This is Essay XXV of Mr. Stolyarov’s series, “A Rational Cosmology,” which seeks to present objective, absolute, rationally grounded views of terms such as universe, matter, volume, space, time, motion, sound, light, forces, fields, and even the higher-order concepts of life, consciousness, and volition. See the index of all the essays in “A Rational Cosmology” here.
It is impossible for time to have either a beginning or an end. This follows from the fact that time is not an entity. Whereas each entity must have a temporal origin in order to, at any given instant, exhibit a finite measurement of the quality, time, it is senseless to speak of the temporal origin of any “pure quality,” for qualities cannot exist apart from the entities that exhibit them.
The only legitimate statement that can be made regarding the “origin of a quality” in fact pertains to the origin of the first entity exhibiting such a quality. In loose terms, it may be fitting to refer to a certain “chronological origin of life,” since life is an emergent quality built upon a variety of more rudimentary qualities and relationships, and the entities exhibiting these qualities and relationships first combined to bring about the emergent quality, “life,” some 3.1 billion years ago.
Any quality that derives itself from some more basic qualities and relationships (always, in each instance, provided by the entities directly exhibiting them), could have a temporal origin, though it is not known whether every emergent quality has such an origin. For example, the question of whether or not any historical entity exhibiting the color red was the first entity to do so has not yet been resolved.
But ubiquitous qualities, such as mass, volume, the spatial dimensions, and time, cannot have had any beginning, for all entities must exhibit them, and no entity can lay claim to the distinction of having been the first to do so.
The universe is the totality of all entities that exist. Since, as we have proved in two prior essays, the universe can have neither a beginning nor an end, it must be that the universe has always existed. By this, we mean that a totality of entities has always existed, but such a totality cannot exist without the existence of some entities, the entities which happen to compose it.
Thus, the eternal existence of the universe in effect implies that, at any moment to which one chooses to refer to on a time scale, some entities could be found that existed during that moment. These entities were not necessarily the same entities that exist today, or will exist at some moment in the future. Nevertheless, it was the interaction of past entities that gave rise to present entities, and it is the interaction of present entities that will give rise to future entities.
Since every entity must have the quality of time, and entities have existed, exist, and will exist at every conceivable moment, it follows that time can have neither a beginning nor an end.
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