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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fixed Future or Free Will?

The Crystal Ball by John Williams Waterhouse, 1902.

My wife Christine and I were driving along I-205 near Portland yesterday afternoon and I was muttering about psychics’s visions of the future, saying it seems most want it both ways ~ they say they see the future and in the next breath say we can change it.

So which is it, I wondered, a fixed future or a changeable one? If it is subject to change, then how can it be perceived with any certainty?

Then, last night, my email inbox contained Dr. Joseph Mercola’s daily newsletter, with an interview he recently conducted with Dr. Larry Dossey about his latest book, The Power of Premonition: How Knowing the Future Can Shape Our Lives.

Larry Dossey is a former chief of staff at Medical City Dallas Hospital and has lectured in medical schools and hospitals throughout the U.S. and abroad. He is author of the best-selling Healing Words, and The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine.

Lo and behold, one of the questions Dr. Mercola asked Dr. Dossey was:

If I can see the future, doesn’t that mean it is already in place and is fixed? Don’t premonitions do away with free will and freedom of choice?

And here is Larry Dossey’s answer:
No. Just because you glimpse how the future is likely to unfold does not mean you can’t act to change it. When Amanda (from an earlier question) dreamed that the chandelier fell and crushed her sleeping infant, she removed the baby from the crib. The chandelier did fall, but the baby’s life was saved. She exercised her freedom of choice, and it made a life-and-death difference. There are thousands of similar examples.

Philosophers often argue against premonitions because they say premonitions destroy freedom of choice. But people who have premonitions usually don’t see it that way. Like Amanda, their personal experiences with premonitions say they do have a choice.

They can act, and they do, to change the future they’ve glimpsed.

I agree with the idea that the future is probable, not fixed. According to this view, the future is fluid and subject to change. So a premonition is not inevitable.

Probability varies, of course. This means that some futures may be easier to change than others. It was easier for Amanda to act on her premonition and remove her baby from danger than for an individual to prevent an earthquake she dreamed about. Some futures may be so probable they will happen; others, perhaps most, are malleable.
This line of reasoning is what many people believe has averted prophesied earth changes and similar apocalyptic visions of some soothsayers. The visions are experienced, then publicized, causing many people to pray they won't occur, and so they are averted.

If that's the case, it's good enough for me.

Click here for the complete interview.
Click here for The Power of Premonition on Amazon.com.

1 comment:

Gary Williams said...

I cannot agree about free will. The concept of free will is not in accordance with my experience as an astrologer. It is my experience that the future has already happened and if the future has already happened then it cannot be changed. My work with astrology has only served to further this idea. While there are are some astrologers who believe in free-will, my research and experience have taught me that the Universe is like a big clock, with everything happening exactly when and where it’s supposed to – right on cosmic time! The earth life is like a film unwinding. THERE IS NO FREE WILL
M.B Dykeshoorn psychic, now deceased, from his book, "My Passport says clairvoyant"
The following prediction is also intriguing because in it Mr Dykshoorn was able to predict who the new tenants of an apartment would be even before the existing tenants had moved out. Shirlee Sharatz of Charlotte, North Carolina wrote the following testimony:
“If you will recall, on August 6th you told me that the lease from my apartment would be broken and we would be leaving Charlotte shortly.
September 1, we were evicted and left Charlotte on October 24th. You also predicted that three girls would take over the apartment and that they would be nurses. You have been absolutely right.
The day I moved, I saw the maintenance man and he told me three girls were moving into my apartment and I asked him were they nurses? And he said he didn´t know for sure, but they worked at Charlotte Memorial Hospital. I wrote to a neighbour and asked her to find out what those girls are and the reply came yesterday- nurses.
It sure softened the blow when I got evicted to know that this was supposed to be happening.”
And this one, which was written up in a sworn statement notarized by a notary public in the state of Florida.
STATE OF FLORIDA
COUNTY OF DADE
“Before me this day personally appeared ALEX S. MARCHANDO, who, being duly sworn, deposes and says that on November 11, 1971, he consulted with MR M.B. DYKSHOORN. MR MARCHANDO told MR DYKSHOORN he planned to visit his 91 year old mother in Youngstown, Ohio over the coming Thanksgiving holidays. MR DYKSHOORN said it would be better if you could go over the Christmas holidays; “You would see more relatives and could have a nice visit with your mother before she dies, because she will only live a week to ten days after Christmas.”