# Talk:Eternity

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## Discussion

The physics taught in most schools describes the universe in terms of Galilean relativity in which only the durationless present exists.

This strikes me as dubious. Could physicists attend to this? Michael Hardy 21:11, 11 Jan 2005 (UTC)

See
Pre-relativistic physics is three dimensionalism (ie: presentism). —Preceding unsigned comment added by geometer (talkcontribs)

An encyclopedia is supposed to contain the most relevant accumulated knowledge on a subject [1]. I don't see how reference to scientific speculation that may have a following of one or two scientists fits into this category. Discussions of space-time theories of consciousness is not Wiki material and should be deleted. If a scientist publishes a book on astrology will that be acceptable material? I doubt it. Inthebeginning 22:29, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

## Eternity as a timeless existence

I want to note that none of this makes sense from a logical point of view.

Near-death experience testimonies typically speak of eternity as a timeless existence by stating that portions of experiences in the eternal world lasted, say, "an hour or a month, I don't know. There was no time."

While I'm willing to believe the above is what they say, and thus factually correct, the statement makes no sense. These people not being able to say how long their experience lasted does not mean there was no time. On the contrary them suggesting their experience lasted proves there was time. In fact without time there is no time to experience anything. Even if a timeless experience was possible, it should be completely static by it's nature. I repeat my point: not being able to estimate passed time does not mean time did not pass.

Augustine of Hippo wrote that time exists only within the created universe, so that God exists outside of time; for God there is no past or future, but only an eternal present. That position is accepted by many believers.

