—and for us that’s a lot of consideration, folks—
—just one solitary act of genuine precognition is enough to entirely blow any concept of Free Will out of the water. Right out o—
“Oh come on,” A slightly grieved voice murmurs in my ear, “you aren’t serious—“
Oh no. It’s him. He’s found me even here in McDonalds, right in the heart of town. Maybe if I ignore him he’ll go disappear himself. Worth a try …
“—or is this one of them rhetorical question things? You do that a lot.”
I’m ignoring him. Where was I?
“You were about to contrast your opening statement with a brief reference to predestination—“
Damn. How did he know that? Oh, of course, that’s how he became known as The Sage. By being sagacious. With me. My very own Sage, how nice.
“—thus setting any objections up for a full broadside by way of rebuttal. Loosely based on cause, effect, and that blasted rhetorical butterfly—“
I’m in McDonalds. I’m sitting alone at a small table. I’m also the only soul here that can hear him but if I try to reply people will start giving me funny looks. The Spouse often does … I’ll continue to ignore him.
“—although I’ve never understood how a butterfly flapping his tiny little wings in the the Amazon can trigger a typhoon in the South China Seas.“
“Little causes can have big effects—think tossing a stone into a pool and all the ripples radiating outwa—”
Oops. The cleaner-upper lady has her arms filled with trays and bunfight detritus, she gives me a taut smile as she sidles by. Anyway, at least she now knows more than when she arrived at work this morning. But I stand by my opening gambit even if my personal Sage has defanged my ambush.
Half of my doughnut is missing and someone’s taken a healthy swig at my coffee. I’m the only one at this table, who on earth—
“How so, then?“
There’s doughnut on his breath, I should have known. The answer comes in a flash, I’ll just write down my responses instead of verbalising and by so doing stop giving the staff conniptions. Now other patrons are beginning to look my way. Hah, let ’em look, I’m legal.
“Good idea,” My hackles rise, The Sage doesn’t usually think my ideas are good. He knows me too well— “So how can just one genuine prophecy in the vast field of human history obviate the very appealing doctrine of Free Will? A doctrine that is self-obvious, I might add, as well as universally held. Any rum?“
“This is McDonalds, not a blasted pu—oops!”
Busy in here this morning or not, the tables each side of me are now vacant. I bend to my task of writing, my tongue now clamped firmly between my teeth to prevent further inadvertent mutterings: … Time and space are a continuum, (I write) we can act only in the present, by which I mean we can create change only in the present. Once any changes are done the present promptly becomes the past—we cannot act, or alter in any way, the past …
“Okay. So far, aye—“
…so of course every past was its own future once; and doomed to be itself, or it wouldn’t have been and therefore never could have been because it can only be what it will be. (Phew.)
“By which ye mean predestined, no?“
Ouch. Biting the tongue may help in times like this but it hurts if you get emphatic. I try to camouflage the spasm with a cheery grin and find that a wee trickle of saliva has escaped. I wind out some tongue and use it to mop up the dribbles, noticing the fascination on the faces of patrons at tables in the distance. All of the nearby ones are now vacant.
Across from me Mrs Cleaner-Lady is walking by in a wide circle, holding her broom and the scooper-thingy-on-a-stick in a manner that some might consider defensive. I fire her a quick smile to show her I mean no harm and for no earthly reason I can think of promptly bite my own tongue.
… Yes. Predestined! Scribble scribble …
“The whole universe?“
… The whole universe,entire indeed, until day and night shall come to an end—
“And the whole of eternity?“
Oops, I didn’t mean to bark. I smile apologetically but she doesn’t seem to notice. Not a problem, but she’ll have to come back soon for that bucket-scoop thing, someone might trip on it. Great reflexes—
“So if someone accurately predicts something that’s not at all obvious, yet outside the boundaries of pure coincidence, even just the once, that’s conclusive evidence?“
… Given those conditions, yes. You cannot have just one isolated exception to an ironclad hard-and-fast rule. It’s either a rule, or it’s not—if you do, then the rule is wrong. There’s no such thing as a contradiction, only a false premise …
She’s coming back. I knew she’d have to, McDonalds is great on public safety. She’s accompanied by another staffer, a big lass, Southland battle-maiden type—Oh no, not now, pleas—
Ah. Aaaah, aaaahhh, aaaahhhhhh—CHOOF!
Not bad as sneezes go.
Great reflexes, both of them. Suddenly I realise I’m entirely alone at this end of McDonalds McCafe.
In the distance many pairs of banked up eyes are staring at me as I try desperately to stifle another explosion.
For now. Always my sneezes come in multiples, most often at least three, each worse than the one before. I once did a five that left me a limp rag, a spent force and quite flushed.
Where were we? Oh yes—
… So if someone in (say) ancient Egypt were to predict man-powered flight …
“Daedalus, and his idiot son?“
“Naaah! They were Greek! Oops—”
Is that tears welling up in the eyes of the pretty young blonde with the long flowing hair and lovely pair of doughnuts? Behind her I notice one of the staff staring at me while talking into his cellphone, and he’s not alone in that.
… and so predict in recognisable and undeniable detail, man-powered flight. An image of a WW1 biplane complete with roundels or black crosses should do it. I’d accept that as evidence …
The lady is coming back for her stick-scoop, this time flanked by two huge male members of staff carrying what look like baseball bats. Must be gearing up for some kiddie event—
clatter clatter scrabble scramble
Damn. I knew it would happen—anyway, I can’t hang around here all day with no doughnut and an empty cup. How he managed it I’ll never know, he’s good. Besides, someone might come in and trip on the clutter all over the floor—they’d blame me, people always do.
“So y’re leaving the issue unresolved, Lad?“
For now, yes. I give my licks a final lip, gather up my stuff, smile a huge cheery grin to all and sundry and make my way out.
Sirens in the distance, I note, and many of them; doppler high so something big must be happening somewhere nearby.
Not my problem—Time and Space, now, that’s important.