1. Standard memberGrampy Bobby
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    "Eternity" [First published Fri Jan 20, 2006; substantive revision Thu Feb 4, 2010]

    "Concepts of eternity have developed in a way that is, as a matter of fact, closely connected to the development of the concept of God in Western thought, beginning with ancient Greek philosophers; particularly to the idea of God's relation to time, the idea of divine perfection, and the Creator-creature distinction. Eternity as timelessness, and eternity as everlastingness, have been distinguished. Following the work of Boethius and Augustine of Hippo divine timelessness became the dominant view. In more recent times, those who stress a more anthropomorphic account of God, or God's immanence within human history, have favored divine everlastingness. The debate has been sharpened by the use of McTaggart's distinction between A-series and B-series accounts of temporal sequence.

    1. Etymology

    The English word ‘eternal’ comes from aeturnus in Latin, itself a derivation from aevum, an age or time. So ‘eternity’ means everlastingness. However, in the course of philosophical discussion the idea of everlastingness has been further refined, and two contrasting concepts can be denoted by it. It is usual to make the contrast clear by calling one of these ‘eternity’ or ‘atemporality’ and the other ‘sempiternity’ or ‘everlastingness'.

    2. The loci classici

    The richest and longest discussions of eternity have been in connection with the manner of God's life. The loci classici of this discussion, which makes the contrast between everlastingness and eternity clearer, and at the same time establishes what came to be the dominant account of eternity in western philosophy and theology, are to be found in Book XI of the Confessions of Augustine (354–430) and Book V of Boethius's (480–c.525) The Consolation of Philosophy. (The extent to which the platonism of Philo of Alexandria (c. 25 B.C.–40 A.D.), particularly applied to the idea of creation (for example, in his De opificio mundi) was influential is not clear.) However, the styles of these two thinkers are very different. Boethius presents the idea of divine eternity as straightforward and relatively problem-free, while Augustine wrestles with the idea and expresses continual puzzlement and indeed amazement at the idea of time itself and with it the contrasting idea of divine eternality. In Boethius the contrast (which Boethius believes to be a ‘common judgement&rsquo😉 is drawn between timeless eternity which only God enjoys, and the sempiternity which (according to Plato) the world itself possesses.

    It is the common judgement, then, of all creatures that live by reason that God is eternal. So let us consider the nature of eternity, for this will make clear to us both the nature of God and his manner of knowing. Eternity, then, is the complete, simultaneous and perfect possession of everlasting life; this will be clear from a comparison with creatures that exist in time. …for it is one thing to progress like the world in Plato's theory through everlasting life, and another thing to have embraced the whole of everlasting life in one simultaneous present. (Boethius Consolation, V.VI.)

    God has life, so eternity in this sense cannot also be possessed by abstract ideas or numbers. God's life is ‘at once’, simultaneous. Boethius invokes this idea in order to resolve the problem of providence. If God knows beforehand what I shall do then how can I be free not to do it? His answer is that this problem dissolves in the face of the fact that God does not know anything beforehand but has an immediate, atemporal knowledge of all things. In Augustine the connection is made between divine eternity and divine fullness, and of God, existing timelessly, being the cause of all times.

    What times existed which were not brought into being by you? Or how could they pass if they never had existence? Since, therefore, you are the cause of all times, if any time existed before you made heaven and earth, how can anyone say that you abstained from working? (Augustine, Confessions, XI. xiii (15)). It is not in time that you precede times. Otherwise you would not precede all times. In the sublimity of an eternity which is always in the present, you are before all things past and transcend all things future, because they are still to come. (Augustine Confessions XI. xiii (16)).

    In you it is not one thing to be and another to live: the supreme degree of being and the supreme degree of life are one and the same thing. You are being in a supreme degree and are immutable. In you the present day has no ending, and yet in you it has its end: ‘all these things have their being in you’ (Rom.11.36). They would have no way of passing away unless you set a limit to them. Because ‘your years do not fail’ (Ps.101.28), your years are one Today. (Augustine Confessions, I. vi (10))... " http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/eternity/#pagetopright (to be continued)

    Rationale: Here's my simple rationale for introducing this eternity focused thread: The belief vs. the disbelief in the reality of life after physical death is, in my estimation, one of the most significant differences between the mindsets/perspectives of nearly all contributors to this spirituality forum. If there's no "eternity": What the hell am I worried about. Be Moral. Eat, Drink and be Merry for Tomorrow We Die. And please don't bother me with your tripe about the person and claims of Christ! If there is an "eternity", then maybe I should think again about temporal vs. eternal issues for my sake and my family's.
  2. SubscriberFMF
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    12 Jun '14 19:03
    Originally posted by Grampy Bobby
    If there is an "eternity", then maybe I should think again about temporal vs. eternal issues for my sake and my family's.
    If this stuff that religionists like yourself come up with about these so called "eternal issues" helps you to deal with death and gives your lives some sort of personal meaning or purpose, I think it's OK. What you are going through is a long standing, and in many ways, understandable part of the human condition.
  3. Standard memberwolfgang59
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    12 Jun '14 19:56
    It would be lovely if we could create truth just by discussing it.
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    12 Jun '14 20:20
    Eternity (n.) – The amount of time required to get Grampy Bobby to engage in debate.
  5. Standard memberGrampy Bobby
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    12 Jun '14 22:131 edit
    FMF, wolfgang59, Pat Novak we're considering a concept that's been discussed for centuries by the intellectuals of their time. Collectively, they've engaged in an objective academic discourse without losing sight of the concept of eternity. My hope was/is that subjectivity and pettiness will be set aside so that we may do the same. What contributions do each of you have?
  6. Standard memberGrampy Bobby
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    12 Jun '14 22:26
    Originally posted by Grampy Bobby
    "Eternity" [First published Fri Jan 20, 2006; substantive revision Thu Feb 4, 2010]

