Time is a concept that depends totally on our perceptions and the comparison we make between our perceptions. For example, at this moment you are reading this article. Suppose that, before reading this article, you were eating something in the kitchen. You think that there is a period between the time when you were eating in the kitchen and this moment, and you call it “time”. In fact, the moment you were eating in the kitchen is a piece of information in your memory, and you compare this moment with the information in your memory and call it time. If you do not make this comparison, the concept of time disappears and the only moment that exists for you will be the present moment.
Renowned physicist Julian Barbour defines time in this way:
“Time is nothing but a measure of the changing positions of objects. A pendulum swings, the hands on a clock advance.”1
In short, time is composed of a few pieces of information hidden as a memory in the brain; rather, it arises from the comparison of images. If a person did not have a memory, that person would live only in the present moment; his brain would not be able to make these interpretations and, therefore, he would not have any perception of time.
The Views Of Scientists On The Idea
That Time Is A Perception
Today it has been scientifically accepted that time is a concept that arises from our making a definite sequential arrangement among movements and changes. We will try to make this clearer by giving examples from those thinkers and scientists who have established this view. The physicist Julian Barbour caused a great stir in the scientific world with his book entitled The End of Time in which he e x a m i n e d the ideas of timelessness and eternity. In an interview with Barbour, he said that any idea we have of time being absolute is false, and that research done in modern physics has confirmed this.
Time is not absolute; it is a variously perceived, subjective concept depending on events. François Jacob, thinker, Nobel laureate and famous professor of genetics, in his book entitled Le Jeu des Possibles (The Possible and the Actual) says this about the possibility that time can move backwards:
Films played backwards make it possible for us to imagine a world in which time flows backwards. A world in which milk separates itself from the coffee and jumps out of the cup to reach the milk-pan; a world in which light rays are emitted from the walls to be collected in a trap (gravity center) instead of gushing out from a light source; a world in which a stone slopes to the palm of a man by the astonishing cooperation of innumerable drops of water which enable the stone to jump out of water. Yet, in such a world in which time has such opposite features, the processes of our brain and the way our memory compiles information, would similarly be functioning backwards. The same is true for the past and future and the world will appear to us exactly as it currently appears.2
Because our brain works by arranging things in a sequence, we do not believe that the world works as described above; we think that time always moves forward. However, this is a decision our brain makes and is therefore totally relative. If the information in our brains were arranged like a film being projected backwards, time would be for us like a film being projected backwards. In this situation, we would start to perceive that the past was the future and the future was the past and we would experience life in a way totally opposite than we do now.
The fact that time is a perception was proved by the greatest physicist of the 20th century, Albert Einstein, in his “General Theory of Relativity”. In his book, The Universe and Dr. Einstein, Lincoln Barnett says this:
Along with absolute space, Einstein discarded the concept of absolute time – of a steady, unvarying inexorable universal time flow, streaming from the infinite past to the infinite future. Much of the obscurity that has surrounded the Theory of Relativity stems from man’s reluctance to recognize that sense of ti