Date: Wed, 10 Jun 1998 21:04:20 EDT
Hey, what's up man,
Just a little tidbit I thought I'd throw your way...
I believe that unexplained paradoxical time-loops can indeed exist (such as elder John Conner sending Reese back in time to become his own father), although they do indeed contradict themselves. Paradoxes can be found in sentences that are similar to time-loop paradoxes. Consider the following paradoxical statement:
"THIS SENTENCE IS FALSE."
The speaker is stating that the sentence is false, but if it is indeed false, than it must be true, because he is telling us the sentence is false. But if the sentence is true, then it must be false. Like a time-loop, it constantly loops around and has no beginning or end.
And consider this following statement:
"I ALWAYS LIE."
The speaker is stating that he always lies. Well if he 'ALWAYS' lies, then this statement itself must be a lie, which means that he is telling the truth. But if he is telling the truth, then he always lies. But if he says he always lies, than he must be telling the truth.
Ya see what I'm saying?
"I never tell the truth."
If he never tells the truth, than his statement isn't true, and he does tell the truth, contradicting himself. So if he does tell the truth, then his statementt is true, but if that's true than he never tells the truth.
Let me know what you think.
Certainly it is possible to express paradox in language. It is part of the wonder of human thought that we can imagine things which don't exist; we can even imagine things which can't exist. Aristotle maintained that if you were riding in a boat on a river, and you threw something in the air above you, it would no longer be carried forward by the boat, and therefore would stop moving forward, the boat would move out from under it, and it would fall in the water. We know that that is not true--Isaac Newton demonstrated, proved, and explained it. However, for well over a millennium every scholar in the western world who had access to the ancient texts believed that it was true.
I have another example for you: All generalities are false.
But in physical laws of the universe, some things cannot happen. Time obeys physical laws.
All of our experience with time suggests that it is one-dimensional and experienced in one direction. That strongly suggests that the past and the future are real aspects, that the words "before" and "after" have real meaning. In other words, every bit of evidence we have tells us that time moves such that the past must exist before the future.
It is important to understand that part of that evidence is our own sense of free will: the perception that we can do this or that. It is the "or" aspect that demands that the past pre-exist the future. Also, our concept of causality--that things which happened a moment ago caused things which happen now, which will cause things which happen in a moment--requires a sequential arrangement of time.
There are those who suggest that time is not sequential. They maintain that all of time exists in the same sense that all of space exists: it could be laid out on a table such that you can see events in the future and events in the past all at once. They then attempt to demonstrate that this could be so by creating temporal anomalies which they feel disprove the sequential conception of time. For example, they create a time line in which John Conner is born and grows up so that he can find the man who will be his father and send him back in time to conceive him. Then they try to convince us that the only explanation for this imagined event is that time is static--that it all exists at once.
But if time is static, the entire notion falls apart. You lose far more than you gain. The concept of causality fails--and that concept is vital to the entire scenario. John Conner is born because Sarah slept with Reese; the Terminator comes back because John Conner is a problem. More basic than that: if time works that way, then Sarah Conner cannot stop the creation of Skynet, she cannot destroy the chip, and she cannot kill the scientist. The story only works if the future is dependent upon the past. But if the future is dependent upon the past, then the past must exist before the future.
I say that the static concept of time is difficult, and should only be accepted if there is no better way to explain the same events. Many people who discuss time travel have no better way of discussing them.  They imagine that if a person goes back to 1800, then they must have existed in 1800 in their own history, and could have found out that they had gone back before they went. But they also create paradoxes which cannot be possible on the static time theory--your notion of Mel being killed in the future at a younger age than the version of him chasing the criminal. If your theory of time is correct, then the first time Mel went into the future, he was killed by the criminal whom he would have pursued into the future later, and it is not he pursuing in the future.
Yet the story you created makes sense, and has an inherent plausibility: if time travel were possible, would it not be possible for a person to go to the same point in time twice, and having arrived the second time accidentally cause the death of himself the first time? The static theory of time has no explanation for this; despite its apparent plausibility, it cannot have happened that way, because he either died or he didn't die. He cannot have not died one time and died another, because it proves to be the same time in every conceivable way.
Which proves that in your approach to time, you believe that time is linear, sequential, as I do. You believe that events which occur in the future cannot occur until the intervening past occurs. The criminal from 1998 cannot kill the Mel from 1994 on the first run, because he will not be a fugitive at that time; he can kill the Mel from 1994 on the second run, because the events of 1998, including its time trip, have occurred.
I say that we should not accept a static theory of time as long as there is any other theory, because it is completely at odds with all the evidence, and rather than solving the temporal paradoxes which allegedly give credence to it, it makes them impossible.
Defenders of the static theory would reply that there is no other theory which solves these problems. However, the theory that I have proposed does so simply and elegantly, in a way which explains what would happen given any one trip made through time by anyone; it further explains how multiple trips through time would interact, provided only that it be recognized that it is possible for a trip through time to destroy the time line so utterly that nothing will ever occur after it, and in that case no other trip through time could have either terminus beyond that point.
So I believe that John Conner can send Reese back in time to become his father, provided only that Sarah Conner has a child in an original time line who needs to protect Sarah by sending back Reese. You've read this timeline before, but here it is again in simpler form: Sarah meets someone, gets pregnant, has a baby. The baby grows up, discovers that something was sent back in time to kill its mother, and so sends Reese back to protect her. Reese interferes with Sarah's meeting with the other guy, and gets her pregnant. The baby born this time is John Conner (that may have been his name before, but he has a different father, and so is a different person). He knows that Reese is his father, and sends him back to do what to this child of Sarah Conner was what he did before.
In describing this timeline, we suggest that each time someone moves to the past, he ends the future which exists beyond the point of his departure and creates a divergent (or parallel) history beginning at the moment of his arrival. The experience for time is that it snaps back to the moment that the divergent timeline begins, erasing all of the history which would have occurred, and creating a new history into the future. At the moment of the departure time, a time trip must be made which will have precisely the same effect on history--the character who went back in the first history must do so again--or the time line is destroyed, and reverts to the original or creates an additional divergent. If the trip is made, then time will continue beyond the point of departure, forever altered by that time trip such that its history includes the trip back in time; the original history is lost, because no one will remember it. It has been erased, a dead end, a cul-de-sac in time.
Did you get it?
And by the way: when words are used to create a paradox, it's just a lie. When events create a paradox, it's usually an impossibility. If someone says something which doesn't make sense, it is simple to understand that they are either confused or lying. Reality isn't like that. If real events occur which don't make sense, it's because we don't really know what happened, or we don't understand reality properly.
It's late--got to go. Does this help?