Monday, 1 April 2019

EXCUSE ME, DO YOU HAVE THE TIME?


Art by JACK KIRBY.  Copyright relevant owner

Time.  Does it exist, or is it merely a human perception?  Is it simply a contrived 'device' by which we measure our lives in the same way that a tape-rule measures size, or is it an objective, definite reality?  Is an object an inch because we say it's an inch, or because calling it an inch makes manufacturing things more convenient for us.  Likewise, is an hour an hour because we call it an hour, or is it only part of one big 'now', which we've mentally divided into segments the better to navigate our way through it?

Imagine a chessboard with living, sentient chess pieces.  Now imagine tipping that board over and watching the pieces topple.  If you're looking down on the entire chessboard, do you see things happen in the same way that the pieces do?  No, you see the full picture, the pieces see only part of the picture because their view is obstructed by other pieces, and their experience of the event is shaped by their spacial constraints which are on a more limited level than yours.  Is it the same with time?  Is that why, to an adult, the month leading up to Christmas flies by, whereas, to a child, it seems like an eternity?  It's the exact same length of time, but the perceptions of it are different.  Which perception is the 'true' one - or might it be both or neither?

Imagine for a moment that God exists.  When I say 'imagine', I don't mean to dogmatically imply that He doesn't, I'm merely allowing for the possibility that you may not believe so.  And when I say God, I don't mean any specific theological idea of God, I merely mean a supreme being who is not subject to the same limitations as the rest of us, who is outside of time and space, and who brought everything into existence.  Whether or not He cares about or interacts with His creation or is indifferent to it, for the purpose of this discussion, is neither here nor there.  With that in mind, consider this:  

What if everything - past, present and future - is, as I suggested earlier, simply one big now, which this God can see happening all at the one time, but we, because of the way we're made, can only experience bit by bit?  In something like the same way an entire movie exists on a DVD, but which we can only experience as it plays.  To push the analogy further - we only have one screen on which to view that movie, but God has countless screens on which He can see every second of it at the one time.  Impossible you say?  Well, there has to be some advantages to being God, and if you were watching a movie that lasted 90 minutes, and had a separate screen for every second of that 90 minutes, then theoretically, every second of the entire movie would be available to you at (more or less) the exact same moment.

But how can the 'future' exist if it hasn't happened yet?  Good question.  However, if there's no actual past or future but only one big present, what if a 'delay button' (figuratively speaking) on our sensory perceptions creates the illusion (to us) that we're further behind in our experience of our lives than we actually are?  So my life in the scheme of things might already be over, but my 'conscious' mind has yet to catch up to that fact.  Is such a thing possible?  Bear in mind that you'd have to be aware of absolutely everything that is or isn't possible before you could answer with any kind of certainty (or authority).

Anyway, sadly I have no answers, only questions, but it's interesting subject on which to speculate, don't you think?  Your thoughts, theories, and fancies are most welcome - assuming that I've expressed myself in a cogent and intelligible way.  And, of course, if you have the time.

10 comments:

Colin Jones said...

Around 20 years ago I bought a book claiming to be a new theory of time. It was extremely complicated but it did indeed say that all of time existed at once and everything that has ever been or will ever be exists as an infinite landscape of possible events. Life is just a journey through this landscape as you experience different events, each one pre-determined but each one as real as the events/moments you didn't experience but could have done because all possible events already exist. I said it was complicated :D

TC said...

I've always tended to believe that "the future" does not yet exist, and won't exist until time passes and the future becomes the present. But I can't prove it.

If the future does already exist and we just don't perceive it until our consciousness catches up to it, does that mean that everything is, in effect, predestined? If so, does it matter what choices we make in (what we perceive as) the present time? If your life, in the overall scheme of things, is already over and your mind just hasn't caught up to that fact yet, then does it make any difference if you smoke, drink alcohol, use drugs, or overeat? Wouldn't you have a heart attack or something when it was your time to go, either way?

