Defending the Christian Worldview, Creationism, and Intelligent Design
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Defending the Christian Worldview, Creationism, and Intelligent Design

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Defending the Christian Worldview, Creationism, and Intelligent Design » Philosophy and God » A-Theory, and B-Theory of time

A-Theory, and B-Theory of time

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1A-Theory, and  B-Theory of time  Empty A-Theory, and B-Theory of time Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:57 pm



B-Theory of time, does it FAIL ?

Is God Outside of Time? Not according to the Bible.

William Lane Craig Naturalism: A Critical Analysis 2001 pp 232-3
On the B-theory of time, the distinction between past, present, and future is a subjective illusion of human consciousness. All things or events in time are equally real and existent, and moments, things, and events merely stand to one another in tenseless relations of earlier than, simultaneous with, or later than. Nothing ever comes into or goes out of being, and temporal becoming is an illusion. Now all instances of causal influence over the past – whether we are talking about closed time-like curves, time travel, retro-causation, tachyonic anti-telephones, or whatever – presuppose the truth of the B-theory of time. For clearly on the A-theory of time, at the time at which the effect is present, the cause is future and therefore literally non-existent. Thus, the effect just comes into being from nothing. Not only does this scenario seem absurd, but it also reduces to the first horn of Davies’ dilemma with respect to the origin of the universe. The universe just came uncaused from nothing. Thus the Gott-Li-Xin hypothesis presupposes the B-theory of time. But if one presupposes such a view of time, then Gott and Li-Xin’s hypothesis becomes superfluous. For on a B-theory of time the universe never truly comes into being at all. The whole four-dimensional space-time manifold just exists tenselessly, and the universe has a beginning only in the sense that a meter-stick has a beginning prior to the first centimeter. Although the space-time manifold is intrinsically temporal in that one of its four dimensions is time, nonetheless, it is extrinsically timeless, in that it does not exist in an embedding hyper-time but exists tenselessly, neither coming into nor going out of being. The four-dimensional space-time manifold is in this latter sense eternal. Thus, there is no need for the device of causal loops or closed time-like curves at the beginning to explain how it came into being.

Here I can only outline my reasons for affirming an A-theory of time as the most plausible view of the matter: 
I. Arguments for the A-theory 
A. Linguistic tense, which is ineliminable and irreducible, mirrors the tensed facts which are characteristic of reality.
B. The experience of temporal becoming, like our experience of the external world, should be regarded as veridical.

II. Refutation of arguments against the A-theory 
A. McTaggart’s Paradox is based upon the illicit assumption that there should exist a unique tenseless description of reality, as well as the illicit conflation of A-theoretic becoming with a B-theoretic ontology.
B. The passage of time is not a myth, but a metaphor for the objectivity of temporal becoming, a notion which can be consistently explicated on a presentist metaphysic.

III.Refutation of arguments for the B-theory 
A. Temporal becoming is wholly compatible with the mathematical core of Relativity Theory, even if its affirmation requires a different physical interpretation than the received view.
B. Time, as it plays a role in physics, is an abstraction of a richer metaphysical reality, omitting indexical elements such as the “here” and the “now” in the interest of universalizing the formulations of natural laws.

IV.Arguments against the B-theory 
A. In the absence of objective distinctions between past, present, and future, the relations ordering events on the B-theory are only gratuitously regarded as genuinely temporal relations of earlier/later than.
B. The subjective illusion of temporal becoming involves itself an objective temporal becoming of contents of consciousness.
C. The B-theory entails perdurantism, the view that objects have Spatio-temporal parts, a doctrine that is metaphysically counter-intuitive, incompatible with moral accountability, and entails the bizarre counterpart theory of transworld identity.

Theak: B-Theory of time FAILS September 22, 2014
There are many reasons why the B-Theory of time cannot be correct. In this blog we will examine each one of these and go into exhaustive detail to prove B-Theory of time invalid.

