Press release

New Book Release : The Eleven Pictures of Time: The Physics, Philosophy and Politics of Time Beliefs, by C.K. Raju, Sage Publications, New Delhi 2003. 

The book explains how time beliefs are the basis of (1) science, (2) religion, and (3) human values, so that a change in time beliefs changes scientific theory, religious perceptions, and human behaviour.

The union of state and church reduces religion to a means of soft power to manipulate mass human behaviour, by manipulating values through time beliefs. The book goes on to explain how politically motivated changes in time beliefs, such as the curse on ’cyclic’ time, have affected scientists and penetrated science, from Newton to Stephen Hawking. The penetration of religion into science has prepared the ground for certain recent attempts to reunite science and religion. Given the credibility of science, and the widespread prevalence of scientific illiteracy, some of these recent attempts to remarry science and religion are better understood as the latest way to manipulate human values. This process is spurred by economic globalisation which requires the global standardisation of human behaviour, hence a uniformity in values.

What is the way out? The first step is to reject the idea that there are only two pictures of time linear and cyclic. The book examines the possibilities offered by chance, chaos, complexity and time travel, on the one hand, and the transformation of time beliefs in Lokayata, Jainism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam on the other.
The author proposes a fresh synthesis through the picture of a ‘tilt in the arrow of time’, a new value of order creation, and the corresponding possibility of creative Man surprising God.

In an earlier book (Time: Towards a Consistent Theory, Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht, 1994, Fundamental Theories of Physics, vol. 65), and a related series of publications in Physics Education (1988-93) this author had surveyed time beliefs in physics, and had already proposed equations with a ‘tilt’ as leading to a better physics.

Side stories

Science and religion
•Are all religions equidistant from science?
Popular science
•Is time travel possible?
•What time beliefs underlie the clash of civilizations thesis?
•Arrow’s time and rational choice.
•Why is Newton’s lifework still a secret?
•Was Einstein a habitual plagiarist?

Why is Newton’s lifework still secret?

More than two and a half centuries after Isaac Newton’s death, his lifework--a ‘cartload’ of his papers--still remains hidden from public view, though the Imperial College, London, now promises to make them available at some unspecified future date. Newton, a deeply religious person, spent some 50 years of his life obsessively researching church history. He believed that the medieval Christian church had distorted the Bible to suit its political ends, and his researches aimed to uncover the true Bible. In the process, he wrote an eight-volume History of the Church, the drafts of which contain violent abuse against the church, and the clergy. After Newton’s death, a representative of the Royal Society marked all these papers as ’foul papers relating to church matters--unfit to be published’.

Can Newton’s religious obsessions be cleanly separated from his science and mathematics? The Eleven Pictures of Time argues against the belief that present-day science is somehow insulated from the religious beliefs of the scientist, hence from the politics underlying those beliefs. Thus, the politics of the early church decided the time beliefs on which Newton’s scientific theory was founded. The conceptual confusion in these time beliefs was the cause of the eventual rejection of Newtonian physics, and its replacement by relativity. But that is not the end of the matter, for Hawking has revived the same beliefs in general relativity. (Others, like Tipler, have gone a step further, claiming that science helps establish those religious beliefs as facts.)

The suppression of Newton’s papers for over two centuries raises serious question about the credibility of the received history of science. If authoritative historians of science have for so long deliberately misled people and propagated a false image even in the case of one as prominent as Newton, can they be trusted in other cases? How reliable is the history of earlier science, or even the claim that Newton invented the calculus?


Was Einstein a habitual plagiarist?

Einstein’s ideas were remarkably similar to those earlier put forward by the leading minds of the time: Poincaré, Hilbert, Boltzmann, Gibbs, and Bose. Since those ideas were either published earlier, or communicated to him, Einstein knew or ought to have known about this earlier work, which he claimed to have independently rediscovered. Does that make him a plagiarist? Or is it a case of great minds repeatedly thinking alike (even though Einstein’s earlier and later life gives no indication of such greatness)? As a patent clerk, Einstein had to know the patent law: copying ideas is not plagiarism, unless one copies also the exact expression of those ideas. Therefore, he already well knew that the legal answer to the above question is: No.

Still the issue remains important for three reasons. First, between original and copy, there often is a noticeable loss of quality. Not being a mathematician, Einstein did not quite understand the subtler mathematical difficulties in relativity that Poincaré sought to explore. So, wrong distribution of credits has led to an incorrect understanding of relativity, particularly its many-body problem.

