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Plummeting into a black hole, the astronaut is swept beyond time, not only surviving the ultimate fall but encountering moments derived from his prior existence arrayed before him in a shape suggestive of higher dimension. Imagine your entire life receding to the horizon in a direction you never noticed before.

“If you go to a higher dimension,” says Neil deGrasse Tyson, explaining the science behind the black hole bookcase scene in the 2014 film, Interstellar, “it’s not unrealistic to think that you step out of the time dimension, and now you look at time as though [looking] at space.”

Just one problem with Tyson’s explanation: it’s not science. Nature offers no justification for the idea of time as a dimension tacked onto the three spatial dimensions in a sort of cosmic afterthought. In fact we have very good reason to reject the reduction of flowing existence to a four dimensional “block universe.” In contrast to time, which unfolds “moment to moment,” a dimension – an axis of space – exists all at once, in stasis, with no inherent dynamism. Though physicists offer an argument for why time has neither presence nor flow, it’s not an argument any reasonable person would take seriously. That the “relativity of simultaneity” originated with Albert Einstein seems to short circuit our natural skepticism of a notion of time better suited to religion or mythology.

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