“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”

The subject of this post is taken from one of my favorite quotations from one of my favorite thinkers, Albert Einstein.

I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of time; I’m fond of saying “There is no such thing as time.” In fact, time is a human construct not something that occurs naturally. Many metaphysicians believe that the only actual time is the Eternal Now. There is Now, then Now, then Now, and so on, ad infinitum.

Time is at one in the same time incredibly simple and overwhelmingly complex. As a construct of the human mind, it is practically unparalleled in its depth and ingenuity. We think we can measure time because we develop instruments that create discrete seeming events between which we can measure some gap. But ever since Einstein and his two theories of relativity emerged on the scientific scene, this has become a blurred distinction. Life is a continuum. An event will seem to begin, continue for some space of sensible (i.e., detectable or noticeable) time, and come to an end. But in the absence of an artificial device to decide how many units of time have elapsed from the beginning to the end, or between discrete sub-events, we don’t really have any way to talk about time.

We think that clock time is a useful idea and it probably is for those of us stuck in this spacetime. It wouldn’t do for us to treat all events as if they were taking place in the same moment, which is why Einstein said what he said about time. But that’s a matter of practicality, not science or Truth. It’s just how we humans deal with the occurrence of so many things in our consciousness that make it difficult or impossible for us to single out any one discrete component to experience or understand.

Think how many things are going on just in my immediate vicinity this instant. I can’t. Because before I have the” time” to begin to list those events, let alone assess them, this instant is gone. But I’m still in the eternal now, which is the only real time there is.

This idea of time as a logical construct — as useful as it is to us in our practical day-to-day existences — isn’t really very helpful when it comes to understanding the world outside our immediate sensory perceptions. I mean, if you think there’s a lot of activity in my immediate surroundings in this instance, think of how many events are occurring all over the country, the world, the solar system, the universe. And all in the same instant.

Except, of course, those events won’t be detectable where I am for any number of units of time: seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years…

So when did those events take place in this instance? Have they already taken place and I’m just now able to detect them? Without some means of simultaneous communication between the place in space where the event occurred and the place in space where it is detected, we can never say with certainty which of those is an accurate depiction of time as it relates to distance.

This whole thing is just a series of mathematical equations! In fact, all the physics — Newtonian and Einsteinian and Quantum — is composed of a series of mathematical equations. None of that is detectable by the senses. Einstein famously ran into a roadblock when he was trying to develop one of his theories in the form of an equation (the only way he could develop) and made the decision to insert into his math something he called the “cosmic constant.” As far as I can tell, this is like pulling a number out of his ass and declaring the problem solved. Essentially, he altered the rules to make his position correct.

Subsequent experimentation has proven — at least far as it can be proven — that his theory, and therefore his math, is valid. But no scientist ever puts the final closure on any theory because one of the excelling required features of a scientific theory is its very disprove ability.

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