This blog is probably a meaningless distraction but I'm going to write it anyway. I was pondering the abstract concepts of eternity and infinity and wondering if they are synonymous symbols for the same concept. I suspect that the answer to that question is one of those yes and no answers. I know that I'm prone to using them as if they were equally interchangeable. But, when I take a closer look at each word, a distinct difference between the two emerges.
Eternity, to me, means no time, no beginning and no end. Infinity, means the existence of a quantity e.g., time, that has no limitations. The quantity can go on and on forever and ever without end. Infinity tells me that there is no end and never will be. However, it doesn't make clear whether or not there is a possibility of a beginning. Could infinity have a starting point?
I recognize that whatever concept I have of Eternity, it is an inaccurate one. I realize that from where I consider myself to be, where I consider my perspective to be, is a state of existence that prevents me from viewing Eternity. In a sense, I am like the little fish out in the middle of the ocean that, even though, he somehow knows it's there, cannot conceive of the actuality of water. I have also come to recognize that the reason I am unable to get a clear view of Eternity is because I'm using time against Eternity. This doesn't seem all that obvious but in realizing that so much of what I experience is wrapped up in memories of the past or hopes, plans and dreams for the future that it does become obvious that I use time to prevent myself from viewing Eternity. Time is a mechanism for breaking Eternity up into a bunch of tiny pieces. It makes Eternity seem like it can have a past and a future, which is, of course, an illusion. Thus, my holding onto time, as a reality, is an efficacious way of keeping myself unaware of the actuality of Eternity.
Christianity (perhaps religions in general) seems to have a propensity for using the concept of Eternity as both a " spiritual carrot" as well as a most horrific "spiritual reckoning." God gets one and the Devil gets the other. Eternity, though, to be successfully used as a deterrent to the committing of sin, must be married to time. An existing state of Eternity (no time) is not a state that people can conceive of (way too abstract) and is therefore not perceived to be real. Thus, Eternity alone carries no weight as a threat. Time, though, is perceived to be about as real as it can get. Therefore, when religion adds time (endless time) as a component of Eternity...well, that can get pretty darn scary. Threats of "eternal damnation" or the notion that one could actually "forfeit their Eternity" and other such punishments involving Eternity, if one believes in that sort of thing, can become, as we've witnessed, effective in causing extensive mental and spiritual aberration among the masses.