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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Is everything pre-determined in OOTS world?

    Since prophecies and oracles do exist, does that means the OOTS world is deterministic, pre-destined?
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    Default Re: Is everything pre-determined in OOTS world?

    Quote Originally Posted by Conradine View Post
    Since prophecies and oracles do exist, does that means the OOTS world is deterministic, pre-destined?
    Of course! Whatever the author wants to have happen, will be exactly what happens.

    On a more serious note, here’s my personal head canon for any fictional universe with “true” prophecies which are otherwise unexplained:

    The fictional universe is not deterministic, and are an infinite uncountable set of possible futures. But the fictional setting also has “strange attractor statements”, which are statements that converge to true in all (or most) futures.

    In other words, there might be a billion billion billion different ways that prophecy might be true. And for most of them, people might say, “huh! I guess that, given that specific wording, that prophecy did technically turn out to be a true statement after all. That’s ironic!”

    There’s no way to know *how* a prophecy becomes true, and the characters in the story still have a huge amount of freedom to choose their future. But regardless of what path is chosen, the prophecy (usually) comes true (somehow).

    Unless the author explains different, I just figure that for whatever reason, the physical laws of a particular fictional universe are setup to make these hypothetical strange attractors exist, and to give some entities the ability to perceive them. But they don’t actually predict the future in a meaningful way.
    Last edited by Dion; 2019-06-12 at 01:05 PM.

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    Default Re: Is everything pre-determined in OOTS world?

    I guess so.

    EDIT:
    Quote Originally Posted by Dion View Post
    Of course! Whatever the author wants to have happen, will be exactly what happens.

    On a more serious note, here’s my personal head canon for any fictional universe with “true” prophecies which are otherwise unexplained:

    The fictional universe is not deterministic, and are an infinite uncountable set of possible futures. But the fictional setting also has “strange attractor statements”, which are statements that converge to true in all (or most) futures.

    In other words, there might be a billion billion billion different ways that prophecy might be true. And for most of them, people might say, “huh! I guess that, given that specific wording, that prophecy did technically turn out to be a true statement after all. That’s ironic!”

    There’s no way to know *how* a prophecy becomes true, and the characters in the story still have a huge amount of freedom to choose their future. But regardless of what path is chosen, the prophecy (usually) comes true (somehow).

    Unless the author explains different, I just figure that for whatever reason, the physical laws of a particular fictional universe are setup to make these hypothetical strange attractors exist, and to give some entities the ability to perceive them. But they don’t actually predict the future in a meaningful way.
    And I'm a compatibilist. That's far less work.
    Last edited by Fyraltari; 2019-06-12 at 01:06 PM.
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    Default Re: Is everything pre-determined in OOTS world?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fyraltari View Post
    I guess so.
    I knew you would say that.

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    Default Re: Is everything pre-determined in OOTS world?

    The fact that prophesies work doesn't necessarily imply that the wold is deterministic. Just because someone can look into the future and watch the outcome of the actions you freely chose, doesn't mean you are not chosing them freely.

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    Default Re: Is everything pre-determined in OOTS world?

    Choice involves at the very least two options. If there is only one option, it's a false choice.
    Unless divinations are only probabilistic.
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    Default Re: Is everything pre-determined in OOTS world?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Pilgrim View Post
    The fact that prophesies work doesn't necessarily imply that the wold is deterministic. Just because someone can look into the future and watch the outcome of the actions you freely chose, doesn't mean you are not chosing them freely.
    Also a lot of prophecies work on the principle that the actions you take to avoid them are the very actions that cause them in the first place. In other words, if you wouldn't have received the prophecy, it wouldn't have happened.

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    Default Re: Is everything pre-determined in OOTS world?

    Quote Originally Posted by Conradine View Post
    Choice involves at the very least two options. If there is only one option, it's a false choice.
    Unless divinations are only probabilistic.
    Or maybe there are uncountably infinite ways that a prophecy can be true.

    Maybe in another version of the infinite possible futures, Belkar has twin pet gerbils ironically named death and destruction, and he brings them for a visit.
    Last edited by Dion; 2019-06-12 at 02:29 PM.

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    Default Re: Is everything pre-determined in OOTS world?

    Most of the time, prophecies are told in a way that is vague enough that multiple interpretations are right (or can become right).

    If we judge Odin's high priest's prophecy alone, it seems to be meant to manipulate events to follow a specific road and reach a specific end.

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    Default Re: Is everything pre-determined in OOTS world?

    Quote Originally Posted by Resileaf View Post
    If we judge Odin's high priest's prophecy alone, it seems to be meant to manipulate events to follow a specific road and reach a specific end.
    Hmm... let’s separate “prophecy” from “prediction”.

