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The Human Experience -- Time and the Hope of Immortality

Life, Death and Time -- symbolized by the flower, the skull and the hourglass 18th Century Oil Painting

Life, Death and Time -- symbolized by the flower, the skull and the hourglass 18th Century Oil Painting

Your Time's Up?

"Your Time's Up" is one of the most frequently used phrases in human experience. Whether "Your Time's Up" applies to minutes allowed for speaking in a formal debate, students taking a timed test, time for game show contestants to answer a question or time allowed for legislators to present a bill in Congress, the importance of time is engrained in our human experience from an early age.

"Your Time's Up" can be the message, unspoken or not, given to terminally ill patients. It is also the message that lurks for many of us when we think about our own death.

Salvatore Dali -- The Persistence of Memory

Salvatore Dali -- The Persistence of Memory

The End of Time?

The belief that time itself will end is embraced by many religions and has long been a subject of debate among physicists. Many who believe in an afterlife also believe that, for them at least, time will either cease to exist or will have no impact on them, because they will continue to exist forever. In other words, the hope of immortality will be fulfilled.

Many physicists have believed that The Big Bang, that explosive event that purportedly created all matter as we know it, presumably also created time itself. Many of those same physicists have also believed that both the universe and time will eventually end.

With the development of quantum physics, the concept or reality of time is thrown into question. Quantum physics establishes that there is no time or space, that everything inter-reacts with everything else instantaneously without regard to distance. Most physicists believe in the actuality of quantum mechanics, but have been trying to unify quantum mechanics principles with the time and space principles of Einstein's theories of relativity.


Einstein's official 1921 portrait after receiving the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Einstein's official 1921 portrait after receiving the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Is Time Real?

Albert Einstein said “Time has no independent existence apart from the order of events by which we measure it.” When, toward the end of his life, he was informed that a physicist friend of his had died, he wrote a letter to his friend's family, saying that although his friend had preceded him in death it was of no consequence, "...for us physicists believe the separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, although a convincing one."


Love is the emblem of eternity; it confounds all notion of time; effaces all memory of a beginning, all fear of an end. ~ Anne Louise Germaine de Stal

Love is the emblem of eternity; it confounds all notion of time; effaces all memory of a beginning, all fear of an end. ~ Anne Louise Germaine de Stal

If Time Isn't Real, Then What About an Afterlife and Immortality?

I spoke with noted physicist Julian Barbour following his publication of his renowned book "The End of Time" in 1999. In his book he had affirmed Einstein's statements regarding the illusion of time. I told Dr Barbour that I had long been fascinated with concepts of time, death and immortality, and that I had migrated from a very conservative Christian fundamentalism to views more consistent with Eastern philosophy and religion. I also told him that I had long believed that a person's view of the world was simply a projection of perceived beginnings and endings, for instance the most basic childhood observation that whoever "we" are started with our birth, was defined by our physical limitations (e.g. the edge of our skin separating us from everything else), and ended when our physical body ceased to exist.

What Dr. Barbour then said has completely changed my world view. "Our bodies as we presume them to be undergo infinitesimal, continuous and instantaneous deaths and rebirths at the molecular and subatomic levels." He went on to say that it is only our brain's memories of point-in-time events that promote the illusion that we either have been or will continue to be a person who exists from birth, to death, and then to some kind of afterlife and immortality.

The key message, which I still struggle to understand, is that time, transcendence beyond time, and immortality are all illusions. What really exists is the infinite existence of a now that connects and interrelates everything to everything else.




Dr Julian Barbour regarding The End of Time

Comments

lundmusik (author) from Tucson AZ on October 04, 2011:

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thanks ibramos!!

Luis Bivar Ramos from Porto, Portugal on October 04, 2011:

A hub that makes us think! Great interview with Dr. Barbour, I didn't knew him but I like what he says!

I'll be following your hubs :)

lundmusik (author) from Tucson AZ on September 29, 2011:

thanks,,, appreciate it.....now and forever

Ron Hooft from Ottawa on September 29, 2011:

Good hub. Voted up. You got it. There is nothing but an ever changing now. You just got a new follower. ;)

Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on September 29, 2011:

Finally! Someone who 'gets it'.

