The Illusion of Time
The following is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Illusion of Time. A book that I was prompted to write after the popularity of an article I wrote in 2011. Does Time Exist is the up to date version of that article and is the basis for the book due for release later in 2017. Every week I’m sharing extracts and exclusive content from the book with subscribers to Sunday Letters. Get on board to get the first two chapters free stay up to date!
Chapter One – Where Do We Come From?
As long as I can remember I’ve thought deeply about things. As a kid I’d lie awake at night until all hours thinking about myself and my place in the world.
I remember being in the field during breaktime at school and I wondered why minutes couldn’t be longer. I thought that we could just as well have hours as long as days.
What was the difference?
That would be brilliant! I thought. Then we could stay out here playing ball for ages. Then I realised that I’d have to stay in class longer too.
Maybe that wasn’t such a good idea…
Fundamentally I was on to something though. Funny how it took 30+ years for me to figure that out.
Anyway, lying awake at night pondering the universe isn’t a completely unique thing for a kid. Many people ask the big questions at some stage in their lives I suppose.
Who am I?
Where do we come from?
Why are we here?
I used to look forward to going to bed so I could have the peace and quiet to just think about stuff. I much preferred my own company, and still do.
My friends and family would say “Larry you think too much”, but I didn’t think so. As far as I was concerned they didn’t think enough.
Not many people around me thought like I did so I pretty much kept my ideas to myself. Eventually I blended in with everybody else.
I became assimilated.
I put my universal ponderings largely on hold in my early adulthood and focused on work and business and all the usual junk everybody thinks is important.
Time For A Re-evaluation
For a while things were good. But it didn’t last.
The downturn in the economy came in 2008 and like many others I was wiped out financially. I pretty much lost everything I had built over the previous 8 years.
The idea of myself that I had created was gone and that was the hardest thing to take.
In retrospect it was the best thing that could have happened.
That difficult period was a good time to reconnect with myself, re-evaluate why I was here and what I was here to do.
Reading material from people like Alan Watts, Eckhart Tolle, Richard Feynman, Carl Sagan and R. Buckminster Fuller and others helped me broaden my perspective.
On one particular ordinary kind of day, I was going about my business when it occurred to me in no uncertain terms that Time, as thought of as a linear passage of events from birth to death, was not real.
From a right now point of view there was no future and there was no past, all there appeared to be was the present.
How could this be?
I remember yesterday and the day before. I was born in 1974 and I’m older now, not to mention physically bigger. So how did that happen if there is no time?
The clock, the calendar, the seasons in nature, ageing, birth and death, what of all of this?
What about entropy, the Big Bang, was that all bull shit too?
As I explored and examined, the answers began to reveal themselves.
The Standard Model of The Universe
The accepted Standard Model of The Universe suggests that before time and before matter, the entire Universe was condensed in a single dense speck.
Almost every explanation you’ll find suggests that about 14 billion years ago, from this single dense point The Universe began expanding outward in all directions at a uniform rate.
Arthur Eddington in his book The Expanding Universe in 1933, offered an analogy of an expanding balloon to explain the expansion of The Universe.
But as Nassim Haramein asks; Who is blowing up the balloon?
Haramein tells the story of attending a convention many years ago, standing up at the back of the auditorium and shouting this out to the speaker. It seemingly didn’t go down too well as you might imagine.
Challenging the status quo is a dangerous practice is many circles within the scientific community and this was no different.
Egos are big, preservation of the establishment is primary and long held ideas are not easily broken down.
Kind of like the Catholic church really.
Funny how both science and religion appear to be at constant loggerheads about who is right, when they both are guilty of institutionalising the truth.
Anyway, back to this universal idea…
The balloon analogy is simply not good enough at explaining the nature of expansion of The Universe because it doesn’t account for the multidimensional nature of things, or indeed one of the biggest questions that I held.
What is the Universe expanding into to?
The Center Of The Universe
Whether science likes it or not, the universe is made up of mostly unseen, non physical stuff. And this becomes a problem because science is built on The Scientific Method which always looks for evidence, physical proof.
The truth is that there is no centre of the Universe, no single point from which everything began and is continuously expanding out from. At least none that has so far been detected.
