Just as there can be no right without wrong, no good without evil, no day without night, we can’t have time without timelessness or better said, we can’t have an existence in time without an existence in timelessness. At least that’s what I’m hoping to make the point for.
Ray Cummings was a science fiction writer, (1887-1957). He wrote several books and is credited with writing, what some consider to be, the best definition of time. In 1921, in one of his books he wrote; “Time is what keeps everything from happening all at once.” As I found out, time is a difficult thing to describe. His definition isn’t bad at all. I’ll elaborate on the definition later.
Being present in time means you see what’s happening to you now. Being “in time” you remember your past and look forward to the future. But by no means do you have the ability to see your life on a timeline, all at once, from beginning to end. The best any of us can do is see up to the present moment but, not beyond that. That’s because, “we’re IN time”. Pretty obvious right?
We’ve all seen timelines where you can scan back and forth across a straight line, marked by increasing dates with corresponding relevant or important events that occurred in history. But looking at a timeline for us is “history”, which is the key word here. We can see no further than the day that we’re viewing the timeline simply because, it hasn’t happened yet. We all understand this and have no further expectations. So, what did Ray Cummings mean when he said, “Time is what keeps everything from happening all at once?” This statement seems to imply that if time wasn’t there, you could see all that has occurred from when time began, until when time ended, all at once. However, if you were in timelessness, bringing up time would make no sense and have no reference. Time locates us, so-to-speak. Confused yet?
If you were not IN time you would be outside of it. You would then be looking at the events that have happened, as well as what was to come. You would see time as a timeline or, “all at once.” This would be timelessness or eternity. This idea of timelessness gets a bit hard to understand since we’ve never had anything to reference. The closest we come to understanding timelessness would be in dreaming.
Keep in mind that even if you could see the future of your own actions or that of another, as on a timeline, it would not mean that those actions were predetermined or that you had no free will to choose to have done otherwise. It would simply mean that you could see the choices that you or another, had made or, were going to make. This does not have to employ fatalism to make sense. In other words, if I had the power, or ability, to see what someone was going to do, it would not mean that I made their choices for them simply because I saw their choice before they did. Free will is another highly debated topic. For now, let’s just assume, for arguments sake, that we all have free will and we’re not doomed to decisions out of our control.
If you try to define time you’ll end up with a circular explanation. What I mean is that you can’t define time without also referencing it in some manner. So, by defining time, when you come back around to where you started, you’ve learned nothing at all and end up in a circular argument. If you go online and look for a definition of time, you’ll find things like;
“Time is what a clock reads. In classical, non-relativistic physics it is a scalar quantity and, like length, mass, and charge, is usually described as a fundamental quantity.” Or, “Time can be considered to be the fourth dimension of reality, used to describe events in three-dimensional space.”
Or even less informational; “Time is a measure in which events can be ordered from the past through the present into the future, and also the measure of durations of events and the intervals between them.” Got it?
I still don’t know exactly what time is. So, when Ray Cummings famously said, “Time is what keeps everything from happening all at once”, it seems to me to be the best explanation, philosophically speaking that is. His quote assumes timelessness and it’s clear a timeline is inescapable while on this earth.
If you’d really like to bore yourself and read how time is technically defined, and how exactly, we measure time, universally, well just read this next paragraph. If not, skip it.
and I quote: “Since 1967, the definition of the base unit for time has been chosen as the ‘second’. Under the International System of Units, which assigns SI units to physical quantities, one second is defined in relation to the time it takes for a cesium atom to oscillate. Just to be technically accurate, one second is defined as the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of a cesium 133 atom. While this might be a bit too difficult to grasp, what it actually conveys is that the cesium clock is incredibly precise. It is so precise that for 30 days, it has an error of just 1 nanosecond, which is 10^-9 (thousandth of a thousandth of a thousandth) of an actual second.”
That’s the technical explanation of time. Do you get it yet? Me neither. Hang in there. To define time is tough.
Whatever Exists Had a Beginning – Time Exists So, It Too Had a Beginning
According to the universally accepted theory called, “The Big Bang Theory” the universe had a beginning. The Big Bang Theory is grounded in science through the discovery of an expanding universe, the red shift (referring to stars and planets moving away from us) and more recently, the afterglow of radiation from the initial “bang” being discovered as remnants passing through the universe that we can now measure. A very important note is that gravity affects the expansion and if it were just a sliver off in either direction, the universe would never have formed; if gravity were too weak, it would have expanded too far and burnt out, never forming any planets or stars, or, if gravity were too strong, it would have collapsed upon itself and burnt up. But it was fined tuned to expand at just the right rate allowing for the formation of stars, planets, and galaxies. So, according to science, it’s well understood and accepted that the universe had a beginning. If it had a beginning, what was there before, well … everything we see now?
Or, the age-old question amongst philosophers is, “Why is there anything at all, instead of nothing?” Everything that exists, had a cause. If there was a Big Bang that created a universe, then something had to have caused it. As William Lane Craig once said, “A big bang has to have a big banger.” Something had to have caused the beginning of the universe.
The cause would need to have more power than the “bang” itself. In other words, a small amount of gun powder can’t cause a larger explosion than the energy stored in the powder itself. A nail can’t be driven harder than the force which was behind the swing of the hammer that drove the nail.