    Let’s assume Odin can use thought and memory to make predictions about the future. He knows things that might happen, and he can even carefully set up events to influence the future.

    Let’s also assume that Odin is a skilled trickster, and can also make prophecies. He can construct statements that can be twisted and interpreted through hindsight in ways that it turns out they’re always true (even if just ironically true).

    Prediction and prophecy aren’t the same thing. Not even close.

    Of course, Odin is a tricky dude, so he used a prophecy to help along a prediction, confusing us all. Way to go, Odin!
    Last edited by Dion; 2019-06-12 at 03:25 PM.

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    Default Re: Is everything pre-determined in OOTS world?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Pilgrim View Post
    The fact that prophesies work doesn't necessarily imply that the wold is deterministic. Just because someone can look into the future and watch the outcome of the actions you freely chose, doesn't mean you are not chosing them freely.
    This, basically.

    Beings who are capable of prophesying have the ability to allow their perception to essentially time-travel into the future and observe what has taken place. This does not actually change the events that transpire; it merely allows the prophesying being to learn which events have occurred by that point in time. The fact that somebody could theoretically travel forward in time to see what you're about to do doesn't rob you of your ability to act freely; it simply means that person is able to skip ahead and see what you chose to do without being bound by time. That's my headcanon, anyway.

    I also assume prophecies can typically only be generated in situations where knowledge of them will not lead to a paradox of some kind. Perhaps some beings, like The Oracle, are able to discover the answer to specific questions, but they can foresee which outcomes will lead to a paradox that invalidates said prophecy, annuling the possible future and (at least in The Oracle's case) jeopardizing his business. For a question like "Will I sleep in by accident tomorrow?", for instance, the answer might be Yes, but it might change if the answer Yes is given to the question-asker. So it is possible that The Oracle would automatically foresee that outcome, and thus be able to provide an answer that does not lead to a paradox ("Not if you go to bed by nine").
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    Default Re: Is everything pre-determined in OOTS world?

    Hmm... I think I’m confusing what I think of a “literary prophecy”, which is just a statement that can be seen to be true through hindsight, with “true prophecy”, which is actually predicting what will happen with foresight.

    So far, Odin has demonstrated only what I would call “literary prophecy”. Odin never predicted an actual concrete future, just some extremely vague statement that could have meant billions of different things.

    The oracle, on the other hand, appears to be have actually demonstrated “true prophecy”. He seems to actually have some idea what will actually happen (for a very narrow part of the future).

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    Default Re: Is everything pre-determined in OOTS world?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dion View Post
    Hmm... let’s separate “prophecy” from “prediction”.
    How is Odin's prophecy a prediction?

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    Default Re: Is everything pre-determined in OOTS world?

    Quote Originally Posted by Resileaf View Post
    How is Odin's prophecy a prediction?
    Well, Ive seen nothing in the comic that has convinced me that odin predicted anything. .

    He made a very vague prophecy, but there were a billion billion different ways that could have come true.

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    Default Re: Is everything pre-determined in OOTS world?

    Quote Originally Posted by Conradine View Post
    Choice involves at the very least two options. If there is only one option, it's a false choice.
    Unless divinations are only probabilistic.
    If I offer you the choice of two foods you like equally, and also have the power to see which one you eventually end up choosing, does the fact that I know which one you eventually pick mean it wasn't actually your choice? I played no role besides offering one or the other, and wouldn't refuse regardless of which one you picked.

    Me knowing the outcome has absolutely no effect on how you independently came to your decision.
    Last edited by Rrmcklin; 2019-06-12 at 04:59 PM.
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    Default Re: Is everything pre-determined in OOTS world?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dion View Post
    Well, Ive seen nothing in the comic that has convinced me that odin predicted anything. .

    He made a very vague prophecy, but there were a billion billion different ways that could have come true.
    Yes, that's the point of a prophecy. You say something vague and people interpret it.

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    Default Re: Is everything pre-determined in OOTS world?

    There's a few things pointing to the "OOTS prophecies are not infallible" notion. First, the Test of The Heart intended to avoid prophecy seekers keeling over - that's something that would be useless in a fixed world. Second, when Roy askes where Xykon is going to attack, the Oracle tries very hard to steer him toward the actual target (excluded by Roy's rule's lawyering) where Roy getting the right answer would probably result in a successful defense of the city and Xykon never getting a chance to go for the next gate. Finally when the Oracle gets raised, the clerics who do it (and are implied to do so frequently) ask if the next scheduled raise is still needed - implying that the Oracle sometimes cancels the service as unneeded.




