Eternity and Time's Flow

By Robert Cummings Neville

Subjects: Philosophy Of Religion
Series: SUNY series in Religious Studies, SUNY series in Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791416006, 268 pages, July 1993
Hardcover : 9780791415993, 268 pages, July 1993

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

Author's Preface

Artist's Preface by Beth Neville

Part One. Eternity and the Time Passion of the Modern World

1. A Time to Rethink Eternity




The Argument

2. The Fall from Eternity to Immortality

Temporal Obsession

Ancient Sophistication

Immortality and Antireligion

Skepticsm and Anxiety

3. The Philosophical Passion for Present Time

Subjectivism and Experience

Kant and the Transcendental Definition of World

Modern Kantians

Whitehead and Process Philosophy

4. No Time without Eternity

Personal Identity

Self and Nonself

Past and Future in Present Time

Moral Identity

Part Two. Time's Flow within Eternity

5. A Metaphysics of Time and Eternity


Relation as Connection

The Integrity of Relata


6. Time's Relations of Otherness

The Present's Rebellion against Time as Past

The Differences between Past, Present, and Future

Value and Time

The Equal Necessity of the Temporal Modes

7. Time's Flow

Before and After, Earlier and Later, and When

Temporally Biased Representations of Time

The Necessary Mutual Conditioning of Time's Modes

How Time Flows

8. Eternal Togetherness of the Temporal Modes


The Ontological Contort of Mutual Relevance

Time in Things, Things in Eternity

Things in Time, Time in Eternity

Part Three. Divine Eternity

9. Eternity and God's Being

God as a Question

False. Images of Eternity

God Not an Individual

Theistc Themes

10. Eternal Creation

Theological Ideas of God

Conceptions of the World: Closure

Process Theology

Creation ex Nihilo

11. Creation of All Times

The Analysis of ''Proper Dates"

"Two Authors" Theory

The Temporality of the Creative Act

The Nontemporality of the Creative Act

12. God's Eternal Life

Time's Flow sub Specie Eternitatis

Images of Time

The Singularity of Creation: God

Divine Responsiveness: God as Living Creator

Part Four. Eternal Life

13. The Eternal Identity of Persons

Immortality and Eternal Life

Temporal and Eternal Identity

Death's Allure

Judgment: Standing in Eternity

14. The Divine Identity of Persons

Participation in the Divine Life

The Religious Significance of Natural Eternity

The Covenant Conception of the Human Context

Salvation: Redeeming the Time

15. God with Us

The Otherness of God

Privation of the Human

Special Grace

Providence: The Infinite in the Finite

16. God beyond Us

Resurrection: Salvation and Damnation

Conquering Natural Death of Finitude and Fragmentation

Conquering Spiritual Death of Sin, Ignorance, and Disharmony

Glory: The Finite in the Infinite





Neville returns eternity to the center of consideration by analyzing the obsessive culture that attempts to get along denying it; and he analyzes the nature of time's flow itself, the nature of divine eternity, and the subtle problems of personal immortality. He argues that time and eternity constitute one topic and that, therefore, time itself is beyond understanding, beyond personal grasp, and beyond civilized orientation without a proper comprehension of eternity.

Robert Cummings Neville is Dean of the School of Theology and a Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Boston University. He was President of the Metaphysical Society of America in 1989, of the American Academy of Religion in 1992, and of the International Society for Chinese Philosophy in 1992. He is the editor of New Essays in Metaphysics and he is the author of The Tao and the Daimon: Segments of a Religious Inquiry; The Puritan Smile: A Look Toward Moral Reflection; A Theology Primer; God the Creator: On the Transcendence and Presence of God; Recovery of the Measure: Interpretation and Nature; Reconstruction of Thinking; Behind the Masks of God: An Essay Toward Comparative Theology; and The Highroad Around Modernism, all published by SUNY Press.


"Neville's opening claim is simply indisputable, that nothing in ancient mythical cosmology, no matter how fantastic, rivals the sort of sweepingly imaginative cosmological claims issuing from the pens of today's most prominent theoretical physicists. Neville writes with the same easy, fluent, and (most of all) authoritative command of ideas and of relevant details employed by Hawking, Feynman, and Bohm. The difference, in Neville's favor, is that he has a comprehensive grasp of the broad philosophical context for the discussion of time, together with a perspective informed by knowledge of major, non-Western contributions toward representing and understanding the problem. " — George R. Lucas, Jr.

"This book deals with the deepest and most complex problems from the broadest perspective (science, philosophy, and the world religions) and produces an answer that is sophisticated, clear, consistent in its argumentation, and relevant to everyday life. The solution to the problem of time and eternity is set within Christian theology yet it is argued throughout within the hearing of the teachings of the other world religions and the challenges of secular modernity. " — Harold Coward, University of Victoria, Canada