Is Time Linear or Non-Linear?


Dear all,

Perhaps this might be a sidetrack from my usual posts on political issues, but this blog is named “Philolitics” which caters to both Philosophy and Politics, and perhaps it’s time to do a few philosophical posts.

What exactly is “time”?

I think we can all agree that time is an interval that elapsed between two events. Theoretically, time exists as the 4th Dimension.

However, we have to remember that this definition of “Time” was determined by humans. In reality, the concept of time is nothing but a theory, as it currently remains impossible to find out what “time” really is, considering that time is something that cannot be seen, felt or even measured.

The human concept of “time” is a linear concept. The default perception of time by all humans is that time is linear. It has a beginning, a present and an end.  Time, as we know it nowadays, is basically a tool invented by humans to aid us in our daily lives.

But, well, is time really “linear”? No one knows for sure, you won’t know, I won’t know, even Albert Einstein won’t know. Only the powers that be, if they exist, know the fact. All we can perceive with our human minds is limited.

Have you ever thought of the prospect that time may not be linear? If time is not linear, it will open up lots of interesting ideas. The ideas of time travel, reincarnation and parallel existences are all possible when time isn’t linear. A term used to describe non-linear time is “cyclical time”, but to make it simpler to understand, I will use the term non-linear time.

When time is linear, you can only move forward in time, there is a beginning and there must be an end. You cannot go back in time, although you can move far into the future, if you are travelling at a speed close to the speed of light.

When time isn’t linear, there is no beginning and no end, simply a present. You can either go back into the past, go into the future, reincarnate, and even reincarnating into a previous era!

Since I am an atheist, you might think that I am crazy to even contemplate something like this, that I am contradicting my own thinking! To clear up any misunderstanding, atheism is just simply the belief in a lack of God. The belief in a non-linear time has nothing to do with atheism or God, for the matter.

Time Travel

I am curious, I love exploring, I believe in non-linear time. Quantum physics is intriguing. I don’t rule out anything with regards to time travel.

I want to travel into the past, I want to explore how life was in the past, I want to experience a Native American life, and the era before Columbus arrived on American shores.

I want to experience life in the post World War II era in Britain, where Britain was actually Great, and not the rotten state Britain is in at the moment.

I want to experience life in Ancient China. I want to experience life in the era of Camelot. I want to experience many things that we won’t get to experience in the present. I want to re-live the memories of my schooling days. I want to re-live the memories of so many fantastic experiences and holidays. I want to visit loved ones who has passed away. (I am no religious zealot, I’m an atheist as I have mentioned.)

Perhaps time travel into the future, a thousand years into the future will also be welcomed, even though that isn’t as important to me as traveling back into the past.

That is why I am so intrigued with non linear time, the concept of it, and the possibilities it opens up. As long as no man can define the true meaning of time, there is always this possibility that time is in fact non-linear, and I can hold hopes of going back into the past and experiencing things that is impossible in the present and modern era.

Reincarnation

As for the prospect of reincarnation, it is genuinely mind-boggling. There are tons of accounts out there with regards to a past life. Go to Google and type in “James Leininger”. That particular case is just spooky, yet mind-numbing.

When time is non-linear, the prospect of reincarnation is very likely. To believe in reincarnation, you will have to believe in things such as souls. I don’t really hold belief in such “supernatural” things, but even though you might disprove the existence of certain things, as long as there is no conclusive evidence, the dismissal of such things might seem narrow-minded, even when “God” is the entity at the centre of the dispute.

Logic and common sense might play a part in coming to the conclusion that God doesn’t exist, I am a firm atheist, yet if anyone can prove me wrong, I gladly welcome that, I am always open to all possibilities.  That’s the same for my stance on reincarnation. I don’t necessarily believe in it, but if time is discovered to be non-linear, you cannot rule out the possibility of reincarnation.

Parallel Existence

Parallel universes are also possible when time is non-linear as well. When time has no beginning and no end, and spans across various dimensions rather than the traditional 4th dimension, it opens up a lot of possibilities and that will open up the possibility of us having a parallel self. We might exist on Earth, but we also exist on another planet, or even planets far away in other galaxies. We should consider the fact that we might not have one parallel self, but even several hundred parallel selves! The number of permutations is endless!