    The most likely explanation is that it is a matter of probabilities (the prophecy is the most likely output of the "computer" called the universe with the settings as they currently are), and getting the prophecy fixes one of the variables so strongly that the probability of it coming to pass is greatly strengthened.

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    Default Re: Is everything pre-determined in OOTS world?

    I don't think that predestination requires determinism. I.e. one definite future need be determined by the present.

    Quote Originally Posted by Conradine View Post
    Choice involves at the very least two options. If there is only one option, it's a false choice.
    When one says that a sentient being, rather than e.g. an inanimate object, "can" do something, one often mean this in the special sense that the sentient being could perform the activity if it wanted to. That doesn't necessarily mean that there's actually a possibility that it might do it, as it might be that it will certainly never want to. Thus, taking "can" to mean "might" in this context is equivocation. {Scrubbed}

    So, in that sense, there being two things that you can do doesn't mean that you might do either. And if "option" doesn't mean "something that one can do", what does it mean?

    "Free will" is a contradiction in terms, insofar as the term "will" refers to a force that determines one's actions and the term "free" denies any such determination. That you determine your own actions requires that your actions be determined, not undetermined. Specifically, it requires that your actions be determined by you. This factor does not serve to make human behavior unpredictable. On the contrary, I predict with a high degree of certainty that you will eat a meal within the next twenty-four hours, not because you are compelled to eat against your will, but because you are compelled to eat by your will, as it is your will that you be fed. You're still "free" to go hungry, in the sense that you could if you wanted to.

    To value unpredictability in this context seems to me absurd. Are we to regard voluntary action as morally significant if and only if the cognitive processes involved in decision-making include the equivalent of a random number generator?

    To give an illustrative example: Gandhi wants not to commit murder. As a result of this desire, he also wants his mind not to change such that he wants to commit murder, as then he might murder someone, which he wants not to do. Given all of this, does the potential to suddenly flip out and kill someone grant him more self-determination than lacking that potential?

    Agency doesn't require metaphysical freedom; it requires a lack of metaphysical freedom, at least to a degree. For example, if our utterances were wholly constrained, but instead could be anything, we would only produce gibberish, and not even gibberish of our choosing! Random noises would not be based on our intentions, and thus would not be chosen. We are only free to use language because our utterances are constrained by our intentions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dion View Post
    Prediction and prophecy aren’t the same thing. Not even close.
    The online dictionary that I checked gives "prediction" and "prophesy" as synonyms, at least in some cases. Your intended point seems to be that guesses about the future aren't the same as claims about the future. Why not just say that? Redefining words against their normal meanings is, quite frankly, the opposite of helpful for communication. It annoys me when D&D does it, and it annoys me when individuals do it on their own, too. No sir, I don't like it.
    Last edited by Roland St. Jude; 2019-06-17 at 11:53 PM.
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    Default Re: Is everything pre-determined in OOTS world?

    If I offer you the choice of two foods you like equally, and also have the power to see which one you eventually end up choosing, does the fact that I know which one you eventually pick mean it wasn't actually your choice?
    Yes.
    If my choice could be predicted with 100% certainity, that would mean I'm an automaton, not a person.


    {Scrub the post, scrub the quote}
    {Scrubbed}


    That doesn't necessarily mean that there's actually a possibility that it might do it, as it might be that it will certainly never want to.
    Nope. If there's zero chances then it's not a possibility.
    Last edited by Roland St. Jude; 2019-06-17 at 11:56 PM.
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    Default Re: Is everything pre-determined in OOTS world?

    No, not yet.

    But it will be.
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    Default Re: Is everything pre-determined in OOTS world?

    I'll say it seems less like the OP is actually asking a question, and more just looking for people to agree with them on something they've already decided.
    I'd just like to point out that saying that something unsupported is the case unless someone else can prove that it is not is an utter failure of logic. - Kish

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    Quote Originally Posted by Devils_Advocate View Post
    The online dictionary that I checked gives "prediction" and "prophesy" as synonyms, at least in some cases. Your intended point seems to be that guesses about the future aren't the same as claims about the future. Why not just say that? Redefining words against their normal meanings is, quite frankly, the opposite of helpful for communication. It annoys me when D&D does it, and it annoys me when individuals do it on their own, too. No sir, I don't like it.
    The comic I’m reading right now uses the world “prophecy” to mean “a very vague statement that only turns out to be true in hindsight.”

    It might technically be a prediction, but not in the sense that it predicts what will happen, or how it will happen, or when it will happen.

