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Thursday, November 28, 2019

The problem with time travel

The master of time travel fiction explains the fundamental problem with stories based on the concept:
The problem afflicting all time travel stories, which makes cause and effect paradoxical, is that time travel makes moral law is paradoxical.

In a universe without time travel, the things done by a man in the past are done.

What is in our past cannot be changed, and the future cannot be known. But introduce time travel, and, suddenly, anyone whose future actions you know (because he is from your past) can be treated as a creature without free will, that is, an entity with no moral self determination. He is an NPC.

This includes the past self of the time traveler himself: from the point of view of the Wednesday Dr Who, Tuesday Dr Who is a like a robot, or a historical character, someone who cannot change his actions because they are set in stone. An NPC.

With time travel, an immoral act like killing an innocent baby, whom the Time Traveler knows will grow up to be a tyrant, seems moral, and a moral act, like saving that same innocent baby, seems immoral.

To make matters worse, if the time traveler on Thursday wants to undo an act he did on Tuesday, such as killing a child fated to be a tyrant, and he leaps backward in time to shoot his Monday self in order to preempt the Tuesday attack on the child fated to be a tyrant, he is killing a man who is, at that moment on Monday, not yet guilty of any crime. Is this moral or immoral? Is this suicide or self defense?

So if yet another version of himself from his own future leaps out of Friday afternoon to land in front of Wednesday, pistols ready, to prevent his Thursday self before the fated this Monday crime of killing his Tuesday self preemptively, can the Wednesday time traveler rightfully defend himself?

Because if it is wrong for Thursday on Monday to kill his innocent younger self in order to prevent the killing of the child on Tuesday, logically, by the same token, it must also be wrong Friday to kill Thursday on Wednesday to prevent Thursday from killing Tuesday on Monday to prevent the prevention.

And yet, also equally logically, on Wednesday, the Time Traveler is guilty of killing a child, and so can be killed in retaliation, or, better yet, killed before he commits the crime, because, unlike human justice, time traveler justice actually can unmake the crime and restore the dead.

Therefore, logically, the fact that killing the innocent is immoral makes it moral for a time traveler to kill the innocent.

I won’t even mention the moral problems arising from the possibility that the tyrant the child is fated to become turns out, in a plot twist, to be the Time Traveler himself, and the one event that warped and embittered his young mind to set him on the path of tyranny was seeing all these murders taking place in the nursery when he was young.

That is the problem with time travel stories.
Mr. Wright is no doubt correct. That being said, his City Beyond Time is without question the greatest collection of time travel stories ever assembled.

Second beginning. This one brighter than the others:

I recall my first view of the city.

I thought it was a job interview. I had no other work, no future, and the best woman I had ever laid eyes on walked out on me the night before. I wasn't in a great mood, but, at that point, I was willing to listen to anything.

Almost anything.

“Time travelers?” I said, trying to look chipper. I was trying to think of a polite way to say goodbye and get lost.

He didn't look crazy. (The real crazies never do). Mr. Iapetus was a foreign-looking fellow in a long red coat of a fabric I didn't recognize. He had dark, magnetic eyes, high cheekbones, and wore a narrow goatee.

His office was appointed with severe and restrained elegance. To one side, a row of dark bookshelves loomed; in the center was a wide mahogany desk, polished surface gleaming; to the other side, heavy drapes blocked a hidden length of window. I did not think it odd at the time to see bright sunlight shining from the carpet at the lower hem of the window drapes. But it had been raining outside when I entered the lobby just behind me.

Mr. Iapetus was standing by the window. He took up a fold of drapes in his hand. “I believe in what you might call the shock therapy method of indoctrination. It helps make the tedious period of disbelief more brief.”

A wide yank of his arm threw the drapes aside. A spill of blinding sunlight washed around me.
Blinking, I saw I was high up, overlooking a shining city. I had been on the ground floor when I came in. Now, I was miles up in the air. And glory was underfoot.

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86 Comments:

Blogger Johnny November 28, 2019 11:19 AM  

We do have time travel of a limited sort, owing to Einstein stuff time can be slowed down. But of course you can't go back. You are stuck, so to speak, in the future.

