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I have suffered severe anxiety, sadness, regret, and depression since I was 13, I had 2 trapped-feeling panic attacks when I was 13 I am now 17 and fighting off frequent urges to have a trapped-feeling panic attack (i frequently feel trapped in my own body, my life, my past, and my predetermined future).

I recently read about the Block Universe theory of time and according to some physicists the Block Universe theory has evidence and is widely accepted in science (which makes me unable to deny the Block Universe theory as a result, and makes me realise I have no free-will, my future exists, and my past and all my thoughts and feelings I have made and ever will make were simply predetermined).

A). What has me worried is that if the Block Universe theory is true (assume that the Block Universe is like Start to Finish and not like a ring); does that mean that when I die, I will experience my life all over again with the exact same events, thoughts, feelings, experiences and memories as I will still be alive in the time slice prior to my death (since every time slice would have every moment of our brain's travelling electrical signals, and we are alive because of our brain)?

B). I am also worried that what if the Block Universe of time is like a ring where it starts off at the Big Bang, then to the end of the Universe, and basically it goes to the Big Bang all over again (with the exact same events as the Block Universe is of unchanging time slices) to the End of the Universe all over again Is this likely or unlikely to be possible with the Block Universe and time overall?.

and C). Is the Block Universe widely accepted by physcists and does it have evidence to support it's existence? What is the most widely accepted view of time by science and physicists and what model of time is most likely and plausible for me to believe in? (I dont want to believe in the Block Universe theory but I can't help but believe in it).

If the answer is Yes for A and/or B how can I cope with this very notion and stop stressing and feeling sad, miserable and doomed?

So what your saying means that the block universe implies that time will repeat with the exact same events after the end of the Universe? and therefore I will be alive again and going through the exact same events again?

A link to help you understand:https://www.skepticink.com/tippling/2012/09/24/time-free-will-and-the-block-universe/

  • I made an edit. You may roll this back or continue editing. You can see the versions by clicking on "edited" above my image. Hopefully someone will be able to answer this one. If not, don't be discouraged. Try a different version. – Frank Hubeny Jul 25 '18 at 4:02
  • "The most widely accepted view of time" today is probably that it is emergent and therefore that A, B and block theories are obsolete. Cyclic time, or "eternal recurrence", are not linked to any of them anyway, and few physicists take such a possibility seriously. Even if eternal recurrence did take place it is of no concern to you since you will be long dead at the next cycle. But this site can not help you cope with stressing and feeling sad, I am afraid, these are symptoms of depression and they should be addressed differently. – Conifold Jul 25 '18 at 19:57
  • Please divide this question into several specific ones and repost them. – Mark Andrews Jul 27 '18 at 0:16
  • Done: (Rebounding Universe and Block Universe) philosophy.stackexchange.com/q/54066/34325 and (Block Universe) philosophy.stackexchange.com/q/54068/34325 – user202315 Jul 27 '18 at 4:47
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When a physicist talks about time beyond the "simple" region from after the big bang to before the "end of the universe," one has to take it with a grain of salt. Science is built off of finding possible hypotheses that are consistent with the observations made so far. Unfortunately, many individuals have taken it a step further, assuming that because their theory is consistent with observations so far, it is also true.

It is entirely possible that all the events of the universe will play again, over and over. It's also possible that this is the only time the universe plays out this way, and after this round it always plays out better and better, each time. It's possible that the Christian armageddon occurs. It's possible that we are in the final phases of the Hindu Kali Yuga. The Norse Ragnarok. All of these are possible, and consistent with observations in that there are no possible observations that could confirm nor deny any of these hypotheses.

Dealing with these possibilities is a major topic in philosophy, so it is not something where we can give you the one-and-only-one answer. I can say, myself, I am comforted by the teachings of Alan Watts, because I find the way he goes about talking about things is satisfying to me. You may find his words appealing or appalling. You may prefer Kant's view of the world. Or maybe that of Confucius. But one thing you can be certain of: you are not "bound" to believe what a physicist tells you is the metaphysical truth. There are certainly alternatives.

