In how many ways may it be possible for a thing to become created, is it unique?
Well, now we know that there are many possible universes that they can all exist together, also we know that all of them have a God who is unique himself, in each universe then can exist anything that goes fine by the logic governing that universe, indeed, anything that can exist in that universe would be created there to be existed as soon as it finds a cause for existence; it is then that it would become to existence and in the way that it can exist. The question now is that in how many ways may it be possible for a thing to become created? Let focus toward our own universe that we can talk about more easily. Together with the question asked above we can also seek for a proper relation between creation (becoming to existence) and existence (remaining existed), and this is not possible as long as we have not yet talked about time what it is. Therefore, let ask:
What is the “Time”, or what is our universe whose evolution is occurred in the bed of time change?
Currently time is accepted as a dimension of our universe, beside the three spatial dimensions. Well, I do not agree with this for many reasons. For this but we should first know what is the “dimension”:
Among the best definitions that I have found for “dimension” in mathematics is one explained very clearly in a book written by Falconer [Fractal Geometry, Mathematical Foundations and Applications; published by John Wiley and Sons, ltd, 2003]. This book exploits the measure theory for this definition which is not something very clear (although the initial idea behind all the mathematical theories are quite clear), but I would try to explain its result in somewhat an understandable fashion. All of us measure things with some proper measures, for example we measure a line by its length, a surface by its area, a body by its volume, a climate by its temperature and some other measures like the speed of wind and etc., thus, as an example length is a measure of lines and even curves. Then anything that is measure by length and a reasonable value is obtained for it is called to have the dimension “one”. Therefore, if we have a set of distinct points in the space and have measured this set by length, no value other than zero is possible for us to obtain for that and this is not reasonable as the points exist and should have a nonzero measure (zero means nothing of the kind the measure can measure!), so that the set of distinct points are not one dimensional. Also, if one assumes a filled planar disk and try to measure it by length, he would also obtain nothing but infinity, since a curve of length infinity is required to fill a surface like the desired disk, no matter how small that the disk is, and this states that a disk cannot be one dimensional either. That is to say, for each object we can try infinitely many measures to measure them, surely all the measures but one would measure the object and yield into either zero or infinity, and it would be only one measure that can give a finite measure for that object and it is this measure that determines the object to have how many dimensions. A set of distinct points are zero dimensional and their corresponding measure is obtained by counting the points in the set, a curve and even a set of distinct curves are one dimensional and their corresponding measure is obtained by the overall length of them, a surface or a set of distinct surfaces are two dimensional and their corresponding measure is obtained by the overall surface of them, and etc. . With this definition one can even find objects that, say, neither are curves and nor surfaces, but something in between them, they are then called fractals as their dimensions would be some numbers between, say, one and two, that is, not an integer! Well, by this definition the “dimension” of an object is defined by the only one measure that can measure the object and assign to it a finite value. Maybe this way one will try to prove that our universe is four dimensional, three spatial and one temporal, so that the time would then be a dimension of the universe by itself.
