Recently 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!