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Resurrection from quantum physics

Manuel Carreira, a Jesuit priest, theologian, philosopher and astrophysicist, member of the Spanish Center of Sindonology, who died in 2020. Although it is some years old, it is a very interesting reflection and opens the mind and heart to many questions.



I wish to present to you something that is probably not common: to speak of the body, of matter, in the eternal life.


MAN IS BODY AND SOUL

We have to speak of the body in eternal life with the data that physics gives us. Because if we do not properly understand the meaning of the words we can have the impression that what faith tells us is opposed to what physics tells us, or that this idea of the body, of eternal life, of resurrection, is something very vague that cannot be expressed in concrete terms. I believe that this is not the case.


It seems to me that any discussion of what man is must take into account that man is body and soul. No one doubts that we are body. It seems to me that there is also no logical possibility to doubt that we have a reality superior to the body, which is the spirit. If the two things are not present, there is no human person. Therefore, if we are to speak of an eternal life of the human person we have to understand how we will continue to be what we are: a material reality, body, with a spiritual reality, soul, in such a way that the proper functions of both are given, since these functions determine what human activity is.


Eternal life is promised to us in faith by the example of the life of the risen Christ. It is the only case in which there is a description of what the life of each of us will be like after death. Therefore, we need to pay attention to the Gospel account to know what that new way of existing that we call the resurrection is like.


Faith tells us that only Christ and Mary exist in this way. Fifty years ago the dogma of the Assumption was defined, in which the Church presented as revealed truth in faith that Mary is already enjoying that new eternal life, the eternal life that Christ showed to his disciples after his death.


Among even pious people, with Catholic theological formation, in recent years there has been a tendency to play with the concept of resurrection in such a way that it is practically denied. I remember the surprise I had when, once I had to speak on this subject in the United States, in Washington, I referred to the Catholic Encyclopedia of the United States. I looked up the word resurrection and found this absurd definition. It said:Resurrection. Return to life with or without the body..


 And I say: if it is a return to life, it will be a return of something that has died. So how can you say that it has come back to life without the body? Is it that the soul has died? It does not make any common sense, nor does it have any philosophical or theological logic. Such is the extent of the confusion of language and ideas. Above all, from the Protestant theology, which is based, lately, on the negation of everything that is not understood. A theology, like that of Bultmann, for example, in which miracles are denied. Since they are not understood, they must be denied. Neither is the return to life after death understood, therefore, it is said that all the Gospel stories are a poetic, symbolic way of speaking. All they mean is that the apostles were persuaded that somehow Christ was with them. This is to empty the dogma of the resurrection of all meaning. And, as St. Paul says, if Christ did not rise from the dead, vain and empty is our faith and we are the most miserable of men.


THE RESURRECTION IS A HISTORICAL FACT

In this way, we have to realize that our faith is based on testimonies of historical facts. Cardinal Ratzinger, a few years ago, speaking in Madrid on the encyclical of Pope John Paul II, The Splendor of Truth, referred explicitly to the teaching on the resurrection. And he said - he has a certain grace because he is German -: To speak of the resurrection as an experience of the apostles and not as a historical fact is to fall into German thinking, in which the objectivity of the facts is lost in order to speak only of psychological questions. This is not our faith. Our faith is based on historical facts.


In this regard I want to note what is meant by historical fact. Of the resurrection it is said: no, it is not a historical fact, because no one witnessed it. Therefore, it cannot be said that it is a historical fact. And I say, have any of you witnessed the fact that I was born? No! Do you doubt that it is a historical fact that I was born? No! Because you see the consequences. So, if I see a corpse on the ground, even if I did not see the moment of death, I have the right to say: this man is dead. And if I see him alive later I have the right to say: this man has risen, even if I have not seen the moment of resurrection. The contrary is absurd, it is playing with words. And some of these theologians, even Catholics, say: no, the resurrection is a metahistorical fact. What does metahistorical mean? If it means that, being a historical fact, it has consequences beyond history, I would have no objection. But in this case it is not so, they oppose metahistorical to historical to say that it is not a historical fact. This is absurd.


