IMG_0569
Blog powered by Typepad

« A world of hurt | Main | Arrival »

Comments

"Believing in the possibility of time flow is doing the exact same thing in a different context – it is an attempt to cling on to what feels right to us, and what jives with our natural intuitions about how the universe ought to behave."

I disagree because simply the theory of relativity can not be the last word in physics, since it is incompatible with the quantum theory.

“It brings the theory of relativity itself: the speed of light in the vacuum. If something is out of the reach of the speed of light, it does not make sense to ask whether it is defined or not.”

OK I can see where you are coming from. Let me illustrate the flaw in your thinking. Suppose there is an event somewhere in the next town, say a Donald Trump rally (we will define 'event' as the moment the rally starts, in line with relativity). This rally starts at 2.00pm and it is now 1.57pm. You have three minutes to make a fifty mile journey. Clearly it is impossible for you to attend this event (the start of the rally). Now you would not claim, by virtue of the fact that the event is unreachable to you, that it is not part of your reality. Now suppose there is an event the other side of the world. This event starts in 1 nanosecond, meaning you would have to travel faster than the speed of light to be at this event. Is this event not part of your reality simply because you can't be there (in principle)? My basic point is that this definition of reality is entirely arbitrary and quite meaningless.
I believe you are referencing space-like as opposed to time-like intervals. A space-like interval corresponds to an event which you can't attend (in principle) because even travelling as fast as the speed of light will not be fast enough to be present at the event. Hopefully you can see from the examples I provided above that this is flawed thinking.
There is admittedly a potentially semantic element to this, as people are free to define the word 'reality' in any way they see fit. But semantics aside, in the relevant sense, all moments happening right now from your point of view are part of your reality. I did state in my previous post that I intended the word 'reality' in a slightly different sense to how the word is normally used (which is what I meant by the words “in the relevant sense”). Clearly no one would actually claim that events on some remote planet are part of their reality. But I was hoping you would understand how I am using the word by the context. I am simply referring to all events which from your reference frame are happening right now.

“The idea of the block universe remains an interpretation, not something that necessarily follows from the theory of relativity.”

Nope, it does logically follow from relativity. You need to start coming to terms with the fact that time doesn't flow my friend.

It might be instructive to also tackle this from a slightly different angle. Let’s keep things really simple for a moment and pretend that Earth is flat, and travelling with a constant velocity through space. We can suppose that Earth takes the form of a completely flat square slab of rock with an area of say one million miles squared. We have in effect imagined a very large inertial frame of reference, with everything contained within it travelling at exactly the same velocity whilst at rest with respect to the reference frame.
This makes things really simple, since everyone now strictly agrees (at least whilst at rest within the frame) on the sequence of events, and indeed whether or not events are occurring simultaneously. Of course this, to all intents and purposes, is similar to real Earth, since we tend to move with relatively low velocities with respect to each other, and can normally ignore the acceleration of the Earth due to spinning on its axis and orbiting the sun, etc. But now things are really straightforward and simple.
Say you are located at the centre point of this flat planet. Suppose you know that at a certain time, say midnight, a firecracker will go off a million miles from your current location, but you only discover this will take place at the exact instant it occurs (perhaps it has been pre-arranged for someone to inform you of this event at precisely the time it occurs). We have two events: event B – the firecracker going off, and event A - you being informed of the occurrence of event B. These two events are simultaneous according to your frame of reference, and indeed from the point of view of everyone on the planet, who are all standing perfectly still at this particular time. These two events are clearly connected by a space-like interval, or in other words, one would have to travel faster than the speed of light in order to reach event B from event A, or in your words they are “out of the reach of the speed of light.” You claim that it is meaningless for such events to be defined. But if this was the case you could quite reasonably state to the informer of the event that the event he is telling you about cannot be defined, and is not part of your reality. And in fact the entire population of the planet ought to take this view.
This in itself is highly unreasonable, but becomes increasingly absurd as one considers smaller and smaller distances. In fact we can shrink the distance down to arbitrarily small amounts since spatially separated simultaneous events will always be connected by space-like interval. It is one thing to suggest that an event a million miles from your current location is not real in some sense, but quite another to suggest this of an event just up the road from you, or even right in front of you by say a metre or two.
Going back to the real world, it is like people telling you about various events which happen, some perhaps close by and others at remote locations. Each time you are informed of an event you check to see if you are physically able to attend the event (we can even assume you can travel at speeds close to the speed of light) and if you are not able to, you state “this event cannot be defined.” In effect this is what you have stated.
This actually illustrates a contradiction in your thinking. You claim on the one hand that the moment ‘now’ is real, but the past and future are not (at least that is what you appear to be saying, I don’t know how else to interpret it). But on the other hand you are saying that simultaneous events cannot be considered real. I think you would agree there is a certain incoherence in your thinking here.

(I obviously meant to say 2 million square miles in the previous post).

A quick point of clarification. In a sense all my statements are attempting to demonstrate that relativity proves there is no such thing as time. This is really what i mean when i say "time does not flow but we flow through time." At face value this seems contradictory since we define time as a quantity that flows. But i am simply using the word 'time' as i don't know what other word to use. All we know is there is construct called space-time. Strictly speaking this is a purely mathematical construct, and it is hard to say what feature of reality directly corresponds to this mathematical construct, if any at all. But we can say one thing for absolute certain – there is definitely no such thing as flowing time. That is the bottom line.

Mark Green,

You are really great at forming these thought experiments. Very interesting and edifying comments!

"I disagree because simply the theory of relativity can not be the last word in physics, since it is incompatible with the quantum theory."

Nope, wrong. If QM is very slightly modified (specifically particles are not regarded as point-like dimensionless particles) as in string theory for instance, they become perfectly compatible.

If our Universe is more like a computer simulation or a holographic projection that would mean that all the information exists in all places at all times and that our separation is just an illusion and thusly all things are possible.

I have read things that suggest that in reality everything is happening at once and it is only our consciousness or mind that gives the illusion of time and space and just like the life review in reality life is more like a giant holographic TV screen and we just pick out which screen we focus on.

We may wake up in Heaven and realize that this whole life was just an illusion created for us to experience and learn certain things we needed to learn in order to function in a dimension where the laws of physics are very different from the one we are currently experiencing.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert's final moments with his wife, "But the day before he passed away, he wrote me a note: "This is all an elaborate hoax." I asked him, "What's a hoax?" And he was talking about this world, this place. He said it was all an illusion." http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/tv/news/a26606/roger-ebert-final-moments/

and from the Universe as a Hologram,
" For if the concreteness of the world is but a secondary reality and what is "there" is actually a holographic blur of frequencies, and if the brain is also a hologram and only selects some of the frequencies out of this blur and mathematically transforms them into sensory perceptions, what becomes of objective reality?Put quite simply, it ceases to exist. As the religions of the East have long upheld, the material world is Maya, an illusion, and although we may think we are physical beings moving through a physical world, this too is an illusion." http://www.earthportals.com/hologram.html

“If our Universe is more like a computer simulation or a holographic projection that would mean that all the information exists in all places at all times and that our separation is just an illusion and thusly all things are possible.”

