Table of Contents
Journey out of Time
THE NATURE OF TIME:
WHEN TIME BEGINS. . . .
assume that all matter were to disappear
from the world . . . there would no longer be any
space or time."
you must put time out of your mind and
know that in that world there is neither time nor a
measure of time, but everything is an eternal moment".
with time, not in time."
Augustine of Hippo
"Time shall be no more."
John the Apostle
"Time began with the
world or after it."
(B.C. 2040 A.D.)
Part I: The Nature of Time
TIME: THE PSYCHOLOGICAL ACCOUNT
Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away.
the opening lines of one stanza of Isaac Watt's well-known hymn.
It expresses the common sense view
of the flow of time, a steady stream of something in which we
live, carrying us along in its current, flowing always at the
same speed and in the same direction, and passing across the
stage of our experience like a tape upon which events are being
indelibly impressed. It comes out of eternity and passes on into
eternity, allowing us an opportunity to act out our little part
in the allotted span.
It has a reality apart from our
consciousness since it obviously continues to flow by while we
sleep. Moreover, it was unreeling before we were born and continues
to unreel after we are buried. It is as endless as eternity.
It is in fact co-existent with eternity, and differs only from
it by being a measured stretch of current that has direction
of flow, rather than the immeasurable stillness of eternity that
simply exists everywhere without movement. At least, so it seems.
. . .
Nothing happens outside of
it because it is inconceivable that it could. There has always
been time, and all events are embedded in it, even creation itself.
Before the universe existed, time must have been passing even
in eternity, while God was making his plans. When the world comes
to an end, we have to ask how there can possibly be "no
more time" (as Revelation10:6 (1)
seems to say) since God and the angels
surely continue, and so will we as God's children. At any rate,
such is the common sense view of things.
1. "And [the angel] sware by him who
lives for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that
are therein, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that
there should be time no longer " (Revelation 10:6).
experience tells us that the flow of time is not always the same. Sometimes
it accelerates. At other times it slows up. Perhaps it can even stop altogether!
Whatever may be the truth of the matter, experience tells us that our
personal measurement of time is highly variable. Fifteen minutes under
the probings of a dentist can be an age. One hour in front of our favourite
TV programme is gone in a moment. The time that lovers spend together
is no time at all!
The common sense view tells
us that time is constant in its flow, unvarying and unending.
But experience challenges this, now and then.(2) Let us explore the circumstances under which such
challenges may arise. They seem to depend on some factors that
are external to ourselves and some factors that are within
Some of the external factors
are such things as the time of day, environmental temperature,
darkness, extended periods of absolute silence, total deprivation
of sense stimulation, and involvement in a threatening situation
or an actual accident.
Some of the external factors
are such things as the time of day, environmental temperature,
darkness, extended periods of absolute silence, total deprivation
of sense stimulation, and involvement in a threatening situation
or an actual accident.
Some of the internal factors are
age (childhood, maturity, or senility), body temperature (whether
due to fever or to environmental conditions), hypnosis, the action
of drugs or poisons, potential starvation, and sex (whether male
Other internal factors are extremes
of pain or fear, pleasure or excitement. These, too, effectively
distort our awareness of the passage of time, the former enormously
slowing it up and the latter substantially accelerating it. It
has been observed that, in retrospect, we retain only vague memories
of what was happening when time was dragging, but vivid memories
when time was flying. It is as though our estimate of time is
somehow adjusted to the intensity of our awareness.
2. On some research done in this area, see
Alton J. DeLong, "Phenomenological Space-Time: Towards an
Experiential Relativity", Science, vol. 217, 7 August,
1981, p. 681.
One of the first investigators
to conduct quantifiable experiments relating to the effect of
body temperature on time was Hudson Hoagland of the Worchester
Foundation for Experimental Biology in the United States.(3) When his wife had influenza
and was running a high temperature (104 F.), he happened to notice
that her ability to estimate time was significantly disturbed.
On an occasion of an emergency visit to the local drugstore on
her behalf which had occupied not more than twenty minutes by
the clock, she was absolutely certain that he had been gone for
at least an hour. There was such a remarkable discrepancy in
her time sense that he decided to investigate it. To this end
he designed a number of experiments, and these experiments revealed
a very clear straight-line relationship between her temperature
and her error in estimate of the time interval.
