Winter Campfire 27

by Carl Strang

Last winter I posted a weekly series of chapters in a long essay about science and spirituality. I have been doing a little more reading and thinking in that area since then, and so before beginning this winter’s new series (a review of the prehistoric life and geology of northeast Illinois), I want to bring the last series up to date. This is the second and final new post in that series.

New Questions

In the previous post in this series I updated my thinking about the physiological nature of consciousness, its composition and its evolution. Other questions about physical reality arise from relativity theory. As I outlined last winter, relativity theory implies that all of space-time exists all at once, somehow, including us and our winding paths through it.

Gooddy points out that we navigate through space-time in our everyday lives. In that sense it is unremarkable. On the other hand when we, as people seeking to understand, create abstract notions of space-time, generalized and apart from our direct experience of it, we find this leads to conceptual challenges. If all of space-time exists all at once, how do we understand processes in that context? Processes such as evolution and consciousness seem to ratchet their way through space-time, frame by frame. How did this all come about, and do we truly have a part to play in shaping our own paths? If the future already exists, do our decisions really matter, or are we only deceiving ourselves? These are hard but important questions for which no one really has an answer. Foolishly, perhaps, I want answers and so put some effort into seeing how far I can go in getting ideas that feel right and give me guidance in living (and living with) my life.

For me, in my present understanding, I choose to think of time and space as building outward together from the singularity of the Big Bang. As far as I know, relativity allows for such a view. Once a local bit of space-time was/is built, it is eternal. In a sense we may be frozen in each eternal moment. However, each space-time moment has/had an origin, and in that origin I choose to believe that I, a space-time agent, had a creative role in determining the shape of what followed, through my choices and in my interactions within the holomovement or other components of the Universe. It all comes back to living each moment with the understanding that it counts for something, and our decisions matter because they produce the eternal shape of the Universe. And I find this conclusion satisfying because it seems to hold whether I come from a spiritual or a materialist starting point.

That said, we can function in our everyday lives as if time is real, just as we can act as though objects are solid and the space around us is as our senses inform us. It is only when we dive deep that we find such assumptions challenged and in need of deeper understanding. So, the seeking continues.



  1. joe clenney said,

    November 8, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    Eufaula Tiger *Undefeated 1954* I have reflected many times during introspection and have wondered about my relation to time and space. I found introspection extremely taxing since mortals are pointedly subjective. Your personal cogitation and discourse were thought provoking and were somewhat revealing.

  2. Charlie Sullivan said,

    November 22, 2010 at 3:56 am

    How appropriate that your office is at a former Franciscan facility. You might read Care for Creation by Delio, Warner and Wood for a Franciscan interpretation of this journey.

    • natureinquiries said,

      November 22, 2010 at 7:07 am

      Thanks, Charlie,
      I’ve made a note to take a look at it.

  3. March 18, 2011 at 6:03 am

    […] me focused in this season, but the dreary month of March stifles my creativity. For someone who doesn’t believe in the reality of time, I certainly remain aware of its slow passage. But warm days like we’ve had this week are a […]

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