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May 19, 2012

“The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me.”

The king asks, "€œHow many seconds of time are there in eternity?"
The boy describes a mountain in Lower Pomerania two and a half miles tall and just as wide and deep, and he says, "Every hundred years a little bird comes and sharpens its beak on it, and when the whole mountain is worn away by this, then the first second of eternity will be over."€ -- The Science Creative Quarterly » HOW TO THINK ABOUT ETERNITY

Posted by gerardvanderleun at May 19, 2012 1:23 PM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

Regarding the infinite, I've always liked this passage from E.F. Benson's story "In the Tube":

...If you come to think of it, the one thing which the human mind cannot grasp is the finite, not the infinite, the temporary, not the eternal."

"That sounds rather paradoxical," said I.

"Only because you've made a habit of thinking about things that seem bounded and limited.

Look it in the face for a minute. Try to imagine finite Time and Space, and you find you can't.

Go back a million years, and multiply that million of years by another million, and you find that you can't conceive of a beginning. What happened before that beginning? Another beginning and another beginning? And before that? Look at it like that, and you find that the only solution comprehensible to you is the existence of an eternity, something that never began and will never end. It's the same about space. Project yourself to the farthest star, and 'what comes beyond that?

Emptiness? Go on through the emptiness, and you can't imagine it being finite and having an end. It must needs go on for ever: that's the only thing you can understand. There's no such thing as before or after, or beginning or end, and what a comfort that is! I should fidget myself to death if there wasn't the huge soft cushion of eternity to lean one's head against. Some people say — I.believe I've heard you say it yourself — that the idea of eternity is so tiring; you feel that you want to stop. But that's because you are thinking of eternity in terms of Time, and mumbling in your brain, 'And after that, and after that?' Don't you grasp the idea that in eternity there isn't any 'after,' any more than there is any 'before'? It's all one. Eternity isn't a quantity: it's a quality."

Posted by: Skorpion at May 19, 2012 6:14 PM

Thanks for posting that. Never heard of it before, but excellent still.

Posted by: vanderleun at May 19, 2012 7:29 PM

"Eternity isn't a quantity: it's a quality." True that. As such it is like love, beauty, truth, and, in fact, G_d himself, these enrich reality no more and no less than the color red lends its quality to the sunset. As easy to define red itself as eternity, or truth, etc. Quality not quantity. And also, aspects of the divine.

Posted by: John Hinds at May 20, 2012 6:30 AM

10^24 sec. By then it will all be over and the lights will be out.

Posted by: Fat Man at May 20, 2012 10:02 PM

Fat Man - That's the best scientific estimate right now.

But to amplify; if one accepts that then we live in the bright afterglow of Creation. For all except this eyeblink of time, the Universe will be dark, utterly empty, and cold beyond human conception of cold. Nothing except the occasional flash of electron/positron annihilation, for ever and ever.

Posted by: Fletcher Christian at May 21, 2012 1:04 AM

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