While this is also true, this belief does not make much sense either. I won't bother to argue whether a godlike being needs time to exist, because people do not seem to agree what godlike means. Instead I just point out that according to a Christian belief, God created man as his own image. The human mental functions require time. If God is supposed to resemble humans in that he plans things before doing them (as is suggested by the Bible) he needs time to do that. Planning in itself is a process and a process is a thing which happens over time. --Lakefall 14:34, 16 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I'm sorry it doesn't make sense to you. Unfortunately, the POV of many believers follows the Statement, "All things are present unto God, and time is measured only unto man." And Eternity is an expression that captures this understanding. Perhaps we could discuss this for a bit and find a way to explain it better to your satisfaction. I'll throw out some ideas as a seed. Tom Haws 16:34, Jun 16, 2005 (UTC)
• The time-space universe is often thought of as a four-dimensional system.
• We are often thought to be forcibly hurling at light speed through the time dimension. In eternity, time could exist, but our forcible travel constraint could be lifted.
• Time is said to have begun at the Big Bang. Those who think of God as transcendent of the Universe have an easy time thinking of Him as transcendent of Space-Time.
Lakefall, the first statement doesn't mean much to me, any more than it does to you. But your remark about the statement by Augustine ignores what is ordinarily meant by the "Christian belief" that you cite. You are exaggerating the Christian understanding of the analogy between God and Man. Athough Man thinks and acts, and requires time to act, his being made in God's image does not necessarily imply that God is likewise limited by time in his thoughts and acts. Mkmcconn (Talk)
Hi, Mkmcconn. Long time no see. It is good to see you are around still. I am interested in improving this article, and the three of us should have diverse enough POVs to do a pretty good job. Tom Haws 18:33, Jun 16, 2005 (UTC)
Hi Tom. Nice to see you too. It's good to be missed, but I didn't even make the list of Missing Wikipedians, so I'm hurt ;-)
My problem with the article might be too idiosyncratic to be of help. The article suggests that eternity is either, an infinite amount of time, a state of being for which the extent of time is irrelevant or non-existent, or a "place" or "dimension" (for lack of better terms) that is not affected by time. While I'm sure that there are real representatives for all of these abstract views, none of them means much to me. God is eternity. There is no other entity, state of being, or "place", to which the term properly applies. God is a Trinity, and each person of the Trinity contains God in fullness, not in part: and in this sense, "eternity" is the dwellingplace of God, because God dwells in God. Only God contains God, and in this sense eternity may be said to exist "outside of time" (although not in the sense of being antithetical to, or incapable of entrance into, time). "Eternal" life is not a state of timeless existence into which human beings may enter, but is rather, union with God through Jesus Christ. It is true that, with this, I suppose that propositions concerning God cannot be valid, if they assume that God is limited by anything other than himself; but positively, I am not sure what that means with regard to such concepts as "sequence" and "duration", and other timeful terms, as applied to God. Mkmcconn (Talk) \
I assume that these are common Christian views, but I do not know how widely they are held, or if I'm expressing them in a way that others would assent to. Do you think that there is something in what I've said that has sufficient credentials that it might help with the article? Mkmcconn (Talk) 19:28, 16 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I think much of that view is common. It is suprising to me to see how many of the views of Latter Day Saints are common with yours. For example, I had no idea until I read your statement above that outside Mormonism was accepted the idea that "Eternal Life is life with God, and Eternal Punishment is God's punishment, for Eternal is the name of God." Tom Haws 21:13, Jun 16, 2005 (UTC)
It's confusing to me though, that a name which I assume means something like, "inherently transcendent of all timeful limitation", "absolutely self-existent", you could apply to an exalted man, if that is what the Heavenly Father is in Mormon doctrine. Mkmcconn (Talk) 21:34, 16 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I sympathize with you. I guess you either accept the paradox blindly, reject it handily, or wrestle with it prayerfully. One thing is for sure; it would take me more than a couple of sentences to explore it with you. One clue, though, is that the "Eternal is my name" is scriptural in Mormonism, while "God is an exalted man" is commentary. So we take the first as the basis and the second as mind-expanding food for thought. If this impinges on the article at hand, we may have to explore it further, and I think it may. The article might do a better job of exploring how intertwined are the ideas of God and Eternity, and how Eternity is in religious circles used as a name of God (or a means of describing for the frail human mind important aspects of God as opposed to this World). Tom Haws 21:56, Jun 16, 2005 (UTC)
Yes, I started a religious argumentation, which I probably shouldn't have done, as they practically never lead anywhere. But still, if God isn't "limited" by needing time to think, he isn't a thinking being, but a static object (or similar). This issue can be dodged with several ways, all with problems. We could say something vague like that God is the universe (or nature), which in practice only gives the universe a new name and makes the God vanish in a puff of definition. On the other hand we could assume God does have time (exist in time), but his time is not our time. That would mean our universe could be a static four (or more) dimensional object to him, which he can adjust to his liking, play football with or whatever he's doing. That idea would ruin the another idea about God being the prime mover, because it would appear this God exists in another universe of some kind. On the other hand I don't think any thinking being, which the Christian God appears to be, can be the prime mover for the reasons I've tried to explain above. Since this is a religious argumentation I expect a lot of replies saying: "It is sad you cannot think that way. Mysterious are His ways!" ;-P --Lakefall 2 July 2005 18:25 (UTC)

Let me add one thing. The article says: "And one need not believe in God in order to hold this concept of eternity: an atheist mathematician can maintain the philosophical tenet that numbers and the relationships among them exist outside of time, and so are in that sense eternal." Show me an atheist mathematician, who says numbers or their relations think or are conscious. My point is we can have a God that thinks or a God that is timeless. Trying to have both is like saying God can create a rock, which is so heavy even he himself cannot lift it, and then lift it, because he's just such a bad-ass. Sure you can say so, but it doesn't make sense. --Lakefall 2 July 2005 19:33 (UTC)

Yeah, "Outside of time" seems more like the deformed offspring of language, than a state that can actually exist. 91.109.175.252 (talk) 18:15, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

why does this article about eternity has to have all those new agey concepts?? why not just leave it at maths and physics?

IT SEEMS AS IF AN OCCULTIST WROTE THIS? JEEZ! OURBOROS? DUDE, SCIENCE EXISTS FOR A REASON, DON'T MESS IT UP.

