Heaven and Eternity- is it outside of creation?

Hi All,

I have a question about heaven- and hell for that matter?

Is heaven outside of creation? I.e. is it outside of space and time and therefore in eternity?
I assume, since we will have the beatific vision, that heaven is outside of space and time and in eternity.

So- 1) was heaven always there? Or was it created by God in the beginning?
1a) If so, was it created after the fall?

  1. If hell means a soul will not have the beatific vision- is hell therefore somehow separate from God in eternity? If God is in eternity, outside of space and time, I’m not sure how this can be thought of?
    Do those souls simply not have the ability to see God, even though he is there?


Well… I think a lot of it has to do with what you mean when you say Heaven and Hell. To my understanding the Catholic teaching isn’t so much that these are places as they are states of being.

Heaven is the state of being in the presence of God.
Hell is the state of being completely separated from God.

From this understanding, Haven and Hell have always existed because they are the result of the presence, or lack of presence, of God, who has always existed.

Heaven and Hell are both outside of creation because God is outside of creation, although due to the Incarnation, we are capable of experiencing varying levels of Heaven and Hell here on Earth during the course of our mortal lives.

As for the -how- of Hell’s separation, it’s something we can’t really understand right now. We use the concepts of ‘place’ and ‘proximity’ to try to explain it, but ultimately these explanations fall short because there is no ‘place’ to God, there simply IS. We know that God, as the ultimate author of existence (both physical and spiritual) is capable of anything, and as such we can infer that he is capable of allowing people to separate themselves from Him. We just can’t really understand the nature of that separation until he either explains it to us, or we experience it by choosing it.

Hope this helps, God Bless ^^

What I have to offer may not be technically correct theology, but it is offered with charity, and not to contradict Church teachings, so I think it falls under the wiggle room given by St. Augustine:) -

Heaven and Hell, as the previous poster noted, is not a physical, geographic, place.

Heaven is being in the presence of God, and Hell is being separated from God.

However, with that said, back to the question, “Heaven and Eternity - is it outside of creation?”

First, let’s look at Heaven. Yes, Heaven is very much is part of creation (Genesis 1:1). And, mankind was created to live eternally. The fall of man (Genesis Chapter 3) changed all that. At the moment of the fall, mankind (resulting of his unwise application of God’s gift of free-will), not God, created Hell.

Now, for Eternity. Eternity is outside creation, in that, Eternity has no beginning and no end. Eternity is not linear. No starting point, no ending point. So, eternity is every present (a concept known as the “Eternal Now”). This is why the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass is a representation (that is RE-presentation) of the death and resurrection of the Lord (and not merely a representation, which would mean it is purely symbolic and therefore does not support the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist).

Time, not eternity, was created. God gave us time as a frame of reference for man. God functions outside the constraints of time.

Hope this helps.

Good responses- interesting topic!

I think in talking about beholding the beatific vision, you understand that heaven and hell are not ‘places’.

As Neofight suggested- heaven was created…

As God always was, and is in eternity- and He created us- and our souls are united to him after death- I guess some kind of ‘half-way house’ must exist so our souls can pass into a state of beholding God? Or do we just pass from this world into eternity, where He existed before creation?

To be ‘in’ hell implies one likely does encounter God in some way and therefore suffers separation? You can’t suffer separation from something unless you are aware that it exists?

I have never quite understood the ‘new heaven and new earth’ teaching which seems to tie into this thread somewhat.


Heaven and Hell may also be a place as well as a state. The Church does not teach that they are only a state.

I might distinguish between creation and the universe as we know it–nowhere is it necessary that the visible world is all of creation.

Heaven and eternity–insofar as they are being in the presence of God–need not be created. That is heaven as a state of being. However, as creatures, it seems likely that we need a place to be in God’s presence–and so there would have to be some sort of creation of heaven for us to be. (Doesn’t the Book of Revelation speak of the new heaven and new earth to be created in Rev 21:1-2?)

Hell is, as I understand it, the state of rejecting God. If we reject the presence of God but are eternally condemned to be in the presence of God, for that is how we were made, that would be torment. It need not be a place–although again, it makes more sense to me that there is some sort of created place for us to exist. However, that is just my mind making sense of things, not what God has in mind for us.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.