Following on from yesterday’s post about time, I would like to consider eternity. In the next post, I’ll talk about how we relate to time and eternity.
Have you thought much about eternity? What is your view of what it is? Depending on my mood, I have two different conceptions:
- Eternity is like time, only more so. It’s time that has never begun and will never end, paradoxical as that may sound. Imagine the worst, most boring, rainy Sunday afternoon you have ever experienced, when time dragged on and tea time never arrived. It’s even worse than that; it’s literally endless.The theory of the Steady State Universe, proposed by Astronomer Royal Fred Hoyle and others, builds on this idea; stars may come and go, but they are endlessly replaced by others.
Of course, the modern cosmologists now believe in the Big Bang theory, proposed by Monsignor Georges Lemaître, which states that the universe had a definite beginning and will have an end. Whether that end is a Big Crunch (where the universe will collapse back on itself) or whether it will just fizzle out, is left open. The latter is a variation of eternity which has a start.
Another variation of the Big Crunch is the Cyclic Universe, which states that the universe will bounce at the moment of greatest density, creating a new one from the old, like a phoenix. This is not very popular at the moment, although newer versions based on String Theory and M Theory are now being worked out.
- Eternity is timeless. There is no beginning and no end, therefore nothing happens. Eternity must be very different from our experience, in this case. Worse, according to Einstein, because time and space cannot exist apart from one another, but only as space-time. If there is no time, then there is also no space. In that case, eternity is nothing, the Void.
If you have any other ideas about eternity, please let me know.