Einstein said the problem of the Now worried him seriously. He explained that the experience of the Now means something special for man,something essentially different from the past and the future, but that this important difference does not and cannot occur within physics. That this experience cannot be grasped by science seemed to him a matter of painful but inevitable resignation. So he concluded 'that there is something essential about the Now which is just outside the realm of science.'
Nevertheless, the article goes on to take a stab at a lame scientistic explanation. Despite its lameness, the author breathlessly enthuses that "Now is an exciting time. We are on the threshold of possibly understanding both now and the flow of time."
Einstein is correct: there is indeed something essential about the Now which is outside the realm of science (and that realm is not a small area, to put it mildly).
There is, and will never be, a scientific understanding of the now, or of time more generally. For that one needs recourse to metaphysics. Science is far too narrow to contain time, let alone eternity. And these two are complementary and mutually defining, at least from the human perspective. Time is a function, or mode, of eternity.
Let's think about the now. Each now is a kind of center, only located in time rather than space. However, it is also a spatial center; it has to be somewhere, and that somewhere is in each conscious subject. (To be conscious is very much to be conscious of the now, isn't it?)
We're really talking about three irreducible mysteries: Center, Now, and Subject. And these three are clearly related. As we've discussed many times, remove the subject from the cosmos, and there is no space or time, just everything everywhere at once. The first living subject was also the first center and the first now.
Let's enter the waaaaaayback machine and try to imagine the first now. As a matter of fact, this is something I attempted to do way back when writing the book of the same name: one "moment" the cosmos is (apparently) non-living; the next moment it is alive. What happened? What does this signify?
We all know there is a bright line between life and death. There must be an equally bright line between life and pre-life. Unless you believe the cosmos is a living organism, which makes a lot more sense than the belief that life is 100% reducible to the inanimate.
The first living thing is also the first subject: it is literally the mysterious emergence of an inside in what had theretofore been outsides only. Is an outside without an inside even conceivable? Not really. It's like an up without a down or left with no right.
In metaphysical hindsight (or better, downsight) we can see that the inside had to have been there all along. But using scientific categories only, we have to pretend the cosmos was all-outside until the emergence of that first itsy-bitsy subject some 4.5 billion years ago. That's when
a luminous fissure breaks open in this heretofore dark, impenetrable circle, the dawning of an internal horizon in a universe now divided against itself, the unimaginable opening of a window on the world, a wondrous strange mutation as unique, mysterious, and altogether surprising as our first bang into material space-time...
You could say that was the first rebellion and up-rising: we're not going to take it anymore! No more kowtowing to King Physics! We demand a biology department!
Interesting too that that was the last time radical equality existed in the cosmos. Pre-life, everything was truly equal. Nothing was above or below anything else. Without form, and as void as Nancy Pelosi's frontal cortex.
To continue plagiarizing with myself,
[P]ortions of the universe somehow declared their independence from the strict, physiochemical laws that had held matter in their death grip up to that time, and began exchanging energy and information with the "outside," so as to maintain and reproduce themselves through time. In setting up this dynamic exchange with the outside, the universe now had undeniable evidence of an "inside," with new, unprecedented categories of being, such as intention, perception, sensation, emotion, and eventually freedom, thought and moral and aesthetic judgment.
Put it this way: with Life, mere concrete EXISTENCE somehow becomes EXPERIENCE:
[A] new world literally came into being, outwardly dependent upon the previous one, but at the same time inwardly transcending it: a universe beyond itself, a restless declaration of subjectivity from the mute algorithms of opaque material repetition.
Etc. I had no intention of quoting myself ad such nauseam, but it still holds up. And always will. Not because of anything I personally figured out. God forbid! It's just the way it is, and you can't surpass what Is.
Let's climb down and refocus: Center, Subject, and Now. These are clearly related, or at least it is clear to me. But how? I mean, ultimately?
I would say that, just as subjects are inconceivable in the absence of the Divine Subject, nor are the Center and the Now conceivable without recourse to that same Subject.
"There is only one Center," writes Schuon, "but the phenomenon 'center' nonetheless exists in the spatial universe..." Sure does. I'm in one now. This is because our center is a projection, as it were, of the Center, or let us say the Principle of Centration. Every living thing embodies this principle:
"[T]he divine Center is necessarily reflected diversely in creation which by definition is the mirror of the Creator." Traces of this Center are every where and every when. Indeed, it is precisely why there are wheres and whens, which is to say, centers and nows.
"Wherever God is reflected, there is a center." This center is a presence -- or rather, presence as such -- and you would be far from wrong if you think of this in terms of Father <--> Son, or Being <--> Logos. I would turn it around and say that these points of reference are given us in order to think about this transtemporal Center-to-center and Now-to-now structure of things.
One cannot conceive of space without a center. What would space be without a center? Because we are the center, we can conceive of the space surrounding it. Likewise the now. Because it is now, we can conceive of the time surrounding us, of past and future. If there were no now, then the question would never arise.
So, the now is indeed a mystery. It is the only mystery, or one reflection of the Absolute Mystery that connects Subject, Center, and Now.
But it doesn't end there, because this Subject is a Person, not just an empty space, so to speak. And personhood brings with it such irreducible categories as freedom, creativity, truth, beauty, virtue, and relationship (the nonlocal touch of intersubjectivity). None of these are reducible to lifeless matter. Rather, they emanate from the top, and are reflected in the herebelow.
But you are always free to be cosmically stupid, in which case it is an exciting time, for you are always on the threshold of possibly understanding everything even while knowing nothing.
It all reminds me of something Petey once said, that yesterday is our birthday, today is our life, and tomorrow we are gone. So we have just one day to learn all we need to know, and that day is today. And that's enough.