I don't see anything "new agey" in it, unless by that term you mean concerned with the supernatural. The only "math" part is the philosophical proposition that mathematical objects including numbers and the relationships among them are outside of time -- in that sense "eternal". And what can physics tell us about this without getting into speculative philosophy? Physicists don't agree on much about this concept. If you mean some sort of mathematical concept of infinity, I don't think that belongs in this article, and there are other articles on Wikipedia about that, some of them good (see Cantor's diagonal argument and go from there; also see Cantor–Bernstein–Schroeder theorem). The concept of eternity did not come from science and scientists do not tend more toward consensus about it than anyone else does. Michael Hardy 22:48, 9 October 2005 (UTC)

## Request for edit

The entire paragraph starting with "It is also equally possible that God can choose not to exist as he is all powerful" is nonsensical, speculative, and not evidenced by any religious belief. That is to say, there is no philosophical argument, mathematical postulation or religious tenet that states what would happen if God willed himself into non-existence. I just can't see how that affects an encyclopedic entry for "eternity" at all! - me —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.207.218.146 (talk) 05:10, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

I deleted that part about God theoretically destroying himself, since its not referenced anywhere that he could or would do that. Its a rather nonsensical argument if you ask me. -Tosc —Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.149.50.172 (talk) 07:59, 21 August 2009 (UTC)

## The Science and eternity section

I propose that the entire Science and eternity section of this article should be deleted.
For one thing, it's got maybe a few OR-like issues as it stands, IMO.
For another, and more importantly: none of its present content is actually about Eternity, it's about Time.
And, of course, that's because:

Science is concerned with "...knowledge [that] must be based on observable phenomena and capable of being experimented [on] for its validity by other researchers working under the same conditions."

... neither of which applies to "eternity."

If, for some reason, the consensus is to keep this section, then I suggest it should make this point clearly.
Thoughts, comments, POVs...?
Wikiscient— 14:34, 16 March 2008 (UTC)

While there are scientific approaches to eternity, including certain aspects of the various string theories, none of these are adequately addressed here. Also, sociological and anthropological viewpoints of eternity in various cultures could be explored. My recommendation would be to provide a handful of examples where physics shows that observable phenomena are not eternal, and then provide clearer context for the Roselli Rovelli quote, or a better one about how modern science treats time.
Plus, the religious elements in the article are only about certain aspects of Christian thought. There's a lot more Earth culture out there; Buddha deserves at least a mention. The whole article needs an overhaul, I just haven't had time. I've barely had time for Immortality. Cheers, Yamara 19:11, 16 March 2008 (UTC) & 19:12, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
PS - I didn't remove the tag, but it might be overkill. I think the real solution is deletion by writing and editing, not simple annihilation.
Agreed, but same here. ;)
Wikiscient— 20:33, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
Well, I think actually the question is rather whether eternal phenomena are observable, and my point is that Science simply has no means at present of collecting any data on eternal phenomena and therefore does not properly have anything to say on the subject. And, again, I do not see anything in this section regarding eternity in the first place. Therefore, unless anyone wants to convincingly argue otherwise, I intend to annihilate it entirely in a few minutes...
Wikiscient— 08:23, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

## Relevance vs. Irrelevance

In the article, "the philosophical aspect seems still very much relevant" doesn't indicate to what the aspect is relevant. You can't have relevance to nothing. Unfree (talk) 20:39, 5 August 2009 (UTC)

I replaced 'philosophical aspect' into 'question'. Hopefully my contribution became more easy to read. --Marttir (talk) 22:21, 31 August 2009 (UTC)

## quote of Augustine of Hippo

Is there a reference for the quote in "eternity as a timeless existence"? I would be interested in using the quote; also, it should be referenced according to WP:CITE. Thanks! PrincessofLlyr (talk) 03:32, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

It appears repeatedly in Augustine's Confessions and I suspect in some of his other books. I suspect some or all of his books are on the web in Englsih translations, so maybe we can find it.... Michael Hardy (talk) 05:11, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
Thanks! I had just been wondering if it was a legitimate quote. I can probably find the passage in Confessions now. PrincessofLlyr (talk) 17:02, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

## Time and number

"[F]or example, an atheist mathematician can maintain the philosophical tenet that numbers and the relationships among them exist outside of time, and so are in that sense eternal." (section 2)

Unless, of course, one accepts Borges's argument that numbers themselves can only be held to have an objective existence so long as one admits the existence of God. Cf. "Argumentum Ornithologicum" in Dreamtigers (1960). -Agur bar Jacé (talk) 19:01, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