  • I am struggling with the fear that the universe repeats all over again and therefore I will be suffering all over again.I also hate the thought of my life being predetermined and therefore my anxiety that I suffered at the age of 13 was predestined and therefore I could not have stopped it despite it seeming I could. I do not want to believe in a block universe theory but I cannot seem to help but believe in it, I am conflicted between whether the Block Universe theory, the Growing Block Universe theory, or presentism is more valid especially since Albert Einstein made up Block Universe theory – user202315 Jul 25 '18 at 5:49
  • @user202315 What is preventing you from choosing to believe that is not so? Is someone compelling you to listen to them and believe the words they say? – Cort Ammon Jul 25 '18 at 5:50
  • I am conflicted between evidence for and against the block universe model, evidence for and against the growing block universe model, and evidence for and against the block universe model. I am conflicted by the fact that apparently the block universe is baked into Special Relativity and the fact that Albert Einstein (who's theories keep getting proven right) came up with the block universe theory. – user202315 Jul 25 '18 at 5:53
  • @user202315 Does it help that we know, with almost complete certainty, that not only is Special Relativity wrong (it's superceeded by General Relativity), but General Relativity is wrong as well? (It does not describe the behavior of small particles on the quantum scale correctly). – Cort Ammon Jul 25 '18 at 5:55
  • But what about this? space.com/41077-einstein-general-relativity-survives-test.html – user202315 Jul 25 '18 at 5:56
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At first I didn't understand why you would think that a "block universe" implies living your life again. Your life is only there in the block once, why would you experience it twice?

But I remembered one approach to this idea, which says that the experience of time comes from your consciousness moving through the block. The block itself is unchanging, but your consciousness starts at the first moment of your life, then moves to the next moment, and continues all the way to the end of your life.

If you think like that, then yes, your consciousness could then go back to the beginning and play through it all again. But it might also jump to another life, or play through your life backwards.

All of these ideas conflict with the spirit of the Block Universe idea, because the spirit of the idea is that time is just like space, it's just another direction within the (four-dimensional) block. But these ideas with the "moving point of awareness" reintroduce time as something external to the block. The block is unchanging, but the point of awareness changes its location within the block.

The reason that these extra ideas, contrary to the intention of the Block Universe idea, are proposed, is because the Block Universe tries to remove the element of change from time; but subjectively we know that time does involve change. So change, e.g. in the form of a moving point of awareness, is reintroduced as something independent of the Block - which is meant to be the whole of reality. Or, people say that change is an illusion: there is no actual flow of time, there are only independent static moments of awareness, each of which has an illusion of flowing into another moment.

Years ago I posted my own compromise answer to these contradictions. The relevance to your own problem is that, I reject the dualism according to which the Block is an unchanging thing and my awareness is something separate from it - an assumption which I consider necessary for the kind of scenarios that you entertain. Change is real; time is passing, the Block is "flowing" at every point and in every moment; and my experience is something like the flow occurring along the worldline of the conscious part of my brain.

The motivation within physics for a Block Universe is that in relativity, the absoluteness of the distinction between time and space is reduced. Instead of space being something which changes everywhere all at once in each moment, the order in time of distant events does not seem to be an objective thing. If, say, two stars blow up at almost the same time, but on opposite sides of the galaxy, there seem to be "reference frames" that are equally valid, but which would disagree about which explosion happened first. And physicists now think that in such cases, there is no objective answer to "which blew up first?" What is objective is the space-time description, and then you can put on a time coordinate in different ways, just like you can put coordinates on a map in different ways.

You can see the details of all that in any encyclopedic article on special relativity. But the question then is, how do we relate this spatialized concept of time, to the idea of time as the medium of change, that we know from conscious experience? Many physicists have decided that this subjective time is somehow unreal, an illusion, something for neuroscience to account for.

There can be psychological motivations for this denial of time-as-change. The pain of change and loss may seem less total, if you can think of the vanished past as still existing in eternity. There is also the happiness of comprehensibility. Earlier I mentioned the difficulty of thinking of a four-dimensional "block" which nonetheless "flows". It is easier to think of something static. So if time is somehow just another direction in four-dimensional space, the metaphysical challenge of understanding what change is, especially in the universe of relativity, can be avoided.

However, it is not actually essential to think about physics in this way. In the next stage of relativity theory, general relativity, you no longer just have relativity of time and simultaneity, you have gravity as arising from "curvature" of space. I should say, by the way, that although relativity doesn't have universal objective time, it has objective notions of spacelike and timelike directions. If you move faster than light inside the block, you would be going in a spacelike direction; if you move within the bounds of light (the only sort of motion thought to be actually possible), you move in a timelike direction. And in general relativity, for a particular timelike trajectory, there is an objective notion of time defined along that trajectory, the "proper time".

