Portsmouth Institute, Day 1, Session 2: Abbott James Wiseman, “A New Heaven and a New Earth”
Among the truly fascinating aspects of the entire 2012 Portsmouth Institute conference, “Modern Science, Ancient Faith,” was the pervasive appearance of an underlying theme. That, in itself, is not surprising; the fact that nobody took its appearance as opportunity actually to state it is.
In retrospect, in the second lecture of the series, Brother Wiseman was most explicit on the point. His talk had much to do with the proper relationship of science and religion and the translation of revelation into terms consistent with the material world. Revelation, as he said, does not give exact knowledge of the world, present or future, but rather a sense of how things are and ought to be.
Of particular interest was the time that Wiseman spent on eschatology, or the religious expectation of the end of this world. In this regard, he spoke of past theologians who held that we could not separate the material and the spirit in our hope for “a state beyond decay and suffering.” Indeed, and here’s the hint of that which grew to be fascinating later, he spoke of the end days as a “conversion of energy into pure information.”
It appears that the theologians were conspicuously reluctant to translate that vision into concrete predictions, but when combined with the notion — expressed by Wiseman and repeated throughout the weekend — that one must look beyond science for a full explanation of reality, it begins to transform into a workable model for ultimate questions.