Thoughts on Interaction Between the Physical World and the Spiritual Realm

Living in the physical world, our physical senses (sight, sound, touch, taste and smell) and sensitivities are constantly bombarded by physical stimuli, so it is not surprising that many of us consider the physical realm to be the sum of mankind’s existence. If you take the time to look, however, there is ample evidence of physical interaction from a realm outside of this.

How Does the Physical World Interact with the Spiritual Realm?

For our physical world to have direct interaction with the spiritual, or supernatural,

Idea of Earth creation

realm, one of two things must happen. Either the physical world must extend into the supernatural realm, or vice-versa. But how, exactly, does this happen? There are many recorded instances of the spiritual, or “higher” realm communicating with the physical, or “lower” realm, such as the appearance of angels (Lk 2:13), and God speaking to humans (Mt 3:16). The physical mechanism of that communication is less clear. Did God actually cause the angels to temporarily physically exist in the earthly realm, and did He generate physical sound waves, or did He cause all those present to believe simultaneously that they saw or heard exactly what He wanted them to? It may have been neither. If we are already creating three-dimensional lifelike images using holographic technology, I imagine that it would certainly be possible for God to project images into our world without the need to generate physical presences.

Bidirectional Communication Between Realms

The main physical messenger from the higher realm was, of course, Jesus. His natural birth and documented life within the world for more than thirty-three years leaves little doubt that His was a physical presence. There is also evidence of frequent non-physical communication from the supernatural realm, such as messages from God in dreams (Mt 1:20), or in direct communication with the sensibilities of humans, as in the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart (Ex 9:12). There are also numerous biblical references to actions by angels relating to the physical world, including observing (1 Cor 4:9), encouraging (Acts 27:23-26), rescuing (Acts 5:19-20), and protecting (Dan 6:22).

Looking at communication from the worldly realm to the supernatural realm, the Bible describes several instances of people being granted the ability to visit, or to “see” into heaven. In biblical order, these include Elisha (2 Kings 6:15-17), Ezekiel (Ezek. 1:1), Stephen (Acts 7:55-56), Paul (2 Cor 12:2-4), and John (Rev 4:1-11). As well as being able to see into heaven, Ezekiel also describes being spoken to by “the spirit” and eating a scroll during his vision. Of course, the most common form of interaction from the worldly realm is prayer, and this is a unidirectional flow of information, with responses that are uncertain to man, subject to the will of God, and not under man’s control.

Miracles

In his book Miracles, C. S. Lewis defines the word “miracle” as “an interference with Nature by a supernatural power.”[1]  He describes just two classes of events – miracles and natural events.[2]He then establishes the case for the supernatural by dealing first with philosophy, and then demonstrates that rational thought and moral standards have supernatural sources.[3]Later, he uses this principle to show that man is “a composite being – a natural organism tenanted by, or in a state of symbiosis with, a supernatural spirit.”[4]When we, as individuals, cannot even fully comprehend our own personal element of the supernatural, how much more difficult would it be to describe the supernatural realm itself?

The perpetration of miracles opens up further questions on the interaction between the supernatural and the physical realm. Looking at the first miracle performed by Jesus, when He changed water into wine, exactly what process was used to effect the transformation? The production of wine is usually a lengthy process, but this happened immediately. Did this wine already exist within another dimension of the spiritual realm, and was it then moved into the physical world, or does God have the ability to instantaneously create any material, anywhere, at any time? The latter, perhaps, would not be difficult for a Being that originally spoke the universe into existence (Psalm 33:6), demonstrating an ability to create matter from nothing.

[1]Lewis, C. S., (2009-06-03), Miracles (Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis), HarperCollins, Kindle Edition (p. 5).

[2]Ibid., (Kindle location 2741).

[3]Ibid., (p. 60).

[4]Ibid., (p. 203).

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