Assume that heaven exists and we experience it in a physical way. In other words, we experience heaven as we do this Earth. Also assume we have bodies in heaven. Now, where is a possible place this idea of heaven could exist? Or rather, could this heaven be in another dimension, another universe, in the universe, or solely in our minds?

It seems none of these answer are satisfactory.

The first idea, that heaven exists in another dimension, has the problem that we would have to experience it in another dimension. If we do, that means we would not experience time, because we experience time in the third dimension, and would not in higher dimensions.

If this heaven exists in another universe, that seems to have other problems. First off, is it even possible for "separate" universes to exist? Is there another physical world? It would seem not. Even the multiverse theory, that posits different universes, says that they are just really far apart.

If you accept that heaven exists in the universe as we know it, that could work in a way that the multiverse works. However, that multiverse would have to follow some laws of physics. While God could do some things such as add energy, so it never suffers a heat death, there are many other problems. One I can think of off the top of my head is that since the passage of time means an increase of entropy, eventually heaven would have such high entropy we could not exist in it anymore.

If heaven exists in our minds, and we have no bodies (if we did, that would be a physical thing, subject to all my other objections), that would seem to accept substance dualism, which has many problems and is mostly accepted as false in modern times.

Do any of these positions have flaws, or am I missing another possibility? Or is the idea of heaven not possible (which I doubt, given the generations of philosophers who have said otherwise).

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    Time does not "exist in the third dimension". Of course heaven does not exist - it is a fiction like Santa's residence at the North Pole.
    – MmmHmm
    Dec 19, 2016 at 1:05
  • @Mr.Kennedy I meant when I said time exists in the third dimension that we experience time in the third dimension.
    – APCoding
    Dec 19, 2016 at 1:10
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    Not gonna try to expand this into a full answer, but just as a direction for you to look into. Most Christians who take the Bible seriously believe that it indicates that God is going to recreate the universe in place. This is a parallel to the physical resurrection. Consider Christ, whose resurrected body isn't subject to the same limitations as a mortal human body. There's no reason to suppose that a new universe would operate under exactly the same physical laws as our current one.
    – jpmc26
    Dec 19, 2016 at 6:05
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    It doesn't make sense to assume that God is subject to the laws of His own creation. He created space, time, matter and all the laws governing those things, so you're not going to discover limitations to what God can do by studying physics.
    – user3017
    Dec 19, 2016 at 9:39
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    Up to you, then, whether you reword your question. GIGO ;-)
    – Mawg
    Dec 19, 2016 at 21:45

3 Answers 3


According to current proposals, spacetime is emergent (like waves on a lattice), in which case "where" is moot, "heaven" might be a different emergent (like non-wave pattern). More broadly, the idea that space is relational, i.e. an artifact of relations between objects, is ancient, it can be traced to Aristotle, and was developed at length by Leibniz in modern times, see Absolute and Relational Theories of Space and Motion. In this case "heaven" might reflect different relational states of various minds.

The no-boundary proposal of Hartle and Hawking is discussed in On the Emergence of Time in Quantum Gravity by Isham and Butterfield and some of the language about what the Big Bang universe emerges from is vaguely reminiscent of the medieval descriptions of the relation between the eternity and the temporal world:

"Hartle and Hawking’s proposed ‘framework’, and others such as Vilenkin’s, stands in no temporal relation to classical spacetime, or any of its parts (regions or points), even very early ones... Thus one often sees a picture in which a cone-like spacetime structure (representing a cosmological solution of classical general relativity) is attached to a spherical shape that represents a Euclidean 4-manifold. This erroneously suggests that the bottom sphere is straightforwardly earlier than the classical cosmology represented by the open cone in the top half of the figure. But the 4-manifold is not earlier: there is no temporal relation between the two halves represented in the figure (or their parts)!"

The ontological substrate in the no-boundary proposal is a space of sums of Euclidean 4-manifolds, so there is "no single bottom half-sphere, as the figure suggests". The relation is better analogized to the one between a lattice and oscillation patterns on it. Indeed, in other proposals the substrate is a discrete structure, see Space-Time as a Causal Set.