An apparent difficulty of going back in time is the il-logic of it. Suppose you go back in time and, as per example, kill yourself. Well if you kill yourself in the past, then you can't have gone back into the past to kill yourself. Except you did, but you can't because you did; and the logic of it creates and endless loop of one to the other to the one, endlessly. Too weird for me to go along with.

Although you can have time travel as a matter of fun. Ground Hog Day, and another movie with Tom Cruise manage that. Both movies have time loops, the problem to be solved is to end the loop and move on in time.

Blogger tublecane November 28, 2019 11:21 AM  

Time travel presents moral problems but not necessarily paradoxes. Because it complicates cause-and-effect rather than muddling up their logic inextricably.

Strangling Baby Hitler in his crib is one way to go. But most fiction knows this is problematic, because showing a different, worse tyrant rise in his place (Bitler, if you will) is a cliche.

Outright assassination I'd only one option. Plenty of stories feature subtle manipulation (Back to the Future) or outright explaining the future to characters, hoping they see the right thing to do (Futureman).

All that, plus take away moral certainty and you still have probability to deal with. How do we rank death lists in the U.S. military, for instance? Morality is part of it, especially with an unknown future, but mostly it's based upon whom we estimate will be the biggest threat.

Blogger Zaklog the Great November 28, 2019 11:31 AM  

@1 If I recall correctly, the Einsteinian model does allow for traveling into the past theoretically, although the actual conditions would be nigh-impossible to reproduce. I believe it involved a supermassive cylinder rotating at near-c velocities. I can't remember more than that.

Anyone else know what I'm talking about?

Blogger Wazdakka November 28, 2019 11:32 AM  

I thought the time traveler would inevitably become the tyrant.
To become a master of that power would put you in the position of a god, and one is quite enough.
A good toy for writers, if used with at least some intelligence.

Blogger artensoll November 28, 2019 11:38 AM  

I've just bought this. I love a time travel tale, my favourite being 'Time and Again' by Jack Finney. Looking forward to trying "the greatest collection of time travel stories ever assembled."

Thanks Vox.

Blogger Rick November 28, 2019 11:40 AM  

If you could slow time, you couldn’t measure its change from the ref point. (That would mean that there are at least 2 times which of course makes no sense.) There is only one Time and God holds the lever.

Blogger Rick November 28, 2019 11:43 AM  

But I still love time travel stories.

Blogger Nation-Deprived November 28, 2019 11:51 AM  

Instead of kill the baby tyrant, why not influence his past in a way that makes him more benign as an adult? Does that violate time travel rules?

Blogger Pax_Romana November 28, 2019 11:51 AM  

I think my favourite time-travel story is JCW's "Nativity" from "The Book of Feasts and Seasons." I read it every Christmas, along with the Gospel narrative.

Blogger Silent Draco November 28, 2019 11:51 AM  

Zaklog, that's the Tipler machine you're thinking about. Thought it sounded familiar. This appears in a few good SF stories.

Heinlein's short story "By His Bootstraps" was an interesting attempt to solve the paradox of time and the dictator.

Blogger Subnif. November 28, 2019 12:03 PM  

I prefer displacement stories myself
EX: destroyerman

Blogger Rick November 28, 2019 12:04 PM  

Nineteen Eighty-Four is kind of a time travel story in that in the future, they would try to change the past by erasing it.

Blogger James Parliament November 28, 2019 12:05 PM  

Instant purchase

Blogger rcocean November 28, 2019 12:14 PM  

I thought this was covered in other time travel stories. Changing the past has unknown consequences, and may result in a worse life for others down the road. Killing Hitler in the cradle, may have resulted in WORSE situation than what happened. For example, baby Hitler is killed. As a result, Stalin gets the A-Bomb first and conquered the world (Sorry, liberated the proletariat)

In any case, isn't "time travel" more fantasy then SF?

Blogger Mr.MantraMan November 28, 2019 12:17 PM  

Yes I agree one of the few time stories I could possibly understand and appreciate.

Blogger Shane Bradman November 28, 2019 12:19 PM  

Backwards time travel is a lazy storytelling device. Forwards time travel was used to great effect in Planet of the Apes. From a storytelling perspective, it is questionable to include backwards time travel because it undermines the consequences of character actions and choices. It's hard to have readers sympathise, understand and relate to a character that has had his agency removed from him.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd November 28, 2019 12:20 PM  

Is the past mutable? Or is it an animated waxwork museum? If you can change the past, what hapens to the timeline you just destroyed? Is it destroyed? Are there potentially infinite branching timelines, created each time a timetraveler kills baby Hitler or merely breaks a twig? Loads of possibilities in time travel fiction.