He instructed her to count
to sixty at what she believed to be one second intervals. He
used a stopwatch and noted precisely what number she reached
in her counting when one minute had lapsed by the clock. He repeated
this a number of times as her temperature fluctuated, and for
each clocked minute he plotted her total count against her temperature.
He found, for example, that when her temperature registered 97.4
F., she had counted to 60, when in fact the clock showed only
52 seconds had passed. By the time her temperature had risen
to 103 F. she had counted to 60 when in fact only 34 seconds
had passed. Thus the estimated passage of time had clearly accelerated
for her, flowing through her consciousness at almost twice the
normal speed. By extrapolation from Hoagland's data one may suppose
that when her temperature reached 104.2 F, time would appear
to pass at twice the speed. The scatter of Hoagland's figures
shows remarkably little variability in count for successive estimates
at any given temperature over the range from 97 F. to 103 F.,
the relationship being clearly a straight line one. As her temperature
rose, her sense of the passage of time steadily accelerated and
she reached a count of 60 in less and less time. At the height
of her fever, when he went to the drugstore, her count must have
been almost three times as fast as it should have been, so that
his 20 minute absence seemed to her more like 60 minutes. It
is therefore apparent that psychological time is significantly
3. For work done by Hudson Hoagland, see Herbert
Woodrow, "Time Perception" in Handbook of Experimental
Psychology, edited by S.S. Stevens, New York, Wiley, 1951,
p.1231; and also John Cohen, "Psychological Time",
Scientific American, vol. 211, no. 5, 1964, p.117, 118.
French have for many years been particularly interested in this subject.
Long before Hoagland's experiments, a French psychologist, Henri Pieron,
suggested that because a subject's psychological time sense is exaggerated
at higher temperatures, the speed of the operation of the brain itself
must have accelerated, chemical reactions at a higher temperature taking
place at a higher speed.
Hoagland thus concluded that
there is some kind of chemical pacemaker in the brain, a sort
of temperature regulated balance wheel in our psychological clock
that governs our subjective sense of the rate at which time is
passing through the mental recorder. Its seconds intervals (like
the tick of a clock) are shorter or longer depending on the temperature
of the tissue, and our unconscious computer that tells us when
60 seconds have passed is out of register with the time told
by a mechanical time piece unless the time piece also forms
part of our computer's frame of reference.
We measure time by change.
But change has to be perceived and perceiving involves some kind
of activity of the mind that is almost certainly linked to the
electrochemical processes of the brain. So we now suspect that
altered temperatures upset the normal operating speed of these
processes. The higher the temperature, the more rapidly the "frames"
are recorded and the greater the number of them per time unit:
the lower the temperature, the more slowly they are recorded
and the fewer of them per unit of time.
The hibernating animal whose temperature
steadily falls until he finally goes to sleep, probably skips
straight from the picture of the last day of autumn to the first
day of spring. There is no experienced interval in this "skip."
The eye of its mind therefore takes only two photographs in that
interval -- the first falling snowflake and the last melting
icicle. The intervening winter is by-passed entirely. As a sun
dial counts only the sunny hours, so the animal's consciousness
perceives only the warm days. On its last wakeful day in the
fall, the sun declines more and more slowly as its own temperature
falls and it loses consciousness even before the sun has actually
set. It is months later that one day in the spring as the warming
sun rises higher in the morning and the environmental temperature
allows the animal to return to a waking state, it opens its eyes
to see the sun already risen. In the interval it has not known
that the sun was daily continuing its circuit across the sky.
Kaleidoscoping its last moments of wakefulness in the fall with
its first day of wakefulness in the spring, it had not actually
seen the sun go down at all. The winter months have simply been
eclipsed. There have, in fact, been no intervening winter sunsets.
if the only creatures alive were creatures like this? Their picture of
the world would be the only reality they could know and they might very
well assume that it was the reality. We are in much the same position,
except that we depend on mechanical clocks rather than biological ones,
and these mechanical clocks continue to run even when we are unconscious.
Nevertheless, it is we who have set the speed at which they go, according
to the speed at which we have sensed the sun in its journeyings.