"What really exists is the infinite existence of a now that connects and interrelates everything to everything else."

Thanks for stating it so clearly. Voted up, bookmarked and now your fan.

lundmusik (author) from Tucson AZ on September 29, 2011:

thanks shalini,, i look forward to reading your hubs as well...

Shalini Kagal from India on September 29, 2011:

Very interesting! And I wish I could have got here in time to vote for it in the Hubnuggets Contest.

I guess most of us 'see through a glass darkly' and refuse to look beyond at what might be. I love the idea of an eternal now - and the interconnection of all energies in the universe.

lundmusik (author) from Tucson AZ on September 29, 2011:

thanks angie,,

Angie Jardine from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... on September 29, 2011:

Very interesting hub, lundmusik. I was aware that we are in every moment changing - on a cellular level - but this hub added a few more ideas to my collection.

Voted up ...

lundmusik (author) from Tucson AZ on September 29, 2011:

thanks for your comment

Beata Stasak from Western Australia on September 29, 2011:

Congratulation on your great hub, well deserved winning and good luck with further writing and hubbing:)

lundmusik (author) from Tucson AZ on September 28, 2011:

we all have exactly the crazy paths,, i don't think any of us can comprehend anything that doesn't have a beginning or an end, and at the same time not be able to get our minds around what came before and what comes after -- so join the club,, I guess the difference is that some of us dwell on it (euphemism for obsession? LOL) than others,,,, sounds like you have a much more normal life than I do :)

LABrashear from My Perfect Place, USA on September 28, 2011:

Lundmusik - Extremely well presented hub! You have some seriously deep thoughts going on. I try to wrap my mind around these abstract concepts, but I'm a very fact based person, so I get frustrated. For example, if there was a big bang, where did the first molecules come from? Or where does the stuff sucked in a black hole go? What is infinite - why can't something have an end? See? My mind goes down these crazy paths. Unfortunately, I find it all terribly interesting as well. Thanks for sending my mind in an enjoyable tailspin! ;) Voted up and congrats on your hubnugget! I look forward to reading your other hubs!

lundmusik (author) from Tucson AZ on September 26, 2011:

thanks for your comment,,, in greek literature the gods were envious of humans in their ability to die,, they despised their own immortality

FloraBreenRobison on September 26, 2011:

Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination. In literature and movies, it is often argued that immortality would be boring. What makes life precious is that we are not immortal.

lundmusik (author) from Tucson AZ on September 25, 2011:

Thanks Anny,,, looking forward to seeing you and Bob when you get back to Tucson

annybob on September 25, 2011:

When my son died I went to a grieving group. My counselor told us something very profound that changed how I view life and death. Our bodies are like pieces of clothing. When they are very old or badly torn we throw them away, but the spirits live on. The spirits may go into other physical forms of life or not. I do not know. Since then my life has been easier to live and I am not afraid to die.

Your friend Anny (and Bob) from Tucson.

lundmusik (author) from Tucson AZ on September 25, 2011:

thanks deborah,,

Deborah Demander from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD on September 25, 2011:

Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination. This is a fascinating and thought provoking hub. It plays to the metaphysical idea that our perceptions are only in our own minds, and that this is all our own dream. Very compelling.

Namaste.

lundmusik (author) from Tucson AZ on September 25, 2011:

thanks ripplemaker!!

Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on September 25, 2011:

We live in the eternal moment of now. :)

Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination. To vote this way: https://enellelamb.hubpages.com/hubnuggets6/hub/Th...

lundmusik (author) from Tucson AZ on September 24, 2011:

thank you homestead -- really appreciate it!!!

Cindy Murdoch from Texas on September 24, 2011:

I voted for you!

lundmusik (author) from Tucson AZ on September 24, 2011:

thanks Dawn,, really appreciate it...

Dawn Conklin from New Jersey, USA on September 24, 2011:

Great hub Lundmusik! Voting for you. It is interesting for somebody like me to read and think about. I am somebody who really doesn't worry about death (really never think about it but know it will happen some day), I don't believe in things I can't see or hear and I also don't really view time in anything more important then a schedule to keep. Time to me has always been a reference to keep an appointment or other obligation.