Blogger Arthur Isaac November 28, 2019 12:23 PM  

God beats this because He knows the end from the beginning. His omniscience frees Him from the traps of Maud'dib for example because He brings His goodness, justice and love with Him as fundamental characteristics of His being. We humans, not so much.

Blogger Doktor Jeep November 28, 2019 12:29 PM  

Cauchy Horizon anybody? Just kidding.
Long ago I was a member of a science book club that has gone extinct. Somehow I screwed up and ended up with two identical copies about the science and math of time travel.
On occasion I would try to convince friends and guests that they were actually the same book, but I used time travel to get the other copy.
It only worked on kids.

Blogger Kane November 28, 2019 12:35 PM  

Time travel is always silly on the helio-centric model (unless you are actually re-winding time) as you will always end up in empty space

Blogger S1AL November 28, 2019 12:36 PM  

Parallel universes or bust.

Blogger JAG November 28, 2019 12:46 PM  

Try reconciling time travel with conservation laws. I don't think the Tipler, nor any other method would solve this.

Even the parallel universe solution is in trouble here for if I were to travel to a different universe then I have violated the conservation of energy among other laws. My original universe has lost energy while the my new universe has gained extra energy which could have devastating consequences in regards to fine tuning.

There's also the problem of entropy. If I were to travel back in time then I would have achieved the impossible task of decreasing the entropy of the universe around me.

Blogger Skyler the Weird November 28, 2019 12:54 PM  

I always thought Wikihistory by Desmond Warzel was a funny story in the Legs Kill Hitler trope. https://www.abyssapexzine.com/wikihistory/

Blogger Fuzzums Wuzzums November 28, 2019 1:00 PM  

"Primer" has the most well-thought time-travel story I know of and it resolves this by limiting time-travel within one's lifetime. It works exactly like a save-point in a videogame except when you load the save-point you create a duplicate of yourself. In essence this merges the multi-verse theory of time-travel into one. Meaning the you that did immoral thing X lives withing the same timeline as the you who is going to do immoral thing X. You can stop the younger you from committing a crime but the result isn't washing away your sin. The result is two you's living at the same time, with different souls, one a criminal and the other an innocent.

Blogger CF Neal November 28, 2019 1:35 PM  

Preincarnation for travelling backwards & reincarnation forward.

Neither are Biblical, of course.

As for the math, wisdom can always be justified of her children.

Blogger RobertDWood November 28, 2019 1:51 PM  

JCW is the unmitigated master of time travel. I would take any of the following as the best of breed and they all come from Wright's pen:

As our host indicated, City Beyond Time. It needs three readings to fully appreciate.

As a Dread Ilk said, 'Nativity' in the anthology A Book of Feasts and Seasons is incredible. It is remarkable how Wright takes a known subject and breathes it into full life and brings the proud to his knees, the protagonist and the reader.

Superversive press no longer seems to sell ebooks but if you can find the anthology Planetary: Mercury and the opening chapter by Wright, the Palace of Promised Immortality is an exquisite portrayal of the female soul, the dark side of predetermined outcomes and the devouring heart of time travel.

Blogger Mad Italian November 28, 2019 2:01 PM  

Time travel stories are deceptively hard, and now used as a crutch for poor story telling. I may have cause and effect reversed.

I love JCW, and I might be quibbling here - but Time Travel plot points only reduce the protagonist to an NCP with poor story telling. As bad as the movie was, Butterfly Effect is something that needs to be considered when changing events. As with economics there are a plethora variables that build to a conclusion, just changing one can spin the event off into a different conclusion.

There is also the theory that fate has predisposed a conclusion and if it's not X there will an X analog. That can play havoc with a protagonist's interventions.

Completely OT - can we get a Thanksgiving NFL thread.

Blogger Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi November 28, 2019 2:02 PM  

The most entertaining time travel story that I ever read was one where you couldn't change the past because any events that you did in the past were already part of history that brought us to today. In the story, the main character ended up in a fight with a really famous historical person and realized he would die if he didn't get away because that person had more to do in recorded history.

