Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Am I immortal?

  1. Nov 9, 2010 #1
    So lately, I have been thinking a lot about the concept of (a lack of) absolute time. And it has made me ask the question: are we all really immortal?

    Now, here's the idea. Time is simply a dimension, with no point being absolute. Is it not then a bit silly to assume that the point marking the time "now" is somehow special? What makes "right now" any more special than the moment a small fraction of a nanosecond ago? Or the one before that?

    To assume that "now" will only happen once does not make sense to me. Every moment in the universe is really eternal, just like the "one foot" mark on a meter stick doesn't disappear once you count to two feet. So why should we only experience each moment once?

    The universe, even though it had a general finite beginning, has essentially existed forever because time does not exist outside of it, meaning that all possible futures and pasts have also existed forever.

    So, I perceive my life as having started 17 years ago. But the moment of "now" is eternal and has really existed forever, so why am I only experiencing it during this single moment? Was the universe (which includes every planck of time) created 17 years ago? Obviously not, since there is no time outside of the universe! This means that each moment in time always has, currently is, and always will exist. So why should we only experience it once? Shouldn't we experience it an infinite amount of times?

    Therefore, I find it reasonable to believe that in some way, people live forever. Does this mean that we are really living every moment of our life at the same time and for all of eternity, but only perceive them happening spread out? Or perhaps we live our lives from birth to death, then it starts over again? While this may sound comforting, keep in mind that starving children in third world countries would have to experience being born, deserted, and left to die - over and over again for all of eternity.

    So what sounds the most reasonable to you? Do you think that lives are only lived once? If so, what is your justification for following such logic?
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 9, 2010 #2
    Your logic, while it seems semi-reasonable, doesnt really make any sense.

    We are obviously not immortal, for the obvious reason that people die.

    Your question is not a physical one, but rather philosophical. Your point brings up many more questions, such as what is consciousness, what is the "self."

    Points in time only happen once. While the length between the time intervals may not be absolute, what is absolute is the passage of time. Unless one is able to defy the current understandings in physics, it is impossible to stop time.

    I figure that the moment of "now" only exists in our mind. However, time would pass even without a human, or another life form, to experience it, which is obviously apparent from the fact that the universe is approximately 13-14 billion years old.
  4. Nov 9, 2010 #3
    That is because even though that moment will leave its mark till eternity, our experiencing it will occur only once because of the fundamental principle because we cannot go back in time (at least till now).

    I however don't see any reason for "people living forever" from your previous statements. However since I'm not very well versed with metaphysics I am not able to gather the logic.

    PS: I would suggest you refrain from posting such questions as this might displease the PF Mentors. This leads me to another suggestion to the makers of PF; can't we have a section devoted to metaphysics? I mean if we can have one for History and Social Sciences then we can surely have one for this too right?
  5. Nov 9, 2010 #4


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I don't see how this premise:

    Leads to this conclusion:

    BTW, this belongs in the Philosophy Forum. two doors down.
  6. Nov 9, 2010 #5
    Think about how we only perceive it once, though. If the universe has existed forever, then that means that in some sense, my life began an infinite amount of time ago. If so, then why am I only experiencing this moment just now? I think it makes more sense that we would perceive our life taking place over and over again, with everything ending the exact same way every time.

    The reason I think that this can lead to some sort of immortality is because it would mean that we experience each moment an infinite amount of times, and therefore will always be alive, even if we perceive our life as having a beginning and an ending. Looking back at my original post, I suppose I made this very unclear.

    Sorry if this kind of thread isn't allowed - it seemed appropriate to me.
  7. Nov 9, 2010 #6


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    How does that follow?

    How so?
  8. Nov 9, 2010 #7
    Alas I am not able to comprehend the "sense" which you are talking above.

    I think I am missing the "it" over here. please elaborate on what you mean by the "it" when you say ".... is because it would mean that we experience..."

    This kind of thread is allowed; just that it is not supposed to be in this section. Its nice that people like you actually think about such things (I have great faith in the power of the human mind; however don't think that I do not like the scientific method) .
    And Dave, thanks for mentioning about the philosophy section (I didn't know that before, the word philosophy was written in such a small font under general discussion and I never ventured that far down)
  9. Nov 9, 2010 #8


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Actually, if the OP doesn't take some time to clarify his thoughts and claims, the thread may well be locked for failing to meet minimum requirements for a discussion.
  10. Nov 9, 2010 #9
    Well, my life began when the universe came into existence. I don't mean when it formed at the big bang - I mean when the universe, in its entirety, came into existence. It came from something outside of itself (or possibly from nothing), but either way, whatever created it exists in a realm without time (if nothing created the universe, then still there would be no time). So the universe in its entirety (as in, the beginning, the end, and everything in between - it's entire time line) has, as far as we can understand, always existed.

    This means that any given point in time has always existed, meaning that this very moment has always existed. So why are you experiencing it only now? You should have experienced this moment [your age] years after the universe (again, I mean the entire universe's timeline, not the big bang) came into existence. But it's always been in existence.

    Imagine the timeline of the universe, a static, unchanging long bar from the literal beginning (big bang) of the universe, to the end, whatever that may be. Somewhere along that line would be your life. But why is it that your birth, at one point, is suddenly "triggered," by your perception, if it's been on the timeline forever? At what point do you suddenly begin perceiving your life taking place, if the actual events in your life have been around forever?