A "real" rate of flow of time?
It is true that this is all
subjective. Yet the question arises whether the flow rate of
time that is normal to human experience may not actually be determined
by the mean temperature at which our bodies operate. This temperature
is remarkably constant for all men all over the world -- at the
equator, in the tropics, in temperate zones, and even in the
Arctic. Thus if body temperature does regulate time sense in
any way, we all agree pretty well on the speed at which time
is passing, i.e., at what speed the sun is making its daily round.
. . . and therefore at what speed to set our mechanical clocks.
But what if we lived on a
planet where the normal body temperature happened to be 104 F.
(as it is in birds) instead of 98 F.? Of course, the sun would
go across the sky at its own fixed rate, whatever that happens
to be, but if we with our new time sense perceived it to be going
more slowly than it now is and accordingly set our clocks to
match its slower time, how could we ever discover it? How then
can we know what the objective flow rate of time really is? We
naturally assume that there is some such objective flow rate
for the Universe but we cannot tell what it is for sure because
it is locked into our stream of consciousness, and this is determined
by our temperature.
We ourselves as part of the system
cannot know whether our time sense reflects the actual passage
of time. Perhaps God observes the movements of the Universe at
twice the speed we do, or only at half the speed we do. To Him
who stands outside of it, uninfluenced by temperature or any
other such factor, time may pass at an entirely different rate,
the "actual" rate one might say. Thus there could be
a general conspiracy to which all objective time markers within
the system are party, and we assess the flow rate of all these
markers in the context of our own consciousness. We set our clocks
to keep our time as determined by the speed at which we
observe the passage of the sun across the sky of our experience.
We filter these signals through our minds and every kind of marker
is forced through the same filtering process, both the clocks
we make and the length of the day by which we set them. Of this
filtering process we are unaware.
time," whatever that is, may be much faster or much slower than we
apprehend it to be. Our time may depend upon the mean temperature at which
our minds operate. If all life on some other planet operated at a temperature
of, say, 70 F. or 110 F., the time frame would be very different. Presumably
the order of events would remain the same but the time intervals
between these events, and therefore the speed at which things happen,
would be experienced very differently. The problem is that we could only
discover it if we, unlike that other planet's inhabitants, wore some kind
of insulated clothing to keep our body temperature precisely where it
now is, while we visited with them.
Such, then, is one of the
factors which conceals from us the "real" rate at which
time flows by
Now it is also possible that
the size of our bodies relative to the Universe has a
bearing on how we experience the passage of time. To a tiny insect
with a life span of only a few hours, a geological age would
be an eternity. The size of an organism obviously has a bearing
simply because a highly complex creature of large proportions
needs more time just to reach adult size, and thus has to "take
longer at meals" in order to get enough food to sustain
itself and to grow up. Cell division and multiplications at a
certain "normal" rate, and obviously the larger the
number of cells that have to multiply to generate the adult organism
the longer the time it will take. Within certain very loose limits
a larger animal will have a longer life. The insect that lives
for a few hours presumably passes through all the phases of maturing
and the experiences which accompany them from birth to death
in those few hours. Though it is difficult to conceive of it,
it seems likely that such a creature would pass through its carefree
childhood, anxious adolescence, bored middle life, and disappointed
old age: and who knows but that it looks forward in its childhood
to a lifetime as stretching out before it, or thinks back in
the retrospect of old age upon what is past, in a way which is
somewhat analogous to the human situation. This may not be true
of insects, of course. But it seems likely that it is partially
true of such a creature as a dog whose life span is nevertheless
only about one fifth of ours. So size obviously has a bearing
on experienced time. One Victorian writer, Ambrose Bierce, wrote:(4)
4. Bierce, Ambrose: quoted by E. L. Hawke
in a written communication for the discussion of a Paper presented
by F. T. Farmer, "The Atmosphere: Its Design and Significance
in Creation", Transactions of the Victoria Institute
(England), vol. 71, 1939, p.54, 55.
being purely relative, nothing is large and nothing is small. If everything
in the Universe were increased in bulk by one thousand diameters, nothing
would be any larger than it was before. To an understanding familiar
with the relativity of magnitude and distance, the spaces and masses
of the astronomer would be no more impressive than those of the microscopist.