I would say the universe probably is holographic in some kind of sense. There is some serious mathematics behind this theory. This does not in itself prove it is true of course, but it makes a lot of sense and explains a lot of things. So my money is definitely on the holographic universe as a correct description of reality.

“I have read things that suggest that in reality everything is happening at once and it is only our consciousness or mind that gives the illusion of time and space and just like the life review in reality life is more like a giant holographic TV screen and we just pick out which screen we focus on.”

Time definitely does not exist. Science has in effect proven that already, which is the point I have been pushing in my previous posts. Stating that ‘time does not flow’ is equivalent to saying there is no such things as time. The label ‘spacetime’ should not be interpreted as meaning space and time are objectively out there, as ‘spacetime’ is simply a convenient label. For one thing we don’t really know if the purely mathematical construct called spacetime has any direct ontological reality, or whether it is simply an artefact of some deeper underlying principle or structure. But even if it was physically objectively out there (doubtful) time still does not exist. Imagine having a transcendental experience and suddenly having no sense of this flowing thing we call ‘time.’ You would instantly conclude that time does not exist. If you then stumbled across a construct which corresponds to what we have been calling spacetime you would hardly change your mind on this. Even if this construct you stumbled across was somehow connected with our subjective sense of time, the fact it does not flow means that each moment has equal status, which is equivalent to stating that everything happens at once – in other words there is no time!
I think relativity is important, since without it, time really might objectively exist for all we know. There is no prima-facia reason to suppose that our sense of flowing time does not reflect an objectively physical fact. It is only relativity which proves this is not the case.

“We may wake up in Heaven and realize that this whole life was just an illusion created for us to experience and learn certain things we needed to learn in order to function in a dimension where the laws of physics are very different from the one we are currently experiencing.”

The world we know is definitely an illusion, something else which science has categorically proven. For one thing, matter is not made of matter. Everything at the fundamental level is just energy. No one really knows what energy is (despite the formal definitions of ‘ability to do work’ or ‘a conserved quantity'). We have equations which explain the behaviour of energy (at least within the context of human experience) but there is a stark difference between knowing the behaviour of something and knowing what that something is. But it certainly is not physical. Forces are not real either. There are underlying processes which give rise to what we perceive as forces, but these processes would in no way be recognized as forces in the way we understand that concept. Also QM has (to my mind at least) conclusively proven that there is no such thing as a separate physical world independent of consciousness. The delayed quantum eraser experiment, which has been carried out multiple times with the same result, shows that all attempts to interpret the double slit experiment in terms of reductive materialism are highly misguided. (BTW this experiment does NOT demonstrate retro-causality. This idea is based on an incomplete understanding of how quantum physics works.)
In short, the universe is nothing more than smoke and mirrors, and from higher levels of perspective would quickly start to take on all the reality of Noddy’s Toy Town.

"My basic point is that this definition of reality is entirely arbitrary and quite meaningless."

No, what is meaningless and pre relativist is to suppose that future events are defined although there is no physical form to know it. It is physically meaningless, although you can always have metaphysics.

"Nope, it does logically follow from relativity."

I am telling you no.

http://www.informationphilosopher.com/freedom/special_relativity.html

"Strictly speaking this is a purely mathematical construct, and it is hard to say what feature of reality directly corresponds to this mathematical construct, if any at all. But we can say one thing for absolute certain – there is definitely no such thing as flowing time."

You have created your own objection: if space-time is a mathematical abstraction, then we can not be sure that time does not really flow, because you already know that theories are not reality.

"If QM is very slightly modified (specifically particles are not regarded as point-like dimensionless particles) as in string theory for instance, they become perfectly compatible."

Although there will be new advances and the theory of relativity will have to be altered or abandoned.

"Time definitely does not exist. Science has in effect proven that already, which is the point I have been pushing in my previous posts."

That is like saying that consciousness does not exist (eleminative materialism). Absurd. Time exists for us. Science has not proven that because scientists only deal with abstractions of reality, not reality. Time is not a thing but it exists.

Hey Juan,

Thanks for inviting me to this discussion. Right now I would note that Talli's Time and Lamentations is due out in May 2017.

Hopefully people give it a read, it notes a lot of how we think of time is based on metaphors and abstractions but much of it is divorced from the reality of our actual experience.

I'd also agree with you that to be an eliminativist about Time but a realist about Consciousness (realist as in Consciousness is a fundamental aspect of reality) seems odd given experience and consciousness are intrinsically tied...or so it seems to me...

“No, what is meaningless and pre relativist is to suppose that future events are defined although there is no physical form to know it. It is physically meaningless, although you can always have metaphysics.”

Holy smokes!!! You appear to be utterly incapable of grasping the fact that there is no “future”. And there is no “now” and no “past” either. For all points in spacetime there are possible frames of reference which would consider the ‘present’ moment (as you define it) to be in their past, and other possible frames of reference for the ‘present’ to be their future. And their point of view is every bit as valid as yours. This is relativity 101. Not understanding this is equivalent to not understanding the theory of relativity. Please make some attempt to get a grasp of the basics. Perhaps then we can start having an intelligent dialogue.


"Nope, it does logically follow from relativity."
I am telling you no.
http://www.informationphilosopher.com/freedom/special_relativity.html

Thank you for that link. To reciprocate the favour I have provided a link to a website claiming evolutionary theory is false: http://thetruthwins.com/archives/44-reasons-why-evolution-is-just-a-fairy-tale-for-adults
(Like ‘I stated before. Everything is a matter of interpretation by the standards which your examples are consistent with).

“You have created your own objection: if space-time is a mathematical abstraction, then we can not be sure that time does not really flow, because you already know that theories are not reality.”

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Sorry, I am finding this a bit exasperating now. Nonetheless I will persevere for the moment in trying to enlighten you: Imagine on some distant planet somewhere there are a species of intelligent beings. These aliens are really crap at abstract thinking however, and as a consequence are completely incapable of framing any of their ideas in mathematical terms. But they are avid experimenters, and spend all their time conducting experiments, just for the hell of it. It is quite conceivable that such a race of beings will conduct experiments similar to we have. The experiments that we have conducted, which were motivated by a desire to test the theory of relativity, might happen to coincide with some of the random experiments these aliens conducted, which were motivated for no reason in particular. Providing these aliens had at least some rudimentary critical thinking skills, they would be able to work out (at least in principle) that time does not exist. This is true because this conclusion can be arrived at completely independently of the mathematical theory we refer to as special relativity. Just the empirical results themselves are more than sufficient for this purpose.

“Although there will be new advances and the theory of relativity will have to be altered or abandoned.”

