Why Reality Was Invented In Time

Universe Without End

Close Up of Infinity
Close Up of Infinity

Time: The Great and Dangerous Invention

You are awash in reality, not hewing to any place. All manner of things are drifting by – in, out and around – a beautiful, swirling sea of connecting, mingling and disconnecting stuff... Oh, wait! No, you're not! You are, instead, a member of a species that invented time, eliminating all that structureless meshing around. Reality In Time finds it's position and a steady place among the chaos.

Reality In Time?

Time is scaffolding, structure on which our three-dimensions adhere, a way of measuring sequence. We call this handy gimmick the time-space continuum, and we use it to order things as if reality is smooth with all its lumps thinned out like good oatmeal.

What time is not is an essential thing in the nature reality masks. It came later, a tool our logical brains evolved to help us better observe nature, essentially by making it seem to stand still, and it changes everything we think we know into something even more knowable.

Well, it gives us that illusion, anyway, and therein rests a host of problems. We are not looking at nature itself, but nature as in a way we find easier to handle. Easy, you may have noticed, is not the best virtue nor the most reliable guide.

We're so adjusted to time as a fact that understanding time as something less than basic is, well, close to impossible. However, in the wise words of Steely Dan (the musical group, not the fictional, phallic symbol): "It just couldn't be, and only a fool would say that."

Steely Dan was singing about a Utopian ideal, which is only slightly more likely than time's being a fact and much less attractive.

Take your average "time slice," as defined by Brian Green in The Fabric of The Cosmos. That would be this universe your senses are feeding you now, in this jiffy, and then, in the next jiffy, there has to be another and another. For time to be actual, each moment of your "now" must be reproduced, slightly changed in each succeeding one. How many nows and, ultimately, how many universes would we have to maintain out there, just to keep up?

This isn't simply a mental exercise. Life is enriched by knowledge, and better insight enables the invention of better tools.

Early in life, we learn to think of time passing or, horror of horrors, flying by. We may visualize ourselves traveling a kind of trail with a past and a future extending in opposite directions.

Evolution probably prepared us to better cope with our limited grasp on reality by giving us time as an anchor for what we hope is reality. It's a nice gift, but it can also be imprisoning and is always misleading.

There are pitfalls everywhere as we come to see our lives as a march from birth to death at a predictable speed toward an inevitable demise.

As we all know, our universe is currently full. You remember that from high school, right? There are no vacuums, no rooms waiting to be filled with new stuff. We can neither add nor subtract. We do all know that, don't we? All we ever do is remodel and adjust the furniture.

This means that the only place your past, the one you're so fond of, the one with all your friends and family and your adventures in it, can exist is in memory. It's now a fiction created by you and only as true as you wish it to be.

That's why common observers unfailingly have different versions of any event. We're free make it up because there are no facts left behind to contradict us.

For purposes of civil peace, we generally concur on as much as possible, but even that social cohesion melts over time.

The same is true of the future. We can predict away, but not a single thing is absolutely bound to happen.

There are physical laws, of course, including some we haven't discovered or fully exposed, but they are broad enough to allow anything we can imagine. It just makes us feel more secure to believe that the old reliable time-space continuum will deliver predictably. And it will, but mainly because we want it to, not because it has to.

While keeping our treasured time in place to guide and comfort us, what is it we actually exist in? Obviously, there is something, and we are part of it.

What we are is a entropy-defying clump of matter in what seems to be a sea of potential. We don't make quantum leaps, however, because they'd be lonely and disorienting.

We leap in unison and, heavy as that is, in small increments in a great but slow adventure best currently defined as evolution. We certainly don't move steadily through time.

We're not alone, and we don't reorder the stuff of reality at any level exclusively on our own. Cats participate as do elephants and trees.

Every bit of matter contains information and the ability to interact. The effects of intention or its lack are things we have yet to fully understand. But we can't pretend that every other living thing is yoked to our precious invention, time.

Other animals may recognize only natural cycles and circadian rhythms while surrendering nothing to the strictures of conservative time. Hey, they may even see other dimensions.

If only my cat could tell me what he is staring at that, as far as I can tell, isn't there... Well, that's another hub.

For now, I'll close this one, and go make sure I'm still anchored in this tiny corner of the time-dominated universe we call Earth.

David Stone

Find all my books on my Amazon Author Page


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What do you think? 19 comments

tabocob profile image

tabocob 4 years ago from Costa Rica

Time as we know it is the memory of movement in space. By remembering that something went from point A to point B, we wanted to figure out how many cycles had passed from the moment of leaving A to the moment of arriving at B.

Time as we know it is a product of our memory.