For anything we know to the
contrary, the visible universe may be the small part of an atom
with its component ions floating in the life-fluid (luminiferous)
of some animal. Possibly the wee creatures peopling the corpuscles
of our own blood are overcome with the proper emotion when contemplating
the unthinkable distance from one of these corpuscles to another.
was quite right when he exclaimed after looking through a microscope
for the first time: "This is the end of size."(5) He might with equal justice
have said, "This is the end of time." In neither
case would it have been intended that there was no more size
or no more time but only that both were entirely relative. And
we should remember that, when we speak of something as being
relative, we also mean relative experientially.
Man lives three score years
and ten. The period is long enough relative to the life of an
insect to make our estimate of time very different. Did we live
as long as the pre-Flood patriarchs who survived for almost a
thousand years, a geological age might strike us as not quite
such a long period, and an historical epoch might seem very brief.
There are among us a small
number of unfortunate individuals suffering from a disease called
progeria which brings about a frighteningly accelerated
rate of aging of the body. Within a period of ten to fifteen
years these people pass through infancy and childhood, adolescence,
middle age, senility, and death. Each stage is marked by all
the symptoms more or less characteristic of a normally spanned
life. By the age of twelve or so, the sufferer is already an
old man, decrepit in physique, hard of hearing, dim of eye, bald
5. Malebranche: quoted by John Taylor, Man
in the Midst, London, Highway Press, 1955, p.15.
and toothless, shrunken in appearance.
All the tell-tale marks associated with old age are evident, even sometimes
to the hardening of the arteries. One foot is already in the grave.
To such individuals, we who
survive to the presently allotted span of life must appear as
the pre-Flood patriarchs do to us. A corollary of this would
naturally be that, to the pre-Flood patriarchs, we who think
we are in health would actually appear as pitiful progeriacs.
And possibly this is the truth of the matter: but because we
have come to accept our present life span as normal, we discount
the records of antiquity as unbelievable.(6)
While they are reported to
have lived to almost a thousand years, we may live to almost
a hundred: and while we live to almost a hundred years, the progeriac
lives to about ten. The proportions are curiously much the same
-- ten to one. Who can say what a normal life span really is,
or ought to be? But now, if our life time passes at a normal
rate for us, did the pre-Flood patriarchs live at a much slower
rate? Did time therefore seem to pass much more slowly in each
of their days? Who knows whose biological clocks are actually
telling the right time? We don't know what a short time is or
a long time: and it seems virtually impossible for us ever to
find out how long long is. Their one thousand years may
have seemed to them, experientially, no longer than our mere
three score years and ten. The progeriac, in his "younger"
days, perhaps watches those around him growing slowly into potential
Methuselahs, while he himself experiences the flow of time at
a "normal" pace.
Hypnosis can have an
even more dramatic effect on time sense than changes in body
temperature. Experiments were reported in MD Canada in
1966 in which, under hypnosis, subjects could be made to experience
a thousand discrete "events" in an interval of five
L. F. Cooper of the University of Georgetown suggested to a hypnotized
patient that a metronome which was actually beating once per
clock second was beating at a much lower rate.(8) He demonstrated that it was possible
6. Progeria: for the implications of this disease upon the
Genesis record of longevity, see Arthur C. Custance, The Seed
of the Woman, Hamilton, Ontario, Can., Doorway Publications,
7. "Biologic Time" in Science Report, MD of Canada,
vol.7, no. 2, Feb., 1966, p.47.