Blogger Uncle_Ted November 28, 2019 2:13 PM  

Everyone knows that only the present exists but it's easy to convince yourself otherwise.

Either because thinking about parallel universes and time travel is fun, or you're insecure and can't stomach a God who experiences time. (because if God has a future, he could betray you, even though there is an eternity of evidence proving his commitment to righteousness)

Blogger p_q November 28, 2019 2:18 PM  

@1 I've always liked to think of time travel as not so much moving to a different time period but creating a future that looks just like the past. Like some merciless matter mover that rearranges everything into its previous configuration, the exception being the traveler. Cause and effect isn't violated because the future is the past if your past self is there you can kill him since he's essentially just a clone.

People liked to say if we ever invented it we'd already know but what about this way of looking at it, everytime it's invented things spiral out of control until its creation is undone on purpose or by accident. The only stable reality is one without time travel and all other realities soon fall in line, just picture the imaginary sea of dead time travellers who've destroyed themselves or their work in their despair and have protected our most precious and most sensible timeline.

One shudders at the imaginary horror.

Anyway you look at it though it has a lot of dark implications,

Blogger Beau November 28, 2019 2:42 PM  

OT

In our town the Salvation Army drives Thanksgiving meals to shut-in folks. When I drove up to the Sally this morning, I saw Bubba loading his truck to deliver meals. What made this significant is Bubba went to Men's Camp with us two years ago. God met him there. At the time Bubba was not only a meth addict, he was a cooker. He left that behind. Today Bubba was out delivering Thanksgiving meals to folks in need. Thank you Jesus.

Blogger David son of Mark November 28, 2019 2:53 PM  

Pastwatch by Orson Scott Card presented an interesting time travel concept: that future people had already influenced our timeline to try to make it better, then the protagonists try to go back to improve history even further.

Blogger JD Curtis November 28, 2019 2:54 PM  

This kinda came up once at the amateur philosophy club I sometimes attend.
By the end of the discussion, we all agreed that if young Hitler had been strangled in his crib, a significant number of the other Nazis could have done quite a job quite similar to that which he had done

Blogger Esmar Tuek November 28, 2019 3:08 PM  

Yes.

Blogger BriarRabbit November 28, 2019 3:32 PM  

Relativity was a crank theory to reinterpret the results of the Michelson-Morley experiment so as to keep earth spiralling crazily through space - when all experiments show otherwise.

I bought into that crap for years. Matter shrinks in the direction of travel? Bah. Myth. Made up.

Blogger maniacprovost November 28, 2019 3:39 PM  

Everyone knows that only the present exists

Then how on earth can you justify locking people in jail, executing people, garnishing wages? If the past doesn't exist, we're just ganging up and hurting people arbitrarily. That's evil.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd November 28, 2019 3:59 PM  

@36, the past was, the future may be, the present is. Not sure that's what Uncle_Ted meant, but the present is different from either.

Blogger Katechon November 28, 2019 3:59 PM  

I love David Deutsch's explanation: when one travels "in the past", one changes universe. There will be 2 instances of the guy in one universe, and 0 in the other.

Blogger Katechon November 28, 2019 4:01 PM  

https://youtu.be/SDZ454K_lBY

Blogger Doktor Jeep November 28, 2019 4:02 PM  

Imagine if we went back on time and convinced Hitler to homestead.

Blogger Didas Kalos November 28, 2019 4:08 PM  

Simplified: that's why God is God and we are not.

Blogger Johnny November 28, 2019 4:09 PM  

@1
3. Zaklog the Great

If I recall correctly, the Einsteinian model does allow for traveling into the past theoretically.

If I got it correct, back in time travel under relativity is a recent speculation, and I doubt it. (but then no expert) Slowing time to get into the future is now a matter of certain proof. Been done owing to the high velocities involved in space travel. The astronauts are all just a little bit younger than they otherwise would be. But then it takes an extremely accurate clock going with them to detect any time travel difference.

Blogger JD Curtis November 28, 2019 4:23 PM  

Liverpool Time Slips

Blogger Brick Hardslab November 28, 2019 4:24 PM  

Best time travel book yet. Now I just need to find my copy.

Blogger OldFan November 28, 2019 4:55 PM  

Niven's Law of Time Travel: In every universe that time travel is invented, they mess with the timeline until it is not!

