I'm not a physicist. If I weren't so lazy and I had unlimited time perhaps I would become one so I could answer a question that's been bothering me for a while. Only today this question occurred to me in a different form than it had previously.

Does the future exist?

When I read Stephen Hawking's book A Brief History of Time, and in particular where he describes how time can be thought of as another dimension with space comprising space-time, I started to imagine the implications this would have if the universe had an actual creator.

My initial conclusion was that if space-time is tangible and if the universe was created by an entity which must necessarily exist outside of the universe and that creator has the ability to observe all of the universe then all of the following must be true.

  1. The creator would be timeless from our perspective, being outside of space-time.
  2. The creator would observe all points in space-time simultaneously, including (assuming the historical accuracy of the Bible or Qur'an for a moment) the "original sin" event, the death of Jesus, the birth of Mohammed, and my death. In effect, the creator might be called omniscient about events in the universe.
  3. The creator would have dictated the nature of space-time so not only would it be observed but it would also have been designed. In effect, free will could not exist. An omniscient creator and free-will are mutually exclusive.

Unfortunately, I don't know how physicists really understand space-time. I know that it is theorized that traveling to some point in non-contiguous space-time is possible in one direction (the past) but probably not the other (the future). Logically, if the future does not exist then one cannot travel there. However, if the future does exist, if space-time is complete and tangible, then our speculations about determinism are no longer so speculative. The events which happen at any point on the space-time continuum are set and the idea of free will (however you define it) is obsolete.

I invite discussion and, hopefully enlightenment, from people who have a different perspective and a better education. I personally don't think that space-time is complete or that time exists in both directions based on what I've learned so far.

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And you're right; time - in any "human scale " sense of the term time does not really "exist" like an independent fabric through which we can "travel" like H.G. Wells' Time Machine. Like the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which was and remains a rule applied to SUBATOMIC PARTICLES ONLY, pop science has lifted the particular behavior of certain subatomic interactions described as "going backwards in time", and has mapped it irresponsibly onto a human-scale world of phenonmena, where it doesn't belong. Why? well because it's such a FUN and SEXY hypothesis! That's ALL it really takes to distort a specific phenomena from a specific set of conditions and create a false analogy so people can go "wow! we can go backwards in time!"...uh, no...you can't. Not in any 'Back to the Future' sense you can't.
Your comments on the nature of the Creator are very astute. Yes, it/He/She would exist as an absurdity when you push the logic to its conclusion. Also, Stephen Hawking is an atheist; he, like many scientists, like to invoke the label "God" as a metaphor for the structure of the universe...but they often do it in a such a subtle tongue-in-cheek way that most readers get the impression these guys believe in a God. It's a bad habit, but they, like we, are pressured by valuations from society, and I guess they feel it's okay to seemingly adopt a sort of Deist perspective, perhaps so they don't outright scare away 2/3 of their audience.
What drivel!

Wonder if you'd come to any of these conclusions if you weren't brainwashed.

If you want discussion and enlightenment, why not just ask and stop introducing mythology?

The future happens every second you live and experience it.

The easy answer is: We don't know/understand space time to the extent we'd like to. But that's good. There's still things to explore and understand. Attributing it to mythology/zero knowledge doesn't help. So if you are honest in your quest, keep the creator BS out of the discussion.
I appreciate the enthusiasm of your comment! Unfortunately, you mistook my meaning.
NO! That would be saying there is destiny, which there isn't. The only future that exists is the one we plan on making reality, like graduation from college, getting married, having kids, etc. I'm pretty sure Ill get married, but saying it is my future just reinforces that my like isn't in my control but in the control or someone else.
Most of your post is irrelevant to the question, "Does the future exist?" I am no physicist either, so I cannot tell you the answer or how to find it. But it is clear that, whether or not the future exists now, we can and do travel into the future constantly. If that can be used as the basis for a proof of its prior existence, I'd like to see the proof.
I don't think the existence of the future would necessarily rule out free will. The future may exist without there being certainty about its content, just as the point two feet in front of my nose exists, whether or not a fly is passing through it. Perhaps there is a quantum future: a set of possible outcomes of the present with varying degrees of probability for each particular outcome. That doesn't seem to support any kind of free will as I would use the term, but that may not be how it works. I'm just brainstorming.
"The future may exist without there being certainty about its content, just as the point two feet in front of my nose exists, whether or not a fly is passing through it."

My postulate was that if something (the future in this case) exists then it cannot exist in multiple states. The future would be set and unchangeable. A quantum future, however that can be imagined, could perhaps be an alternative way of suggesting that the future exists but is not predetermined.

My, apparently silly, goal going into this subject was to explore how a being outside of time and space would view time and space and, possibly, prove the absurdity of such a being.
I see. It's not silly, but I gather you have concluded that such a "being" would be incapable of interacting with anything in time and space and would therefore be, for all intents and purposes, nonexistent.
I think you can distort your own perception of time based on your circumstances, relative to a mountain, we are moving very fast through time, and relative to a flower, we are moving very slowly through time.

That said, the past is gone and the future doesn't exist yet, but it will - even if the entire universe is destroyed, the future will continue to turn to the present and then the past, one time unit at a time. All there ever is - is the present. That is the boring truth of the matter.
I understand what you are saying: if a mountain and a flower could perceive time they would likely perceive it much differently than you or I, owing to the much longer or shorter period of time in question. I think the question, "Does the future exist?" had to do with time, not as we perceive it, but as a part of the nature of the space/time continuum in our physical universe. As I understand (which is very poorly, I must confess) what I read of modern physics, time is a real thing -- not just a mental construct based on our perception of motion and change.
Philosophers, when referring to the attributes of physical objects, used to include extension, the dimensions in space of an object. Now we would have to consider not only an object's extension in space, but time as well -- especially when dealing with elementary particles. If extension in time is part of the nature of a particle, then the entire time of its extension must, in some sense, exist from the moment it comes into existence until it is annihilated. Therefore some future, however brief, must exist for that particle.
"That said, the past is gone and the future doesn't exist yet, but it will"

This conception of time, that it exists only if you can immediately experience it, is too limited. The past exists, as surely as the Grand Canyon exists. I know because I have a memory of it and I can cross-reference my memory of it with the records of others. There are other unlikely explanations for why I have a memory of the past but the simplest explanation is the best.

Because I do not have access to records of the future does not mean, in itself, that it does not exist. For that matter, I only have very limited access to records of the present. I cannot even cross-check my records of the present with others until it becomes the past so there is every reason to doubt the accuracy of my records of the present.
Memory is not a reliable record of the past. Every time we recollect a past experience, we create a fresh narrative from whatever is stored in our brains and that becomes the new "memory." That is why eyewitness accounts change from one telling to the next.
Granted. Our senses are not reliable, our memory is not reliable, and our ability to prove that anything at all outside of our consciousness exists is problematic.

I was intrigued by your comments on extension.



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