Do you believe …

September 10, 2012 § 1 Comment

Do you believe in fate?

When I asked my close friend, who I shall name Bob for this blog, why he would consider time travel if it had the capability of changing the past, present, or future, his response intrigued me. He replied that he would have to because he had already done it.

Bob meant that he would be compelled to travel through time because he had time traveled in the past, thus providing his present and future. He would in fact only change the present or future if he did not time travel, thus creating discontinuity in his past. When I asked Bob how he would know he had time traveled in his past, he replied that he chooses now, in his present, to do so if ever given the opportunity in the future. Therefore, even now his future self could be traveling to the past to shape Bob’s tomorrow.

So Bob chooses to time travel, sealing his future by maintaining the manipulation of his past. Logically it follows that if time travel is ever an option, we will be faced with a conundrum: if we individually are able to consider time traveling as an action we may perform, do we then even have a choice of time traveling or not if there is a possibility we chose to do so and our present and future now depend on this action? This idea of establishing one’s future by traveling to times in the past brought to my mind the idea of predetermined fate. If we ourselves were to establish our present and future by manipulating the past, how can we reconcile the idea of a fate determined by a higher power? To state it another way, some believers in predetermined fate claim that our destiny is aligned with the planets and stars, but was it our going back in time that aligned them?

If one defines fate as a predetermined path created by a higher power, who or what is that higher power in time traveling? The answer I see in the idea of time traveling is that we could be considered the higher power by ourselves manipulating the past to form the present and future. So if our past selves predetermine the fate of our future selves, there can be no such thing as fate, for we are then the masters of our own futures. If we are masters of our own futures, and are masters of time through time travel, is there still an omnipotent higher power that has some effect on our lives other than us?

Even if we choose not to consider the question of whether or not there is a higher power in a world of time travelers, there is still the question of fate in the form of free will. If we argue that we are the masters of our own fates, are we free to break the cycle, to not time travel, and therefore change our past? If we time traveled in our past and then decide we want to change our minds in the present, it may not even be possible due to our unconscious desire from our past to not break the cycle, to time travel. The question becomes whether or not we can disobey our unconscious desires. If we can, we may exercise free will and still be masters of our fate. If not, we in the present are still not masters of it, and we cannot exercise free will.

I cannot answer these questions for Bob or for anyone else other than myself.  My own personal answer to the conundrum is that I know I would NOT meddle with time, so I would have no need to use the time machine. Regardless of whether I have the free will to choose or not, tomorrow I will either eat an apple or I will not. Regardless of whether my fate is predetermined by a higher power or by my choice in the present not to travel to my past, my fate is secure.

Is yours?



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§ One Response to Do you believe …

  • lzarecky says:

    I think that you’re idea of free will and time travel is really interesting. Even in Robert Heinlein’s “By His Bootstraps,” Bob’s actions perpetuated what happened in the past and future, and there was a never-ending cycle of events that occurred. It didn’t seem that Bob had any free will in this story. However, if for some reason Bob would have decided to remain in the ‘present’ time and not return to the future where he became Diktor, would he have even realized that this occurred? And wouldn’t this have always occurred to perpetuate the cycle? Even if there is ‘free will’, it seems that it might just determine a parallel universe where everything that has occurred, is occurring, and will occur is pre-determined. If it changes, it just shifts to a different cycle.

    -Lexi Zarecky


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