[[B-theory of time]]   “A view of time according to which all events (past, present, and future) are equally real and temporal becoming is merely a subjective feature of consciousness. The number of past events in a beginningless universe on such a view would be obviously actually infinite, since it would be akin to a spatial array of items.” 
(Dr. Craig -

William Lane Craig Naturalism: A Critical Analysis (200) pp 232-3
''The Elliott Argument'' welcomes proponents of both the ''A-theory of time'' and ''B-theory of time''.   B-Theory of time, or ''static time'', falls under the definition of ''STE'' because even though tenseless, spacetime still exists and is eternal (without true beginning).  "On a B-theory of time, the universe never truly comes into being at all. The whole four-dimensional space-time manifold just exists tenselessly. Although the space-time manifold is intrinsically temporal, in that one of its four dimensions is time, nonetheless it is extrinsically timeless, in that it does not exist in an embedding hyper-time but exists tenselessly, neither coming into nor going out of being. The four dimensional space-time manifold is this latter sense eternal." 

1. There is no available evidence for such a position (STE). In other words there is NO EVIDENCE that space-time existed eternally (without true beginning). NONE!! ZERO!! To the contrary, all the scientific evidence points to the opposite view of “STE”.  Science says that the Universe did in fact have a finite beginning. A point in which space-time itself came into existence.  To deny this is to deny science. To deny the evidence. To deny logic.

2. B-theory of time is irrational and illogical because it is self-refuting for a number of reasons.  "Static Time, or the B-Theory of time requires us to believe that our experience of change in the external world as well as within our own minds is wholly illusory. Both tenets are required to be believed if one wishes to hold to static time. However, If our changing experiences are themselves illusions, then we are experiencing a changing illusion, which is objective and leads to a vicious infinite regress.  For example, if that change is an illusion, then something's causing that illusion, and that illusion, and that illusion. Therefore, the static theory of time is self-contradictory."

There are also many many other serious problems with the B-Theory of time:
3. The delivery of the (supposed illusory) doses is perfect. There are no revealing dislocations of serial order of the moments. While there may be minor dislocations, there are none of the type that would definitely establish the illusory character of passage. We do not, for example, suddenly have an experience of next year thrown in with our experience of today; and then one of last year; and then another from the present. There are some minor dislocations, but they’re not the sort that suggests passage is illusory. They are the sort we would expect exactly if passage were objective, but there were occasional malfunctions of our perception of it. Take, for example, the odd experience we have under anesthesia of no time at all passing between the administration of the drug and its wearing off. That is easily explained in the passage view as a suspension of that part of our neural system that detects the passing moments. This world tube is like someone resting comfortably on a sofa. The sofa presses uniformly over the body, whose mind could in principle sense the pressure over the full length all at once. Yet the pressures are communicated to consciousness in a slow series that starts at the feet and marches inexorably up the length of the body to the pillow behind the head; and it is the same for every reclining body, without failure or serious dislocation. The result is that the reclining body and all others like it experience an illusory passage of pressure. If this sofa parable sounds fantastic, then you should find equally fantastic the same idea when applied to world tubes of brains. There is something odd in the idea that an element of our experience that is so universal and so solid and immutable is just an illusion.

4. What of identifying the mechanism that restricts the delivery of moments to consciousness into the rigid series we experience? In particular, what in the neural machinery blocks us from having perceptions of tomorrow or next year? While neuroscientists have made enormous advances in recent years, I do not think that circuitry blocking this avenue of perception has been identified. But if passage is an illusion of our perception, there must be some mechanism that blocks us perceiving the future. We should stop protecting our vanity and admit what is now becoming obvious. We have no good grounds for dismissing the passage of time as an illusion. It has none of the marks of an illusion. Rather, it has all the marks of an objective process whose existence is independent of the existence of we humans. Passage exhibits no sign of being an illusion.” 
(John D. Norton- Department of History and Philosophy of Science University of Pittsburgh-)

