The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
6 Points

Is Time Nothing But A Human Construct?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/8/2015 Category: Science
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,059 times Debate No: 71144
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




Time does not exist; it is a human concept. Time is but a construct of people's minds, a measurement of the world around us. There is no forwards or backwards, only change. Time is a tool to measure this change. Time as a tool is based on one individuals perception of it, as well. As we see things around us, we attribute it to a chronological order, to organize and make sense of it. This debunks theories such as time travel, and time manipulation, and the like.


Thank you Pro for posting this subject.
I accept my opponents definition of time, with a minor addition that I will leave to my opponent to reject or accept.
My opponents definition: time " a measurement of the world around us." "There is no forwards or backwards, only change." "Time is a tool to measure this change."
My added definition: The flow of time, past to present, is a result of the 2nd Law of Thermal Dynamics, in which entropy trends toward greater disorder. The flow of time, past to present, is due to change brought on by the flow of entropy, higher ordered states toward lower ordered states.
I think my opponent would agree that one minute is a specific notation of time.
I think my opponent would agree that one day is a specific notation of time.
I think my opponent would agree that one year is a specific notation of time.
The argument that time is a tangible thing.
(A)Time=(B)one minute=(C)quartz crystal vibrations 1,966,080[1]=(D)physical event=(E)physical existence
(A)Time=(B)one day=(C)one rotation of the Earth=(D)physical event=(E)physical existence
(A)Time=(B)one year=(C)one rotation around the Sun=(D)physical event=(E)physical existence
Logical Equivalence Rule[2]
A=B=C therefore A=C
The logical equivalence rule states that if two things make the same statement (A=B, B=C) that those things are the same or equal (A=C).
A=B=C=D=E, in our time examples. Therefore, Time(A)=(E)physical existence.
Equivalent statements.
1a. I will meet you over there in one minute.
1b. I will meet you over there in 1,966,080 vibrations of a quartz crystal.
2a. I will meet you over there in one day.
2b. I will meet you over there in one rotation of the Earth.
3a. I will meet you over there in one year.
3b. I will meet you over there in one Earth rotation around the Sun.
Both paired statements mean the exact same thing. Clearly the (b) statements are physical events. The (b) statements mean exactly the same as the (a). Therefore the (a) statements are physical events. Therefore time has a physical existence.

I'll turn it over to Pro.

Debate Round No. 1


I am glad I am in a debate with such an intelligent person in the subject, such as yourself. In fact, I am honored that you take the privilege to attempt to enlighten me about the theory of time. :D

Let me try to rephrase what I had said before, to clarify. I may have not been specific enough into my thoughts on time and its components. Think of "time" as the imperial and US customary systems of measurement, or the US Customary units. Time itself is the overall system of tools, containing tools such as "minutes", "days", and "years" (compared to inches, feet, and miles). What I meant before was, any unit of time is a tool measuring change. "Time" itself is a made-up group of tools, to better understand the world around us. This was my mistake, I fully take responsibility, and if you would kindly point out any more in my arguments, I would be glad to correct and/or clarify them.

Your equation, therefore, is incorrect. Time is not equal to its extended unit measurements, thus time is taken out of the equation as an equivalent figure. Also, even if time were still able to be included in the equation, it wouldn't matter. You have made an oversight in your equation, between figure (B) and figure (C). Let's look at figure (C) first, using the "day" equation. How do we know that one day is one rotation of the Earth? No, I am not questioning the definition of the "day", I am merely trying to invoke thought. One person must have perceived this phenomenon of the rotation of the Earth and tried to quantify it. To notice and define it with the human brain. If, say, the rotation had been any different in speed or had based it off of the rotation of a different entity, the "time" it took would change. Therefore, one day is not a physical event, but the perception one sees of a physical event, and those two things are not the same. It all comes back to the human brain and what it sees and creates.

But not only this, you used mathematics to try and solve the mystery of the human construct "time", which may be incorrect even if you've used correct mathematics. This is because mathematics is also a construct created by humans to try and measure and quantify things. Mathematics could be flawed, and we are not able to know because we can only see it from a human perspective. In fact, if you think about it, they are both very similar, time and mathematics. (Do not worry, though, you can still use mathematics to try and logically prove my theory wrong, and if I lose I will accept my defeat.)


Thank you Pro for that response.
I will begin by stating I think I understand your main objection, although at spots I had a hard time following your logic. So I might be off due to that reason.
If I understand your main objection correctly, it is basically the arbitrary nature of which we define time. I think you think that since this is arbitrary, that time itself doesn't exist. "If, say, the rotation had been any different in speed or had based it off of the rotation of a different entity, the "time" it took would change." This was referring to the one day=one rotation of the Earth example. Every single word we use, is arbitrarily assigned by us.
Is a cat really a cat? The word cat is a completely arbitrary label put on by us. We could all agree to call a "cat" a "pillow" tomorrow, and a cat would then be a pillow. But, whatever the cat is, the cat remains that regardless of what label we place on it. This is also true regarding time labels. Presently we define a minute to equal 1,966,080 vibrations of a quartz crystal. This minute label is completely arbitrary. Tomorrow, just like the cat, we could redefine a minute to equal 2,949,120 vibrations of a quartz crystal. But the physical nature of what a minute is, still is a physical event and therefore has a physical existence. Our arbitrary labeling system doesn't do anything to undermine the physical nature of the things we label. Whatever the cat is, regardless of the label we put on it, it is physical. However we define a minute, a day, a year, those arbitrary definitions still hold a physical existence, therefore time is a physical thing.
On Earth, one day (a time notation) reflects one rotation of the Earth. One rotation of the Earth reflects a physical event, physical events must have a physical existence. Now lets say we shift to Mercury. One complete rotation of Mercury takes 58.646 Earth days[1]. To those on Mercury, a day equals one rotation of Mercury on its axes. It is true, for those on Earth, a Earth day isn't equivalent to a Mercury day, but this doesn't mean time doesn't exist. This only points out the arbitrary nature of which we label things. Both on Earth and Mercury, the term day reflects a physical event, one rotation of the Earth or one rotation of Mercury. The label is arbitrary to both places, but both labels are expressing physical events, therefore both labels are expressing a physical existence.
Your objection, "You have made an oversight in your equation; between figure (B) and figure (C). "...using "day" equation. How do we know that one day is one rotation of the Earth?" I haven't made an oversight. I understand our labels are arbitrary. I understand this arbitrary labeling process has no impact on what things fundamentally are. It doesn't matter what we call days, minutes, or years. What matter is that these time notations are describing physical processes, therefore the time notation itself is a physical process, therefore it exists. An oversight has been made, it is that the arbitrary nature of labeling undermines physical existence. This is incorrect. Whatever I call my cat, it has a physical existence, regardless of the label. Whatever I label as a minute, or a day, if that label describes physical processes, the vibration of a quartz crystal (regardless of how many vibrations we label as a minute), or the duration a planet spins on its axes (regardless of how long that takes, on whichever planet), that label is describing a physical existence.
Time does exist. It exist because time notations, although arbitrary, are reflecting a physical process (you agree with this already, "time measures change."). If time reflects a physical process, then time itself is a physical event. Therefore time exists.

A few question should settle this.
Q1, Is the term " Earth day" a time notation?
Q2. Does the term "Earth day" reflect a physical event?
Q3. Do physical events exist?

Q4. Does, "I will meet you in one minute" mean the same thing as "I will meet you in 1,966,080 vibrations of a quartz crystal?"
Q5. Does the vibrations of a quartz crystal exist in reality?

Back to you Pro.

Debate Round No. 2


I'm sorry, you may have misunderstood me. I was not talking about labeling physical objects. I was talking about what people perceive as different physical events. This may just seem like a rouse, but it is not. There is a difference between how we quantify things and physical events themselves. First of all, you said if you named a "'cat' a 'pillow' tomorrow", it would still be the same object. This is true, if you toss around labels on any physical object you want, nothing about the physical object will change. There is a difference however, when talking about a process or group of actions. We only created time based on how we saw groups of things around us.

Maybe my example was bad? How about this example: a man named Mumbo claims that there is a thing called "Hocus Pocus", and demonstrates it by showing a star appear in the sky at night. Each of these star appearances he calls "Abra". He then begins to name other things, such as the moon appearing in the night sky, calling it "Cadabra". He also names whenever a comet appears "Alakazam". He groups all these things together, and calls it "Hocus Pocus", which he defines as the measurement of creation. He begins saying things, such as "I haven't had a good meal since 4 Cadabras ago." The individual acts he names are physical, but the overarching system called "Hocus Pocus" is not. It was created by Mumbo and is a supposed "measurement of creation". Maybe it's the crazy talking here, but I see a difference between "Hocus Pocus" being a real thing and the acts he names "Abra", "Cadabra", and "Alakazam".

And even if am spouting illogical and ludicrous nonsense with that example, your equation is still incorrect due to my first statement. Time is still not equal to its measurements. Plus your logic is wrong when you said "If time reflects a physical process, then time itself is a physical event. Therefore time exists." Time reflecting a physical event or process does not make time a physical event. When scientists found that mountains were being created underwater, many believed, instead of tectonic plates colliding, that the Earth itself was ever expanding. It grew and because of the land growing, the mountains formed. The theory reflects a physical process, however, that does not mean that the Earth expanding is a physical event. The Earth does not expand, as we are all well aware of now.

By the way, just for clarification, why did you list questions at the end of your argument? I am not trying to be rude, but they seem unnecessary to me. I am just curious.


Thank you Pro for that response.

Pro, "By the way, just for clarification, why did you list questions at the end of your argument?" Because I wanted you to answer them. I still do. So I will ask again. From my side of the table, the answer to all questions are yes. So if you answer yes, there is no need to elaborate on why you respond with a yes. However, if you answer no, I would like an explanation or argument to why "no" is the correct answer. I think this would be helpful in our debate. It would at least afford me and others who may read this, to know where your exact disagreement is and why it is. So I will try again.

Q1. Is the term "Earth day" a time notation?

Q2. Does the term "Earth day" reflect a physical event?

Q3. Do physical events exist?

Q4. Does, "I will meet you in one day" mean the same thing as "I will meet you in one complete rotation of the Earth."

Q5. Does the rotation of the Earth reflect a physical existence?

I think you questioning the existence of time is a good question. Far to many people simply assume time exists since we use it. I to questioned the existence of time. You've gone a bit farther then I had, concluding time doesn't exist. For me, once I asked the question, what is time? I found that time does exist. Going beyond thinking time was a concept and focusing on what time refers to. Time refers to real things. Therefore time is a real thing. Back to the debate thought.

Addressing your round 3 arguments

P1. Doesn't have much in the way of objections from you. The only sentence that offers an "argument" for your position is the last sentence in the paragraph. "We only created time based on how we saw groups of things around us." There needs to be a supporting argument for this sentence. Give me some examples, elaborate more, present a line of reasoning that supports this claim. Maybe you have something. But you need a bit more substance to know if this is the case.

P2. I have no idea what to do with this. I'm not going to address this analogy. Instead of using an analogy to support your position, why not argue the position directly? Argue for your position that time is just a concept instead of what Mumbo calls things. Maybe I'm just missing the point and other readers might notice it. But, I'm not seeing it, so I will just leave it alone.

P3. "Your equation is still correct due to me first statement." This is your opinion. I haven't been convinced that your objection, B=/=C. I'm still of the opinion that (B)one day=(C)one rotation of the Earth. (I will need you to refute this a bit stronger for myself to be convinced you have something) This claim doesn't hinge on a point that one day must equal one day at all points in the universe. That would be like saying, the word "cat" can only reflect what the English language calls cats. In Spanish the word "gato" reflects the very same thing. I think you are hung up on the notion that a day must be standard. And if it isn't standard across the universe, it is then just a concept. This isn't correct. If I understand you objection correctly (based on your P2 analogy that may not be correct, since I don't get that one at all).

P4. This was addressed in the beginning with the reasking of the questions.

What is time? Time has two primary components. One, time is measured through repetition, the swinging of a pendulum (grandfather clocks), the vibration of a crystal (quartz watches), the vibration of an atom (atomic clocks), the rotation of the Earth (sun dials), the rotation of the Earth around the sun (calendars/seasons). The second aspect of time is entropy. This is what drives the flow of time, past to present. The winding down of the universe. The eventual equilibrium that will occur due to this winding down and decay. Time flows in one direction due to systems trending toward disorder. Both aspects of time are physical events and since time notations are describing physical events, time is a physical event, such as the rotation of the Earth, also known as a day, a time notation.

Why is time real? Why does it exist? Because the time notations we use are descriptions of physical processes. Further evidence of this is found in "Time Dilation."

Time Dilation.

Now if you were correct that time is merely a concept, then a concept should have no reaction to external forces. Yet we have experimental confirmation that as things speed up, time runs slower. I think most people would agree that a watch keeps time. If I'm wearing a watch, and I'm also in a rocket ship, as we both accelerate time begins to run slower. At 10% the speed of light, clocks run 1% slower. At 95% the speed of light, clocks run about 33% slower.[1] Time dilation has be experimentally proved. This suggest that things we describe as time, are things that physically exist.

I'll leave it to you to argue that concepts slow down as they speed up, or at least the concept of time slows down as we speed up. Not sure what other concepts due.

Also, you haven't addressed the "Equivalency Argument" I posted in the first round.

1A. I'll meet you here in one day.

1B. I'll meet you here in one complete rotation of the Earth.

Both of these statement mean exactly the same thing. If statement (1B) reflects a physical event that exists in reality, and both statements have the exact same meaning, the statement (1A), a time notation, reflects a physical reality. Now think back a bit. We asked a question. "What is time?" One aspect of time is repetition. The rotation of the Earth is repetition. Notice how neatly this fits? Statement 1A is exactly the same as statement 1B. An aspect of time is repetition. The Earth rotates repetitiously.

Time is real, since the things we refer to as time, are real

Back to you Pro


Debate Round No. 3


AbsentMorn forfeited this round.


That's to bad. I wished you had stuck it out.

Extend all arguments.

A forfeited round is a forfeited debate in my opinion.

Some lyrics that often plays in my head, "..time keeps on ticking, ticking, ticking, into the furture..."

Debate Round No. 4


AbsentMorn forfeited this round.


I think it is TIME to call it. My opponent has tapped out. Wished you had finished, regards.
Debate Round No. 5
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by NoMagic 3 years ago
Yes, time dilation points to time being physical as well.
Posted by purpleduck 3 years ago
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Blade-of-Truth 3 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct - Con. Pro forfeited two rounds in this debate, which is rarely acceptable conduct in any debate setting. S&G - Tie. Both had proper spelling and grammar in this debate. I would suggest to Con that you use more spaces in your rounds. Like, throw a space in-between each different argument. It's much harder to focus when it's just one solid block of text for an entire round. Treat your differing arguments as if they are each their own unique paragraph. Arguments - Con. This is pretty straightforward, Pro had a burden to show that time is nothing but a human construct. By forfeiting, he failed to rebut any of Con's counter arguments from R3 on. This is a clear failure to maintain his BOP, and as such, forfeits his argument points to Con, who remained unchallenged for the rest of the debate. Sources - Con. Pro did not utilize any sources in this debate, whereas Con utilized several which served to strengthen the validity of his contentions. This is a clear win for Con.