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How Long Is Eternity?

When did God begin? Never? How can we deal with the idea that God never had a beginning and has always existed? Why is the nature of reality something rather than nothing? In other words, why should there be a creation rather than just a vast, eternal emptyness?

Do you ever ask yourself questions like these? If you are serious about deepening your spiritual understanding, it is essential that you do. Personally, the largest mystery which I can grapple with is: What about my own personal consciousness? How is it that I wake up every morning and think in terms of "I"? We take our consciousness for granted, but it is a miracle, one of our most convincing clues to the existence of God.

Mainline Christian doctrine tells us that faith in Christ makes us acceptable to God and earns us the reward of eternity in heaven. Yet, those who promote this doctrine ignore the fact that it contains a logical impossibility.

God never began and will never cease to be. We, on the other hand-at least according to Christian doctrine-did not exist until we were conceived in the womb. Yet the reward of our faith is that we will become eternal, existing for as long as God exists.

Do you catch the flaw in this thinking? Eternity cannot be eternal on only one end. If a thing has a beginning, it must have an end. Our bodies had a beginning, so they will have an end. But our souls, we are taught, have no end. Therefore, they cannot have had a beginning. If they did begin at some point in time, they would be temporal, not eternal. You can't have it both ways.

Realizing this unavoidable fact-which the church would nevertheless like to avoid-opens up a whole new sense of who we really are. God did not create us from spare arms and legs in some heavenly human parts department. There is nothing but God. Therefore, God made us from God's own substance, in God's own image. We have always existed simply because we are part of God.

Understanding this truth makes a huge difference:

The question, "What have we been doing all this time?" helps us to see reincarnation in a whole new light.

Knowing that we are part of God erases all doubt about our acceptibility as "sinners" and makes the concept of a savior unnecessary. It also helps explain Jesus' promise that we will do even greater things than he did. [John 14:12]

And realizing that we have eternity in which to grow and learn reduces much of the anxiety we feel in this present incarnation. In addition, it leads us to create good karma so that our future incarnations can be more productive.

How long is eternity? It is as long as your life!

Posted Oct. 31st, 2003

Copyright: John W. Sloat 2003