Many physicists say that time is an emergent property from quantum phenomenon, such as entanglement.

Many Christians theologians also posit that time will exist in heaven, forever.

Let's say that the laws of physics as we know them do not "function" in heaven. This brings the problem that if the laws of physics no longer hold, time cannot either, because time exists in the laws of physics, such as entanglement. If one says that time exists but is not based in the laws of physics, this brings two problems. First, what makes us think that this time will be anything like we currently experience? Second, how would we "transition" from one form of time to another?

If one accepts, instead, that the laws of physics continue to function in heaven, this brings many obvious problems, such as the eventual end of time, heat death, and particle decay, all of which would not allow an eternal heaven to exist.

For both views, there is the problem of calculating probabilities. If heaven is infinite in any way - time, persons, objects - probability loses its meaning, making heaven different from what many theologians imagine. For an example, let's say someone asks you for a random number between 1 and 100 every year in heaven. Let's say that it truly is random, and you answer "40" 1% of the time. How does this make sense? If the number of years are infinite, the number of times you answer 40 and the number of times you don't answer 40 are both infinite, making the 1% probability meaningless, as infinity/infinity makes no sense. This is an argument of the sort of the measure problem seen in cosmology, except for an infinite period of time and (possibly) infinite matter. Does it apply here?

How are these arguments dissolved by the theologians who argue that time exists in heaven as we know it?

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    Interesting. I didn't know anyone was postulating this view. But, if the laws of physics are characteristics of this universe, why would they have any bearing outside this universe, whether in Heaven or in another universe within a multiverse? Also, in the Christian view(s) of Heaven, it seems like probability doesn't really have a role, that is, in the realm of an omnipotent, omniscient God. Jul 14, 2019 at 18:25
  • @DonBranson I agree that they would have no bearing outside of this universe, but heaven must be similar enough to our world so that "we" can continue to exist. If it was radically different, humans could not exist there, at least how we know them. And with probability, our everyday life relies so much on probability, life without it would be extremely difficult to imagine.
    – Josh
    Jul 14, 2019 at 18:33
  • @DonBranson To expand on my probability point, if heaven is so different than the earth we live in that my little thought experiment in my question is not possible to perform, many would say that is not desirable, and do not postulate a world like that.
    – Josh
    Jul 14, 2019 at 18:35
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    Perhaps an argument would be that time emergent from physics reflects time that's real at a more fundamental level. Jul 14, 2019 at 18:36
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    Christians do not all believe the same thing, and not all believe that Heaven is a place in space-time. Many would see this idea as naive and incoherent. Eckhart's 'Divine Instant' indicates the transcendence of space-time.
    – user20253
    Jul 15, 2019 at 12:13

2 Answers 2


As to Heaven, I don't expect anyone to be able to validly infer the laws of any non-physical world, real or imaginary, from the laws of the physical world.

Why would time in Heaven necessarily be physical time? Why expect a transition from the physical to the non-physical to follow the laws of the physical?

If heat death, particle decay and all the laws of nature apply to Heaven then so be it, no eternal Heaven as I guess we think of it.

Concerning probabilities in an infinite time, there is no difficulty at all. Probabilities are based on past occurrences, not on future occurrences. As long as there is a start to past occurrences, there is no difficulty in principle. Physical time might be infinite for all we know and we don't have any trouble ascertaining probabilities from experience, necessarily past experience.

Our sense of probability relies on our own personal experience of empirical facts and as such, it would still work well even if the future or even the past were effectively infinite.

The notion of probability you are considering is a logical abstraction, like indeed infinity itself. An actually infinite time, or indeed an infinite space, wouldn't change our empirical experience of the physical world. We wouldn't be able to use your notion of probability to take any operational decision. We would still have to rely on our ordinary notion of probability.

I also don't see any difficulty in at least conceiving coherently of Heaven as subjected to the passing of time as we ordinarily experience it. Presumably, this would require a common, "prime", cause deciding of the rate of change in what happens in Heaven, but I'm not entirely certain this is absolutely necessary. I think the bottom line would be that events in Heaven would need to appear coherent with time as we know it.

  • For cases like the one I defined above in my question, probability would be # of occurrences / # of possible occurrences. Since both are infinite, how can we make sense of everyday probability?
    – Josh
    Jul 14, 2019 at 19:05
  • "Physical time might be infinite for all we know..." Infinite past? Would that really really possible, that is, doesn't that require that it took an infinite number of seconds or "days," whatever, to get here? Or do you mean infinite into the future? Jul 14, 2019 at 19:12
  • Infinite into the future.
    – Josh
    Jul 14, 2019 at 19:14
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    @Josh I fail to see why we couldn't possibly experience time in Heaven given that we do as fully fleshed living human beings. Whether time is emergent or not is irrelevant. If we did experience time in the same way as we do as living beings, then the simple a priori solution would seem to be that time would have the same cause in the two situations. Jul 16, 2019 at 15:46
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    Incidentally, if we say Heaven is physical (which we may), it does not follow that Heaven has the same physics. Same problem follows.
    – Joshua
    Oct 1, 2020 at 17:48

One problem with heaven is boredom. After catch-up talking with our dead relatives in heaven, what are we going to do forever and ever and ever and ever and ever?

Long ago, I read the early Christian fathers were aware of this heavenly problem and claimed people in heaven would be, like God, outside time, would not experience time, and, therefore, would not get bored.

People in hell, however, would experience time so their punishments would be felt forever and ever.

So maybe we should be discussing whether time is experienced in hell.

But first I think we need to define time rather than assume we all know what time is.

Aristotle claimed time is noticed change in the world. Newton claimed time is absolute and would exist even if the world didn't. So what is time?

If time is change, If heaven is perfect, Would any change in heaven diminish heaven"s perfection? So could there be change/time in heaven?

  • Welcome to Philosophy SE! You can enhance your answer with references, for instance where you read about the "early Christian fathers"...
    – christo183
    Jan 29, 2020 at 6:41

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