Really enjoyed reading this!

lundmusik (author) from Tucson AZ on September 24, 2011:

thanks TI!!

Textured Ideas on September 24, 2011:

I voted for you. Good luck! =)

lundmusik (author) from Tucson AZ on September 24, 2011:

Thanks TI I'm enjoyed your articles as well.. This Hub as been nominated for a Hubnugget if you feel it deserves your support, please vote at

https://discover.hubpages.com/education/...

THanks

Textured Ideas on September 24, 2011:

A very well written and intriguing hub. Time is the most fascinating 'dimension' that we yearn to fathom. I too think that time is an illusion and we think 'forwards' in perception and create the idea of timelines, but that doesn't mean time exists in this format - if indeed it exists at all outside of the present moment.

I've had experiences of discovering my past life at a young age so therefore I do believe in reincarnation. I find it strange how people can believe we exist after death but not before birth.

I love how Quantum studies throws standard theories out of the window - it's all so fascinating! I look forward to reading your other insightful hubs. Many thanks!

DRidge from Gulf Coast, MS on September 24, 2011:

I think these concepts fit right in with the Catholic church's teachings. We are born, we die and the we experience the "resurrection of the body" (from the creed) but of course a glorified body or ours all patched up and we live in heaven with God for eternity.

lundmusik (author) from Tucson AZ on September 23, 2011:

Thank you so much for your comments,,, i'm very honored to have even been nominated.

This whole subject matter has been important to me from childhood.. Alan Watts was a turning point in my exodus from fundamentalist christianity to buddhism and other eastern religions (of which I am not anything specific now)..

Hillary from Atlanta, GA on September 23, 2011:

I loved your hub ludmusik!..it's right up my ally or should I say "very timely". Welcome to Hubpages and congrats on your Hubnugget nomination. BTW I do believe Deepak Chopra originally posed the question "do you recall not ever existing?" His book "Life After Death" is a very compelling read and mirrors many of the theories you have outlined so clearly.

lundmusik (author) from Tucson AZ on September 20, 2011:

thanks,,,, well said,, as part of the universe i think we have always been "alive" and always will be.. i wrote as much in my hub on death and time..

thanks again.

imgreencat on September 20, 2011:

Great Hub! While I can’t say I have any exact recollections of a prior existence, I have had strong feelings of belonging with plants, flowers in particular. I have always believed that life merely changes form and so I might be convinced of a past life as a tulip. People might laugh at this, but why would it not be possible? I love the idea of being reborn every spring and having my young surrounding me. All living things are of the same importance as man. Man only is arrogant enough to believe he is more important. Time is eternal and life just changes form in it’s eternal abyss.

lundmusik (author) from Tucson AZ on September 18, 2011:

thanks homestead.. and leroy,, time and death have been an obsession with me at "times" less and less so the older i get, , much more of an academic interest now,, and death holds absolutely no terror any more, even though in terms of "time" it is much closer now (see, I'm still so time bound with even these expressions).

Cindy Murdoch from Texas on September 18, 2011:

A very deep and interesting hub. You made me think about things I haven't thought of in a while, and I learned new things. I too have thought lately about time and eternity and what does it mean. I have not come up with answers, and your article has given me even more to ponder... Time will tell.

Brian L. Powell from Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff) on September 18, 2011:

I read somewhere that time was just the measure of our decay. I don't remember who.

lundmusik (author) from Tucson AZ on September 15, 2011:

thanks for your comment,, it IS difficult to imagine, just as it's difficult to imagine infinity and anything that doesn't have a beginning or an ending, i.e. like us... I believe that since our skin encloses our body, we are used to believing in the duality of US versus EVERYTHING ELSE

Zara Rasul from Mumbai, India on September 15, 2011:

Nice article. It's really difficult for me to wrap my head around the concept of time. Maybe we perceive time because our bodies die and because we die we see time in a linear line from birth to death... when in actuality everything might be happening all at one. Still, very difficult to imagine.

lundmusik (author) from Tucson AZ on September 10, 2011:

thanks for your response,,, I enjoy the insights on your hubs...

