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Does time exist?

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In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 7:15:46 AM PDT
D. Thomas says:
Three words that pretty much tell the story. Perfect.

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 7:23:32 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 30, 2012 11:44:08 AM PDT
D. Thomas says:
The initial state and earliest stage is still an unknown, but after the first 10 seconds divided by a FACTOR of 37 (I think that's right), the BB has been been time-lined down to exceedingly small increments; small fractions of a trillionth of a second. But even the most imaginative theoretical physicists have trouble with the initial state and what might have preceded it.

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 7:45:00 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 30, 2012 11:46:31 AM PDT
D. Thomas says:
CC wrote: "But time itself is surely man-made..."

I don't get that at all. It's not as though nature does things all at once and we create artificial intervals and timespans. If you think reality is an objective fact, i.e., that the universe is real, then you have no choice but to recognize time as one of its properties. Most, if not all, living things perceive intervals and timespans and act in accordance with them. And non-living things, from sub-atomic particles to supernovae, change over time, not instantaneously. Mankind differs from the rest of nature in only one respect: we can measure time and have been doing so for tens of thousands of years.

I'm not sure what you mean by "eternity." Given the wide variation among modern cosmologies (brane theory, the flat universe; the various theories of the multiverse, etc.) the word seems to be losing its meaning. Does it encompass only the duration of this universe? What about prior to the Big Bang and after this universe runs out of energy and matter? What if there are other universes?

I don't think "eternity" has a part to play in modern cosmology. It has become primarily a religious term.

As to the relevance of the age of the universe, as Brian Cox points out at the end of each segment of the Wonders of the Universe, we have a strong desire to know the answer to the big questions, "Where did we come from? How did we get here?" The age of the universe may not affect what you buy at the supermarket, but it matters a lot to cosmologists and astronomers. It helps them measure other aspects of the cosmos. I won't get into the specifics here, but it's an important element in answering the question, "What are we made of?"

Nor do I understand what you mean by "accident." That suggests that some things are purposeful and others aren't, and that in turn implies the existence of a conscious creator being, a religious belief which hasn't been - and probably can't be - supported by empirical evidence.

What do you mean by "it" in the last sentence?

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 8:14:27 AM PDT
D. Thomas says:

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 10:37:33 AM PDT
SCL:<<What self-contradiction is there in running a mile in 0.000004 nanoseconds?>>

Although I take the general point that impossibility comes in various flavors, I have to quibble about this particular example. If I counted my zeros correctly, this is around a billion times the speed of light. For many of us with a physical bent, this would involve many problems that get pretty close to being logically self-contradictory.

One example that might be considered problematic is that any hyper-c runner would arrive at the finish line before he left the starting line! (I might add, this would be true for ALL timelike observers.) In which case, what meaning is to be assigned to the (positive) time duration? I would submit that it is logically impossible under the constraints of Relativity for such a time to be measured. You'd have to add a minus sign for this to make any sense. Also, the runner would have to have a mass measured in imaginary units. As such, he could never hold still at the starting line, or stop at the end, since it is relativistically impossible to cross the c barrier--from *either* side.

More generally, I think it turns out to be very difficult in practice to determine what physical situations might involve contradictions of the 'logical' kind, especially in extreme and unfamiliar realms. To eliminate any possible contradiction, it would be necessary to exhaustively explore each & every consequence and implication of the posited situation, and all the physical laws that might be involved/violated. Only very simple systems allow for this sort of exploration, and our physical universe doesn't seem quite this simple to me.

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 10:42:45 AM PDT
mark says:

Yeah, I know, huh. If only Herrs Kant and Nietzsche had written smaller books. Or if I'd read Russell or Quinne first. Or if I just didn't talk so much.


In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 11:16:29 AM PDT
'probabilist says:
<<Measurement requires comparison?>>

Yes. Definitively, yes.

At any rate, this is true of physics. Units must be defined, and all measurements are given as ratios to those definitions. At least, I can't think of any counterexamples. I would be most interested in finding one, if you can provide it. (I am always on the lookout for places where my imagination has failed me.)

