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an author of 2,463 Wikipedia articles  Read now=Eternity= From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to: navigation, searchFor other uses, see Eternity (disambiguation).Eternity personified, holding the ourobouros. Caryatid in the apse of Milan Cathedral (1611).While in the popular mind, eternity (or foreverness) often simply means existence for a limitless amount of time, many have used it to refer to a timeless existence altogether outside time. By contrast, infinite temporal existence is then called sempiternity. Something eternal exists outside time; by contrast, something sempiternal exists throughout an infinite time. Sempiternity is also known as everlastingness.
The metaphysics of eternity might be summarized by the question: can anything be said to exist "outside of" or independent of Time/Space, and if so how and why? Some consequential metaphysical questions of some importance are then: can "information" be said to exist without, or independent of, the human mind, and, if so, what would be the content and "purpose" of such information?
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Main articles: Conceptions of God and ImmortalitySee also: The nature of God in monotheistic religionsTheists say that God is eternally existent. How this is understood depends on which definition of eternity is used. On one hand, God may exist in eternity, a timeless existence where categories of past, present, and future just do not apply. On the other hand, God will exist for or through eternity, or at all times, having already existed for an infinite amount of time and continuing to exist for an infinite amount of time. One other definition states that God exists outside the human concept of time, but also inside of time. The reasoning for this definition is that if God did not exist both outside time and inside time, God would not be able to interact with humans.
Whichever definition of eternity is understood, it is an understatement to say that humans cannot fully understand eternity, since it is either an infinite amount of time as we know it or something other than the time and space we know. For the infinite definition, there are parallels that give some notion of an infinity—of at least a potential infinity, or a series that begins and has not ended. A series of moments that has begun and not ended is, however, not potentially eternal by that definition. A series of moments that has begun and not ended cannot be eternal, because even if it were to continue for the rest of (infinite) time, there would still be time prior to the initial moment in the series. The series of moments could not ever exist for all eternity because no matter what happened during the series of moments, nothing would ever cause the series of moments to have existed since the beginning of "eternity", and thus could never achieve the status of eternal or even potentially eternal.
Augustine of Hippo wrote that time exists only within the created universe, so that God exists outside time; for God there is no past or future, but only an eternal present; this, of course, would require God to exist only outside the present universe. One need not believe in God in order to hold this concept of eternity: for example[original research?], an atheist mathematician can maintain the philosophical tenet that numbers and the relationships among them exist outside time, and so are in that sense eternal.
Related to the notion of eternal existence is the concept of God as Creator, as a being completely independent of "everything else" that exists because God created everything else (as against panentheism). If this premise is true, then it follows that God is independent of both space and time, since these are properties of the universe. So according to this notion, God exists before time began, exists during all moments in time, and will continue to exist if somehow the universe and time itself were to cease to exist, which may present a problem as to how He could then influence events within the universe.
Related to 'eternal life', the biblical revelation first indicated that Man as a special created being is able to grasp the abstract concept in contrast with the lower animal world which did not have the ability to understand the concept of "eternity". See book of Ecclesiastes 3:11 "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men .." (from Bible translation in the N.I.V.). Contrast this with the timeless existence definition, which would imply animals are blessed with eternal life from birth (because of their inability to grasp the concept of eternity or even time), which is something mankind gave up when he was cast out of the "Garden of Eden." It is commonly believed among theists that although mankind can grasp the abstract concept of "eternity", one may only obtain "eternal life" once returned to God.
The idea of God being outside of time is a result of much thought amongst theists on the “Who created God” or “What was there before God?” questions. The main scriptural clue is found in 2Pe:3:8: “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
Eternity is often symbolized by the image of a snake swallowing its own tail, known as Ouroboros (or Uroboros), though the symbol can also carry a number of other connotations.
The circle is also commonly used as a symbol for eternity. The related concept, infinity, is symbolized by , which may be based on the Ouroboros.
- The Ouroboros.
- The "endless knot," a symbol of eternity used in Tibetan Buddhism.
- An ancient Armenian symbol of eternity.
- An annulus, a Celtic symbol of eternity.
- Infinity symbol variations.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Eternity|
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- Arguments for eternity
- Eternal return
- Perennial philosophy
- Temporal finitism
- Yin and yang
|Look up eternity in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/eternity/ Entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on Eternity.
- http://www.iep.utm.edu/g/god-time.htm Entry in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy on the relationship between God and Time.
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