Is Time Real? My Thought Experiment on the Nature of Time

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For this thought experiment, I present to you different views of time. My own hypothesis of time is just something I pondered as an alternative to the others. If you think each through, you’ll find that none are falsifiable, which means that you can’t prove any of them wrong. However, as with most theoretical claims, we also know that they can’t all be right.

So, where do we begin? At the beginning of course! With the creationist idea of Adam and Eve and the theory of Omphalos.

The creationist view of time

Omphalos (from the Greek word “navel”) is the theory that the Earth was created already fully formed with mountains, rivers, trees, animals, clouds and signs of age around ten thousand years ago. Adam and Eve were also created fully formed adults with the Garden of Eden. They had hair, fingernails and even navels. The plants were fully grown and the trees with fruit had growth rings. The light from the stars that would have taken millions or billions of light years appeared. There were no childhoods, no histories but only the appearance of history in all creation.

The author Chateaubriand writes about this in 1802 and Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb espouses this belief of the illusion of an old universe. Gottlieb writes:

“The bones, artifacts, partially decayed radium, potassium-argon, uranium, the red-shifted light from space, etc. – all of it points to a greater age which nevertheless is not true.”

This, of course, is a necessary theological belief of creationist religions. It is the picture of a sudden creation along with a virtual history. This explains things like the existence of fossils from the very moment of creation. This kind of thinking also works well with the theories of virtual worlds, or artificially simulated worlds.

Now the thing about a theory like Omphalos is that it opens the door for other skeptical hypotheses. “Last Thursdayism”, for instance, proposes: “Why not last Thursday?” Then there’s Bertrand Russell’s “5 Minute” hypothesis. Simply suggesting – why not 5 minutes ago? The hypotheticals rely on a view that Adam and Eve were created with the knowledge of language, speech and memories. Virtual history, which surrounded them, was convincingly authentic in every tiniest detail. Real history in appearance only, down to the subatomic level of accuracy. We could then say how do we know that the world wasn’t created last Thursday or even 5 minutes ago?

Were we created with memories of childhoods and previous events? There were also all the detailed interacting histories having their own intricate virtual histories. Not much different from a lucid dream.

The scientific view of time

Well then, that’s the creationist view of time. Science, however, tells us that history is real, the material world exists and change happens through evolution. Events were not virtual but actually happened. Evolution actually began with a sudden explosion known as the Big Bang. Perhaps billions of years ago, not thousands like theologians say.

From there it was all sequential, nanoseconds to seconds, to minutes, millenniums, to where we are now. Time is linear because Sir Arthur Eddington said so, right? Eddington said that time unfolds in one direction from past to future. This is called “Edington’s Arrow” or the Arrow of Time. Is this true?

In physics, it isn’t true because mathematically, time is symmetric.  Einstein said “space time” is a dimension. It can then be thought of as any other dimension. Up, down, right, left, forward and back time then would be past, present, future.

So, what do we know about time? The question really should be, what do we think we know about time? OK, so what do we believe about time? Well, since I’m writing the article, I’ll tell you what I believe about time. I believe that some of us believe we can pin it down. Can we? Well, we know that we feel it and we exist in it and it feels linear. But is it?

Einstein along with many other scientists have said that time itself is an illusion and has no forward or reverse or any separation between, past, present and future. It is only our personal perceptions of how we interact with this reality that gives us this illusion. Time, being a dimension, exists all at the same time and it passes different for all of us. I personally believe this and it really does explain a lot.

My own thought experiment

Now I came up with my own thought experiment that perhaps you can ponder. Almost everyone agrees that within space time, it seemingly unfolds from past to future even if only through our perception.

Consider this example. I’ll use days, but we could actually use hours or minutes, etc… What if you woke up tomorrow and you were thirty and you could remember every event from every day of your life up to the age of thirty? Then the next day you woke up and you were twelve. Again, all of your memories would be recalled up to the age of twelve. What if this happened repeatedly, waking up at a different age every day and you could remember only the time that occurred up to that age?

time universeWould you be able to distinguish between time unfolding from past to future or it occurring randomly? I say it would be indistinguishable from any other time reality scheme if your memory remained ordered.

Since the only time that we exist in is the present, then the rest are only memories of past existence. Memories unfold from past to future but, because I often see things that haven’t happened yet, I often felt that I was remembering the future. I have often wondered as to whether or not these were glitches. There is nothing to say that anything but our memories are ordered but then how do psychics see the future? I’ve read from more than one author that it was because of the existence of time as a dimension. Then really, who’s to say how time unfolds and how would anyone be able to prove it was linear? Remember, only our memories would have to be linear because the only real time in now.

Life and time are only in our memories at any given point in time because we actually exist, according to Einstein and others, at all points in our lifelines. Reality then can unfold at random points and different to all of us and none of us would ever be wiser. But the way it unfolds seems so “real” doesn’t it? Last Thursdayism is the closest theory I could find and is somewhat similar. It can be used to prove any fixed date creation scheme. So how could anyone prove that the Earth wasn’t created last week with all its inhabitants having false memories? This is easier to understand when you’re familiar with creationist theory, or Omphalos. The theory is used to explain the creation of the universe by God in an instant, already fully formed world with the appearance of having existed for billions of years. In fact, all creationist theories require false histories and memories. Now, how do we know this, is it because we remember it? Yes, but how do we know that our memories are real? Can you prove that they weren’t created artificially?

Robert Torres aka Bobby T is the author of the non-fiction book “Sin Thesis” and a self-described paranormal magnet. This article was written using excerpts from the book, which is also available at Amazon.

Copyright © 2017 Learning Mind. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, contact us.


  1. Kathryn February 20, 2015 at 3:24 am - Reply

    I do believe time is a dimension and not linear. If time even is. We created time to measure. It’s universally accepted by I feel unprovable.

  2. Lily Earhart February 20, 2015 at 8:57 am - Reply

    The only thing you can be sure of is that we exist. Yes, life may be just an impression, a lucid dream. But in order for you to be deceited, you have to exist. So life will always be true, even if it is a lie.

  3. Hussain Awadh March 9, 2015 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    Time is a man made concept designed to help us measure the passing of it. I does not exist except to us. It was mainly followed by the so called movement of the sun, and is only a measure of the now calculated earths rotation. Outside of our planet, in empty space without a sun or earth rotation to measure it, how can we measure it’s passing except by our aging bodies? In fact, without a time concept to measure, how would our bodies react? Would our minds completely ignore our decaying process because it doesn’t sense the passing of so called “Time”?

    What about outside human perspective. Does the universe measure time? Do Animals measure time? Or do they simply exist? When did we become so concerned with being, that we forgot to simply be. =] All Matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration. We are all one consciousness, there is no such thing as death, and we are merely the imagination of ourselves. The Universe observing and trying to understand itself. Earlier article mentioned that the atoms that make up our bodies are as old as the universe. Every 5 breaths we breath in 1 oxygen atom that had passed through Einsteins lungs. Now imagine the rest of humanity.

    Time? Does not exist except to our own consciousness. It is completely insignificant. We only need it to know where we should be when. In fact we don’t need it at all. I’ve tasted life without measuring time or keeping track of it. I miss it and will be going back to it soon.

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Is Time Real? My Thought Experiment on the Nature of Time