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Harun Yahya - Timelessness and the Reality of Fate
Timelessness and the Reality of Fate
   

 



Chapter 3

Relativity of Time and the Reality of Fate

The foregoing arguments demonstrate that a "three-dimensional space" does not exist in reality, that it is a prejudice completely inspired by perceptions and that one leads one's whole life in "spacelessness". To assert the contrary would be to hold a superstitious belief removed from reason and scientific truth, for there is no valid proof of the existence of a three-dimensional material world.

This fact refutes the primary assumption of the materialist philosophy that underlies evolutionary theory. This is the assumption that matter is absolute and eternal. The second assumption upon which the materialistic philosophy rests is the supposition that time is absolute and eternal. This is as superstitious as the first one.


The Perception Of Time

The perception we call time is, in fact,  a method by which one moment is compared to another. We can explain this with an example. For instance, when a person taps an object, he hears a particular sound. When he taps the same object five minutes later, he hears another sound. The person perceives that there is an interval between the first sound and the second and he calls this interval "time". Yet at the time he hears the second sound, the first sound he heard is no more than an imagination in his mind. It is merely a bit of information in his memory. The person formulates the perception of "time" by comparing the moment in which he lives with what he has in his memory. If this comparison is not made, neither there can be perception of time.

Similarly, a person makes a comparison when he sees someone entering a room through its door and sitting in an armchair in the middle of the room. By the time this person sits in the armchair, the images related to the moments he opens the door, walks into the room, and makes his way to the armchair are compiled as bits of information in the brain. The perception of time occurs when one compares the man sitting on the armchair with those bits of information he has.

In brief, time comes to exist as a result of the comparison made between some illusions stored in the brain. If man did not have memory, then his brain would not be making such interpretations and therefore the perception of time would never have been formed. The reason why one determines himself to be thirty years old is only because he has accumulated information pertaining to those thirty years in his mind. If his memory did not exist, then he would not be thinking of the existence of such a preceding period of time and he would only be experiencing the single "moment" he was living in.


The Scientific Explanation Of Timelessness

Let us try to clarify the subject by quoting explanations by various scientists and scholars on the subject. Regarding the subject of time flowing backwards, the famous intellectual and Nobel laureate professor of genetics, François Jacob, states the following in his book Le Jeu des Possibles (The Possible and the Actual):

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 making the stone possible 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.18

Since our brain is accustomed to a certain sequence of events, the world operates not as it is related above and we assume that time always flows forward. However, this is a decision reached in the brain and therefore is completely relative. In reality, we can never know how time flows or even whether it flows or not. This is an indication of the fact that time is not an absolute fact but just a sort of perception.

The relativity of time is a fact also verified by the most important physicist of the 20th century, Albert Einstein. Lincoln Barnett, writes in his book The Universe and Dr. Einstein:

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 time, like sense of color, is a form of perception. Just as space is simply a possible order of material objects, so time is simply a possible order of events. The subjectivity of time is best explained in Einstein's own words. "The experiences of an individual" he says, "appear to us arranged in a series of events; in this series the single events which we remember appear to be ordered according to the criterion of 'earlier' and 'later'. There exists, therefore, for the individual, an I-time, or subjective time. This in itself is not measurable. I can, indeed, associate numbers with the events, in such a way that a greater number is associated with the later event than with an earlier one.19


Time is a concept entirely contingent on the perceiver. While a certain time period seems long for one person, it may seem short for another. In order to understand which one is right, we need sources such as clocks and calendars. It is impossible to make correct judgments about time without them.

Einstein himself pointed out, as quoted from Barnett's book: "space and time are forms of intuition, which can no more be divorced from consciousness than can our concepts of color, shape, or size." According to the Theory of General Relativity: "time has no independent existence apart from the order of events by which we measure it."20

Since time consists of perception, it depends entirely on the perceiver and is therefore relative.

