Time and Evolution

So here is my current thinking on the subject:

Time is not a straight line. It’s more like an expanding shell. You can draw a radius from any point on the shell back to the Big Bang. Space and time (or space-time) were created at the Big Bang. There was no time or space before the Big Bang. That’s generally understood and accepted. There is no time or space beyond the shell. That’s my thought. You may accept it or not. It makes sense to me that there is no time beyond the shell, because the future hasn’t happened yet. Most likely it will happen as a consequence of present and past events, but it does not yet exist. Of course, I’m only talking about our universe, not someone else’s universe in the multiverse.

There has been a lot of speculation regarding the possibility of time travel. One argument against it that makes more sense to me than all the others I’ve read is that in order for me to travel backward in time we would have to move our entire universe backward in time, which would probably require more than all the energy in the universe. It seems to me that the same would apply to leaping forward into the future faster than our current rate of progress.

Maybe there’s not even any such thing as time at all. Maybe what we call time is nothing more than the duration of things. Maybe it’s nothing more than the artificial tick-tocks of the clock-like devices we produce. Maybe time is not a medium through which we can travel at all. All we can do is to be and then to continue to be, until we can’t anymore.

Back to the expanding shell. Look at every living thing around you: people, animals, trees, plants, fungi, and bacteria. We may also include viruses, for the sake the argument, but viruses are not really alive. They are passive. They float around until a cell’s receptor attaches them and imbibes them. Every living or proto-living thing on the expanding shell has evolved an equal amount of time to adapt to its current environment on the shell by means of its current form and content. There is no single timeline of evolution from amoebas to homo sapiens. There are a multitude of timelines expanding outward from that initial single cell some 3-4 billion years ago. Every single living thing on the expanding shell is a relatively successful adaptation to its environment.

We are no more successful an adaptation than any other living thing. We are no more exempt from the risks of extinction than any other living thing either.


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5 responses to “Time and Evolution

  1. “Maybe what we call time is nothing more than the duration of things.”

    What makes me wonder about this is relativity, special and general, under which time flows at different rates, and where simultaneity itself is relative. That seems to imply that time is a real thing, a dimension or something.

    Definitely we’re not immune from extinction. In fact, depending on how you define “human”, in the long run, our extinction is inevitable.

    • My thought, although not stated in the post, was the nagging possibility that if we were to remove Time from all our the equations, other parameters would have to be adjusted and maybe new parameters introduced but we would come up with equal or more accurate predictions. Even if we leave Time in our equations, the fact that Rate = Distance / Time does not necessarily imply that Time is anything other than an attribute (Duration) of space, matter, or energy. Who knows? Maybe space is also an attribute (Location) of matter or energy. If there is space in a vacuum, is it really a vacuum? Maybe Time and Space are constructions of our consciousness, and cannot be perceived or measured. Maybe I’ve succumbed to reductio ad absurdum. Anyway, I don’t view it as “case closed”.

      • Are you familiar with the work of Carlo Rovelli? A lot of people have cited him for similar views, that maybe time doesn’t exist.

        Myself, I’m open to those kinds of ideas if they do indeed enhance our ability to make predictions. But I don’t perceive anyone has gotten there yet with them.

      • Thanks for your comments, Mike. No, I haven’t heard of Carlo Rovelli, but I’ll certainly look him up. I’m also open to being persuaded otherwise. I’d really like for someone to discover tachyons or some other particle that could make up time (and while we’re at it, the particle that makes up the fabric of space); hence, my comment about space and/or time in a vacuum.

      • My pleasure. Interesting topic. Can’t say I hold a lot of hope at this point for tachyons, but you never know.

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