We used to sing a song in Sunday School:
Somewhere in outer space, God has prepared a place, For those who trust him and obey, Jesus will come again, Although we don’t know when, The Countdown’s getting lower everyday
There’s a few things wrong with the song, from the awful forced rhyming through to the iffy semi-pelagian theology (they were happy to throw pretty much anything at compliant Christian kids in the late 70s!) but probably the biggest and most obvious problem is with the implication that heaven is just up there in Space.
Well, outside of that song, I’m not aware of any serious Christian suggesting that Heaven is here within this universe. However, Atheist polemicist Sam Harris doesn’t seem to have got that memo if this little video clip is anything to go by.
In fact, Harris’ argument is seriously faulty even if relying on humanist presuppositions. Here’s why:
- The immense size of the universe means that there are assumed to be further galaxies beyond what we can presently observe at 90 billion light years away.
- There’s still an ongoing debate about the outer limits of the universe and whether or not it is finite in terms of time and space. If infinite then, that takes us well beyond what we can observe, if finite then we still have to account for what might be beyond the boundaries of time and space.
- Many atheists are open to the possibility of other dimensions and of multi-verse. This would mean that this isn’t the only universe.
The argument that “we’ve been up into space to look for God and failed to find him” of course is not a new one. As well as failing atheist presuppositions, it also fails to listen carefully to Christian theology and so argues with claims not made.
As Christians, we believe that God is transcendent -beyond time and space and that as Spirit he is without body and therefore not visible to human observation. It is not surprising them that his dwelling place is beyond space and time and not visible to the human eye. Indeed, our understanding of heaven cannot be that it is some physical realm within this Universe, a place among the galaxies. When we talk about heaven, we are talking about something far greater and far more wonderful. Let’s make sure our children’s songs communicate that truth.
 In fact, the song has been amended to say “Somewhere outside of Space…”