OK, this appears to be a completely groundless comment. If not, you will need to explain your reason for thinking this. There is certainly no reason I can think of.

“ That is like saying that consciousness does not exist (eleminative materialism). Absurd. Time exists for us. Science has not proven that because scientists only deal with abstractions of reality, not reality. Time is not a thing but it exists.”

It depends entirely what you mean by the word ‘time’. I do not deny that time exists in the way you might be suggesting here. We each have a subjective experience of something we call time. That is real in the same sense as all our subjective experiences are real. If I stub my toe the subjective pain is real. But the physical sensation itself is not physically objectively out there in the world. You might feel that my previous claim that I accept the possibility that spacetime is objectively out there is contradictory to the notion that time does not exist (I must stress how unlikely I think this is however). That is not the case however. Although I think it is very unlikely, let’s pretend for a moment that spacetime does exist out there in the universe. Suppose you were to have a transcendental experience, and consistent with the accounts of others who have such an experience have the distinct impression that there is no such thing as time. At the same time you happen to notice a strucutre which corresponds to the mathematical construct of spacetime in relativity. It is possibly tempting to imagine being in that situation and thinking “Ah, so space and time do exist after all. I can see this quite plainly now, as there is the x,y,z axis and there also is the time axis. Therefore time must exist.” This would be an absurdity however. What you are really seeing is not proof that time exists but proof that there is no special moment we can call ‘now’. You would see quite clearly that there is no preferred moment in time. All moments have equal status. And all moments can be looked at in a way in which they can equally be seen as either the past or the future. Simply put, you are seeing proof that time (as we commonly conceive it) does not in fact exist.


For some unfathomable reason you appear to have quite a beef with relativity. Why is that? Do you have a personal dislike of Einstein or something? Fine if so. Just curious.

Perhaps before attempting to undermine relativity you might seek to understand it properly first however.

I will say one thing though Juan. You are starting to make me feel like a genius! Thank you!

"I'd also agree with you that to be an eliminativist about Time but a realist about Consciousness (realist as in Consciousness is a fundamental aspect of reality) seems odd given experience and consciousness are intrinsically tied...or so it seems to me..."

OK, I will reiterate and expand a bit on the point I made in my previous post in order to address the above statement. It is certainly contradictory to accept consciousness as real but the contents of consciousness as not real. As our sense of flowing time is a subjective experience, then flowing time is of course real, in the same way that my sensation of the color red is real. But that does not change the fact that it is impossible to select a moment that could objectively be called 'the future'. A moment could only be the future relative to carefully chosen points in spacetime. To other points it might be the past or present. The statement by Juan "what is meaningless and pre relativist is to suppose that future events are defined" exposes the contradictory and confused nature of his thinking. He is claiming that time is real, but if this statement is true then time cannot be real, as 'the future' could include all points in spacetime. Therefore time itself could not be defined, so therefore could not be real.

Well the argument Juan and I are making is that there are no points in spacetime where the future is concerned because to assume such points is begging the question - you've already given time a spatial aspect where the future is somewhere.

Maybe I'm missing something here but that's how I currently see it.

I would suggest the following Tallis video, "Killing Time":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1J7BOoaFfbA

Just to add to my previous point about the irrelevance of the theoretical nature of relativity in deducing that time is not real, it is not always possible to sharply delineate between theory and experimental evidence anyway. To illustrate this fact, consider the following question: Is it a theoretical or empirical fact that the effective resistance of a 5K resistor in parallel with a 2k and 3k resistor, in series with a 200 ohm and 600 ohm resistor, with the latter in parallel to a 470k resistor, is equal to 200 ohms? It is entirely possible that no one has ever physically built this specific configuration of resistors, so strictly speaking this remains empirically untested. Similarly no one has ever performed the twin paradox experiment, but it has been experimentally found that time dilation happens at relative velocities (by using super-accurate atomic clocks on board Concorde etc.) and the effects of acceleration on time have also been experimentally verified (these are the two key ingredients to knowing the outcome of such an experiment). Therefore it is perhaps reasonable to say that the outcome of such things as the twin paradox experiment are theoretical in a similar sense to that of the effective resistance of the above resistor configuration.
Anyway this might be a slightly superfluous point, as like I stated previously, all one needs really is the (considerable amounts) of direct experimental evidence showing that the principles of relativity are indeed correct.

"Well the argument Juan and I are making is that there are no points in spacetime where the future is concerned because to assume such points is begging the question - you've already given time a spatial aspect where the future is somewhere."

Sorry for being a bit thick here but I really don't understand what you are trying to say. Perhaps you could rephrase it slightly in an effort to make the point you are trying to make clearer?

I certainly do not know what you mean when you say I am assuming things. There are no assumptions in anything I have said. Again, you will have to be a bit clearer on what exactly you think I am assuming.

Here's a site that proposes the consciousness theory, holograms etc., don't know if it has been posted before. You can questions what they term evidenced research. Or their universe theories.

http://www.fmbr.org/papers/about_spirits.php

But so called legit scientists also go out on a limb.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/03/10/mysterious-flashes-could-alien-spacecraft-workharvard-scientists/

Cheers Lyn.

SPatel

Although I can’t quite see the exact point you are making, it is nonetheless clear to me from your comment, that, like Juan, you are failing to recognize one of the simple truths of special relativity. Any moment that you regard as a point in your future can be regarded by someone else as a point in their past, or even their present. It is important to stress that this is not something that can be reasonably debated. To not recognize this fact is simply equivalent to not understanding relativity. It is NOT an interpretational issue! Given this fact, it is meaningless to attempt to make any kind of differentiation between future, past, and present, as they are all relative, and not absolute. Implicit in Juan’s, and your own statement, is the idea that past, present and future are absolute. In fact your statements can only make any sense at all if this were the case. The problem is they are not absolute, but relative. Ergo, your statement simply makes no sense.

"Thank you for that link. To reciprocate the favour I have provided a link to a website claiming evolutionary theory is false:"

You have not dealt with what the article says. That this page affirms other questionable things does not matter, so do not bother to keep commenting. Mental experiments does not push me.

"Anyway this might be a slightly superfluous point, as like I stated previously, all one needs really is the (considerable amounts) of direct experimental evidence showing that the principles of relativity are indeed correct."

Nobody denies that. What is denied that this logically implies block universe. But it does not make sense to follow this thread.

"You have not dealt with what the article says. That this page affirms other questionable things does not matter, so do not bother to keep commenting."

Juan,
I totally agree with the basic premise of this paper – that special relativity does not imply determinism. I understand why some people would leap to the conclusion if they are told that, rather than time flowing, it is simply out there in the same way that space is. But think for a minute – does this imply spatial determinism. Clearly it does not. So why conclude there is a temporal one.
I think I am beginning to see why you object to what you are calling the ‘block universe’, but I have never conceptualized the relativistic universe in a way which makes everything deterministic. There are quite a number of logical possibilities which are fully consistent with relativity, but avoid the kind of determinism talked about in this paper.
But this in no way changes the basic premise of relativity, that it is objectively meaningless to talk about past, present and future. And I see nothing in this paper to suggest anything contrary to that basic premise either.

