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Posted by Harvey on April 5, 2002 21:30:52 UTC


***H: Might it be that some questions you don't want an answer? A: This is really hilarious. So it's not that the idea that I haven't been born yet, am fully alive, have already died and decomposed, all at the same time, is hogwash. No, not really, I understand it perfectly (and so do you!) but it makes me feel uncomfortable. Get real Harv!***

Well, look at it from the other way around. You would like us to say that either SR or GR is wrong when relativity theory is the basis for a great deal of verified concepts in astronomical physics. We have a choice to reject a concept simply because it sounds like hogwash or we can entertain this possibility as a legitimate answer to some philosophical questions that arose in large part because of important scientific accomplishments of the 20th century (although this debate between eternalism and presentism is an old one going back many centuries). I can think of many scientific concepts that early on sounded like hogwash to most laypeople (e.g., uncertainty principle, evolutionary theory and natural selection, etc), so it is not a very good bet to stick with the everyday impressions of laypeople. Rather, it is better to remain openminded with verified theories, at least until these concepts are better understood with a more general theory that covers all aspects of the discussion (i.e., both quantum and classical issues).

***I wish you were right. I wish the passage of time were just an illusion, that I haven't really been born and I have already died. That would imply my consciousness has nothing to do with my body. It would imply birth and death do not exist, that we are souls floating in timespace and we will never die, after all everything is eternal. So I have nothing against "eternalism", to me it would be great news. Unfortunately my logical mind won't buy it, and the loss is all mine.***

I don't see that as part of the implication. Your consciousness would merely be a property of your existence between two points on an eternal timeline. Eternal only means that there is a timeline that exists, and that 'you' happen to be 'in' that timeline. There may be many, many timelines, or there might only be one. Quantum cosmology [or QC] tries to unite GR and QM and is suggesting that all naturally possible timelines exist. This particular cosmology goes far in reconciling a great many scientific thoughts on this subject. But, this is just one cosmological possibility.

***H: Maybe you are a mystic who would prefer that science not continue to encroach upon the territory of the mystic? A: Harv, you must remember that the whole problem has to do with the fact that no matter how you measure it, a second is always a second, a meter always a meter. This is a matter of logic, clear definitions, self-consistency, mathematical exactness.***

Aurino, let me translate this in terms of an eternalist perspective:

"Harv, you must remember the whole problem has to do with the fact that no matter how you measure it, a point on a temporal timeline is always a particular point on a temporal timeline, a point on the spatial timeline is always a spatial point on spatial timeline. This is a matter of logic, clear definitions, etc."

As you can see, there is nothing illogical about a point being either a temporal point or a spatial point. This is one particular direction that modern physicists are considering as possible (and philosophers have long considered it). The exciting part is that we are apparently closing in on theories that may either validate or rule out the possibility of this view.

***No need to psychobabble me, the issue is quite simple and straightforward, I take it can't see because you're too dazzled by the fact that relativity supports your particular beliefs. As I said, I don't discuss religion.***

It isn't straightforward Aurino. You can look at it as straightforward if you want to ignore real scientific possibility. Scoofing is okay, but scoofing means nothing. I know of people that scoof of the age of the earth being approximately 4.5 billion years old. The key is evidence and where it leads us. Currently this issue is not decided, but if a popular understanding of GR is correct, then what it means is that there is a past and there is a future that already exist. All the scoofing in the world won't change the possibility that this interpretation of GR is right.

Warm regards, Harv

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