    "Concepts of eternity have developed in a way that is, as a matter of fact, closely connected to the development of the concept of God in Western thought, beginning with ancient Greek philosophers; particularly to the idea of God's relation to time, the idea of di ...[text shortened]... ity", then maybe I should think again about temporal vs. eternal issues for my sake and my family's.
    "Eternity" [First published Fri Jan 20, 2006; substantive revision Thu Feb 4, 2010]

    3. The Eternalist View

    "So, beginning with Augustine and Boethius, many thinkers have held the view that God exists apart from time, or outside time. He possesses life all at once. But the expression ‘all at once’ is not meant to indicate a moment of time, but the absence of temporal sequence, though not, in the view of some, the absence of duration. So it is not that God has always existed, for as long as time has existed, and that he always will exist, but that God does not exist in time at all. He is apart from his creation, transcendent over it. Eternalists such as Augustine and Boethius deliberately reject the idea that God is everlasting, or sempiternal, that for any time t God exists at that time.

    On this view there is a radical and sharp distinction between the Creator and his creation. Among the marks of the Creator is that he exists necessarily, and is timeless and changeless, while his creation is contingent, and its changes are marked by time. Some, such as Augustine, suggest that God created the universe with time and if time is what you get when things change, then this seems an attractive proposal. Time is not a substance or a thing, but a relation between things, or more exactly a relation between changes in things.

    What helps to form the thought that God is timeless (and spaceless) is the idea, surely a basic intuition of ‘Abrahamic’ theism, that God has fullness or self-sufficiency or perfection. Part of God's perfection is that he is changeless; he cannot change for the worse, and does not need to change for the better. He exists as a complete, entire unity, together. His existence is not spread out in time or in space, as the existence of material objects is, but his existence is all at once.

    Those in time are bound by it, in this sense, that they cannot stop the process of change and therefore of time. They are the subjects of time, not its masters. In a sense, they are more the masters of space than they are of time, for they can choose to remain at the same physical location for a time, but they cannot choose to remain at some particular time. In this respect the hymn-writer Isaac Watts was perfectly correct when he compared time to an ‘ever-rolling stream’ which ‘bears all its sons away’.

    Another feature of time is that those who exist in time have lives which are successive. Their memories are of parts that existed earlier, present awareness is of that part that exists now, (or perhaps a short time earlier) and hopes and expectations concern those parts that exist later. If God is in time in the sort of way that human beings are in time it follows that he has earlier and later phases. At any time, a part of his life is earlier than other parts. On the reasonable supposition that he has always existed there is a series of parts that is backwardly everlasting. There never was a time when God was not. Nevertheless it follows from the supposition that God is in time that there are segments of his life which together constitute a part of God's life that are presently inaccessible to him except by memory. And the eternalist will say that such an idea is incompatible with God's fullness and self-sufficiency. For how could God be restricted in this way?" http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/eternity/ (to be continued)
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    12 Jun '14 22:321 edit
    Subjectivity is the essence of experiencing. However, eternity can never be experienced in its entirety (if our nature does not drastically change.)

    All we have, and will have in any event, is our experience of events in the eternal now, between "from when experiencing started" and "up until now."

    To the extent our memory is preserved, one sort of event will be remembering our experiences.

    I disagree with those that say that without belief in eternity, their behavior might as well be different. Why should our moral guide be predicated on being eternal? Why should we not behave as if we are eternal, even if we lack belief that we are? A moral guide that predicates its rules on your belief in the eternal consequences of your actions, is just another form of pragmatic what's-in-it-for-me consequentialism. I say there should be no difference in behavior on that basis, and anyone whose behavior is based on it is suspect in my mind.
  8. Standard memberGrampy Bobby
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    13 Jun '14 00:451 edit
    Originally posted by JS357
    Subjectivity is the essence of experiencing. However, eternity can never be experienced in its entirety (if our nature does not drastically change.)

    All we have, and will have in any event, is our experience of events in the eternal now, between "from when experiencing started" and "up until now."

    To the extent our memory is preserved, one sort of eve ...[text shortened]... rence in behavior on that basis, and anyone whose behavior is based on it is suspect in my mind.
    Originally posted by JS357
    "Subjectivity is the essence of experiencing..."

    This sententious conclusion sounds like a reduction of human perception similar to those found in Descartes' writings.

    Originally posted by JS357
    All we have, and will have in any event, is our experience of events in the eternal now, between "from when experiencing started" and "up until now..."

