Eternity (or forever) is endless time. It is often referenced in the context of religion, in the concept of immortality, whereby death is conquered, and people may live for an unlimited amount of time (cf. Heaven). The existence of God or gods is said to endure eternally and sometimes also the natural cosmos, in respect to both past and future.
By contrast, the concept of a mathematically infinite duration, is called sempiternity or everlasting. Whereas the eternal is said to be unchanging and outside time; a potentially sempiternal span of time can never come to pass in actuality. Aristotle argued that the cosmos has no beginning.
Famous quotes containing the word eternity:
“The writer operates at a peculiar crossroads where time and place and eternity somehow meet. His problem is to find that location.”
—Flannery OConnor (19251964)
“I saw Eternity the other night,
Like a great ring of pure and endless light,”
—Henry Vaughan (16221695)
“There is the grand truth about Nathaniel Hawthorne. He says NO! in thunder; but the Devil himself cannot make him say yes. For all men who say yes, lie; and all men who say no,why, they are in the happy condition of judicious, unincumbered travellers in Europe; they cross the frontiers into Eternity with nothing but a carpet-bag,that is to say, the Ego. Whereas those yes-gentry, they travel with heaps of baggage, and, damn them! they will never get through the Custom House.”
—Herman Melville (18191891)