Grasping the Paranormal… Is it a Matter of Time?
Could seemingly disparate paranormal phenomena from UFOs to ghosts, psychic intuition, prophecies and visions to reincarnation, life after death, and even episodes of high strangeness, all be explained in common terms with a similar origin?
Perhaps the key to unlocking these and many other mysteries is all a matter of time. According to brilliant physicist and prolific science writer, Paul Davies, what we perceive as time, and how physicists prefer to think of time, are at odds. From That Mysterious Flow Davies writes in connection with how we perceive time in our daily lives:
“In daily life we divide time into three parts: past, present, and future. The grammatical structure of language revolves around this fundamental distinction. Reality is associated with the present moment. The past we think of having slipped out of existence, whereas the future is even more shadowy, its details still unformed. In this simple picture, the ‘now’ of our conscious awareness glides steadily onward, transforming events that were once in the unformed future into the concrete but fleeting reality of the present, and thence relegating them to the fixed past.”
…. and how physicists prefer to think of time.
But for many physicists, time is viewed rather differently according to Davies:
“Physicists prefer to think of time as laid out in its entirety – a timescape, analogous to a landscape – with all past and future events located there together … Completely absent from this description of nature is anything that singles out a privileged special moment as the present or any process that would systematically turn future events into the present, then past, events. In short, the time of the physicist does not pass or flow.”
The Block Universe
To philosophers, this concept of time is often referred to as eternalism. Perhaps, however, it is more commonly known as block time or the block universe. In this theory, time is another dimension. A dimension where there is no objective flow of time and where all events, past, present and future, all exist somewhere within this vast block of time.
Consider the possibilities of a block universe.
Somewhere now within this block universe, dishevelled Roman soldiers are marching along a newly-built road in Roman-occupied London, possibly in retreat or following a hard-won fight. A bloody battle is in full swing between the Picts and Northumbrians by a lake on a Scottish field. Also taking place somewhere are the battles of Agincourt and Gettysburg.
And it’s not only major ‘historical’ events that are playing out either. The block universe is crowded with the mundane minutiae of everyday life.
A woman stands by a window, pining for her long-lost husband, drowned at sea years earlier on a whaling expedition.
There is the chatter of millions upon millions of conversations.
It’s not only past events that exist either. Events that we have yet to experience, and can hardly imagine, are also playing out somewhere within this block universe.
No Reason to Fear Death in a Block Universe
If the theory of the block universe is correct, the implications are profound.
At the Center for Science and Society Symposium, held in February 2003, Cheryl Chen, Department of Philosophy at Harvard, considered the implications of the block universe:
“If the block universe view is correct, it is irrational to fear death. We apparently fear death because we believe that we will no longer exist after we die. But according to the block universe view, it’s not true to say that we exist now, but won’t exist any longer after death. Death is just one of our temporal borders, and should be no more worrisome than birth!”
While the idea of the block universe may provide us with solace in the face of death, it may also provide a key to unlocking many of the disparate paranormal phenomena that today remain unexplained.
The March of Spectral Armies
While installing central heating in the cellar of the Treasurer’s House in 1953, Harry Martindale was witness to an astounding sight. Roman soldiers, dressed in green tunics and wearing plumed helmets, appeared suddenly through a wall of the cellar, they then marched, dishevelled and dejected, through the cellar before disappearing. Interestingly, the soldiers were only visible from the knees up. Later, a Roman road was discovered, buried knee-deep beneath the current floor of the cellar.
In a similar case, a Scottish woman apparently witnessed a replay of what was, at the time of her experience, a little known battle in 685 AD between the Picts and Northumbrians, complete with warriors carrying flaming torches.
What may be even more perplexing is the case of the Battle of Campania recorded by St Augustine in The City of God, in which many reported to have witnessed this ancient battle … days before it actually took place.
“Is not this proved by the fact that they were seen in a wide plain in Campania rehearsing among themselves the battle which shortly after took place there with great bloodshed between the armies of Rome? For at first there were heard loud crashing noises, and afterwards many reported that they had seen for some days together two armies engaged. And when this battle ceased [the phantom battle], they found the ground all indented with just such footprints of men and horses as a great conflict would leave.”
Could these cases of spectral armies and phantom battles be explained in a block universe model of time where all events are occurring now, but at different locations within that block?
Time and the Bermuda Triangle
Another mystery that may one day be explained by the block universe is the Bermuda Triangle and its many disappearances.
Bruce Gernon describes himself as “the only person in the world to witness what creates the Bermuda Triangle”. Gernon believes that an electronic fog produces time distortions which may account for some of the many disappearances in the notorious waters. In his own experience, the plane he was piloting was enveloped in this so-called electronic fog and was catapulted 30 minutes forward in time and 100 miles forward in space.
Could this electronic fog have also enveloped Flight 19 and transported the ill-fated squadron to another location within the block universe?
Time: the Key to Unlocking Many Mysteries
It must be remembered that the block universe is a theory, and while many physicists may favour it, the block universe remains unproven. We still have a long way to go before we understand time. But when we do, will this newly found knowledge also provide the key to unlocking many of the mysteries we struggle to comprehend today? Will it add credence to the reality of paranormal phenomena?
Will we learn that the UFOs that seemingly enter and leave our atmosphere instantaneously simply have the ability to move backward and forward at will within different time locations within the block universe?
Will we nonchalantly explain away phenomena such as time slips, ghost sightings, EVPs and battles between spectral armies as events that simply drop in momentarily on our own location in time as if tourists visiting from another country?
And will predictions, prophecies and psychic intuition one day be commonplace in a society that understands that time does not simply flow from the past to the present and into an unknowing future, but that all events within time are accessible if we know their location within block time?