I believe, I speculate, that this is part of the way to reestablish the notion of a flowing, changing time within the framework of general relativity. Another aspect would be to focus on matter, the worldlines followed by actual particles (as opposed to the purely geometric worldlines), an emphasis which has something in common with the ideas of Ernst Mach. The idea, then, would be that there is a kind of locally flowing time, within each material system; the proper time of that object.

There is already a problem in understanding how conscious experience relates to the world as described by physics. This is sometimes called the hard problem of consciousness. So I'm saying that there is a subproblem of this "hard problem", the problem of how the subjectively experienced flow of time relates to the blocklike description of space-time in physics, and my proposal is that part of the answer is, that the subjective flow of time, is related to the proper time of the conscious part of the brain.

These are just my speculations, though probably other people have had similar ideas. But I would assure you that no-one has any better ideas, and ideas which entirely deny the reality of physical change are not to be believed, as they lead either to a pathological denial of the reality of experienced change, or to dualistic ideas in which the mind that experiences change is separate from the unchanging universe.

  • So is it likely that my life in the Block Universe model would play from beginning to end after I eventually reach the end of my life? and if so, would my choices be different or the same in an unchanging block universe (since every electrical current responsible for thought would also be within the block universe, except the fact that I see through my eyes and you see through your eyes is unexplainable)? – user202315 Jul 25 '18 at 23:14
  • How could your life play over again? It only occurs once in the block – Mitchell Porter Jul 26 '18 at 1:11
  • The past and future is just as real as the now but no longer accessible, and the future is not yet reachable. And since my death is somewhere in the future, it means i'm both alive and dead right now, and since thoughts and feelings are a property of the brain and therefore thoughts and awareness would be within time slices, if everyone experiences time differently to each other where individuals could be behind or ahead, wouldn't that mean that after I am dead I am going to be alive again and therefore experience the exact same events, thoughts, feelings, choices and anxiety all over again? – user202315 Jul 26 '18 at 1:59
  • Since brain processes and awareness are within time slices? I am just unsure what the Block Universe implies for death, does it imply I would still be dead? but my past already existing and now basically being a video recording if someone went back in time to see it, meaning that if a person went back in time to see me, I would not be aware or anything because I already went past the time slice where I die? Or am I as aware (where I am seeing in first-person view like I am right now, and like you are right now) as I am right now, if so that would mean my life does repeat after death?. – user202315 Jul 26 '18 at 2:18
  • If a time traveler went back and watched your life, that's not a different life from the one you have lived up until now. It would just mean that the time traveler was there but you didn't know it at the time. – Mitchell Porter Jul 26 '18 at 2:30
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I understand your frustration with the block universe. It is indeed an idea that is very popular within the framework of relativity, where the notion of space and time form a common framework: the spacetime. All the times, past, present and future are real and the distinction between them is an illusion (that is what Einstein maintained, anyway). You can check wiki's article on eternalism and presentism.

That being said, you do not need to die in order to have the over-and-over experience you are talking about. As I have previously mentioned, the distinction between past, present and future is not real, so if you believe in the block universe, then any anxiety that you have felt when you were 13 is actually just as real the the 13-year-old kid that you were in that specific area of spacetime. It does not really make sense to say "the kid is suffering an anxiety attack right now", but if you reduce time to a sort of a spatial dimension, then this is what is implied tacitly (just forget the meaning of "now" we use, since "now" is in no way different from other times).

So if you can live with the idea that at any point in time all of the sad, happy, anxious, joyful, beautiful, ugly parts of your life just are, then you can just as well accept the idea that this will be true after your death.

Do not mix the topic of Big-Bang, Big-Crunch then the same cycle over again (as you might have read in the "Unbearable Ligthness of Being" by Kundera) with the block time, where nothing really changes or happens, everything is predetermined and just "is" at some point in the spacetime.

These are two different concepts altogether.

  • I made an edit which you may roll back or continue editing. You can see the versions by clicking on the "edited" link above. Welcome to this SE! – Frank Hubeny Oct 15 '18 at 10:03
  • Thank you! I am new here, still learning :) – Alex Oct 15 '18 at 16:12

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