The speed at which time flows differs according to the references we use to measure it because there is no natural clock in the human body to indicate precisely how fast time passes. As Lincoln Barnett wrote: "Just as there is no such thing as color without an eye to discern it, so an instant or an hour or a day is nothing without an event to mark it."21

The relativity of time is plainly experienced in dreams. Although what we see in our dream seems to last for hours, in fact, it only lasts for a few minutes, and even a few seconds.

Let us think on an example to clarify the subject further. Let us assume that we were put into a room with a single window that was specifically designed and we were kept there for a certain period of time. Let there be a clock in the room by which we can see the amount of time that has passed. At the same time, let it be that we see from the room's window the sun setting and rising at certain intervals. A few days later, the answer we would give to the question about the amount of time we spent in the room would be based both on the information we had collected by looking at the clock from time to time and on the computation we had done by referring to how many times the sun set and rose. For example, we estimate that we had spent three days in the room. However, if the person who put us in that room comes up to us and says that we spent only two days in the room and that the sun we had been seeing from the window was falsely produced by a simulation machine and that the clock in the room was especially regulated to work faster, then the calculation we had done would bear no meaning.

This example confirms that the information we have about the rate of the passage of time is based on relative references. The relativity of the time is a scientific fact also proven by scientific methodology. Einstein's Theory of General Relativity maintains that the speed of time changes depending on the speed of the object and its distance from the centre of gravity. As speed increases, time is shortened, compressed; and slows down as if it comes to the point of "stopping".

Let us explain this with an example given by Einstein himself. Imagine two twins, one of whom stays on earth while the other goes travelling in space at a speed close to the speed of light. When he comes back, the traveller will see that his brother has grown much older than he has. The reason is that time flows much slower for the person who travels at speeds near the speed of light. If the same example is applied to a space-travelling father and his earth-bound son, if the father was 27 years old when he set out and his son 3; when the father comes back to the earth 30 years later (earth time) , the son will be 33 years old but his father will be only 30.22

It should be pointed out that this relativity of time is caused not by the slowing down or running fast of clocks or the slow running of a mechanical spring. It is rather the result of the differentiated operation periods of the entire material system which goes as deep as sub-atomic particles. In other words, the shortening of time is not like acting in a slow-motion picture for the person experiencing it. In such a setting where time shortens, one's heartbeats, cell replications, and brain functions, and so on all operate slower than those of the slower-moving person on Earth. The person goes on with his daily life and does not notice the shortening of time at all. Indeed the shortening does not even become apparent until the comparison is made.


Relativity In The Qur'an

The conclusion to which we are led by the findings of modern science is that time is not an absolute fact as supposed by materialists, but only a relative perception. What is more interesting is that this fact, undiscovered until the 20th century by science, was imparted to mankind in the Qur'an 14 centuries ago. There are various references in the Qur'an to the relativity of time.

It is possible to see the scientifically-proven fact that time is a psychological perception dependent on events, setting, and conditions in many verses of the Qur'an. For instance, the entire life of a person is a very short time as informed by the Qur'an;

On the Day when He will call you, and you will answer (His Call) with (words of) His Praise and Obedience, and you will think that you have stayed (in this world) but a little while! (Surat al-Isra, 52)

And on the Day when He shall gather them together, (it will seem to them) as if  they had not tarried (on earth) longer than an hour of a day: they will recognise each other. (Surah Yunus, 45)

In some verses, it is indicated that people perceive time differently and that sometimes people can perceive a very short period of time as a very lengthy one. The following conversation of people held during their judgement in the Hereafter is a good example of this:

He will say: "What number of years did ye stay on earth?" They will say: "We stayed a day or part of a day: but ask those who keep account." He will say: "Ye stayed not but a little,- if ye had only known!" (Surat al-Mumenoon, 112-114)

In some other verses it is stated that time may flow at different paces in different settings:

Yet they ask thee to hasten on the Punishment! But Allah will not fail in His Promise. Verily a Day in the sight of thy Lord is like a thousand years of your reckoning. (Surat al-Hajj, 47)

The angels and the spirit ascend unto him in a day the measure whereof is (as) fifty thousand years. (Surat al-Maarij, 4)

These verses are all manifest expressions of the relativity of time. The fact that this result only recently understood by science in the 20th century was communicated to man 1,400 years ago by the Qur'an is an indication of the revelation of the Qur'an by Allah, Who encompasses the whole time and space.

