iSoul In the beginning is reality

Branches of Christianity

Christians accept the four gospels as four different perspectives on the gospel. In fact, each is properly titled, “The Gospel According to …” That is, there is one gospel but four perspectives on it. While it is an interesting exercise to compare the gospels with each other, they are best thought of as parallel accounts of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

There are four branches of Christianity, corresponding to the four Gospels. The parallels between each gospel and each branch of Christianity show this. The four branches are the Orthodox, Catholic, Evangelical, and Pentecostal churches. Like the one gospel, there is only one church, but there are four perspectives on the one church.

The gospel of Matthew shows Jesus as the Messianic King. The gospel of Mark shows Jesus as the Suffering Servant. The gospel of Luke-Acts shows Jesus as the Son of Man. The gospel of John shows Jesus as the Son of God. From considerations like this, one can see the Orthodox, Catholic, Evangelical, and Pentecostal branches, correspond to the gospel according to John, Matthew, Mark, and Luke-Acts, respectively.

Christians have learned to accept the four versions of the one gospel, and their different perspectives. It is past time that Christians learn to accept the four branches of the one church, and their different perspectives.

Conversion of space and time

If there exists a constant, standard speed, then one may speak of the standard conversion of space and time. For example, the speed of light in a vacuum is a defined constant in the SI system of units. So in physical science and its applications one may speak of the standard conversion of space into time and vice versa. This means that even if in some sense light curves (as by gravity), then the path of light is a geodesic, that is, equivalent to a straight line.

In other contexts, there may be no such standard speed but still there may be a constant speed within a specified context, which serves as a contextual conversion of space and time. This allows a map with a consistent scale, for example this map of the London Tube:

http://www.oskarlin.com/images/timetravel_no_zones_old_colours.pdf

Informally, this is done quite often. When asked how far away something is, we answer with the travel time by car or other mode.

Now the surprising thing is that the Lorentz transformation arises just because there exists such a conversion between space and time. It shows how to transform particular velocities in the context of a conversion speed between space and time. See the previous posts on the Lorentz transformation.

Time and memory

Is it possible to reverse time? Yes, in a sense. It is possible to reverse thermodynamic time by a local decrease in entropy. Cooling down, metabolism, and memory are examples of decreases in entropy.

Memory may be described as an information model: it compresses experience for storage. The information in memory is not all that happened; something was lost or not perceived.

As memory grows, it is necessary to do maintenance like that done with computer systems, such as defragmenting isolated memories and consolidating them into coherent storage. This, too, may decrease entropy. It is also necessary to review memory, to restore weak memories. This remembering, this return to the past, is a form of reversing time.

Time for us is memory. Without memory, there is no time–we are like children focused on the here and now.

Weekly and annual cycles of remembrance renew our memories and help integrate them into an existing framework. The cycle of the week is the cycle of creation and rest. The cycle of the year is the cycle of reviewing the history of God’s people. Other cycles give us a rhythm for life–cycles of the tides, of the school year, of national holidays.

The Greek word chronos describes these regular cycles, whereas the word kairos describes a progression. Chronos is measurable, predictable, cyclic time. Kairos is experienced time, which flows and grows in unpredictable ways. The experiences of kairos are turned into the cycles of chronos by memory.

Time in the Bible

Time in the Bible is duration, not what is called thermodynamic time or the arrow of time. There is no inevitability about time in the Bible, unlike the increasing entropy of thermodynamic time. In the Bible time has a beginning and an ending. Time is an era, an age, a period of time. It is what takes time, that is, duration.

In ancient times the motions of the sun, moon, and stars formed a cosmic clock, not outer space. Before the rise of the Roman Empire, people expressed “how far” in terms of “how much time”. The distance between places was given as how many days’ journey by a typical traveler. Genesis 30:36; Genesis 31:23; Exodus 3:18; Exodus 5:3; Exodus 8:27; Numbers 10:33; Numbers 33:8; Deuteronomy 1:2; and the Sabbath day’s journey, Acts 1:12. The distance covered by an average man in a day’s walk was 10 parsa’ot in Hebrew.

Greeks such as Herodotus also referred to a day’s journey, for example: “These Husbandmen extend eastward a distance of three days’ journey to a river bearing the name of Panticapes, while northward the country is theirs for eleven days’ sail up the course of the Borysthenes.” He also mentions: “a journey of five days across for an active walker”, indicating the kind of travel he has in mind.

