Time Travel, Part 3
Can the future cause the past?
Predestination Paradox, causality loop, and retrocausality are all terms to deal with essentially the same concept. Instead of the typical cause and effect relationship in this case, the effect actually operates as the cause. To give a very simple example of this concept let’s say that you are given a picture of yourself with a future date on it, at a location you have never been to. You are curious as to how someone would get this picture and why you would be in that location, so you go there at the time listed on the photo. You have now taken the action of going there, because you saw that you were going to go there. Again this is a very simplistic example, but it should explain what I am talking about here. In most cases, the characters actually discover something unpleasant is going to happen and end up causing that very thing to happen by trying to prevent it.
I personally have a few huge issues with causality loops. Essentially, they are an accepted paradox where there is no explanation of the original source. If we look at time as a line where point A is the time you are presented with future knowledge and point B is the future event actually happening, we see the loop then created between these two points in time. This loop would essentially continue into infinity, because each time it occurs it generates another instance of itself. The events of the future would not have happened on their own without knowledge of them, though. Something had to have set this loop into motion the first time, but that aspect of the story never seems to be told. These stories can get particularly frustrating for me when the characters give up the free will of their actions to just act based on what they know of the future.
Ontological Paradoxes take this concept to their extreme. In the case of an ontological paradox, an object from one point in time is taken to another point in time (usually the past) and becomes the very thing that is discovered in the future. As an example, a father gives his son a pocket watch. The son then travels back in time and in some strange turn of events ends up giving his father the very watch that he will someday be given. In this case the watch is stuck in a paradoxical loop. It doesn’t seem to have a creation, and despite going through this loop an infinite number of times it does not seem to be aging as would be expected. The object simply exists with no explanation of how. I have read many stories that involve this concept, but I have only found one that actually dealt with the origins of the object. In the worst case, a person can end up becoming their own ancestor, thus creating a real paradox where a human being exists that shouldn’t.
My basic issue with all of these concepts is that they don’t make logical sense. Not everything in entertainment needs to make sense, but Science Fiction is based in science, and circular logic just doesn’t fit. I also cannot see any way a causality loop could work in a game since it is essentially forcing the players into a situation that they will likely try to avoid just because they feel railroaded. That being said, I am currently enjoying a TV show based on a causality loop, but it does frustrate me.