The human mind is amazing, despite its limited capabilities in the grand scheme of things. While we won’t know for sure if time is linear or non-linear, our mind can comprehend such possibilities, and while we comprehend such possibilities, we have to ask ourselves, is there a limit to how much we can understand about our universe? Or is our brain limited to the extent where such complex concepts like the Concept of Non-Linear Time is far beyond the capability of our brains?

We won’t know for sure, and I am sure that as long as we are alive, we won’t ever know the answer. Perhaps time is in fact non-linear and you can travel back in time after your death? Who knows? Death will answer everything, but for us, the living, without a will there won’t be a way and we have to believe that we will unravel the answer one day, be it tomorrow, next week or even the next millennium.

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9 thoughts on “Is Time Linear or Non-Linear?”

  1. I like this post, because you spoke about things we don’t understand and we don’t have any proofs, but that thing seems so possible.. Good example for non-linear time are people who can see the future or the past from random person.. How can he/she see that? I don’t know, majbe some people have that possibilities cause they develope it.. Majbe we all have that but we didn’t develope it.. Anyway, I’m including with you that human mind is really amazing and if not before,we’ll see the answer when our body pass away in other dimension :)

    1. Dear Johnny,

      the James Leininger case with regards to reincarnation really cast doubts on the accepted face that time is “linear”. Is time really “linear”? I doubt so, no one knows for sure, but if we all assume time is linear, there will be limits to how much we can understand. We need to be open to all possibilities, and cyclical time will allow that possibility. Sounds complex, I know, but read and digest it slowly and the meaning is rather clear. And the truth is that, Death is the ultimate equaliser, let’s hope we all find out what we want to know, be it in life, or in death.

      Regards

  2. Enjoyed reading your post, JD. I like to believe that our perception of time, as linear, is a physical construct. Are we physical being or are we eternal beings having a temporary physical experience? If you view the physical experience as though we are in a moving vehicle looking out a window as the scenery passes by, sure this appears linear. But if we stop and escape that limited perception, we can experience the past, future and present scenery all at the same time.

    Perhaps those who have glimpses into the future are merely disconnecting for a minute from the limitations of our physical construct. My vote is non-linear.
    You seem to glorify past events. But I have a more optimistic expectation for our future. We may be a more enlightened and compassionate species in the future.

    As to God, there is no man in the sky. Perhaps our individual energy combines to bind everyone to a common fate. Perhaps the greater the positive energy that is emitted, the greater our capacity to live well. That would suggest that we are God. But not just us.
    Earth and its occupants, I view this as only a fragment of God.

    1. Angela, I agree with you totally, my vote is non-linear as well.

      I am not religious, but I believe that we are eternal beings in a temporary physical existence. We will never know until our dying day, and even then we won’t be able to tell anyone on Earth, so let’s just wait for that day :)

  3. Err… I’m not sure that you are talking about linear and non-linear time in the first place.
    Linear time means that time passes at a constant rate. Non-linear time means that time passes at a non-constant rate, i.e. sometimes, times passes by faster than at other points in time. If we take the reasoning of general relativity, space-time is non-Euclidean and therefore, non-linear. However, non-linear time does not mean that we can travel backwards in time. This could violate fundamental principles, such as those of causality.

    Hence, while I agree with your fascination with time travel; your discussion of linear and non-linear time is mote and frankly disappointing with a clear lack of understanding of the nature of time.

      1. JD, you say earlier that we need to ‘open to all possibilities’ in order to enter a more inclusive discussion. So lets take this a step further. Our perceptions are limited at present. This includes our perception of time. Consider the genome which science presently records as merely a record of our physical biology. In fact, only 2% of our DNA is required to produce a healthy human organism. The other 98% has no known function. It is called ‘junk DNA’. But what if some of this enormous capacity for data storage has functions which include, for arguments sake, access to ‘realities’ beyond the known physical world.

        Think of how a hologram reproduces the whole in every part. Similarly, DNA. I would like to ‘turn on’ at least a small percentage of the other 98%, which is at present dormant, and recreate the data stored to discover who I really am, perhaps not in totality just yet. Would that totality ‘fit into’ our physical form? I wonder.

        I believe our perceptions of time and our science, are limited at present. I hope that we do not need to cast off our physical body to ‘turn on’ at least some of this expanded consciousness, the boyhuman.

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