Time – The Evolution of Reality

Time is perhaps the most important element that exists in our world. It is hard to imagine the existence of any form of life without time. Indeed, I daresay that as long as there is life and motion, the presence of time is inevitable. One should not confuse himself by concluding that time is the cause of all life. This statement would be highly inaccurate and deeply flawed. On the contrary, one should view time and life as inseparable. One of the basic characteristic of living matter is motion. As long as there is motion, the object that is subject to movement must also be subjected to time. In other words, time is change as surely as change is time.

Our early ancestors would have most probably measured time with the rising and setting of the sun and the changing of seasons. Both of these natural situations would essentially be a measure of the interval taken for a cycle to complete. Humanity has since measured time using the same method all around the world. If you ever wondered why your clock is round, the answer is that the only way we know how to measure time is through the repetition of one event back to its original state.

In physics, time is considered one of the fundamental quantities that is used to generate other units. For some philosophers, time is one of the fundamental structures of the universe itself. While some people think time as an illusion, the truth is that as long as we choose to believe that we exist (a wise choice indeed), we are all subjected to time. Time waits for no man and is independent of the observer. How can time be an illusion when there is movement? Even if all life were to be extinct, the movement of any non-living matter would still prove the existence of time.

We normally think we know what is time. More often than not, we are wrong. Time as far as human beings can observe is unidirectional. It is in essence a continuous process from past to future that grows as it changes. One need not think too deep to prove the unidirectional flow of time. If time can move backwards, why is it we can remember the past but not the future? Similarly, if time is not unidirectional, we should be able to see broken cups recreating themselves into their original state. Even the movement of planets around the sun shows that time is unidirectional as they move not in all directions (a physical impossibility) but in a constant one-way direction.

Time is not universally the same for all individuals. It is an old myth that there is a universal quantity called time that all clocks measure. Absolute and universal time is an illusion! Instead, every separate individual has his own personal time that is independent to a certain extent from another individual. Einstein’s theory of relativity proves that  universal time is a lie because two accurately precise timepieces would show a difference in ‘time’ if one is stationary while the other is moving. Many experiments conducted on this subject have indeed proven the relativity of time.

Thus, the relativity of time simply shows that the measurement of time is relative to the observer. Fundamentally, the principle of time remains the same because no matter what difference is shown between two different time pieces, time is still a continuous movement from the past to the future. For our world, this fundamental principle of time is a priori, a truth that is independent of experience. In saying so, all our ancestors would be subjected to the same principle of time.

Of the Past and the Future

The connection of the past and the future is time. The fundamental difference is that the past is unalterable and set in stone while the future is usually seen as a variable that to some people seem random. The possibilities of total randomness is highly unlikely. I consider it logical to belief that even if we do not know what will happen, it does not mean that future events are totally random. My birth is certainly not random. This shows that the past defines who we are and set a scope in which the future is to unfold.

This is in line with the principle of causality to which every effect must have a cause. The cause of my existence in this world is because of my parents and the cause of their existence is because of their parents. To say that my birth is a random occurrence would be really ridiculous because everything that happens in the future is due to something that happened in the past. Without the seed, the plant would not exists. If the planting of the seed is not random, how can the existence of the plant be random? Randomness would then simply be an excuse when one cannot predict the future.

Similarly, the laws of physics can be applied as an action is always followed by a reaction. Without an action, the reaction would not happen and since an action in history is not random, the reaction must also not be random. The past is unchangeable unless the Creator should will it. The arrow of time would point in one direction as long as reality persist. If time was to flow backwards, all reality that we know would crumble and all life would cease to exist. The closest we can achieve in reversing time would be to rewind a recorded film and watch everything backwards. Memory, a tapestry woven by time however, cannot be rewinded so easily. Imagine remembering the future and not past memories!

