This morning while taking a shower I began thinking about now. Here I was, a naked 62 year old male, in a 1950s pink tile room, wondering what was going on concurrently in the rest of reality as I soaped up. My wife would be just getting to work in her office in Birmingham. 1.3 light seconds away, events are happening on the Moon, several light minutes away Mars and the Sun are doing their thing, stuff is also happening around Alpha Centauri, four and half light years away, then 2,538,000 light years away the Andromeda galaxy is speeding towards our galaxy, and who knows how many billions of light years is the edge or the universe, or what’s beyond and how far it extends.
Everywhere there is something happening, as I take my shower. We’re all in an eternal now.
I try to imagine Einstein’s space-time concept and how it might affect things. But to me, it seems logical to think there is a universal now that happens everywhere, even into adjacent universes in the multiverse, or even adjacent multiverses. Could there ever be two nows? Or multiple nows? Isn’t death just losing touch with the now? And didn’t the eternal now exist even before I existed? Isn’t consciousness tuning into the now?
As as science fiction fan I love the concept of time travel, but isn’t time travel the attempt to go to another now? If there is only one eternal now, then that will be impossible. We see artifacts of the past, and anticipate the future, so we assume both places exist – but do they? When we see the Andromeda galaxy in the sky, we’re seeing what it looked like 2,538,000 years ago. It’s actually much closer.
Recently scientists created a computer simulation of the universe. I wonder if it’s how it looks in the eternal now, or how we see through timed artifacts? Everything we perceive about reality is time delayed. We aren’t looking out our eyes, but at reprocessed information, so there’s a slight delay. If I talk to my friend Connell in Miami, a thousand miles away, there’s a slight delay in the phone signals. The eternal now is everywhere, but we experience it inside our heads, and all that input about reality is delayed. The visual field I see in front of me as I type is a tiny fraction of a second late from the eternal now.
The theory of an all powerful, all knowing God is quite interesting to think about regarding the eternal now. If God is not limited by the speed of light, God would see everything at once in the eternal now. But would this deity also see the past and future all at once too? Or does God inhabit the moment like everyone and everything else? It’s hard for me to believe in God knowing how big reality is, especially if the eternal now has always existed, and will always continue to exist. Infinity is such a mind-bashing number.
We often ask when did time start, and when does it end. And we often imagine the beginning of space and matter. But do we ever wonder about the origin of the eternal now? If there was only one Big Bang moment, then that was the beginning of time, space and now, but it’s starting to look like there wasn’t just one Big Bang. No matter how many universes there might be, won’t there only be just one eternal now? Isn’t it the same now here as it is fifty-five universes over from ours?
I think we’re hung up on birth and death, beginnings and endings, because we have one of each, but maybe reality and the eternal now doesn’t. As a kid I wondered who made God like other kids, and why wasn’t there nothing. How could existence start at all. My conclusion? That non-existence nothing can’t exist. That it’s impossible. If it could, it would have, but since it didn’t, it can’t. It hurts our heads to comprehend why non-existence isn’t so. Logic tells us there should have been an origin. Our minds can’t get beyond cause and effect. We know nothing lasts forever, but maybe one thing does, the eternal now.
We spend our lives pursuing religion, philosophy and science trying to understand the origins of existence, but in the end the answer is always beyond our small brains to comprehend. And even if we built an AI Mind the size of Jupiter, would it be large enough to know? Even if God existed, would God know? Would not a being that could comprehend all of reality have to ask: Where did I come from? How did I get here? Doesn’t any being asking the ultimate ontological question end up with “It’s turtles all the way down!”
The Hindu tell us to “Be Here Now” – but where else could we go?
JWH – 5/9/14