Let us first think about the basic reality that faith is based on historical facts. In the Gospel, the Acts of the Apostles, and the letters of St. Paul we read that what we saw, and heard, and touched with our hands, this is what we proclaim,so that you also may believe. It says: we who saw Christ after his resurrection, who touched him and ate with him, are witnesses of this..


 In any historical fact, the testimony of reliable witnessesis the only way to be certain. You cannot know what happened a hundred years ago except by the testimony of those who were present and have written or transmitted by word of mouth what happened then, and in this way the truth of historical facts is established. Well, we have witnesses, the apostles, who are able to testify to what they saw and touched, and who were so sincere in their testimony that they gave their lives for him. So the fact of faith has to be based on historical evidence. I am insisting on this because even among very pious people there is the impression that faith is held without proof, just because. No, it cannot be so. God has made us rational and to believe without proof is irrational, it is absurd. If one believes something without proof, one is acting irrationally. We must have proof, and this historical proof is seen precisely in the reliable witnesses who gave testimony even at the cost of their lives.


We have, therefore, established that the fact of the resurrection must be a historical fact, otherwise our faith would be empty.


MAN IS BODY AND SOUL

Let us now establish in what the reality of man consists and, therefore, what the fact of the resurrection can mean.


First of all, we speak of a resurrection that transforms man's mode of existence. It is not a mere extension of the time of life. When Christ raised Lazarus, he added years of life to him, but Lazarus died, like everyone else, years later. When Christ raised the son of the widow of Nain, the same thing. It is not this type of resurrection that we are talking about, although it is true that the same word is used, and that the same word is used must indicate something to us. For if Christ had resurrected the son of the widow of Nain without a body, the mother would not have been amused. No one could say that he had raised the child. So, if in the case of a temporal resurrection, it must be the whole human person that is alive, so it is also in the resurrection at the end of time and in the resurrection of Christ.


In man there is naturally an organic material structure, similar to that of the other living beings of the earth, the animals. We use the same chemical compounds, we have the same functions, the same metabolism... All this indicates that we are part of a chain of living beings that has developed on Earth using the forces of matter to produce what we call vital activity. Activity that is growth, nutrition, being able to reproduce, etc.


This occurs in man without a doubt, but this is not all there is in man. We also have an activity that is not found in animals: the activity of thinking and the free activity. In what is this activity noticeable? In that we seek with an interest that no animal has in the intangible, truth, beauty and goodness. This is what is proper to human activity. We want to know, even the abstract. So even the science that deals with matter has to pass to a level of abstraction in which what is studied no longer enters through the senses.


When I study the concept of atom, in physics, I know perfectly well what that word means and what I am studying, but I have not seen an atom, nor will I ever see one. When I study the concept of duty in philosophy, I cannot say that it is something that enters me through the senses. It is something of a non-material, abstract order. And yet, for the concept of duty a person can give his life. It goes against even the most basic instincts for something that cannot be of a material order, that cannot be noticed or perceived by the senses. The concept of homeland is abstract. The very concept of God does not enter me through the senses and yet I already believe it to have importance and meaning! So there is an activity in the human person that gives enormous importance to that which has no material quality whatsoever. The same can be said of the search for beauty, for example, literary beauty.


What sense does a book of poetry make to a physicist? From physics, a book is a pile of sheets of paper, of cellulose, with a few dark spots here and there. Nothing more. And yet, there is a meaning there that is not given by physical laws, a meaning that depends on a totally theoretical construction: these spots are going to mean sounds, words, ideas.


Reading it, the book of poetry can give me a feeling of beauty, satisfaction and joy that cannot be explained by any physical law. All this means, then, that this new human activity is not based on the properties of matter. A poem can have the same effect on me whether it is written on paper, parchment, bronze or stone. It is the meaning that is important, and meaning is not a physical property nor can it be described by any physical experiment.


