Try to define "eternity" without using any temporal terms.
You can't do it.
It is impossible.
And that is just so exciting to me for some reason.
About fifteen minutes ago I was reading some excerpts from Karl Barth's Church Dogmatics
for my Christian Heritage class, and the translation I had used the phrase "pre-temporal eternity." And I thought to myself, "that is an absurd contradiction. you cannot say pre-temporal to refer to eternity, because "pre" means "before" which is a temporal term... and eternity is an existence which transcends time. So then I began to think, "what phrase would I have used instead?"
And I couldn't think of anything.
"before there was time"
Necessary contradictions. Necessary impossibilities.
But seriously. Try to define "eternity" without any reference to "time."
If "time" or any temporal terms appear, your definition is not actually a definition of eternity.
Because true eternity transcends time, and does not need time to exist as its contrast (remember, it is not the opposite of time, and not even really the absence of time... more like the "irrelevance of time"). And yet, look at each of those definitions. To say that eternity is the "irrelevance of time" is to use a definition that hinges around and depends upon the word "time," thus making the definition contradictory, because if eternity is not affected by time, it cannot be defined by it or by its absence.
That will bug me forever.
Just some thoughts.
One of my friends who is a physics person totally tore down this whole observation of mine the other day, so I must mention that I am not approaching it from a physics understanding of time/eternity. So maybe that really does render this whole blog entry ridiculously pointless. Oh well.
Posted on Wed, April 23, 2008
by Hannah Decker filed under