Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The clock shows the wrong time.

I think it's time we had a discussion on the nature of time. Now there seem to be two main theories of time; one where all time exists as a dimension, and the present moves along/through this time, and the other where only the present exists, and time flows through the present. The first is useful for explaining scientific concepts and the second for theories of identity that allow for alteration, and even complete divorces from and creation of a new identity in the one self, which is obviously disallowed under the first concept of time.

Now as far as I understand it the first concept of time gained momentem because of relativity, allowing supposed movement back and forward through time. the trouble with this is that the person traveling through time doesn't actually have time flow differently for him; it is only in relation to others.

So my idea is that the first idea of time is purely analytical, as concepts of duality in personhood have been accused of being so in the "Question for Theologists" discussion. If this is the case then obviously Augustine must be right if there is a god, in saying that time is just one of god's creations, explaining how he can be perfectly transcendental. In which case the first concept of time is (at least partially) correct because of god's nature. Now we have a contradiction. So either god doesn't exist or the first concept of time is the correct one.

So if we take the first idea of time to be the correct one, then god is not outside of time, and thus cannot be prefectly transcendental, so obviously not god. Again, we have a contradiction, so either god does not exist or the second conception of time is the correct one. Which brings us full circle.

I think it's entertaining, how about you?


Samuel Douglas said...

It's entertaining alright(though maybe not for the right reasons).

I personaly have a soft spot for the 'time as a vector' model (similar to your 'time as a dimension' conception). I might add that the only time I really 'understood' this I was let us say, 'dimensionally challenged'.

Samuel Douglas said...

Don't think you have gotten off lightly either, I'm not finished with this post yet.

michael said...

Come on, Sam: at least expound your theory on a vector model of time while we're waiting!

Samuel Douglas said...

I'm not sure that there is alot to tell. basically the idea is more or less in line with what might be characterised 'tesseract' or 'manifold' theories of time/space. These views typically see the universe as a 4 dimensional space (time being one dimension etc). As far as I can tell, the handy thing about this is that things that are travelling at the speed of light treat time in the same way that we treat distance. Another way of putting this is that from the point of view of light, time is a distance.

This is used to great effect by fiction writers such as AA Atanasio who speculates that conciousness is a waveform of light, and that when it is freed from our physical bodies by death it continues forever, untouched, but not outside of time as it were.

I have never really been able to get my head around this. If 'now' is 'here' and then is 'somewhere' else, then why are we stuck 'here' on our way to 'there'? One answer that springs to mind is that if we could move at the speed of light, then maybe we could. It does not matter.Testing these sort of theories is a long way off yet. But at least it is not logically impossible to test them, just very, very unlikely to happen any time soon.

michael said...

I'm unclear, so I'm going to attempt an illustration of what I think you mean and then you can correct me.

So if we draw a line from a given point, and make it a straight line, and extend it to a certain length and draw an arrow head on it to show direction or such; and then we draw another line, starting from the same point as the first started, but of a curved nature such that it does eventually cross the first line drawn. Now obviously from the origin to the intersection the curved line is longer than the straight. Does this represent the idea that if these arrows represent two people's movements through time (where time is a dimension), then the person who had followed the curved line would have experienced more time than the person who followed the straight?

Or, since light 'sees' time as a distance, that time and distance are somehow the same dimension, in the same way that the x axis could be swapped with the y or z axis and a similar picture (altered only by reflection) would result. If this is the closer version my question is how it relates/translates to relevance for conscious beings.

michael said...

Just a clarification: the arrows in the first were supposed to show relative speed, so the curved arrow was supposed to be moving faster than the non-curved.