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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Of Fate, Men, and Time


You come into possession of a time machine. You think back through your life, and reflect upon the time when your father died from being accidentally pushed down some stairs at work. The police never found out who did it, and if it was even intentional. That day was been replaying in your head since you were young. You know can solve the mystery. All this time, and now you can travel back into time to find out who it was, and if it happened on purpose. So you boot up your time machine, set in the year, and with a loud whiring, and a crack, you're instantly shot back in time. You step from your time machine, and race to your fathers place of work. He should just be getting off, soon and the time of his fated death is near. You run to his office. It's almost 5pm, so every one's getting out of work and the hallways are swarmed with people. You push your way to his office, it looks exactly the same as you remember it. Shaking off the nostalgia, you frantically looking around the jostling crowd. As you reach the stairs, you feel your feet give out under you. Someone left a Styrofoam cup on the ground, and you lose your balance. You instinctively push your weight forward, and slam into the person in front of you. You regain your composure, but the older gentleman in front of you, is knocked down the stairs, toppling head over heels, and lands at the bottom, his neck twisted in a deathly fashion. You stair down the cold marble stairs, to the face of your father. You were the cause of your father's death...

Now lets stop the story here. As you probably have asked, who pushed him then before? Or, would he still have gotten pushed, if his son never went back in time to find out? The implications of a story like this are so paradoxical that they really can't be answered. The same goes for that great scene in the movie The Matrix. Neo walks into the Oracles house, and the elderly, wise woman, tells him not to worry about the vase. Perplexed, Neo asks, 'what vase?', and turns to look around, and knocks over the vase. She rhetorically asks him, does he think he would have knocked it over if she wouldn't have said anything. These loopy questions and idea's are part of the much bigger picture, and that is of Fate. ( I capitalize Fate on purpose.)

Some people believe that our Fate is predetermined. That even as I'm typing these keys, it is written in some cosmic book somewhere, that I'm meant to type these keys. Even me thinking about Fate, is predetermined. Not to get too religious, but most people who believe in this prescribed Fate are generally religious. God has determined all our moves before hand, and watches our movements like a released wind up toy. (When I refer to God, I don't speak to one religious sect). This leads to the belief that God who is omnipresent, knows of the results to all our choices, and therefore approves of all our paths, for he has not changed them. 

The other camp believes that we determine our own outcome. That our Fate is what we make, and that nothing is set in stone.


In the movie, "Big Fish" The movie's main character a very charismatic, all American guy, is given the rare glimpse when he's a child. He gets to see how he dies. This means that for the rest of his life, he can do anything he wants, cause he knows only what he saw is how he's going to die. He could jump out of an airplane with no parachute and someone be promised to survive it. This would be the biggest example of a pre determined Fate. Nothing at all, can change the fate of his life. So we obviously see a problem with this. If his Fate is determined, then he could literally do anything and get away with it.

Another Fate problem is the Back to the Future problem. Another time machine example. If I were to go back in time, and murder my parents, or prevent them from ever getting together, then how could I be born? If I was never born thanks to killing my parents, then who went back in time and killed them? This grisly  question is one that stumps and really puts a wrench into the idea of time travel.


So which do you favor? The idea of Fate as this mysterious figure who you encounter every so often, showing up in the biggest moments of your life? Or a collar and leash, rigidly attached to your neck, dragging you along, kicking and screaming?

43 comments:

  1. I try not to think about such things.

    Won't get an answer, in any case.

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  2. Some people believe in this allot... I believe this could be possible just on the cusp of modern things for us to discover

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  3. I believe that the very act of viewing your future changes it. Therefore, seeing how you'll die then living recklessly will render that vision false since you wouldn't be doing dangerous shit if you hadn't seen it.

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  4. Pretty awesome "time-traveler's" paradox there. Very interesting read, it made me realize that I would never would touch time machines if I ever had the chance to.