Space-time is more likely to be the reality that we want to describe when we refer to the term TIME, but the concept is not easy to grasp


David Stone profile image

David Stone 6 years ago from New York City Author

I may not have made myself as clear as I'd like. So, I will. There is no past and no future. Hence, no time. Past and future, other than attributes of an active mind, are not possible. Yes, we have clocks, but they are measuring devices that help us anchor ourselves in and acknowledge sequence–such as what you described as "the consistencies of Nature"–but they do not describe an essential thing. As Einstein showed, "time" is individual to each of us, not at any point the same for any of us.

Time can also be a trap when we mistake it for reality.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia

So what you are saying is that there really is something in the saying "as slow as a wet week" ?

For someone who loves rain this week would pass quickly but for someone who loathes rain and loves the sunshine, it would feel like a fortnight :-)

However man did not invent 'time', we invented the clock to take advantage of the consistencies of nature? I believe that this is because by nature man is a creature of Habit!


David Stone profile image

David Stone 6 years ago from New York City Author

mrpopo, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I've gone through this many times, and it was a major topic in my book, A Million Different Things. The concepts are generally very hard to get your arms around, as they say.

It always comes off as a little personal joke that, if I'm really off base and everything is determined outside our will, nature has been kind enough to make it seem otherwise, giving me one more thing for which to be grateful. Thanks, again.


mrpopo profile image

mrpopo 6 years ago from Canada

Ah, this is brilliant! Not only did you describe the notion of time being an illusion and how everything is happening at once, but you make it sound like poetry! And I think it truly is poetry mixed with wisdom and heart.

I remember reading an article on a three-dimensional system which accurately described the forces of the universe (mathematically) without using time. I've never been able to find that physics model; maybe I just dreamt it, but your Hub gives me hope otherwise.

Thanks David, for the great Hub. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope you're right in that events aren't defined with absolute certainty - I certainly wouldn't like the thought of my future being automatically determined, be it by a God, forces or otherwise. I tend to think it's all about chance and/or probability, but that's just the way my mind wrapped about it, because I can't conceive an unpredictable future unless there's some sort of a chance factor involved. And, I simply can't conceive a predictable future because - well that would be too boring, now wouldn't it?


David Stone profile image

David Stone 6 years ago from New York City Author

Q9C, you're on the right track. Thank you. Inventors, like Edison, were superstars not so long ago, but they are now so far ahead of the crowd, their achievements are appreciated only among their peers.

It's a funny transition. Someone had to invent the wheel and fireworks and other impressive stuff, may centuries ago, but nobody ever recorded the achievements then.


quinton9cherry profile image

quinton9cherry 6 years ago

Thinking about creations before our time boggles my mind. Inventing things without the technology we have today must have been very cool. Nice Hub!


marshal 6 years ago

i think at the same moment, because before time relate to another brain.


David Stone profile image

David Stone 6 years ago from New York City Author

marshal, that sounds right. Either that or learned early.


marshal 6 years ago

brain fabricate time at birth for interval of events


David Stone profile image

David Stone 6 years ago from New York City Author

From what I understand (caution advised) time seems to be unique to each individual observer does not exist apart from the observer's conception.


someonewhoknows profile image

someonewhoknows 6 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

Time is relative it seems to increase quickly or slowly depending on we percieve it.As our universe expands,does time expand with it?.The question is does time expand exponentially?


David Stone profile image

David Stone 6 years ago from New York City Author

Absolutely, De Greek. Everyone always has their own little time slice. The idea that something is passing is a learned, convenient illusion.


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

But time is such a relative thing, is it not? And can be controlled by the mind. I learned this from my wife. According to her, I have a way of speeding things up when we are due to go out and she never has time to get ready…:-)


David Stone profile image

David Stone 6 years ago from New York City Author

Sort of, Rochelle. Everything does happen at once. Time creates an organizing illusion. We do have sequence, of course, but one thing succeeds another, leaving no wake.

Everything is connected. Everything is whole. Each action must reverberate through everything else until it's energy dissipates or is neutralized. As a consequence, something is happened everywhere always, almost relentlessly. Since we don't really have time, we can't stop the clock.

More about the "now" moment in a future article.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 6 years ago from California Gold Country

I remember hearing, sometime in the past-- that time was natures way of keeping everything from happening at once. That may be wrong, however.


someonewhoknows profile image

someonewhoknows 6 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

T -echnically

i -t

m -eans

e -nergy

E -volution

o -nly

n -eeds

s -econds

E -ven

t -ime

e -volves

r -ound

n -anoseconds

i -n

t -o

y -ears


David Stone profile image

David Stone 6 years ago from New York City Author

Thanks to you, as well. I enjoyed writing and am happy it was appreciated.


thevoice profile image

thevoice 6 years ago from carthage ill

smart hub thanks

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