5. Funny observations: “In many well-known phenomena, the appearance of violation of time-reversal symmetry indicates the existence of a profound transition. The transition from the normal state into a superconducting state in unconventional superconductors is one such example. The broken time-reversal symmetry is an important clue on the transition point of such a phenomenon. If this is an "illusion", someone has a lot of explaining to do." Radioactive decay doesn't care if we have a "mind" or not. It will take the same amount of time no matter if we designate time as fundamental or an illusion. Considering that at a single nuclear level, this is a random process and yet as a conglomerate of nuclei, they all somehow "know" the decay rate that they have to "obey", I'd say that these nuclei know about "time" and respect it. Why not claim that length and space are an illusion as well? Why stop with time?”

6. Subjective sense of flow -Whilst the idea that there is some objective sense in which time is flowing can be denied, the fact that conscious beings feel as though it is in some sense flowing cannot. However, if the flow of time didn't have an objective existence, then it is argued conscious beings would simultaneously experience all moments in their lives. A response is that since the brain presumably perceives time through information processing of external stimuli, not by extrasensory perception, and obeys the laws of causality, it is hard to see how the flow of time, whether it exists or not, could make any subjective difference: all conscious beings are built to perceive time as a chain of events, whether or not it occurs as such.

7. Differences between past, present and future- Many of our common-sense attitudes treat the past, present and future differently.
A. We fear death because we believe that we will no longer exist after we die. But if Eternalism is correct, death is just one of our temporal borders, and should be no more worrisome than birth.
B. You are about to go to the dentist, or you have already been. Common-sense says you should prefer to have been. But if Eternalism is correct, it shouldn't matter which situation you're in.
C.  When some unpleasant experience is behind us, we feel glad that it is over. But if the Eternalism is correct, there is no such property as being over or no longer happening now—it continues to exist timelessly.

8. Status of conscious observers - B-Theorists often appeal to the idea that the flow of time is a subjective illusion. However, Eternalism takes its inspiration from physics and needs to give a physical account of observers. One could, for instance, portray conscious observers as moving through the block universe, in some physically inexplicable way, in order to account for the subjective sense of a flow of time. But there is no need to do so to explain the subjective flow of time.

9. Determinism and indeterminism - Previously, it was noted that people tend to have very different attitudes towards the past and the future. This might be explained by an underlying attitude that the future is not fixed, but can be changed, and is therefore worth worrying about. If that is correct, the flow of time is perhaps less important to our intuitions than an open, undetermined, future. In other words, a flow-of-time theory with a strictly determined future (which nonetheless does not exist at the present) would not satisfy common-sense intuitions about time. If indeterminism can be removed from flow-of-time theories, can it be added to Eternalist theories? Regarding John G. Cramer’s transactional interpretation, Kastner (2010) "proposed that in order to preserve the elegance and economy of the interpretation, it may be necessary to consider offer and confirmation waves as propagating in a “higher space” of possibilities.

In his discussion with Albert Einstein, Karl Popper argued against determinism: The main topic of our conversation was indeterminism. I tried to persuade him to give up his determinism, which amounted to the view that the world was a four-dimensional Parmenidean block universe in which change was a human illusion, or very nearly so. (He agreed that this had been his view, and while discussing it I called him "Parmenides".) I argued that if men, or other organisms, could experience change and genuine succession in time, then this was real. It could not be explained away by a theory of the successive rising into our consciousness of time slices which in some sense coexist; for this kind of "rising into consciousness" would have precisely the same character as that succession of changes which the theory tries to explain away. I also brought in the somewhat obvious biological arguments: that the evolution of life, and the way organisms behave, especially higher animals, cannot really be understood on the basis of any theory which interprets time as if it were something like another (anisotropic) space coordinate. After all, we do not experience space coordinates. And this is because they are simply nonexistent: we must beware of hypostatizing them; they are constructions which are almost wholly arbitrary. Why should we then experience the time coordinate—to be sure, the one appropriate to our inertial system—not only as real but also as absolute, that is, as unalterable and independent of anything we can do (except changing our state of motion)?