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 11:22:48 AM PDT
D. Thomas says:
I've recently been wondering whether philosophy and theology (the study of something that cannot even be shown to exist) have any value whatsoever.

Every claim made by their practitioners is unfalsifiable. No other discipline is dependent upon philosophy or theology, with the possible exception of Ethics, which could easily stand on its own two feet (biology and history).

Neither discipline has made a single discovery, invented a useful device or created a work of art.

Is the universe a better, richer, more meaningful place because of the work of Aquinas, Kant or Nietzsche? I doubt it. (And that's why I'm D. Thomas.)

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 11:33:50 AM PDT
mark says:

Oh, I agree wholeheartedly. Philosophy doesn't objectively advance the species.

But I think it safe to say subjectivity is philosophical, and of course, everyone who thinks is subjective in some respect.

(I think, that's how I am mark)


In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 11:38:58 AM PDT
Please don't put Nietzsche into the same category as pedantic, obtuse, pettifogging philosophizers like Aquinas and Kant.

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 11:48:56 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 30, 2012 12:08:16 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 11:50:41 AM PDT
I don't follow you. What point?

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 11:57:07 AM PDT
mark says:

The point of your philosophy of apparently detesting only some philosophy. Or, your apparent philosophical classification of all philosophy.

No problem.....everyone does it.

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 12:04:12 PM PDT
Agree that the philosophy of a philosopher is subjective, despite most philosophers' insistence that it's objective. (In this I follow Nietzsche, who argues that a philosophy ultimately says a lot more about the philosopher than about the world.)

Do I like N. a lot more than A. and K.? Yes. Is he a lot more fun to read? Yes. Is he more honest (IMO)? Yes. Is he right about everything? Clearly not.

My point is not that his philosophy is "valid" whereas that of A. and K. are not. My point is that classifying someone who wrote so clearly, so well, so pithily (is that a word?), with pedantic, obscurantist blowhards is a travesty.


In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 12:09:53 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 30, 2012 12:12:00 PM PDT
D. Thomas says:
Arrrrgh. I don't follow me either. Post deleted.

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 12:11:27 PM PDT
D. Thomas says:
Point taken.

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 12:37:18 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 30, 2012 12:39:53 PM PDT
But isn't philosophy fun to talk about? Isn't that a value, at least to some of us?

My take is that one useful aspect of philosophy is in its exploration of possibilities, as opposed to actualities. That is, before we can establish what might be physically "true", we need to have imagined it as a possible way of thinking. Granted, quite a lot of philosophical discussion is not all that imaginative... But it does strike me that there are a few cases where these authors (et al.) have broadened the discussion in ways that would not occur to the rank&file working scientist. And every so often, these newly minted modes of thought turn out to be directly inspirational to those who actually produce science that affects us more concretely. (What comes to mind right away are examples such as Spinoza --> Einstein, or Mach --> Einstein.)

For myself, I can safely discount such things as Newton's philosophical/theological ramblings, as do most of us. But I suspect that Newton himself found them necessary, and integral to his process.

It also seems apparent that everyone adopts some sort of philosophy, consciously or otherwise, as they go about their business. Stereotypically, the 'Scientist' has taken to heart materialism, which, it must be noted, was initially invented by philosophers. Finally, many of the influential people in math & science (like Newton, Einstein, Descartes, Leibniz, and more) have made stabs at studying philosophy, and contributed important parts to it. Historically, there wasn't really a line between the two fields such as we have now, with our ever-growing tendency toward specialization. Only fairly recently has it even become feasible to spend one's entire working life in some narrow task-driven pursuit, like cognitive psychology, particle physics, or elliptic functions, where one could plausibly plead that their specific studies were so consumptive that they have no time left over for philosophy.

Even theology seems inspiring to some, even though I, personally, don't understand the attraction of it. (Not that this in any way inhibits my taking part in such discussions--when the spirit moves me!)