What do I most certainly know? That I am knowing, Descartes' famous phrase: I think, therefore I am. I can doubt many things, but I cannot doubt that I am doubting. This gives me the certainty of an activity that exceeds the level of matter.


It is also said that in man matter becomes conscious of itself. It has an acceptable sense, but also an equivocal one. Are you conscious of what the cells of your brain are doing? No! Are you conscious of what the various organs of the body are doing? No! Is matter conscious of itself then? No. What I am most conscious of is that I am conscious, that I am thinking, and therefore of an activity which is not the activity of matter. No. What I am most conscious of is that I am conscious, that I am thinking, and therefore of an activity that is not the activity of matter. When I decide to do something or not to do it, I am certain that this activity is under my control: I can decide to do it or not, and for that very reason I feel responsible. The whole of human society would collapse if it denied this freedom, because he who denies man's freedom reduces him to a kind of machine, which does things automatically, or else he has to say that everything that seems to us that we do freely is a dream, an illusion. In both cases society collapses, because if there is no freedom there can be no responsibility, and if there is no responsibility no one can be forced or asked to do one thing or another. Then, there would not be the possibility of saying that something is a crime, nor would there be responsibility before the state, nor before the family, nor before others.


Let us establish quite clearly that in man there are two levels of activityof two totally different orders. To these two levels must correspond two principles of activity: a material principle and a non-material principle, which has no property of matter. Thought has no weight, no electric charge, no density, and none of the properties that a physicist can study. And the same can be said of an act of the will.


However, having established this, we must say with equal force that man is not two realities juxtaposed, as if artificially glued together. What the body does affects spiritual activities and what the spirit does also affects the body. When you have a headache you cannot think straight; when you have a worry you may end up with a stomach ulcer. The body influences the spirit and the spirit also influences the body. This, philosophically, is expressed by saying that man is a single being, composed of two realities that intercompenetrate in such a way that when I say II can then put a material fact or a spiritual fact and the subject is the same: I can say I think, I want; I am hungry, I walk. The I is the same.


This also makes us think of the reality of the incarnation. Christ, saying I die, I exist before Abraham, I will rise again on the third day, is speaking on a simultaneous level of God and man. The subject is one, and because he is God, therefore his death has redemptive value, but because he is man he can die, which as God he could not. In faith we have the basis of our redemption, which is the unity of two distinct natures, each of which has its own operations: the divine nature and the human nature. And because this unity is given, this redemption can be given. In a much lesser but similar way, in man there are two realities, two principles of activity, which is what nature means: of material activity, the body, of non-material activity, the spirit. But it is a single personal reality. The human person must have both realities. This is important in contrast to ideas of materialistic or spiritualistic reductionism or ideas of oriental type that are quite fashionable in which it is said that the ideal of the ascetic is to free himself from the body, because the body is considered a burden for the spirit, something that prevents the development of the person. This is false. The body is necessary for there to be a human person.


WHAT IS MATTER?


Once we have established that man alone is a total person with body and soul we can ask ourselves what is the body. And this is where data and ideas from modern science come into play that can help us avoid misunderstandings.


First of all, the body, as a word that can be used in normal language but also in scientific language, is always a material structure. It makes no physical or philosophical sense to speak of an  immaterial body. It is a verbal contradiction. The body is necessarily a material structure. To say that we are resurrected with a non-material body is absurd, it is like a squared circle, it cannot be. Either there is no body, or if there is a body it must be a material structure.


And what does physics tell me matter is?


First, let us keep in mind that physics only defines the things it studies by their operations. We do not know what something is directly. We can only know what it does, and by what it does, we define it. What is a proton? The physicist will say it is something that has this way of acting, this mass, this electric charge. And what is the electron? Something that has these other properties. Well, in this way we can say that matter, the animate or inanimate body - we also use the word body to designate a stone and we say that bodies attract each other and we talk about the stars and gravitation - the body is something that has activity by means of four forces, which we call four interactions: gravitational, electromagnetic, strong nuclear and weak nuclear. Nothing more. It may seem surprising that everything that happens in the universe has to happen because of one of these four interactions or their combinations. And we know what each of these forces does.


