Are ideas real?

I think I’ve mentioned in a few other articles how much I enjoy reading about physics & science. I continue to be amazed by this language that we’ve created as a way to understand and explain our reality. Over the years, my enjoyment has shifted from the satisfaction of figuring out the mechanics & calculations to meditating on the concepts we’ve proposed and the vastness of reality in comparison to our knowledge.

Time is a concept that has always intrigued me. Most of my education in science has led me to believe that it is an integral part of our existence, but that it plays a very small role in the calculations that the great minds of physics have derived over the past several hundred years.

I’ve been re-reading Lee Smolin’s book called “Time Reborn” and I appreciate his call to reestablish the importance of time in our understanding of reality, if not to make it a central component. He explains in the first section of his book how much of our understanding & success in physics & science has come at the expense of time, relegating it to a role where it doesn’t play a part in many of the most important equations we rely on. Many of our theories are time-independent – results could be calculated and interpreted in either a forward or backward moment in time.

More importantly, he makes the case that we’ve come to see our theories as being separate from the reality they describe. They are “timeless” and unchanging. Gravity is something that we experience as part of our existence but our explanation of gravity is eternal and would be the same in the past or future.

But, how can our theories & ideas be timeless and separate from reality when they are “inside” what we know as our universe? He makes the very compelling argument that if everything changes or evolves in our universe, then why wouldn’t our theories evolve over time as well? I find this idea very interesting & novel. After all, what are our thoughts? If I try to describe what a thought or memory is, I’m at a loss for words and end up using terms that are self-referential.

We create our thoughts and because we exist, our thoughts must exist in some real way as well. At the very least, when we have a thought or recall a memory, there are physical & chemical changes in our brain that allow us to perform these tasks. Those changes happen in physical space, in our universe, so thoughts do have some kind of physical aspect or effect.

Back to Lee Smolin’s suggestion that our theories about reality evolve like everything else, this echoes a belief that I have about our own thoughts. Our thoughts are real, but we often believe that they are permanent or static. I’ve held onto beliefs in my life that I considered to be permanent, and just the way things are. I know try to see that my thoughts can change and evolve through time like everything else. Nothing is set in stone, so why should I hang onto a belief that doesn’t support or empower me? I have the choice to change my stories, beliefs & mindset – to evolve them with intention & motivation to find a better “theory” that I can apply to my own life.

What ideas or thoughts would you like to evolve? Are there stories that you tell yourself that aren’t serving you anymore? There is so much to our reality that we don’t fully understand, including the way we think. Rather than believing that a story is fixed, true & unchanging, maybe take the opportunity to see it as part of reality, which means that it is real and that it can change.

Thank you for the time you’ve taken to read this. I hope that it has resonated with you in some way.

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