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  5. Fate happens sometime, but the idea of infinite parallel realities helps with the problems of time travel. It isn't your reality you are in, or it is, just a different version of it when you time travel. You can then change the ebb and flow of reality by influencing events and return to a future influenced by those events. You would be excluded from the death clause because you are external to that reality. Reality is just a matter of collapsing the wave function, which is a fancy physics way of saying you have an amount of choices and set the path for reality by making those choices.

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  6. I love the parallel realities theory, except that there should be a reality that contacted us, but we might be the reality that doesn't get contacted, but there would have to be one to contact, NYAHHHHH

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  7. I do ponder things like that occasionally, but I tend to put Fate, and the idea of deities into the realm of fiction to keep myself sane... Though there is the predetermination theory in that all motion was predetermined at the start Big Bang, at the atomic level... David Wong on Cracked has an article about it.

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  8. omg, a clow card! i absolutely LOVED card captor sakura when i was a child hahah
    great article though

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  9. I don't believe in fate. I believe in chance and luck. Being nonreligious I believe presupposes I can form my own future.

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  10. Spiritually, anyone can believe anything, but from what we know about quantum mechanics, there is no such thing as fate. Our lives are experienced through collapsing propability waves by the mere act of observing.

    So when we are born there are near infinite possible futures, and with each choice we make, that probability waves collapses into a linear line we percieve as time.

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  11. Great pics and an awesome post.

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  12. I kind of believe of fate, but I'm still not sure.

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  13. I dont believe in fate because I like to think I can influence my existance to any end, not some preordained one

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  14. That's why time travelling will probably always be a dream for mankind.

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  15. I'd rather have someone appear at the biggest moments of my life, seems interesting and that way, I'll know if something is going to happen

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  16. I beleive that everyone makes their own fate and nothing is predetermined. Nothing and no one is actively trying to prevent you from doing what you want in the long run just because everyone has their own stuff to deal with.
    By that logic anything is possible - within the law (provided you want to stay out of jail)

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  17. I'm somewhere in the middle. I believe there is a path of least resistance, so to speak, but we can always deviate from this path. Life thrusts some situations/people our way, for sure. It's up to us what we do with them, though.
    In the case of time travel, I'm of the opinion that it would create a separate reality (which I think exist regardless). This also makes time travel a difficult concept, begging the question of which past/future you would travel to.

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  18. Good post, but i'd hate to know what happens in the future, i wouldn't want to do anything, ever.

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  19. Back to the futures "rules" are nonsensical. How could you possible change the past if it already happened.

    I really liked the movie "12 Monkeys", because it portrays exactly how time-travel to the past would be like. Any other way just would'nt make sense.

    And the string theory is just plain silly.

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  20. note to self, dont get into my time machine^^

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  21. Terminator: No fate but what we make.

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  22. i must do some more research on this topic.

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  23. Screw fate, I'm the master of my own destiny. If that destiny happens to be leading a boring life then so be it!

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  24. This is a very interesting and well versed blog, I'm glad that I get to read these posts. The knowledge to be gained here is priceless

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  25. i don't bealive in the fate :/

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  26. I kind of believe in fate.. But I really don't know.

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  27. Fate is most definitely a mysterious beast. Was it fate that I end up here? Was it fate for that question to be asked? +follow

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  28. I do not believe in fate at all. We all have free will!

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  29. I'm pretty sure I died like 5 years ago in a car accident and everything since then has just been my brain rambling. But, I figure I keep at it long enough, i'll eventually get tired and wake up.

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  30. if i got a time machine, i'd have a field day

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  31. really cool examples. i will soon write on why i think there is no such thing as free will (not necessarily because of "fate") on my blog if you're interested.. probably in the following week: http://octafbr.blogspot.com

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  32. Very nice and I somewhat agree.

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  33. I am upset to see that this post had nothing to do with cardcaptor sakura :(
    why did you lead me on with that clow card...

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