A physicalistic approach to Matthew 25:46


#1

I came across an highly interesting German article concerning Matthew 25:46, the author is an universalist and seems to be very literate and understanding in physics, I translated his article as good as I felt able, I am not talented in physics and not familir with any of the employed scientific terms so I was forced to use a dictionary and rather had to guess in several instances, I would be very interesting in your opinion, maybe anybody of you could confirm the scientific valitidy of his claims and please give me feedback if you are able to understand the text or if there are major translation problems. I omitted minor parts that where reffering to German bible translation and slightly changed the text therefore.

The original German text can be read here: chsunier.ch/Webtalk/talker7/Ewigkeit.html

  1. Adherents of a double outcome of the world’s history (everlasting life or everlasting punishment) argue that “if the everlasting life is endless, everlasting punishment has to be so alike”. As evident this statement appears on the first look, the signum of the Aristotelian logic clings to it, that says:

If A = B and B = C, also A = C

As proper this thought can be in daily life, it already fails in physical metrology. Timepieces of systems moved to each other don’t work synchronous. However, only an idle observer can recognize this difference (axioms of the special relativity).

This means that the flux of time of systems moved to each other can only be harmonized by a transformation-equation. Though the sweep hand of a watch moves in the same clock for a physicist in A as for a physicist in B, a difference comes into being between both watches that is only noticeable for the idle observer in C. Usually most men are not aware of this circumstance as this relativistic effect makes itself only felt at very high speeds.

For this reason the so called “Galilean transformation” of classical physics has to be substituted by the “Lorentz transformation” at speeds as they occur in particle accelerators. Conclusion: In the physical reality exists no absolute time in Kant’s meaning. Therefore also the classical logic has to fail at the evaluation of such phenomena. Are A, B and C idle to each other the classical logic applies (Galilean transformation); but in moved systems with relativistic speed it loses its validity (Lorentz transformation).

If A = B = C and A ≠ B ≠ C, there is a paradox

To solve this (seemingly unsolvable) contradiction of the propositional calculus the nuclear physicist Thomas E. Bearden suggested an extension of the classical logic. Beside the known statements derived from Aristotle, a fourth (meta-) logical principle is introduced – the “law of paradoxes” – that includes both the classical logic and its negation. …]

  1. If already in the physical reality the concept of time, prevailingly coined by the philosopher Emmanuel Kant loses its absolute validity, how much more must this apply to heavenly things that can only be judged spiritually. That even transcends the extended propositional calculus, which was only a helpless attempt of Bearden to solve the paradoxes of physics. For that reason “everlasting life” cannot a priori be equated with “everlasting punishment” concerning its length of duration. A proper understanding demands a “divine logic”, that is granted to the believer in GOD’S LOGOS. “Through faith we understand that the eons/ages/eternities (Greek: aiōnas) were framed by the word of God…” (Hebrews 11:3).

Therefore God was before the eons (being in Himself) as He will be (in all) after the eons. From this point of view also the divine name YAHWEH has a deeper sense, as it literally means something like “the One Whom I will be”.

It is a special tragedy for the body of Christ that suchlike highly gifted people like John Nelson Darby and Charles Grandison Finney had a juridical schooling which is coined by Latin law that has a special emphasis on classical logic. For this reason they were later not able to recognize the inbuilt difference between “everlasting life” and “everlasting punishment”.

But what says Scripture?

  1. In the Hebrew usage of the Old Testament the word translated everlasting/eternal is the noun עולם [olam], which the Septuagint renders αἰών [aiōn]. The original meaning of “olam” can etymologically not be brought in line with the perception of endless duration as the notion of “concealment” is linked with the term “olam”.

It has rightly been concluded that עולם denotes a concealed, yet finite period of time. Wilhelm Genesius, a German orientalist learned in the Hebrew language accordantly renders the equivalent Aramaic “alam” with “remote future” or “remote past”. In a suitable manner also Greek “aiōn” (and the related adjective “aiōnios”) does not contain the notion of endless duration. Not in the Greek colloquial language that is used in the New Testament epistles.