8. Cooper, L. F., "Trance Slows Down Time", reported
in Science News Letter, 15 May, 1948, p.311
for a subject to accept the suggested
time scale and fit it into her dreams. The passage of only a few minutes
was accordingly experienced as an interval of several hours. In another
report, in one dream lasting three seconds as measured by brain wave activity,
a subject imagined that 4800 seconds had passed during which time she
was able to pick and count 862 bolls of anything in three seconds under
normal conditions. To do this in three seconds of clock time indicates
that hypnosis had an extraordinarily accelerating effect upon her conscious
activity or a decelerating effect upon her consciousness of the passage
of time. Who knows but what we ourselves may wake up some day and find
that our whole life has in effect passed in a moment or two of real
time -- as Psalm 103:15 and 16 almost seem to suggest.(9)
Some drugs have the effect
of so slowing up the time at which things happen that the subject
appears to have been provided with 'more time' to examine events
that normally occur too rapidly for comprehension of what is
happening. One has to put the words more time in quote
marks because we do not really know whether this is the way to
describe the situation or whether it is the mental processes
that are enormously speeded up instead. Constance Holden speaks
of a pianist who under the influence of drugs worked out an interpretation
of a Bach toccata, condensing what she considered to be eight
hours of practice time in ten minutes of trance time.(10) She also refers to a song
writer who during a drug-induced trance imagined that she walked
down a street into a cabaret, ordered a sandwich and a beer,
and then listened to a singer rendering three songs. All of this
took place in a clocked time interval of only two minutes. Afterwards
she was able to sing the songs, each one of which was new to
her. This was done entirely by normal speed recollection of events
which had been imagined under drugs at a vastly accelerated rate.
9. "As for man, his days are as grass:
as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. "For the wind
passes over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know
it no more." Psalm 103:15, 16.
10. Holden, Constance, "Altered States of Consciousness:
Mind Researchers Meet to Discuss Exploration and Mapping of Inner
Space", Science, vol. 179, 1973, p.983.
like hashish and marihuana are very potent in this respect. Time contraction
can be measured in several different ways, the usual one being the subject's
estimate of the number of events happening during the trial period of
time. In discussion on certain aspects of consciousness at the 1968 Alpbach
Symposium held in Austria under the aegis of Arthur Koestler, J. R. Smythies
commented on the fact that hallucinogenic drugs enormously distort our
sense of time, sometimes elongating it to such an extent that one second
may seem like a hundred years.(11)
Objects falling to the ground at the usual speed are observed in slow
motion so that they can be examined as they fall, and what happens at
the point of impact can be leisurely studied in ways not possible in normal
life. Unfortunately, the details of what was observed are not always clear
afterwards. It is as though a moving film of events has been photographed
at a thousand times its normal speed but the picture is then projected
onto the screen of consciousness at a normal speed so that the time sequences
are dramatically retarded. Again, fortunately or otherwise, if the subject's
own actions are involved in the sequence as something more than mere observer,
his or her actions take part in the decelerated time frame so that nothing
gets out of register.
We must include in any discussion
of the effect of drugs some mention of the effect of reduced
oxygen. This may result from exposure to high altitude, for example.
When Major D. Simons made his remarkable balloon ascent in 1957
to an altitude of 102,000 feet, his physical condition deteriorated
until at one point his speech over the intercom system had slowed
to one quarter of its usual speed.(12) He was apparently quite unaware of this change. It
is not reported whether he heard the answering message at a similarly
much slower speed, as seems probable.
Not only is our inner clock
disturbed by temperature changes and hypnosis and drugs, but
even darkness can upset it somewhat. John S. Kafka in
1957 reported that a series of uniformly spaced sound signals
given to an observer both in the light and in the dark, were
estimated to have been more widely spaced in the dark.(13) And these findings have
since been verified by other experiments of a similar nature.
11. Smythies, J. R., "Aspects of Consciousness"
in Beyond Reductionism, edited by A. Koestler and J. R.
Smythies, London, Hutchinson, 1969, p.248.
12. Simons, Maj. David G., "A Journey No Man Has Taken",
Life, 2 Sept., 1957, p.19ff.
13. Kafka, John S., "Method for Studying the Organization
of Time Experience," American Journal of Psychiatry,
vol. 114, no. 6, 1957, p.546-553.
For some reason a shift in time
sense may occur during the shock of an accident. A professor
friend of mine in the University of Toronto some years ago told
us of a personal experience in which during a car accident he
witnessed everything in slow motion immediately after the moment
of impact. The glass windows slowly shattered and fell out, the
door beside him slowly swung open as the car took a leisurely
roll, and he found himself slowly passing out of the car and
floating through the air towards the ditch. Evidently upon hitting
the ground he lost consciousness, for he had no further recollections.