Mark wrote, "Any moment that you regard as a point in your future can be regarded by someone else as a point in their past, or even their present. It is important to stress that this is not something that can be reasonably debated."

I know we're getting into deep waters here, but it seems to me that this point *could* be debated. It assumes that past, present, and future are relative to each individual. But isn't this the very point at issue? If time is objective, then my present is your present, my past is your past, and my future is your future.

I'm writing this on March 13. March 10 is in my past. Yes, someone on March 9 would regard March 10 as his future. But March 9 is already over and done with, and that future has now become the past, both for me and for that other person.

I'm not saying it has to work this way. Maybe time is not objective. But if it is, then what's past is past and what lies ahead lies ahead - for everyone. Right?

Michael Prescott

“I know we're getting into deep waters here, but it seems to me that this point *could* be debated.”

Literally anything can be debated, and in philosophical circles usually is. The links which have been presented to me so far on this thread as ‘evidence’ of the debatable nature of relative time have been written by philosophers. I have absolutely nothing against philosophers, and greatly admire the works of people such as Wittgenstein. But the subject can at times become quite detached from the empirical evidence which has a bearing on the issues concerned.

“It assumes that past, present, and future are relative to each individual. But isn't this the very point at issue?”

No, and I have explained very clearly the reason why. Firstly I have to take issue with the word ‘assume’ which has been used a number of times in relation to what I have stated concerning relativity. I assume nothing, but merely relate what I know about the subject. I feel I can be reasonably authoritative in what I am saying since I have formally studied relativity at university, so do know what I am talking about. And I am not getting my information from dodgy websites or popular science books, but from proper academic resources. The people I am having been conversing with on this thread who have been accusing me of assuming things simply do not understand the theory of relativity. I am not having a pop at them simply because they disagree with a personal viewpoint I hold. I am not relating a personal viewpoint at all in fact, much less making assumptions. I only relate well-established facts.

I have already stated words to this effect on previous posts on this thread, but will repeat here for the sake of easy reference.

Any two people who are moving at a relative velocity to each other will disagree about whether events happen at the same time, and will potentially disagree on whether one event happened before or after another event. We are unaccustomed to this effect simply because in our everyday life we tend to move at comparatively low velocities with respect to each other. If our relative velocities became comparable to the speed of light however we would feel this effect quite acutely.

Repeatedly on this thread there have been statements suggesting the present moment has some kind of privileged status, specifically in relation to the past or future. But whose ‘present moment’ do we select? The critical point which is being missed on this thread is that if someone is in a different inertial frame to us, they will experience a present moment which is different to our present moment. The really critical point to understand here, and which I suspect is not being really understood, is that this other person’s perspective of the present moment has exactly equal status to ours. So how can we maintain there is an objective moment in time called ‘now’. We can’t.

This is the key to understanding the relative nature of time. There is no objective ‘now moment’, or future, or past. They will all differ depending on the reference frame of the observer. One could only maintain this is a matter of debate for as long as one does not understand the relevant concepts, or doubts the experimental evidence which provides empirical evidence of the truth of relativistic principles. It is equivalent to someone claiming the Pythagoras’ theorem is open to interpretation. Anyone who understands the relevant concepts would never make such a claim. And so it is with the relative nature of time.

“If time is objective, then my present is your present, my past is your past, and my future is your future.”

Yes, if time is objective that conclusion is perfectly valid. The problem is that it is not.

“I'm writing this on March 13. March 10 is in my past. Yes, someone on March 9 would regard March 10 as his future. But March 9 is already over and done with, and that future has now become the past, both for me and for that other person.”

That is simply not the case. See my comment above.

“I'm not saying it has to work this way. Maybe time is not objective. But if it is, then what's past is past and what lies ahead lies ahead - for everyone. Right?”

Yes, perfectly correct. But time is not objective, and that is an objective and proven fact.

I just downloaded this Kindle Single, which serendipitously popped up in an email from Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01JGM5T4E/

It's called The Time Illusion, by science writer John Gribben, and it apparently explains this issue in relativistic terms. For the nonce, I still find it perplexing. Not saying I disagree - only that I don't get it.

I haven't tread Gribbin's monograph yet, but I did want to make a couple more comments. Mark wrote,

"One could only maintain this is a matter of debate for as long as one does not understand the relevant concepts, or doubts the experimental evidence which provides empirical evidence of the truth of relativistic principles."

I think there's a misunderstanding here involving the difference between evidence and proof. Strictly speaking, it's not possible to prove a theory. The best we can do is fail in our attempts to disprove it. The more such tests a theory passes, the more confidence we are entitled to have in it. But the possibility always remains that the theory will be invalidated by new evidence or by a superior understanding. For example Newtonian physics passed nearly all the tests and was considered rock-solid -- until it was superseded by quantum theory.

Empirical evidence can provide support for a theory, but this is not proof. Plenty of evidence supports Newtonian physics, but quantum physics has still replaced it. This is because evidence can be used to support more than one conclusion.

"It is equivalent to someone claiming the Pythagoras’ theorem is open to interpretation."

No. There's a difference between analytic and synthetic propositions. The theorems of geometry are analytic propositions, statements that are self-evident once one accepts their internal logic. They are similar to tautologies like "all bachelors are unmarried."

Relativity theory is a synthetic proposition -- a conclusion based on a certain interpretation of empirical evidence. This is why Einstein said that his theory would stand or fall according to the outcome of empirical experiments, notably the deflection of solar light during an eclipse.

http://www.einstein-online.info/spotlights/light_deflection

So far, relativity has passed all its tests, which makes it a strong, robust, generally accepted theory. But not undisprovable.

Michael Prescott

Thank you for that thoughtful and insightful reply. You are making a serious attempt to understand the relevant issues and engage in an intelligent way. This is commendable behaviour. Please see my comments below however.

MP: “I think there's a misunderstanding here involving the difference between evidence and proof. Strictly speaking, it's not possible to prove a theory. The best we can do is fail in our attempts to disprove it. The more such tests a theory passes, the more confidence we are entitled to have in it. But the possibility always remains that the theory will be invalidated by new evidence or by a superior understanding. For example Newtonian physics passed nearly all the tests and was considered rock-solid -- until it was superseded by quantum theory.”