Of Free-will and Fate

In establishing that the past and the future are not just random occurrences, one must question the validity of free-will and of fate. The concept of free-will in which every individual is free to choose is often a misleading philosophy. While I am an ardent supporter of human rights and the freedom of speech, I must admit that there are rather rigid limitations to free-will. First and foremost, we cannot choose who our parents are. Because of this, the immediate choice of what environment we are thrown into when we come into this world is also not for us to decide.

Second, to say that a child with down-syndrome has the freedom to choose to be a genius is an outright lie. Whether we like it or not, different people are born with different talents, competence, characteristics, physical appearances and mental faculties. In terms of these aspects, we almost never have a choice. While I admit that a person who learns music would become more and more proficient in playing a musical instrument, talent would ultimately be the determining factor of how far a person’s musical achievement can reach. Of all the numerous schools teaching music and students learning music, the number of famous composers and virtuosos, are limited to only a small number in comparison! This shows that both talent and training is needed to create a Mozart out of a man!

The third limitation of free will, is the necessity of choice. Whenever we reach a crossroad in our lives, we are force to choose where we want to go next. There is no escaping the necessity of choice. Even if an individual decides not to make a choice between two or more alternatives, this event itself is a choice. Since choosing not to choose is also a choice, one has no freedom in escaping this reality set by time. I consider it a great folly when one says that he has decided not to make anymore choices in his life. An absurd statement.

Even with its limitations, free-will to a small degree is available to us. Because we are all relative to time, we are unable to know the full consequences of our actions. When we look in retrospect, we should understand that things are fated to happen as the past is unalterable and out of the realm of choice and free-will. Events of the past has already happened and cannot happen in any other way. The future on the other hand, is only predictable to a certain extent and holds many possibilities. In relation to the future, free-will is present at a magnitude relative to the individual. As time passes and the ‘future’ is transformed into history, free-will concerning that event in the past disappears.

Of Illusion and Reality

Time defines almost every aspect of life. As long as we believe that we exist, time is present. How then do we know whether we exist when our senses usually mislead us on a daily basis? Sometimes we wake up in the morning not knowing whether we are still in a dream that might be as vivid as reality itself. While it is common to pinch ourselves to prove we are awake, one must admit that one can experience ‘pain’ even when one is dreaming. The lack of our senses as an absolute agent to sense reality would cause us to doubt on whether everything or anything is actually real.

The answer to this question is simple. Whether reality is an illusion is inconsequential. Even if everything we know, touch and see is a lie, we cannot choose do deny our own existence. If we decide to kill ourselves, we are acknowledging that there is something to be killed. Similarly, if we choose not to eat, hunger would inevitably cause great discomfort to our bodies and would serve as a reminder of the futility of denying our own existence. Our mind simply cannot handle the notion that we do not exist.

Even if we wake up to a different reality everyday, the laws of time would still hold. As long as we can see motion, we exist and thus a reality to which we reside in exists. The only way that our reality would crumble is that if everything become static and time stops to a halt. If there is no dynamic movement of any kind, even thought, reality would crumble indefinitely. Therefore, whether our reality is an illusion is really inconsequential because we cannot choose to deny our own existence as long as dynamic movement is possible.

The Time Machine

It is a common mistake to think that humanity can control time with a time machine. Being able to travel back and forth through time does not mean that one controls time. This is due to the fact that the ‘time’ taken to travel from either the past to future or future to past is also unidirectional even though the direction of time for the person in the time machine has changed. Furthermore, as one exits the time machine, he is subjected once again to the limitations of time and space. Even if a time machine becomes a reality one day, complete control of time would most probably be beyond the ability of mortals. With that being said, nobody knows what the future holds. Only ‘time’ can tell.

Comments
2 Responses to “Time – The Evolution of Reality”
  1. You say that “..every separate individual has his own personal time that is independent to a certain extent from another individual.” This is true, but also proves that time does not exist without the individual. Without the observer in the equation, there is no past or future, this concept exists only in our minds. Without the observer, there is only the now. I have explained this further in this article:
    http://unplannedinsights.wordpress.com/

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