particularly powerful telescopes.
The result, Hubble Ultra Deep Field, now shows so-called primeval galaxies that are 12 to 13 billion light years away from us. Primordial galaxies because, due to the long travel time of light, the images recorded show the galaxies in a state in which they were only around 800 million years old.
That is how far the part of the universe that is visible today extends, that place that was previously reserved for the religious conception of heaven.
But the fact that modern devices allow deep glimpses into the universe does not mean that it no longer holds any secrets. A maximum of four percent has been researched, only a little can be proven. This also applies to the creation of the universe, a topic in which both religion and science reach their limits - or complement each other.
Big Bang or Creation?
In the beginning there was the Big Bang, say scientists. God, say the representatives of the Church. Two positions that have at least one thing in common: There was a beginning. Sometime. Only how it looked, what triggered it and why, the theories of church and science diverge.
If you follow the Big Bang theory, which is supported by the majority of science, our universe came into being around 13.7 billion years ago from nowhere with an infinitely small, unimaginably hot point. It expanded, cooled, and development began. And it continues to expand. But why and where to - science cannot answer that.
The search for the global formula is intended to shed light on the darkness: For example, at the European nuclear research center CERN in Geneva, protons are chased at almost the speed of light through a particle accelerator, a 27-kilometer-long tube. The collision of the protons, which happened for the first time at the end of March 2010, should provide information about the origin of the universe.
In six days God created the world, on the seventh he rested. This is what the Bible wants. Genesis has been taken literally since biblical times. In any case, this was the case until a Belgian theologian and physicist named Georges Lemaître developed the theory of the Big Bang.
The Church did not even have a hundred years to get used to this whole new idea, and some believers still reject it today.
But other church representatives such as the former director of the Vatican observatory, Jesuit Father George Coyne, came in handy with the theory: The biblical creation story is not a scientific textbook.
Compared to other theories about the origin of our universe, the idea of a big bang comes closest to the Christian story of creation.
And where is God?
Even if the scientists at CERN or a clever mind like the British physicist Stephen Hawking should succeed in finding the so-called universal formula: There remain questions that cannot be answered scientifically: What happened before the Big Bang? Where do space, time, matter come from? And what's the point of it all? This is where the church comes into play.
Our brain is the problem, says astrophysicist Harald Lesch. Even the questions are beyond our imagination, as is our mathematical and philosophical intelligence.
But like many scientists he manages the balancing act between scientific work on the one hand and faith on the other and describes himself as a happy Protestant. According to Lesch, natural science primarily provides an image of nature, but not a view of the world. The question about the background is basically the search for God.
One of the most important arguments of the Church: Science can never explain why there is order in the universe and why a universe could arise that makes life possible for us.
Hans Küng sees the relationship between church and science as follows: No science can ever grasp the whole of reality, scientific knowledge does not exclude the existence of God.
Take the Big Bang, for example: Our experience tells us that something cannot suddenly emerge from absolute nothing. So there has to be a final cause for everything, and from the point of view of the church and the believers that is - God.
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