However, there is another statement around dimension when we are locally studying the universe. Assuming the universe as a space, in the mathematician's literature, one may use a local bases for studying its elements. If the chosen set of bases is such that (or there exists a set of bases such that) all the bases in it are independent with respect to each other and also they are enough for local study of the space under consideration, then it will be the number of these bases that denotes the dimension of the space. For example, let me describe my life, as a subset of the universe space, in a span of one day. The set of bases that is proper for me to obtain the dimensionality of this subset of the total space should include many bases in the first sight, 3 (x-y-z) for space, 1 for time, I guess 4 (sweet-sour-bitter-salty) for taste, at least 3 (R-G-B) for color, and I still don't know how many bases I would also need for describing the sounds that I hear (maybe 2, one for amplitude and one for its frequency), how many for what I can touch (temperature, pain, …) and etc.. These bases are all independent from each other as it seems to me, as knowing about position never gives me a feeling about time, being 5 unit sour never tells me how much sweet may be a food or what RGB is that, and etc.. By the way, after assuming all the required bases now I would be able to describe my one day of life with them, e.g. I can say that I have sensed a t-shirt in such a position and orientation and shape and in such an instant of time, having such an RGB color, an SSBS taste, having no sound by its own (but sounded such and such in a wind of a speed … from direction …), having some specific units of smoothness, at the temperature of T, and etc.. This means that this small subset of universe as I can sense is a quite large dimensional subset and not only 4 dimensional as is common in our usual conservations. However, it is only the way that I can sense the world, surely many of the bases assumed above are dependent on the way I can sense the universe, they are affected but my weaknesses of seeing, hearing, touching, and etc. as I can recognize only a very small band of electromagnetic waves (and color for me only has meaning in this narrow band), or sounds, or my eyes can never recognize a unique ray of light but a bunch of them, or my fingers can never give me a sense of nano sized events, and etc.. Of course the human kind has increased the span of its sensing ability through the centuries by inventing many experimental devices such as microscopes and telescopes, radioscopes and etc., but this has also a limit sometimes referred to as “the uncertainty principle”. So it won't be far from being unbelievable to say that the universe we live in may be even infinite dimensional as is sensed by ourselves, of which dimensions time is only one! One may even try to justify this by stating that if mathematics and our imaginations, as parts of our existences, are themselves some parts of this universe and not out from it, then as in mathematics we have many several infinite dimensional spaces (e.g. the space of all functions that have some specific features), the universe we live in cannot be of any finite dimension and it must be infinitely dimensional. Well, I'm not sure if this statement is logically correct, but there appears to me a mistake that is made trough concluding the above statements. I am a subset of this world, I sense it only roughly (correct only to the extent I need to live in this universe), so if my world is infinite dimensional does it means to really be? Let me bring a clarifying example. We are currently experiencing a life in a macroscopic world, as a matter of weak-dependences established between different spatial-temporal scales we can live in this macroscopic world and have nothing very vital to do with the microscopic and mesoscopic worlds, as people were alive for centuries before they become aware of molecules, atoms, far galaxies and etc.. We all have a feeling of pressure, temperature, density, and etc., but are they also real quantities that we should measure them for a local study of universe? No! As is now well known, when one assumes a macroscopically infinitesimal element to obtain a set of differential equation for it and all the elements being similar to it (so that to integrate them and describe an event in the macroscopic world), the substructure of that element is always ignored and the effect of microscopic world is reintroduced to the macroscopic world through quantities like temperature, density, and things like that. Indeed, e.g., temperature is defined to be the average kinetic energy of the sub-macroscopic entities, pressure is either an average over all the possible momentum changes near an imaginary solid surface in the unit of that surface, or somewhat a measure of the intermolecular forces. Put this together with the fact that many quantities that we can sense with our body are indeed related to some others through some rules or laws, one can conclude that distinguishing between dependent and independent quantities, the universe may have a very smaller dimension as it was already concluded. I still don't know it to be finite or not (it needs more thinking!), but the point here is that time is among those that are survived in this refinement, and it can still be assumed as one dimension for this universe!
The question that arises then is why we can, e.g., move forward and backward in the x-direction but we can only move forward in the time direction? This is a question that is under a great debate between the scientists, and it had been for centuries, but as science only answers “hows” and not “whys” the scientists are satisfied by only driving a law for it and leave it to itself. They sometimes use thermodynamics, and indeed its second law, to state it this way: Any event to happen needs a potential and the way that it happens is in the direction of a negative gradient. For example, electricity to have current needs a voltage difference and the current would be established from the higher voltage toward the lower voltage. Similarly for a fluid to flow it needs a difference in the fluid's energy head (e.g. a difference in pressure, or in hight, between the two points that the fluid is to flow from one towards the other), and the flow occurs in the way that it starts at the higher energy head and end at the least possible energy head. The heat flow also occurs similarly from a higher temperature toward a least possible temperature. Now let state that for any possible event to happen it will need a difference in time, as no event can occur in only a single instant! But what can measure the time difference, or what can be regarded as a potential for events to happen? It is called the negentropy and is indeed defined to be the negative of entropy. Actually according to the second law of thermodynamics any real event happens in a way that the entropy of the whole system increases (or alternatively, the negentropy of the whole system decreases) as more as possible. Definition of negentropy is then quite fancy as it only bears an analogy with the other events that occur in the direction of a negative gradient! Therefore, using the concept of entropy scientists can define a seemingly intrinsic direction for the “axis of time”. But a question is yet left unanswered: why we cannot move backward in time? Well, scientists now may answer this clearly because the second law of thermodynamics prevents the events to occur in a way that the entropy of the whole universe to decrease! Let now we ask if the second law of thermodynamics is really a law of universe, or it is merely a law of our macroscopic world? If no, is it then possible to use it for defining a dimension and cornerstone of our universe, the time? As much as I have studied the second law of thermodynamics is just an artifact of our macroscopic understanding of nature, it is about something hidden behind a process called “course graining”! For further reading about these matters see, e.g., the book written by Mackey [Time's Arrow, The Origins of Thermodynamic Behavior, published by Dover Publications, Inc., 2003].