ME: Newtonian physics and quantum theory are often portrayed in popular science books as having fundamentally different epistemologies. Newtonian physics allegedly has a definite world-view associated with it, namely the reality we perceive with our senses (in fact classical mechanics is often referred to as a refinement of our common sense intuitions). Quantum mechanics on the other hand is allegedly a mere calculus for predicting the outcomes of experiments. This view is only half right however. It is true the QM is merely a calculation tool, but strictly speaking so is Newtonian mechanics. The difference is that the mathematical variables of Newtonian mechanics stands in a one-to-one correspondence to the objects of our perceived reality. As a result we automatically attach a world-view (in this case our perceived reality) onto what is in reality a purely mathematical framework for calculating results. This one-to-one correspondence completely breaks down with QM however, so we are not tempted, as we are with Newtonian mechanics, to fall into the same insidious trap of implicitly assuming an intrinsic world-view associated with the mathematical tool we use for simply making calculations.

Once one is aware of this process the idea of Newtonian mechanics being disproved quickly starts to become quite meaningless. Of course, what has needed to be abandoned is the world-view which was automatically associated with Newtonian mechanics. But this was only attributed to the theory for psychological reasons (ie. we simply assumed it because it corresponds to the world we see) rather than because the theory itself was inextricably linked to a particular world-view. The mathematical framework of Newtonian physics itself is just fine, with the caveat that we can only use it effectively as a limiting case of the full generality of physical parameters. What has basically happened is the same that has repeatedly happened since that time – a mathematical framework is subsumed into a broader mathematical framework, which is useful for a wider range of circumstances. This happened when the original quantum mechanics was subsumed into the broader quantum field theory, which was then subsumed into the string theory, and eventually superstring/M theory. This means that the purely mathematical framework we refer to as Newtonian mechanics is in effect an inextricable part of quantum mechanics, so therefore is not incorrect (otherwise we simply couldn't use it, and we do, all the time). To suggest otherwise is equivalent to suggesting that quantum mechanics is wrong, which can't be the case because CM has simply been subsumed into the broader mathematical framework we call QM. (As a side note, string theory has yet to be tested empirically, so we do not yet know whether this theory is correct. This stands in contrast to QFT, which has an absolutely staggering amount of evidence to support it).

Now back to relativity. I have been very clear on this thread that I very seriously doubt whether the mathematical construct we refer to as space-time has any direct ontological reality (probably an understatement as I am virtually certain of this). What I am saying in effect is that relativity is just like Newtonian mechanics and QM in that it is merely a calculus for predicting results. In this sense relativity will never be incorrect, unless of course the laws of physics themselves change.

In summary it is only world-views which change, not the mathematics or the empirical results.

Whatever theory is developed in the future, certain truths will remain. Take Newtonian physics for example. It will always be true that when we push an object it will move. The fact that we have re-conceptualized what a force is does not change that one jot. Nor does it change the fact that we have mathematics which can predict the trajectories of objects, providing we have sufficient knowledge of initial conditions and the dynamic laws governing the motion of the object. With quantum mechanics we are forced to accept the reality of entanglement. This phenomena will not simply disappear with the advent of new theories. And with relativity, we are forced to accept the reality of the relative nature of time. This will not also not change with the advent of new theories.

You are of course referring to the fact that science works by induction when you state that it is only possible to disprove rather than prove. I am very familiar with the types of discourses found in philosophy books under the topic of philosophy of science, and it is all very convincing whilst you are reading it. Despite the fact that science is admittedly an inductive process, it is highly misleading to conclude we do not prove things. Let me use an analogy to explain why. Take a normal die. What is the probability of rolling ten billion consecutive sixes? I am not going to bother calculating this, but obviously the probability is infinitesimally small, far lower than the (slightly arbitrary) threshold probability which defines an event as being practically impossible. The fact that the probability of this event is not equal to zero means that this event is theoretically possible however. At this stage you might see where I am going with this. Certainly anyone who is aware of the truly staggering amount of experimental evidence supporting quantum field theory and relativity would immediately see why this is a very fitting analogy. Basically there is so much evidence supporting theories such as relativity and QFT that the idea they are not proven is somewhat academic.

Just to be clear I am not denying that science technically works by induction, only that it is misleading to believe we are not proving things. This is only theoretical, in the same sense that rolling billions of consecutive sixes is theoretically possible.

MP: “Empirical evidence can provide support for a theory, but this is not proof. Plenty of evidence supports Newtonian physics, but quantum physics has still replaced it. This is because evidence can be used to support more than one conclusion.”

ME: Not true in the relevant sense (see above). It is only world-views which change, like I explained above. I will add the caveat that I am talking exclusively about physics. Each branch of science has its own methodologies, and has to be taken on its own merits. It is not acceptable to refute what I am saying here by appealing to 'scientific theories' developed by Freud etc.

MP: “No. There's a difference between analytic and synthetic propositions. The theorems of geometry are analytic propositions, statements that are self-evident once one accepts their internal logic. They are similar to tautologies like "all bachelors are unmarried."
Relativity theory is a synthetic proposition -- a conclusion based on a certain interpretation of empirical evidence. This is why Einstein said that his theory would stand or fall according to the outcome of empirical experiments, notably the deflection of solar light during an eclipse.
http://www.einstein-online.info/spotlights/light_deflection
So far, relativity has passed all its tests, which makes it a strong, robust, generally accepted theory. But not undisprovable.”

ME: Very good point, and something I was acutely aware of. But my statement is still perfectly valid. I just need to qualify it some more, which I will do here.

First and foremost it is definitely valid to say that anyone who understands relativity will never claim that time is not relative. The only way this could happen is if they had such a strong prejudice that it prevents them from seeing the obvious. This does sometimes happen of course, and is called denial. But this aside, there is no way someone could claim that time is not relative if they understood relativity. Perhaps I precipitated this objection by using a geometric analogy, and should probably not have done so. But I make absolutely no apologies for claiming that understanding relativity is equivalent to understanding the relative nature of time. I will stand by that comment 100%

The geometric analogy was not incorrect in the sense in which I was applying it, despite your correct observation of the distinction between analytic and synthetic propositions. I merely meant to draw attention to something else which was definitely true, and could not be denied provided one understood the relevant concepts, and Pythagoras' theorem was a good example as any.

The point is that we have a mathematical theory called relativity which agrees with empirical results. The empirical results will not change and the fact that the mathematics predicts the results will not change. What does happen sometimes is a new situation is found where the mathematics doesn't work. This will ultimately result (if history is anything to go by) in a broader mathematical framework, and possibly a re-conceptualization of certain concepts. But for the reasons I have already stated here, it will not change certain things. Objects still moved when pushed, entanglement will still happen, and time is still relative.

So the only thing which might change in the future is our world-view. But the world-view will HAVE to incorporate the fact that what we are calling time (whatever that actually is) IS relative. This will never change. To suggest otherwise is equivalent to people who suggest that physics will go full circle back to Newtonian mechanics again (please see one of my previous posts to see why this is impossible in principle).

In summary, you have raised some good points here Michael. I am not dogmatic, and if any point is raised which legitimately undermines what I have stated I will readily concede to that fact. It's just that this hasn't happened so far.


@ Mark Green:

"Implicit in Juan’s, and your own statement, is the idea that past, present and future are absolute."