The narration in many other verses of the Qur'an reveals that time is a perception. This is particularly evident in the stories. For instance, Allah has kept the Companions of the Cave, a believing group mentioned in the Qur'an, in a deep sleep for more than three centuries. When they were awoken, these people thought that they had stayed in that state but a little while, and could not figure out how long they slept:

Then We draw (a veil) over their ears, for a number of years, in the Cave, (so that they heard not) . Then We raised them up that We might know which of the two parties would best calculate the time that they had tarried. (Surat al-Kahf, 11-12)

Such (being their state) , we raised them up (from sleep), that they might question each other. Said one of them, "How long have you stayed (here) ?" They said, "We have stayed (perhaps) a day, or part of a day." (At length) they (all) said, "Allah (alone) knows best how long you have stayed here.... (Surat al-Kahf, 19)

The situation told in the below verse is also evidence that time is in truth a psychological perception.

Or (take) the similitude of one who passed by a hamlet, all in ruins to its roofs. He said: "Oh! how shall Allah bring it (ever) to life, after (this) its death?" but Allah caused him to die for a hundred years, then raised him up (again). He said: "How long did you tarry (thus)?" He said: (Perhaps) a day or part of a day." He said: "Nay, you have tarried thus a hundred years; but look at your food and your drink; they show no signs of age; and look at your donkey: And that We may make of you a sign unto the people, Look further at the bones, how We bring them together and clothe them with flesh." When this was shown clearly to him, he said: "I know that Allah has power over all things."

The above verse clearly emphasises that Allah Who created time is unbound by it. Man, on the other hand, is bound by time that is ordained by Allah. As in the verse, man is even incapable of knowing how long he stayed in his sleep. In such a state, to assert that time is absolute (just like the materialists do in their distorted mentality),  would be very unreasonable.


Destiny

This relativity of time clears up a very important matter. The relativity is so variable that a period of time appearing billions of years' duration to us, may last only a second in another dimension. Moreover, an enormous period of time extending from the world's beginning to its end may not even last a second but just an instant in another dimension.

This is the very essence of the concept of destiny- a concept that is not well understood by most people, especially materialists, who deny it completely. Destiny is Allah's perfect knowledge of all events past or future. A majority of people question how Allah can already know events that have not yet been experienced and this leads them to fail in understanding the authenticity of destiny. However, "events not yet experienced" are not yet experienced only for us. Allah is not bound by time or space for He Himself has created them. For this reason, the past, the future, and the present are all the same to Allah; for Him, everything has already taken place and finished.

Lincoln Barnett explains how the Theory of General Relativity leads to this fact in The Universe and Dr. Einstein: According to Barnett, the universe can be "encompassed in its entire majesty only by a cosmic intellect".23 The will that Barnett calls "the cosmic intellect" is the wisdom and knowledge of Allah, Who prevails over the entire universe. Just as we easily see a ruler's beginning, middle, and end, and all the units in between as a whole, Allah knows the time we are subjected to like a single moment right from its beginning to the end. People experience incidents only when their time comes and they witness the fate Allah has created for them.

It is also important to draw attention to the shallowness of the distorted understanding of destiny prevalent in society. This distorted conviction of fate holds a superstitious belief that Allah has determined a "destiny" for every man but that these destinies can sometimes be changed by people. For instance, for a patient who returns from death's door people make superficial statements like "He defeated his destiny". Yet, no one is able to change his destiny. The person who turns from death's door does not die because he is destined not to die then. It is again the destiny of those people who deceive themselves by saying "I defeated my destiny" to say so and  maintain such a mindset.

