Friday, 30 September 2011

Timeless eternity, serial eternity, endless serial time, finite serial time

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There seems to be a hierarchy as follows:

1. Timeless, unchanging eternity percieved all at once - the perspective of God.

2. Eternity experienced serially - the perspective of angels, and Sons of God (i.e. immortal resurrected humans).

3. Unending serial time - the perspective of unsaved souls.

4. Finite serial time, such as humans live in before they die, while on earth.

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Christian salvation seems to be the promise of a transition from the fourth to the second category (aka Heaven); damnation is the transition from the fourth to the third category (aka Hell).

A difference between unending serial time and eternity experienced serially is related to the sense of duration.

Unending serial is like time on earth but going on forever, experienced by a disembodied soul (a soul severed from its body).

Eternity experienced serially has no subjective duration, no sense of 'time passing'. Experience is added-to serially, the self is changed and 'updated', but the the resulting state is instantaneously apprehended.

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So, a choice before us at the end of finite time relates to either staying the same as you are forever, versus being transformed into a different kind of state (while retaining selfhood).

The temptation of pride is to stay the same and do what you will; to reject what you are and trust you will be made better and do God's will (not your own) requires humility - and Love of God.

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On this model, the problem was how to bridge from eternity experienced serially to finite serial time.

The incarnation of Jesus Christ brought eternity into time - fusing eternity and time; and His death and resurrection provided a 'template' for the transition to eternity experienced serially, as a possibility 'from then onward' (as we say who live in time).

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I imagine this working somewhat like a morphic field as described by Sheldrake, or a strong attractor in chaos theory -

http://www.sheldrake.org/Articles&Papers/papers/morphic/morphic_intro.html.

The above is, like all human attempts to understand reality, a metaphor - maybe helpful, maybe misleading - ignore if the latter.

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3 comments:

  1. I remember C. S. Lewis writing, in "The Problem of Pain" (in the chapter on Hell) that the characteristic feature of Hell was, in his mind, not duration but finality; that to be damned to Hell was not the beginning of a new chapter but the end of the story. He was only speculating, of course, but it's still interesting.

    The relation of time to the afterlife has always interested me. I was once under the impression that not only God but also Heaven and Hell exist outside of time -- that time is simply a property of the physical universe of which we're currently a part. This implied, to me, that there was never a "time" when Heaven and Hell weren't already filled with all the souls that would ever come to occupy it. Which was odd, because it implied that those who were rescued from Hell during the Harrowing were, in some loose sense, in both Heaven and Hell "simultaneously."

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  2. @Proph

    It's funny that you mention "The Problem of Pain" because Dr. Charlton's post made me think of another Lewis book, "The Great Divorce." In that book he portrays Hell as being much like you and Dr. C describe it here. I just received a few minutes ago an invitation to a CS Lewis discussion group starting right down the street from me next month. The first book under discussion? "The Great Divorce."

    A serendipitous morning!

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  3. "1. Timeless, unchanging eternity percieved all at once - the perspective of God."

    I don't know where this sentence originated, but somebody, somewhere, either actually knew what they were talking about, or experienced a divine revelation.
    This could be described as God-Consciousness, and is something one is able to experience, while still living. I take it to be a glimpse of the death-state, while not yet being physically dead.
    Everything, everywhere, always.
    An absence of linear-time.
    The divine magnificence of eternal-time.

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