Tuesday 4 January 2022

The nature of Time

I have been pondering the nature of Time - mostly because I regard the ways that it is talked about (perhaps especially by religious writers) as wrong. 

I've been thinking about Time, on and off, for the past twenty years; but I have become aware that the root of the problem lies in trying to separate Time as a separate concept. 

Once Time has been detached from life and consciousness, then it become an unreal and misleading abstract model

Like all abstractions and models, Time is necessarily a partial and distorted description of reality - yet Time is often used as a fundamental metaphysical assumption in theology and philosophy - from-which is built systems of understanding. 

And when that happens (and it has been happening since the ancient Greeks) Time starts to seem very strange and counter-intuitive we get the familiar paradoxes and weird-nesses of Time... from Zeno's paradoxes, or Boethius's meditations on God's omniscience, onward.

My conclusion is that Time is not a separate or separable concept from its integration into Beings - into life and consciousness. Life and consciousness are 'process-like, dynamic phenomena - and therefore they necessarily include Time. 

Other elements in-which Time is included are creation and developmental evolution. Since I regard Being, life, consciousness, creation and development to be fundamental metaphysical concepts that explain reality; it can be seen that Time is itself so fundamental as to be inextricable - a part of the unfolding nature of reality. 

One aspect of Time - considered  is its 'irreversibility' or 'directionality' - this again is part of the fundamental concepts; and (apparently, at a common sense level) of the Christian religion, and the fact of Jesus Christ having been born at a particular historical location and having made a permanent and cosmic difference to reality. 

Therefore, if we start messing about with Time (and then believing our messings-about!), it leads to all kinds of deep (and ineradicable) problems - including with Christianity. So beware!

In a nutshell; I think our understanding of Time ought to reflect how it is a part of these deep and spontaneous way of understanding - the understanding ought to 'work' in terms of what is common, normal, usual, solidly established. 

But how to explain some of the uncommon, unusual and controversial assertions that seem to be related to time - such as precognition, or accurate prediction. These are often said to reveal that the future already exists in some way. 

Yet such explanations are ruled-out if we regard Time is inextricably bound-up in the most basic metaphysical phenomena (life, consciousness, creation etc.). 

This means that we simply cannot be allowed to detach, abstract and model Time as a putative explanation for observations. 

Instead, I think we should focus on experiencing and knowing rather than time as possible explanations for phenomena such as precognition, or the apparent ability to live in the past. Better explanations can be devised when we have an expanded conceptualization of how it is we can know things, and in particular the possibility of directly sharing in the consciousness of other beings. 

If the world is regarded as consisting of beings, which are eternal; and that there are ways in which beings can think the same thoughts  then we have a way in which strange and unusual knowledge and experiences could in principle arise. 

For example, beings include those who are remote, and those who have died - and therefore with a tremendously wide range of knowledge and experiences (from current and past times, and in many places) that might potentially be shared by another-individual's consciousness. 

In other words; I think we should take a straightforward and commonsense view of Time - and eschew separating it and preforming abstract modelling of Time's supposed properties; and 'instead; adopt a greatly expanded understanding of the possibilities of human experience and knowing of a direct, unmediated, kind. 


John Goes said...

An Orthodox priest once tried to explain to me how Jesus, when ascending into Heaven, was in fact already in Heaven and had always been there, "seated at the throne" outside of time. This makes Jesus, and God, into a kind of mathematical structure that bears no resemblance to dynamic human consciousness - Jesus like Hans Solo frozen in carbonite!

Generally, the perspective of sub specie aeternitatis seems to have had a pernicious influence on Christian thinking. On the one hand it has an elegant mechanical simplicity, which is attractive for a certain kind of intelligence; on the other hand, the perspective can do real violence to one's spiritual understanding and orientation to God and other beings, to the extent the perspective is taken seriously and applied to vital matters.

Indeed, mathematics and certain abstract philosophy are only kinds of study in which SSAe seems valid at all, and in a rather limited way. Mathematics as a potential reality (its undiscovered truths, contrasted with our creative understanding or "mapping" of them) are eternal, and its web of potential truths transcends all worlds and times. But this eternal perspective only gives you a static "world" of models; nothing resembling a Being can "live" there.

Lucinda said...

I think the way prophecy works is that it's a view into the mind of God, rather than the future, and that God then brings about the desired situation, based on his (and Heavenly Mother's) much better knowledge of the workings of creation, and interactions of beings.