Philosophy Word of the Day – Eternity

Great Clock of Westminster
Image by vgm8383 via Flickr

I will return to Part Two of the teleological argument soon, but for today – it’s eternity.

Sometimes used to mean simply the whole of time; but more usually used to mean a timeless realm (with no past or future) in which God lives.

Boethius defined it as the “total and perfect possession at once of an endless life.”  It seemed unthinkable that for God there should be a “no longer” and a “not yet.” Most Christian thinkers since the fourth century (unlike the authors of the Bible) held that God exists outside time, but in his timeless realm simultaneously acts at and knows about every moment of time.

It is, however, doubtful if this is a coherent claim—if God sees some event in 500 BC as it happens and sees some other event in 2000 AD as it happens, and all divine seeings are simultaneous with each other, then 500 BC must be the same year as 2000 AD—which is absurd.

Richard Swinburne, The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (Oxford, 1995), 251.

For Further Reading

God and the Nature of Time, Garrett J. DeWeese

Time and Eternity: Exploring God’s Relationship to Time, William Lane Craig

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