Time Travel and Free Will

Some people believe that time travel cannot exist because it interferes with the concept of human “free will”. I will explain my theory as to why I do not believe this is the case. With or without multiple timelines, when you travel to the future from point A, you will visit the future that has the current conditions of Point A applied. Meaning, all the decisions you have made in Point A create a specific future and you will visit it. Of course, you can change Point A easily because you live in it. Another possibility, if you believe in fate and destiny, is that you create a different timeline each time you make a decision. So, point A will always have a specific future, but there are alternate futures created based on your decisions. In my opinion, time travel does not interfere with free will at all.

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I also think this is how it would work. In some ways though, it means time travel could be done without traveling “through time” at all.

If you could flip from timeline A to B where the difference is the Big Bang happened 30 years later, you’re 30 years in the past… But I guess the trick would be knowing what timeline is going to give you the expected result.

A post was split to a new topic: I am a time traveler from 2050

Here are some of my thoughts on the topic of Free Will as it applies to the possibility of Time Travel. Caveat - I am not a physicist, so while I’ve tried to approach and word this thoughtfully and carefully, it may be imperfect:

In regards to Free Will, that’s an issue that often stems from theories which suggest that we live in a universe where the future already exists/is pre-determined. In such a universe, the question of whether we can alter the outcome of a future event arises and subsequently often leads to concerns or issues with causality, such as potential causal loops/bootstrap paradoxes, etc. and, of course, “Free Will”.

In order to intentionally try to alter a future event, one must have access to knowledge of the future event and attempt to change the event from a point in the past. But if one is just traveling to the future for the sake of traveling and are unaware of, or not attempting to alter its course, it doesn’t really place any strain on arguments of Free Will. The traveler has simply chosen to move forward in time. They will make choices in the future they arrived at just as they’ve made choices in the past. Having no prior knowledge of the future point they arrived in or of any future point beyond their arrival doesn’t necessarily lead to any paradoxes, and from their perspective will appear as though they are still the one calling the shots, thus their sense of Free Will seems preserved - or at least not disproven.

It’s when you try to change an event that has happened or is going to happen through actions taken before the event, but are unable to change the outcome of the event is when questions about whether or not Free Will exists begin to arise.

*Maybe attempting to alter a future event from the past was implied in the original post, but it wasn’t quite clear to me. Apologies if this was the case.

As for the existence of travel to the future, we already know it’s possible and have for some time. At first theoretically and later proven, at least on small scales. As our propulsion tech advances and we are able to achieve greater speeds through space (especially if we are able to reach speeds closer to the Speed of Light), it will be more tangible and not just evidenced by specialized clocks in fractions of a second (like in the case of personnel aboard the ISS). Though I hesitate to call this kind of travel ‘Time Travel’ in the traditional sense, as it’s a one-way trip.

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Free will is a though concept for me to understand.

How can we say we have it? We are merely our genes.

Do I have the free will to feel attraction to men? No, I was born heterosexual. Do I have the free will to be an artist and see the world through the lenses of creativity? Nope, I’m an engineer and I very much like my operational procedures. Do I have the free will to like to be addicted to drugs? Well, I tried tobacco, marijuana and alcohol and man, how can anyone poison themselves like that? Do I have the free will to not love my offspring? Impossible.

Anyway, I think I’ve made my point. We are wired from birth.

If by free will people mean trivial choices like which ranch dressing will I put in my salad, that’s just silly.

(I’m not saying people don’t change or don’t have the ability to change through life. They can and I encourage positive change. But there’s only so much a person can do. If you are born an Eric Clapton for example, do you have the choice to be an accountant? You could try, but you would see guitars everywhere…)

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Seeing my kids grow, they all have a certain “self-ness” to them. From birth until now, they’ve always been themselves. It’s interesting to witness, and is a good feeling to know I like the things I like because I’m me.

Free will is a tricky thing to define, and I don’t think many people have the same definition in mind when its talked about. To some it’s analogous to “nature vs nurture” or the criminal justice system, and for others it’s entirely theological.

I know I believe in a version of free will, but I’m unsure how to articulate it.

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I surely am interested in hearing your version of free will whenever you manage to make it into words…