Destiny is the eternal knowledge of Allah and for Allah, Who knows time like a single moment and Who prevails over the whole time and space, everything is determined and finished in a destiny. We also understand from what is related in the Qur'an that time is one for Allah: some incidents that appear to happen to us in the future are related in the Qur'an in such a way that they already took place long before. For instance, the verses that describe the account that people are to give to Allah in the hereafter are related as events which already occurred long ago:

And the trumpet is blown, and all who are in the heavens and all who are in the earth swoon away, save him whom Allah willeth. Then it is blown a second time, and behold them standing waiting! And the earth shineth with the light of her Lord, and the Book is set up, and the prophets and the witnesses are brought, and it is judged between them with truth, and they are not wronged... And those who disbelieve are driven unto hell in troops... And those who disbelieve are driven unto hell in troops..." (Surat az-Zumar, 68-74)

Some other verses on this subject are:

And every soul came, along with it a driver and a witness. (Surat al-Qaf, 21)

And the heaven is cloven asunder, so that on that day it is frail (Surat al-Haaqqa, 16)

And because they were patient and constant, He rewarded them with a Garden and (garments of) silk. Reclining in the (Garden) on raised thrones, they saw there neither the sun's (excessive heat) nor excessive cold. (Surat al-Insan, 12-13)

And Hell is placed in full view for (all) to see. (Surat an-Naziat, 36)

But on this Day the Believers laugh at the Unbelievers (Surat al-Mutaffifin, 34)

And the Sinful saw the fire and apprehended that they have to fall therein: no means did they find to turn away therefrom. (Surat al-Kahf, 53)

As may be seen, occurrences that are going to take place after our death (from our point of view) are related as already experienced and past events in the Qur'an. Allah is not bound by the relative time frame that we are confined in. Allah has willed these things in timelessness: people have already performed them and all these events have been lived through and ended. It is imparted in the verse below that every event, be it big or small, is within the knowledge of Allah and recorded in a book:

In whatever business thou mayest be, and whatever portion thou mayest be reciting from the Qur'an,- and whatever deed ye (mankind) may be doing,- We are witnesses thereof when ye are deeply engrossed therein. Nor is hidden from thy Lord (so much as) the weight of an atom on the earth or in heaven. And not the least and not the greatest of these things but are recorded in a clear record. (Surah Jonah, 61)


The Worry Of The Materialists

The issues discussed in this chapter, namely the truth underlying matter, timelessness, and spacelessness, are indeed extremely clear. As expressed before, these are absolutely not any sort of a philosophy or a way of thought, but crystal-clear truths impossible to deny. In addition to its being a technical reality, the rational and logical evidence also admits no other alternatives on this issue: the universe is an illusory entirety with all the matter composing it and all the people living on it. It is a collection of perceptions.

Materialists have a hard time in understanding this issue. For instance, if we return to Politzer's bus example: although Politzer technically knew that he could not step out of his perceptions he could only admit it for certain cases. That is, for Politzer, events take place in the brain until the bus crash, but as soon as the bus crash takes place, things go out of the brain and gain a physical reality. The logical defect at this point is very clear: Politzer has made the same mistake as the materialist philosopher Johnson who said "I hit the stone, my foot hurts, therefore it exists" and could not understand that the shock felt after bus impact was in fact a mere perception as well.

The subliminal reason why materialists cannot comprehend this subject is their fearing of the fact they will face when they comprehend it. Lincoln Barnett informs that this subject was "discerned" by some scientists:

Along with philosophers' reduction of all objective reality to a shadow-world of perceptions, scientists have become aware of the alarming limitations of man's senses.24

Any reference made to the fact that matter and time is a perception arouses great fear in a materialist, because these are the only notions he relies on as absolute beings. He, in a sense, takes these as idols to worship; because he thinks that he is created by matter and time (through evolution) .