Second, the special theory of relativity came about through a critical re-examination of the earlier (‘Newtonian’) notion of time, but the separate notion of (mundane) time used to distribute credits (or resources) in society went unexamined. These two distinct pictures of time are in conflict. That means that, if one regards the present understanding of relativity as valid, it is incorrect to attribute its origin to any particular individual.

Third, fairness in the distribution of credits to individuals relates to the nature of society as a whole. In an unjust society credits and resources are not fairly distributed, and it is naive to suppose that the top layers of this society are somehow insulated from such unfairness. The icons of an unjust society need not be especially meritorious--they are very often merely the ones who can best manipulate unjust social mechanisms.


Are all religions equidistant from science?

(If not, which religion is closest to present-day science?) The widespread belief is that science and religion are organized on different principles: that science is an objective matter of reason, while religion is a subjective matter of faith (belief in some authority).

The Eleven Pictures of Time argues that the religious beliefs of the scientist have often been a part of scientific theory from Newton to Hawking. More recently, the globalisation of values required for economic globalization has accelerated attempts to harmonize science and religion as the latest way to manipulate human values. An example is Tipler’s claim that Hawking’s physics can be used to establish by calculation the factual truth of Christian theology (literally interpreted). Thus, science has not been so very objective.

Nor are all religions a matter of faith. For example, Buddhism rejects authority (faith), and accepts only the manifest (pratykasa) and inference (anumana) as the means of validation. Science must accept at least as much. Therefore, there is no absolute necessity of separate principles of validation for science and religion.
Though thousands of works are devoted to a study of the relation of science and religion, these things have not emerged so far, since this is the first book to comprehensively explore the relation of science and various religions in the frame of comparative religion.


Time travel and time machines

Is time travel possible? A common argument against time travel to the past is the grandfather paradox: if one travels to the past to kill one’s grandfather when grandfather was a boy, then grandfather died before he could procreate. One couldn’t, therefore, have been born, so who killed grandfather? The Eleven Pictures of Time asserts that interactions travelling backward in time make a sort of time travel possible.In this sort of time travel information is moved to persons, instead of persons being transported by machines. The paradoxes are resolved in a new way. The paradox arises from the superposition of two conflicting pictures of ‘linear’ time: superlinear time and mundane time. Neither picture of time is maintainable with time travel which necessarily involves spontaneous events: the earliest appearance of a time traveller is causally inexplicable from the past. (Spontaneous events differs from chance events, for they may be partly explicable from the future, for example.) Spontaneous events increase order, or decrease entropy, so they cannot be mechanised.


The clash of civilizations

Ariel Sharon’s recent visit related to the formation of a US-Israel-India anti-Islam axis. This idea of an anti-Islam axis is premised on the new strategic doctrine of the clash of civilizations. Huntington’s strategic thesis is admittedly built on Arnold Toynbee’s historical perceptions as articulated in his monumental Study of History. And, as Toynbee has himself tated, his historical perceptions are built on the notion of "linear" time in opposition to the "cyclic" time articulated in Spengler’s Decline of the West. The book, The Eleven Pictures of Time points out that Toynbee’s beliefs (in an apocalyptic picture of time) arise from the curse on ’cyclic’ time, ironically originating in the politics generated by the union of state and church.


Arrow’s Time and the impossibility of rational choice

Kenneth Arrow was awarded a Nobel Prize in economics. His celebrated impossibility theorem states that a social choice function does not exist, unless the utility of one individual can be compared with that of another--something regarded by experts as unacceptable. The conclusion of this theorem means that it is, in principle, impossible to say that something is good for society as a whole (even if it is bad for some individuals). This conclusion--that there is no notion of social good--was used to attack the welfare state. On the other hand, it is believed that an individual can rationally pursue self interest by maximising the expected present value of his lifetime utility. This involves various assumptions about time, including the assumption that utility may be compared across time. On the Buddhist view of time, however, comparing utility across time is no different from comparing utility across individuals. Following through with Arrow’s argument, if social choice is impossible, so is rational choice.

For example, children today are commonly told to stop playing and start studying. The premise underlying this "rational choice" is that a child’s unhappiness at being deprived of play now is compensated by his happiness as an adult with a larger income. On the Buddhist view, the child and the adult are as different as two individuals. So comparing an adult’s happiness with a child’s unhappiness is no different from comparing a rich man’s unhappi-ness with progressive taxation with a poor man’s happiness with the benefits of that system.


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