My wife was cooking in my mom’s kitchen, knocked something over or did somthing, and in a flash a small ceramic ladle holder was destroyed. This bothered her quite a bit, even the object was of no great monetary value.
She can be quite insightful at times. She said, “That thing getting broken was just like a person dying.” The irreversibility of it.
Death, indeed, is the ultimate teacher of Time’s Arrow. That which was alive a moment before is not now, and there is not a power in the Universe that can bring it back. And in the case of an accident, a quick and arbitrary death, the enormity of the change is so great that it can barely be faced.
But the Universe provides counterexamples. We arrange the chairs in the room and put them back. We battle entropy, constantly cleaning and repairing our personal environments. The power of the body to heal cheats death continually, so long as that final blow or illness prevents it. Yet the objects around us that have the appearance of solidity and permanence (“Oh yes, that chair that’s always there in the corner”) are at every moment bombarded by matter and energy, flaking, eroding, dissolving despite our desire not to notice it.
Things are in flux. Change is constant. But, having noticed this obvious fact, I can’t help but ask too contradictory questions:
What causes Reality, once it has taken a new path, to stay on it?
and, the corrollary
What causes Reality to continue in being at all?
If I put a scratch in my desk, there it is. I cannot reboot the desk, reimagine it, or will it back to its previous state. At the same time, why don’t the atoms that form it simply dissolve? Why does the Universe hold together at all?
The pat response is to say, The laws of Nature are such that things are as they are now. But this is merely to notice the fact without explaining it. And indeed, Big Bang theory avers that there were no laws within the Singularity; all these came into being with the Bang itself. No laws means no laws. Theoretically, there was not even a law to determine what laws eventually would come into being.
I have an answer. It is not a good one. But I see this Universe as ours as being a mathematical construct in which laws and principles have been put into place to foster a certain variety of consciousness. This is not effected by a personal God, but rather by the very principles of pattern and number themselves.
I think this intuition is backed up by the notion of Vishnu the Preserver, or God as maintainer of Reality. We sense that existence is, at some level, an arbitrary construct–it requires someone behind it saying “yes” to it at every moment. But I see the Universe not coming to being in a top-down manner, but rather in a bottom-up manner. Number has built this world, but one of nigh-infinite combinations.
I welcome your thoughts on the matter.