    In he comic I’m reading right now, Literally the only thing a prophesy predicts is that at some point in the future, people will say “oh, that’s how that statement turned out to be true. How ironic!”
    Last edited by Dion; 2019-06-12 at 06:54 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Conradine View Post
    If my choice could be predicted with 100% certainity, that would mean I'm an automaton, not a person.
    Is there some established definition of "person" for which that's necessarily the case? If so, could you point me towards it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Conradine View Post
    Actually, it works. It's a valid argument.
    No, it doesn't. No, it isn't. It equivocates between different senses of the word "can". That's like equating existing and being located in the mind with being imagined, because those can both be described as "existing in the mind", when obviously the phrase means something different when taken literally than it does when taken figuratively. It's just pure verbal trickery, like suggesting that you could eat "the Sundays" from a calendar. Sure, it might make for a cute joke, but hopefully you can agree that that's not something that you can actually do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Conradine View Post
    Nope. If there's zero chances then it's not a possibility.
    ... Exactly. Why did you put "Nope" before agreeing with me?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dion View Post
    The comic I’m reading right now uses the world “prophecy” to mean “a very vague statement that only turns out to be true in hindsight.”
    Dude, I don't like it when the comic redefines words against normal use either (e.g with "Dedication")! I don't like it when anyone does that. In fact, I dislike it when anyone does that. Am I now making my position sufficiently clear?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dion View Post
    It might technically be a prediction, but not in the sense that it predicts what will happen, or how it will happen, or when it will happen.
    "Prediction of what will happen" is a redundant phrase, with the same meaning as simply "prediction". Any claim about the future is a prediction of what will happen. Some are more specific than others, but it's not like any of them is going to give the position of every particle in the universe. Language in general is vague. Further, the prediction was of what will happen when Durkon next returns home.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dion View Post
    In he comic I’m reading right now, Literally the only thing a prophesy predicts is that at some point in the future, people will say “oh, that’s how that statement turned out to be true. How ironic!”
    Um, no. Prophesies in the comic are not all self-referential statements of the form "You'll think that this is true at some point in the future". In fact, none of them are one of those.
    Last edited by Devils_Advocate; 2019-06-12 at 07:52 PM.
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    Default Re: Is everything pre-determined in OOTS world?

    Not everything is predetermined.
    You can have 100% accurate Oracles and infinite timelines coexist. An Oracle simply looks at which timeline they are, peeks a bit further ahead and then lets the client know which tidbit of info puts them onto the path for that future. Of course, the Oracles themselves can always lie, for one reason or another.
    An explanation of why MitD being any larger than Huge is implausible.

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    Default Re: Is everything pre-determined in OOTS world?

    Quote Originally Posted by Devils_Advocate View Post
    Um, no. Prophesies in the comic are not all self-referential statements of the form "You'll think that this is true at some point in the future". In fact, none of them are one of those.
    Well, unlike *real* prophecies, we assume that the prophecies in the strip are ACCURATE predictions of the future. So that’s one major way the prophecies people are discussing in thread are nothing at all like the dictionary definition of a prophecy.

    Second, the prophecies in the strip are all self referential, in the sense that they describe an event that retroactively gives meaning to a prophecy, but fails to give meaning to the event.

    For example, “By saying the right four words to the right being at the right time for all the wrong reasons” or “when the goat turns red strikes true” are meaningless until after the event they describe retroactively gives them meaning.

    Not only are they meaningless without the event, even after the event the only thing they reveal is that the statements themselves turned out to be true.

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    Default Re: Is everything pre-determined in OOTS world?

    This is a problem I have with prophecy in fiction generally. I don't think any of the "solutions" raised by people in this thread get around the fact that, if my future actions are 100% predictable, then to all intents and purposes the universe is entirely deterministic. But we know in reality that even predicting something as simple as the weather more than a week or two ahead is impossible, so why should people's future actions be any more predictable? Heck, I might choose to go out or not depending on whether it's raining or not, and as I already mentioned, the weather is a chaotic unpredictable system, so if my actions are being influenced by that, they're equally unpredictable.

    Now, I know what someone is about to say: but Thor controls the weather in OotSverse, it's not unpredictable! I was just using weather as an example, there are plenty of other unpredictable things that could influence someone's actions. To my mind, as soon as you introduce 100% reliable prophecy of the kind we've seen, you're immediately making the entire universe and everyone in it run on predictable clockwork paths.

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    Default Re: Is everything pre-determined in OOTS world?

