Will eternal life be boring?

We had a discussion at Tyndale Conference in Cambridge this week (led by David Leal) on whether eternal life would be boring. It was not a boring discussion.

Will eternal life be boring?

To answer this question I suppose that we need a clear analysis of what boredom is and what makes us bored. Then we need to consider what we know of the resurrection life of the age to come.

However, I don't have time for that so here are a few thoughts off the top of my head.

If we were timeless beings in the new creation then (of course) we would not get bored (do I need to spell out why?). However, this is a non-starter for various reasons not least of which is that the Bible gives not the slightest reason to think that we shall be timeless and plenty of reason to think that we shall not. A timeless existence would hardly be a human existence at all.

So - let's suppose that we are everlasting instead. Well, here the problem of boredom does raise its head.

If new creation is like an eternal church meeting then boredom is guaranteed. But why need it be like a church meeting?

God's presence will be so tangible! Evil will be eradicated!

There is no doubt that the new creation will be wondeful, awesome, and thoroughly enjoyable. However, our current experience indicates that we can become bored even doing things that we love. And if there are no challenges ...

But perhaps there will be challenges and tasks and difficulties.

And perhaps God will modify our psychology a bit so that we don't get bored.

And perhaps, like C.S. Lewis says at the end of The Last Battle the new creation will always be drawing us ever-on, ever-deeper into God. The adventures will never cease. Standing still is not on the cards (if you'll excuse the expression).

I have no doubt that God can sort it that we won't get bored. The big mistake is to suppose that new creation will simply be like our lives now but extended on to infinity (that would be boring).

And, weird as it might sound, perhaps there is a place for boredom in the new creation. Obviously not longterm crippling boredom. However, it is possible that there is a contructive place for short bouts of boredom. In our lives now it is part of being the kinds of creatures that God has made us. We cannot cope with constant excitement, we don't want artificially stimulated spiritual orgasms all the time. Short episdoes of boredom can play a contructive role in human life here and perhaps they will do so even in the new age. I don't know if there will be boredom in 'heaven' (not keen on using that phrase in this context) but if there was a bit I would not mind.

Comments

Jim Deardorff said…
You might want to look into the large amount of evidence supporting the reality of past lives, and with that, reincarnation. However much that prospect might be dreaded by some, it wouldn't be boring. And the between-life phase is always described as being so indescribably pleasant that the soul is very reluctant to return to its next human life, which it knows it must do in order to continue learning and evolving.

Along with this, you would need to recall that Pharisees, for the most part, believed in resurrection, Saul was a Pharisee, Paul was very persuasive and persistent, and the Gospel writers were not exactly pipelines from God!
Terry Wright said…
There was a book I read some time ago by David Lawrence: Heaven... It's Not the End of the World. In there, he offered some speculative 'case studies' on what life in the age to come would be like. It's worth tracking the book down for these, even if you end up thinking it leans towards sanctified sentimentality.
Robin Parry said…
Terry

The book that you mention is a great book (published by SU and, last I looked, still available). Of course, it does not solve the boredom problem (though it is not aiming to do so)

Robin
Terry Wright said…
But I think it could head things in an appropriate direction for dealing with it. If boredom is, for example, time ill-spent on doing nothing through acedia or some such vice, then the heavenly antidote is a proper attitude towards time and activity. Pehaps!
Anonymous said…
Been getting panic attacks due to the concept of "eternity"; this has helped me for now. Thanks!

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