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"By participating in eternity, man conquers the anxiety of finitude," Paul J. Tillich, University Professor, explained in the annual Ingersoll lecture on the Immortality of Man, Thursday.
"Everything in the universe is subject to the temporal process and involves non-being in the past and in the future, and being in the present," stated Tillich. "The awareness of this is called anxiety and exists in everyone," he maintained.
This basic anxiety and the awareness of finitude are identical. Man realizes this and "anticipates his future non-being" by participating in universal truths above finitude in the act of knowing which is trans-temporal.
Tillich defined eternity as the "trans-temporal unity of disrupted moments in time." "Timeless and endless temporality do not describe eternity," he explained, using Hegel's term of "bad infinity."
The mystic and prophetic types of religion deal differently with the problem of immortality. Plato bridges these types in maintaining that understanding the universe is recollecting what we knew when we were with God. The philosopher, said Tillich, "is the man liberated from illusions of the cave" and not necessarily the professor of philosophy.
Tillich described six different expressions of man's participation in the eternal. In the mystical type, the complete merging of the individual in the eternal One is emphasized. In the naturalistic type, participation in the natural universe conquers the anxiety of finitude, while in the idealistic type, the eternal is participated in through the actualization of the eternal spirit in life through culture and religion.
The doctrine of immortality of the soul, although the subject of the Ingersoll lectureship, is only one of the six ways the eternal life can be considered, Tillich emphasized. Through it the individual is preserved in his union with the eternal.
Death is Real
In secularized Protestantism, the "classic doctrine" of immortality has been re-placed by a popular superstition, stated Tillich. Instead of eternal life, there is the concept of an endless temporal life beyond death with a desire "to continue activities, refusing to accept the seriousness of death."
The resurrection of the body and the Kingdom of God are the two final symbols of eternal life. In discussing the first of these, Tillich emphasized its anti-dualistic bias, stating the meaningfulness of the total personality. The spirit and the body are "not two parts but the condition of the whole person." The Kingdom of God, which is accepted by the Western world, is the "universal fulfillment of everything that has being," he said.
"The future history of religions will be in the encounter of Nirvana and the Kingdom of God," concluded Tillich. In these symbols are all final questions of the experience of human existence.
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