However, there are two ideas that I can agree with better. The first one is as what follows:
Assume an n-dimensional world (n is a large integer) that has many elements all being possible to move at only one same speed. There exist elements that are confined to move along a specific curve (this curve would be the only part of that world that they can understand and experience!), elements that can move on a given curved surface containing that first curve, elements that can move in a three dimensional space containing that curved surface as one sub-space of it, and elements living in a hierarchy of worlds defined similarly, each containing all the curved worlds of smaller dimensionalities. All such elements moving at a same speed are to be translated from one point on the assumed curve (the first world in this hierarchy) to a latter point on the same curve. Those who are confined to this curve should travel all the way on the curve itself, those who are confined to the curved surface can try a shorter way, and the higher be the dimensionality of the space the elements live in, the sooner they can reach the ending point. They all have a same speed, but the time their measure is a function of the distance they should travel, and this distance is a function of how free of limits that they are, depending on the dimensionality of their worlds. Now return to our own universe, we have already stated that we live in a world of which we can sense only a rough understanding, due to the sensors pre-embedded in our bodies, if we are mentally confined to our materially limitations, then we may measure the passage of time (by measuring the occurrence of events) in a way that other creatures may not measure it in the same way. That is to say we may understand the passage of time, so the time itself, in a way different than what the other creatures understand it. This understanding depends on our limitations. If for example there exist creatures not as dense as us, like are elves, then they may move many hundreds of times faster than us, and therefore by talking about “time” they may understand something that we don't. This idea about time, relating its concept to the limitations of the creatures themselves and not an intrinsic feature of the universe itself, so that e.g. it may mean nothing to someone that is here not limited to anything, is one among two that I can accept more easily. Maybe there exists no creature in this world that he is confined by no limitations at all, so maybe there exists a concept of time in the background logic of this universe, but at least this idea explains, first, how God as the creator of the universe is not affected by passage of time, second, how angels and spirits may act in a manner that seems to us almost instantaneously, and third, why we cannot move backward in the time, as it is not a dimension of the universe within this idea, but the passage of time is a measure of limitations of the creatures being created in this universe.
