Would You Change the Past?

Recently, I’ve been reading and watching stories that deal with time travel. It hasn’t been a wholly intentional move; in particular, the last book I read snuck it in without warning a hundred pages from the end. Interacting with so many stories with time shifting elements has made me start to wonder why it’s such a popular trope.

I think the reason we keep telling story after story of returning to the past is because it allows us to envision a world without guilt and regret.

We can go back and say “yes!” when we said “no!”, save ourselves or others from making a terrible mistake, or maybe even keep ourselves from sinning. We think it would allow us to keep tweaking our lives until we were perfect—or at least what we think is perfect. It’s an attractive proposition because it might even let us manufacture a life that didn’t need forgiving. We could, in short, create a sort of simulacrum of God’s grace cobbled together through an alternative timeline of correct choices.

Yet, as many of the characters in these stories realize, attempting to recreate the world to your own design usually introduces more problems than it originally had. Most time travel stories end with the characters foreswearing the ability to mess with the past. There’s an admission that our problems and mistakes are worthwhile in the light of a future guided by a small minority’s whims and ideals.

Also, it’s interesting to me as a Christian to read stories where secular authors come to the conclusion that, in the end, the original Creator’s intention with His Creation is better than anything humanity could come up for it. It’s a strong statement about man’s place in relation to an all-knowing God.

What about you? Why do you think people are fascinated with time travel? Or do you personally find it uninteresting?

2 Responses to “Would You Change the Past?”

  • R.L. Elam says:

    It is not merely that the I of now would like to correct my past mistakes but what the I of tomorrow would become with this new power. With this new power, I can unfetter all my desires, become a raving lunatic of passion, and promise myself that if anything really bad happens, I can undo the damage. But would I? While the I of now may be more concerned about minimizing pain caused to others, perhaps the I of tomorrow will care more about removing obstacles and persons who interfere with our desires and acquisitions. One of the great dangers is to assume that we are fixed points with fixed stars. If I have observed anything at all, it is that everything in this world changes and so can we. Please visit my website at http://www.delightinhim.com.

  • Ira Kirkpatrick says:

    read Phillipians 3;12-14. we admonished to keep moving forward and focus on the mark, and not looking back. To even consider changing the past is wasting time, energy, and effort to think about what we can not change. we should learn from it, but it is looking back just as Lots wife did and turned to a pillar of salt.
    we are so blessed to be instructed by God Himself and his word and think of the people that know not God or Jesus and his wonderful salvation and adoption.
    Friend in Christ