Eternity is Not Forever
What is time?
Many people imagine (and take great comfort in) the idea of Eternity. They believe this to be time without end. This construct brings about many great philosophical and theological problems. Christians would be hard pressed to explain the "fairness" of Jesus' place in history. Atheists will be hard pressed to explain why there must be a beginning (see "the problem of infinite causality), but there is no logical supposition of an end.
Yet, we humans perceive time. All of us. No person could possibly say that time does not exist, and that it does not pass. Time or, the marked passage of events, is a necessary concern for most everyone as it is limited in scope for each individual. However, time is actually a construct which is logically dependent on the idea of Eternity and is brought into being by the beginning. The start is logically the first event, after which a great many things have happened. Many people have asked, "What happened before the beginning of time?" The answer is simple... nothing happened before the beginning of time. Before is a time word.
A crude picture.
The Eternal Instant
Eternity is actually a singular point which contains all points in time at once. It is infinite in it's scope because there is nothing outside of it. Note that this is different than "void". This means that eternity contains ALL points of time within it. It is a singular point or instant which does not come from a previous instant, and will not move on to the next.
Each moment in time is a refraction of this "eternal instant". Light is refracted through a prism, and time is refracted through eternity. There is a much more in depth discussion regarding why this is that will be saved for another essay. This is how we perceive ourselves as going through time, even though there is only one eternal instant.
Eternity is the "now" that can't even be discussed because by the time the first sound is uttered, that time has passed. We exist entirely in it, yet we cannot express that existence without it becoming our past. That "now" is the intersection between time and eternity. Eternity is a singular present that exists throughout time.
Time is dependent on Eternity.
Time is logically dependent on Eternity. Aristotle had an idea of an "unmoved mover". He believed that something which could not move, set the entire universe in motion. The idea of the eternal instant supports this idea. Since Eternity would seem to be a single instant, there can be no change within it, because change takes place in time. Yet, each moment in time is a refraction of the Eternal instant. This means that Eternity would exist even if there were no such thing as time. Thus, even the beginning has it's origins within the eternal instant.
As we discussed before, there was no before time. Thus time is not temporally dependent on Eternity. A similar notion is discussed by Christians regarding the Trinity. The "only begotten Son" is logically dependent on the Father, yet the Father did not exist before the Son, so there is no temporal dependence involved.
So, who cares?
The idea of an "eternal instant" is of great interest to a great many people. It is the foundation of many supposedly opposing ideas. This eternal instant has a massive amount of implications... far more than could possibly contained in this short essay. This construct is an important concept to consider for the religious as well as those who rely entirely on science. It rings true for the Big Bang theory. It fits into the String theory model. It is even entirely Biblical. It would seem hard to ignore an idea that solves so many different problems in so many different sciences.