I was recently listening to a podcast from Rob and Trace Bell about time and it was helpful because it brought me back to a previous framework that I had for time earlier in my faith, before I was educated out of such “nonsense.” The framework for what we call “time” is scientific or at least mathematical in its claims which the Rob’s podcast illuminated. However, what occurred to me, which wasn’t addressed at the time was that neither the scientific framework, nor the podcast took me into the realm of experimentation, nor new experience. It’s purpose was the introduction to a new way of relating to time.
While a new perspective about time is great and very helpful, for me and those like me, it doesn’t go far enough. What kind of changes are to result from a new perspective? What power does this open up for each of us? Science, being stuck in irrational empiricism, is essentially “land locked” and unable to invite anyone into the oceanic discovery of time within each of us. This series, is my attempt to open a portal which is big enough for the skeptic and the faithful to enter and begin experiencing timelessness, to begin exploring the feasibility and nuance of punctuated time “travel“, and to cross over or at least peer into, as it were, a reality which transcends space-time.
To accomplish this, I will use the following roadmap. First, we will examine bits of the present scientific understanding of time which alone may shock and surprise you. Next, we will examine time through the lens of spirituality and the frameworks it uses to draw people out of living “within time” unto the larger awareness that time is “within us.” Lastly, I’ll offer some implications of these two complimentary frameworks of time and share some experiments that we can try which, if we are willing, may initiate a dormant “subterranean” knowledge or experience.
Einsteins’ theory of relativity shows us that space and time are not two things, but aspects of a single larger thing called spacetime. Space and time are “woven” into a fabric, which is dynamic and not a flat field. This fabric changes shape based upon energy and gravity and holds the entire universe, it’s galaxies, it’s planets, stars, all the past and future and everything within this single, ever expanding and contracting thing. The theory is that it all of this emerged from a single “Alpha” point or what is called the Big Bang. Prior to that is what is called a Singularity. Even in scientific and mathematical frameworks, there is a failure of words to adequately describe the variables under consideration. Science and the faith of sacred texts are so similar.
Time is not constant as most of us assume. Seconds, minutes, hours, days, months and years are derivatives of life within our solar system, our speed and orbits within the larger framework of space time. Not only is our moon orbiting us, but we are orbiting the sun, and our sun and all the planets are spiraling through space time so that even when our world orbits the sun it will never be in exactly the same place. Our celestial framework is perfect for life during this season of it’s trip and no more. Science has moved away from what is called “Presentism” which claims reality is only “right now” and that the past and future are illusions into what scientist Hermann Minkowski calls “Eternalism” which adds a fourth dimension of time to the spacial dimensions and concludes that events of the past and present are equally real and there isn’t anything “happening”, but that all things simply “exist” or “are.”
Time is not perceivable apart from a “self-time” consciousness which seems to be solely imbued upon humanity. From consciousness comes consciousness. Flesh gives birth to flesh, spirit gives birth to spirit.
I’m not going to “Sheldon” you here, that’s not my goal. What I hope instead is that if you haven’t contemplated this scale and framework of the perfectly designed world, that you take some time to do so. As we do, we are immediately overcome by our diminutive stature in comparison to the universe. This is a deeply spiritual perspective (even for scientists) but as I’ll show in this series is only a part of an ultimately transformative perspective. Scientific discovery, rather than disprove the transcendent truth claims within scripture, seems to move closer in alignment to its conclusions. How did people thousands of years ago intuit something which science claims to have just discovered?
The implication of scientific Eternalism is that time is not so much a thing as it is a “no-thing.” Time is assumed to be empirically measurable, but empiricism falls short of capturing all dimensions. Those things we call seconds, hours and days have no empirical reality and are completely meaningless in another solar system. How heavy is a time? What is its temperature. Can I double the weight of it? You see, just because something is mathematical, doesn’t make it empirically real and this is why empirical science is too small of a container and becomes irrational if we insist on time fitting within it. The ocean doesn’t fit in the thimble so a thimble.
If time is a not a “thing,’ and yet we are all conscious of it, we all perceive some aspect of it, then the very minimum conclusion that can be drawn is that time itself is bearing some aspect of the consciousness of itself which we possess. Max PLanck, a theoretical physicist said:
“I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”
Sit with this one for minute. The simple deduction here is that all of human experience and history as we know it, is found within something more like a conscious mind than anything else we can conjure. Non empirically based reality is behind what we call reality. In the same way that our brain is a framework of neurons, blood vessels, and all kinds of cells, its infrastructure allows for a “mind” to exist but the mind itself is not a derivative of such cells. Death, coma, and sleep is the presence of the infrastructure without the mind. Consciousness, exists because something like a mind first had to have existed. Time exists in the same way that the conscious mind exists. Our awareness of time, like our awareness of consciousness is not incidental, both are derivatives of a non-empirically based reality, a “no-thing” in which all things exist.
This points us to not only a space-time continuum, but a self-time continuum. That alone must is worthy of much contemplation.
From the scientific view of Eternalism, that part of your perception that you call “you” is not in time, it’s beyond it in the sense that it isn’t happening, or going to happen, but it just “IS”. It’s just BEING. You are a human BEING. It is “mind” beyond time that awakens the “you” to awareness of both time and self. Neither time nor the self/soul cannot be empirically measured and therefore can only be known, studied, understood and experienced from a worldview beyond empiricism. Next week we’ll explore how spirituality has understood time and where it has been trying to lead us.