The gravitational force, for example, leads to a concentration of mass. The masses act as if they attract each other. This force is universal, it affects all matter and no one can ever escape it, there can be no insulators and it has no limits. Although it is sometimes said that astronauts are outside the gravitational pull of the Earth, this is a lie; if they were outside the gravitational pull they would not be in orbit around the Earth. Gravity causes this attraction that leads bodies to coalesce into larger and larger masses if there is no other force to prevent it. If the universe had bodies without motion, if it were created in a moment with all bodies in place, without moving, they would immediately all fall toward a center to form a single mass.


The second force is the electromagnetic force. Like gravity, it has an unlimited range. But contrary to gravity, it does not affect all matter. It only affects matter that has a novel property that we call electric charge. And that electric charge can occur in two variants: causing attractions or repulsions. While gravity only causes attraction, in the electromagnetic force there is also repulsion. [Since matter, on a large scale, has an equal number of positive and negative charges, I do not notice the attraction and repulsion of another body when I pass near it. But it is an enormous, very intense force. So that, if I had two grains of sand, one on the table, the other on the ceiling, and I managed to remove the negative charges from both of them, both would have a positive charge. Since charges of the same sign repel each other, to prevent the grain of sand on the ceiling from flying off into space, I would have to hang three million tons from it, so enormous is the electromagnetic force.


This electromagnetic force is what gives cohesion to matter. A stone is a set of electrically charged particles united by this very strong attraction. It is also the one that produces all chemistry. Molecules are the result of attractions between atoms that occur because of the electric charge of their electrons. And since chemistry is the basis of biology, that means that my body is a collection of electrically charged particles bound together in molecules that form increasingly complex compounds. Without the electromagnetic force there could be no life, because life requires a very complex structure. For example, the DNA molecule has more than ten billion atoms, which have to be united in a very firm cohesion so that generation after generation this molecule is maintained, where the inheritance, the instructions, the properties for the new organism are encoded.


This means that when I observe a body that seems solid to me, for example, a piece of metal, and I touch it, and I say: this is solid, this is hard, at the atomic level it is not true. This is a collection of particles separated from each other by distances that, on a microscopic scale are as large as those between planets. And these particles, moving at incredible speeds, are giving this structure that is neither hard nor solid, but is almost all vacuum. And it gives me the impression of hardness because when I want to put my finger through it there are these electrical-type repulsive forces that don't allow my finger to penetrate. But there is nothing solid. Matter, even the matter of my body is a cloud of particles in very fast motion. If I could eliminate the empty spaces between them, all the matter in my body would not be visible under any microscope. This is strange, isn't it? It is hard to believe, but no physicist doubts it; we have proof that it is so.


Therefore, let us already think about some of the properties that we spontaneously attribute to matter. We say that matter has to be impenetrable, where there is a body you cannot put another one.  That is not true, the only thing that is necessary is a sufficient pressure.


In astronomy we speak of a star, like the sun, that ends its evolution; then a mass like that of the sun, three hundred and thirty-three thousand times the mass of the Earth, is reduced to a sphere the size of the Earth and has a density such that if I were to bring here one cubic centimeter from the center of that star corpse it would weigh fifty tons. And there's still a lot of hole in it. And if a star ends up with more mass than that, more than one and a half times the mass of the sun, approximately, all that mass, equivalent to half a million earths, would be in a sphere that would fit within the city limits of Lima - it would have a radius of 10 to 20 km. A piece the size of a cubic centimeter of that star, brought to Earth, would weigh more than a billion tons. And this is not the limit of density, yet. Because there is a situation predicted by physics and confirmed by experimental data that says that, if that star corpse is more than three times the mass of the sun, a million times the mass of the Earth, then it contracts without limit and forms what we call a black hole, where matter can go to zero radius. So it is not true that matter is impenetrable: it can be compressed without limit. This is what physics tells me.


