## Impossible to Prove Time is Real

• 1.2k
Assume R = Time is real

If R is true then there must be a proof (call it $\phi_1$) that R.

The proof $\phi_1$ implies that we can construct a reductio ad absurdum argument (call it $\phi_c$) to prove R.

$\phi_c$ assumes the negation of R i.e. ~R = Time is unreal.

If ~R, there can't be contradictions (re definition of contradiction); no contradiction, no $\phi_c$; no $\phi_c$, no $\phi_1$.

Conclusion: Impossible to prove time is real.
• 661
but contradictions are meaningless if time is unreal (re definition of contradiction).

Could you elaborate on that?
• 489
Could you elaborate on that?

I guess he means that it doesn't make sense to say “it is impossible for the same thing to be and not be at the same time” if time is unreal.

But those who say time is unreal presumably mean that time is something that's only “real” in our minds, not outside them.

For instance, Kant's view is that a thing in itself causes us to perceive phenomena, and that our cognitive apparatus arranges the matter of sensation in space and time. That does not imply that statements about time, like the one contained in the Law of Contradiction, are meaningless, it only implies that they are statements about phenomena rather than about things in themselves (noumena).
• 36
Does the definition of contradiction involve time? I looked in a few online dictionaries, but didn’t find any mentions of time there.
• 1.7k
Assume U = Time is unreal.

If U is true then there must be a proof (call it ϕ1) that U

Why? Is time is unreal a mathematical theorem?

Since we experience the passage of time it seems quite real. But not physically so like a doughnut.
• 661
I guess he means that it doesn't make sense to say “it is impossible for the same thing to be and not be at the same time” if time is unreal.

Ah, I see. Huh, that's pretty clever.
• 2.1k
What's unreal about time?

I suppose we could speculate on the whole "time before the Big Bang" topic, if that even makes sense. But that aside, I don't understand what unreal time means.
• 661
I suppose we could speculate on the whole "time before the Big Bang" topic, if that even makes sense. But that aside, I don't understand what unreal time means.

Time is an illusion, or an imaginative aspect, not real, per say.
• 2.1k

Perhaps.

But then what isn't?
• 661

Hey, don't kill the messenger.

But if I had to respond...I'd say rollercoasters.
• 2.1k

No killing intended, messenger or OPs.

However, if rollercoasters are immune to the status of illusory entities, then I say we have a problem, because I don't know how one can ride one, if there's no time involved.
• 661
However, if rollercoasters are immune to the status of illusory entities, then I say we have a problem, because I don't know how one can ride one, if there's no time involved.

You raise a good point. However, it is equally difficult to imagine rollercoasters as illusive. I mean, have you ever been on one of those things!?!
• 2.1k

It's basically a sensory overload in which we are tricked into believing these things have shape, colours, speed and the like. Combine that with adrenaline and dizziness and you have yourself a well pulled off magic trick.

:wink:
• 1.2k
Could you elaborate on that?

$\downarrow$

I guess he means that it doesn't make sense to say “it is impossible for the same thing to be and not be at the same time” if time is unreal.

:up:

Assume U = Time is unreal.

If U is true then there must be a proof (call it ϕ1) that U
— Agent Smith

Why? Is time is unreal a mathematical theorem?

Since we experience the passage of time it seems quite real. But not physically so like a doughnut.

Not all proofs are mathematical. Nonetheless, if time is unreal, we have to have a proof ($\phi_1$) and a corresponding reductio ad absurdum argument ($\phi_c$). Reductio ad absurdum arguments rely on arriving at contradictions which are undefined if time isn't real (simultaneity is meaningless).
• 1.2k
Question

Suppose a proposition P is true and there's a proof $\phi_1$ to that effect.

Does $\phi_1$ entail the existence of a reductio ad absurdum proof $\phi_c$ that P (is true)?
• 36
Conclusion: It's impossible to prove Time is unreal (U).

You got it slightly wrong. If we want to use reductio ad absurdum to prove that "Time is unreal", then we need to show that the opposite scenario "Time is real" leads to a contradiction.

Contradictions can exist under the assumption that "Time is real", so in theory we can actually show that "Time is real" leads to contradiction.