The reality of time and change seemed to me the crux of realism. (I still so regard it, and it has been so regarded by some idealistic opponents of realism, such as Schrödinger and Gödel.)
When I visited Einstein, Schilpp's Einstein volume in The Library of Living Philosophers had just been published; this volume contained a now famous contribution of Gödel's which employed, against the reality of time and change, arguments from Einstein's two relativity theories. Einstein had come out in that volume strongly in favor of realism. And he clearly disagreed with Gödel's idealism: he suggested in his reply that Gödel's solutions of the cosmological equations might have "to be excluded on physical grounds".

Now I tried to present to Einstein-Parmenides as strongly as I could my conviction that a clear stand must be made against any idealistic view of time. And I also tried to show that, though the idealistic view was compatible with both determinism and indeterminism, a clear stand should be made in favor of an "open" universe—one in which the future was in no sense contained in the past or the present, even though they do impose severe restrictions on it. I argued that we should not be swayed by our theories to give up realism (for which the strongest arguments were based on common sense), though I think that he was ready to admit, as I was, that we might be forced one day to give it up if very powerful arguments (of Gödel's type, say) were to be brought against it. I therefore argued that with regard to time, and also to indeterminism (that is, the incompleteness of physics), the situation was precisely similar to the situation with regard to realism. Appealing to his own way of expressing things in theological terms, I said: if God had wanted to put everything into the world from the beginning, He would have created a universe without change, without organisms and evolution, and without man and man's experience of change. But He seems to have thought that a live universe with events unexpected even by Himself would be more interesting than a dead one.[( —Karl Popper, Unended Quest: An Intellectual Autobiography)

AK - "If the future exists right now as we speak, and is just out there fixed and real, that means nothing we do can effect it (the future). The future is a real tangible thing just as much as present events are."
B Theorist - "That's correct. The future is just as real as the present and the past. It already existing right now."
AK - "So if you murder someone next month, technically it wasn't ...your fault because the future already existed."
B- Theorist - "Hmmm...I never thought of it that way."
AK - "I wouldn't worry too much about it...I'm sure the judge will allow the accountability of your actions to be chalked up to the future already's not your was the B-Theory time that done it!!!

10. Reference frames are irrelevant for things that don't exist...For Example: my reference frame for pink unicorns is irrelevant...Just like a photons reference frame for planets that have not yet formed (in an early universe) is irrelevant.

B Theorist - "I believe the past present and future are all equally real."
AK - "So you believe that planets existed at .0000001 nano seconds when the Universe first began to exist."
B Theorist - "No it took a while before planets were able to form"

11. If B-theory of time were true, and time is defined as a measurement of events, then the passage of time is still occurring despite the insistence that its not. How you ask? Well, even if B-Theory were correct we (as humans/conscious observers) still are only able to see what we call the present. In other words, if the future does exist already, and is real, we still are not able to see it. So we are only able to see what we call the present. The present (what we can see) still changes in the B-theory and can be measured. Thus the passage of time still exists and is still real. There are genuine properties such as being two days past, being present, etc.; that facts about these A properties are not in any way reducible to facts about B relations; and that times and events are constantly changing with respect to their A properties (first becoming less and less future, then becoming present, and subsequently becoming more and more past). According to The A Theory, the passage of time is a very real and inexorable feature of the world, and not merely some mind-dependent phenomenon.

12. It is a logical contradiction to be a B-theorist and also believe science. Example: Atheist - "I believe B-Theory of time & that spacetime is eternal (without true beginning). I also love science and believe the Universe had a finite beginning."

13. How would the temporal becoming of 'one initial event' create every single future event by its effect?? If every event (past, present, and future) are all equally real at the same moment, then the very moment that the universe first comes into existence so do you, me, car, airplanes, my shoes, the death of the universe, etc., etc. This is why the A-Theory of time is called the common-sense view, and B-theorists are considered preposterous loons. Yet another reason to throw out B-Theory.

