A few months ago, one of my clients asked me:
‘Can psychics predict the future?’
This is a good question. Psychics and mediums often hotly disagree as to the correct answer, and in this week’s post, I want to offer you some things to consider when making up your own mind as to whether or not a psychic can tell you about your future.
In this discussion, I am taking for granted that psychic connections between people exist, and that through those connections, true information can be transmitted between individuals.
We think of the past and present as being fixed; so an event that has already happened, or is happening presently, cannot be changed. Because the past and present are fixed, it seems that an individual could transmit psychic information about events that have already happened to him or her. In our common-sense conception of the world, the future does not have the same fixed quality as the past or the present. An individual has not experienced his or her own future yet, and so information about the future should not be apparent his or her energy and could not, therefore, be read by a psychic. This is the bare bones of the problem of predicting the future.
Another problem, and one which many people find utterly unacceptable, is that if an individual’s future can be predicted, then it brings his or her free will into doubt. How could it be both that an event in an individual’s life could be predicted; and that the individual is free to choose or reject that event? It seems impossible. It seems that the concepts of prediction and free will cannot co-exist.
So to recap, the two problems we face when thinking about whether or not a psychic can tell the future are:
- The future hasn’t happened yet.
- The possibility of correct predictions is inconsistent with the free will of the individual.
And so it seems like the case is closed. As long as the future hasn’t happened yet, and the individual has the capacity for choice, the idea of predicting the future cannot get off the ground.
…or can it?
In order to theorize about the possibility of predicting the future, we need to see the future in the same light as the present and the past, and, we need to reject that we have free will. This may seem utterly bonkers: I do not know what is going to happen tomorrow, and I can clearly choose whether to eat fruit or toast for breakfast I hear you say. But recently, theorists from various fields have presented the possibility that, contrary to our commonly held beliefs, you can know what’s going to happen tomorrow, and you do not have a choice about whether to eat fruit or toast. If these theories are in any way plausible, then the possibility that the future can be predicted is back on track.
Here’s how a theory for predicting the future could work:
- The future is exactly the same as the past and the present because there is no distinction. Spacetime is a 4-dimensional block in which all events are as real as each other, so theoretically, we can know the future in the same way that we know the present and the past. For more on this, go here for an easy-to-read and informative guide to time as a 4-d block.
- You do not have free will. You did not choose your body, your mind, your brain, your health, your parents, or any other causal force that resulted in your existence. Therefore, you are not responsible for any effects that result from those causal forces, so you do not have free will. The decision that you would have fruit or toast today was made for you, a long time ago. You feel that you have free will because the causal forces that led to the selection are not available to you in your conscious mind. For an insightful and entertaining exploration of this concept, check out this video by neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris.
The key idea here is that everything has a cause. Everything in your present was caused by your past, and everything in your future will be caused by your present self and your present situation. If you agree with this, and you are also willing to accept what we have taken for granted – that there is such a thing as psychic connectivity – then your future can be predicted by directing conscious, psychic energy to follow the determined causal chain that leads into your future, which, as we said, is an area of spacetime that is just as real as your past and your present.
This is a radical view. To preserve the notion of predicting the future, we have to commit to saying that the future is already determined by a web of causes and effects, and that consequently, we have no free will.
If you simply cannot deal with the consequences of this theory, there is another way that predicting the future can be preserved, and it involves a compromise. Perhaps psychics do not predict the future correctly all the time because a given cause has the potential to be responsible for multiple events, and that whichever event occurs is probabilistically determined. (Have a look at my post F is for ‘Fate’ for more on this). So in this theory, being hungry in the morning causes either toast or fruit or cereal or bacon and eggs or porridge to be eaten. If this decision is down to probability, then a psychic has a 20% chance of predicting what you will choose correctly. Not because he or she is guessing, but because he or she can only predict to the extent that probabilistic determination will allow. This conception fits with the famous double-slit experiment, which shows that, left alone, photons remain in a probabilistic state, but when an observer is introduced, the photon is forced into a determined state, an either/or choice. (Click here for more info on this.) Is it possible that our future’s are unfolding in a similar way? And if so, is it possible that a psychic can make a true prediction about your future?
There is so much more that could be said for and against the idea that the future can be predicted. I’d love to read your thoughts on the matter.
So what do you think? Can psychics predict the future? Do you have a story about a prediction that came true? Or one that was way off the mark? Have you ever made a spontaneous prediction that came true?
Thanks for reading! Your comments and questions are welcomed.
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