Monday, May 21, 2012

Eternal Time

When a cosmological argument arises during debate, typically the conversation starts to revolve around the question of possibilities for how the universe came to be.

These arguments are set up as arguments from ignorance, saying that since all the other possibilities aren't feasible, only God remains as an answer. It's elementary, my dear Watson.

Part of the problem is that the possibilities aren't well understood, if we're even aware of them at all. Here's a few possibilities to how the universe started.

  • Time is eternal and everything was simply always here (why not? They assert that God was eternal so why not weed out the middleman?)
  • Multiverse theory (we're one of many universes and they're cross connected through black holes or something)
  • God did it
  • The universe came from nothing
The first option is one that I'd like to discuss. There's a common objection to this: 
If time was eternal, we could never get to now.
For a better context of the discussion, you can listen to a call about this topic below.

Time doesn't have a Playhead

Playhead of Time

The conceptualization of this argument seems to assume that there's some kind of meta-playhead, like a record player, that starts at the beginning of time, and goes to the end. It moves, and proceeds along at a particular pace, and "now" is where the playhead is currently located along the timeline.

Thus, if time started infinity ago, it could never "get here", as it would take an infinite amount of... meta time... for time to get to here.

It's difficult to discuss this because our language is so limited (You can tell they ran out of terms in physics when the started giving "color" "charm" "strangeness" to new particles).

This playhead idea is what's limiting the caller in the clip above.

I can see how one might posit the "temporal playhead", since, according to our consciousness, we're experiencing "now" at only one point at a time. Our brains operate on successive sequences of chemical changes, so we can only perceive time going forward, like a VHS or cassette tape has a dependence on position along the magnetic tape, and must be progressed through at a particular speed sequentially.

The question arises as to whether our perception is an illusion or not. How would we tell?

Limitations of our Perceptions of Time

Our undrestanding of time, especially on an intuitive level is crap

We thought that time was eternal, and singularities wrecked that idea.

We thought time was global, and general relativity threw that for a loop.

What if there's something else we're wrong about?

 It's Always Now

It's now ALL the time!
This is another possibility. No "temporal meta playhead" exists, but rather, it's "now" at all points in the timeline.

This doesn't have the problem of "never getting here" of the playhead concept. It's also more precedented. Consider the first three dimensions, X Y and Z. It'd be like saying that I couldn't exist at X=344 if the X-axis extended infinitely, because it (the X dimension) could "never get here". Within that context, it doesn't make much sense. Points exist at all positions along the X-axis, as points would exist at all positions along the Time-axis.

I'm expiring now, now, 5 minutes ago, and 5 minutes from now, all at the "same time".

Which is it?

I have no idea. 

Neither model has any particular supporting evidence, except my model is precedented with the first three dimensions (with time being the 4th). 

That's not the point, though. Multiple possibilities exist that could support the idea of eternal time. It could even possibly be something we're not even aware of yet.

It goes right back to trying to logic God into existence, where an argument relies on ignorance and assumptions, which simply doesn't hold water.

This is why it's of paramount importance to positively demonstrate things, and not go the "we don't know how else it would happen" route.

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