Far future in religion
|This article or section possibly contains previously unpublished synthesis of published material that conveys ideas not attributable to the original sources. (August 2015)|
Discussions of the far future are of major import both in theology and folk religion. Many Christian authors have welcomed the scientific theory of the heat death of the universe as the ultimate fate of the universe as it was first proposed, while atheists and materialists back then commonly opposed the theory in favour of the idea that the universe and life in it would exist eternally. Nonetheless, in modern days, nontheists have largely come to accept the theory, while Christian eschatology is in conflict with the idea that entropy will be the predominant factor in determining the state of the far future, instead predicting God's creation of the New Earth and its existence into the far future. According to Mahayana Buddhism, an emanation of the Buddha-nature will appear in the material world in the far future.
In Hinduism, Brahma, the creator god, will live for 100 years, with each day of these years made up of two kalpas, and each kalpa lasting 4.32 billion human years. The lifetime of Brahma, and thus the universe, is therefore predicted to last 315.36 trillion years.
Mayan religion often cites incredibly long time periods. Stela 1 at Coba marks the date of creation as 220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.0.0.0.0 in the Mesoamerican Long Count. According to Linda Schele, these 13s represent "the starting point of a huge odometer of time", with each acting as a zero and resetting to 1 as the numbers increase. Thus this inscription anticipates the current universe lasting at least 2021×13×360 days, or roughly 2.687×1028 years; a time span equal to 2 quintillion times the age of the universe as determined by cosmologists. Others have suggested, however, that this date marks creation as having occurred after that time span.
- Gregory A. Benford (2005). Charles L. Harper Jr., John Templeton, eds. "Theological Fiction and the Future". Spiritual Information: 100 Perspectives on Science and Religion. Templeton Foundation Press: 112. ISBN 1932031731.
- Hans Halvorson, Helge Kragh (2012). Charles Taliaferro, Victoria S. Harrison, Stewart Goetz, eds. "Physical Cosmology". The Routledge Companion to Theism. Routledge: 252. ISBN 1136338225.
- Ted Peters, Richard J. Mouw (2003). Stanley James Grenz, William Carl Placher, eds. "Where Are We Going?". Essentials of Christian Theology. Westminster John Knox: 355. ISBN 0664223958.
- M.A. Aldrich (2008). The Search for a Vanishing Beijing: A Guide to China's Capital Through the Ages. Hong Kong University Press. p. 25. ISBN 9622097774.
- Dan Falk (2009). In Search of Time. National Maritime Museum. p. 82.
- Schele, Linda; Freidel, David (1990). A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya (pbk reprint ed.). New York: Harper Perennial. ISBN 978-0-688-11204-2. OCLC 145324300.
- Wagner, Elizabeth (2000). "Maya Creation Myths and Cosmography". In Grube, Nikolai. Maya: Divine Kings of the Rainforest. Konemann. p. 283. ISBN 3-8290-4150-0.
- Aveni, Anthony (2009). The End of Time: The Maya Mystery of 2012. Boulder, Colorado: University Press of Colorado. ISBN 978-0-87081-961-2.
- Barkun, Michael (2006). A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America. Comparative studies in religion and society series, no. 15 (1st pbk print ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-24812-0. OCLC 255948700.