Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Can God make time travel possible?

Time travel scenarios are both wildly popular and physically or metaphysically impossible. Usually, though, this is in a secular context of what's naturally possible. But could divine agency make time travel feasible?

I don't think so. I think that's a pseudotask. 

However, let's vary the question: Could God make something like time travel possible? A scenario that might be indistinguishable to the participants? 

On that scenario, it's not about traveling back in time or changing the past, but making the present resemble the past. Take the present rather than the past as the starting-point. Miraculously antique the setting to make the present physically indistinguishable from the past. Give present-day participants anterograde amnesia, so that their memories regress to, say, a day in high school. Age them down. Miraculously restore their youth. 

Reset the chess board to an early state of play in the same game. Then take it from there. That's the stage at which the new outcome diverges from the first time around. 

It's really not a different future. But for all intents and purposes, it's functionally equivalent to a different future. It's as if they traveled back in time to high school, then took a different fork in the road. The psychological and phenomenological effects are indiscernibly akin to time travel. 


  1. I can't think of any argument that time travel is impossible that doesn't assume an A-theory of time. I didn't think you were an A-theorist, though. So I'm surprised you think that.

    (It shouldn't involve closed causal loops or anything like that, because those are impossible, so they would be impossible with time travel too, but they can't make time travel without them impossible. And there's no reason time travel would have to have them. Lots of coherent time travel stories don't have unexplained causal loops.)

    1. In context (4th paragraph), I was referring to scenarios in which the time traveler changes the past to produce a different future. That's the impossible scenario.

  2. Yes, God could theoretically do that, I suppose. There would be interesting consequences. Young people would cease to exist if the "clock" was wound back before their birthday. Then, assuming events played out exactly as before,* new children would be born, but would they be the same people, or different people?

    *I think you would assume events would play out exactly the same. If all events were preordained the first time, they would probably be preordained exactly the same way the second time, but correct me if I am wrong. I on the other hand would assume events would not play out the same, because free will.

  3. My scenario doesn't involve actually turning back the clock. That was the point.