Thank you very much for your replies. It gives some insight, but doesn't quell-the-fire (so to speak).
So many well-meaning and vastly intelligent folks (scientists, mostly) speak of "time" as a force (entity? phenomina?) that exists separately-and-distinctly. Most of these people are far more intelligent than I, yet when I look at it: Time is a useful concept we apply to sequences or rates. We can look at a notion and say ".. yes, this describes time" yet Time doesn't exist as a separate entity; at least that's what it seems.
It's a useful term; needed term! But bent, traversed and objectively measured (that isn't *really* measuring something else), I'd really love to hear it.
Thanks again for your posts
The only people who think time is actually something are those who are either confused, or are infatuated with physicalness and so want to believe it can do mystical stuff (like allow time travel).
You are on the right track to think time is merely a human measurement
concept. It is, in one sense, exactly like the energy concept. Lots and lots of people talk about energy like it is a substance
that composes everything from mass to "spirit." In reality it is merely a way to measure the sort of change/movement we call "work." Energy is not a "substance," it has no properties.
Likewise, time is a way to measure the rate of a specific type of change in our universe, but to really understand the confusing picture of time (introduced primarily by relativity), you have to also take into account a few other factors.
First, the "direction" of change in our universe is from being more organized to less organized, from compacted to expanded. When used in philosophical discussion like ours, often this trend is referred to as universal entropy
Second, we think of the universe as beginning with the Big Bang, and therefore what order there is in the universe started soon after that and has been becoming more disordered ever since (overall).
Third, the main organization we observe is in matter and material processes, so it is the disorganizing of matter we are referring to as universally "entropic."
Fourth, there is a finite amount of matter in the universe and if it keeps disorganizing then there are a finite number disorganizing events left in the universe before it is fully disordered.
Fifth, because order is associated with matter and material processes, and because matter is tied up in various types of cycles (from planetary orbits to the cycling cesium, hydrogen, or rubidium used in atomic clocks), we use their cycles to count. What we are counting doesn't matter really, it's just regularity that we are after
Sixth, here's where everyone gets confused about time. During the counts of something cycling like a clock, some amount of organization in the universe has disappeared. So time is really a concept derived from our observation of the universe's matter flying apart. It is a counting/measuring concept that keeps track of the rate
of entropy, time doesn't actually exist as a force or entity unto itself. Instead of saying "It has been 62 years since I was born," I could say "X number of disordering events have occurred since I was born." I could also say, "X number of disordering events are left before I die." It's because the rate
of disordering events are rather constant that we can use cycles to count "how long" we have before something occurs.
Seventh, the time concept got interesting with relativity. Why? Because the rate of entropy can be affected.
Increasing gravity or acceleration in a frame of reference slows down atomic cycles, and therefore everything in that frame of reference disorganizes more slowly than in its prior less-gravity/accelerating frame of reference. Clocks, no matter what type, move slower too so you can't tell your frame of reference has slowed down its disorganzing rate. BTW, the whole frame contracts
too, but you can't tell that either because your ruler has also contracted and so measures exactly the same as before. The only way you will know of this rate of entropy change is if you've been, say, accelerating away from Earth and then back, and when you return you find out your spaceship clock is behind Earth clocks (which has been confirmed using atomic clocks on accelerating planes).
So, much of the talk that goes on in every philosophy and science area of forums I've ever visited is mostly being done by confused people who are projecting the drama of their own demise as a physical being into this "force" they call time.
Some other of the weird interpretations are coming from materialists/physicalists who want to believe physicalness can create all that exists, including us and consciousness; they treat time like a dimension that can be, for example, traveled forward and backward in (this is a far-fetched interpretation taken from gravity's effect on clocks). It supports their a priori philosophical beliefs to make time and other physical concepts as "mystical" as they can to account for some of the amazing organization and creativity behind life and consciousness.
But once we remove confusion and physicalist "believer" spin, time is nothing more than a measurement concept that exists solely in our heads.