Having just read a fascinating story that involves time travel through a wormhole with the question arising: Could someone travel to the past and change the future? – I thought I’d give my two cents.
As a caveat, I’m a dunce when it comes to physics, quantum theory, wormholes, and almost every other aspect about the natural sciences. What I do know pretty well is the Bible because of having read it cover-to-cover many times. That fact alone significantly influences my thinking in regards to most subjects, including this one. What I try to do is look at the world through a Biblical, prophetic lens and let that guide my life. Am I always successful in that? I wish! But I do my best.
In my recent video Awaken Bible Prophecy Update titled Thinking Outside My Own Box, I mentioned this book series: City of God by Randy Ingermanson. The story revolves around the fascinating idea that someone could go back to the past – in this case through a wormhole – and alter the future by changing a previous event. Rivka is a Messianic Jew. Ari is a lapsed, largely secular Jew who hates Christianity. Damien is a man on a mission, namely to assassinate the Apostle Paul in ancient Israel because of his own warped view, believing that it was Paul’s missionary efforts that caused Christianity to spread and flourish and ultimately destroy his life. He wants to nip that in the bud and change the course of history.
Rivka has an eidetic memory, i.e. a photographic memory. She has read widely and most specifically the history as recounted by Josephus. All these characters travel back to 57 AD, which Damien has decided is the optimal time to kill Paul when he comes to Jerusalem. Rivka can recall literally everything she’s read and thus knows both the events Josephus records, plus those in the Bible. This gives her the ability to more or less foresee the future, and she gets a reputation as a seer woman. That causes problems. Historical accounts, whether Scriptural or secular, tell us the big events that have occurred, but they don’t necessarily inform as to the details making them happen.
Rivka believes that God has given her the task of thwarting the assassination attempt by Damien so that the future remains as it should. Ari for his part would be fine if Christianity hadn’t come along, but he has fallen in love with Rivka and feels he must help her to a degree.
Two opposing viewpoints are at hand as this drama plays out:
- Changes in the past can alter the future
- Nothing done in the past will change what is to come
Damien and Rivka hold to the first theory, while Ari – also a physicist like Damien – believes that nothing can change the future.
We’ve all likely seen or read time travel adventures, and theory #1 is usually the predominate one. As a result, people involved in these scenarios are quite concerned about anything they do when traveling to the past because of the unknown effects of those changes in the future. The thinking is that a minor change could be much like the infamous butterfly effect. A butterfly flaps its wings in China and that sets off a chain reaction causing a hurricane in Miami.
I can’t even begin to relate the technical thinking behind theory #2; suffice it to say that here the physics argue against any past change altering things to come.
Because I liked these City of God books so much, and they caused me to reflect a lot about them, I thought – for what it’s worth – that I’d weigh in on this question from what I perceive would be the Biblical point of view. If someone could travel into the past, is it possible he could change the future?
So, here we are today. Certain events have happened previously. Certain people have been born, lived in some manner, did specific things, and died. What occurred influenced the world either minimally or in large measure. If, like in City of God, someone traveled backward in time with the intent of killing Paul and deliberately attempting to change history, could that happen?
I say no. There is also the theory that there are multiple worlds spun off through every decision any person makes. Can you imagine how many such worlds would be created in such a scenario? Again, I don’t believe that actually happens. The reason for this is because of God.
God knows the end from the beginning. He is omniscient. Every possible choice a person – every person in the world – could conceivably make, He knows. His knowledge doesn’t predetermine the future but He foreknows it. Just because there is a multiplicity of choices: millions, billions, trillions, inconceivable different numbers of paths – that doesn’t mean a world is spawned from them. They are seen by God but never materialize into another potential universe. There is only this one timeline in which we exist. Where we are in that world is – from God’s perspective – the only one that will ever be. He has seen in advance what any of us might have chosen, and that decision for all people combined has brought us to this current state of existence. As importantly is the fact that God has stated prophetically in His Word that certain events will happen. Nothing and no one can change the future as God has ordained.
This being the case, a determined attempt to change the past by traveling back there, could not succeed.
If we have the situation like Rivka where she follows a person like Damian to the past and intercedes to keep Paul from being killed, how might we explain something like that, if it were even possible? Let’s say the assassin is about to perform his deed and someone from the future intervenes. How does that work if this person had never come into the past in the first place? Who would stop the assassin, if there even was an assassin? In this confusing situation, because whatever was, effectively had always previously happened. This person intervening would have already been in that place and time to stop the killing if there had been a planned murder in the first place. The travel backward in time by both the assassin and the intercessor – in God’s view – have been events that had always occurred.
What I’m trying to convey is that since God has already seen these things, they would have inevitably already been part of the past in some manner. Nothing surprises God and nothing can thwart His purposes.
I’ll admit, one can get completely tied up and wrapped around by logic and supposition in a case like this. If my explanation above doesn’t prove that, I don’t know what it does. The bottom line is that God has created THIS world. It is what it is because of the way everything previously happened through all the actors on the stage of history. God has foretold what will come to pass because He has already seen it occur. Nothing will change it without God’s express permission. He is sovereign. He is in charge.
And that should be very comforting.
Yes it is because He is the author of order not confusion.
Right, if there was the ability to change the past and thus alter the future, that would be confusing, wouldn’t it?