Stephen Hawking – Retrocausality?

caveman1.gifRecently I was having a debate with someone about the nature of time. My correspondent suggested that the future could be in the mind of God while not yet existing. I suggested that the future could actually exist, while conceding that it could just be in the mind of God, as my correspondent suggested.

At this point in human history nobody really knows for sure. Or perhaps the odd mystic knows, having received revealed or infused knowledge from God. But if that were the case, it would be pretty hard for that person to ‘prove’ their knowledge to others. Not impossible mind you, but it would likely take time for others to see the truth of the mystic’s revealed or infused knowledge, maybe even a one-way journey to the afterlife.

I guess this kind of thinking doesn’t resonate with some people. It’s pretty weird to think that yesterday and tomorrow might be “out there” somewhere. But to my mind that’s exactly what some modern physicists are suggesting. Or at least, implying.

The implication hinges upon the idea of ‘retrocausality,’ also called ‘backward causation’ or ‘backward causality.’ Advanced physics experiments might suggest that observations made in the present exist in a kind of causal loop with the past.  That is, how we look at things at ‘Time B’ has an effect on a previous ‘Time A,’ which then flows back into ‘Time B.’

Science fiction? Maybe.

In fact, some thinkers don’t invoke the idea of backward causation when interpreting the very same experiments. But none other than the brilliant Stephen Hawking is taking this stuff seriously…

“Observations of final states determine different histories of the universe,” says Hawking. “A worm’s-eye view from inside the universe would have the normal causality. Backwards causality is an angel’s-eye view from outside the universe.”

But hold it. What does the idea of backward causation have to do with the future actually existing? Well, think about it. If the present can influence the past, as Hawking suggests, from the persective of the past, the future influences the present. And this would also apply to our present.

So according to this argument, the past, present and future interact. And to interact, they’d all have to exist. Right now!


  1. Time is a figment of imagination in General. Say like a second. “I’ll be there in a second” you may say. But, when a “second” has passed, it is classified as “now”. So say when the “future comes”, at that time it will be “now”. So there is no future really


  2. Time-The Greatest Figment of Human Imagination
    – Mr. kedarnath jonnalagadda

    Some of the most commonplace ‘things’ that pervade the fabric of our existence are incredibly fascinting. Of these ‘time’ and ‘space’ occupy special places. But the incredibility of ‘time’ makes it fascinating and an all time great.

    Time is commonplace and all pervading that it is the very mileu of the world we live in. What exactly is time? You must think I have gone nuts, but the fact is that ‘time is a figment of my imagination, it is a figment of your imagination and it is figment of our imagination’… In fact it is a figment of collective human imagination. It does not exist!!! And that makes it immensely fascinating.

    The whole thing about time is like the ‘magic clothes’ that the clever tailor made for the vain emperor in the bed-time story. He pulled a real fast one on everybody. He proclaimed that none except that those who were honest and truthful could see the clothes. A little chile spoke up. ‘But mommy.. the emperor has no clothes’. That woke everybody up the story goes.

    ‘time’ is no entity. It cannot be weighed, nor measured! We have never measured time . We cannot. And this is imply because ‘time’ does not exist!!!

    But what about all the clocks, sundials, you favourite water proof watch and the lovable Big Ben. What do they do? Dont they tell us the time?

    Well, they are all clocks all right. And as the breed of clocks do they measure the gap between occurence of events.

    And these events have to be some phenomenon in nature. The simplest clock is the stick in the ground. It can be a sun dial. The shadow of the stick is here at sunrise and it is there at sunset. Anybody can make a clock from any cyclical phenomenon in nature.

    They can then arbitrarily devise some unit to show progression of the event. And then get his neighbour to agree with him. And then another neighbour and the whole neighbourhood… and so on until there is consesus of the majority in the population of the area.

    In history we have had diffwerent types of clocks, the stick in the ground, sundials, hourglasses with figures like women, water clocks, pendulums, quartz clocks, cesium clocks, name them.

    The ‘truth’ is that all of them have the foundation in the concept of ‘sunrise’ and ‘sunset’. And then a lot of ‘maths’ and ‘science and technology’ went in to the concept and a great deal of ingenuity into establishing standards for time.

    These standards were needed because each person having his or her own reckoning of time would hardly contribute to social togetherness. You’d always be late for dates. All said and done, ‘time’ is very much like any ‘language’.

    Different people may speak different languages but in order for them to understand each other – some commonly understood language is needed. So it is that international standards were evolved for time such as ‘Greenwich Mean Time’, ‘Indian Stadard Time’ and so on. But all this does not make ‘time’ anymore a ‘reality’ or anything more than a means for measuring some phenomenon in nature – and for us it is ‘sun rise’ and ‘sunset’.

    It does not really require anybody to be a great thinker to know that ‘time’ or rather ‘telling time’ is fictitious or a figment of the human imagination. And this imagination has been collectively ratified to be ‘ok’ and has the stamp of approval from great thinkers.

    I really wonder why it has taken Man so many many years to change opinion that ‘time is absolute’ to ‘time is relative’. And that was worth a few Nobel prizes. I wonder how long it will take to change all that to ‘time does not exist’ and whether anybody would give a simple prize too. And I don’t blame anybody who does not give prizes to people for showing things that are not there!

    Does all this mean we can throw away our Swiss watches and antique grandfather clocks away. No, it may mean however, that we need to ‘de- learn’ a lot. And the de-learned look at the clock on the wall is to understand that the clock is not telling the time! It never has. It cannot because time does not exist. What it does tell is something that you may like or not like depending on its bigger brother the ‘calender’ – If it is Sunday – the clock can do what it likes and you will do what you like. If it is not – life can be a drag or any number of things relativly speaking.

    The nature of time was very clear in the minds of the sage. Time is nothing more than ‘conjecture’ of the mind to make sense of the impinging reality of the creation.

    “Time is a measure I accept” But what is it a measure for has been my questions since long. It is an arbitrary measure for what the human sees as moving… And everything in the universe is moving. Einstein and considered the greatest scientific thinker of our times is famous for the general theory of relativity and the equation

    E = mC2

    Here E is the Energy m is mass of object and c is speed of light. Now Speed is distance covered by light(energy phenomenon that we can observe which could be speed of photons/wave – particle-wave duality)/divided by time taken to move in space from arbitrary point A to Arbitrary point B.

    I have no problem at all about this. My point is that time is primarily conceived in the mind of living being as a conjecture for measuring moving / rotating bodies in the cosmos…

    In the above equation for speed ie. distance / time . Distance is real part of the terrain of the universe (as observed by observor – human) and time is part of conjecture – arbitrary reckoning method in observors’ mind. And not a reality of the universe observed – however since observor is part of universe, at its best, time and all conjecture can be a probablistic interaction factor ranging from nearing 0 (very very objective) to 1 (hghly subjective).

    If this factor nears 0 zero, time too tends to 0. and energy = mass tends to infinity.

    In short Time is a measure I accept. But what is it a measure for? I have no problem at all about this. Man after all is observing with his organs of sense (organs for Input ) which are 5 + mind – the processor + (I have been told by somebody that there is mention of a 7th sense- I am trying to find out what that is)

    My point is that time is primarily conceived in the mind of living being as a conjecture for measuring moving / rotating bodies in the cosmos… and hence can be equated to conjecture / imagination however logical that may be made to be.


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