In the words of the physicist Hermann Weyl "the world does not happen, it simply is." In this picture [i.e., of spacetime] things do not change...
(Paul Davies, Other Worlds [New York: Simon & Schuster, 1980], 189)
I quoted Roger Penrose expressing a similar view:
...I suggest that we may actually be going badly wrong when we apply the usual physical rules for time when we consider consciousness! There is, indeed, something very odd about the way that time actually enters into our conscious perceptions in any case, and I think that it is possible that a very different conception may be required when we try to place conscious perceptions into a conventionally time-ordered framework. Consciousness is, after all, the one phenomenon that we know of, according to which time needs to 'flow' at all! The way in which time is treated in modern physics is not essentially different from the way in which space is treated* [see below] and the 'time' of physical descriptions does not really 'flow' at all; we just have a static-looking fixed 'space-time' in which the events of our universe are laid out!...
[*This symmetry between time and space would be even more striking for a two dimensional space-time. The equations of two-dimensional space-time physics would be essentially symmetrical with respect to the interchange of space with time--yet nobody would take space to 'flow' in two-dimensional physics. It is hard to believe that what makes time 'actually flow' in our experiences of the physical world we know is merely the asymmetry between the number of space dimensions (3) and time dimensions (1) that our space-time happens to have.]
(Roger Penrose, The Emperor's New Mind [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989], 443-444)
Unfortunately as a mathematician, Penrose is hardly an authority on other than mathematical models, which may not "flow", but are static. If spacetime is a unified state of affairs then any change of state in space requires that the space itself change, by definition, since space is defined mathematically and physically by its states and by nothing else. Time always changes only with respect to a spatial dimension. If there are three spatial dimensions then there are also three time dimensions defining the space. The mathematical model could be incorrect.
We disagree on a very important and fundamental point: I claim that spacetime is static, and you hold that it is not. This is the source of our differing views of reality.
I do not believe that a successful and convincing, dynamic model of spacetime has been developed. It seems, however, that you are advancing your views of reality based on the assumption that such a model does, in fact, exist.
The physical structures of brain and body are part of spacetime. And like all of physical reality, these structures exist in a static block-like fashion. Spacetime, which includes matter/energy within it, exists in its totality--in an "all-at-once" fashion. By definition, geometric time cannot, and does not flow.
The fact of the matter is that our conscious experience tells us that events do follow one another...
Yes. I believe, however, that it is the mind's persisting mental states perceiving/observing successive points of a static spacetime which give the impression of an unfolding universe.
The source of temporal passage in this scenario is not spacetime itself but, rather, the non-physical, persisting mental state--i.e., the persisting present. (I've presented an argument which justifies this view in a brief article entitled "Existence As Process": http://home.att.net/~Andemicael/intro.html)
.... There can be no concrete reality outside the subjective experiences of individual minds. ... the similarities in our experiences of physical reality strongly suggest that an objective, potential reality exists. The concrete, observed, phenomenal reality of conscious experience, however, must necessarily remain entirely subjective.
Our subjective experience requires the supposition of a physical reality which is its source. How would you describe the source(s) of our experience? Can you walk in front of a car without being hit? Can you walk off the edge of a cliff, through walls? -- without considering the possibility that your experience may inform you of something other than your experience?
Physical entities exist within the present (i.e., within conscious experience). By definition, such entities are not disjunct from or external to experience.
That which exists concretely always exists within some context. (It is impossible to conceive of an entity as "existing concretely" without some sense of a context within which this entity exists.) This context, of course, is what we term a "present moment." ?And this present is "conscious experience."
Clearly, one can argue that it is "physical reality" which is dependent upon "experience"--and not the reverse.
Finally, since conscious experience constitutes "the present," we conclude that there must be as many presents as there are minds. These individual presents, however, do not bear a temporal relation to each other. If we try to coordinate these presents/minds with each other temporally, we assume that they are embedded within some "super-present"--i.e., within an objective present which encompasses all individual minds. (Only such a present can enable such temporal coordination). However, as already explained, an objective present cannot exist, by definition.
.... I stress that the conclusions drawn above regarding subjective experience and physical reality are logically inevitable--
Possibly "logically inevitable" but factually inconsistent and falsified by your own experience...
There can be no "factual inconsistencies" if reality is considered strictly from the point of view of the individual mind, which, as described above, is temporally independent of all other minds. Factual inconsistencies or conflicts can arise between two experiences of reality only if a temporal relationship exists between the two experiences. In order to compare experiences in the mental life of any two consciousnesses, the two must somehow co-exist within a common temporal context. It is, however, logically impossible to define such a common context/present.
We seem to have rather different conceptions of "the present," of "temporal passage" and of "spacetime." (It is not surprising that our views of reality are so radically different.)
[Andemicael: Note to readers]
Readers interested in the subject of time and mind may wish to examine more detailed arguments contributed by me to the quantum-mind archive. (September-November, 1998: http://listserv.arizona.edu/lsv/www/quantum-mind.html)
(I regret that due to my hectic travel schedule I will be unable to respond to email over the next few weeks.)