Revisionist History


Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past.
—T. S. Eliot

“With God all things are possible.”
—Matthew 19:26

Over the years I’ve done a lot of thinking about quantum physics and what it may reveal about God’s nature and activities (check out my post Predestination, Free-Will & Schrödinger’s Cat). One of the most intriguing postulates of the quantum world is that the stream of time flows both ways. Of course, we humans—and everything else at the macro level—experience time only as forward movement. To us the past is irretrievable and, therefore, irredeemable. But for God I believe it’s a different story, and this may completely change our understanding of God’s power to shape reality on behalf of all who call upon him. Indeed, I have come to the conclusion that God can and often does literally alter the past in order to answer prayer.

What I mean is that a prayer offered today can directly influence events which have already taken place. Thus, we most often experience God’s answers to our prayers, not as a disruption, but as the culmination of a sequence of events, many (if not most) of which were initiated before we prayed in the first place—or even before we were born. Tomorrow’s prayer is answered yesterday.

We shouldn’t really be surprised at this. Modern particle physics theory allows the arrow of time to operate both forward and backward. Affecting a particle’s current state may instantaneously affect all its previous states too. Weird—but allowed within rigorous mathematical boundaries. (I love it when hard science sheds light on theology.)

Of course, it’s impossible for us to see the past being changed. For us, the past is always and necessarily a done deal. If God does alter the past in answer to our prayers, that past will always appear to us as the one necessary history, the only history we have ever had. What was always was, even if God changes it. Does predestination work both ways too?

Even weirder to think about: if prayers uttered today affect the past, this means that current events—our now—are affected by prayers still yet to be uttered. The prayers of our future selves or others for the needs of their times will influence (are influencing/have influenced) our present situation. We are this very moment living the answers to the not-yet-spoken prayers of future saints. Like, whoa.

The logistics of this whole thing may be brain-bending, but the moral of the story is simple: IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO PRAY! So get on your knees, kids. The past may depend on it.

God works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.
—Ephesians 1:11

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