On the End-of-Time Conjecture


Of late there have been many discussions on the the Biblical prophesy of the End of Time. It is important in this context to differentiate between the three kinds of time I mentioned in a previous post: the physical, the conceptual, and the perceived time.

Per physics, physical time had a point de départ: x-billion years ago. It will have an end if and when the universe collapses back into a singularity whence it might emerge once again with entirely different physical traits and laws which may or may not include time as a parameter.

Conceptual time has neither beginning nor end. If you can imagine a starting point and an end point before and after which there was and will be no time, your mind must be extraordinary or very limited.

As to perceived time, it begins for each individual with the conscious appreciation of time and ends somewhat abruptly with the last heart-beat or even before that if one becomes unconscious prior to the moment of death.

But then, there is also collective perceived time that humanity experiences as history and possible future. When one talks about the end of time two things are meant. First is the possibility of human extinction after which there will/can be not perceived time on earth. The second meaning – and this is religious – is that the world and the human condition such as we experience now, and have been experiencing during historical periods, will come to an abrupt halt by the emergence of the Divine in one form or another, as a result of which the whole world will be dissolved with all its dirt and debris, sin and immorality, pain and paltry pleasure, and be transformed into something glorious, ecstatic, and spiritual. This hope or belief is explicit in the Judeo-Christian vision, and also in the Hindu worldview where the corresponding Messiah is pictured the avatara (incarnation) of Kalki whose eventual appearance (as described in the Mahabharata and other sacred texts) have an eerie mystical grandeur that is not unlike what is described in the Book of Revelations.

That these ancient world pictures are taken seriously and even literally by so many alert people in the twenty-first century speaks to the power of traditions and persistence of ancient belief-systems. Whether and to what extent one attaches theological or cultural significance to these depends to a large extent on how deeply one’s understanding and outlook  have been transformed by the findings and insights of science, history, anthropology, archeology, and matters of that kind. From some of the commentson this theme one is inclined to think that these have not had much palpable impact on the thinking of many people, including scholars and deep-thinking people.

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About Varadaraja V. Raman

Physicist, philosopher, explorer of ideas, bridge-builder, devotee of Modern Science and Enlightenment, respecter of whatever is good and noble in religious traditions as well as in secular humanism,versifier and humorist, public speaker, dreamer of inter-cultural,international,inter-religious peace.
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