The Greeks and especially the Romans with their road system brought longer lengths into common usage. There is the stadion or stadium, 600 Greek ft. or just under a furlong, and of course the Roman mile: Matthew 5:41; Luke 24:13; John 6:19; John 11:18; Revelation 14:20; Revelation 21:16.

Over the centuries space has supplanted time as the dominant way of viewing the universe. Since the discovery of artistic perspective and Newton’s notions of space and time as a container, the modern world has been oriented toward space. Even geometry changed from a realist view of the relation of objects to an anti-realist view of objects in an abstract space with Descartes’ analytic geometry.

That began to change with relativity and quantum mechanics, though the full implications are yet to be worked out, as Carlo Rovelli has noted (e.g., Are space, time, and all other physical quantities only relational? or his article in The Ontology of Spacetime). Scientifically, I think Poincaré’s point is correct: space and time are conventions, not arbitrary but convenient for understanding the universe (see his Science and Hypothesis).

For understanding the Bible and especially Genesis one should start with an ancient mindset that is realist and temporal. For example, when Genesis 1:3-5 says God created light and separated it into day and night, do not ask where the light was located because the separation concerns time, not space, and describes how the day was born.

Temporal and spatial references

I have written several times about differences between ancient and modern ways of thinking, for example, this post on Biblical geocentrism. Another way to look at this is whether time or space are primary. What does this mean?

We are most familiar with the primacy of space. Things exist within space as mere objects, and time is something added-on to take account of the motion of objects. But what if time came first? For example, what if a cycle of light and dark did not have any spatial reference? That sounds like Genesis 1:5, after God created light but no sun:

 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.

In that case, space would be added-on to time. One difference is that what is primary is three-dimensional, but what is secondary is only one-dimensional. That is the difference between measuring movement relative to space or time, or abstractly as derivatives relative to space or time.

The difference is whether zero represents rest (no movement) or instantaneous movement, and so which is the reference point for all movement. If instantaneous movement is the reference, then movement is understood as slowing down, and rest is associated with an extreme of either lethargy or peace. If rest is the reference, then movement is understood as speeding up, and instantaneous movement as an extreme of either frenzy or joy.

If time is primary, then what is local is more significant than what is global because a local frame of reference covers more time, is diachronic over a long span of time. If space is primary, then what is global is more significant than what is local because a global frame of reference covers more space, is synchronic over a wider region of space.

As we move toward a balance of space and time, we will find both of these perspectives limited but with some utility. It is best to consider movement as a ratio rather than a division so that space and time are on equal terms.

Perspectives on space and time

Space and time are complementary aspects of movement. Although space has been associated with stasis and time with change, they both entail movement. Space is the distance side of movement and time is the duration side.

There are two ways of looking at movement: one is from the perspective on or within the moving object and the other is from the perspective outside the moving object. The latter perspective observes the movement within a three-dimensional framework; the former perspective observes movement from within, along its one-dimensional path.

A system of synchronized clocks allows time to be one-dimensional. If clocks measured distance, say the circumference swept out by a rotating arm, then space could be one-dimensional, whatever distance the arm pointed to. Apart from such a system of coordinated movements, space and time are external, the framework within which movement takes place, which is three-dimensional.

Although relativity makes the internal and external perspectives formally the same, they are different ways of looking at the movement of an object. The inner perspective is like a passenger in a vehicle and the outer perspective is like a passenger watching a train arrive.


When moderns look at the sky, people see space, “outer space”. The modern perspective has one-dimensional temporal paths within a three-dimensional spatial framework. Maps and models allow one to locate things within this framework.

In ancient times only one clock existed — the heavens. People didn’t look down at their watches for the time, they looked up to the sky. Time was out there. Clocks make internal time easier to tell, time apart from the sky, although the sky may be used to calibrate a clock.

There was a time when maps didn’t exist, or at least accurate ones. The location of a place was given in relation to other places rather than in terms of a global datum or standard reference.

The ancient perspective has one-dimensional spatial paths within a three-dimensional temporal framework. Ancient geocentricity was temporal: heavenly bodies move around the earth. When looking at the sky, ancients saw time, “outer time” one might say.

Over the centuries geocentricity became more and more spatial: celestial spheres surrounding the earth in space. This was rejected in favor of a sun-centered system, and later an acentric space-time.

Homogeneity and isotropy

A circle or sphere are omnidirectional in two or three dimensions, respectively. This is equivalent to isotropy, uniformity in all directions. A straight line is unidirectional but multiple straight lines may require multiple dimensions. This is equivalent to rectilinear homogeneity.

Pure space or average space is homogeneous and isotropic. Then space may be modeled by one dimension, although since the word dimension usually has to do with degrees of freedom or potential directionality, we say it has three dimensions.