What else does physics tell me that makes me doubt everything common sense tells me? Common sense tells me that a body has to be in one place and cannot be in two at the same time. Physics tells me that this is not true. Elementary particles, e.g., electrons, and larger ones, can be used in the laboratory - and this experiment is often used - to shoot a stream of particles through a slit. You think, logically, that, if each of these particles goes through the slit, there will be a point on a screen, on the other side, where those particles fall, and out of there they don't fall. And if they put two slits, they will think that each particle goes through one, or goes through the other, or doesn't go through. Therefore, they expect that there will be two areas on the screen where these particles will appear and out of there they will not. Well, this is not the case. Somehow each particle manages to pass through both slits at the same time. So following the particle through one slit alone is impossible, and they appear on the screen in different places, not in front of the slit, but in other places. This tells us that they are not hard pellets, like projectiles, but behave like a wave, which passes through several slits simultaneously and determines where the impact appears on the screen. This is the basis of one of the mainstays of modern physics, wave mechanics or quantum mechanics. Elementary particles are not hard little pellets, but somehow behave also like waves and can be in several places at once.


Stranger still. You would think that an object, in order to go from one place to another, has to go through all the spaces in between. It does not. An elementary particle can go from one side of this obstacle to the other without going through the middle. And this is constantly used in electronics. There are components of electronic devices, be it cassettes, computers or others, which are called tunnel diodes. These tunnel diodes are based on the fact that the electrons go from one place to another without passing through the medium. There has even been a recent experiment that truly defies common sense. Two atoms of light, two photons, are emitted simultaneously, from the same source. One is placed in front of an opaque barrier, the other goes freely. They arrive at a screen: the one that met the opaque barrier also arrives at the screen, but does not cross it, but goes without crossing the barrier. And that is proved because that photon arrives before the other one, it has jumped a space, it has not passed through it. Therefore, both moving at the same speed, the one with the barrier in front of it arrives before the other. It has not traveled through that intermediate space.


All this sounds like science fiction, but it is happening in our laboratories all the time. So, matter does not have to be in one place, nor does it have to go from one place to another passing through the middle. Even in the case of a black hole, physics tells me that the matter there is outside of space and time accessible to a physical experiment. No one can ever know what the interior of a black hole is like or what is there.


So,what is matter? The most honest answer is to say: we don't know. But it is, in physical terms, something that has the ability to act by some of those four forces, the gravitational force, the electromagnetic force and two forces that act only within the atomic nucleus, the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force. Matter can only be defined by its activity by those four forces. Everything else that seems obvious to us - that matter has to be hard, impenetrable, localized in one place, moving little by little - all that is not necessary for there to be matter. In physics we even have the description of elementary particles that have no electric charge, no mass and no size. And they are real particles, I believe they are. Although nowadays there is some doubt that the mass of the neutrino is totally zero, if it has any, we have not yet found it. I have a certain family affection for the neutrino, because I did my doctoral thesis with one of its discoverers.


While we are sitting here, quietly, thousands of neutrinos coming from the sun are passing through us. You will say to me: but it is night. Anyway, they come through the Earth as if it were not there. They are particles that pass through the whole Earth without even knowing that it is there. And they are real particles, it's not a fictitious story. You could have a solid lead wall like from here to a star and the neutrino would pass through it without difficulty. So what is matter?


To confuse our idea of matter perhaps the most surprising equation of all in modern physics is the famous Einstein equation: E= m - c2. Which means: energy equals mass multiplied by the square of the speed of light. What does this equation mean in practice? That from pure energy particles are synthesized, and vice versa. What kind of energy is it that can be converted into particles? Any kind.


Imagine that with a tennis racket you hit the ball with a very strong blow and that from the energy of the blow a dozen balls are synthesized, so that instead of bouncing one, thirteen bounce. It will seem impossible to you, how can balls be synthesized on the basis of one hit? This happens all the time. Elemental particles arrive from space with enormous energy that collide with the atoms of the upper atmosphere and from the energy of the impact thousands of particles are synthesized that reach the Earth, and are collected in an area of several square kilometers.


