I came across this saying which says that since we are unable to prove that the past or the future exists, then there is no past and future - there is only NOW.
I was pondering over this for a while and it seemed like there doesn't seem to be any way to prove that the past exists. Photographs or papers with timestamps might seem to be logical suggestions at first but they don't appear to be very convincing after you think about it for a while. Because photographs can be manipulated and the timestamps on papers are just timestamps, they could mean anything if you wanted it to.
So I was wondering whether anyone might have any suggestion on how one can be able to prove that the past (or future) exists ?
But I don't totally agree with the saying though, that just because we cannot prove something means that something doesn't exist. For instance, we are also unable to prove that ghosts, spirits or extraterrestrials exist yet there might still be a chance they really exist based on some of the experiences people had with them.
asked 14 Sep '15, 04:24
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The idea of Proof requires verification from a person's physical senses...it's the way traditional science works. Even supposedly-independent results from a physical instrument require a human being to observe them and interpret them. (See Schrödinger's cat)
Most, if not all, humans already agree that the future doesn't exist (yet) because that's the nature of our linear-time illusion...the quantum waveforms of the future potential paths that exist from this moment haven't yet collapsed into a definite "real" physically-observable one until you give your conscious focus to one.
So your question is really about whether you can prove that the past is absolute i.e. exists outside of human perception.
Coming back to the first paragraph of this answer, how can you ever know if the past exists because you can only interpret the idea of the past through your physical senses i.e the past could completely alter at any moment and every physical measurement consistent with that alteration could also change and you would never know.
And, just to make it even more difficult, your so-called "memories" of the past are happening Now anyway :)
There is an insightful episode of the Sci-Fi TV series "Star Trek - The Next Generation" called "Yesterday's Enterprise" which illustrates these ideas pretty well. It's worth watching the full episode to give yourself a mind-bending workout :)
A snippet is here...
I think the way the writers of the episode expressed the ideas of the participants being unaware they were suddenly living a different reality is pretty much the way it works for us in our non-Star-Trek lives :) (Of course, for the sake of engaging our perspective as viewers of that episode, they had to include one character for us to identify with that was able to perceive the temporal change)
Our "pasts" could well be in a state of constant flux but, being constrained by our physical senses, we wouldn't even know the changes are happening. And the changes would be entirely consistent with our newly-formed memories of the past.
So, to answer your question, No, I do not believe you could ever empirically prove the existence of the past...not from a human-based linear-time perspective anyway.
answered 14 Sep '15, 05:25
There are a lot of humans who actually agree the future does exist, as the universe is deterministic. Trying to think of our reality through quantum logic might be even worst than thinking about black holes. And even if there's anything in the universe that doesn't exist before our choices are made, that doesn't mean our choices weren't already set in stone.
(14 Sep '15, 05:43) Cawas
Indeed, what is "proof". How can someone find proofs of a dream? Does it matter?
Here, I'll juts throw out random ideas as to why I believe yes, there sure are ways which may help you to agree.
To me, proving something means convincing my weak brain logic that whatever I sense out of reality will also be sensed by other people. Because, to me, life is about community.
What about someone who don't care about others, how could they verify they're not just fooling themselves? Why would they care to do so, anyway? I don't know. I think for our current biological state of "human" being, anything we can't connect with other beings don't really matter.
That being said...
"Proof" is indeed just finding consensus. The more people can agree, the strongest the proof.
In that sense, it's pretty much proven the past exists, and that it is unique. We can register it and verify later, it's really simple. As I write this, I'm committing my present into building a proof of past events.
As the future... Well...
We can predict some events in the future, pretty much like we can for some events in the past.
The universe as a whole is in constant motion. The Earth is rotating the Sun at staggering 30km/s - much much faster than a bullet, 10% the speed of light. With all that movement, it becomes complex and difficult to proof what was the state of a particular point in the universe in the far past. Sometimes even 1 second ago, but it's easier to picture this idea in Earth history, or the evolution of biological elements we can track here.
So the past becomes blurry depending on many things. Think about it.
To me, the only real difference between proving the past or the future is: we found out techniques, and we're probably "built" to, perceive just the past. In the other hand, our brain keeps making lots of calculations to predict many small events in the future, such as where our leg must fall down in order to prevent us to kiss the ground and walk. Something we couldn't make a robot do as efficiently yet, such complexity there is. But, nevertheless, that's a future certain to exist if we throw our leg upfront.
answered 14 Sep '15, 06:00
Some thoughts from my saved JKOnline Daily Quotes....
answered 14 Sep '15, 17:27
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Ghosts, spirits and ET might exist, but nobody had ever shared any significant experience with them. If you think you saw one, think again. Our brain fails way, way, way, way more than you give credit for.