This is going to be one of my thoughts I figured I might share with the rest of you. People often contemplate time, but in science, it’s not a very well understood concept. What exactly is time, and where does time come from? Is it the passage of one moment to the next as our clocks continue to tick and toc the seconds into minutes of an hour fraction of 24 in a day among 364 more in a year? Well in physics time is the inertia of the system we know as our observable universe, in which of course began at the instant of the Big Bang. Our Universe is expanding, and so is spacetime itself, but yet we ask ourselves if there was a time before the Big Bang. Was there such a time? Well in physics, a state in which is static without inertia would be a state of no-time as there is no clock to be ticking or tocking. But even that really doesn’t completely explain time, or tell us what exactly it is. We may even ask; how long has the clock not been ticking before the Big Bang? This very question brings up the paradox of “Now”, a paradox that really stumps any attempt to understand the nature of time. The here and now is a fundamental part of our everyday experience to which on the surface seems trivial in regards to ourselves and all the things going on in the world around us. However, It seems that our efforts to understand time is met in never-ending futility either scientifically or philosophically when we try to reconcile the here and now with the past and the future. So the purpose of this article is to explain, in principle, why time is seemingly beyond our comprehension through the Paradox of “Now”.
This paradox is one of the great mysterious wonders of our world, therefore in order to explore this paradox, we will need to assume there is an eternal element in which has neither a limit nor a boundary in how far back in history it has been in existence in relation to the present. You can feel free to come up with anything for an example just to explore this paradox whether that be a fire breathing dragon, an apple, god, or some imagined world beyond the boundaries of our own as any will suffice since we are making the assumption they are eternal. Now despite what you may have in mind, I am going to use “Existence” with the assumption that “Existence” has always existed as my assumed eternal element. I chose this for one reason, and that reason is due to the logical understanding that “Non-Existence” can not by definition have ever existed, or ever have been an existing state, person, place, object, substance, or thing. To simplify why I chose this, the principle I follow logically and philosophically can be expressed in understanding that if nothing ever did exist, not even nothing would have existed. This is what we can infer to as a self-refuting concept for which is wrong by the consequences of its premises, and by definition. Therefore Existence must have always existed, right? So take the example you prefer as your “eternal element” in this paradox, or feel free to use the example I have chosen.
Thus with the above in mind, this brings to understanding that when I am inferring to Existence being eternal, I am unable to place a limit on how long existence has been here. I am assuming an infinite history or past from the instant of “Now” (The present). Now the interesting part isn’t necessarily the past, it is here in the “Now” to which is the Paradox of time that has challenged even the most brilliant of minds in both physics and philosophy as an unsolvable problem, a problem that is so profound it may not actually have a solution in which we may be able to comprehend.. This is simply due to what the instant of now represents in the timeline. Thus as far as we can tell, “Now” represents the end to the past and the start of the future. That is in which lies the paradox, for “NOW” is, of course, the end of what is supposed to have an infinite history! How can there be an infinite history if there is an end? To put this into perspective, the instant of now demonstrates how the past could never be infinite as it ends with the instant of now (see Timeline 1):
That my friends is the paradox of now! It is seemingly not reconcilable to either the past or the future. How do we scientifically or philosophically reconcile if the past is infinite, “Now” should never exist, and the future should never come to be? Would it not have taken an infinite amount of time before “Now” could ever have come to exist? Would that not also mean future would essentially infinitely never come to be? So how is “Now” here in the now? Even if we were to argue that non-existence had existed, we could still be asking how long did non-existence exist before existence came to be.., as the problem of the infinite past seems inescapable in relation to the instant of now. “Now” simply should not be, and that is crazy if not mind-blowing to even contemplate.
Worse still, we understand the “instant of now” as a Universal keyframe to all and any existential timelines. Hence anything that is in and of Existence all exist at the same time. The only difference in timelines is the perception of time relative to each observer. Anyone that understands video editing will probably understand using multiple timelines, but to simplify this for everyone who perhaps does not, I have provided an example below to demonstrate what I mean regarding how “Now” is a universal keyframe:
Jack and Jill have separate timelines as they have their own lives. Their lives are separate timelines relative to each other. So Jack may be doing his homework while Jill is on the way to go shopping for some new shoes. Regardless of their perception of time, even in the physics of relativity regarding particle dilation (how fast or slow their clocks are ticking relative to each-other), they both share the instant of now to which is the universal linking key frame between them both. Thus jack is studying at the same time Jill is out shopping for new shoes.
Therefore for anything to exist, we would have to say it must exist in the instant of “Now” despite how many relative timelines there are. This for which would be universal throughout existence, and that which doesn’t exist “now” simply does not exist. But if the infinite past would mean the instant of now could never be, or come to be…, how can Jack and Jill exist at all? How can jack now be doing his homework while Jill is out shopping for new shoes? In the same context, how can our eternal elements we have in mind then thus exist as of now, or ever at all?
That’s downright confusing as hell, isn’t it? You may think your brain is ready to overheat and explode just trying to compute and process the problem “Now” has on our eternal element at this point in relation to an infinite past. Some of you may have already given up while some of you may have decided to pick up your computer screen and toss it out the window in order to save what little sanity you may still have. So those of you still here brave and curious, it gets much worse as I am sure some of us might wonder if the solution to this problems is in whether or not the infinite past, present, and future all exist at the same time in the here and now (See Timeline 2).:
This, of course, would mean there is no definable instant of now, and would make everything predetermined, an answer I am sure would not be one to satisfy the human condition to need purpose and meaning in life. But when we look deeper still, there it is “Now” again staring back at us. If the past, present, and future all exist “Now” at the same time, would that not mean there is no past or future as there would only be what is in and of the instant of “Now”? And where is “Now” on the timeline of “Now”? Where would now for example now be on the timeline? What this means is that the Paradox of” Now” would suggest there is no past or future, and It would also mean that there is no definable instant of now on the timeline. Thus there can be no assured and definable individual “instant of now” on the timeline either, but rather every instance on the timeline is of “Now”. Essentially we shouldn’t even exist.
Thus this begs to ask the following question:
Would our eternal element exist or even be possible?
If anyone can solve this Paradox either now or later, I here now in the past would love to hear your solution to this Paradox in the near future. My only thought on this is that perhaps the “instant of now” is the emergent infinite future from the infinite past. But even in this case, the Paradox has not been solved as the infinite emerging future is the infinitely emerging end of the past. As much as I try to twist my brain around this time paradox, it seems unlikely resolvable.