14. Theory of Relativity. According to the Special Theory of Relativity (as the argument goes), there is no such thing as absolute simultaneity. But if there is no such thing as absolute simultaneity, then there cannot be objective facts of the form “t is present” or “t is 12 seconds past”. Thus, according to this line of argument, there cannot be objective facts about A properties, and so the passage of time cannot be an objective feature of the world. It can be plausibly argued that while relativity entails that it is physically impossible to observe whether two events are absolutely simultaneous, or that a single event occurs simultaneously for two different observers, the theory nevertheless has no bearing on whether there is such a phenomenon as absolute simultaneity.  Events happen, and every single event that ever happened could be observed from numerous locations. This may appear to make an event happen at different 'times', depending on your reference frame.  For Example event X may appear to happen early for person y than for person z depending on his/her location. This however is not evidence that every single event (past, present, and future) are equally real or all exist at the same moment.  Furthermore it is not evidence that every event doesn't actually have a 'true temporal becoming' that exists independently of anyone's reference frame other than its own. There is no evidence that every event does not have a true beginning which is independent of any reference point. All we know is that being in a different location can give the illusion that a particular event is occurring earlier or later, but that is consistent with our perception and the way our eyes, brain, ears, and sensory input works.

15. If B-Theory of time were true, then past, present, and future events are all equally real. This means the passage of time is simply an illusion. For example my fathers death did not come and go, but it just always existed. The passage of temporal becoming for every event therefore is nothing more than an illusion. If each independent event is an illusion, and space-time was eternal (without true beginning) then in fact there has been an infinite 'regress' of illusions. The issue then becomes, we can never arrive at the current or present illusion in the chain of 'later and earlier' events. Even though all events would exist (past, present, future) and be equally real at the same moment, the events on the chain still must be traversed/cycled through in order, as to arrive at the next event (illusion) in the line.

P1. An infinite regress of illusions cannot be correct
P2. B-Theory of time requires an infinite regress of Illusions
C. B-Theory of time cannot be correct

16. Science says that the Universe not only had a finite beginning, but that it will also (sometime in the future) experience a 'heat death', die, and no longer exist. However, if the B-Theory of time were true then the Universe wouldn't die in the future, it is already dead.

17. If the future is real, fixed, and is out there currently existing just as real as out present, then free will does not actually exist, and nothing you did in your entire life was a choice. You are just doing what the future already had written.

The debate between A-theorists and B-theorists is a continuation of a metaphysical dispute reaching back to the ancient Greek philosophers Heraclitus and Parmenides. Parmenides thought that reality is timeless and unchanging. Heraclitus, in contrast, believed that the world is a process of ceaseless change, flux and decay. Reality for Heraclitus is dynamic and ephemeral. Indeed the world is so fleeting, according to Heraclitus, that it is impossible to step twice into the same river. The metaphysical issues that continue to divide A-theorists and B-theorists concern the reality of the past, the reality of the future, and the ontological status of the present.

The B-theory of time is also burdened with heavy philosophical problems. On the B-theory, temporal becoming is an entirely subjective phenomenon, and hence not an objective feature of reality. In the absence of minds, every temporal moment and event simply exists tenselessly; there are no tensed facts; no past, present, or future; nothing comes into existence or happens except in the tenseless sense of existing at certain appointed stations as opposed to others. If the mental phenomenon of temporal becoming is an objective feature of reality, this amounts to a denial of the B-theory of time.[6] If the B-theorist bites the bullet, stating that there is no temporal becoming of mental states, then this flies in the face of experience. Sir Arthur Eddington states "We have direct insight into 'becoming' which sweeps aside all symbolic knowledge as on an inferior plane. If I grasp the notion of existence because I myself exist, I grasp the notion of becoming because I myself become. It is the innermost Ego of all that is and becomes."[7]

