Like so many others contemplating during these solemn days, as Moshe Kinderlehrer did in his article “A Pre-Rosh Hashanah Reflection” (September 22), I confess that I can’t envision what shamayim or Olom Haba look like. I doubt it is everyone dressed in white robes playing the harp or flying around on white wings, as commonly portrayed in secular art. My scientific background does not necessarily interfere with the concept of an afterlife, but does nothing to advance it either.
However, the rigid demarcation between science and theology may not be as rigid as one thinks, if we take a clue from the field of science itself, specifically, the field of cosmology. Cosmologists claim that when anything falls into a black hole, gravity is so strong that nothing can escape, even light. All information about that object is lost. To my naive way of thinking, that implies that all objects outside of black holes must have their information intact and exist somewhere. That reduces the problem to two issues: What does “information” mean, and where does it “exist”?
Time proceeds along a continuum, from the past to present to future. We know something about the past and present, but nothing about the future. From cosmology, we know something about the universe and cosmos. From geology, we know something about the earth’s makeup and history. From archeology, we know something about how our ancestors lived. From historical records, we know something about how our ancestors interacted with each other. And from our individual recollections, photographs, recordings and writings, we even know something about ourselves, family and friends. However, all these tiny bits of information are painstakingly gleaned from the vast amount of “information” that precedes us. The big question is: Where is the rest of the “information”? It must all be “out there” somewhere, in some form.
Now for the “musing” part. When someone passes from this world, what happens to all the “information” about his life? Does it all disappear? Since it didn’t fall into a black hole, it must still be “out there” somewhere with all the other stuff, which scientists call “information.” In other words, that person’s history and information, some form of himself, which we can call an afterlife, continue to exist somewhere in the cosmos, i.e., shamayim. Again, to my simple mind, that is in basic accordance with both scientific and theological thinking.
Could this be a link between science and religion?Max Wisotsky