So what is the difference between energy and particles? Because people say: one thing is matter and another is energy. Well, it is not so. Matter and energy are not two different realities, everything is matter. They are two distinct forms of matter: particles and energy, and they are completely interchangeable.


So what is matter? If we have a way of talking, in physics, that is not demonstrable but embraces all these ideas, we end up suggesting, not teaching as true, but suggesting, that there is a basic reality which is what we call the physical vacuum. This is the most basic reality. If that physical vacuum has a strange, very concentrated distortion, I perceive it as a particle. And if that distortion is more diluted, I perceive it as energy. But, ultimately, the only thing I can say about matter in all its forms is that it is affected by one of these four forces. Gravity, at least, affects everything: the physical vacuum, particles and energy. A beam of light falls, the same as a ball I throw. What happens is that since the beam of light moves at three hundred thousand km per second, I don't notice that it falls at the distances I can measure. But in astronomical observations I do notice that the light falls and follows a trajectory that is not a straight line, but like that of any falling body: a curve. The only thing, then, that I have left of matter is the definition of its capacity for activity; perhaps it is not doing anything, but it has the capacity, and this is what defines matter.


WHAT IS MY BODY?

From here I have to rethink what my body is.


I could at least say: well, I do not know what an electron is, I do not know what a proton or a neutron is, but I know that I have them, I know that I weigh so much and my organs have such dimensions, and that is enough for me. Well, I want to keep all these when I have my body in the resurrection.


Ah, think for a moment, do you have the same atoms today as yesterday? No. We are in constant change of metabolism. Every day we lose a significant number of atoms and even cells. But that does not prevent me from saying: I am the same as yesterday. And I am the same as I was many years ago when I was a baby. And I am the same that has changed in everything that is the body structure throughout my life. But I still say: it's my body, it's the same. Obviously, when I say my body I don't mean a particular set of atoms, because I can't maintain that set of atoms from one day to the next, let alone from one year to the next.


Then, when I speak of the resurrection, what am I talking about when I say that I will be resurrected with my body? The body that I had at the moment of death, probably in bad conditions and quite damaged? No! The one who dies as a baby, will he have for eternity that baby body? No. What is my body, then?


All this tells me that considering the body as a concrete set of atoms is not correct. Think also of what is being done in medicine today. If I have a damaged organ, I can have another one transplanted. Whose organ is it? The donor's or mine? And if I have an artificial hip replacement, I now have a piece of metal where I used to have bone. Is that metal part of my body? If I get an artificial heart, where is my body?


We have to think about all this to understand what resurrection with my human body means. Think of another fact of biology. Imagine that I am badly burned. One of the ways to restore the destroyed skin is to take samples of healthy skin, grow them in a laboratory, and then graft them back on. That piece of skin that is removed is a collection of cells, independent little animals, that live and grow and multiply in the lab without knowing anything about me. When they are in the laboratory, they are not my body. But then they put it in me and it becomes my body again, or they begin to be my body. So not only atoms cannot be identified with my body, not even cells and organs can be identified as necessary for them to be my body.


Speaking again from physics, one of the reasons to doubt what I would call our common sense is that I am told that one electron cannot be distinguished from another. If I have a collision of electrons and I want to do the calculations insisting that this electron is the same after the collision, my calculations do not agree with what is observed. Electrons, and in general elementary particles, have no individuality of their own. Therefore, it makes no sense to say that I want to have these electrons and these protons that are my body. No, they have no individuality of their own.


After all this one does not know what to say about what it means to speak of my body. But I would say that it means that it is the material whole that is adapted to the spirit and under the control of the spirit, so that in the daily and year-by-year change of the metabolism of my organs I can always say that it is the spirit that gives cohesion to this whole material structureand, controlling it, makes it my body.


