Causal Determinism

Gergely Sülye

If you have ever pondered life’s greatest questions, you have most likely stumbled upon the topic of free will. This question has a lot of branches, most commonly popularized by Libet’s, very flawed, experiment, which focused on disproving free will via explaining how consciousness itself is a fake phenomenon. True or not, that’s still not the most exciting direction to take; after all, it doesn’t take much to realize your brain is a really complicated string of dominoes reacting to stimulus in intricate processes, and even if we can’t pinpoint what’s really going on, we can still reasonably guess everything works based on cause and effect. No need for experiments there.

Now, what would make things really exciting would be to broaden our horizons and look at a bigger picture, the universe as a whole. Well, actually, to explain things fast let’s shrink back our perspectives just for a bit.

In this very moment imagine you held a set of dice. Now throw it. Now, with a bit more creativity, imagine a time machine that can turn back time. One that has its own set of rules, mainly that it can’t bring anything back, so it can only roll time itself back to a specific point. Let’s say that point was a few seconds ago when you first threw the dice. Unsurprisingly, the number you get would be the same. Of course the “past you” wouldn’t be aware that time was rerolled.

Now roll time back to yesterday, or earlier, and so on and so forth, even to the beginning of the universe. If we let it play out, since we have not changed absolutely anything about the past by rerolling time, everything would turn out exactly the same if we waited enough time. You would roll the same number.

Your life plays out the same, everything is unchanged. This means that at the earliest point we can rewind time to, the beginning of the universe, whatever that event might have been, at that exact moment your entire life, or more broadly the fate of the entire world was determined. Your every thought, movement, down to the exact location of every atom or particle in the entire universe.

So the next time you think you are about to face a life-changing decision, contrary to what popular science fiction might have you believe, you aren’t about to create split-realities where alternate things have happened. Whatever conclusion you arrive at will be the one and only possible choice you ever had. And now you can make peace with that fact or have an existential crisis about it.