Einstein’s Most Important Philosophical Error

By definition, a modern physicist is one who does not know what time is. This is indicative of the single philosophical error on Einstein’s part that has retarded physics and cosmology for over a century. The error is simply this: the objectification of motion. The universe presents us with two fundamental phenomena: matter and the motion of matter. Matter exists; motion occurs. Matter, that is, anything in existence, has xyz dimensions and location. Motion is not “part” of the universe; it is what those parts do. In objectifying motion, Einstein assumed instead that motion had material properties. It started out with his assumption that light was a particle instead of wave motion in a sea of particles. This approach was not particularly new. It was once used in explaining heat as the “caloric fluid” instead of what we now know to be the vibrations of molecules.

The Special Theory of Relativity is consistent with this tendency to objectify motion. In his attempt to keep C, the velocity of light, constant under all conditions, he was forced to treat time, not as motion, but as matter. Thus, like a material object, time was said to “dilate.” One result was the “Twin Paradox,” which has led to endless, pointless arguments among modern physicists ever since. Whenever that didn’t work, things traveling through “empty space” at high velocities were hypothesized to contract—all to keep C constant. Einstein’s math, and those who judged it, required no physical reason for this contraction.

The General Theory of Relativity also is consistent with this tendency to objectify motion. Again, time was viewed by Einstein as a thing, instead of what things do. The concept of “space-time” purports to “combine” space and time. However, only things can be “combined.” “Time,” having neither xyz dimensions nor existence, cannot be combined with anything. Thus, “space” exists, but “space-time” does not. Nonetheless, it is commonplace for cosmogonists to assume that 4-dimensional space-time actually exists. This belief is absolutely required for the expanding universe hypothesis. Otherwise, our improbable position right smack dab in the middle of a thousand billion galaxies would merely appear to be a matter of perception within an infinite universe. Redshifts would be attributed to absorption over distance instead of to the Doppler Effect alone. Without the mathematical fabrication of space-time the Big Bang Theory and cosmogony would no longer exist.

So why has Einstein’s objectification of motion been so popular and enduring? I hinted at the reasons for that in TTAOS (Borchardt, 2004) and TSW (Borchardt, 2007), with particular emphasis in my explanation of the deterministic assumption of INSEPARABILITY (Just as there is no motion without matter, so there is not matter without motion). In particular, the belief in motion without matter has been well-established ever since the first primitives tried to understand the wind in the willows. Here was a “thing” that was not a thing, like the proverbial ghost that was a thing, but not a thing. The ghost was capable of traveling through walls. It supposedly had xyz dimensions and location, but certainly was not material. The indeterministic vestiges of the idea of matterless motion are nearly as dominant now as they were in 1905. Matterless motion is a mainstay of religion, from holy ghosts, to souls, to gods. Most folks talk about such “things” as if they really existed. So it was not surprising that Einstein and many others would objectify time to great applause. The brilliant mathematics of modern physics is founded, not on the deterministic assumption of INSEPARABILITY, but on its opposite. Einstein and followers never understood this. Make no mistake about it. Time cannot dilate and space-time does not exist. Many of the paradoxes and absurdities in modern physics and cosmogony are traceable to this single most critical philosophical error. We can do better, but only if we give up the idea of matterless motion.


Borchardt, Glenn, 2004, The ten assumptions of science: Toward a new scientific worldview: Lincoln, NE, iUniverse, 125 p.

Borchardt, Glenn, 2007, The Scientific Worldview: Beyond Newton and Einstein: Lincoln, NE, iUniverse, 411 p.


Nathan said...

Great post, I took your advice and read this blog, which is completely in tune with my ideals. Even before reading your papers and visiting your website, I have always considered time as motion. I, myself, derived this from Einstein's theory. Because time dilation exists and is correlated with one's motion relative to light, it follows that time would be motion as well. His theory is incomplete, but I believe you can provide the answers to complete the pieces of the puzzle that Einstein missed. I will definitely be reading more or your blog and thanks for returning the email!

Glenn Borchardt said...


Welcome aboard. Be sure to sign up as a "follower" so you can get the latest blog and comments. Glad to see that you agree that time is motion. I would only change one thing in your comment. Change "time dilation exists" to "time dilation does not exist. Only things can dilate, and time (motion) is not a thing, but what things do."

BTW: I am currently working on a paper with Steven Bryant showing precisely where Einstein objectified time in his mathematical derivations.