Yes, but Borges was not especially numerate, was he?
Consider the Pythagorean theorem: the sum of the squares of the sides of a right triangle equals the square of its hypotenuse (in any Euclidean plane). Does Borges really intend to suggest that this relationship between numbers could have existed before its formulation by humans if and only if it "existed" before that time in the "mind" of some super-human entity...? The flaw in Borges' argument is in the assumption that reality needs a "mind" to perceive it in order to exist in the way that it does. The numerical relationship expressed by the Pythagorean theorem (and all others as well!) existed (ie., was valid) long before there was even a human mind to recognize it, and will continue to exist long after there is any human mind left to know it -- as long, indeed, as there is even the possibility of any three elements in a Euclidean plane forming the vertices of a right triangle in spatial relation to each other, whether or not anyone or any thing "perceives" that relationship!
Wikiscient (talk) 15:54, 30 November 2009 (UTC)

Two questions. First, just to make sure: have you actually read "Argumentum Ornithologicum", or are you guessing at what the argument must be from what I said above? Second, on what grounds do you call the assumption of esse is percipi a flaw in the argument? I'm not aware that the principle was ever specifically refuted; indeed, it seems to have been reinforced by modern physics. Or am I missing something? -Agur bar Jacé (talk) 16:16, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

First: no, I admit I have not. I have, however, previously been involved in discussions about it with others who have read it, so I can claim some sense (perhaps a bit vague...) of the gist of it: a flock of birds contains a certain, exact number of birds; "numbers" are "abstractions of the mind" and only "abstractions of the mind"; the number of birds in a flock of birds can therefore only exist as an abstraction of some mind, and that mind must be (at least) the mind of "God" because that is the only mind understood to be capable of "knowing" the number of birds in all flocks of birds ever to exist. Right...?
If that is his argument: I believe it (and several others very similar to it) to be invalid, in several ways. (Ie., I disagree with all of it, except for the first premise.)
With regard to your second question, for example: consider the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. The intro to that article currently says it

"is not a statement about [...] a researcher's ability to measure particular quantities of a system, but it is a statement about the nature of the system itself as described by the equations of quantum mechanics."

In other words, it does not imply or amount to a statement like, "Perception (ie., 'conscious measurement') of a 'quantum' system fundamentally, ipso facto, changes the 'nature' of that system...". That sort of thing is a very common "mistranslation" from Science to Philosophy. All "modern physics" really says is that all interaction with a "quantum system" must cause some change to occur in that system (according to the rules governing that sort of thing). Deliberate measurement of it is only one way to "interact" with such a system. The same set of "changes" will occur whenever any other system interacts with it, whether or not that interaction results in any perception/awareness/knowledge of it having occurred! In other words, it says nothing about the relationship between "perception" per se and "existence." Specifically, it does not "reinforce" any notions of the variety "esse est percipi."
Similarly: the number of a flock of birds has a specific "reality" to it whether or not anyone knows or perceives that number. For example, whether it is an odd number of birds or not partially determines the possible set of mating patterns within that flock, which will partially determine the possible set of evolutionary directions the subsequent generations of offspring of that flock can take. That is true whether or not any "mind" ever "perceives" the original number of birds, the actual set of mating patterns partially determined by that number, and/or the evolutionary directions resulting from those mating patterns and also, therefore, from that number -- whatever it might be/have been!
Wikiscient (talk) 02:41, 3 December 2009 (UTC)

With regard to the physics issue, I yield to your expertise without discussion. I might point out, however, that you haven't exactly answered the esse is percipi question; you've just corrected a fallacious (but frankly extraneous) reinforcement of it. So I'll ask again: on what philosophic grounds do you base your axiom that matter exists independent of perception?

The Borges issue, however, is another can of worms entirely. "Argumentum Ornithologicum" has nothing to do with physical existence; the "flock of birds" of the argument are a purely psychological event. Borges's argument - which, it should be observed, he did not necessary believe himself (I strongly suspect that his character of Pierre Menard, who had a "resigned or ironic habit of putting forth ideas that were the exact opposite of those he actually held", was at least partially a self-portrait), but which I think deserves consideration nonetheless - is as follows:

"I close my eyes and see a flock of birds. The vision lasts a second, or perhaps less; I am not sure how many birds I saw. Was the number of birds definite or indefinite? The problem involves the existence of God. If God exists, the number is definite, because God knows how many birds I saw. If God does not exist, the number is indefinite, because no-one can have counted. In this case I saw fewer than ten birds (let us say) and more than one, but did not see nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, or two birds. I saw a number between ten and one, which was not nine, eight, seven, six, five, etc. That integer - not-nine, not-eight, not-seven, not-six, not-five, etc. - is inconceivable. Ergo, God exists.