When he came to, his time sense was once again normal. It was
only in retrospect that he was able to recall this strange process
of slowing up. In spite of the opportunity that the deceleration
of events would seem to have provided for evasive action, he
was not able to take advantage of it because his own movements
were correspondingly slow and therefore ineffective. The temporary
reprieve that such a circumstance would appear to offer was thus
I suppose that there is an
element of shock in being rudely awakened by an alarm clock.
At any rate, it is not an uncommon experience to reach out and
sleepily turn it off, noting that one has a few minutes of grace
so that a moment or two in bed is still allowable. One enjoys
the soporific sense of relaxation after the sudden awakening:
and the next thing one is asleep again. Then suddenly one awakens
with an apprehensive start fearing one has over-slept far beyond
the appropriate time perhaps as much as half an hour or more!
Visions of a wild dash to the office, a breakfast missed, and
the last train or bus caught by a hair's breadth flash through
one's mind. But then a quick glance at the clock brings the startling
realization that one has lapsed into sleep again for only a minute,
or perhaps two at the most. Almost every one has had this experience.
The amazing thing is how long the lapsed time often seems to
be, when in fact it can often be measured in seconds.
Time sense in children, men, women
These time sense distortions
are, of course, distortions and nothing else, since the rest
of the world continues to experience contemporary events within
a "normal" time frame. They have nothing to do with
Einstein's theory of the relativity of time. They are psychological
and subjective. But in spite of their subjectivity they are real,
and there is some evidence that they can be linked to such unlikely
factors as the age and/or sex of the individual.
example, LeComte du Nouy undertook a number of studies of the differences
in time sense between children, men, and women, and concluded that they
were real. He wrote about them at some length subsequently in a book entitled
Biological Time. Here he observed:(14)
Time does not have the
same value in childhood as in later years. A year is much longer,
physiologically and psychologically, for a child than for a man.
One year for a child of ten corresponds to two years for a man
of twenty. . . . The time lapsed between the third and seventh
years probably represents a duration equivalent to fifteen or
twenty years for a grown man.
Du Nouy believed
that the capacity to absorb knowledge in a very young child was
correspondingly far greater than in the adult, including the
comparatively effortless learning of several languages concurrently.
Children have more time, more psychological time, but
not more chronological time. He also concluded that there
is a real difference in the time sense of the adult man and the
A man's time sense is particulate,
fractional, an hours-minutes-seconds kind of time sense. A man
very consciously counts time, saves it, loses it, wastes it,
does many other such things with it as though it were being parcelled
out to him in bits and pieces of a size convenient to the task
which occupies it. Du Nouy believed that the male had a kind
of inner clock, the ticking of whose mechanism he was somehow
aware of. In England when the Gregorian calendar was adopted
in 1752 and September 3rd suddenly became September 14th, general
rioting resulted on account of the fact that workmen felt they
had been robbed of eleven days of their lives, eleven whole days
of life that personally belonged to them. A man tends to be more
conscious of delay because of this inner clock. Western man makes
clocks with smaller and smaller divisions until he can now measure
a millionth of a second. He assumes that the measurement of a
fraction of a second represents an absolute measure of some strictly
objective reality: a sixteenth of an inch, let us say, of the
tape that has been wound on the spool to the right.
According to du Nouy, a woman's
sense of time is somewhat different from a man's, and the two
divergent senses are cause of not a little confusion and sometimes
friction. Her sense of time is not fractional or length oriented,
but event oriented. He reasoned that this results from
the various cycles
14. du Nouy, Lecomte, Biological Time, New York, Macmillan,
1937, as quoted in his Human Destiny, New York, Longmans,
Green & Co., 1947, p.208.
which regulate a woman's experience
throughout life, most of which are not experienced by the male. These
cycles are essentially related to child-bearing, puberty, monthly periods,
gestation periods, menopause, and so forth. The result is that a woman
is timing life, not by the even spacing of the minutes or the hours in
the way that a man times his, but in cycles which are much longer and
not nearly so precise. The intervening time spaces are not attended to
in the same way.
When a woman responds to her impatient
husband as he waits to take the family to the theatre, by saying
"Coming, dear, right away," she does not mean this
literally. She means only that at that moment this is the next
event she has in mind: to join her husband. Meanwhile, he makes
a mental note of her reply and allows her forty-five seconds
to make the trip from her bedroom to the front door! Consequently,
he is frustrated when, ten minutes later, he is still pacing
up and down the hall. . . .