The idea of an unchangeable and timeless condition was first put inside the term αἰών by Plato, as a philosophically caused step for the distinction with “chronos” (i.e. time), as the moving image of the Platonic archetypes (theory of forms or ideas), as seen e.g. in Plato’s “Timaeus”.

Aiōn (Anglicized: eon) in Plato is an artificial term of a pure realm of ideas without relation to the common language of that age.

In the common Greek language (Koine), αἰών always had the meaning of:

a) life-span, life
b) age, generation (corresponding with the Latin saeculum)
c) space of time, time of the world, long time or life-time (corresponding with the Latin aevum)

However Paul does not use the philosophical meaning of “aiōn” but the original, innate meaning of the word. Otherwise he could not have said “before eonian times” (Titus 1:2).

From the interrelation of the bible it is plain evident that eons have beginning and end; for there is not a single eon but many of them (Jude 25). The only point adherents of a double outcome of human history can bring to bear could be the thesis, that there are endless eons following each other ceaselessly. Such thing could be concluded from the term “to the eons of eons” especially used in the revelation of John. But this makes biblically no sense.

It be remarked in advance: There was a state of being before all eons (that we are not able to grasp), as there will be a state of being after the eons (that we are not able to grasp either). In between are the eons or eternities (of which there are multiple), according to the “prothesis (purpose) of the eons” (Ephesians 3:11). The KJV and numerous other translations render “eternal purpose”, whosoever is a little acquainted with the Greek language will see that this falls short of what the bible text actually says. The NAS translation e.g. renders αἰών very arbitrary with age, world, time, course, eternity, forevermore. In this regard only the concordant or a very literal translation; or maybe an interlinear translation can create clarity.

  1. As consolidation of what has been said, several occurrences of olam (everlasting, eternal) and olamim (eternities) where they are with certainty not used do denote endless duration:

Deuteronomy 15:16,17

A Hebrew servant shall gain back his freedom in the seventh year. But if he wants to stay with his lord he shall serve him for the “Olam”. The KJV translates “and he shall be thy servant for ever.”

Also those who are slow with thinking should become aware that this everlastingness/eternity ends at the latest with the physical death of the servant (or of his lord).

“Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?” (Romans 7:1)

Jeremiah 5:22

“Fear ye not Me? saith the LORD; will ye not tremble at My presence? who have placed the sand for the bound of the sea, an everlasting ordinance, which it cannot pass; and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it.”

This ordinance retains its validity, as long as it is ordained by God. From the view of Jeremiah an “incalculable long time”, but not for endless duration as there is no sea any longer on the new earth.

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” (Revelation 21:1)

If it is no longer, it can no longer pass the ordinance; therefore this eternity will end either.

Jonah 2:7

“I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever…” - but not endlessly, because “Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:17).

But from the point of view of the person concerned it was for eternity. Spend 72 hours in a completely dark and narrow room (e.g. a coal cellar without light): You will soon lose any sense for time and orientation and it will feel like an eternity, even if it was only a short time-span retrospective.

A particularly interesting verse is Habakkuk 3:6 (Jewish Publication Society translation, 1917)

“He standeth, and shaketh the earth, He beholdeth, and maketh the nations to tremble; and the everlasting mountains are dashed in pieces, the ancient hills do bow; His goings are as of old”.

Interesting, because the word “olam” is once applied to the hills (that cannot be older than the earth itself) and a second time to the ways of God. Now, no serious man would claim the LORD is temporal! For His goings are from old, yes even beyond time and space. …]

עולם appears over 400 times in the Hebrew bible text, in many occurrences in conjunction with God’s ever changeless being; e.g. in Psalm 90, the prayer of Moses:

“Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, and thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from eternity to eternity {from olam to olam} thou art God.” (The Darby Translation)

Also here the noun “olam” does not denote the idea of an endless duration as the ages/eternities come and go. If a single eon alone would be endless, it would be pointless to speak about many infinities. It should be remarked here, that in German language the word for “eternity” (Ewigkeit) is occasionally used in the plural and does not by necessity denote infinity, for the English reader it might be strange to read about multiple eternities.]