Temporal philosopher William Lane Craig explains that the B-Theory suffers the same incoherence as all theories that time is illusory, namely, that an illusion or appearance of becoming involves becoming, so that becoming cannot be mere illusion or appearance. The Buddhist can consistently deny the reality of the physical world, since the illusion of physicality does not entail physicality, but this is not the case with temporal becoming.[8] John Laird writes: "Take the supposed illusion of change. This must mean that something, X, appears to change when in fact it does not change at all. That may be true about X; but how could the illusion occur unless there were change somewhere? If there is no change in X, there must be a change in the deluded mind that contemplates X. The illusion of change is actually a changing illusion. Thus the illusion of change implies the reality of some change. Change, therefore, is invincible in its stubbornness; for no one can deny the appearance of change."[9]

For more able defenses on the reality of the passage of time, see (Tim Maudlin, "On the Passage of Time" Ch. 4 in The Metaphysics within Physics. Oxford University Press, 2007.)

'B-Theory of time is dead, and anyone attempting to subscribe to it is committing intellectual suicide. God Bless' - AK

James Read Getting tense about relativity  04 February 2020
In this paper, we evaluate in detail these arguments ( tenseless conception of time ), finding that there remain several open questions to be addressed if the introduction of tensed facts into the relativistic context is to be compelling.

Last edited by Otangelo on Sun Jun 05, 2022 5:06 am; edited 6 times in total

2A-Theory, and  B-Theory of time  Empty THE ARROW OF TIME Wed Jun 14, 2017 10:56 am



Andrew D.H. Thomas HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT 3 The Secret of Time  2014, page 35

When the Black Death struck England in the year 1665 it must have seemed like the end of the world. The bubonic plague, carried by fleas on rats, had already killed a third of Europe's population. Once you were infected, the extremities of your body turned black (hence "Black Death"), and death almost surely resulted within four days. The closure of Cambridge University during the plague forced a 23-year-old Isaac Newton to take refuge at his home in Woolsthorpe in Lincolnshire. It was while Newton was in forced isolation that he set his mind to produce his greatest work, the Principia, which laid down the basis of classical mechanics and Newtonian gravity, results still very much in use to this day. Indeed, it was by using only an understanding of Newtonian mechanics and gravity that NASA put the first man on the Moon in 1969. In order to arrive at his laws of motion, Newton had to employ a precise definition of time. In the Scholium (introduction) to the Principia, Newton stated: "Absolute, true, and mathematical time, of itself and from its own nature, flows equably without relation to anything external." So Newton believed in absolute time, which always operated as a background on which all objects changed. It was as if all objects danced to a single clock which controlled the entire universe. If no objects existed in the universe, this ultimate clock would still exist counting down its absolute time.

Newton had similar views on space. Newton believed that, even if all the matter was removed from the universe, there would still be the "box" of space by which all position could be measured. This was absolute space. The proposal of absolute time and space was so important and successful for Newton's theories of mechanics because it created a pre-existing framework within which objects could move, and those movements could be analysed and predicted by Newton's laws of motion. According to absolute time, we could imagine the current state of reality in the universe as being all those events that are "real" (i.e., currently happening) at the moment we snap our fingers. That might include the boy falling off his bike down the road, and a star exploding in the Andromeda Galaxy. All of these events taken together would represent the current state of the universe. And this current "now" moment would be determined by Newton's absolute "clock of the universe" — all objects in the universe would agree on the current absolute time:

A-Theory, and  B-Theory of time  LavTlMW

Hence, we could represent the current "now" moment as being a single slice out of all time. In the previous diagram, the current "now" moment is indicated by the shaded slice. This "now" slice moves upwards in the time direction from the past to the future (only two dimensions of space are shown on the diagram instead of the usual three dimensions). The slice represents all the events in the current universe (the events are denoted by the black circles). Only the events included in the "now" slice are "real" — they are the only events currently happening. The events of the past have already happened and are no longer real. The events of the future have not yet happened and are therefore not yet real. As the "now" slice moves upwards along the time axis at a speed determined by Newton's absolute clock, it turns the unreal future events into real current events, and those real current events are turned into unreal past events. However, remember back to our discussion of Einstein's thought experiment in the last chapter. We discovered that Alice and Bob — who were moving relative to each other — could not agree on whether events occurred simultaneously. In other words, they disagreed about the reality (whether or not an event was happening) of certain events. If two observers cannot agree on the reality of events, then this poses a problem for Newton's view of the universe. Newton's view was based on a slice of events which were definitely real: only the events on the slice were real. But Alice and Bob can apparently not agree which events should be on the slice — they cannot agree which events are real. An event cannot be both real and unreal at the same time. How can this problem with Newton's view of the universe be resolved? The resolution to this problem came from an unlikely source. In 1895, the English writer Herbert George Wells (better known as H.G. Wells) considered the possibility of treating time as a fourth dimension, and creating a machine which allowed the operator to move freely in that fourth dimension. After all, in our daily lives we can move in the three spatial dimensions — left/right, up/down, forward/backward — as we wish. Might it not be possible to imagine freedom to move in a fourth dimension as well? Wells's book The Time Machine based on this principle became the first book to popularise the concept of time travel and introduced the notion of time as a fourth dimension to the general public. We are now quite used to the idea of seeing time travel in popular fiction, so it is hard to imagine what an impact this idea must have had when presented to the public for the first time.

The following extract is H.G. Wells's description of time from The Time Machine. It is quite remarkable considering this was written twenty years before Einstein's great insight:
"Clearly", the Time Traveller proceeded, "any real body must have extension in four dimensions: It must have length, breadth, thickness, and — duration. But we incline to overlook this fact. There are really four dimensions, three of which we call the three planes of space, and a fourth, time. There is no difference between time and any of the three dimensions of space except that our consciousness moves along it." In truth, the idea of a fourth spatial dimension was tremendously fashionable toward the end of the 19th century. This was largely due to the efforts of popular writers such as Charles Hinton who took the latest mathematical ideas about geometry in higher-dimensional spaces and made them accessible to the general public. Another book of the time, Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin Abbott Abbott, continued the popular trend of the time by considering how travel in extra spatial dimensions could allow liberation from conventional restraints. This idea of a liberating fourth dimension was adopted by modern artists who moved away from the restrictive one-point perspective system which portrayed the world as three-dimensional. This is especially noticeable in the perspective-free paintings of the cubists such as Pablo Picasso. It was during this period, in this liberated environment, that Einstein's former mathematics teacher at the Zurich Polytechnic, Hermann Minkowski, took an interest in Einstein's work on relativity. Minkowski was impressed with Einstein's progress — and more than a little surprised: "It came as a tremendous surprise, for in his student days Einstein had been a lazy dog. He had never bothered about mathematics at all." Minkowski realised that an elegant explanation of Einstein's result could be provided if time was considered as a fourth dimension — just as H.G. Wells had earlier suggested. Instead of there being a single "now" slice of reality across the entire universe — as Newton had suggested — we had to consider all of time and space existing as one huge block-like structure. This is called spacetime.

A-Theory, and  B-Theory of time  REt1eXY

In the previous diagram, Newton's "now" slice of time has vanished, and all the events (the black circles) are now portrayed as being "real". In principle, this presented the opportunity for time travel: if all times existed, and time was just another dimension, we could travel back to those times. This could not possibly have been the case in Newton's universe in which only the present moment was real. It might at first appear strange to treat time as another dimension. Perhaps it helps to realise that we always give the position of events in terms of four dimensions: three dimensions of space and one of time. For example, we might arrange a meeting at the corner of two streets (providing the value of the spatial dimensions) at a certain time (providing the value of the time dimension). So events are inevitably defined in terms of four dimensions. You have been doing this all your life perhaps without realising it. This approach, of treating space and time as dimensions of spacetime, starts to reveal the very close connection between space and time. For example, when we look at the stars we are essentially looking back in time. This is because we are looking at the stars as they were many years ago: the distances to the stars are so great that their light takes many years to reach us. Other profound connections between space and time will be considered in later chapters. As we move around in space, we are inexorably moving forward in time. Hence, as we progress through our lives we plot a path through spacetime which is called a world line. In the next diagram, the world line of Bob is denoted by the curved, directional line:

A-Theory, and  B-Theory of time  Y68KtGg

Every object moves forward in time, so every object has a world line. We might perceive an object at its single position "right now", but physics tells us that a more accurate representation of an object is as a world line through spacetime. This principle even applies to elementary particles which are portrayed in Feynman diagrams as lines rather than point particles. This is one of the most important points. It is crucial to understanding the nature of time. Objects are not really points in space — they are truly lines in spacetime. Indeed, we ourselves exist as lines through spacetime, as if we are "stretched-out". Every atom and particle in our body exists as a line in spacetime — we just don't perceive it that way. At each point of the world line of an observer, there will be an associated plane — a slice of spacetime — which represents all the events which that observer considers "real" at that particular point in time. This is called the plane of simultaneity of the observer. The plane of simultaneity of Bob is shown in the following diagram by the shaded plane. Note that, at any point along Bob's world line, the plane of simultaneity is always perpendicular to Bob's world line. It is a cross-section of spacetime at a particular time. It represents all the events that are real to Bob when Bob clicks his fingers "right now":

So, at this stage, we have considered the basic principles of spacetime. However, some very deep questions remain:

To say that all events in the universe are "real" all the time sounds like crazy talk! Indeed, there remain some physicists who would not agree — even though the principle has a firm basis in
special relativity. Is there any additional evidence that this is the case?
Why do human beings experience just one slice of spacetime, a "now" moment? If all events are
real, why cannot we see events in the future and the past? Basically, why can't we remember the
Why do we experience movement of this "now" slice from past to future?

The block universe model suggests that all of spacetime exists as an unchanging block, with no special "now" moment. But, if that is the case, then why do we feel as though there is a "now" moment, which gives the current moment priority over the past and the future? In fact, not only do we feel a "now" moment, but we feel movement of that now moment from what we call "the past" to what we call "the future". So this seems to indicate a directionality in time. What is the origin of this directionality? This directionality — this so-called arrow of time — is not just limited to our internal perception of the motion of time. External physical processes also exhibit a directionality in time. For example, we might see an egg breaking (in the forward time direction), but we never see a broken egg reforming itself. These considerations might seem trivial, but they pose serious questions for physics. This is because the laws of physics — certainly Newtonian mechanics — are time symmetrical, i.e., they work the same in the backward time direction as they do in the forward time direction. Consider, for example, shooting a movie of two balls colliding, with the first ball stopping and the second ball moving off at speed. If you played the movie backwards, the events would still make sense according to the laws of physics. This time, though, the second ball would come in reverse, strike the stationary first ball, and the first ball would then move off in reverse. Everything would happen perfectly in reverse, and it would look as though it was happening in the forward time direction. So if the laws of physics are time-symmetrical, why do so many processes exhibit an arrow of time in the forward time direction? Let us first consider the psychological aspects of this question.

Is our perception of the flow of time real, or is the sensation we have of movement through time nothing more than an illusion generated by our brains ? Is your brain maybe fooling us ?!!

You should be able to see motion in the image (Einstein's head moves)

A-Theory, and  B-Theory of time  Moving10

So the brain clearly has a tendency to give an impression of movement in a situation which is completely static. Maybe we should not give too much trust to our senses ?


Last edited by Otangelo on Sun Jul 25, 2021 9:49 am; edited 2 times in total

3A-Theory, and  B-Theory of time  Empty Re: A-Theory, and B-Theory of time Wed Dec 16, 2020 11:03 am



In this paper, we evaluate in detail these arguments ( tenseless conception of time ), finding that there remain several open questions to be addressed if the introduction of tensed facts into the relativistic context is to be compelling.

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