THE RESURRECTED BODY

Now, let's talk about what the gospels tell us about the resurrected Christ. Only in the case of Christ do we have a description of what a resurrected body does. What does the gospel tell us?


First of all, he enters the upper room where the apostles are without opening the door: he appears in their midst. Where did he enter? The answer, of course, is that he did not enter from anywhere.


How can it become present if it was not inside before and has not entered? The answer can be told by physics: it can go from one place to another without passing through the middle. And where was it before? The answer can also come from physics: it didn't have to be anywhere. Because matter can exist without being anywhere. That's right, as in the case of the black hole. Precisely this is one of the ways of speaking of resurrection: the body ceases to be subject to the limits of space. And because it ceases to be subject to these limits one does not have to look for it with any kind of map to see where it is when it does not want to make itself present. He does not have to be anywhere and makes himself present directly where he wants to be, without passing through any intermediate path. And when Christ disappears from the cenacle, he does not ask for the door to be opened for him either. He simply disappears to be outside the space. We do not know how to explain or imagine what it is to exist out of space, but physics gives me reason to think that this is a reality that also occurs in the world of particles.


But when Christ makes himself present, he has his body, I believe he does. He is touched, he can eat and co-me, because he is a real body and has the capacity to do what is done by means of those four forces that define matter. What the gospel tells us is that Christ himself, addressing the apostles, tells them: see that I have flesh and bones, I am not a ghost. He tells them to touch him. And when they still do not dare to believe it at all, he asks them to feed him, and with them he eats a piece of fish. So it is a real body, yes, with all the possibilities of a human body to act. Then he disappears and appears to the disciples of Emmaus and they do not recognize him. Why? Because, again, it is not subject to any physical law that forces your atoms to be in a particular distribution. Therefore, he can look any way he wants to look. It is not necessarily the body of Christ that has to have such dimensions in each of its features. You can have your own body, but you can completely control how it shows itself, to whom it shows itself, and in what form it shows itself.


If you want me to put it analogically and briefly. When we live in our mortal and normal life, how does our spirit act? It does not act with the freedom proper to a spirit, because a spirit is not subject to physical laws, neither to space nor to limits of movement or time. God or an angel, as pure spirits, are not subject to this space-time change proper to matter. However, our spirit is forced to act almost like matter in the sense that I am here and no matter how much I think about it, my spirit is not going to be in Miami, it is here. And no matter how hard I try, I cannot act but in a time when it takes me work, effort and time to learn something, to make a philosophical reasoning or simply to use the ability to reason in daily life, to absorb the beauty of a poetry, to learn a physical law... All this takes me time. Therefore, my spirit is limited by its union to matter and acts almost like matter, constrained by the limits of space and time.


This, which is the reality of our life, is turned upside down after the resurrection. Then it is the spirit that rules and makes matter exist as spirit, free from those bonds, from those limits of space and time. This is the only logical meaning of St. Paul's phrase: a material body is sown, a spiritual body is raised. Body is the noun, the noun, therefore, is a material structure. But it already acts as a spirit. And because it acts as a spirit, it can determine whether or not it becomes visible in one form or another, in one place or another, at one time or another. The body is totally subordinate to the spirit. And since it will be outside of time, there is no wear and tear, no metabolism, no need to renew structures, no need to get energy from food. Christ said it to the Sadducees, speaking of marriage: in this world marriage is necessary to perpetuate the human race, but not after the resurrection, because there is no wear and tear and no death.


We thus have a way of existing that we cannot imagine, because all our imagination is based on the senses, and the senses are based on data of space and time. And we speak now of an existence outside of space and time, because to exist in eternity is not to exist in a very long time. God does not exist in time. He exists in another way. And this is the existence that we are promised in the resurrection to the whole human reality, not only to the spirit, but also to the body.