And, if I am destined to die, say, 48 hours from now, is a person who causes my death at that time (e.g., a reckless driver who runs me over, or a mugger who stabs me with a knife) responsible? Wouldn't I have had a heart attack or been struck by lightning anyway?

Like you, I have no answers, only questions and speculation.

Kid said...

TC, CJ's book mentioned in his comment seems to touch upon the predestined aspect of your comment. I'll wait to see if we get some more observations before I address each one (if I can). Thanks for your patience.

Anonymous said...

I’m fascinated with space time and Quantum theory etc and have read loads of books , magazine , watched TV programmes etc on them and it gets more and more complicated the more you find out. I tend to think that the fact that the nearer that you get to the speed of light the more slowly time will go for you . For example (as most folk know) when astronauts that go into space (the Moon etc) time will pass more slowly for them than us back on earth. This theory was proven when they sent up an atomic clock to note the passing of time on the ISS and on Earth), an astronaut that was on the ISS for 11 months was younger by 13 milliseconds than his twin. No a lot but the further you go away from Earth and the closer you get to the speed of light that can change rapidly you could be away for 5 years going close to the speed of light and on Earth everyone you knew could have died of old age and you would only be 5 years older. That fact makes me think anything is possible with time.

Paul McSCOTTY

Kid said...

If I recall rightly, that's Einstein's theory of relativity, PM, and he was a smart guy. What we call the speed of light could be slow-motion to other lifeforms, so as you say, anything is possible. I'll respond more fully to all comments later.

McSCOTTY said...

I’m fascinated with space time and Quantum theory etc and have read loads of books , magazine , watched TV programmes etc on them and it gets more and more complicated the more you find out. I tend to think that the fact that the nearer that you get to the speed of light the more slowly time will go for you . For example (as most folk know) when astronauts that go into space (the Moon etc) time will pass more slowly for them than us back on earth. This theory was proven when they sent up an atomic clock to note the passing of time on the ISS and on Earth), an astronaut that was on the ISS for 11 months was younger by 13 milliseconds than his twin. No a lot but the further you go away from Earth and the closer you get to the speed of light that can change rapidly you could be away for 5 years going close to the speed of light and on Earth everyone you knew could have died of old age and you would only be 5 years older. That fact makes me think anything is possible with time.

Kid said...

Hey, there's an echo in here! Don't know what happened there, PM. Your first comment came up as anonymous (though you 'signed' it), then it came up again from your Google account. Anyway, same response.

Paul Mcscotty said...

Sorry about the double posting Kid I posted on a new PC that didn't have my Google account listed so sent it as "Anonymous"then remembered that you deleted these without reading so logged into Google to resend. Time travel would have been handy in this case.

Kid said...

I'm currently a bit more relaxed about anonymous comments these days, PM, as it's been a while since I received any really vitriolic ones. Usually it only takes a few words in to see what direction a comment is taking, and I could see from your first one that it wasn't from a nutter. If a comment looks like it's going to be rude, I just delete it without finishing it.

Kid said...

Well, it looks like this post has had all the comments it's going to get, so I'll draw things to a close with these thoughts.

TC, I don't think that predestination really comes into it, because one's choices would still be spontaneous at the point of making them, but as everything, in effect, is happening 'at once', it would seem like predestination if one's life were over before you realised it. I probably complicated matters by expressing things in the way I did, as I was really only trying to convey the idea of one big 'now', and how we, as finite beings, only occupy a little slice of that 'now', which gives us the notion of past, present and future.

However, thinking about it, entropy (the 2nd law of thermodynamics) doesn't really allow for the concept of one big now, as the universe is running down, suggesting that, as it has an 'end' coming up, then it must also have had a beginning, so unless you subscribe to the Steady State theory, then the idea of one big now maybe doesn't hold water - or does it? Complicated, eh?

Perhaps the book CJ mentioned has something to it, but as it's currently beyond our ability to test (and may always be), we'll probably never know.

Thanks, everybody, for your comments.

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