Not at all. Whitehead - and Henry Stapp who followed in his footsteps - accept relativity.

Time is a measurement change. Change cannot be an illusion, since even the illusion of change means the illusion is changing.

Time has to exist at some level of reality, and moreso everyone acknowledges this reality over and over whereas the "Time is Illusion" experience is only isolated experiences - and as noted in Beyond Physicalism even those experiences when actually read still indicate passage of time.

Here is a paper on Whitehead and Time:

Time and Temporality – from Whitehead to quantum physics

https://whiteheadresearch.org/occasions/conferences/beyond-metaphysics/papers/KloseJ-TimeAndTemporality.pdf

Scrolling up to see what I missed I notice Mark Green has peppered his replies with condescending ad hominems, that any objections come from philosophers who don't understand science like he does (apparently he took a physics class in college, pardon if I don't bow to that level of expertise).

Here's material from physicist Lee Smolin on the reality of time, starting with an entire free book:

http://robertounger.com/english/pdfs/singularuniverse.pdf

Here's a lecture on the subject:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATxi0_-7HqQ

@ SPatel:

"Implicit in Juan’s, and your own statement, is the idea that past, present and future are absolute."
Not at all. Whitehead - and Henry Stapp who followed in his footsteps - accept relativity.

There are many debates where people are unwittingly disagreeing because they are defining certain key terms differently without realizing it. For that reason I have been very clear on precisely what I mean when I say time is an illusion. It is possible that I agree with the opinions of some people who say that time is not an illusion. If you really, as claimed above, accept time is relative, then you can't fail to see that time is an illusion in the sense that I claimed it is an illusion on this thread, as it simply follows automatically from the fact that time is relative. I have explained precisely the reason why this is the case in previous posts, but no one as yet has specifically challenged those arguments.

“Time is a measurement change. Change cannot be an illusion, since even the illusion of change means the illusion is changing.”

The claim that change cannot be an illusion is demonstrably false. Firstly, one might believe something is changing when it is not. I have seen numerous examples of this in my life. An example of the top of my head are optical illusions, which give the illusion that static objects are moving. Check this link out for instance: https://uk.pinterest.com/kat7859/optical-illusion-pictures/

Also one can experience change where there isn't any. For instance, when someone experiences problems in the inner ear, such as with conditions like vertigo, they can experience sensations such as spinning and swaying, even when they are in a stationary position. Hence the illusion of change when there is none.

However I do not necessarily deny that something is changing anyway, and this follows on nicely from my previous point. I have never denied there is a change in some kind of sense, which is VERY CLEAR if you were to bother to read my previous posts. It is possible that a person could call this change 'time', but this is merely a semantic argument, something I anticipated earlier on, which is why I bought the issue of semantics in a previous post. I suggested that we travel through time rather than time flowing. One could call this flowing through time, time itself. I don't disagree with that. What I am claiming is the thing we specifically refer to as time is not flowing, and that follows immediately from the fact that time is relative (again see my previous posts to see why this is, where I explain in detail why this necessarily must be the case).


Time has to exist at some level of reality, and moreso everyone acknowledges this reality over and over whereas the "Time is Illusion" experience is only isolated experiences - and as noted in Beyond Physicalism even those experiences when actually read still indicate passage of time.

Everyone experiences the sun rising and falling as well, but this still does not make it true!!!!


Scrolling up to see what I missed I notice Mark Green has peppered his replies with condescending ad hominems, that any objections come from philosophers who don't understand science like he does (apparently he took a physics class in college, pardon if I don't bow to that level of expertise).


You clearly do not understand the term ad hominem. This refers to a logical fallacy where the critisism levelled against a person is completely irrelevant to the issue at hand. A couple of examples are: implying that someone who is on trial for murder do not have a good sense of humour, or someone who is accused of shoplifting are not very good at chemistry (of course ad hominem is usually more nuanced than this, I merely use striking examples for the sake of illustration). The level of knowledge that philosophers have relative to physicists on the subject of physics is relevant to this debate. Therefore even if you disagree with what I am saying, to assuse me of the logical fallacy called ad hominem is failing to understand what the term means.

Anyway despite what you say, I am fairly sure you believe the same as be. Would you claim that philosophers typically understand chemistry to the level that chemists do, or biology to the level that biologists typically do? Of course not. So lets not bother debating something when there is nothing to debate.

And I have not portrayed myself as an expert physicist. I only claim to understand relativity better than the people who I have been debating on this thread. And this is becoming ever more apparent.

My personal view, which I admit is purely speculative, is that change does take place, but it takes place "behind the scenes," so to speak. The analogy I would use is a computer screen. The graphics appear to move around, but actually they are static. The illusion of movement is produced by the screen's rapid refresh rate; during each new refresh, the arrangement of pixels is altered slightly, so that, much like a projected movie, a series of still pictures is invested with the appearance of motion.

What really changes are the values in the calculations performed by the information processing technology under the hood. And since a single change in an algorithm can affect pixels in any part of the screen (even in opposite corners), it is possible to make sweeping changes instantaneously and simultaneously - just as, at the quantum level, it is possible to alter the spin of one entangled particle by changing the complementary spin of its partner, instantly, at any distance. From an information-matrix perspective, there is no space, and time is defined by the rate of screen refreshes.

I think this notion also suggests a solution to Zeno's paradox of the arrow. The arrow is never in motion; it is always static. But with each screen refresh, it occupies a different position. It is thus both moving (in the sense of occupying progressively advanced points in space) and static (whenever it is observed). Its movement takes place, in effect, between frames or behind the scenes.

Just an idea. Could be wrong, of course.

Sorry about all the typos and grammatical mistakes in my previous post. I quickly typed it up very early in the morning before work, hence the sub-standard level of writing. Please accept my humble apologies for this.

The only person speaking any sense on this thread at the moment (apart from myself of course) is Michael Prescott. I don't agree with everything he says but he has clearly made an effort to understand the underlying subject matter, and generally comes up with quite sensible comments. His latest post is a case in point, where I broadly agree with what he says. The only thing I would pull him up on is Zeno's Paradox, which in fact was satisfactorily resolved by mathematicians some time ago, using the concept of limits which underlies differential calculus. This is an example of what I spoke about before where philosophy can become a bit detached from evidence which has a direct bearing on the matter at hand. Apart from this, I cannot fault what was said in Michael's latest post.

Just to be clear, I have absolutely nothing against philosophers. I have read a lot of philosophy myself, and would not waste my time doing so if I thought they had nothing to offer. But it would not be reasonable to expect philosophers to typically have the same level of specialist knowledge and understanding as a relevant expert in the field. This is just common sense. Generally speaking, if there is a conflict between scientists and philosophers, it is usually the philosophers who are wrong, simply because they have failed to fully understand the theory. This can particularly be the case with theoretical physics, where there can be nuances that are best appreciated by being intimately familiar with both the experimental methodologies and theoretical framework underlying the theory. There is only so much understanding one can get from a purely qualitative discussion of theoretical physics. Philosophers (at least the better ones) can often do a great job of understanding the many intricacies and nuances of theoretical physics, but they don't always get it right, and that is often because they simply don't understand the theory adequately enough.