Blogger bodenlose Schweinerei November 28, 2019 5:23 PM  

Globohomo is already all-in on pre-crime for white guys, even without time travel.

Blogger stevo November 28, 2019 5:28 PM  

Glad to see you're not afraid to tackle the really important questions.

Blogger Lovekraft November 28, 2019 5:28 PM  

Love the meme where there's a guy on his couch and a time-traveller version of him and a guide show up. The guide says 'this is what you could turn out to be', then disappear, with the guy going "what the f?"

Blogger BillHinDaytona November 28, 2019 5:30 PM  

Galaxy Quest had an interesting time travel idea -- rewind the universe as if it were a cassette tape. Space itself shrinks and returns to where it was, and then you try again.

Blogger Max November 28, 2019 5:32 PM  

I don't see any problem, just material for fascinating fiction!

Blogger 1100 November 28, 2019 5:33 PM  

I have a faint idea that physics may believe that there are 11 or 17 dimensions. And that there may be an infinite number of 'quantum' realities.

Some postulate that a 'time traveler' who makes a change would create a shift that causes the time line (a specific quantum reality) to shift to a different time line.

So, this would not always create a moral issue, or change because is would initiate a change from one 'universe' to another.

I don't know how the Mandela effect would come into play unless the connections between universes and time travel are not what we expect.

But then again I would remind people that the things going on around us are not exactly what we would expect. And that some people feel / remember, that they were not 'there'.

Blogger Beau November 28, 2019 5:53 PM  

Heavenly Father,

This prayer is for one who is lonely, exhausted, and bereft of hope. Before this one acts out of extreme pain, draw near with succor, convey to this wounded heart divine love. I ask this in Jesus' precious name.

Blogger Avalanche November 28, 2019 6:28 PM  

@33 "we all agreed that if young Hitler had been strangled in his crib, a significant number of the other Nazis could have done quite a job quite similar to that which he had done"

Yes, because what he started OUT to do was a good thing for his nation, his people. We in the West are now approaching the time of number 110. History doesn't repeat, but it does climb a spiral, returning to a similar vertical line on a higher plane, if you will.

Blogger Timmy3 November 28, 2019 6:46 PM  

I would think the baby saw zero or one killing. The other killings didn’t happen because each timeline was reset.

Blogger Slagenthor November 28, 2019 7:10 PM  

Going back to the past to observe, particularly if one doesn't influence or intervene, doesn't necessarily reduce the people you see to NPC's... though it does raise an interesting question: if they really were NPCs at that point, are they no longer morally culpable?

Regardless, if you are just observing in the past, either being there, or if you had a device that could invisibly send audio and video from the past, like a temporal spy cam, that wouldn't render the observed into NPCs: from their perspective the observed have no idea they are being observed and are acting within the limits of whatever their measure of free will is at the time, moving in the process of making their choices that take them to you as an observer may know where they end up. Simply knowing the end from the beginning doesn't have to take the will out of the Observed. This is true whether one is observing directly from the past through the lens of your temporal spy cam or observing from the present through the lens of history.

Knowing that Caesar crossed the Rubicon doesn't remove his exercise of choice in doing so from his POV. Being able to go back and physically watch him before he did so doesn't change that: re-playing the tape means replaying the choices, even you you know how he chose.

Obviously, what happens if one tries to influence the observed, that's a different matter entirely.

Blogger Steve Rodger November 28, 2019 7:17 PM  

Wow, I'm fully sold about this man's, mastery over writing. Such great insights!

Blogger tantonj November 28, 2019 7:21 PM  

This is why I'm a firm believer in the multiverse. Time travel wouldn't do anything, you can't change time. The traveler would simple move sideways/diagonally in 6D space. This preserves both the (total) omniscience of God, and free will without using Vox's convincing explanation of self imposed limited omniscience/omnipotence. I understand though that most Christians tend to find the concept of the multiverse blasphemous. Other go into nihilistic fits after embracing it. For me it's only emboldened my faith in God. I'd explain further to clarify but that would take a much bigger wall of text. The author would not appreciate that.

Blogger Shane Bradman November 28, 2019 7:28 PM  

The multiverse is just as silly as time travel.

