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Destiny, Causality, and Temporal Divergence


Before one can understand the effects that time travel has on causality, it is necessary to understand the forces that govern causality in the present.
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While some people may find comfort in the delusion that they have free will to determine the outcome of spontaneous events, in fact the outcome of every event was determined with the creation of the Universe. The same natural laws govern all matter in the Universe -- whether that matter makes up stars and planets, or whether it composes the cells in a person's brain. Gravity, electromagnetism, and quantum forces determine the interaction and outcome of all events in the Universe.
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While some events, such as flipping a coin or rolling a die, may seem to be random, their outcomes are determined by the forces of nature. This can be illustrated by tracing the contributing causal forces of an event backwards in time:

When a coin is flipped, it lands tails-up. This is due not to random chance, but to forces acting on the coin, including air density and wind, local gravitational forces, the force and trajectory at which the coin was thrown, and the weight of the coin itself. While these and other factors may seem to be random and spontaneous, each force acting on the coin was in turn caused by another force. For example, the force with which the coin was thrown was determined by the neuro-muscular development of the person throwing it, which in turn was determined by the person's experience, diet, environment, and genetic makeup. The person's genetic makeup was determined by which genes were passed on from the parents, which were determined by when the parents conceived the child, which was determined by when the parents first met, which was determined by the geographic locations of the parents, which could be traced back through economic, political, geological, and evolutionary causal forces, which in turn can be traced back to the creation of Earth and the Solar system, which in turn was determined by the forces existing at the creation of the Universe.

This is just one small chain of causal events that determines the outcome of a coin toss. While it seems there is a near-infinite number of forces acting on the coin, and while the outcome of the coin toss may actually be unpredictable to any kind of human perception, in fact the outcome of the coin toss was destined to happen in only one way since the birth of the Universe.


No event -- from the collision of planets to a subatomic event at the quantum level -- is spontaneous. Nothing is random. Every event in the Universe was caused by something, and every causal event has an effect on something. This basic principle is known as Destiny.
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Destiny should not be confused with Fate. Fate is the religious belief that the gods are directly intervening in causal forces, determining the outcome of events supernaturally. Belief in Fate, or divine intervention, requires faith in certain religious philosophies. Destiny, however, is a fact -- a force of nature, like gravity or magnetism, that requires no faith, just an understanding of causal forces.
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Once a person comprehends the basic principles of causality and Destiny, it is possible to understand the concept of temporal divergence caused by time travel.

