What is time? Does it exist beyond the beginning and end of our universe? From the point of view of the universe there was no time ‘before’ it expanded from a singularity and there will be no time ‘after’ it collapses back into a singularity (that is, if it collapses back). But what about from a hypothetical point of view ‘outside’ the universe? Is there ‘time beyond time’? Ah, things too heavy to ponder on Halloween. How about we set that aside for now and shift to something more within our purview. Let’s talk about life – and ‘time beyond life’.
About 14 billion years ago, time began along with the Big Bang. That means we never existed for 14 billion years as far as the universe is concerned. We were practically dead. But then we are born and we live. And at the end of our lives we will become exactly what we were for the past 14 billion years: non-existent. Or will we?
While the term universe is often confused with space, it actually means space and time or the totality of space and time from the Big Bang to whatever scenario the universe ends into. The universe isn’t just the entire space at this very moment in time; it is the entire space for all the time it exists (note the present tense exists – the universe is present at every minute of its life). And so even after we die, as far as the universe is concerned we will always exist at a certain point in time and space. Points actually, one point for every infinitesimal fraction of every second of our lives.
But then the point is, as far as we are concerned we cease to exist after we die, unless there is life after death. But if there is none, then those we leave behind – our surviving families, friends, and those whose lives we’ve touched – their memories of us will be the only witnesses to our existence. And after they too will all be gone, only the universe will have a record that we once lived.
And if the universe would one day cease to exist, I wonder if there is something beyond to observe all the events from the universe’s birth to its death, capturing the universe’s life and every life it supported – and how each of those lives struggled for survival, evolved, and lived; each joy and each suffering, each triumph and each defeat – immortalizing everything in a ‘time beyond time’.