The point is precisely that the figures in the imaginary vision cannot be said to have an independent existence of their own, but that the concept of number must, to be universal, apply to them as well as to any real flock of birds. But, if they only exist within Borges's brain, and Borges's brain never contained any record of their number - only that they had one, and that it was greater than one and less than ten - then one is forced to either assert that they never had any number, which they clearly did (since the vision could have lasted long enough for him to count them, it simply happened not to), or confess that there is an omniscient mind in which their number was recorded. -Agur bar Jacé (talk) 15:00, 3 December 2009 (UTC)

Your last sentence above is where the error in reasoning is most apparent. One is not "forced" in either way!
This goes back to the first point I mentioned above: Borges' innumeracy. Mathematicians conceive of sets such as the number of birds in Borges' vision all the time: (1 ≤ #birds ≤ 10, #birds ∈ {$\mathbb{Z}$}) which reads "some undetermined integer of birds between 1 and 10" or, informally, "a few birds." In other words: "the number of birds is definite, but Borges just didn't have time to count them precisely!" No theological conclusions whatsoever can be derived from that observation.
To say, "I am now imagining a few birds" says nothing about God!
Does the use of mass nouns also imply the existence of God? No!
This argument boils down to something like: "There is some fact that no human mind knows. All facts are known by some mind. Therefore, some non-human mind exists and that mind is God!" No!
Wikiscient (talk) 16:02, 4 December 2009 (UTC)

Well, when you put it that way, I have to admit - not exactly that the argument is invalid (as you correctly point out, that depends on whether you accept the premise that "all facts are known by some mind", which, despite your axiomatic rejection of it, is not entirely indefensible) - but certainly that it doesn't apply to this page. So sorry to waste everyone's time. -Agur bar Jacé (talk) 22:02, 4 December 2009 (UTC)

## Aeviternity redirection

I just created an "Aevum" page to discuss the Scholastic concept of aeviternity. Would it be possible to change the redirection link so that "aeviternity" now redirects to that page instead of to this one? -Agur bar Jacé (talk) 16:16, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

Done! Wikiscient (talk) 23:01, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

## Gallery - edit warring over symbols

The edit warring over symbols is ridiculous - among other things, it's unlikely that any really ancient symbol can be described as either exclusively Armenian or exclusively Georgian given the geographical realities. Dougweller (talk) 15:24, 15 January 2013 (UTC)

## Lede paragraph

Sorry about the revert, I see now that both versions have some things that aren't in the other. I've come up with a compromise version, which should cover everything from both versions. How does the following look to you?

Eternity (or forever) is endless time. In philosophy and mathematics, an infinite duration is also called sempiternity, or everlasting. Eternity is an important concept in many religions, especially with regards to the immortality, or eternal life, of deities or of souls. The theological idea of eternity can mean either that which is outside of time, or that which exist simultaneously through all of time.

The concept of eternity is also significant in philosophy. For example, the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle posited that the natural cosmos endures eternally in the past and future. In these contexts, eternity is often tied to the notion of immutability, as in the immutable Platonic forms. In reality, however, it is impossible for an eternity to actually pass.[1]

Cheers, ∴ ZX95 [discuss] 20:29, 15 January 2013 (UTC)