Temporal Divergence

Temporal divergence results when the natural chain of causal events is broken by a spontaneous event arising from another causal continuum -- e.g., a time gate being opened from a future timeline.
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The opening of a time gate and the arrival of a time traveller from a future timeline have no prior causal links in the past timeline, but the time traveller's actions -- even his mere existence -- in the past timeline can have significant causal effects on subsequent events.
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There are varying degrees of temporal divergence: quantum, molecular, genetic, historical, evolutionary, geological, and universal. Each level of divergence is increasingly severe, and each level causes the next, though it may take hours, years, or billions of years to have any significant effect at the next-higher level.
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The opening of a time gate at the atomic level for only a brief amount of time can cause temporal divergence at the quantum level. This might cause a single electron or photon to be created, destroyed, or moved in a different way than it was destined to be. This change may have absolutely no noticeable effects on the flow of time for a very long period of time, but the fact that the total energy state of the Universe was altered even slightly will eventually and inevitably lead to molecular divergence.
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Molecular divergence occurs when a time traveller moves just a few atoms or molecules. This may alter local gravitational forces, temperature, fluid dynamics, and other molecular traits. As described in Twentieth-Century chaos theory, moving a single molecule can lead very quickly to significant seismic and climatic changes around the world. For example, moving a single air molecule in South Africa could alter the wind patterns in the immediate area, which in turn could alter the weather throughout the Southern Hemisphere, which in turn would cause a storm in a specific location, which could lead to temporal divergence at the genetic level.
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Genetic divergence occurs when a single individual ceases to exist -- or is created -- as a result of time travel. Every person's unique genetic code is determined by a specific sperm cell fertilizing a specific egg. A man produces a different sperm cell, containing different DNA, every few seconds, and a woman produces a different egg every month, so if a time traveller causes even a one-second delay in a chain of causal events, a different sperm cell will fertilize an egg, creating an entirely unique individual who never existed in the time traveller's home continuum (and causing the person who existed in that continuum never to have been born in the divergent timeline).
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This brings to mind the "Grandfather Paradox," a Twentieth-Century theory postulating that if a time traveller went back in time and killed his own grandfather before he met his grandmother, then the time traveller would never have existed. Of course, time travellers cannot change their own past -- they can only enter divergent timelines and cause changes there, so this grandfather scenario is not really a paradox. In addition, the time traveller does not need to kill the grandfather, just delay him a few seconds before his first meeting with the grandmother, so that when they do eventually conceive a child, it will have a different genetic structure, and therefore one of the time traveller's parents will never be born.
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Inevitably, within a generation of an instance of genetic divergence, history will begin to diverge. If just a few people in a society are changed in a timeline, different events will occur, and history will begin to unfold on a different path from the history of the original timeline. Imagine if Adolf Hitler's parents had conceived a daughter instead of a son, or if Julius Caesar had never been born; the change of a single person could have rapid and significant effects on history. And since one historical event leads to and causes the next, a single change in the past will expand geometrically until the future bears no resemblance whatsoever to the future society of the original timeline. This would be called total genetic and historical divergence, where no person or event in one timeline has an analog in another timeline.
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Temporal divergence far enough in the past can lead to changes at the evolutionary scale. For example, travelling a million years back in time could change the course of hominid evolution so that Neandertal Man would become the dominant species on Earth instead of Homo sapiens. Travelling back one hundred million years into the past could cause evolutionary and geologic changes that would prevent the mass extinctions of the dinosaurs, allowing them to replace mammals as the dominant life forms on the planet.
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Geological divergence occurs when a time traveller causes changes that will eventually change the appearence of the planet itself. Moving a single rock in the distant past could cause changes in wind and water flow in the area, leading to different erosion patterns -- after a long period of time, these simple changes could alter the course of rivers and the shape of continents. After billions of years, plate tectonics would be altered, causing entire continents and oceans to be different.
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After billions of years, geological changes to a planet could alter its gravitational field and orbit, which could have minor effects on other planetary bodies. After billions or trillions of years, entire galaxies could be altered slightly by temporal divergence -- and this all could have been caused by a time traveller moving a few molecules in the distant past.
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Of course, there are physical limitations that prevent time gates from being opened too far into the geologic past, and it is unlikely that time travellers could directly cause temporal divergence at the universal scale, unless they use an interspatial starship to travel to other star systems in the past timeline.
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In general, the degree of temporal divergence in a past timeline is determined by the size of the time gate that is opened, how long the time gate is open, and what the time traveller does while in the past. However, regardless of these factors, the mere act of opening a time gate into the past will cause some degree of divergence, and after enough time has passed after the point of divergence, history will eventually reach a point of total divergence -- i.e., become totally unrecognizable.
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A wise time traveller will try to minimize the amount of temporal divergence he causes in the past, so that the past timeline will be as close to his own history as possible. This will allow him to anticipate events before they occur, giving him an advantage over other people in the past. However, shortly after the time traveller arrives in the past, so-called "random" events in his immediate vicinity will have different outcomes. Dice rolled at a casino craps table will land on different numbers; a lightning bolt will strike a different location; and a freak accident might be averted or caused by the time traveller's presence. The time traveller has no control over these events, but society in general should remain the same for months or years if the time traveller is careful. The same officials will be elected, the same countries will go to war, and earthquakes will strike the same cities.
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Eventually, though, even these events will become unpredictable. A time traveller on a long-term incursion into a past timeline should be highly trained in the principles of chaos theory, causality, and temporal divergence in order to prepare for and adapt to unpredictable instances of temporal divergence.

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