With a legion of proposals it is very hard to tell what the substrate is even like, let alone what "laws of physics" govern it. They may not be there the way we expect. Timpson argues in Quantum Bayesianism that the "dappled world" ontology of Nancy Cartwright is a good fit for the statistical interpretations of quantum mechanics:

"the world is composed of systems having causal powers which only sometimes give rise to lawlike behaviour in various restricted domains — a patchwork of laws and elsewhere unruliness... unruliness at the fundamental level can simply wash out to allow useful (perhaps somewhat approximate) generalisations at a higher level: think of kinetic theory and thermodynamics, for example. It even seems quite intelligible that exact laws could hold at the higher level on top of lawless underpinnings, irrespective of one’s detailed view of laws.

Objects primarily have dispositions or powers and it is only when these powers interact in highly contrived, or highly specialised, situations that they will give rise to the repeatable, regular behaviour that can be described by the kinds of general statements we traditionally think of as laws of nature, or as lawlike truths..."

One might try to interpret heaven as some kind of synchrony that brings order to the deep flux of interacting causal powers if one is inclined to treat it materialistically.

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    If we reject the proposition that spacetime is emergent, is it still possible that other realities exist?
    – APCoding
    Dec 19, 2016 at 1:33
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    @APCoding Sure, see modal realism for example, but "other realities" is so vague that it is not saying much. But in a picture with a transcendent God the temporal world (spacetime) would have to be emergent on something like eternity.
    – Conifold
    Dec 19, 2016 at 1:49
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    So saying the temporal world being emergent on eternity would mean the B-theory of time, or at least not the A-theory?
    – APCoding
    Dec 19, 2016 at 1:52
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    Is another example the many-worlds interpretation? If so, how does it differ from modal realism?
    – APCoding
    Dec 19, 2016 at 2:07
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    Both A and B theories presuppose time as a fundamental structure with classical intuitions, if it is emergent asking how it is "really" is like asking whether wave or matrix quantum mechanics is more "right" (they are equivalent descriptions). Lewis's worlds are classical, causally isolated, and irreducible, Everett's branches are quantum, have a common past and can in principle recohere, and are reducible to a single "wave function of the universe". Vilenkin's "many worlds in one" eternal inflation is more like modal realism
    – Conifold
    Dec 19, 2016 at 2:52

One of the famous gedankenexperiments of radical skepticism is the brain-in-vat hypothesis which suggests that we thinking minds could be simply brains in a vat with our false experiences of life fed to us by some external means. (This is essentially the world as presented in The Matrix.) Under such a hypothesis, it's easy to explain an alternate 'universe' as different as we please: the world as we know it never existed, except as electrical stimuli fed to our brain; the actual universe has (possibly) unrelated basic physics and its contingent features could be whatever you like, as long as they contain the necessary brain-stimulating apparatus.

For example, perhaps you are already in Heaven -- you've always been there, unaware of your true location. When something happens (perhaps corresponding to what you would perceive, in your imagined world, as your own death), the brain stimuli cease and you finally perceive Heaven, for the first time, with your real senses. (A great variety of alternate explanations could easily be produced.)


As an answer, not of the main question, but to the four sub questions, I would like to make the following observations/corrections:
1) another dimension - it is a valid possibility because there would be nothing wrong if we did not experience the passage of time. As a matter of fact, that is what "everlasting" means - time stops!
Our universe consists of 3 spatial dimensions and one temporal dimension. If we "moved" to a universe with 4 spatial dimensions, our temporal dimension (call it 3D time) would stop. Although there is no reason there would not be a higher temporal dimension (4D time), nevertheless, our 3D time would no longer exist - but that's a good thing.
2)another universe - if we define universe as "accessible to us," then there is the possibility that there are other universes that we are not "aware off."
3) "Heat death" and "infinite entropy" are one and the same thing. So, if God "adds energy" (causes the universe to contract), at certain intervals, He can maintain entropy within some bounds forever.
4)heaven, currently, exists only in our minds. After Jesus returns, heaven (a physical place) will be on earth. Some of us will dwell in this heaven, while others will be "pure sentient energy" and will dwell in God (in a higher dimension).

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    I may be stupid, but I've never heard of this before: "Some of us will dwell in this heaven, while others will be "pure sentient energy" and will dwell in God (in a higher dimension)". Could you please refer me to an article or something explaining this?
    – APCoding
    Dec 20, 2016 at 1:09

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