Flash Forward is a new TV series revolving around the question of whether the future already exists. And if it does, can our choices and actions change it in any way?
The question of free will has been around a lot longer than TV.
The ranks of those who believe the future exists and can’t be changed include many Christians (especially Calvinists), Muslims and Jews. This view isn’t restricted to the religious. Secular determinists and many physicists (including Einstein) believe the future is as set and unchangeable as the past.
The inevitability of an immutable future is deduced from the character of God in the case of the former and the laws of classical physics in the case of the latter. Open theology and quantum physics posit a less certain future; one that is actually influenced by the present, but this is the minority view and considered heresy.
However, while millions believe in a fixed future, no one behaves as if it’s the way things are. We all live as though we have real choices and that those choices really matter.
Do you pray? If the future is set, whether you pray or not can’t change it . . . unless of course you were predestined to pray . . . in which case you had no free will in choosing to do so.
Do you work out, watch your diet, wear your seatbelt? Why bother if the dates that will appear on your tombstone are already chiseled in?
We bother to pray and to take care of ourselves because we instinctively believe choices have consequences.
We think what we do today affects tomorrow, not the other way around.