It’s the same with time. Pure time or average time is homogeneous and isotropic, and may be modeled by one dimension, though it has three degrees of freedom and so we say it has three dimensions. If time is isotropic, only one dimension is needed to model it. If time is anisotropic, then three dimensions are needed to model it.

This is like the duality of wave and particle in quantum mechanics. Space and time have one or three dimensions depending on the aspect modeled.

Universal simultaneity requires homogeneity: “the transport of an ideal clock without distortion of time-intervals, requires a homogeneous space” (*).

In surface transportation a distinction can be drawn between congestion-type and current-type hindrances to travel. Radial congestion, such as a simple model of a city with a central business district, is isotropic. Travel across or in a river current could be modeled as rectilinearly homogeneous.

The conclusion is that homogeneity and isotropy come with a pure or average conception of space or time and require only one dimension to model. But the particulars of many situations do not exhibit either homogeneity or isotropy and so require three dimensions to model.

Multidimensional time in physics

Is a light-year a unit of distance or of time? It’s a unit of distance but it depends on a unit of time, the year. What about a meter? “The meter is the length of the path traveled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1/299 792 458 of a second.” So the meter depends on a unit of time, too.

We know that units of distance can be measured in three dimensions. Since distance and duration are directly linked by the speed of light, units of duration can be measured in the same three directions. As space is made of three dimensions of distance, so time is made of three dimensions of time.

Here is an all-sky map from NASA’s Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT) show how the sky appears at energies greater than one billion electron volts (1 GeV). The term “all-sky” means all directions of the sky. It means three dimensions of sky for light to travel in time.

Messier 82 (M82) is a starburst galaxy about 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major, which is a constellation in the northern celestial hemisphere. That is, M82 is found toward the north 12 million years of light-time away.

NOAA has several Tsunami Travel Time Maps that show the estimated arrival times of tsunamis in two dimensions. Here is an animation of earthquake travel time curves in different directions from one monitoring station. The National Weather Service has a series of maps on the movement of hurricane Katrina with evolving estimates over time in the eastern U.S.

All these maps show the multidimensionality of time. Can you see it, too?

Multidimensional time in transportation

There are many examples of two-dimensional time maps in transportation, although the authors do not acknowledge the multidimensionality of time in their maps. Let’s start with a map of New York travel times on commuter rail which shows the travel time in minutes from Manhattan to commuter rail stations during the evening rush period. The distances on the map match travel times rather than travel distances.

A second map shows travel times for trains from Paris (stunden means hours). Another gives travel times in Paris under three modes of transportation (in minutes). Another shows isochronous travel from Paris, between 2 hours to 15 hours long.

This website shows time-space maps with railway times in Europe and a series of maps showing a day’s journey through history. Here are two travel time contour maps of Atlanta (15 minute contours).

All these maps show two dimensions of time. Can you see it, too?

Angles in space and time

In a previous post on Different directions for different vectors I gave this example, for which I’m switching North and East:

Suppose someone drives 30 miles North in 50 minutes, then turns East and drives 40 miles in 50 minutes. Overall, they have driven 70 miles in 100 minutes but as the crow flies they ended up 50 miles from where they started (302 + 402 = 502). And a crow flying at the same speeds would have taken only 71 minutes to get there (502 + 502 = 712).

It may be surprising that the angle the crow should fly is different in space than in time. Actually, it is the same angle measured two ways: one by distance and the other by duration. Let’s work out the details:

The spatial angle for the crow is arctan(40/30) = 53 degrees clockwise from the North. The temporal angle for the crow is arctan(50/50) = 45 degrees. But 45 degrees of duration is equivalent to 53 degrees of distance in this case.

How does this work? The temporal angle is like a clock with hands: 45 degrees means for example that the minute hand has moved 60*45/360 = 7.5 minutes or the second hand has moved 7.5 seconds. Since this corresponds to 53 degrees in space, the rate is 53/7.5 = 7.1 spatial degrees per minute. Divide this by 60 to get 0.12 revolution per minute or 7.1 cycles per second, known as Hz.

So the crow’s angle is 53 degrees clockwise from North, which is equal to 7.1 spatial degrees per minute times 7.5 minutes. Or to be faster, it’s equal to 7.1 spatial degrees per second times 7.5 seconds. Or 7.5 * 53/45 = 8.8 seconds of a second hand.

In summary to convert a temporal angle to a spatial angle, multiply it times the angular conversion factor, i.e., the frequency, which is the ratio of the spatial and temporal angles.