You come to these conclusions naturally, and through deductive reasoning, every day. If you go to a junk yard and look at the cars there, you’ll see some are destroyed while others have smaller dents. You come to conclusions on the force that caused the damage you see, based on the size of the damage, right? So, if the universe started at one focal point (the Big Bang) and exploded into a universe, can you imagine the power behind that “bang”? It’s beyond our full comprehension so what we tend to do is think that if we can’t understand it, it’s not possible. We may not understand the “how” but we can deduce the best explanation, using logic and reasoning, for what we see before us. It could also be, that we just don’t know everything and that we’re not the smarty-pants we think we are. Scientists and Philosophers make new discoveries every day. Why would we assume that at this moment, we know all there is to know?
So, if everything that’s created had a cause, and there was nothing before the universe, what caused the thing that created the universe? Who or what created the first creation? The only explanation is that there must be an uncaused, first cause.
If we don’t have an uncaused, first cause, we end up in an infinite regress of causes, never reaching the cause that started time itself. If we want to insist that time is infinite, then we must be satisfied with time and space having never been created or having had no beginning. This viewpoint creates more problems than it solves and is not a logical conclusion. It’s a question, when left unanswered, leaves the entirety of existence in limbo and your feet planted firmly in mid-air.
When the universe was created, or started, or began, so did time. Time began with the Big-Bang. So, that means that something outside of time and space had to have created what was to become, time and space. This strongly suggests that there is an existence outside of time and space and that’s commonly referred to as, “eternity.”
This is not a new argument and certainly not an original thought on my part. I’m just trying to find a different way to say it. Among philosophers this is a common subject to debate and discuss. Something simply can’t come from nothing. As Aristotle famously said; “Nothing is that which rocks think about.”
This is a very deeply debated subject and there’s plenty of books out there discussing this in great detail. Philosophers have been thinking about this since the beginning of time. Please don’t assume that I think I have all the answers; I don’t. I’m merely suggesting a way to tie all that we know together to make the case for life after death.
To be temporal would dictate a beginning and an end. Time and space could not always have been here since our universe is dying. Physics has made that clear to us. Things are winding down, things deteriorate, cars rust. Things don’t renew themselves and the universe is expanding and dying. We are in time that had a beginning and will end as so shall all of us.
If we believe we will live forever, our lives today become so much more meaningful. What you do today will not be gone tomorrow but, will make you who you will be in eternity. Living for eternity brings deeper purpose, and meaning, into your life.
Have you ever spoken with someone who has never seen the ocean? Do you think they could describe to you what the ocean was like, having never seen it? Since they would have no reference or knowledge of what you were referring to by the “ocean” you’re talking about, they’d be lost to explain anything about it. They would likely also be unable to explain what it was like to have NOT seen or experienced it!
For all of us, this is how eternity is. We’ve had glimpses of eternity in our dreams but write them off as “just a dream.” We’ve experienced reminders in the joy or kindness of our friends and family or in the generous or kind actions of a stranger. But we can’t put our finger on what it is that brings us this feeling. These feelings of ecstasy, love, kindness, and joy, here in time, are muffled or dampened examples of what waits for us in eternity. How can we get an appreciation for eternity? How can we incorporate eternity into a time confining existence? We can’t. It’s not possible to know the full extent of how your soul will feel unshackled from this earth-bound vessel.
Some people go so far as to say that eternity doesn’t exist. That it couldn’t. The mistake some people make is thinking that lack of knowing about something is synonymous with its lack of existence. Granted, eternity is tough to comprehend because thinking about “forever” and trying to feel with a suppressed soul, when you don’t even realize it, is a hurdle almost impossible to overcome. It’s a little like grasping the concept of infinity in mathematics. In mathematics we move toward infinity knowing it’s impossible to reach it. If we could, it wouldn’t be infinite. It would be the end.
But if we can get a grip on an existence without time, we’d begin to understand it. For most of us, we’re all fish, trying to explain to each other what water is like. Since we’ve never been outside of time and space, there’s no reference. We fall flat.
So, if we can’t prove eternity exists, what if we could prove it’s the best explanation for what we call objective truth or for the objective truth giver and creator of time? We can take what we are familiar with and use them like puzzle pieces and put them together. When we put the puzzle together, we may see more clearly what all these pieces point to as the best explanation.
If you’ve managed to make it through the preceding blogs (parts 1 &2) then maybe you can consider all three blogs or pieces, as making one point. Objective truth, right and wrong, good and evil, all rely on there being an objective law giver that would have to exist outside of time and space in order for any of it to make sense. If truth is determined through popular vote, then objectivity is removed and truth is merely a dressed-up word for “an opinion.” We know “objective truth” does not equal “opinion.” Objective truth exists because there’s a place outside of time and space and there’s an intelligence that created it all.
I think objective truth, good and evil, right and wrong, are all strong arguments for timelessness through each one having to be rooted outside of time and space. If timelessness exists then our souls can live on. Our bodies are connected to time but our souls are not. Our bodies are dying and winding down because we live in a physical universe that’s doing the same. We’re riding within a doomed vessel. When our bodies die, we will shed those vessels and enter timelessness.
Give it some time, you’ll see for yourself.
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