In this way, one can understand a little of what resurrection means. It is not a return to life with the limitations and properties of matter subject to space and time, but it is to begin to live with the way of life proper to the spirit, with a total freedom from all physical law, from all wear and tear, from all change. And so, when we say that we are called to a resurrection, with the same body that we have, this does not depend on keeping one by one all the atoms in a tomb. It makes no difference whether the body is destroyed in the tomb, or because there is a fire, or because it is cremated. It doesn't matter, all that doesn't matter, because what is resurrected is a structure made to measure for my spirit from that substrate impossible to imagine that we have called the physical void, whose deformations we call particles that cannot be distinguished from one another and that cannot be distinguished from that which we call energy. All this allows the omnipotence of God, who naturally created everything out of nothing, to make without any difficulty that what he has created and modifies itself becomes again my body.


All this must also be taken into account when we speak of another truth of faith, which is the Eucharist. Christ prepared for the announcement of the Eucharist a series of miracles that demonstrated his complete control over physical reality. The first miracle he performed was to turn water into wine. The miracle of the multiplication of the loaves made five loaves into thousands of loaves for thousands of people. He can do all that and He promised to do it with His own body. So we can say that the whole body of Christ is in every particle of the sacred form. And there is no physical absurdity in saying that one reality is in many places. That body of Christ is present in thousands of places simultaneously and there is no contradiction with physics, either. It is outside of space and time, it is not affected by what happens around it or what is done to it. So, when we receive him in communion, his body does not break or fall apart, but continues to be present even though the sacred host is fractionated. We can neither conceive nor imagine this way of using the properties of matter, but neither can it be said to be incompatible with the idea of matter, and this is what I want to make clear to you.


I do not explain to you what the resurrection is like, because I do not know, nor does anyone else. I do not explain to you what the Eucharist is like, because I cannot understand it, nor do you. What I want to emphasize is that what faith says in these cases is not incompatible with the properties of matter that physics gives me, but that God uses the properties of matter in a wonderful way to achieve something we could never dream of: to achieve an eternal life, without wear and tear, a spirit-like life even for matter.


The body of Christ, glorified, resurrected, is on the very throne of God, adored by angels. As I said in another conference, we adore matter when we adore the body of Christ, because it is matter. And it is matter that has been formed by the evolution of stars. It is matter that has formed part of the universe in its evolution of millions of years. This matter is already rescued forever from destruction: it is the glorious matter that no longer suffers the wear and tear and changes of the natural physical world.


All that is man, therefore, is called to be glorified. He is called to be transformed into a new way of life that can simply be described as God's own way of life: to exist in an eternity where there is no more aging, no more wear and tear, no more change that destroys us. Death no longer takes place, because death is precisely the result of wear and tear, of a maladjustment of our material organs. There will be no wear and tear or change in the resurrected body.


To conclude, I will tell you something very nice. A few years ago I was reading a newspaper in the United States where there were cartoons by various authors. In one of those cartoons there was a little girl of five or six years old praying her prayers before going to bed, with her father next to her. And the little girl says: "Daddy, can you give God a hug in heaven? Well, we can say yes. We will have a body. We will have the possibility of giving Christ a hug, yes, because the body is redeemed by Christ just as the spirit is redeemed. Matter is saved from that futility which, if one looks only at the data of physics, is the future of the universe.


Because physics tells me, without a doubt, that the evolution of the universe leads to the destruction of all material structures, all of them. First, that all the stars are extinguished. Then, that those dark and cold bodies end up disintegrating. The final state that physics can predict is a dark and cold vacuum where in the volume in which there are now perhaps a hundred billion stars then there will only be one electron. Then one may ask, what was it all for? It seems that the universe has been in vain, if this is all that is left at the end. What is the universe for?


The answer, positive, beautiful, is given to us by the dogma of the resurrection. The matter of the universe is rescued from futility and destruction in the glorified body. The body of Christ and the body of Mary already live in that eternal life, and we are also called to it.


What will that life be like? I end with the words of St. Paul: Neither hath he seen with his eyes, nor heard with his ears, neither is it in any man's mind what God hath in store for his own (1 Cor 2:9). It seems to me that this should open up a much more beautiful panorama of hope than anything that the physical data can tell us.

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