The Big bang was conceived after an empirical discovery made a few decades later than Einstein's theorizing of Special relativity. All our physical space appears to have expanded from singular point, in a manner such that there is no point of origin, that is the Big bang has occurred everywhere at once. So at every point there is an absolute time scale - the precise dating 'ABB' (after the big bang).

Special relativity is in fact a geometry - its space is mathematical, not physical and so there are no preferred reference frames. And indeed there is no real time in it (wikipedia:Eternalism is a good place to start). The physical, 'expanded', space allows for non-separability which explains 'the spooky action at distance' to which Einstein objected - the collapse of wavefunction that occurs everywhere at once.

Mystics have asserted that time is illusory and the idea had gained currency among contemporary scientists and philosophers who believe that Einstein's theory confirms this. Can we assert that this 'block universe' idea (as it is called) has been ultimately proved wrong?

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    This question should be addressed in the physics SE. The way it stand now, there's nothing specifically philosophical about it. – Alexander S King Dec 10 '15 at 16:42
  • "Mystics" - which mystics? Some surely have not! You've taken a question that was phrased as a physics question and added what some ill-defined (potentially but not necessarily philosophical in nature) group thought about the question. I think a good way to ask the question would be to (1) ask what philosophers have said about this, or (2) pick a particular philosopher who has said something about this (eg Augustine), and ask about that. – James Kingsbery Dec 11 '15 at 23:15
  • I have referred to the wikipedia entry Eternalism (philosophy of time); it is supposed to serve as a background to the question: please do read it. – sand1 Dec 12 '15 at 10:48

The Big Bang theory is based on general relativity. Even assuming that the expansion of the universe is spatially uniform, which is unlikely, the expansion scale can not serve as absolute time due to known temporal non-uniformities (inflation, etc.). But the universe does have a privileged reference frame associated with the CMB (cosmic microwave background) radiation, it doesn't make it absolute however. In fact one can arbitrarily choose any frame in relativity, e.g. the one attached to Earth, and make it privileged. To be absolute however a frame has to be singled out by the laws of physics, not by matter content of the universe or by observers, and that is indeed absent in relativity. But there is proper time in relativity, it is the physically meaningful one and all co-moving observers share it, so it's not like it is subjective. Just because it is not absolute does not mean that it is not real.

As for eternalism Newton’s universe can also be interpreted eternalistically, and mathematicians interpret the universe of general relativity non-eternalistically every time they pose and solve a Cauchy problem with initial data on a space-like surface. Properly interpreted presentism has no need for global simultaneity, proper time present is more than enough. As Zimmerman put it:”…the presentist’s conflict with either version of Relativity is shallow, since the presentist’s manifold can satisfy the same geometrical description as a B-theorist’s manifold, and afford explanations of all the same phenomena in precisely the same style. In these circumstances, how could appeal to SR or GR justify the frequent announcements that the A-theory–B-theory dispute has been “settled by physics, not philosophy””.

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  • Wherever you are, you observe Hubble's law and infer a physical time zero: no GR needed, nor CMB. SR offers just a temporal perspective - without a real time there would not be anything in it. Einstein was very strongly influenced by shallow positivistic philosophy, most notably in the interpretation of mathematics. Thanks for helping to sort things out. – sand1 Dec 11 '15 at 14:11

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