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We have explored space and time and are ready to look at matter and spirit. The common understanding of spirits holds that they are unsubstantial, immaterial. This makes sense. Even Jesus relied on this perception when his disciples doubted if it was Him standing in the room.

Luke 24:36-40
36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.
38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.

As discussed in a previous post, Jesus invited His disciples to touch Him in order to dispel the belief that He was a ghostly apparition. It must have been common knowledge then—as it is common belief now—that you can’t grasp a ghost. Jesus wanted to make sure that they knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was Him in His resurrected, bodily form standing among them.

That one’s hand could pass through a spirit but collide with flesh and bone may lead one to believe that flesh and bone is more substantial than spirit. The reality is we never really touch anything. We simply encounter its nuclear force pushing against ours. For us to feel the pushing of a spirit, it would have to slow itself down a bit to come to our level. But I get ahead of myself.

When Jesus appeared in the locked room, I used to believe He had walked through the wall. His attributes after the Resurrection were certainly amplified over His previous bodily existence. Thus, I thought, He must have moved through the spaces in the atomic structure of the wall. I saw it this way primarily because I had learned atomic theory the old fashioned way through ample illustrations of the Neils Bohr model of the atom. Below is an illustration of a carbon atom in the Bohr’s style.

Carbon Atom

Bohr’s model was based on classic physics, which envisioned the atom as a miniature universe. The nucleus took the place of gravitational center like a star and the electrons orbited this like miniature planets.[1] But the quantum world does not follow those rules or take that shape.

The reality crisis in physics began with a deepening understanding of the wave/particle duality, particularly in photons. Scientists noted that photons behaved as a wave, but also acted as particles. What were they, waves (energy motions) or particles (little bits of flying matter)? The answer is characteristically Hebraic: yes. If one looked for them to be particles, they behaved as particles. If one looked for them to be waves, they acted as waves.

As if wave/particle duality was not challenging enough to long-held perceptions of the physical realm, in the 1960s physicist John Bell came to the conclusion that reality was non-local. In other words, at a deep level of reality there is no locally connected cause and effect.  This understanding (Bell’s Theorem and Bell’s Inequality) was developed by observing the behavior of paired photons.  What is done to one immediately influences the other, breaking the light speed barrier.[2]

Relativity expert Bryce DeWitt had this to say about physics and reality:

“No development of modern science has had a more profound impact on human thinking than the advent of quantum theory.  Wrenched out of centuries-old thought patterns, physicists of a generation ago found themselves compelled to embrace a new metaphysics.  The distress which this reorientation caused continues to the present day.  Basically physicists have suffered a severe loss: their hold on reality.”[3]

Because we can see and feel it, we tend to think of the material realm as being more substantial—more real—than the spirit realm. A ghost walks through walls because it can flow through its porous surface like smoke. Though this makes a plausible mental image, it is actually backward. The wall is the smoke, the spirit the “solid.” Understanding this requires faith.

Hebrews 11:3
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

How is it that we see things? Light bounces off the object and enters our eye. Our nerves interpret the wave length and reproduce shape and color in our minds. Everything we do see was made out of things that do not shine visible light. The Greek word translated “things which do appear” is phaino, meaning “to shine or give light.”[4] In essence, the material realm was manufactured from a superluminal reality, which is exactly what Bell’s Theorem states.

The spirit realm is a deeper reality than quantum particles or even the strings of string theory. Unlike the material realm, the unseen realm is not affected by decay and entropy.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

The apostle Paul gives three illustrations of the greater reality of the spirit realm. In verse 16 above, the decaying of our body is contrasted with the daily renewing of our spirit. In verse 17, present day burdens and trials have far less mass than eternal glory. Finally, in verse 18 the seen things are temporary while the invisible things last forever.

Hebrews 12:24-29
24 [We have come] to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:
26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.
27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
29 For our God is a consuming fire.

The day is coming when the material realm will be shaken off the reality of the spirit realm like a stucco façade to reveal the permanent kingdom that is to be our inheritance. This kingdom cannot be moved. We must move into it in graceful service to our God with reverence and godly fear.

[1] John Gribbin, In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat: Quantum Physics and Reality, Bantam Books, New York, 1984, p. 71-78.
[2] Nick Herbert, Quantum Reality: Beyond the New Physics, Anchor Books, New York, 1985, p. 51.
[3] Ibid., p. 15.
[4] The Complete Word Study Bible and The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, s.v. “phaino.”