Blogger Nate73 November 28, 2019 7:40 PM  

This is why the only time travel stories that make sense to me are predestination stories, where the person going back in time merely causes current events to play out as they did. Back to the Future managed to be good because it was more about the idea of meeting your parents in the past or meeting your ancestors than about the time-travel itself.

Blogger Tom Bridgeland November 28, 2019 7:59 PM  

Mr. Wright is the only author of time traveling stories I bother to read. Dislike the genre, with that one exception.

Blogger Thesmith November 28, 2019 9:50 PM  

It's worse than that.

Assuming that time travel backwards eventually becomes possible, it is logical to say that everything in the past is morally perfect because future time-travellers would have changed everything down to the smallest detail.

Blogger xevious2030 November 28, 2019 9:59 PM  

The simple is to provide an explicit path, with decision points. At the decision points, knowing the answer is avoided, and rewards/penalties are placed at various divergent paths. Thus, a path is created for the just, and paths for various degrees of the injust. Providing for free will and an eventual scripted outcome. And it allows the honest and naive planner to not leave the future to the injust that consider themselves oh so clever. These people are stupid.

Blogger Rick November 28, 2019 10:06 PM  

Someone mentioned traveling from one universe to another. If you could do that, it would be the same universe, by definition. Therefore, multiverses are irrelevant at best. In other words, if one universe could effect another universe, then it’s not a separate universe. If you can only think about another universe, but never know if it’s true, then it doesn’t exist. If it does exist, then it’s part of this universe, therefore the same universe, and doesn’t exist (as a separate universe).

Blogger CRFLixxx November 28, 2019 10:23 PM  

Replying to comment 24. Primer is great but it's not time travel within your lifetime, it's travel from the time the time machine was first turned on and it's slow travel so for every hour you want to go back, you have to stay in the box an hour.

There's a great line when the guys decide the first thing they'll do is day trade the stock market since they'll know which stock did best by the end of the day and one says, "Man, these 36hr days are killing me."

Blogger furor kek tonicus ( the British Royals are Lizard People. don't deny the IckeFLScience! ) November 28, 2019 10:25 PM  

33. JD Curtis November 28, 2019 2:54 PM
if young Hitler had been strangled in his crib, a significant number of the other Nazis could have done quite a job quite similar to that which he had done



did any of you address the question of what should be done to the ((( Bankstas ))) who declared war on, and succeeded in destroying, Germany?

Blogger John Rockwell November 28, 2019 10:28 PM  

Since people are real agents. All time travel can set off a multitude of different pathways due to the butterfly effect.

So if time travel is real I dont know how he can incorporate that into his sovereignty.

But if not the explained reason is why. The butterfly effect can derail many things.

Blogger John Rockwell November 28, 2019 10:31 PM  

Time travel is like having a godlike power with Godlike responsibilities.

Few if any men can handle such burden.

Blogger Robert What? November 28, 2019 10:45 PM  

Time travel can be a critical and useful part of the plot as in the early Terminator series and in Back the Future. But it can also be used as a plot crutch as in "then he went back in time and fixed everything" as in the Harry Potter series.

Blogger wreckage November 28, 2019 11:27 PM  

Another good time travel story is Robert Kroese "The Dream of the Iron Dragon", very cleverly plotted. Some of the plot-points put the characters broadly at odds with Christianity as a social movement, though.

Blogger Ian Stein November 29, 2019 12:02 AM  

"Flux Capacitor makes time travel possible. "

Nikola Tesla 1984

Blogger joke10 November 29, 2019 12:06 AM  

He makes a logical mistake here in that he jumps from a utilitarian standpoint (the reason it is good to kill a baby that will grow up to be a tyrant seems to be to maximize the good) to a deontological one (don't kill innocent children, good or no good). Ethical pluralism aside, these viewpoints usually don't coexist.

Blogger map November 29, 2019 1:28 AM  

Well, when you get down to the matter, there really is no so such thing as a "time travel paradox." Once a time traveler appears in a timeline and once it is determined that said traveler will go back in time, then going into the past becomes the future of that time traveler. Anything the traveler does in the past becomes the future for the traveler...as long as actually going into the past is maintained.

The time traveler basically becomes a universal constant and his existence must be maintained at all costs...because him going into the past is a largely ordained event.

If the time traveler goes back in time and then kills himself, reality must still maintain the existence of the traveler. The result is the creation of an alternate reality that accommodates the change in events without altering the existence of the traveler. In fact, this outcome would occur for any event that altered the act of the traveler going back in time.