Neither party seems able to accept
the other's sense of time. And children have the same problem
Flow rate of time: absolute or relative?
It is clear, therefore, that time
does not have a fixed spending&value in experience. It does
not flow at a uniform rate through the consciousness of each
individual. If we were all drugged alike, the passage of time
might be universally accelerated or decelerated: and no one would
detect it. Our mechanical clocks would be part and parcel of
the conspiracy and their observed rate would simply reflect our
drugged perception and share in the same acceleration or deceleration.
Just as, if we were to double the size of the Universe and everything
in it, we would also have doubled the size of our yardstick,
so that the Universe would measure exactly what it did before!
The same is true with time. If time passed for all of us at twice
the speed or dragged for all of us at half the rate that it presently
does, we would not be aware of any change.
This variability is entirely
subjective of course -- or at least we assume it is. Actually,
we have no way of knowing whether there really is somewhere
an objective flow rate of time or an actual yardstick for
size. We build our clocks by our consciousness of the time it
takes the earth to complete one revolution about its axis, and
our calendar around the time it takes the earth to circle the
sun. We observe the rate of the revolution of the earth and try
to make sure that the rate of the revolution of the clock hands
agreement: but in either case it
is, after all, by our consciousness of this rate that we are guided. Some
other smaller people on some other larger planet might be surprised at
our assessment of how fast time flies, especially if what we call a drugged
state is the normal state for them, or if their body temperature is running
much higher or much lower than ours.
Thus the rate of time's flow
lies in our consciousness. It is relative, to us. There is no
way in which we can say how fast it is flowing by until we specify
whose time we are talking about. Whose time is right? Moreover,
there is no absolute ground for assuming (as we commonly do)
that the flow rate of time is the same everywhere in the Universe.
And God's time and our time may be very different things, not
perhaps in the direction in which it flows but in the
rate at which it flows.
One might argue that the sun determines
the rate, not we. So it does. But it is important to realize
that if our inner clocks all ran at one tenth of their present
rate we would simply see the sun moving correspondingly more
slowly across the sky, and we would still see our clocks keeping
time with that movement. It would not be necessary to re-set
our clocks. Our reading of the sun as moving at a slower rate
across the sky would be exactly matched by a similar reading
of the movement of the minute and hour hands of our clocks, even
if they were one of these new types which are claimed to have
such tremendous accuracy. Pendulum clocks are highly dependable,
but they too would be seen to slow up or to accelerate. The swing
of the pendulum back and forth would be matched to our perception
of the speed of the sun in its circuit, because we would make
sure that it did. On the basis of this swinging pendulum we might
make our calculations of the value of gravity and though they
would be adjusted to our time sense, they would still be correct.
In short, nothing would change. Only some super-natural being
who was not locked in as part of our space/time frame of reference,
who could look on without becoming entangled with our metabolic
acceleration or deceleration, would be able to observe what was
happening to us. We ourselves would not be aware of it if we
were all involved.
Nevertheless, we still feel confident
that somewhere there is indeed a real time rate, and that
it is only our sense of time that is upset -- not the time rate
itself. We recognize that we are all alike immersed in a psychological
time frame from which we cannot escape. But we all agree, or
did agree until Einstein came along, that the flow rate of time
itself had an absolute quality about it.
then, did Einstein really mean when he said that time is relative? Did
he only mean that the sense of time is relative, while the flow of its
current moves on at a speed that is invariable? Did he mean only that
we experience time at different rates but that this variability is only
in the consciousness of the observer? The answer is, No! This is not what
he meant. He meant that time does not have a fixed flow rate, that
its flow rate really is variable, that this variability is not
dependent on the observer!
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights
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Before we turn to examine the implications
of what Einstein proposed, implications which have since been
very widely confirmed by experiment and observation, it will
be well to see that Western man has often lagged behind people
of other cultures in their understanding of the "real"
nature of time. We shall then be in a better position to use
this new understanding as a means of explaining a number of important
passages of Scripture some of which have hitherto appeared
to be in contradiction with each other in disconcerting ways.