“What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know.” St. Augustine.
Everywhere in the archeology of Earth, in the pyramids of Giza, the stones of Stonehenge, the observatory of Chichen Itza, and the temples of Macchu Piccu, humans have worshiped the heavens. But not the sun or the moon or the stars themselves. No, we have been worshiping their periodicity. We have been worshipping, with reverence and gratitude the mysterious truth of nature . . . the past informs the future. This truth, we seem to know, is our essential gift for existence.
And. . . throughout our history, we reject, vehemently, insults to tradition or esthetic violation of accumulating pattern and order, such as atonal music, dada art, and radical revolution.
And no surprise. This is the essence of life, memory to see the patterns of the past to predict the future and adapt to change. Rocks either smash or get smashed. Life can get out of the way.
And yet, science isn’t sure that time actually exists, outside of our minds. With modern cosmology, time is part of SpaceTime, a codependent coordinate with space, not an independent entity. In our experiance, we don’t actually see time, walking in the woods, we see change. What drives change? It was a life scientist, Charles Darwin, not a physicist, who, with his demonstration of evolution, written in the fossil record, who proved that the changes of the past accumulate and influence the future. Isn’t this proof of time?
We undeniably experience past, present, and future. Only life has memory, and only memory can know time. Our nose smells something real, sound waves, our eyes see something real, light waves, our consciousness senses time. Consciousness is the sensory organ of time. Some believe that time only exists in conscious life, that that is the role of consciousness, to create the illusion of time. And so we evolved a sensory organ for something that doesn’t exist . . . ?
“Suppose indeed that human beings travel through life as in a “time ship” that like a spaceship has a prow and a stern and room inside for us to move around“. Nicholas Humphrey, A History of the Mind.
Why have the illusion? Would evolution create such an organ as consciousness to perceive an illusion?
One physicist, Richard A. Muller, in Now, the Physics of Time, suggests that time very much does exist, and moves forward in the ongoing expansion of SpaceTime that has been happening since the Big Bang.
“Just as space is being generated by the Hubble expansion, so time is being created. The coninuous and ongoing creation of new time sets both thearrow of time and its pace. Every moment, the universe gets a little bigger, and there is a little more time, and it is this leading edge of time that we refer to as now.”
NOW may be what rides the crest of this wave of new space-time of our expanding Universe, and we, with our conscious awareness, unique riders on this surf.