The second idea seems even more acceptable to me. It states that time is quantized! That is to say time is discrete, made up of instances, single instances put together in a discrete manner. This can relate the creation (becoming to existence) and existence (remaining existed) as well, since here in any single instant all the universe would be newly created, the passage of time then consists of many times of recreation of the whole universe, each time similar to the others but in its only one possible way that it was not only existable, but also creatable (recall that something to be created needs not only to go fine with the logic behind the universe, but it also should have a cause for its existence!). A stone can stay in my hand, or can stay on the ground one meter in front of me, but at each instant it will be created where it has had a cause for being existed there. If I pick it up, it would have a reason to be created in my hand for the next instances before I throw it away. If I throw it to the air it would have a reason to even be created in the air for some instances. It seems very strange at the first sight but if we think more deeply it is not hard to believe that time is discrete (it is countable, although maybe infinite counting may be required to count all the instances from the beginning to the end), but it would even be hard to believe it not to be discrete (then starting from time zero there would come an instant called “root of two”)! At least believing in the former seems easier than believing in the latter! One may imagine of our universe as a book, actually a set of distinct single pages, each page of which representing the whole world in one instant. The spirits of alive species, from plants or animals to elves, humans and angles, are then those that can flow from one page to another (One may replace the phrase “flow” by “recreation” here, as well, since there may be no place for spirits to exist in a probable gap between the pages?!?One may try to solve this by asserting a theory that maybe the configuration of discrete times, i.e. pages of the universe, is too dense and the pages are so close to each other that in limit this discrete set of points, each point representing a page, may tend to form a continuous line. However, this may not be true, that is, if we accept that the passage of time consists of many times of recreation of the whole world in many different possible states (that the whole world “can exist” in those states) or alternatively if we have accepted that each instant is created individually, then having agreed upon that all the times are set into some specific order such that an instant is to come after another (the causality rules this order as the causality determines which state is possible after which one!), the set of all the instances must remain discrete and the limit stated must never occur, otherwise, according to a lemma in mathematics of real numbers, each two distinct instants that we choose arbitrarily close to each other there still would exist infinitely many instants in their between (this is a matter of continuity) and, thus, we need the discreteness of time for an exact "discrete order" to exist between them. Therefore, those who believe that God creates each instant of time individually should believe in that time is not continuous. Yet topologists may insist on this conjecture that the set of all times is not discrete but continuous (in order to get rid of what happens to the spirit of alive species in traveling between each two adjacent instants) by defining a correct discrete order on this continuous set, and actually by defining a discrete topology over the continuous set of all instants, such that each instant would retain its individuality and its exact neighborhoods would also be clear then after. However, what would stand for this topology in the real world is something that I don't understand. If I could understand this then I was among those who prefer this statement as otherwise one should explain why the alive species understand the universe only within the stated discrete set of instants and not out from it, e.g. in a probable gap between the pages, so that they could understand the world as being continuous even if it is not. Aren't they alive between the two instances? But what at all is this discrete topology that should also be intrinsic to the created universe?), most of the times in a predetermined forward direction, one may move faster and one may move slower depending on how can they form a cause for what to exist in the next instants. Explaining the “time” this way, a matter of creation (as a chain of possibilities for existences and having cause for existences), is capable of justifying God as not being confined to the time, thus, he may or not have created the whole universe altogether instantaneously and not page by the page. I don't know if the evolution of our universe, confined to time, has had a beginning or not, but certainly it will not have any end (this world will evolve into another just before the judging day but we will still live the same universe, with the same background logic, by death and before the judging day we only move from its face to its inside, step by step, and this by itself is a beautiful evolution we should talk about separately, if God would let us!), so may it have had not any beginning either? I cannot imagine or understand this very well, so let postpone it till sometimes that we can say something reasonable about it. By the way, there are reasons for me to say God has created this book that we call our universe all at once. Our movement from a page of this previously written book (the book being previously written has nothing to do about human if he has choice or not, as clearly he has, this would hopefully be postponed to a later discussion) to one another seems forward as it usually is, but what about our dreams of past and future? Just before the death as well as in the judging day we would also be shown our own stories completely with all their details, like the stories are just being told. These observations can help us conclude that maybe the whole universe, consisting of all the instants of time, exist altogether. However, yet there are points that one may want to still discuss about, like why in the honest dreams about future people usually see symbols and not the bare