03 Basic Timelessness Introduction.


 



Is there actually a 'past' and 'future' ?

 


Or do things just exist and move ?





Apparently the 'present' is an infinitely thin 'moment' joining, and separating the past and the future. 


Is that really how it looks to you?

Take a look around, doesn't everything seem to just be here, now, moving and changing ?

If Time is just a man made idea then there's a lot to be re-explained 'Timelessly' - But I think we can do it...


Why do we even think that time exists?

Our most basic reasons for thinking that time exists is because we at least seem to clearly perceive its three distinctly different components of the past, present and future.

Each of these distinct ‘times’ seems to have a clear and evident nature. And ‘time’ is the thing that encompasses them all, and flows between them. 

The ‘Past’ seems to be constantly accumulating and receding, as new events naturally become old and sink away.  These events are still visible in a sense, but also unreachable and unchangeable. 

The ‘Present’ is here now, where things happen, as we travel forwards through time, or time passes by us. 

And the ‘Future’ is how we describe the endless stream of new events that just keep happening. Sometimes fairly predictable, like a tide coming in or going out, or at least inevitable like our own demise. And sometime completely random, chaotic or unpredictable, like a sudden storm or a win on the lottery.

Most of us can agree that this is how the world appears, and so most people seem to think that time exists as a real thing, in some or other way, and scientifically the existence of time seems to be taken as proven.

But I believe Einstein was much closer to the mark than even he may have realised when he suggested that ‘the distinctions between the past, present and future were just persistent illusions’.  And this project is intended to be a logical and scientific explanation of just how and why there is no past, and no future, and thus no distinctions between them – and therefore no such thing as time.

At its core, the reasoning behind this suggestion is extremely simple and can be summed up in just a few statements.  Basically all that needs to be said is that the world is just as we always constantly see it, in that...


  •     All that we ever observe around us, and within us, is just ‘Things’, existing, moving and interacting, or ‘matter and motion’ if you prefer.
  •     Because of the way matter interacts, where things move, it creates tracks and trails in itself.
  •     But, looking these tracks and trails, i.e. ‘evidence’, we think we see proof that some other invisible, ethereal and mysterious thing we call ‘Time’ also exists.  But on closer inspection, all we really see is proof that just matter and motion exist


In other words, while the vast amount of evidence we see around us seems to show that things exist, and move, and interact ‘over time’.  If we examine this evidence very carefully, we can see that vast as it is, this evidence only actually proves that things exist, move, and interact... And the term ‘over time’ turns out to be nothing more than a phrase used to describe or summarise all this movement. Therefore time, as anything other than a ‘notion’ does not exist.

The critical question.

Of course there is a lot more to actually disproving the existence of something that so many of us believe in and regularly use as an essential part of our lives.  Anyone can suggest that time is just a man made idea. But proving how this may actually be the case is a lot more tricky.

Our first tool in this quest is the following critical question, which can be asked to double check any apparent evidence that seems to suggest that time exists, specifically we ask…

  • “If matter could just exist, and move, and interact, would this be enough to explain all that we observe and attribute to ‘Time’?”

At first glance the answer to this question might seem to simply be ‘No’. Because of course we are aware of the past, and the future. Of these concepts, ‘the past’ is the easiest to first examine in detail, because, unlike the future, we say the past has already happened, or been created. And therefor the thing we want to observe is at least in some way fixed, and visible.

Looking at the past

Our main reasons for considering that the past exists, are firstly that we have personal and intimate memories of past events. And secondly that the state of the external world around us proves that things that are not happening now, clearly have happened ‘in the past’.

Assuming we aren't making up memories or falsifying physical evidence, not only do these two sets of evidence

 
independently seem to prove the nature of the past. But combined, they always agree perfectly, and this perfect agreement can be taken as a cross check, or extra proof that the past definitely ‘happened’.

The critical observation.

This suggestion that our own memories, and the world around us prove at least that ‘the past happened’ brings us to the single most critical observation upon which most of these discussions on timelessness completely rely on. This observation is that while all the evidence we see around us seems to obviously prove that time exists, it in fact only proves that matter and motion exist.

To see how this may be true, and to simplify matters, it make sense to first look at the external evidence, then the internal, and then how these correlate.

Considering the state of the ‘external’ world around us, we can see that plants, animals, and people are constantly forming, living, growing, and dying. On a larger scale fossils, buildings, mountains, planets, stars and entire galaxies all seem to do the same.

Seeing countless examples of all of these things around us now, existing in the highly organised state that they are in, it is a very logical conclusion that they did not all coincidentally just suddenly appear, and appear in this state. And then suddenly start behaving as they do. But instead that countless things must have ‘happened in the past’ for the universe, our world, and ourselves to be and appear as they are.

So this alone seems to be a perfect proof that ‘the past’ at least in some way happened or exists. But  to check this we ask the critical question,

  •  “If matter could just exist, and move, and interact, would this be enough to explain all that we observe and attribute to ‘Time’?”

 

Ring, ring.



If we take a single tree as an example of external evidence to start with. We could cut through the trunk and expose its ‘growth rings’. The science of studying these rings, ‘Dendrochronology’, very reliably tells us what the conditions were like throughout every season that the tree survived. And if we compared what its growth rings tell us, with any other reliable source of history from the area the tree grew in, these would always accurately concur.

For these growth rings to form, the tree has to be able to use energy in the form of sunlight. And the laws of physics have to exist and work such that the tree can absorb and bond to itself, carbon atoms from the air around it. And take nutrients from the soil it grows in. Together the varying quantities  and qualities of these things, and the local rainfall patterns determine the way the tree’s bulk, and bark grow. And thus the precise appearance and thickness of the growth rings.