    We as human beings possess three means of perception: empiricism, rationalism and faith.

    JS, I agree with your concluding paragraph: belief or disbelief in eternity in no way assure acceptable moral behavior.
  9. SubscriberFMF
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    13 Jun '14 01:08
    Originally posted by Grampy Bobby
    FMF, wolfgang59, Pat Novak we're considering a concept that's been discussed for centuries by the intellectuals of their time. Collectively, they've engaged in an objective academic discourse without losing sight of the concept of eternity. My hope was/is that subjectivity and pettiness will be set aside so that we may do the same. What contributions do each of you have?
    Not accepting your personal and often repeated claims that you are immortal in some way is not "pettiness", Grampy Bobby. As I said, I think your apparently sincere hope for an "afterlife" of some kind, along with your assertions that there are things we can do during our lives that can affect or produce a continuation of life after death, are an understandable part of the human condition ~ mixing things like fear of theunknown, creativity and imagination, appetite for dogmatism ~ just as they were an understandable part of the human condition for those intellectuals among us who happened to subscribe to similar conjecture over the centuries.
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    13 Jun '14 01:086 edits
    Originally posted by JS357
    However, eternity can never be experienced in its entirety (if our nature does not drastically change.)


    "Behold what manner of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God .... Behold, now are we the children of God, and it has not yet been manifested what we will be. We know that if He is manifested, we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is." (1 John 3:1a,2)

    " For our commonwealth exists in the heavens, from which also we eagerly await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ Who will transfigure the body of our humiliation to be conformed to the body of His glory, according to His operation by which He is able even to subject all things to Himself." (Phil 3:20,21)

    "And when this corruptible will put on incorruption and this mortal will put on immortality, then the word which is written will come to pass, 'Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?' " (1 Cor. 15:54,55)

    "And the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. But we all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit." (2 Cor. 3:17,18)

    "So also is the resurrection of the dead, It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption, It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; It is sown a soulish body, it is raised a spritual body. If there is a soulish body, there is also a spiritual body." (1 Cor. 15:42-44)

    "Behold, I tell you a mystery; We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." (1 Cor. 15:51-53)

    "For also, we who are in this tabernacle groan, being burdened, in that we do not desire to be unclothed, but clothed upon, that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has wrought us for this very thing is God, who has given to us the Spirit as a pledge." (2 Cor. 5:4,5)

    "In hope that the creation itself will also be freed from the slavery of corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. ... but we ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, eagerly awaiting sonship, the redemption of our body." (Rom. 8:21,23)

    "Father, concerning that which You have given Me, I desire that they also may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory, which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world." (John 17:24)
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    13 Jun '14 01:291 edit
    I'd like to express this simple idea about what eternity means to me. It's like comprehending infinity. I know what it means, but I can't grasp it. Not yet anyway!

    Simply put, eternity is the never ending 'now'. I think! That is, if eternity has anything to do with time.

    The word eternity occurs once in the KJV. It appears that eternity is the place God inhabits interestingly.

    Isaiah 57:15
    For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name [is] Holy; I dwell in the high and holy [place], with him also [that is] of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
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    13 Jun '14 01:35
    Originally posted by wolfgang59
    It would be lovely if we could create truth just by discussing it.
    We can discover truth by discussing it perhaps?
  13. SubscriberFMF
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    13 Jun '14 02:09
    Originally posted by josephw
    We can discover truth by discussing it perhaps?
    Well, as Grampy Bobby apparently conceded, religious notions of immortality are "a concept that's been discussed for centuries by the intellectuals of their time" and yet such discussions have not conjured 'eternal life' into existence nor has it produced a single shred of evidence from the whole history of mankind of anyone 'living on' in any form after death.
  14. Standard memberGrampy Bobby
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    13 Jun '14 02:19
    Originally posted by FMF
    Not accepting your personal and often repeated claims that you are immortal in some way is not "pettiness", Grampy Bobby. As I said, I think your apparently sincere hope for an "afterlife" of some kind, along with your assertions that there are things we can do during our lives that can affect or produce a continuation of life after death, are an understandable ...[text shortened]... those intellectuals among us who happened to subscribe to similar conjecture over the centuries.
    The soul is the immaterial, immortal essence of man, the real person [as opposed to the body]; its characteristics are self consciousness, mentality, volition and conscience. It's also the center of knowledge in the spiritual life: "... for as he thinks within himself, so he is." Proverbs 23:7a NASB Nobody is coercing anyone to believe anything. We're discussing 'eternity.'
  15. Standard memberGrampy Bobby
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    13 Jun '14 02:22
    Originally posted by josephw
    I'd like to express this simple idea about what eternity means to me. It's like comprehending infinity. I know what it means, but I can't grasp it. Not yet anyway!

    Simply put, eternity is the never ending 'now'. I think! That is, if eternity has anything to do with time.

    The word eternity occurs once in the KJV. It appears that eternity is the place G ...[text shortened]... humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
    Originally posted by josephw
    "I'd like to express this simple idea about what eternity means to me. It's like comprehending infinity." Mind boggling!
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