While it's true that the Bible is not a science textbook, nevertheless it is accurate in what it does portray about our world and universe. You can find many examples of this.
Examples of Biblical Science
For instance, when cultures believed the earth was carried on the back of a turtle or held on the shoulders of Atlas, the Bible maintained that the earth is round (Isa 40:22, Job 26:10). The Bible talks about the earth's suspension in space (Job 26:7) and that the universe is expanding (Zech 12:1, Job 9:8). In the ESV or KJV translations we even see that the earth rotates or is "turned like clay under the seal" (Job 38:14).
Limited Dimensional Creatures
One of our problems is that we live in only four dimensions. They are height, width, depth, and really only one-half a dimension of time because we can't move backwards in time yet. Yet, quantum physics suggest there may be at least 11 dimensions - possibly more if you believe in a multiverse.
But, because we are so limited we can't even understand "time" let alone other dimensions. Imagine what it means for time to pass faster on earth while an astronaut travels long distances through space. When he returns he may find that hundreds of years have passed on earth.
Do you understand that? I can't - not really.
Yet, the Bible says that for God "a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by" (Psalm 90:4).
Time is Relative
The Apostle Peter expands upon this idea even more. He says, "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day" (2 Pet 3:8).
An Eternity for God to Answer Prayer
What this probably means is that the passing of time is more relative than we think. For God anyway, time can pass more quickly or slowly as he desires. For instance, as you cry out "God help me" at the point in time of a serious car crash, God has an eternity to answer your prayer!
God's Helicopter Viewpoint
The Bible tells us that only God inhabits eternity (Isa 57:15, KJV or NKJV). Like a helicopter hovering above a parade, God can see the beginning and end of the parade (past and future). However, bystanders alongside the parade can only see each float as it passes by them (the present). They cannot see the beginning or end of the parade - they only see each float individually as it passes by.
Hunting for Jewels
Regardless of our limitations, God does insert little "tidbits" in His Word that hint at parallel worlds and other dimensions. These are fun to find and research - like little jewels placed here and there throughout the Bible just for His children to discover.
Hyper Dimensional Capabilities
One Biblical example is the "hyper dimensional capabilities" of Jesus. Astro physicist Hugh Ross explains that Jesus appears to move in at least 11 dimensions.
He could materialize and dematerialize while His body was still tangible (called "flesh and bones"). (Luke 24:39-40, John 20:19, 26).
He could foretell the future (like a news reporter in a helicopter hovering above the parade telling bystanders what floats are coming). (e.g. Matthew 24).
He hinted that we exist alongside parallel realities which open up to us from time to time. "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20).
He demonstrated nine spatial dimensions (which mathematically allowed him to rotate in and out of three-dimensional spaces) and two dimensions of time (Ross 1996, 59).
But, did Jesus speak of other worlds or dimensions in our universe?
We think He did.
Here is one example among many from the New Testament. When Pilate cross-examined Jesus he asked..."Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me. What have you done?"
"Jesus answered, 'My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews - but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm'"(John 18:35-36, NASB).
I suspect we have "mythologized" this Johanine passage to the extent that we do not see it for what it really is. Jesus clearly said that His kingdom is in another realm.
Webster's Dictionary defines "realm" as kingdom, sphere, or domain. "Domain" is defined as "a territory over which dominion is exercised, or a "sphere of knowledge, influence, or activity." Finally, "dimension" is defined as the "extent, scope, or proportions" as well as length, breadth or thickness."
In other words, Jesus clearly pointed-out that His rulership is over a different territory than on the earth. It is presently separate from earth.
Who is Ruling Earth?
So as it stands right now just who is controlling our planet? If our current world is not completely ruled by Jesus Christ (God) then who or what is?
The answer is eye-opening and stunning. It clearly suggests the possibility of parallel worlds and extra dimensions right beside us on our planet. Here and now. In the present realm. Perhaps in a fifth dimension or some other dimension we can't yet imagine.
