Television and Determinism

Posted on October 9, 2012


It’s been exciting watching my friend Nelson (Nelly’s Echo) compete on NBC’s “The Voice” this season.

Unlike American Idol, The Voice is not live.  Nelson went away to tape the show during the summer, and the series started in the fall.  By the time the shows started airing, he was back in town.

When his first appearance played on national television, he was actually at my recording studio working on vocals for his second album.  We took a short break to come upstairs and watch his part of the show with my wife and daughters.  When the audition started and no judges had yet chosen him, my wife began to get nervous.  Then they all cheered when he was chosen by Christina and Adam.  Nelson knew all along that he had already won the audition, so he had nothing to fear.

After the successful audition aired, Nelson was flooded with support from his friends and the church where he sang in the worship team. They were excited for him and saying they would be rooting for him and praying that he’d win.  Of course, Nelson knew that in the next round he would lose to De’borah and his time on The Voice would end [video].  It had already happened.  It was already on tape – it just hadn’t aired yet.

So here’s the question this episode raises for theists: is the future pre-taped?  Has God seen it happen already, and we are just waiting for it to air?  Can our prayers, thoughts, and actions affect the future, or is it certain?

For atheists, there is still the question of free will:  Does it exist?  If given all the information of the present, can the future be discovered?  Is the future certain?

At a time when discoveries in quantum mechanics are causing upheaval in physics (and philosophy) and theologians promoting open theism are igniting theological debates about the nature of God, it seems appropriate to give this classic question a little time for contemplation and discussion.  Do you believe that the future is determined?

Posted in: philosophy