Introduction‎ > ‎

Cause and Effect

Science tries to make sense of the universe we observe around us. It tries to explain how something has occurred from something prior to it, and so be able to extrapolate to make future predictions. It sees the universe in terms of dynamic processes that map the past onto the future.


In our everyday lives, we know these processes through cause-and-effect. Everything that happens (a ‘cause’) has a consequence (an ‘effect’). The laws of physics are our formal description of these processes.


Whether it’s biological evolution, a chemical reaction, or the expanding universe, science sees the universe from the dynamic perspective associated with Subjective time. An interesting point here is that the associated equations only use Objective time (usually represented by the letter ‘t’) and that behaves similarly to a simple distance – the dynamic aspect is a semantic that we attach to the equation, based on our knowledge of the physical process, but it isn’t evident in the equation itself.


Because of our notion of Subjective time (see Time), our observations and measurements are usually recorded over a span of time. Because we remember the past and not the future, we therefore try to explain the observations at each point in time as a direct consequence of those at an earlier time. In purely mathematical terms, all we’re doing is describing the pattern of change in these observations from an earlier time to a later time, but there is no fundamental reason why the pattern couldn’t be described in the other direction (i.e. later to earlier) – except that we don’t remember anything from the future.


Given the geometrical view of Objective time, observations at any time can be related to ones at a time just either side of it (past or future) by virtue of the continuity of change. It is this continuity (i.e. no sudden random changes, or ‘singularities’) that underpins our notion of predictability. The laws of physics are simply describing that pattern of change from one time to another. Causality, though, is an abstraction that we’ve invented to make sense of Subjective time. Everything we see influences what we do, and everything we do is designed to achieve a goal.