Now as the tree grows, and conditions change, it may well be that time exists and passes. It may even be that we could deduce what the conditions were like for the tree five years ago, build a time machine, go back five years and confirm the trees record with the temporal past.

But, whether time exists or not, it seems also to be true that if matter could just exist, and move, and interact, and ‘bond’ in certain ways to form ‘wood’ with different thicknesses of bark etc, then there is no reason to believe our tree could not exist, just as it does.

 So, the fact that a section trough a tree to appears as it does, definitely does prove that ‘things’, atoms of air, water, nutrients and so on, can all exist and move, and bond. But what the condition of the tree does not definitely prove, is that along with this physical ‘record’ of how the seasons changed, there is also another ‘time based’, or ‘temporal’ record of all that happened!

 

What's on your mind?

Trees and fossils are one thing, but what about our own personal memories?

No matter what I say about matter and motion always just being here now, and time not existing, you will still have thoughts about ‘the past’. Memories of things that definitely ‘happened in the past’, or of objects that existed, and that you owned, in the past. Surely these are very different to just a lump of wood exiting now, and surely they prove the real nature of the past?

Well, to understand to real nature of your memories more clearly, try this simple experiment…

(For a pictorial version of the following goto > - 'X'-plaining away 'The past'. )

First, grab a pen. Then mark an ‘X’ on a piece of paper. Then put the pen back down.

That’s basically it. Now, you can leave things ‘for a while’ if you want, and look away from the X, or let yourself get momentarily distracted from the memory you have of making the X and make a cup of tea. When you are happy enough that the event of making the X is ‘all in the past’, read on.

Now, looking at the X again, we can see that although this is just an X, it represents any action or event that has ever happened anywhere at any time in the past, and which has left some physical evidence of its happening.

So the ‘formation’ of the ‘X’ is just like the formation of a tree growth ring, but on smaller and faster more comprehendible scale. And we might say, we are looking at the effects or evidence of something that happened in the past. And that this is therefore also definitive evidence ‘that the past happened’.

Now consider that the ink ‘X’ that you are looking at just came from the pen beside it. And that the rest of the ink is still in the pen. So all that has happened is some existing ink has been separated, moved and ‘re arranged’ from A to B to form the character.

Nothing has been added to, or taken from the scene you are observing. And while we might say the X was written in the past, we must also agree, because we can directly see it, that it is here now.

Now also consider your personal, internal, ‘memory’ of actually creating the X. For this memory to be formed all that happened is that some of the physical contents of your mind were also rearranged.

For this to happen, images of the X being formed had to hit your eyes, such that the automatic biological reactions in your body, sent versions of these images along your optic nerves to your brain. Within your brain these signals were used to drive changes in the chemical states of numerous braincells, to form some kind of an internal pattern or re-presentation, of the X.

But like the ink in-formation on the paper, or the carbon information in a tree growth ring, all that is needed for these internal, mental, patterns to exist, is for matter to be able to exist, move, and interact.

If you consider the memory you have of forming the X, you can see this must be the same as any other ‘apparent’ memory of the past. Be it your first ever memory of falling of a swing and scarring your knee, or of owning then losing a favourite toy – in that like the tree rings, or the ink X, these memories are in fact are formations of matter that exist now, and that you are directly observing now.

Memories seem to be ‘of’ the past, or proof of the past’s existence. But just like the ink mark that is clearly physically just on the paper directly in front of you, and that you could smudge if you wet your finger, any memory you can ‘see’ must just be ‘here now’ for you to be able to perceive it.

In fact, if while you made the X, you deliberately didn't breath, or eat anything, then you would know that the ‘memory’ you have of the X, physically  in your brain, could only be a result of the existing contents being re-organised. In other words, to form the memory nothing was added to or taken away from ‘you’. 

So, in regard to the critical question, again whether or not ‘time’ also exists, we can see that if matter could just exist and interact now – with no other ‘temporal’ record of its movements and interactions being formed, then your hand could move to make an ‘X’, and your mind could change formation to record this happening, so yes, if only matter and motion existed this part of the world could appear as it does!

The first conclusion.

The highly organised state and existence of external evidence around us seems at first to prove that matter exists and changes over time. As do our own intimate and organised internal ‘memories’.

Combined these two sets of evidence always concur perfectly, and so this itself seems to be a third piece of proof that at least one aspect of time, ‘the past’, exists or makes sense.

However, careful examination of the external evidence show that while it may at first seem to show that ‘things happen over time’, it only really directly proves that matter (and energy) can exist and move and interact. And not that It also needs some thing called time in which to do this - Or that as matter interacts some other record of events is created and added to i.e. ‘the past’.

Careful examination of our internal memories also shows that for them to form matter must be able to exist, and move, and change, and form patterns. But our internal mental formations also do not prove that ‘the temporal past’ is ever created or exists, other than as a useful turn of phrase.

No ‘third’ record.

So, while the matter outside of us, and inside of us clearly does in a sense create ‘records of events’ in itself,  as and where they physically happen – separately or combined, and despite our confident first assumptions, none of this evidence actually, directly, proves that a ‘third’, i.e. ’Temporal ’  record of events, is ever created or stored anyway, anywhere.

None of this actually proves that time or the past do not exist. But it does show us how one of our most basic reasons for assuming the past exists, and therefore that time may exist, is flawed.

There are however many more reasons to suspect that time exists. What about the future, clocks, ageing, Relativity and the big one - bed time?

>> ∆ Before and After = Ahead and Behind.

See also...


Galileo and Time.
The Past.
The Present.
The Future.