What would actually be more accurate to say is that the centre of the Universe is everywhere and the perimeter is nowhere
Now this is a real mind bender and something that most accounts of the Big Bang will not go into, purely because (in my opinion) the authors can’t get their heads around it enough to explain it adequately.
Religion as it happens says the same thing about God. The men in long dresses say that God is omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent. I wonder if they are perhaps talking about the same thing?
It’s funny you know… I’ve examined lots of material over the years in my attempt to find answers and it seems to me that Science and Religion are actually at the same party.
they are just too drunk to realise it. Caught up in their own respective ideologies they can’t see that the answers are right there in front of our faces and if weren’t so arrogant we might discover the truth of who we are together.
We’ll get into more about this in later chapters.
The Time Before Time
What did people do before the modern concept of time? What about Egyptian, Celtic and the Chinese civilisations, did they hold the same concept as we do today?
I had learned from reading books like Black Elk Speaks that Native American people used the passage of the moon and sun as a means of measuring their relationship with the broader universe.
They were a simpler people than we are today, yet more sophisticated in many other ways. I think they were more in touch with their environment and their role in the universe than we are today.
They respected Mother Earth, realising that they were an integral part of it. It gave them food clothing and homes, all they needed to live.
They were not pushed and pulled by the invisible spectre of Time. There were no minutes, no hours, they moved in accordance with nature.
And what about other ethnic peoples throughout history, did they believe in this modern day idea of a linear passage of an invisible thing we call time, or did they have a more multidimensional concept?
The Vedic teachings of India (Indian Religious Texts) spoke of cycles of time that repeated themselves forever, like seasons only on a larger scale.
The Vedas refer to space and time as an eternal cycle of the life of Brahma, the Creative energy of the universe.
Cause & Effect or Effect & Cause?
Was what I suspected correct?
Was time an illusion, a product of relativity or was I just going crazy?
If our concept of time was right, and all life today was created by virtue of what happened in the past then the future is dictated to, pushed out from the past.
Now I had a real problem with that idea because it takes away my free will. It says that everything I’ve ever done in the past dictates what I do in the future and there was something just not right about that.
It appeared to me that the past and future move out from the present. They are created now. It is only with hindsight, reflection on previous events that we assign causes to effects.
In that sense it is effects that create causes and not the other way around.
As I explored, I realised that there was a similar problem with the distance between objects in space. I realised that nothing could be measured of defined absolutely.
If I asked you to find the length of a line you couldn’t do it. At least not absolutely. As you try to get closer and closer to the edge of the line it runs away. It becomes fuzzy and eventually disappears.
The distance from the Moon to the Earth is an approximation, it cannot be defined absolutely.
Not only because it changes depending on the time of year, but because neither the surface of the Earth or the Moon is stable.
The distance is always changing.
Measure the coastline of island country. You’ll see it’s impossible.
Sure, you will be able to achieve an approximation but it will never be final because the coastline is curved. The shorter the ruler you use to measure it, the greater distance you’ll record.
Do you measure when the tide is in or out?
Where on the beach do you start?
Do you go into every nook and cranny?
You’ll never get a definitive answer – it’s impossible.
A Moving Target
The entire physical Universe is a pulsating, moving target which makes it’s impossible to define. Time it seems is only an apparent function of this and is dependant on our notion of it.
It felt to me like I only seeing the tip of the iceberg. If it’s true, if time is not a real thing, only an idea, then why was it that most of humanity is bound to it?
Why do we have so many people suffering in the world?
Why are there so many people willing to kill one another for the sake of power and resources?
We are so willing to sacrifice loving relationships for the sake of beliefs, why is that?
Why do millions struggle to survive when the world has ample resources?
These questions occupied my mind incessantly and I wanted answers. I believe I found those answers.
I believe our relationship to one another and to the planet will the fundamentally change for the better once the majority of us grasp this reality.
This is the human race’s next greatest challenge.
I know it’s dramatic but I truly feel we’re on a trajectory that will end in tears. Current momentum tells me we will end up destroying ourselves.
The planet is a living breathing organism and my feeling is that it, the very nature of life here will not allow its existence to be jeopardised by a single species.
It seems to me that this concept of Time is our modern day equivalent to the old world idea of a flat earth.
We need to get beyond that.