    This would almost imply that there are extra timelines for every being capable of being aware of itself, and each of these, unlike the timeline of the universe, would suddenly and randomly begin moving forward, in our perception, from birth to death.

    But I just don't think that this works out. I find it much more logical to believe that our lives are just a part of the universe's natural timeline, with each moment of our lives being just as frozen and solid as any other moment.

    I know my arguments probably don't make as much sense, but I'm having a really hard time converting the ideas in my head into words for other people to read... This is a difficult concept for me to communicate.
  11. Nov 9, 2010 #10
    Precisely. I suggest the OP looks at this. https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=47294
    Lay special emphasis on these points
  12. Nov 9, 2010 #11


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    How so? Your life began a couple of decades ago.

    How so?

    Take it slower. Each conclusion must follow directly from its premises. So far, you are taking too broad steps. This is why I keep asking how so?
  13. Nov 9, 2010 #12
    The reason I say that my life began when the universe began is because the past, present, and future are all a part of the same time line. Even though the literal event of the big bang took place billions of years before my birth, the time line as a whole, has always existed, hasn't it?

    Look at what Einstein once said: “The distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion”

    I believe that there is truth to this, as no moment has really come before or after another. They're just different points on a ruler, if you will.

    Perhaps I am going too fast with this. But this is a concept I've been thinking about for weeks, it's all laid out very well in my head... But when I read my own paragraphs, I can tell that it isn't really communicating my thoughts very well. Perhaps better words or ways of explaining it will come to me later.
  14. Nov 9, 2010 #13
    OK so for all practical purposes we take the beginning of the universe to be the Big Bang. However lets assume the Universe doesn't have any beginning or end just like a line which doesn't have starting or an end point and extends indefinitely in both directions, like you say. I thinks that is what you mean. So the timeline of the universe is infinite and somewhere along that line is your life. Another assumption is that all the events in your life are predetermined and recorded in that timeline (a concept not very well endorsed by physics but let us continue). Now the question is, if the events are already determined why are they perceived only during one's lifetime? Am I right?

    If yes, then the only answer I can give is that it is random. I don't know why it is that precise moment and why not a moment later or earlier. That would be just like asking why do you see from your window, a tree which stands beside a line of railway tracks only when you pass by that tree sitting inside the train which is running on those tracks? If the tree existed why do you see it only then (actually you can still see the tree from a distance quite far away because you know, light travels very fast but let us assume you can recognize it as a tree only when get near it).
  15. Nov 9, 2010 #14
    I understand. I suggest that you sit down calmly, pen down your thoughts and revise it again and again making improvements to the description every now and then and make sure that it conveys clearly what you have in mind.
  16. Nov 9, 2010 #15


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Ah yes. The idea that there is a sort of "supra-time" against which "regular time" plays out.

    This has been thought of before, and rejected.

    I can tell you why this is. It is because your thoughts are entirely insular - like a man talking to himself alone in a room. He can convince himself of anything, because there is no one there to challenge him.

    What you need to do is to read. Become familair with research on the subject that has gone before you, and get acquainted with the concepts and terminology. Then you will be able to speak the same language as others you wish to discuss it with. Also, in the process, you will realize where your own ideas are flawed.
  17. Nov 9, 2010 #16
    Even time in present theory is not immortal, our counting of time began 13.7 billion years ago. :redface:
  18. Nov 9, 2010 #17
    Well... No, that's not really what I meant.

    I'm not saying that the universe began infinite time ago, and that it will end in infinite time.

    What I meant by the universe being eternal was that the timeline of it is eternal. I believe the big bang happened, and eventually the universe will end, either by time caving in due to a full-universe singularity (big crunch), or the more likely possibility of the universe to continue expanding (technically it would never "end," in this case, but IMO the universe can be considered dead once everything is so far apart that nothing can really interact.)

    Nor do I really believe in determinism... I think that there are several possibilities in which each event can end in. But still, "the universe" includes all the positions, under all of the times, under all of the different possibilities. But all of them are held within it for eternity. So, if this thing has existed for eternity, why did I only start living 17 years ago? Shouldn't this moment be existing forever, instead of coming and passing once?
  19. Nov 10, 2010 #18
    I think you need to properly explain what you mean by the word "eternal". Only then can I understand your question.

    There you are again referring to the time outside of time concept.
  20. Nov 10, 2010 #19
    That is not true. People do not live forever, the matter they are made of, the energy contained within them remains, is re-used and tranformed by a series of chemical interactions and physic laws. But it does not "live on", for the obvious reason that the body has vital functions. The body is much like an ecosystem, or should I say, a sub-ecosystem of our known reality.
  21. Nov 10, 2010 #20
    You guys can stop talking about this now. I posted in the thread and clarified everything. I have no idea why you can't see the post yet, but I made it. The post is here and always will be. Just go do something else until your timeline allows you to see it.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: Am I immortal?
  1. I am Immortal (Replies: 14)

  2. I think though I am not (Replies: 113)

  3. Am I I ? (Replies: 6)

  4. I am new. I am Tenshou (Replies: 6)