The Christian world view, is it compatible with time travel?
The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) is presenting a series by cosmologist Stephen Hawking in which he endeavors to demonstrate that all individuals can think like a genius. Even some Christian media is reporting on this series of lectures. One segment of this series deals with the possibility of time travel. The theoretical possibility of time travel has significant theological implications some of which my next blog will address.
First, let us see what the nature of the possibility of time travel is. The general theory of relativity does allow for the possibility of time travel. The latest studies in quantum cosmology, however, show that time travel would violate the laws of physics governing the universe in which humans live. The hoped-for quantum gravity theory could afford us a more precise answer concerning the possibility of time travel. However, even if, or when, scientists develop the quantum gravity theory, the most likely realization will be that time travel is not possible in our universe. Whether or not it is possible in another universe, we will not be able to determine, ever.
The imaginary scenarios concerning the time travel lead to logical paradoxes traditionally grouped in two families of paradoxes. One family is the “grandfather paradoxes,” the other is the “bootstrap paradoxes.” The first family is the logical inconsistencies paradox, for example: If one were to travel back in time and find his grandfather when he was still a small child. If he were then to kill his baby grandfather, the entire family would not exist, and he would not be born. If he never lived then, he could not have traveled back in time to kill his grandfather. This is not only a logical inconsistency but also an absurdity.
The second family of paradoxes would result in causal loops. In this scenario, the history of events, actions, and information would form a closed loop. This means that one could go back in time and revisit his past actions and decisions. One could then select a new history for himself. One could, if this scenario were possible, go back in time and correct his bad choices and wrong actions and thus become blameless.
As stated earlier, both of these “inconsistency paradoxes” have inherent theological implications some of which will be addressed in the next blog. Christians, however, can be sure, based on the teachings of Jesus and apostles, that time travel an absolute impossibility.