The thing is, something doesn't have to be Factually True to be inspirational. It doesn't even have to be potentially true. The truth of it may not even be an issue, and may remain forever inscrutable or indeterminate. But where would we be without the end products of these inspirations? Isn't your very nom-de-plume inspired by a philosophy/theology of skepticism? (Again, even skepticism turns out to be a philosophy!)

What IS a problem is when wrong turns in philosophy get institutionalized, and somehow acquire the force of law. (Aristotle, anyone?) We shouldn't allow these un-demonstrable positions ever to close down the other views, such as happens over and over in the history of religion.

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 2:03:08 PM PDT
mark says:

Agreed, mostly.

I favor Kant, and he is really hard to read, and thereby understand, but I totally agree with his views on knowledge.

The fact I write as he does......Wait a gaul durn minute!!!!!! Are you saying I'm pedantic, obscurantist and blowhard-ish?

No wonder I get no favorable votes. ROFL.


In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 2:54:08 PM PDT
Well, N. read K. too, so not all his readers are like him.

Glad you were able to understand him. I couldn't make heads or tails of him.

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 5:29:03 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 30, 2012 5:31:56 PM PDT
D. Thomas:

Time is a man-made construct in the sense that we have put in place a system of minutes, hours, days, years and so on in order make sense of the chaos into which we find ourselves. Your view as outlined in your second paragraph, is a prime example of us thinking that our language automatically has meaning beyond ourselves. I see what you call 'time' as being a continuing series of 'is', in that everything is in flux and with no 'is' being the same as another one. You also claim that 'Mankind differs from nature in only one respect: we can measure time and have been doing so for tens of thousand of years.' I wouldn't agree with that claim. I'd see us differing from nature, if it had to boil down to one basic thing, as something like having a conscious awareness of our mortality.

By 'eternity', I mean for ever, irrespective of how many or few universes you want to include, and when I think of that word, if I do, religion certainly doesn't enter my mind, that's for sure. The Big Bang, if it occurred, is just another 'is'.

Sure, we have a strong desire to know, and given our language and consciousness, it makes perfect sense to ask such questions as you posed, but that also implies there are coherent and rational answers, a step we take, in my view, without really believing there might not be answers. I mean, when we ask :'Why are we here?'. for example, we kind of expect a logical, coherent and rational answer, and certainly one that implies meaning and purpose. There is not a atom of evidence to support that, and 'God' is an abject and feeble attempt on our part to fill that gap. And if you really do not understand what I mean by 'accident', then just replace it with the fact that we have evolved for no reason, sense, purpose but just have.

And by 'it' in my last sentence, I mean that we see ourselves as being far more important and significant than we are, like the bible telling us that we have dominion over all the other animals.

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 5:59:32 PM PDT
mark says:

Good post.

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 8:46:10 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 31, 2012 12:57:20 PM PDT
A customer says:
It's an illusion. But Awareness is forever.

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 10:22:14 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 31, 2012 1:21:37 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on May 31, 2012 12:17:59 AM PDT

Measurement originally did require comparison, like sticking a ruler next to your forearm to see how long your forearm is. You compare your arm to the ruler, which has numbers on it. Thermometer with mercury would compare the liquid in a clear chambers with the numbers next to the clear chamber. This was suppose to measure temperature. Now you have no comparison, just a number, with some new machines. We now take the numbers to be of something besides the numbers, like we took the arm to the be the length of what the ruler states when we compared them together.

In reply to an earlier post on May 31, 2012 12:30:41 AM PDT
Randall R Young,

Your only point of contention seems to be that we have a conceptual system in which the possibility of "running a mile in 0.000004 nanoseconds" cannot happen. This does not show any problem with what I brought up. The very possibility of running a mile in 0.000004 nanoseconds means that the conceptual system of Relativity may be refuted, and only shows that it is impossible in that conceptual system, not that it is impossible. It would be possible in another conceptual system, besides it being possible in and of itself.
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Discussion in:  Religion forum
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Initial post:  Oct 5, 2010
Latest post:  Jul 6, 2012

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