But the Psalmist does not intend to express this; otherwise he would have used another term. But contrary to a mortal man that spends his years as a tale that is told and not even lives for a single eon, the “God of old” exists from eon to eon, from age to age.

The Jewish mystics of the middle ages were aware of this fact, for this reason they tried to circumscribe God’s infinity by the cabalistic term .

  1. In the Greek writings of the New Testament the noun “aiōn” and its adjective “aiōnios” are used for totally different references - just like in the Septuagint.

Titus 1:2

“In the hope of eonian life, which God, who does not lie, promised before eonian times…”

It is evident that “eonian times” cannot be infinite because God promised the “eonian life” before these times. So only “incalculably long times” can be meant thereby that lead in a remote past, over which the fog of concealment lays. Even the term used by the Spirit of Christ “to the eons of eons” contains no quantitative statement about their length of duration. It is only referred to a very remote future from a contemporary point of view.

But how does it look like if “aiōn” and “aiōnios” are used in conjunction with God and eternal life? Is thereby meant an incalculably long yet ultimately finite time span? Here again the Aristotelian logic thwarts the juridical educated mind that says that one and the same term cannot mean something in one instance and something else in another instance. But as already said “Human wisdom” fails compared with God’s wisdom.

…]

I hardly make an error when I say now by definition that “eonian times” and “eonian life” have different meanings. I have already talked about the times. If now there is spoken of eternal life, i.e. life which unfolds its full glory not before the eon to come and is therefore called “eonian”, i.e. life assigned to the eon to come; it is self-evident that thereby is not primarily meant a concept of time, but a qualitative and historical aspect is emphasized:

For whosoever get such life granted here and now through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will not die in the oncoming eon but will take part in the indestructible life of God.

In adequate manner I sum up Romans 16:25,26 where is written:

“…according to my gospel, and the proclaiming of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery having been kept unvoiced during eonian times, but now has been made plain, and by prophetic Scriptures, according to the commandment of the eonian God, made known for obedience of faith to all the nations.”

How does Darby translate that verse?

"…according to the revelation of [the] mystery, as to which silence has been kept in the times of the ages, but which has now been made manifest, and by prophetic scriptures, according to commandment of the eternal God, made known for obedience of faith to all the nations. "

It is evident that “aiōnios” in relation to times cannot denote infinity (as “now has been made plain”), but in conjunction with God it emphasizes that He is the God of all eons (and not merely the “god of this eon” [theos tou aiōnos toutou] as the devil is called in 2 Corinthians 4:4). Likewise is the “eonian Spirit” who by the Messiah offered himself spotless to God, the spirit that from the very beginning directs the course of the eons or eternities according to God’s purpose to a last goal.

Because of the presented facts I believe I am able to say with certainty that the perception of a double outcome of the world’s history cannot be justified solely due the term <everlasting/eternal>.

I further record explicitly: An eon is the inbuilt time of an entity or thing. Our through age-long tradition distorted understanding of the idea of eternity has to be reconsidered by the sole authority of the bible.

The German word “ewig” (everlasting) derives etymology from the same root as “ehe” (marriage), which is “ewe” (Dutch “eeuw” = century) and possesses the character of a temporal binding duration (in the sense of a contract), but never the sense of infinity in the shape of a Platonic adulteration of the original literal sense.

Appendix:

The English term eternal derives from Latin aetas which meant: the life of man, age, lifetime, years; and aeternus which is defined as: of an age, lasting, enduring, permanent, endless

The English term ever derives from Latin aevum which didn’t originally denote infinity either, as meanings are given: time, eternity, lifetime, age, generation

It may be further remarked that “ewe” originates from the Greek “aiōn” and did likewise originally not denote infinity.


#2

As interesting as all of that is, I think we can come to the same conclusion from simply the flexibility in usage of the word aion and its derivatives.

I don’t know enough about physics to engage that part of it, but it sounds reasonable to me.