Timeless definition of eternity.... does not exist.

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"
"pre-temporal eternity"
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.
Hannah Marie



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.

4 comments (Add your own)

1. Sam (your 8th cousin, 4 times removed or whatever) wrote:
Definition of eternity: "timeless" (and I even used a temporal term) ;-) Miss you!

Thu, September 4, 2008 @ 6:51 PM

2. Marguex wrote:
Eternity is. (that means was is will be). That is the closest to translation that I have been able to make from the eternal. In translating languages sometimes one must use words that don't fit to give an idea of the concept. Here on earth we speak the language of time. In eternity we won't need that language. We will be in the language of the eternal. Marguex PS

Sun, February 28, 2010 @ 9:18 PM

3. Rhitt Garrett wrote:
1. The English philosopher J.G. Bennett offers a definition of eternity that works well for me: Think of eternity as "the storehouse of potential". All "potential" is in a "non-time" state.

2. All electromagnetic radiation is in a state in which time is not relevant. For example, light(photons) from a distant galaxy requires, say, a billion light years to reach our sight, as measured in our time frame of reference. However, if the photon were wearing a wristwatch, and it were asked "how long did your journey require?", the answer would be "absolutely none". Likewise if asked "and how far did you travel on this journey?" it would answer "none". This the realty stated by simple physics

3. "value" is not time-dependent, hence can be described as "eternal".

4. "Non-locality" in physics, states that every particle in the universe is in instant "apprehension" of every other part. This "apprehension" is to be differentiated from "communication" which is limited to the speed of light. A consequence of non-locality is that every particle has its own present moment, yet the universe itself has a single present moment. This reality, a reality asserted by scientist and theologian alike, has profound implications. Go figure! Reality is more strange than we can imagine.

There is an interesting movie, "What the Bleep do I Know?" that offers some insight, or at least glimpses, into some of these topics.

Thanks for offering your question. rtg.

Sun, April 25, 2010 @ 3:39 PM

4. Ariana wrote:
Amen Debbie, its the greatest chlnleage we all face as Christians . . .not to be swept up in the outward of circumstances but remain heavenly focused through His lens of grace. And I love that mountain and that Valley of the Sun. My mother in law was here with us at the beach for a month and just went back home to the desert. Hear it getting hot! Bless you.

Mon, June 10, 2013 @ 6:49 PM

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