It's actually impossible to prove that "Time is real" through reductio ad absurdum, assuming that contradictions rely on time (which I'm not convinced is the case)
• 1.2k
Thanks for spotting the error. :up: I made the necessary changes to the OP
• 6.2k
It's impossible to prove that my underpants are real. I might be able to demonstrate that they are, but proofs are arrangements of words, and no arrangement of words can oblige the universe to manifest anything or prevent it from doing so. A proof is not a magic spell.
• 6.2k
But here is a demonstration that time is real:- it is 4 minutes since I made that post.
• 1.2k
It's impossible to prove that my underpants are real.

:lol: The emperor has no clothes!
• 1.2k
If there's a proof P that a proposition q is true, does it follow that there has to be alternative proof, a reductio ad absurdum (C) that proves q?
• 649
The clocks that Einstein positioned at all points in space are fictional. An ideal clock doesn't exist in reality. An ideal clock is a reversible periodic motion an these don't exist. It's against this clock all processes are compared with. The ideal clock is one whose direction in time can't be decided. In this sense they are an illusion. The periodic motion of the clock can be divided in arbitrarily small parts, though some say its motion is quantized, that time is discrete, which entails a difficulty of determining when the next unit of time comes into play, for a short while, everything is static. The numbers on the clock are placed on the time axis with the result that there are even points in time. But can a continuum really broken into parts?

On the spacetime continuum irreversible processes can unfold. These are temporarily quantified by comparing them with the periodic motion of the clock or by looking at the number on the local time axis.

The strange thing about the reversible periodic motion required for the ideal clock (even the caesium clock doesn't contain such an ideal, perfect, and reversibe, periodic motion) is that it can only be found just before the big bang. Looking at the quasi periodic motion present then, it looks like a clock which has no direction in time. Only after lift off entropic time came into being and the ideal clock is projected by us on the unfolding ptocesses.

The clock time can be considered as non-existent. But just before the big bang, it was the only time present, approximately. A quasi-periodic motion was all that was present. If we would place a clock near this proces, you could say it lasts an amount of periods. But that what lasts that amount of periods (say seconds), is symmetric in time. You can't see a development, for which irreversible processes are required. Say the quasi periodic state 10 seconds. Can we say it really did if the process can go forward in time, as well as backwards? The only thing present before the bang was the perfect clock. As soon as the universe took of is was sent to oblivion and we try to re-install it, in vain.

Advocates of the entropic time deny the true existence of the clock. Advocates of the clock deny the entropic time (an illusion). Are we just crawling along our objective worldlines, there creating the illusion of time? Or are we projecting the worldlines?

Proving the non-existence of time takes time.
• 9.4k

From what you have said, it appears clear that the hypothesis of "ideal time" has been falsified by the evidence. To appeal to "before the big bang", and say that it was true then, is nonsensical, because there is no evidence from before the big bang, and one could propose absolutely anything as true.

The periodic motion of the clock can be divided in arbitrarily small parts, though some say its motion is quantized, that time is discrete, which entails a difficulty of determining when the next unit of time comes into play, for a short while, everything is static. The numbers on the clock are placed on the time axis with the result that there are even points in time. But can a continuum really broken into parts?

This idea of quantized time becomes a more interesting question, if we remove the ideal clock. The ideal clock described is independent from physical evidence and measures a continuous time. So if we propose a standard quantum of time as the smallest possible length by physical evidence, and say two distinct features of the universe require one quantum of time, they could each start and end at a different time, by the ideal clock. So the ideal clock would require units of time smaller than the smallest possible unit of time, by the physical evidence, to account for the beginning and ending of the features of the physical universe, at different times.

But if the ideal clock is removed, then all these features must start and stop at precisely the same time, to account for the truth of the proposition that physical motion is quantized, unless time is driven by some non-physical property of the universe.
• 649
But if the ideal clock is removed, then all these features must start and stop at precisely the same time, to account for the truth of the proposition that physical motion is quantized, unless time is driven by some non-physical property of the universe.

Dunno. Absence of evidence invites speculation. That's
the fun, in fact! You can imagine a state before the big bang.

Quantized time has been proven non-existent by astronomical observations. How does a static system know, if quantized time exists, how long it has to stay in the static state?

The ideal clock, the reversible periodic motion, is a non-existent state. There are to my knowledge no periodic processes that are symmetricy under time reversal and the ideal clock only exists in the mind. Even the atomic clock is not a perfect clock. The only truly existing ideal clock seems to be the state of the universe before the big bang. Time didn't go in one direction yet. Or better, the very process was a periodic process without a direction in time. Of course you can mentally place a clock next to the state, outside the universe. It will take an amount of time. It's like comparing a clock with another clock. How long does it take for a clock to execute four periods? You gotta have a perfect clock, which doesn't exist. The pre-big-bang state can be considered the perfect clock for it's own development, except there was no development, only the isolated loops of basic particle fields (in a Feynman diagram depicted by a closed particle propagator). Einstein viewed spacetime as empty, but it's a quantum vacuum. Viewing the particles not pointlike, but close to it, prevents a pointlike singularity. When background conditions were right, the virtual particles "banged" into real existence, space being the exciting force to promote the virtual to real, like two real photons or a particle/antiparticle pair (which are not basic fields just as quarks and electrons are not, but that's a different chapter in the book) can promote a virtual pair or a photon loop to real. This introduces an irreversible changing space background (caused by a previous bang) but that doesn't influence the state as a clock with no direction in time, and you might even say time itself is fluctuating reversibly.

As soon as the perfect clock of the pre-big-bang state ceases to exists, The real particles that are excited into existence out of the fluctuating field, constitute an irreversible process, and the ideal clock has gone to live on only on the imaginary time axis of curved quasi Euclidean space. Space is still filled with virtual particle loop which is the media for interaction.

Just a story I'm writing. But fun to do and nobody has raised objections yet. It accounts neatly for problems like dark energy, dark matter, matter/antimatter asymmetry (which is just an apparent one in the story). I won't bother you further with it, but it only goes to show that there are more stories to tell than the commonly accepted and propagated as the only truth, while in fact the could be fiction.
• 649
there is no evidence from before the big bang, and one could propose absolutely anything as true.

Like what? Apart from God? The thing you propose can't be anything. It can be one thing only. There is only one universe. It is already known that the classical approach doesn't apply before the big bang. You gotta think something, if interested.

Assume R = Time is real

I see a clock on the wall. Proof! It's real. I take the clock from the wall and smash it on the floor. Kaput! A real basic ingredient of nature is conserved. But clock Kaput! Time is not real. It's an illusion.
• 1.2k
I see a clock on the wall. Proof! It's real. I take the clock from the wall and smash it on the floor. Kaput! A real basic ingredient of nature is conserved. But clock Kaput! Time is not real. It's an illusion.

You mean to say that if we destroy all the clocks in the universe, time would cease to exist? Wouldn't you grow old...and die still? Is that not time?
• 649

Time is a clock. Clocks are a human invention. The perfect clock only existed at the big bang. Hence the time coordinate is utterly, seriously, shamefully, blatantly, and intrinsically unreal. Don't know what growing older got to do with the clock. Why is time getting older? I mean, why is getting older time? Time is a persistent illusion. There is change only. Things today, say at 12, are different from things tomorrow, say at 12. In between, the clock has ticked 564555555 times. Tic tac tic tac tic tac. Fuck that clock! It's an illusion and at the same time more present then ever before..
• 1.2k
Time is a persistent illusion

If time is an illusion, contradictions are meaningless, or more accurately, they lose their logical significance. I could then say time is real, in opposition to your time is an illusion and we would both be right.
• 649
If time is an illusion, contradictions are meaningless

Why is that? I can contradict you and say you just believe it's real and that you are raised to believe so. But if you wanna believe in it, who am I to stop you? The best thing I can do is to try to wake you up from your belief. Why is it so important to you that time exists?

Some equations of quantum gravity (such as the Wheeler–DeWitt equation, which assigns quantum states to the Universe) can be written without any reference to time at all.
• 1.2k
Some equations of quantum gravity (such as the Wheeler–DeWitt equation, which assigns quantum states to the Universe) can be written without any reference to time at all.

That, my friend, is a fascinating subject although at present it's well above my pay grade.

Suffice it to say that many phenomena e.g. light (Hz) become meaningless without time.
• 649
Suffice it to say that many phenomena e.g. light (Hz) become meaningless without time.

Light has no meaning.
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