Space, Time, Fate and Free Will

Mark Pottenger

This is an attempt to convey some concepts that have been more felt than consciously thought out for me. I have held the beliefs involved for some years, and am finally writing this piece in response to some conversations and topics at recent conferences and some comments I saw in an on-line “skeptics” discussion. The subject matter is inherently difficult to discuss in English or any other object-oriented language, so what I present here is sketchy and relies on analogies. I hope it is enough to point readers in the direction of a way of thinking they might investigate.


Discrete (separate) entities are defined by viewpoint and beliefs more than by any underlying reality. The wave/particle duality of modern physics that bothers many people is an extreme example of this. A wave is viewed as a dispersed phenomenon, while a particle is viewed as a small, separate entity, yet both viewpoints are considered valid in describing certain aspects of the world. Stepping back a level, talking about “a wave” is an arbitrary linguistic or mathematical fiction—saying one wave ends and another begins at a specific time and place is usually an artificial distinction. Look at the ocean—can you really say one spot is only in one wave, or isn’t any point on the ocean better described as being simultaneously part of many waves? Extending this concept to a larger scale, are people or planets, made up of particles that are also waves, really completely separate entities with no connections to the rest of the universe? If we are not separate from the planets, then astrology is not describing external “influences” at all but is simply looking at different parts of a larger whole. Just as the picture is present in all parts of a hologram, perhaps some portion of our personal reality is present in all parts of the universe. Given such a possibility, perhaps the motto “as above, so below” should be replaced by “above and below are one”.


Most people in modern Western cultures think of time as a linear progression from a fixed past that has already happened, through an instantaneous present, to a future whose determinacy is unknown. In this view, the past is the realm of memory and the future is a realm of foreknowledge or guesswork.

If there is only one valid “present”, correct “foreknowledge” can lead to the conclusion that the events known “before” they occurred were fated by the time they were known. If “foreknowledge” is believed to be just good guessing or the realization of one of many possibilities, there is still room in the picture for free will. At any given “present” moment, time and events after that moment are still unknown.

The picture changes if it is possible to experience the universe from more than one “present” moment. If two “present” moments a year apart can both be experienced, one year’s worth of events that were in an unknown future to the earlier moment are in the known past to the later moment. This can be expanded to an infinite number of “present” moments over the full span of existence of the universe (or universes, depending on how you use the word).

Taking a view of time in which the linear past, present and future are all parts of one perceptible now, the concepts of “future” and “foreknowledge” disappear. In a larger reality of this sort, which fits a holographic paradigm and which many mystics perceive, the entire universe, including what is usually called “future”, already is. The “future” can be “remembered” as easily as the “past” when one doesn’t limit oneself to linear time with a single “present”. The particular “present” experienced is simply the part of the universal picture one is paying attention to.

Most astrologers have definite opinions on the question of whether human actions are completely fated at or before birth or subject to change through free will. As most people use the concepts, knowing that a “future” event will occur is proof that the event is “fated”. I would like to suggest that the concepts of fate and free will are purely matters of perspective—that one of them is simply looking at the universe from the wrong end of time. If you look at the total universe from its origin forward and see the entire “future” mapped out, it is easy to think in terms of “fate”. If you look back on an entire universe’s history, it is easy to think in terms of “free will”.

Remembering past events does not usually lead people to conclude that the events were fated—there will usually be memories of one’s actions and decisions leading to the events. When the “future” also becomes a matter of memory, the same thinking can be applied. Even though billions of years of universal evolution beyond the “present” have already happened, that evolution can easily be viewed as a free-form dance of particles, people and planets, with all the “pieces” really one complete whole.

Copyright © 1995 Los Angeles Community Church of Religious Science, Inc.

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