The end result of the traveler's activities is a new universe if anything that the traveler does prevents the traveler from going back in time.

Basically, the multiverse is the result of a time traveler splintering his own timeline into multiple realities.

The question now is, what happens if the traveler is caught in another reality? Well, being caught in another reality may be a part of his future, so that will happen. He may also have to ability to move between realities if his future includes existing beyond the point when he went back to his original timeline.

Basically, time travel results in the multiverse, with a traveler that can move between realities. He could probably exist in timelines with his doppelganger and his death in one timeline will neither affect the original timeline nor his existence in the alternative timeline. He would then only be able to alter his own timeline's future if the alteration does not affect his existence and if he can return to his original reality.

Blogger wreckage November 29, 2019 1:45 AM  

@71, I am sure Wright rejects utilitarianism outright. The question is a matter of the moral obligation to act to prevent evil, which is precisely what his "both must and must not" paradox implies.
The paradox does not exist in utilitarianism in the first place, and I don't think you can support your implied argument that ONLY utilitarianism creates an obligation to prevent evil or destroy the wicked.

Blogger Korbin Ransley November 29, 2019 2:04 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Korbin Ransley November 29, 2019 2:13 AM  

Even if you aren't a fan of Time Travel stories, if a work is well done...

Everyone knows The Back to the Future series. Classic stuff. Final Fantasy 8 was cool. Nice characters, art, and story. Creepy cool fan theory out there about the female lead, and the main antagonist. Chrono Trigger is a famous, beloved SNES classic.

Real life weird/neat story: John Titor. Fun segments about him on the Coast to Coast radio show in the past. This guys got an Infogalactic page 8^)

He had interesting and provocative things to say about his future timeline. I'm not saying I believe it, but it was a cool story. I believe I heard a story where someone asked John Titor about us in the future and he said something like this...

"There are two types of people, those that think about the future, and those that don't. The second type are gone, and the rest of us are barely hanging on."

Blogger JovianStorm November 29, 2019 3:55 AM  

Time travel would only work if our souls weren't eternal, as they would probably anchor us and prevent us from going back and forth in a time stream.

Maybe?

Blogger cyrus83 November 29, 2019 6:29 AM  

Time travel plots can be fun if the story teller is skilled, the game SaGa 3 is the earliest such story I remember from when it came out for the Gameboy 26 years ago. The DS remake featured a large number of new ways in which the heroes could mess with time, both in the plot and in the combat - including some introspection on the morality of what they were doing.

Blogger Toris November 29, 2019 6:54 AM  

But then we wouldn't get movies by Chosen-Ones like Back to the Future with supersmart scientists and their dogs named "Einstein" and DeLoreans destroying buildings like 'The Assembly of Christ'.

Blogger Sharon Secor November 29, 2019 7:03 AM  

Thank you for sharing that miracle with us and I wish you joy in the blessing of witnessing it.

Blogger HouellebecqGurl November 29, 2019 7:25 AM  

Even better, go back in time & take out Churchill,Stalin and FDR.

Blogger Jill November 29, 2019 9:16 AM  

I'm envisioning time travel as a choose your own adventure where you leave the bookmark in so you can return to that crucial moment where you chose the path that involved being crushed by the abominable snowman and take the other path instead.

Blogger Oswald November 29, 2019 10:26 AM  

Great thought provoking post. I have always thought time travel is possible, but only for God.

Blogger Anthony November 29, 2019 10:31 AM  

Larry Niven explained why travel backwards in time will never be developed: if it is possible, we're living in the universe that results when enough changes have been made to the past that time travel will never be developed.

Blogger Daniele Grech Pereira November 29, 2019 2:35 PM  

The cover of "City Beyond Time" looks amazing. Reminds me of an old DOS game, "Beneath A Steel Sky".

Blogger mike November 30, 2019 12:48 AM  

@Anthony Agreed. Asimov's the end of eternity is an amazing book. In my opinion unless the ufo sightings are ppl from future there cannot be time travel. Bc if ufo is aliens and there's time travel possibility they would either kill us in the past by travelling there or we would do it to them.

Blogger Daniel December 03, 2019 4:08 PM  

Bill and ted excellent adventure is the best time travel story ever xD

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