Earlier this year, in response to a question at a coding conference, serial innovator and entrepreneur Elon Musk stated that there was “a one in billions chance that this [that is the world in which we live] is base reality.” Which is to say, not a simulation, a fabrication of computer code in which we are all existing as though real. Anyone who remembers the movie The Matrix has a picture of this. If you’re interested, you can hear his argument here and read a counter-argument here.
I think that Mr. Musk’s number is too high. The chance that this is base reality is less than one in billions. It’s zero.
As I read Hebrews 11 and Romans 8, I become more and more convinced that base reality, that reality that is the most real is the resurrection for which Christians hope. It is a hope that we have in hand. It is real already for us in the resurrection of Jesus, even as we await its coming for ourselves, all people and the whole created cosmos.
Every Sunday morning at the Chapel of the Resurrection, we speak together a centuries-old statement of faith that declares those things that the community that is meeting together holds to be most true. Among those things that are true are: “the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.”
Now certainly, as the whole assembly is speaking those words, there’s a variety of images at play in a variety of imaginations, and my guess is that some, if we’re thinking intentionally about what we’re saying at all, are inclined to regard any resurrection talk as somehow metaphorical.
Nevertheless, it seems clear that the writers of the New Testament, people like Paul and the author of the letter to the Hebrews, imagined that they were writing about actual physical resurrection into an actual physical created world — a kind of a reboot, to borrow from the language of computing. They rooted this hope in the observable phenomenon of the physical resurrection of Jesus.
While some may dismiss this hope as pie-in-the-sky, I’m becoming more and more convinced of this hope as essential to the conduct of daily life — the living out of one’s calling. What does it mean to live today’s day in the hope of tomorrow’s resurrection? What does it mean to care for today’s earth in view of its full restoration?
Having written chapters and chapters on the power of this hope, the writer to the Hebrews concludes by calling his first readers to lives of celebration, empathy and contentment. Life, not death, has the last word and is certain. My encouragement to you who live, work, and study in this community that is so interested in questions of calling is to include in your consideration what it might mean to answer your vocation with a view toward your resurrection and the redemption of the whole world in which we live.
Blessings to you on your way.
Aug. 31, 2016
Rev. James A. Wetzstein serves as one of our university pastors at Valpo and takes turns writing weekly reflections.