In clear language the Bible tells us that Satan is the ruler of this world! (Jn 14:30). The entire planet is held in the grips of the evil one ( 1 Jn 5:19).
The Bible tells us that we are surrounded by an invisible world consisting of other beings called "angels" and "demons," "principalities" and "forces."
Paul says, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Eph 6:12).
In his letter to the Colossians Paul says that Christ created all things, "both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things have been created through Him and for Him" (Col 1:16).
Similar to Us
In these two passages Paul is telling us that there is an entire universe of invisible beings ("in the heavens and on earth"). These are parallel worlds to us. We can't see them. But, they exist alongside us and are similar to us.
They are organized in rank and a hierarchical structure (principalities, dominions, powers, authorities). Just as we have governments, kings, or dictators ruling over certain territories - so do they. Just as many of our rulers are evil or cunning - so are they (forces of darkness).
Paul warns us that many of our daily battles against humans are just a mirage. Instead, we are actually battling those who inhabit this invisible world. So when that "jerk" cuts in front of you don't assume he is the one who really angered you. It may be an invisible force. When your boss throws a temper-tantrum and threatens to fire you, he may have been encouraged by some evil entity.
Think Star Trek
Think Star Trek, Star Wars, Star Gate, or your favorite sci-fi series. Many of these imaginative series portray invisible forces or entities that create virtual realities and limitless challenges for humans. Human beings are possessed by aliens, have their perceptions altered, are tricked into behaving certain ways, and so forth.
Use your imagination and Biblical insights to understand what may be happening to the human race in the twenty-first century. We are not alone. We are surrounded by myriads and myriads of angelic forces and evil "aliens."
Why the Fuss?
When we consider that atheists - who believe in no gods - are so filled with hatred and venom toward those of faith, we "scratch our heads" and wonder why all the fuss? What makes them so hostile and vicious in attacking religion? If one is truly an "atheist" wouldn't he prefer to politely ignore those who disagree with him? Why the desperate attempts to ridicule, demean and castigate those who disagree with them?
Maybe they are ruled by invisible forces, too.
Christians Move in Parallel Worlds
In any event, Christians belong to Jesus Christ. While we live on earth we exist in enemy territory. We live and move among hostile forces as we go about our daily lives. So we ourselves are a part of "parallel worlds" until we enter heaven.
Confidence in Invisible Entities
One possible biblical example of a parallel world occurred when the Prophet Elisha's servant became absolutely "unglued" seeing that an enemy had surrounded the two of them. He probably thought, "Time up" and "Game over." "Just get me out of here!"
But, then his master said a strange thing to him. Elisha said, "Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them" (2 Kings 6:16).
Can you imagine what this poor servant thought of Elisha's remark? "Yah...right. Here we sit alone and surrounded by enemy forces and you want me to think there's more of 'us' than them?"
So Elisha patiently prayed for his terrified partner, "O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see. So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha" (2 Kings 6:17, ESV).
These were invisible angel warriors made temporarily visible to humans. Yes. This story should remind all of us that when we feel utterly alone and abandoned, we are not. It only "appears" that way to us. Our loneliness is a mirage.
In fact, the Bible repeatedly assures us that what we see is not all there is.
Consider the following references suggesting a number of possible alternate realities or dimensions in addition to the ones we have already discussed:
Portals or Gateways?
Is it possible that the Bible may have been speaking about portals or gateways into the heavens or hell(s) in various places throughout the Bible?
For example, as Stephen was stoned to death he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God" (Acts 7:56). We know that Stephen wasn't in heaven yet. But, he witnessed the heavens "opening up" and could see what was apparently right in front of him.
In the popular story about Jacob's Ladder the angels "ascending and descending" on the ladder to heaven may represent a portal into another dimension according to a few creative thinkers (Genesis 28:12).
Son of Man
In the Gospel of John we read, "And He said to him, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man" (Jn 1:51). While this references Christ as the "Son of Man" and may be referring to Jacob's ladder, others think it may additionally refer to another portal into heaven. Who knows?