Just to correct a couple of errors on my previous post, I meant to provide an example of change where there appears there is none, and a perception of change when nothing is changing. Instead I provided two examples of a perception of change where there isn't any (well it was 5.30 in the morning, and I was still waking up). An example of something changing which is not readily detectable is the orbital motion and spinning of the Earth. We feel we are standing on a motionless planet, but we are of course hurtling through space and spinning around on the axis of the Earth. Of course, we have now seen through the illusion, but the basic point is that change and perception of change are two completely separate things, ergo change CAN be an illusion!!!

I think I was probably clear enough on my discussion of the logical fallacy called ad hominem, but just to make things a bit clearer: I mentioned the hypothetical case of a man standing trial for murder. Like I stated, if someone were to insinuate this person's guilt on the basis that he didn't have a sense of humour that would be an example of committing the logical fallacy referred to as ad hominem. This is because, whether the claim was true or not, it would have no relevant bearing on whether the man was guilty of murder (it is of course possible to conjure up contrived examples where this might be relevant, but in general this would not be the case). On the other hand, if one were to claim that this man had a bad temper, this would not necessarily be committing a logical fallacy (although again, this might depend on the specific details of the case). Even if it was a false claim, there would not be a logical fallacy, merely a false allegation. And just to reiterate, real life examples of ad hominem are usually far more subtle and more difficult to detect than my hypothetical examples suggest. I merely used extreme and obvious examples to explain the concept (as clearly it did need to be explained to certain people).

@ Mark Green

I see a lot of attempts to walk back the insults you leveled at those who disagree with you. Juan posted a link relevant to the discussion, but rather than examine it you posted someone from another site about how evolution is false. You also didn't address his points, merely sidestepped them and said his/her supposed stupidity makes you look like a genius (not really, try not to get high on your supply - it just made you look like a royal twat.)

You continually insinuate that people who disagree with you is your intellectual inferior when it comes to understanding relativity.

Thus you seem like someone desperate to convince others that time is an illusion,to the point you try to shame those you disagree.

This is something we see from "skeptics" all the time and suffice to say the person who employs these dishonest tactics makes their understanding seem less and less reliable.

In any case your arguments against time being a measurement of change seem as bad to me as eliminativist arguments attacking consciousness as an "illusion". In the same way one can be mistaken about the contents of consciousness but are not mistaken that they experienced *something*, the fact people made mistakes (note your own use of the past tense and acknowledgement of Time) does not transfer over to saying Time is illusory.

If change exists, Time exists in some sense since we can mark t1 as the point before change and t2 as the time after change.

As a friend of mine once said, delay paying someone who thinks Time is an illusion and you'll quickly find they are very invested in the reality of time.

@ Michael:

Interesting, I like the screen refresh idea. It reminds me of Julian Barbour's work discussing the Time is Illusion idea:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K49rmobsPcY

There are some really interesting simulationist ideas floating around though my favorite is the one I belabor when I get the chance - Arvans Peer to Peer Hypothesis:

https://www.p2p-simulation-hypothesis.com/

In fact it might be possible to reconcile Whitehead's ideas where each of us is experiencing our own window of time *and* the idea of the Eternalist that everything has happened. In this metaphysics everything has happened *potentially* in a Multiverse Block Universe, but Consciousness running through a particular block that transforms Potential to Actual.

@ SPatel
“I see a lot of attempts to walk back the insults you leveled at those who disagree with you.”

Since it is only you and Juan who have been disagreeing with my posts, and I have not backtracked on any of my responses to either you or him, then I assume you must be referring to my last comment where I said I did not have anything against philosophers or otherwise I would not read philosophy. This is in no way inconsistent with any of my previous posts. If you read my posts and assumed what I said as indicative of the fact that I did not like philosophers then that is only down to your assumptions. But no, I have not done any backtracking as far as I can see. All my posts are fully consistent. I find inconsistency in your posts however. You have been vehemently arguing with my claim that time is not real, which I find very hard to reconcile with your post to Michael Prescott below. Perhaps you are projecting when you insinuate I am being inconsistent with my posts?

“Juan posted a link relevant to the discussion, but rather than examine it you posted someone from another site about how evolution is false.”

This confirms my suspicions, that you quickly perused my posts and got from them what you were looking for. It is called confirmation bias. Look again and you will find that I did address the paper you are referring to.

“ You also didn't address his points, merely sidestepped them and said his/her supposed stupidity makes you look like a genius (not really, try not to get high on your supply - it just made you look like a royal twat.)”

Yes I have addressed what he said. Again you are finding what you were already presupposing. Look again. You will find that Juan did not address any of my main arguments. On the other hand I went into some detail to explain why I did not agree with certain statements which Juan made. (And talking of royal twats, your overt bias here makes you look like one. Pot kettle black!)

“You continually insinuate that people who disagree with you is your intellectual inferior when it comes to understanding relativity.”

I do not assume people who disagree with my views are intellectually inferior to me. But if someone demonstrates they do not understand relativity, then I do end up coming to the conclusion that I understand the theory of relativity more than they do. Seems fair enough to me.

“Thus you seem like someone desperate to convince others that time is an illusion,to the point you try to shame those you disagree.”

I have no emotion invested at all in whether or not time is an illusion. And I can just as legitimately make the same allegation against people who have been passionately arguing against me. There have been two sides to this debate, so it is absurd to level allegations against me because I have been engaged in a two sided debate. I don’t really think you have thought through what you have written here at all.

“This is something we see from "skeptics" all the time and suffice to say the person who employs these dishonest tactics makes their understanding seem less and less reliable.”

What dishonest tactics? And what do you suppose I am sceptical of? I have offered some very good arguments here to back up what I have been saying. They have not directly been addressed. So no, I am not guilty of any dishonest tactics.

“In any case your arguments against time being a measurement of change…”

I have argued no such thing. I am beginning to get the impression you have either not read my posts or simply not assimilated what I have written. But your above claim is patently false.

“In the same way one can be mistaken about the contents of consciousness but are not mistaken that they experienced *something* ”

Totally agree with this statement, but can’t see exactly where I have indicated anything contrary to this view.

“ the fact people made mistakes (note your own use of the past tense and acknowledgement of Time)”

WOW! Sorry, but this statement is a complete non-argument. Don’t you think that ALL the people in the history of philosophy and science who have ever argued that time is an illusion use the past tense!? It is called grammar. This is one of the most silliest arguments I have ever seen!

“If change exists, Time exists in some sense since we can mark t1 as the point before change and t2 as the time after change.”

