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Offline neilep

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Is time an illusion?
« on: 09/05/2006 03:10:25 »
I wonder if there should be a philosophy thread ?..is philosophy a science ?....anyway…

I just caught the last few minutes  of a program about Time.

Time is great. There never seems to be enough time but there is lots of it !!

The prog concentrated on time travel and one of the conclusions was that time travel may be possible in theory but one of the flaws is that the time machine itself can not go back beyond it’s construction date. Has anyone else heard of this ?..If so could you please elaborate why this is so ?

…and so, the final part of the program speculated that in the future, computers will be so powerful that they will be able to create virtual realities of the past with perfect accuracy, so precisely in fact  that you would not be able to distinguish between the computers virtual reality and the real reality. People living inside this virtual reality would appear to us to be just like you and me, but their entire existence would be a simulation.

It also speculated that the people in this simulation would never be able to find the answers to the Universe and Science because they are constrained by the limits of the simulation they are in………..because,  although their reality is as real and indistinguishable from <b> real</b>  reality, the fundamental most paramount limitation is that they are not real and exist inside a computer !

This could be us, we will never know……. perhaps God is a computer programmer !

…this also,  then leads on to the question about the nature of  free will.

…any comments ?


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« Last Edit: 28/12/2009 12:30:23 by chris »


 

another_someone

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #1 on: 09/05/2006 03:31:03 »
quote:
Originally posted by neilep
I wonder if there should be a philosophy thread ?



I'm up for it.

quote:

..is philosophy a science ?....anyway…



No – science is a philosophy – philosophy is the superset, and science the subset.

quote:

The prog concentrated on time travel and one of the conclusions was that time travel may be possible in theory but one of the flaws is that the time machine itself can not go back beyond it’s construction date. Has anyone else heard of this ?..If so could you please elaborate why this is so ?



Not sure what the technology they were suggesting was, but it sounds like they were looking at some sort of transmitter/receiver mechanism, that could only send something through time if there was something there to receive it, and therefore if you have not built the receiver, you cannot send anything to it.


quote:

…and so, the final part of the program speculated that in the future, computers will be so powerful that they will be able to create virtual realities of the past with perfect accuracy, so precisely in fact  that you would not be able to distinguish the computers virtual reality to the real reality. People living inside this virtual reality would appear to us to be just like you and me, but their entire existence would be a simulation.



The issue is not really the creation of the complex image, but the peripherals to create the sensation.  Would the VR directly hook up to the nerves going into your brain (the 'brain in a vat' scenario), or will it be creating olfactory and tactile stimuli external to your body?

quote:

This could be us, we will never know……. perhaps God is a computer programmer !



This was a scenario I have speculated upon at various times (if not specifically that God was a computer programmer, but rather that the universe might be some giant information processing engine that behaved like a computer, whether or not it was deliberately programmed by some sentient being, or just accidentally happened to be as it is – we could not distinguish the difference).

quote:

…this also,  then leads on to the question about the nature of  free will.



That is a problem, no matter what we are.  So long as humans are subject to the same determistic laws as everything else in the universe, and so long as we cannot say that humans are made of some other matter than everything else in the universe, then you have the problem that you must either ascribe free will to everything (which rather undermines the premise of modern science), or to nothing (which rather undermines the independence of modern scientists).




George
 

Offline neilep

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #2 on: 09/05/2006 04:01:34 »
quote:
Originally posted by another_someone

quote:
Originally posted by neilep
I wonder if there should be a philosophy thread ?


I'm up for it.
 So am I.

quote:

..is philosophy a science ?....anyway…


No – science is a philosophy – philosophy is the superset, and science the subset.
Thanks for clearing that up.

quote:

The prog concentrated on time travel and one of the conclusions was that time travel may be possible in theory but one of the flaws is that the time machine itself can not go back beyond it’s construction date. Has anyone else heard of this ?..If so could you please elaborate why this is so ?


Not sure what the technology they were suggesting was, but it sounds like they were looking at some sort of transmitter/receiver mechanism, that could only send something through time if there was something there to receive it, and therefore if you have not built the receiver, you cannot send anything to it.
 I think it was more fundamental than that George, more a question of physics laws, after all...they'd be really silly to build a time machine which requires there to be a receptor in the target time zone !!...:D...it would make for an almighty faux pas in the extreme ! :D


quote:

…and so, the final part of the program speculated that in the future, computers will be so powerful that they will be able to create virtual realities of the past with perfect accuracy, so precisely in fact  that you would not be able to distinguish the computers virtual reality to the real reality. People living inside this virtual reality would appear to us to be just like you and me, but their entire existence would be a simulation.


The issue is not really the creation of the complex image, but the peripherals to create the sensation.  Would the VR directly hook up to the nerves going into your brain (the 'brain in a vat' scenario), or will it be creating olfactory and tactile stimuli external to your body?
...well yes that is also a a very good point, but the point was directed at the 'reality' from the virtual persons perspective, not how you or I would interact with it.
quote:

This could be us, we will never know……. perhaps God is a computer programmer !


This was a scenario I have speculated upon at various times (if not specifically that God was a computer programmer, but rather that the universe might be some giant information processing engine that behaved like a computer, whether or not it was deliberately programmed by some sentient being, or just accidentally happened to be as it is – we could not distinguish the difference).


Quote
…this also,  then leads on to the question about the nature of  free will.


That is a problem, no matter what we are.  So long as humans are subject to the same determistic laws as everything else in the universe, and so long as we cannot say that humans are made of some other matter than everything else in the universe, then you have the problem that you must either ascribe free will to everything (which rather undermines the premise of modern science), or to nothing (which rather undermines the independence of modern scientists).

I would have thought the opposite to be true, that the lack of freewill denies the premise of modern science as we would then be restricted by the range of our ' free will'!...perhaps I misunderstood ?







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another_someone

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #3 on: 09/05/2006 11:45:54 »
quote:
Originally posted by neilep
quote:
Originally posted by another_someone
Not sure what the technology they were suggesting was, but it sounds like they were looking at some sort of transmitter/receiver mechanism, that could only send something through time if there was something there to receive it, and therefore if you have not built the receiver, you cannot send anything to it.

I think it was more fundamental than that George, more a question of physics laws, after all...they'd be really silly to build a time machine which requires there to be a receptor in the target time zone !!



But if the physics required it, then silly or not, there would not be an alternative (rather like saying that it is silly to build a radio transmitter that requires a radio receiver to receive it, but that is all you are allowed to do with radio transmissions).

quote:

well yes that is also a a very good point, but the point was directed at the 'reality' from the virtual persons perspective, not how you or I would interact with it



Yes, but reality is all about sensation (or perceived sensation), so without interaction there is no reality.

quote:

quote:

So long as humans are subject to the same determistic laws as everything else in the universe, and so long as we cannot say that humans are made of some other matter than everything else in the universe, then you have the problem that you must either ascribe free will to everything (which rather undermines the premise of modern science), or to nothing (which rather undermines the independence of modern scientists).


I would have thought the opposite to be true, that the lack of freewill denies the premise of modern science as we would then be restricted by the range of our ' free will'!...perhaps I misunderstood ?



I think you have misunderstood.

I did say that the lack of free will would undermine science, since it would undermine the independence of the scientist from his observation.

But, what I also said was that science requires everything in the universe (including human beings) to behave in a predictable way (if it is not predictable, then it cannot be studied by science), and thus denies the possibility of free will.

These two contradictory requirements are the paradox of science.



George
« Last Edit: 09/05/2006 11:48:29 by another_someone »
 

Offline Hadrian

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #4 on: 09/05/2006 14:43:20 »

Personally I believe that time is a product of the mind. It does not exist out of our perception of it. Everything else in the universe only concerns itself with the moment it is in.

(Please George don’t blow a gasket it is only my way of understanding it.)


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another_someone

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #5 on: 09/05/2006 15:59:53 »
quote:
Originally posted by Hadrian
(Please George don’t blow a gasket it is only my way of understanding it.)



Blow a gasket – me?  I'll have you know that my gaskets are better made than that :D

quote:

Personally I believe that time is a product of the mind. It does not exist out of our perception of it. Everything else in the universe only concerns itself with the moment it is in.



In one sense, anything only exists insofar as we perceive it to exist.  Any existence that exists outside of our perception of it, whether it is there or not, in unknowable to us.

Beyond that, things exist, not by virtue of any physical reality, but by virtue of their relationship to other things that exist.  These relationships must be as true over time as they are over space.

Clearly, this does not answer what time is, and whether our perception of time distorts the reality of time (in some way, it must inevitably be true that perception is always a highly distorted lens – as any police officer will tell you, there is nothing more unreliable than an eye witness, and we are but eye witnesses to the universe).



George
 

Offline Laith

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #6 on: 09/05/2006 17:01:00 »
If you think about time it looks like it consists of:
Past Time - which no longer exists
Future Time - does not yet exist
Present time - takes no time at all

correct me if I’m wrong but I think its theoretically easier to travel to the future than travel to the past, 2 possible ways are to orbit a giant star, or travel really fast, lets say you orbited a giant star for 1 year then MAYBE 10 years have passed on earth and same for traveling fast (depending on how fast you are of course)
as for past time travel its trickier and harder, one way (and I don’t know if there are other ways) is to enter a 'spinning' black hole, avoid singularity (which looks like a ring here) and exit the black hole from the other side, in theory you will be in a different space-time and possibly in the past, but I don’t think you can control when and where you will end up after.

As for free will..
I know relativity implies that all past, present and future co exist, so it doesn’t matter if we make decisions or not, but quantum physics implies that the future is not determined and thus free will exists.


Laith
« Last Edit: 22/05/2006 20:40:24 by Laith »
 

Offline Laith

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #7 on: 09/05/2006 17:17:47 »
Neil, do you remember the name of the program? i'd like to watch it

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Offline DocN

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #8 on: 09/05/2006 17:29:24 »
Perhaps, God is not just a computer programmer but the "cosmic computer", too
 

another_someone

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #9 on: 09/05/2006 18:12:28 »
quote:
Originally posted by Laith
Time consists of:
Past Time - which no longer exists
Future Time - does not yet exist
Present time - takes no time at all




What exists is dependent upon that which we perceive to exist.  We cannot know of any absolute existence, only of our perception of existence.

The past exists because we perceive of its existence (i.e. we remember it existing).  In fact, it is the present that cannot exist, because we cannot know of anything until some small fraction of a second after it has happened.

Ofcourse, there are degrees of past, some closer than others.

quote:

correct me if I’m wrong but I think its theoretically easier to travel to the future than travel to the past, 2 possible ways are to orbit a giant star, or travel really fast, lets say you orbited a giant star for 1 year then MAYBE 10 years have passed on earth and same for traveling fast (depending on how fats you are of course)
as for past time travel its trickier and harder, one way (and I don’t know if there are other ways) is to enter a 'spinning' black hole, avoid singularity (which looks like a ring here) and exit the black hole from the other side, in theory you will be in a different space-time and possibly in the past, but I don’t think you can control when and where you will end up after.



The question is not whether we can travel into the future, it is only the speed with which we travel into the future.  So long as tomorrow will come, and so long as we will exist in the tomorrow, we will have travelled into the future.  All that relativity describes (at subluminal speeds) are ways to accelerate this process, so that tomorrow comes sooner than it might otherwise (or, in other words, our own time slows down, as our internal clock sees one day passing, as the external clock sees two or more days passing).

What happens at superluminal speeds (which is effectively the situation inside a black hole) is another matter.

Ofcourse, one key aspect of all of this is whether we are actually dealing with changes in time, or changes in our perception of time.  Our perception of time is based upon our memory, and upon processes that synchronise with our memory.  It is self evident that we cannot remember the future, but is this proof that we cannot travel backwards in time, or only that we would lose our memory of the future if we were to travel backwards in time?

Ofcourse, the real issue is not whether you can travel backwards in time, but whether the universe can be divided up into some parts that are moving backward and some parts that are moving forward, and if we can then step between the two portions.  This is where the issue of superluminal speeds and black holes prove the potential opportunity, because of the hypothesis that space inside an event horizon may have strange time properties, and thus by stepping between these spaces, we can step into and out of space that is moving in opposite directions, and thus we continue in each case to travel with the flow of time, and hence continue to accumulate memories rather than lose them.

quote:

As for free will..
I know relativity implies that all past, present and future co exist, so it doesn’t matter if we make decisions or not, but quantum physics implies that the future is not determined and thus free will exists.



Quantum physics may assume that the future does not yet exist, but how does it imply so?



George
« Last Edit: 09/05/2006 18:23:42 by another_someone »
 

Offline Laith

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #10 on: 09/05/2006 18:39:56 »
When I said before "time consists of future, past, present, etc...” I should've said that I meant this is how we or our brains perceive it when we think of it now, sorry if it sounded like I’m stating facts, I just said it because the topic is “time is an illusion”

How does quantum physics imply so?
I’m not a physicist and this is really out of my field, but I’m also interested in this subject a lot, so please keep correcting me if I was wrong, I know that quantum physics was born out of a series of experiments with results that had no satisfactory explanation, when physicists started looking at the atomic and sub-atomic levels, the familiar laws failed, there were no certainties, so the question was how can the future of the entire universe be out there, if the future of a single particle is so unpredictable, and not following a set of laws like relativity?
This implies that the future is not out there or does not yet exist so our decisions could change the outcome in the future, right?


Laith
 

Offline neilep

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #11 on: 09/05/2006 18:53:33 »
quote:
Originally posted by Laith

Neil, do you remember the name of the program? i'd like to watch it

Laith



It was a great program Laith (well, the last ten minutes were)..it was broadcast on one of the UK satellite channels and it's from the series called HORIZON.....very repectable makers of science orientated documentaries...unfortunately (hang on...goes to look at last night's tv schedule....sod it !!..it's not listed !)...because I missed the beginning I never caught the title of the program. *le sigh*:(

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Offline Laith

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #12 on: 09/05/2006 18:58:44 »
Haha thanks Neil, ya I know horizon, its great I saw most of the old episodes you can find them at UKnova if you want, is this a new one?

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #13 on: 09/05/2006 19:02:51 »
quote:
Originally posted by Laith
there were no certainties, so the question was how can the future of the entire universe be out there, if the future of a single particle is so unpredictable, and not following a set of laws like relativity?
This implies that the future is not out there or does not yet exist so our decisions could change the outcome in the future, right?



That there are no certainties is merely to state that we cannot be certain of a thing (I know there are various interpretations of what 'we' means, and more correctly, that any observer cannot be certain of the future).

This does not give us control over the future.  On the contrary, it denies us control over the future, since it makes the future all the more unpredictable.  For us to have absolute control over the future, it implies that the consequence of our actions be absolutely known, and thus that the future is deterministic.

This does not alter my statement that either everything has free will, or nothing has free will; but you could argue that this lack of determinism within quantum physics might indicate that in some way, everything does have free will, even a single electron.  In some way, this might be both an unorthodox view, and an unscientific view, but it is the only view by which I could presume that a human being could have true free will (as distinct from the mere illusion of free will).



George
 

Offline Laith

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #14 on: 09/05/2006 19:11:37 »
there are no certainties but there are probabilities, maybe we do not have absolute control of our future  because other people's actions (in quantum physics other particles actions) affect ours.. and so

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #15 on: 09/05/2006 19:28:33 »
Free will does not really mean control.  We can choose to take a step, but we don't have total control of wether we land the step, or trip on a root.  Likewise, we can choose to breathe, but we have no control over whether oxygen is gaurenteed to enter our lungs.

edit: typo

E=MC2... m=deg/360 X C... C= PiD

therefore E=deg/360 X 2(PiD)
« Last Edit: 09/05/2006 19:30:44 by science_guy »
 

another_someone

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #16 on: 09/05/2006 19:41:38 »
quote:
Originally posted by science_guy

Free will does not really mean control.  We can choose to take a step, but we don't have total control of wether we land the step, or trip on a root.  Likewise, we can choose to breathe, but we have no control over whether oxygen is gaurenteed to enter our lungs.



Free will does not mean control (although the expression of it requires some degree of control), but it does mean non-determinism.

If someone can look at you, and predict with absolute certainty what your actions will be, then clearly you do not have free will, but are merely a mechanical component within the universe.

This is why one may yet be able to argue that the non-deterministic elements of quantum physics might be used to argue that everything, including human beings, have an element of free will.

The underlying question still remains as to whether the universe is truly non-deterministic, or merely that we are inherently unable to determine outcomes beyond some degree of precision.



George
 

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #17 on: 10/05/2006 23:42:21 »
quote:
Originally posted by neilep



{b]…and so, the final part of the program speculated that in the future, computers will be so powerful that they will be able to create virtual realities of the past with perfect accuracy, so precisely in fact  that you would not be able to distinguish between the computers virtual reality and the real reality. People living inside this virtual reality would appear to us to be just like you and me, but their entire existence would be a simulation.

It also speculated that the people in this simulation would never be able to find the answers to the Universe and Science because they are constrained by the limits of the simulation they are in………..because,  although their reality is as real and indistinguishable from real  reality, the fundamental most paramount limitation is that they are not real and exist inside a computer !

This could be us, we will never know……. perhaps God is a computer programmer !

…this also,  then leads on to the question about the nature of  free will.

…any comments ?


Men are the same as women, just inside out !



The Matrix exists!

The mind is like a parachute. It works best when open.  -- A. Einstein
 

Offline Roy P

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #18 on: 12/05/2006 22:43:49 »
Is time infinitely divisible? If so, a stationary vehicle just about to accelerate forward will never attain a forward movement.

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #19 on: 12/05/2006 22:57:38 »
Good post Roy ...it's well heavy for me !

Is that akin to why can I never clap my hands ?...cos I start off a foot apart, then 6 inches then 3 then 1.5...etc etc ad infinitum !!...so how can I clap my hands then , If my hands are always going half the next distance ?



How about this program about time folks http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/documentaries/features/time.shtml I hope it makes it over to mainstream BBC too

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #20 on: 12/05/2006 23:22:32 »
quote:
Originally posted by Roy P
Is time infinitely divisible? If so, a stationary vehicle just about to accelerate forward will never attain a forward movement.



The whole discipline of calculus is based upon an infinite number of infinitely divided segments creating a finite answer.



George
 

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #21 on: 12/05/2006 23:34:37 »
quote:
Originally posted by neilep


Is that akin to why can I never clap my hands ?...cos I start off a foot apart, then 6 inches then 3 then 1.5...etc etc ad infinitum !!...so how can I clap my hands then , If my hands are always going half the next distance ?
NO COMMENT:)



 
quote:
How about this program about time folks http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/documentaries/features/time.shtml I hope it makes it over to mainstream BBC too
I saw the series a while back, it was ok, not to heavy and quite enjoyable.

Michael
 

Offline Laith

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #22 on: 22/05/2006 20:11:45 »
I can hit the submit button to put this post, or I can just close the page and discard the post, I can choose to drink tea or drink coffee, isn’t that free will?
if we live in a 4d universe, would that mean that I already thought about having tea or coffee and chose tea for example and I’m just reliving it now??
How do you define free will?


Laith
« Last Edit: 22/05/2006 20:21:43 by Laith »
 

Offline dynamix

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #23 on: 30/05/2006 06:34:14 »
quote:
Originally posted by neilep

Good post Roy ...it's well heavy for me !

Is that akin to why can I never clap my hands ?...cos I start off a foot apart, then 6 inches then 3 then 1.5...etc etc ad infinitum !!...so how can I clap my hands then , If my hands are always going half the next distance ?



There are a few of these little "paradoxes", based on the infinite division model supplied by calculus-based mathematics. Another one is that you can, supposedly, never close a door, for ostensibly the same reason.

Here is a "different" way of looking at the problem, based on that eternally open door. (You can apply it to other examples, but the door-closing one is easier to describe and understand - somewhat less abstract!)

I submit, IMO, that the problems arise due to an inaccuracy of language, rather than a failure of Physics or Mathematics. In other words, what do we mean by the term "the door is closed"?

The ordinary lay-person's definition is regulated solely by the necessity of having "the wood in the hole". They are describing a situation where the elements, thieves, strangers, even family members in the next room, etc. are kept out, and they are thus "inside" (another ambiguous term!) and protected. The scientific definition, however, would require that the door & jam were completely joined at the molecular level, which, of course, given the fact that they were probably manufactured from several different pieces of wood (even if they weren't, you would need the sawdust from the original cut, and an absence of Chaos Theory!), is physically, and therefore scientifically, impossible. Hence, on that basis, the Calculus model is correct, and we can never close that blinkin' door! The same logic extends to your hand-clap. Even when you clap REALLY loud, at the point of contact there will still be a microscopic air-gap between your hands. If there was not, your hands would be joined at the molecular level, and you would probably be typing with your toes... unless you apply the same logic to the process of touching your toe to the keyboard! ;)

So you see, there is no real discrepancy, merely an ambiguity of language. If you allow for the ever-present air-gap, however small it may be, the number of steps to door-closure, hand-clapping, etc, becomes finite, and the problem is solved!

And for my next trick... :)

"What's a unified theory, daddy?"...
"Ask your mother!"
 

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #24 on: 30/05/2006 10:54:34 »
quote:
Originally posted by Laith
I can hit the submit button to put this post, or I can just close the page and discard the post, I can choose to drink tea or drink coffee, isn’t that free will?
if we live in a 4d universe, would that mean that I already thought about having tea or coffee and chose tea for example and I’m just reliving it now??
How do you define free will?



If we live in a 4D universe, where time is already predetermined, then thought is merely an illusion.

Thought is the process where by a contents of your mind change over time.  If time is an illusion, then the contents of your mind is already predetermined, it is merely your awareness of that contents that is different (i.e. 10 minutes ago the mind that existed in that environment did not yet contain the memories that it has 10 minutes later, but those memories already existed in the 4D extrapolation of your mind, an extrapolation that would no more see those memories as accumulating over time as it might see them dissipate in forgetfulness if time were to move in the opposite direction).



George
 

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Re: Is time an illusion?
« Reply #24 on: 30/05/2006 10:54:34 »

 

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