Rev Bruce S Noll HMN from Asheville NC on September 09, 2011:

Great Hub lundmusik! I must admit the concepts will take me some time to get my understanding around. But, that the cool part. After all, don't I have all the time in the world? HaHa. In regards to eternity or the afterlife, I have adopted my wife's motto. She says, I think we're all going to be surprised. I learned something from the quality of your hub. Well Done!

lundmusik (author) from Tucson AZ on September 09, 2011:

thanks anusha!

Anusha Jain from Delhi, India on September 09, 2011:

A different perspective of viewing the things around us. Time is such a fascinating word in itself. So many movies made on time travel, time capsules etc. and yet another belief that time is simply an illusion. :)

Great hub. Very well written and presented.

lundmusik (author) from Tucson AZ on September 08, 2011:

thanks again sparkster...

Marc Hubs from United Kingdom on September 08, 2011:

Interesting. I have heard several research scientists lately claiming that time doesn't exist and also that if you can manipulate gravity then you can manipulate time.

As for an afterlife, it was suggested to me recently that existence is just one big ball of consciousness experiencing itself subjectively so who knows. Great hub.

lundmusik (author) from Tucson AZ on September 07, 2011:

thanks so much jefsaid,, it's hard to believe sometimes that we never existed, and will someday never exist == quantum mechanics would say that we always EXIST, maybe not in the form that we remember or can foretell... ignorance, inadequate memory or unconsciousness is not a good proof against an eternal now..

lundmusik (author) from Tucson AZ on September 07, 2011:

thanks so much jefsaid,, it's hard to believe sometimes that we never existed, and will someday never exist == quantum mechanics would say that we always EXIST, maybe not in the form that we remember or can foretell... ignorance, inadequate memory or unconsciousness is not a good proof against an eternal now..

Jefsaid from London, UK on September 07, 2011:

Immartin - You make some good points. My question "Do you recall never existing?" really poses the difficult notion that non-existence is a separate dimension from physical life and death. It is a view that rubs acutely against our normal (religion/science)engrained indoctrinations. Do other creatures share our perception of space and time?. I don't know but my question aims to present a mental challenge that explores the seemingly incomprehensible concept of an infinite existence where beginning and end are meaningless.

lundmusik (author) from Tucson AZ on September 06, 2011:

Thanks Raydfernandez ---

Raydfernandez on September 06, 2011:

Manifestations of human intense agitations for ghost and apparitions are associated with our unrelenting and overwhelming inclinations for understanding immortality and life after death. Great hub lundmusik! Truly great work!

lundmusik (author) from Tucson AZ on September 04, 2011:

Thanks Lynda. I appreciate your perspective.

lmmartin from Alberta and Florida on September 04, 2011:

Being a scientist's daughter, I was taught to believe only what can be proven. All else is hypothesis. Interestingly, my father was a physicist.

It is my belief that time is man's invention, necessary to bring order to his view of the universe. Just as the idea of infinity is beyond our experience and impossible to understand, so is the idea of timelessness.

I don't have answers to all these questions, only a certain belief we do not, can not understand everything. I will wait and see, I suppose.

In answer to the above comment "Do you recall not existing?" my answer would be "No, but I know I didn't always exist and will not always exist. My life is a gift to be cherished and enjoyed. It has a beginning and an end, but it does not follow that all things have a beginning and an end. My gift is no different than the same gift given to my dog."

Good hub. Rated up. Lynda

lundmusik (author) from Tucson AZ on September 03, 2011:

Absolutely,, couldn't have said it better!!!

Jefsaid from London, UK on September 03, 2011:

A question I like to pose is "do you recall not ever existing?". We recognise the physical manifestation of a new life and its termination but is conscience energy eternal, simply being cyclically absorbed by and providing intellect to the minds of the infinite re-manifestation of the physical being?

Similarly we perceive the concept of time and space with a start and end point. Yet our relationship with them continually sways between them being too much, too little or just enough while our 'knowledge' of them has only shown them to be infinite. We go around in circles trying justify the tangibility of these measurements seeking to understand our beginning and where it will all end. Yet, all we ever discover is another perspective of our interrelationship with the 'oneness' of reality.

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