reality. Right or wrong, seeing the symbols instead of the bare reality seemingly returns to the limitations of the person who sees the dream in understanding the reality, and e.g. prophets' dreams were free from symbols! Yet I need to think more about this. Another interesting point to mention here is to note the world “آتیة” in Arabic which stand for “future” (or even their Persian translation “آینده”). The Arabic and Persian translation of future have their roots in the verb “come” and these worlds by their own mean “to come”. That is to say that future is seemingly regarded as something that exists but is to come at its proper instant (actually there are reasons why Arabic --the language chosen by God for his last book Quran, deliberatively and thus rightly chosen as he has insisted on in Quran as well-- is the best communicative language of all as its different worlds bear the intrinsic relations between the different concepts, and etc.; even the name “Adam” which should be among the first worlds used by human being has meaning only in Arabic but is now used in other languages as well, which shows apparently it was Arabic that has been the language introduced to Adam by God once he was created!). Also, in both Arabic and Persian sometimes we use the past tense form of the verbs to denote some certain events in future, that is to say that specific event would certainly occur in future as the past events have certainly occurred in the past! As God knows exactly what he has created as our universe he can use the past tense form of the verbs for any time, past, present and future, and this has many examples in Quran if I'm right. Anyway, this way that we have defined time, when we believe in God as the creator, we also implicitly believe in that God not only creates his creatures but also keeps its creatures existed (as keeping the creatures existed itself consists of an infinite set of recreation), and no event is out from his power to alter it in the way that he will (that is, it is not the case that he creates a universe and a set of laws, then the universe stays existed on its own and evolves in a manner governed by those laws, irrespective of this God still being existed or not, alive or dead, busy watching his creatures or being at rest! But his absence would be equivalent to the non existence of all his creatures). But according to how that God has created this world he wills only what is possible and has a cause, and praying, as he has stressed in Quran for several times, may give a good cause for God to help us reach what we wish!
Also from Quran it seems that his creation, at least in this universe that we live in, is intrinsically instantaneous and if this construe is correct this will support the definition which has been just given for time. This latter construe may seems in contradiction with the common statement that one can distinguish between different creations of God by categorizing them as gradual and instantaneous, but there is no contradiction if we mention that this way that we have defined the time even all the gradual creations would each consist of very many instantaneous creations! c and this goes well with Quran: Indeed, In Quran the phrases “creation” and “command” (i.e., the world “أمر” when is used for God, not us the humans or etc.) are distinguished as the former stands for a gradual creation, while the latter stands for the instantaneous creation. In order to support this from Quran one may just need to read the two below statements together:
بَدِیعُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَ إِذَا قَضَى أَمْرًا فَإِنَّمَا یقُولُ لَهُ کُنْ فَیکُونُ (بقره، 117)
[To Him is due the primal origin of the heavens and the earth: When He decreeth a matter, He saith to it: "Be," and it is.]
وَهُوَ الَّذِی خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ فِی سِتَّةِ أَیامٍ وَکَانَ عَرْشُهُ عَلَى الْمَاءِ … (هود، 7)
[He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days - and His Throne was over the waters - ...]
Whatever that “day” stands for in the second statement, this statement illustrates a gradual creation of the heavens and earth, while the former statement illustrates that God has originally created the heavens and earth without having an example and his creation is like to intend to create a creature and the creature is just created. That is, a gradual creation also consists of many many instantaneous creations. This is also discussed to some extent by Allame Tabatabayee in “Almizan”.
As a conclusion I prefer the latter way we have discussed about time, this discussion describes why and how God can be free from being confined to the time (so he would never evolve with time, he experiences no change at all and remain the same as time runs), it introduces the time not as an intrinsic feature of our universe like spatial directions or a dimension but merely as a definition based on the movements from one page of the book “universe” to one another (this way we have instances of time created separately), it takes into account the limitations of the creatures and makes a relation between how strongly that they can be a source of cause and how that they can reach a new page from the previous page, and finally it allows a kind of time travel for the spirits of the alive species both forward and backward! With this definition of time now one can even return to the definition of God stated before and conjecture that how God affects the other existences is merely by creating them.
According to this definition of time also one may mention that every creature in this universe should have time, even angels and souls! But is it right? Some believes that angels and souls are free from spacial and temporal constraints, but I don't, since there are many statements in Quran and other Shia Islamic references that explain an evolution in angels and even souls, but how is possible that an evolution occurs while there is no time constraint? If there is no such a constraint then a soul or angel can instantaneously exist in several time, but how is it possible that exist in an instant a single in two states, one before evolution and the other after having experienced the evolution. Although this might suffice for concluding that even souls and angels have time, but a better understanding of this is achieved, e.g., from the below statement in Quran and those similar to it: