The Instigator
bobsatthepub
Pro (for)
Losing
18 Points
The Contender
brittwaller
Con (against)
Winning
67 Points

Time does not exist

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/19/2007 Category: Science
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,532 times Debate No: 681
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (10)
Votes (27)

 

bobsatthepub

Pro

Time does not exist.
Just think about it, as an object how can it. Time is merely something invented by humans to tell the difference between now and then, then does not exist. People argue the potential of time travel but how is that even plausible if nothing exists but now, it's not like all history is being saved on some hard-drive for future reference and future does not exist on some tape that we can fast forward to have a peek at what's to come. All there is, is now. Any takers?
brittwaller

Con

First, time is not an object. Time is a dimension, the fourth dimension, and taken with the three spatial dimensions in what is called space-time (I'm sure you've heard of the space-time continuum.) We exist IN time and are swept along by it. While "now" may indeed be all there is, we are aware of past moments via memory, present moments via perception, and future moments via perpetual perception. The past did exist in the present, the present exists in the present, and the future will exist in the present. In temporal terms "now" itself presupposes a "then," much like in spatial terms "here" presupposes a "there." At the very least these are relative terms - relative, that is, to our own individual perspectives. Time is different than space in that it has a permanent direction that is (as far as we know) inescapable. We can't MOVE through time like we MOVE through space; there is no way to have a race, for instance. When we change from one moment to the next, we are not traveling through time - we are all rather stationary in time. Until death and the end of any perception. Time has no speed, as space no size, but both can be quantified and measured arbitrarily by humans (seconds are to inches as hours are to miles.) The present moment is all the time that can exist, but that moment is still time existing and it was preceded by other moments and is constantly being succeeded by additional moments.

Second, even if time is an invention of human intuition - a by-product of our set of sense-apparatuses, as you suggest, it still EXISTS in a very real sense - as a way of differentiation between one instance of perception and another, for each instance of experience is different than every other. The sense-perception I am receiving while writing this sentence differs from that of the last sentence. If my "I" couldn't differentiate perception in a temporal manner, everything would truly be a blur. Less technically, even if something is invented, it still exists (at least for us.)

Third, as far as time-travel, it is a theoretical possibility. The reason why it can be spoken of is because of the curvature of space-time due to gravity. I am not a physicist or a mathematician, but I'll try to say what is usually meant as best as I understand it: what is the shortest distance between two points? A straight line, right? Wrong. Take a piece of paper and draw two points on it. Now, fold the paper so that the two points line with each other and stick your pencil through the coinciding points; they're right next to each other as opposed to however far apart the points were originally drawn on the paper. This is the basic idea behind high-speed space-travel, and evidently time-travel.

Fourth, a thought experiment: Let's say we're going to meet each other for lunch one day. How many coordinates do you need to know to appear at the event of having lunch with me?
Or, differently, listen to the Choral Fourth Movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. If time doesn't exist, why do we receive, or rather how can we receive the melody into our ears as it is played and not just all at once, in a single burst of tone?

If time did not exist, but other things in our reality remained the same, would anything CHANGE, and if so, how? Change only occurs over OVER TIME, or in time.
Debate Round No. 1
bobsatthepub

Pro

Thanks for accepting my debate. Obviously you are very well educated and it's nice to see I will get a lot out of this debate.

First, I recognize that time is not an object, because it's hard for something that doesn't exist to be anything.
Humans have a habit of needing to name everything and have things orders, time is one example of this. I could argue that if we remove intelligent thought from the picture the concept of time leaves with it, but that would be silly because without intelligence we wouldn't be having this debate. But our memories are no real concept of time, when something occurs that moment has instantly past and there is no way of confidently re-creating it and that means there is no guarantee that it actually occurred. Just like there is no way we can guarantee what is going to happen next. This means our security and understanding of were we are, how we got there and were we are going is merely an illusion developed through assumptions. Just because we have named something doesn't mean it is real. What we observe is not time, it is motion. We follow the motion of all things happening in our lives, we follow the motion of the sun, the motion of cars, the motion of a hand on a clock, not time.

Instead of looking at "time" as a straight line look at it as an instantaneous moment directly followed by another, each moment is basically a new universe created, the previous one doesn't exist and neither does the next. Time is perceived as a measurement between two moments (or two universes if you follow what I said above). A ruler measures the distance between two points in a similar way. On a ruler for example you have the start of it and the end of it. You can put your fingers on both ends as you are measuring something that is there. But like you said you can't move through time, you are measuring from one point that doesn't exist to another, you are measuring nothing.

"what is the shortest distance between two points? A straight line, right? Wrong."

When you look at that theory, you are actually traveling the same distance and it is a straight line. The only difference is that you are skipping everything on the paper, it's still the same distance. That theory is the same as a man going to sleep at night and waking up in the morning, just because he doesn't remember experiencing what has happened since he went to sleep doesn't mean nothing happened. He hasn't traveled through time, he's just missed everything.
Besides, time isn't a piece of paper, it is nothing, it's not a calendar or comic strip that you can look back and forth on.
I decided not to listen to Choral Fourth Movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, sorry but I didn't have it on me… I get your picture though. The reason we hear the melody is simple, we have a mind that follows the motion and sound and collects information from each moment stringing it together to develop our experience or what we mistake as time.

"If time did not exist, but other things in our reality remained the same, would anything CHANGE, and if so, how? Change only occurs over OVER TIME, or in time."

Just because time doesn't exist doesn't mean things like energy don't. The energy in this universe is what creates change and in turn a new moment. They follow on from each other, look at it in stages

For example

Man throws ball
Ball goes through air
Wind pushes ball to side
Ball hits wall
Ball bounces back

Although there would be almost infinite new moments created in such an action this is an example. It is movement we follow not time. Each action is a new moment, each action is a new universe that's creation relied on the actions of the one before it, that is how change occurs.
brittwaller

Con

Well, thanks for posting this debate. You bring to light an interesting viewpoint on the subject.

Let me start off by saying that I agree with your thoughts on the need for humans to categorize things and name them. It is part of human nature. We rely on language, intuition, and our senses to arrive at our categories, whether they be words spoken or written, or thoughts in our own heads. So still, what is referred to as "time" is a reference to something that in some sense exists - as a practical matter of everyday life we could not get by without temporal references. Someone might say, "I'll meet you here at 4:30 p.m.," or, "Today is my 40th birthday," or, "It took me two hours to get home from work, when it usually only takes thirty minutes." At the very least, these are only references to relative or fixed events measured against an arbitrary absolute standard (such as the length of a second being defined as "the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom") but it is a quantity of something that is measured nonetheless. How often do you reference time? Now, how often do you reference something else non-existent? ("God" does not count as an answer.)

Either way you cut it, whether you look at it from a Newtonian standpoint or a Kantian one, whatever we call "time" is crucial in our understanding of and existence in the universe. But you deny the existence of "time" altogether: You are questioning the existence (or rather, asserting the non-existence) of one of humans' fundamental conceptions of the fabric of reality. You are entitled to your belief, but the burden of proof falls to you - and you have a large basket to fill. Without the concept of time, our entire construction of reality falls apart.

Now, when I said that "we are aware of past moments via memory," I should have made it clear that I was speaking only in regard to the individual's perspective. We learn and remember other things about the past through experiences and add them to a larger storehouse of knowledge in our brains. I did not mean that memories are comparable to your hard drive/tape deck analogy you mentioned in Round 1; memory is more of a collection of associations of events, sensory inputs, and a rather general knowledge of your own personal conscious life. This was the idea Proust was trying to bring to life in "Remembrance of Things Past."
As far as relating any of this to your comment: "...our memories are no real concept of time, when something occurs that moment has instantly past(sic) and there is no way of confidently re-creating it and that means there is no guarantee that it actually occurred," it sounds like you are trying to use Hume's skepticism of cause and effect in reverse. So now, for there to be any reliable knowledge of an event, we must re-create that event. But, as soon as we do that, according to your rationale, we have no guarantee that our re-created event occurred either, so we fall into a vicious circle of regression about what has or has not happened, which would mean an automatic abandonment of anything that could be called "knowledge." I have to ask, in this situation, where do you place the foothold for knowing anything about anything? Where is the foundation for other knowledge placed? I also know, also in relation to memory, and independently of anything you may think, that I had certain experiences at certain places at certain times yesterday: I bought a shirt that I did not have three days ago, and now I have it - an event happened. I also bought a Pink Floyd concert DVD: it is a direct recording of that event, not a re-creation - I am pretty sure that it happened, as I don't believe little Pink Floyd dolls live in my TV and play the exact same concert the exact same way (camera angles and all.) The concert is 2 hours, 43 minutes, 7 seconds. Those numbers are a measurement of something - namely, time.
You say that just because we name something does not mean it is real. I agree. But your argument seems soaked in subjectivism in the first place: "our security and understanding of were(sic) we are, how we got there and were we are going is merely an illusion developed through assumptions." In that case, especially combined with your automatic denial of any possible knowledge, much less theory of knowledge, who is to say what is real and what isn't? My invisible friend Fuzzy the Bear is real enough to me; it "exists" in my head; what other justification do I need for accepting Fuzzy as part of reality?

Then you go on to say, "What we observe is not time, it is motion. We follow the motion of all things happening in our lives, we follow the motion of the sun, the motion of cars, the motion of a hand on a clock, not time." That's too bad because motion (as well as everything else) is defined in terms of space and *time*.
This is Wiktionary's definition:
motion (countable and uncountable; plural motions)

(uncountable) A state of progression from one place to another.
(countable) A change of position with respect to time.
(physics) A change from one place to another.

No time, no motion, and vice-versa. You invalidated your own argument.

As for your theory of multiple universes, you are still defining your own argument in terms of time. And although time is a dimension, it is not space. You can measure both, but their properties are completely different. You can increase your velocity in space, and get from point A to point B in less time, but velocity still involves an absolute or relative temporal reference. I say that in regard to your argument about the ruler. In the piece-of-paper experiment, the distance moves from (x) to zero once the holes are lined up. Time-travel is not something I take seriously, and is not relevant to the debate, so I won't speak of it anymore.
Also, please elaborate on what does and does not exist. Think through the necessary and contingent conditions that would have to be in place for your argument to be correct.

Bottom-line: Time, unlike "God" or the Fairy Godmother,etc, MUST exist for humans to function or for everyday life to have any meaning.
Debate Round No. 2
bobsatthepub

Pro

bobsatthepub forfeited this round.
brittwaller

Con

My argument stands as it is. I have said all that needs to be said, and evidently my opponent saw it the same way. Fun debate. Again sometime, bobsatthepub?
Debate Round No. 3
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Logical-Master 8 years ago
Logical-Master
edit: "We couldn't have motion without time" Meant to say that.
Posted by Logical-Master 8 years ago
Logical-Master
Conduct: This goes to CON. As I mentioned in another comment section, I dislike it when a debater doesn't really concoct much of an argument in his/her opening round. That and PRO forfeited his third round

Spelling and Grammar: See my forfeit policy. CON gets this vote.

Convincing arguments: Both arguments were good, but CON really crippled PRO's case when he proved that we couldn't motion without time and that PRO hadn't fulfilled his burden of proof. PRO essentially agrees that time exist, thus concedes to PRO's argument. Thus, CON gets this vote.

Reliable sources: No sources were brought up by either side, thus, it is a tie.

Yours truly,

the duke of the Cleaners, LM
Posted by Kleptin 9 years ago
Kleptin
This was an excellent debate, I'm very impressed by both sides. The arguments were well organized, presented clearly, and there was a genuine understanding on both your parts.

First, in thought, I side with Pro. I myself believe that time is a merely arbitrary thing on the basis that human perception does not dictate reality directly. The way I see it, we have indirect methods for testing whether something is "real" to us or not, our senses, but the concept of time stems immediately from the human concept of change, which requires us to make certain assumptions about the way things are and the way things should be.

That having been said, I found Con's arguments to be more detailed and well put overall. In addition, Pro's forfeited round hurt him.

Still, this is one of the better debates I've seen.
Posted by bobsatthepub 9 years ago
bobsatthepub
Hey guys, I am generally sorry I didn't get my argument in in time. I was pulled away by the family for a couple nights. Nothing I could do about it, but hey, it's Christmas times are busy.

Thanks for seeing me through the first 2/3 of my first debate though brittwaller =), highly appreciated, I enjoyed it and you did a great job. I think I kinda contradicted my self in the topic "Time does not exist" for if that was true I would have had to have written "----- does not exist" and well... were would that leave us =). I may just investigate it more from the sources you have given me thanks.

Again some time indeed

cya
Posted by rclinken 9 years ago
rclinken
Great debate. I feel that time is purely a measure. The movie lasts 1 hr 45 minutes. ..or...The car goes from 0 to 60 in 6.05 seconds....So time exists in the same sense that distance exists. i.e. Does a kilometer exist? Does a minute exist? I dont think so; it is not tangible, it cannot be measured, it IS the measure.
Posted by brittwaller 9 years ago
brittwaller
To bobsatthepub: If you're truly interested in time, and want to explore the subject more thoroughly, I suggest studying Hume, Kant, Whitehead, and Einstein first, if you haven't done so. Then go to McTaggart; from him you will find real philosophical meat and go from there. Bergson, Pierce, etc. I don't know what you have or haven't studied, so I do not want to sound condescending; just trying to be helpful in showing what is out there if you're interested.

Peace
Posted by artC 9 years ago
artC
Awesome debate.

brittwaller did a great job.
Posted by brittwaller 9 years ago
brittwaller
Yes, well, as much as I love Kant, he was not the end all/be all of philosophy or science. Put down Kant; pick up Einstein. If you would like to challenge bobsatthepub or I with you debating from the Kantian view, fine; but I'm trying to stick to one point at a time - here specifically, that time does exist. Thanks for your comment; merry x-mas.
Posted by darkenedcorridor 9 years ago
darkenedcorridor
Time is not a dimension, it is a medium (like that painting's medium was oil paints). Specifically the medium in which we know ourselves by. At least that's Kant puts it. Space, by the way is the medium by we which we see the world outside of ourselves.
Posted by ceaser 9 years ago
ceaser
interesting debate and good argument brittwaller.
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