The Old Testament prophet Ezekiel mentions that while he was by a river "the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God" (Ezek 1:1).
Ezekiel calls this a "vision." Yet, like Jacob's dream do we know if it was "real" or not?
We do know of 3 heavens mentioned in the Bible:
The sky around earth.
The outer space realm.
The third heaven where God resides.
We also know there is a heavenly realm and a hellish dimension. Luke 16 tells us there is a great chasm between heaven and hell (Luke 16:26). Each area may possibly consist of separate dimensions or parallel worlds. There is the abyss that holds demons, Tartarus that imprisons evil angels, Hades or the grave, and "outer darkness" and the "lake of fire." Are these realms simply additional dimensions within hell?
We know that some of those in hell will be able to "see" those in heaven and will mourn their own sad state (Luke 13:28).
Finally, there are degrees of hell mentioned in the Bible (Matt 11:22-24). Could these degrees of hell also exist in parallel dimensions next to one another?
Ezekiel hints that Satan may have been part of a "mineral" earth rather than a biological one of plants, trees and animals. ..."The ruby, the topaz and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx and the jasper...was in you on the day that you were created." ...You were on the holy mountain of God. You walked in the midst of the stones of fire..." (Ezekiel 28:13-15).
Think "Kryptonite Planet" from the adventures of Superman. ...Hmmm...maybe....maybe not...
The Bible suggests angels will carry believers into the heavenly realm (Lk 16:22).
Perhaps this is because there are so many evil entities roaming throughout our atmosphere that we need guidance and protection from dark angels as we travel to our new residence in the heavenly dimension. After all Paul informs us that Satan is the "Prince of the power of the air" (Eph 2:2). (See also Eph 6:12 & Col. 1:16).
Nuclear Conflgration of the Universe?
In the not-too-distant future our current universe will be destroyed in what appears to be a nuclear conflagration (2 Pet 3:10). We will be provided a new earth in a new universe (2 Pet 3:13). This may be a direct reference to a parallel universe which exists alongside an eternal hell called the "lake of fire" in Revelation 20.
After the destruction of our former earth and universe, we will be residing in what appears to be a description of an astonishingly brilliant, jewel-like space-city that travels "down" from heaven to the new earth (Rev 21:10). You might want to consider illustrations such as the "cloud cities" in Star Wars or the flying space-city in Stargate Atlantis (seasons 3 & 4) to help you picture this. Is it possible?
Ruling Outer Space Territories?
In fact, in a stunning revelation Psalm 8 lets us know that mankind was originally created to rule over the works of God's hands. What are the "works of God's fingers?" In verse 1 we find the answer: "the heavens, the moon and the stars." We know that one day God will restore our Adamic authority and His creation..."that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God" (Ro 8:21).
Using Imagination & the Holy Bible
Be sure to use your God-given imagination as you picture the possibilities God may have in mind for His children. And remember, the Bible is not just a book of do's and dont's - it is your portal into the wonders of creation that God has in store for you!
"THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT
SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD,
AND WHICH HAVE NOT ENTERED
THE HEART OF MAN,
ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR
THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.
For to us God revealed them through the Spirit - for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God."
(1 Cor 2:9-10, NASB).
We tend to forget the second half of this verse. Remember that God has "revealed" these things to us through His Spirit. So use your creative minds and be joyful about the wonderful anticipation of our glorious future soon to be revealed to us! I can't wait...how about you?
Alcorn, Randy. 2004. Heaven. Carol Stream, ILL: Tyndale.
Hitchcock, Mark. 2005. 55 Answers to questions about life after death.Sisters, OR: Multnomah.
Ross, Hugh. 1996. Beyond the cosmos. Colorado Springs: NavPress.
Tipler, Frank J. 2007. The physics of Christianity. New York: Doubleday.
Space images - www.NASA.gov
Credit to Valorie Emilio holds an M.A. in History from UCLA. Ken received the M.A. in Biblical Studies from Louisiana Baptist University.