Well, having spun-off the theological treatment into a separate article, I don't see why the mere mention won't suffice... The detail you want to include is specific to certain religions only: i.e. the immortality of the soul. Also, both of your characterizations of what the "theological idea of eternity" can mean are equally applicable for the idea taken non-theologically... there's nothing particularly "theological" about them.
Regarding your second paragraph, it's understood from the first that, besides theology, the concept is significant in philosophy (and mathematics too). You're artificially limiting how applicable, if not essential, immutability would be... (Platonic Forms s/b capitalized, btw). Finally, you're still omitting Aristotle's distinction between actual and potential eternity... perhaps because you're of the opinion that: "In reality, however, it is impossible..." simpliciter?—Machine Elf 1735 01:57, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
How do you think it ought to be phrased, in order to make the distinction between actual and potential eternity? I think I know a little bit more about philosophy than the average reader, but I can't see where that distinction is mad in the current version of the page. My only goals here are to give a little bit more context for the non-philosophically-inclined (not everyone knows who Aristotle was, for example) and to not needlessly omit anything that wasn't split off into God and eternity. The only reason I'm keeping the "In reality..." bit in my drafts, for example, is that it was there before, it's not obviously false, and I don't see any reason to leave it out. With that in mind, here's a new version which hopefully addresses your concerns above about clarity, etc.:

Eternity (or forever) is endless time. In philosophy and mathematics, an infinite duration is also called sempiternity, or everlasting. Philosophically, eternity has been defined as either that which is outside of time, or that which exist simultaneously through all of time. The concept of eternity is important to many religions, especially as it relates to the idea of God. The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle posited that the natural cosmos endures eternally in the past and future. In these contexts, eternity is often tied to the notion of immutability, as in the immutable Platonic Forms. In reality, however, it is impossible for an eternity to actually pass.[1]

This isn't supposed to be final - if you can think of a way to smoothly incorporate the potential/actual distinction, for example, that would be awesome. Cheers, ∴ ZX95 [discuss] 16:35, 16 January 2013 (UTC) EDIT: Whoops, I just saw the potential/actual bit down in the philosophy section. d'oh. For including it in the lede, maybe something like: "...Aristotle established a distinction between the actually eternal, in contrast to a merely potentially infinite count, and posited that the natural cosmos..." etcetera etcetera. How does that sound? Cheers, ∴ ZX95 [discuss] 16:50, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
Does the lede need it? It was just unclear what impossible + actuality/potentiality means. Again, it's not just in those contexts and it's not merely "tied"... The link to Immutability (theology) is less than a stub.—Machine Elf 1735 07:49, 21 January 2013 (UTC)
I only brought up the actual/potential thing because you faulted my original suggestion for omitting it - I don't actually understand what it is very well, either. In terms of the immutability link, it's the relevant concept and it ought to be linked, since it's not "common knowledge". I agree that the linked article is in poor condition, but that's no reason not to link to it; it'll get improved eventually, and maybe even sooner if it's linked more widely. As for the phrasing about immutability, how would you suggest it be written? I'm open to anything, I'd mostly just like to get the current, rather mediocre lede replaced sooner rather than later. Cheers, ∴ ZX95 [discuss] 17:28, 22 January 2013 (UTC)
It's incoherent: something impossible is neither potential nor actual, so it's not quite right to say a potential eternity is impossible... flawed yes, but if you'll review, I assumed the author meant something coherent: that eternity is impossible without regard to Aristotle's dichotomy.
The article is just too small to thoroughly summarize such an unfamiliar concept in the lead, and I mentioned the regrettably paltry link, in lieu of suggesting the attributes of God material should not have been spun-off from this article in the first place... I would simply fix the beginning of the last sentence as follows:
"Eternity (or forever) is endless time. In philosophy and mathematics, an infinite duration is also called sempiternity, or everlasting. Eternity is an important concept in many religions, where the immortality of God (or the gods) is said to endure eternally. The philosopher, Aristotle, considered the natural cosmos to be eternal both in regard to both past and future duration, and like the eternal Platonic Forms, immutability was considered essential."
Machine Elf 1735 00:22, 23 January 2013 (UTC)

## Borjghali is Georgian, not Armenian

Hi. I am user from Georgian Wiki. Just discovered, that our ancient symbol is recognized here as Armenian. Enough already this Armenian thefts. It`s ordinary, that Armenians always try to appropriate everything Georgian-history, culture, territories and also here-in Wikipedia. So, there is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borjgali. Via link even in Armenian Wiki you can found that this is Georgian: --Achiko-84 (talk) 16:06, 21 January 2013 (UTC)