Again an absurd argument, and one which indicates you have little or no understanding of relativity. I am not going to directly refute your statement here, as all you need to do is read my previous posts (something which I don’t think you have done despite your claims) and you will see why this statement is incorrect. Either that or read a relativity text book.

“As a friend of mine once said, delay paying someone who thinks Time is an illusion and you'll quickly find they are very invested in the reality of time.”

More silliness, and again, very hard to reconcile with what you wrote below to Michael Prescott.

@ Mark Green:

The difference between what I wrote to you and Michael is the difference in respect I have for the two of you. I can disagree with Michael's position on something but since he manages to argue without weasel attempts to insult people in an underhanded fashion I can also point him to ideas he might find of interest.

In any case you keep skipping over criticism or simply pretending that your insulting statements were not meant to be insulting.

Not sure it's worth arguing with someone who thinks they have some great understanding of relaity after taking a few college physics courses but runs away from any argument that might contradict him because it comes from philosophers.

There's a whole book that I posted above by Lee Smolin - a trained physicist - and Roberto Unger arguing for why Time is Real. Serious interlocutors can look there though I'm sure Mark Green will find some way to condescendingly dismiss even Smolin's educational background.

SPatel, you might find this essay of mine somewhat interesting:

http://michaelprescott.net/n-space.html

It expands on the information-processing idea. I also talked a little bit about this notion in my paranormal novella "Chasing Omega."

I first delved into these ideas by reading a website called Bottom Layer, which was offline for a while. Happily it is now back:

http://www.bottomlayer.com/

@ SPatel
One of the most striking things in all this is your statement:

“In fact it might be possible to reconcile Whitehead's ideas where each of us is experiencing our own window of time *and* the idea of the Eternalist that everything has happened. In this metaphysics everything has happened *potentially* in a Multiverse Block Universe, but Consciousness running through a particular block that transforms Potential to Actual.”

It is striking because it is perfectly congruent with everything I have been saying on this thread (providing you don’t take small snippets out of context). You say I have been running away from arguments, but you have been arguing with me all this time despite not having bothered to make the effort to understand what I have been saying (and it is not like I haven’t been clear!) It seems you actually agree with me after all this! You ASSUMED a certain meaning to my claim that “time is an illusion” despite the fact that I went to great lengths to explain PRECISELY what I meant by this. Yet your criticisms of me were supposedly as a result of reading what I have written. Like I said, confirmation bias!

Like I stated before, I did address both papers which Juan provided a link to. I had two basic options with the first paper, which was lengthy, technical and detailed. I could have answered it meaningfully, which would have meant spending a considerable amount of time explaining the fundamentals of relativity, ideally using equations, and then explaining why the paper went off track with respect to this. The other option was to briefly read, assimilate, and acknowledge the paper, and comment briefly on it, which is what I did. The second paper I basically agreed with (which was essentially claiming that relative time did not entail a deterministic universe, something I have never personally believed). So I correspondingly wrote a post explaining my agreement with this paper. On the other had all my main arguments were simply skimmed over, and the same old assertions were repeatedly made. I have responded at length to the criticisms levelled against my posts concerning relativity, but these explanations were largely ignored. Despite these facts, you still continue to accuse me of running away from arguments. This is what I meant when I said you just arrived at the conclusion you wanted to. You did not really bother to meaningfully examine what I had written, nor did you meaningfully examine the responses to what I had written.

The comment I made where I stated that Juan was making me feel like a genius was more tongue in cheek than might have come across. Having said this, it does leave me legitimately open to the allegation that I am trying to belittle people in an effort to strengthen my claim that what I am saying is the correct point of view. I fully accept this. So despite the fact that was not my intention, I totally accept the fact that this justifies people accusing me of this strategy. That is fair enough. But virtually all my other comments which you claimed were derogatory were simply me stating that other people’s responses indicated a lack of understanding of relativity. In a sense these might be a derogatory comments, but they were nonetheless justified. If someone claimed that the square root of 25 is 7 you might claim that this person did not understand the relevant mathematical concepts. So stating essentially the same thing in a different context is not necessarily an example of belittling someone because they disagree with you. All you have done is simply assume that is the case because you are assuming that the comments I were referring to did not reflect a lack of understanding of relativity. This however is an incorrect assumption on your part.

And like I stated before, I have never said anything to suggest I am some kind of physics guru. My claim to understand relativity more than the people I am currently debating does not entail this viewpoint at all.

You have been enormously hypocritical by accusing me of skimming over other peoples’ comments, when you have done exactly the same with mine. From your comment to Michael Prescott quoted above, you essentially seem to agree with what I have been writing, but you never took the time to read my posts properly. I know this because one of the things I certainly cannot be accused of is being unclear about precisely what my views are. Like I said in my previous post to you – pot kettle black!

I know I'm late to the discussion here, but it occurs to me that perhaps a fear of eternity could be interpreted from a traditional Buddhist perspective as a fear of samsara, i.e., the endless turning of the wheel of suffering. In other words, samsara is a kind of "bad infinite" (Hegel) or the eternal return of the same: life --> suffering --> death --> rebirth. In other words, what these persons who fear eternity are, on some level, intuiting the vanity of samsara and don't know how to get out samsara or come back in the "right" way (i.e., as a bodhisattva). Just a speculative thought.

"I totally agree with the basic premise of this paper – that special relativity does not imply determinism."

So we agree, since if relativity does not imply determinism and block universe implies determinism, relativity does not imply block universe.

The idea that relativity implies block universe is based on that according to relativity, if a region of space-time is entirely defined, then all regions of space-time are entirely defined. But I deny the premise, namely, no region of space-time is defined at least entirely, due to the principle of indeterminacy. Then the conclusion is not followed.

Then the idea that time and consciousness exist subjectively but not objectively makes no sense: if I perceive a broken stick under water (optical illusion), the broken stick does not exist objectively but only subjectively. But when the object we are dealing with is the experience of the broken stick itself. Does it exist objectively or subjectively? Both, because the subject has become an object. Something happens, that the experience exists already makes it exist objectively, invalidating any eliminativism about the time.

On the NDEs and the time, I can argue that although some NDErs have realized their life as if it were a series of frames placed at the same time, that does not imply that all the reality is a block, because the NDErs have had to perceive those moments from their perspective, which means time, be out of timeless block. Then we can imagine another higher level from which the NDEr is observed perceiving its moments, all at the same time, but in turn this is done from a perspective, that is, time and change. And so on to infinity. If there is a last level of reality where the lower levels are block (although I disagree with this), then it can not be inhabited by a subject (a perspective), so that is entirely detached from epistemology and is nonsense.

Juan

I thought the block universe concept was appropriate in the sense that it portrays the fact that time does not flow. But to the degree that it causes people to believe in a deterministic universe I don’t think it is appropriate.

This is not a concept I have personally come across in any academic literature. I think this concept probably arises in philosophy and popular science. And for good reason. Implying determinism is definitely going beyond the known facts. Suggesting time does not flow does not go beyond the known facts.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)