Re: Physics Query

jeffery lynn mullins (
Thu, 4 Apr 1996 11:11:21 -0500 (EST)


This is not a physics reference, but Quentin Smith wrote a book on time
defending a tensed theory of time and from what I know of his articles,
he accepts the standard interpretation of SR. Smith is a philosopher of
science who wrote the counter point essays to Craig in a joint book on
the Big Bang and philosophy.

Jeff Mullins

On Thu, 4 Apr 1996, Jeff Webster wrote:

> Not long ago, Gary Deweese mentioned that some philosophers and physicists are
> arguing for a Lorentzian interpretation of the Lorentz transformations, as
> opposed to an Einsteinian interpretation. Lorentz was able to maintain a
> privileged reference frame by invoking the ad hoc principles of length
> contraction and time dilation in order to account for the null result of the
> Michelson-Morley experiment. The issue is important philosophically for many
> reasons, but one of which is that the traditional concept of God's timelessness
> is often argued on the basis of Einstein's dictum of "no privileged observer, "
> and hence, no "universal now" which defines a temporal perspective for both God
> and the universe. If Lorentz's interpretation is valid, then there is a basis
> for such a common temporal perspective.
> One philosopher/apologist, William Lane Craig, prefers the Lorentz
> interpretation and writes the following: "We thus have two different
> interpretations of Relativity Theory which are radically different in their
> metaphysical foundations and yet which are, to date, experimentally
> indistinguishable and therefore insusceptible to scientific adjudication." FAITH
> AND PHILOSOPHY, vol. 11, no.1, Jan. 1994, p.33.
> My question is this: is there serious debate in the physics community about this
> issue, or is Einstein's interpretation still preferred because of its conceptual
> economy and beauty? As I recall, Einstein's principles of length contraction
> and time dilation were entirely kinematic, resulting from two very reasonable
> postulates, whereas Lorentz's interpretation requires a dynamical process (thus
> far unknown) for the shrinking of measuring rods and the slowing of clocks. Can
> anyone suggest literature about this?
> Jeff Webster