Isaac Newton
Should we be putting all of our eggs into one temporal theory?
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Einstein decidedly blew a hole in Isaac Newton's model of absolute time and space when he formulated the Special Theory of Relativity (STR) and he created a geometrical line (with the addition of time as a fourth dimension) through space and time in which all matter, including us, were found to be in a clearly deterministic universe. He was quoted as saying;" God does not play dice with the universe". This defined his theism. He believed in a universe that was predictable to certain laws of physics. Neil’s Bhor, the great Danish physicist came along and challenged Einstein on this very point saying, “ How do you know what God thinks?”…. In an experiment suggested by Einstein himself it was found that pathways of sub-atomic particles were not observed in predetermined pathways. This to Einstein’s dismay. Because of this his findings were turned away from the model of a static universe. A timeless universe would be a static universe where no past, present and future states can be defined in any specific location or in any specific time. That is to say, past, present and future contingencies are all real simultaneously. To say that temporal becoming is separated from past and future states would be illusionary and nothing more that a figment of ones imagination. This is what Einstein was saying. We are all on some imaginary geometric line that includes past, present and future states as inseparable.
In distinction to Einstein’s theory of STR Newton believed in absolute time and space and this implies relationally between past, present and future states. But is this true? Because Einstein’s verification of STR is a proven fact it does not allow for a tensed universe. It does not allow for temporal becoming. It shows this to be an illusion.
But I do not think so. I think it rather means that the universe in which we reside is limited. It is limited to certain laws of physics but it does not necessarily follow that everything therefore is confined to such laws. I believe our everyday experience can show this. If we look at Bhor's experiment we can see in it a universe that allows for unpredictability and not the pure determinism.
This was an astounding revelation! This experiment turned the tables on the idea the there are no preferred inertial frames of reference. Einstein’s revolutionary paper on STR showed a tenseness universe but Bhor’s quantum mechanics shows a different finding. One in which predictability is questionable. Because of Bhor's findings we can provide an argument against that hollow truth that limits us to laws of physics and makes a mockery of temporal becoming. It allows at least another view in which the existence of a tensed universe is both logical and verifiable.
Now Einstein was an empirical verificationist and under his mentor Ernst Mach he approached physics by deciding to throw out anything that could not be verified through the physical senses. So he was successful in showing through STR the idea of a determined universe. His revolutionary paper on STR shows how measuring devices would not be able to show us similar frames of reference. Let me give you an example: Prior to Einstein’s relativity others had been working on relativity all the way back to Newton himself. But just prior to Einstein a man named Hendrick Lorentz formulated his Lorentzian relativity. He agreeing with Newton believe in absolute time and space, but realized at that time there being no way to discern these experimentally since motion through the aether affects one’s measuring devices. Before knowing this he knew that a wave of light is always constant. Knowing this he proceeded to set measuring devices on waves of light outside of the earth’s course around our star to thereby deduce its progression in time and space. However, when he looked at the results of the experiment he and others were perplexed. There did not seem to be any movement through the aether of the earth itself. They theorized the earth might be pulling the aether along with it so accounting for it not seemingly moving through space. This was dismissed from looking at other experiments. There had to be an answer for why they could not make the empirical experiments show evidential results. Sometimes intuition leads us to believe things that may not be true when it comes to traditional inquiry. But it was finally understood by Einstein that inertial frames of reference differ as to what is at rest in relation to what is in motion. This solved the problem. I will try to give you an example of what Einstein was working against when it came to making sense of intuition.
Imagine yourself in a body of water like the ocean. If you are in the water and remain still then any waves approaching you will take a certain amount of time to reach you. If you were to move toward a wave as it was approaching you then the wave would arrive at you sooner. Conversely, if you were to move away from an approaching wave it would arrive at your location later. Now lets imagine a wave of light (which is similar to a wave in the ocean) is approaching you. if you remained still or moved toward it or if you moved away from it what do you think would happen in each of those situations? The beam of light as it approaches you in any of those circumstances would be the same. Whether you moved toward it or away from it or if you remained still the beam of light would not vary and would reach you at the same moment in time! Now knowing this Einstein went on to show that in spite of light being uniform in this way it could not however be used by two independent sources to verify uniform time. This is one of the examples he gave to show this as follows; Suppose a space craft was approaching the earth on a parallel path and as it arrived adjacent to earth it relayed a message to someone on earth to set his clock to the same time as it had its clock set to. Then someone on the earth at the same time as someone on the space ship would send out a beam of light to a distant planet ahead of him or her. Again, knowing that the beams of light travel at the same rate through the aether it would therefore be assumed that the light would be reflected back to the earth and the spaceship and arrive at the same time that was beforehand synchronized on each of the clocks. Lo and behold it was not! Why not? There is no absolute frame of reference for the spaceship and the earth to compare to. Each being in a separate inertial frame of reference cannot relate in the same time frame. Why? Because we don’t know what the preferred frame of reference is. Is it the spaceship? Is it the Earth? Is it the distant planet ahead of them? Is the earth moving away from the planet ahead of it? Or is the planet ahead of the spaceship moving toward the spaceship? Or is the spaceship moving towards the planet ahead of it? We cannot know what is at rest in relation to what is in motion! This was so counterintuitive that only a handful of people understood what Einstein was saying and even then it took some time for him to convince them of this.
Now because of these non-preferred frames of reference there is no absolute frame to compare yourself to when you are trying to relate to someone else in past, present or future states of reference throughout the universe in either time or space. Relating to one another in time frames would therefore be impossible because a tensed theory of the universe concerning absolute time was shown to be deficient. If we are in different relational frames of reference we could not know where we are in relation to someone else in the universe because of these non-relational time frames. It therefore follows that god himself would not be able to relate to anyone or anything at any specific frame of reference seeing we all are at different states of time and space not knowing if we are at rest to each other in movement in time or space. Simply put there is no preferred frame of reference for anyone. God himself would not know where we are! Furthermore if he wanted to know where each one of us were in different times in space he would not be able to do so in this universe not without having to divide up the many different frames of reference to accommodate the many myriad frames of references we are all in!
Einstein’s theory ultimately blends past, present and future contingencies onto a geometric tense less line of timeless events. All events have to be determined. Freewill is obliterated and becomes an illusion. By looking back at what happened with Einstein’s equation you see how science is evolutionary. It took quantum mechanics to question this theory. I dare say that no one would really agree to say that we are not in a tensed universe as everyday experience shows this to be so.
So Einstein was indeed a great physicist but after all just a man whose findings on STR only shows that we live in a limited universe. But such findings do not prove or show this limited idea as real to our understanding. All of us would agree that as relational beings we need to use past present and future frames of reference to relate to one another and/or God.
In Einstein’s view we cannot assume this to be true and so our separation of time into past, present and future is nothing more than an illusion of our subconscious, which makes it an impractical truth. It is true that STR opened up our understanding of how time is affected by gravitational fields and how when moving at the speed of light it affects ones measuring devices. However, it’s not true in explaining how we relate to one another in different frames of reference as our everyday experience obviously shows. Free will requires that we must have time to decided between opposing choices and that by deciding to do one thing over another our decisions over time would manifest our characters. Who we really are is in deeds, and is understood over time from past to present and future becoming. But we are all flawed! Only omniscience can lay claim to seeing what lay beyond the view of the temporal One should therefore be skeptical of putting one’s eggs into one temporal theory, if you will. What we decide to choose determines the kind of person we are by the kind of choices we make. I believe that this is the only real way that we can look at reality. We may live our lives in a limited universe but the way we live our lives is in what we freely choose to do from moment to moment determining our own futures.