    I am just going to let someone more talented than me sum up my position.
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    In the debate between determinists and compatibilists it is often repeated that the side arguing that free will and determinism are compatible are just playing word games, and changing the definition of "free will". However, it's probably the other way around. When the debate is first framed in philosophy 101 classes it causes people enter into a sort of confusion about what they had previously believed. It's hard to get at what people's pre-theoretical notions of freedom are, but we can certainly observe that no audience has ever gasped in shock like Marty does in this comic upon "learning" that people behave deterministically, and only by altering their environment would you alter their decisions. In fact, this is the basic premise of all time travel movies, and people find it so obvious that it never has to be explained. If the director wanted people to find it disconcerting that they supposed have no "free will", a large explanation would have to take place in order to get the audience to understand. Likewise, if the director wanted to depict the so call "libertarian" view of free will, that is that we are "truly" free and our souls or consciousness can make decisions outside of physics, the audience would also demand an explanation. I suspect that most people, upon learning that the mere act of going back in time and observing themselves again, might find themselves making different decisions for no apparent reason, would feel like they were less free. After all, if my decision to get married was based not on the kind of person I am, nor on the environment, but on something else entirely that can oscillate back and forth "freely", I might feel like the fact that I'm currently married wasn't so much my choice, but merely chance.
    What concerns people about freedom in movies, it seems, is whether or not the action came from ourselves rather than a foreign object, not whether or not our decisions are somehow able to take place outside of the "laws of physics" (a strange idea to be sure, since the laws of physics merely describe what exists in reality, so whatever occurs in reality must be under them, i.e. it is definitionally true that nothing can break the laws of physics, because if they did we would just revise the laws to accomadate for this new information). While people do not react with horror that we make the same decisions every time, they probably would react with horror if a sci-fi movie shows that our decisions are secretly being made by a computer chip implanted in our brains without our knowledge. No one worries that the computer chip is deterministic, merely that it is not part of our being. The compatibilist account of free will, which seems to be taken for granted in time travel stories, is that freedom simply is having what we are be in control of our decisions.
    Last edited by Fyraltari; 2019-06-13 at 03:06 AM.

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    Default Re: Is everything pre-determined in OOTS world?

    Sorry, but what does physics have to do with anything? That is saying, as far as I can see, that you can predict what someone is going to do just based on the state of all the molecules in their brain at any time. That may be true, but the problem is, it's not possible to exactly determine the state of all the molecules in a person's body at any one time, Heisenberg being what it is--so if the only way to predict a person's reaction comes down to physics, that makes reliable predictions *less* feasible, not more!

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    Default Re: Is everything pre-determined in OOTS world?

    I always thought that comic, along with the accompanying explanation (to a lesser extent), was rather confused. I'll do my best to explain why.

    Marty's parents only live through the events of 1955 once. There is no reason to believe Marty's presence in 1955 would automatically alter the trajectory of his parents' lives in any way if he had simply avoided them. We don't know why, in a metaphysical sense, they made the decisions they did - all we know is that they did.

    Should we expect the opposite - that, if free will did exist, every hypothetical time traveler to 1955, by virtue of his or her presence, would somehow observe Marty's parents making different choices? Of course not. There's only one George and only one Lorraine. This is not a situation where timelines are necessarily being split (of course, this does happen in the movies, but it only explicitly happens in the second movie). Every observer is watching the same series of events playing out over the same time period. It's not clear to me why, if you moved yourself back through time, you would somehow compel other people to behave differently while you watched them all over again.

    I grasp the idea that, if you watched somebody behave the same way over and over again in identical situations (a la a certain episode in Doctor Who - if you don't know what I'm talking about, there's no point being more specific), you might think her or his behavior was dictated entirely by circumstances, personality, etc. If someone lives the same day 100 times - with his or her memory wiped at the end of each day - and behaves identically every time, perhaps that would be evidence of determinism. But Back to the Future has a sample size of 1, not a sample size of 100, so it's just not comparable. George and Lorraine only experience the same week once, so it shouldn't be any surprise that they would behave the same way whether or not Marty is there, as long as he doesn't interfere.

    I apologize for any redundancy in the above, but I have a difficult time understanding why anyone would believe that, if observing the past doesn't cause it to change, the world must be deterministic, so I tried to say the same thing in several different ways. Maybe I'm missing something?
    Last edited by Emanick; 2019-06-13 at 07:01 AM. Reason: Removed a really important Doctor Who spoiler
    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    Far as I'm concerned, anyone can sig anything I say anytime.

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    HalflingRogueGuy

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    Default Re: Is everything pre-determined in OOTS world?

    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    To my mind, as soon as you introduce 100% reliable prophecy of the kind we've seen, you're immediately making the entire universe and everyone in it run on predictable clockwork paths.
    Can you give an example from the strip of a prophecy that has worked like that?

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