The ideas I am going to express about the nature of Time are based on the thoughts of Emmanuel Foroglou, as presented in a series of posts in a Yahoo group he ran from 2001 into 2002. As of this date, the Yahoo Group in question is still available, though inactive, as “Rational_Values”, and can be viewed by the public. The thread in which the discussion on time occurs is entitled “The Universe and Time”. The whereabouts of Dr. Foroglou are less certain, and more can be discovered about his history through any Web search. Although inspired by Foroglou’s discussion (which I have not fully reviewed as of this date), I do not mean to say that Foroglou has stated what is said below, nor that he would necessarily agree with all of my ideas.
Time is not a metaphysical property of the Universe. It is, rather, an experience of a conscious mind observing change in the Universe. Change, and more specifically, causal change, is a metaphysical attribute of the Universe. The experience of Time is the comparison of two differingperceived states of being. In order to compare two states of being, the capability of storing and retrieving perceptions must be present – the entity experiencing Time must have a memory.
A concept of Time must arise from an ability to measure the relative rates of change of multiple streams of perception. This is a complicated (though accurate) statement of the requirement for a “clock” against which to measure Time. An absolute clock is not required, merely a periodic occurence within one’s perceptions which has a time interval remaining roughly constant, and which occurs in parallel with the stream of perception to which a time interval is to be assigned. Simple clocks that are generally available to Man include the length of a day, the duration of seasons, or at the other end of the scale, one’s heartbeat. Note that these “clocks” need not be perfectly periodic, nor absolute. I’ll have much more to say about the experience of intervals of time in later discussions, in the presence or absence of an external clock.
Returning to the consideration of the relationship between the Universe and Time, we must be very careful with the definition of Universe. I define the Universe to be equivalent to Being, and to include all that has existed, currently exists, and will exist in the future. Note that with this definition, there can be no discussion of “multiple” or “parallel” Universes – as if these exist, they must not be separate from the Universe as defined. More relevant to the current discussion – and an opportunity for significant semantic confusion – the Universe as defined does not change. Change occurs within the Universe, but the Universe (encompassing past, present and future existence) cannot be said to change. This leads to a confirmation of the assertion that the Universe is time-less. The Universe as defined has no past nor a future – past and future are contained in the Universe.
This is not to imply that the future is pre-determined. The future is not determined by the past nor the present, though it is caused by the past and present. The source of confusion in associating pre-determination with a time-less unchanging Universe is purely a lack of grasping the meaning of the definition of the term Universe.