In an earlier post I introduced the idea that our very atoms are recycled. What does that mean?
Without getting too far into the weeds, I’ll start by saying that the chemistry of all living things on this planet is based on the carbon atom. All living creatures are made of carbon-based compounds. The foods we eat are carbon-based compounds. The air we breathe contains carbon. In other words, all living things on this planet are carbon-based including us. Some science fiction would suggest there are other bases for life, but I don’t think so. The carbon atom seems to be uniquely designed to support life and no other atom appears to be able to do that.
When living creatures die, their bodies decay and the carbon in them returns to the environment and eventually becomes a nutrient for some other living creature.
In that way carbon atoms get recycled. But, in a similar way, so do hydrogen, oxygen and all other atoms involved in living things. The atoms that went into making up some ancient dinosaur are not lost. They are still around. Maybe as part of a rock, a bit of algae; maybe as a tiny part of a gopher, a tree, a sibling or you.
Parts of you and me are doubtlessly made of atoms recycled from some other human beings. If you have ever breathed the same air as another person, it is likely that some of your atoms have become part of that other person and theirs have become part of you.
We are sometimes told that because we’re Christian, our bodies will be raised up – the dead rising first. Suppose then that a few of the atoms that make up your body have come from some ancient Christian. It is also possible that the ancient Christian’s atoms may be incorporated into thousands of other Christians – both living and dead. How can his body and the others (yours too) be raised intact when the atoms that make them up are being recycled and shared everywhere?
I don’t think they can. I know all things are possible with God, but He has established rules for the behavior of the universe and He usually abides by them. So I think it’s prudent to find an answer that fits within our understanding those rules. (We usually refer to the things God does when He operates outside His rules as miracles.)
In Revelation 21:5 God says, “… I am making all things new …”. The implication is that not only will the world as we know it be made of new stuff, but that time is when we do get physical bodies — glorified bodies. Those bodies will be made of the new material. A new substance that will last forever and no longer be subject to the effects of aging, injury or decay. Assuming atoms actually exist at that time, everything will be made of fresh, new ones – far superior to the used, recycled, run-down atoms we have now.
We get new physical (if such a term still applies) bodies. Here’s an interesting thought – at that time we will be able to visit the New Jerusalem if we wish. Our present bodies would suffocate long before they reached the 1,400 mile high top floor. Our new bodies won’t have such problems. Everything will be new – even the trees. The Tree of Life, for example, is described in Revelation 22:2 as yielding a new fruit each month. There are no trees anywhere on this planet today that can do that.
A perfect new world with a perfect government and new bodies free from death or sorrow or crying or pain are wonderful things offered to followers of Christ. The open, empty tomb signals that offering and tells His followers they have no need to fear anything – even death. (Fear is simply a lack of faith.)
Does that make you uncomfortable or give you peace?
See Revelation 21:1-5 and 1 Corinthians 15:44
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