∆ The only way is forwards.

A cloud... drifting 'forwards'... Have you ever seen one going backwards?

Can 'timelessness' give us the false impression of a temporal order?

A critical question is, if everything can only just be here now moving and interacting, but not over time, would that be enough to give the illusion or impression of time passing. Could it give the illusion of time passing, in a single direction,  an arrow of time, and a steadily accumulating past ‘history’?

One of the reasons we may have a biased view without seeing it clearly, is because we humans are all pretty much the same model. That is we all walk around the Earth seeing things, and copying observations to our collection of knowledge. This makes sense, and it gives us the impression of some great ‘forward trend’, because we accumulate or group together and pile up this information. But there are problems with this view.

We seem to ignore the fact that when we are dying, and after death while our bodies are decomposing, surely all our knowledge, or grey-matter in-formation must be dispersing back into the world in some way. Whether it does this and gets lost in some quantum shuffle, or just disperses intact. In this way the opposite of us seeming to always accumulate new acts happens, but we don’t see it.

Also while we take our accumulating or condensing of knowledge as evidence that history is passing, and more and more events have happened, we also take the idea that ‘the universe is expanding into an identity less, information less heat death’ – as more proof that time flows and has a direction.

So the accumulation of information, and the dissipation of information, are both taken as ‘things that happen forwards’ and so taken to be more evidence that time exists, and has a direction, or arrow.

But have you ever stopped to think just how many things we automatically see as not just moving, but always moving ‘forwards’?

Forward march.

Picture: A shoal of fish, but are they all heading in different directions? or all going forwards?

It is of course a semantic issue just what we call any particular direction. But quite what this semantic matter hides might not be as simple as we think.

Let’s say we decide to explore the world in and around myself, but at the start, we say ‘if we see anything moving, in any direction at all, we are going to call the direction it moves in ‘forwards’. We stick to this, no matter whether two things are heading in opposite directions or at right angles to each other, we always call the direction they are moving forwards.

So we see that animals and birds run or fly forwards. Every fish in the ocean, alive and swimming or being carried by the tide moves forwards. Trees and animals alike take nutrients forwards into their bodies, and grow outwards, or forwards from their centre. And as a dead animal decomposes, or a tree rots or burns, the particles making it up must move forwards, away from the remains, until all are gone.

Space ships, trains, boats and cars all travel forwards, even if there is an ‘R’ for reverse on the controls, if we stand in front of something apparently ‘reversing’ we better see this as it basically moving ‘blunt end first’ and forwards towards us!

Matter, in space, always falls forwards to make planets and stars. Light pours forwards out of those stars while they burn, and their remains explode outwards, and forwards into space when they go critical. Meteorites and Space ships travel forwards into space, and forwards back to earth.

We put food forwards into our mouths, it travels forwards through our body and forwards out of us as heat, sweat, hair, nails, or waste. As we take an in breathe, air moves forwards into our lungs, oxygen moves forwards out of the air into the blood, which circulates forwards around the body, such that carbon dioxide can also move forwards out of the blood, into the lungs where it is expelled in an out breath. An out breath that can clearly be felt as moving forwards,  if we move a hand, forwards, to cover the mouth and feel its direction.

Light and sound travel forwards to our eyes and ears, to create impulses that travel forwards to our brains, and that may form a series of mental impressions that accumulate, or grow forwards , just as a note book gets filled, forwards, from front to back, and as a pile of notebooks grows upwards or along a shelf, forwards.

Finally we go out for a walk, forwards of course, and look up at the clouds in the sky... Have you ever seen one moving backwards?

What does this prove or disprove?

So if we decide to call all directions forwards, then everything seems to move forwards, from here it is hard to even imagine what other direction there could be and easy to get the idea that because so many things seem to all move forwards, that there is some universal ‘forwards’ to everything. And we may call that universal forwards ‘time’, and say that  time is the thing that makes everything move  ‘forwards’.

Now there are a couple of subtle points here. The main part of this piece is to highlight our probably often unseen bias to seeing every direction as being ‘forwards’ and then wondering why we don’t see many ‘backwards’ ness. But in seeing this we shouldn’t ignore that there does seem to be a genuine, one way, unfolding of the universe. An unstoppable spreading out, diffusing, or cooling down, into what is known as a universal ‘heat death’. But in seeing this we should be careful as to what we make it mean.

If we assume that time exists, then this one way unfolding may be taken as ‘proof’ that time does exist, and has a forwards direction to it. But, alone, the one way unfolding of all things only proves that all things are unfolding ‘now’. Not, that ‘time’ also exists, and the future exists, and the past exists.

So if we assume time exists, then these observations seem to confirm this assumption.  Which is fine, as long as times existence has been proven elsewhere. But we must bear in mind that alone, the observations do not ‘prove’ that time exists.

If we just assume what we can see, i.e. that matter exists, and that it can move and change and interact where gravity and energy etc are in play – then we find that this to seems to be confirmed by the observation that things move in all directions… whether we call all these directions ‘forwards’ or not.

 >>Timeless memories.