When he feels that the universe he thinks he is living in, the world, his own body, other people, other materialist philosophers whose ideas he is influenced by, and in short, everything, is a perception, he feels overwhelmed by the horror of it all. Everything he depends on, believes in, and take recourse to vanishes suddenly. He feels a desperateness which he, essentially, will experience in the Judgment day in its real sense as described in the verse"That Day shall they (openly) show (their) submission to Allah; and all their inventions shall leave them in the lurch." (Surat an-Nahl, 87)

From then on, this materialist tries to convince himself in the reality of matter, and makes up "evidence" for this end; hits his fist on the wall, kicks stones, shouts, yells, but can never escape from the reality.

Just as they want to dismiss this reality from their minds, they also want other people to discard it. They are also aware that if the true nature of matter is known by people in general, the primitiveness of their own philosophy and the ignorance of their worldview will be bared for all to see, and there will be no ground left on which they can rationalise their views. These fears are the reason why they are so disturbed of the fact related here.

Allah states that the fears of the unbelievers will be intensified in the hereafter. On Judgement Day, they will be addressed thus:

One day shall We gather them all together: We shall say to those who ascribed partners (to Us): "Where are the partners whom you (invented and) talked about?" (Surat al-Anaam, 22)

After that, unbelievers will bear witness to their possessions, children and close circle whom they had assumed to be real and ascribed as partners to Allah leaving them and vanishing. Allah informed this fact in the verse "Behold! how they lie against their own souls! But the (lie) which they invented will leave them in the lurch" (Surat al-Anaam, 24) .


The Gain Of Believers

While the fact that matter and time is a perception alarms materialists, just the opposite holds true for true believers. People of faith become very glad when they have perceived the secret behind matter because this reality is the key to all questions. With this key, all secrets are unlocked. One comes to easily understand many issues that he previously had difficulty in understanding.

As said before, the questions of death, paradise, hell, the hereafter, changing dimensions, and important questions such as "Where is Allah?", "What was before Allah?", "Who created Allah?", "How long will the life in cemetery last?", "Where are heaven and hell?", and "Where do heaven and hell currently exist?" will be easily answered. It will be understood with what kind of a system Allah created the entire universe from nothingness. So much so that, with this secret, the questions of "when", and "where" become meaningless because there will be no time and no place left. When spacelessness is comprehended, it will be understood that hell,  heaven and earth are all actually at the same place. If timelessness is understood, it will be understood that everything takes place at a single moment: nothing is waited for and time does not go by, because everything has already happened and finished.

With this secret delved, the world becomes like heaven for a believer. All distressful material worries, anxieties, and fears vanish. The person grasps that the entire universe has a single Sovereign, that He changes the entire physical world as He pleases and that all he has to do is to turn unto Him. He then submits himself entirely to Allah "to be devoted to His service". (Surat Aal-e Imran, 35)

To comprehend this secret is the greatest gain in the world.

With this secret, another very important reality mentioned in the Qur'an is unveiled: the fact that  "Allah is nearer to man than his jugular vein" (Surah Qaf, 16) . As everybody knows, the jugular vein is inside the body. What could be nearer to a person than his inside? This situation can be easily explained by the reality of spacelessness. This verse can also be much better comprehended by understanding this secret.

This is the plain truth. It should be well established that there is no other helper and provider for man other than Allah. There is nothing but Allah; He is the only absolute being Whom one can seek refuge in, appeal for help, and count on for reward.

Whithersoever we turn, there is the presence of Allah.

 
   
    

18 François Jacob, Le Jeu des Possibles, University of Washington Press, 1982, p.111
19 Lincoln Barnett, The Universe and Dr.Einstein, William Sloane Associate, New York, 1948, pp. 52-53
20 Lincoln Barnett, The Universe and Dr.Einstein, William Sloane Associate, New York, 1948, p.17
21 Lincoln Barnett, The Universe and Dr.Einstein, William Sloane Associate, New York, 1948, p.58.
22 Paul Strathern, The Big Idea: Einstein and Relativity, Arrow Books, 1997, p. 57
23 Lincoln Barnett, The Universe and Dr.Einstein, William Sloane Associate, New York, 1948, p.84
24 Lincoln Barnett, The Universe and Dr.Einstein, William Sloane Associate, New York, 1948, pp.17-18