ETERNITY, TIME, AND SPACE
Author: Pannenberg, Wolfhart
Source: Zygon, Volume 40, Number 1, March 2005 , pp. 97-106(10)
The concepts of space and time are important in physics and geometry, but their definition is not the exclusive prerogative of those sciences. Space and time are important for ordinary human experience, as well as for philosophy and theology. Samuel Clarke, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Isaac Newton, Immanuel Kant, and Albert Einstein are important figures in shaping our understandings of space, time, and eternity. The author subjects their arguments to critical examination. Space is neither an infinite and empty receptacle (Newton) nor a system of relations in the mind (Leibniz). Infinite space and time can be interpreted as expressing God's eternity and omnipresence in relating to the creation (Clarke), but such an interpretation is enhanced by Kant's thinking, to clarify that even though time and space are differentiated in individual events, the whole is at the same time present. Even human experience recognizes this wholeness, and for God eternity is the simultaneous presence and possession of the wholeness. The temporal existence of finite entities is also related to a future participation in God's eternal life. Concepts of contingency are brought into the discussion as well.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Wolfhart Pannenberg is Professor of Systematic Theology Emeritus at the Protestant Theological Faculty of the University of Munich. His mailing address is Sudetenstrasse 8, 82166 Gräfelfing, Germany.
Publication date: March 1, 2005