Romulus had the kind of mind that tried to analyze everything. Like most people living in that time period he was also a religious man. He would go to church every Sunday with Lady Laura. Before the failed crusade, his sons were also going with him. After their adventures in the future, some of his grandsons stopped going to church and he gave them a little lecture. The gist of it was that they were the ruling family of the region by the grace and the power of the Catholic Church and most certainly at the pleasure of the Pope. It would be a mistake to pick a fight with that powerful an enemy.
Everybody listened, but some still tried to find excuses and travel opportunities that would keep them away. Anyway, no too long after the Wanderers return, Romulus went to confession and told Father Ignatius the story of their adventures. It actually spread over a few confessions. Luckily for him, the Father was a rare kind of human being. In spite of being part of a dogmatic institution, he was a free thinker not afraid of mental challenges. Romulus was apparently having a difficult time reconciling time travel with the things he knew about God, the Church, and the bible, so he needed to find some kind of an answer. After considering the interestingly new and incredible story, Father Ignatius came up with a possible explanation.
“The Bible says:” said Father Ignatius,
” ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and was and is to come’. Revelation 1:8.
This means that God is present in all of time. If we think that yesterday is gone, it will mean that God does not exist in yesterday anymore. That contradicts the word of God. What God is saying is that he exists in all of time and that means that time is eternal. This is repeated many times in the bible in many ways. For example:
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23.
The best explanation is that everyone has eternal life in the Lord. So the Lord does not need to travel anywhere – for Him, all of time exists at once. If that is true, then we humans, should be able to visit there, which is what you did”.
“But, if that is true”, argued Romulus “what happens to free will. I think the bible says that humans were given free will. So how can we reconcile that with time travel? If we go back and change something, than that place in time is not the same. So when we come back to our time, our history should be different. How can that be possible?”
“You’re right”, replied Father Ignatius. The bible says: Free will is a precious gift from God, for it lets us love him with our “whole heart”-because we want to. Matthew 22:37.
“But, I guess I’ll have to think about this”.
Father Ignatius eventually admitted to Romulus that he could not figure it out, but that he will keep thinking about it.
“That’s as far as I got”, said Dougie. “I need to do some more research and try to figure out the answer to that.”
“OK, why don’t we pause for lunch. My mom made a moussaka and there’s always more than enough”.
“Sounds good, let me call my mom and tell her not to expect me for lunch”.
Dougie enjoyed the lunch and after that it being quite a pleasant day, they went to sit in the back for a bit. Petunia’s mom, Popi, lit up a cigar and her dad Gerry brought a snifter with some French Cognac.
“So, are you guys working on a sequel, or something else?” asked Bryony.
“A sequel, but it’s very early in the story”, replied Petunia.
“Oh, come on read us what you’ve got so far. We really want to know where this might be going”, jumped in Begonia.
So, of course they couldn’t resist. They took turns reading the story. After they were done, Gerry had a comment:
“It’s nice that you picked Father Ignatius as a free-thinking priest. I thought your family comes from a Protestant line, so I’m surprised that you know about him”.
“I’m not sure who you are talking about”, said Dougie.
“In the beginning of the 16th century, Ignatius Loyola, founded the Jesuit Order of Catholic priests. They were in trouble with the Pope quite a lot, mainly because they were free-thinkers who thought other religions should be allowed. What is also interesting is that the current Pope, Francis, is a Jesuit – the first one ever.”
“That is quite funny, I really did not know this. Perhaps I read it somewhere and I forgot about it”.
“You know, the question that you have about free-will versus determinism, has been asked many times”, inserted Popi. “There does not seem to be any clear-cut answer, but I think in science-fiction books, it was answered, at least in theory. You should ask your mom about it, Dougie”.
It was nice of Popi to remember that Dougie’s mom, Margaret, liked to write science-fiction stories and publish them under a pseudonym.
“I guess I will”, answered Dougie “thanks for the idea”.
They sat around for a bit longer before Dougie said good-bye and went back home. By then it was just about dinner time, so his mom had prepared a smorgasbord of cold-cuts, cheese, sliced veggies and baguettes. He sat and ate a little bit of everything before asking her about his problem.
“Free-will versus determinism – that is an interesting question”, she replied, “but how about you read us the story so far”.
“Well, it’s not necessarily a part of it. We have to talk about it”.
“Still, we’d like to hear it anyway”, said his dad.
So, he read the story they had written so far, for the second time on that day.
“I like it”, said Popi, “but I am not going to give the easy answer. I think you should do a little bit of research and come up with your own answer. I will just point you in the right direction. Look for a physicist named Niels Bohr”.
Dougie left the dinner table early and went looking for Niels Bohr. It was interesting though he didn’t quite understand some of the things. Still, he had a good idea and on the next morning, he told Petunia that he was ready to finish what he had started.
A few month later, Waldencraft came to visit. Before he left, Algoma asked if she could accompany him to Vallonia. She wanted to ask Newton to fix her Surface, and teach her how to charge it herself. When Waldencraft left she and Lucius went with him. Romulus decided to join them. He had been troubled by the things that time travel meant to his faith, and Father Ignatius was not able to answer all of them, so he had asked Waldencraft. He was not able to answer, but he thought that perhaps Newton might be.
When they got to the border of Vallonia, Waldencraft reassured everyone. Newton had fixed the barrier. It was now able to recognize when an army intended to attack Vallonia, and whisked them away to some distant dimension. The barrier was now safe for small groups as well as being one sided only. It would no longer do anything to anyone or any group attempting leave.
First thing they did when they got to the palace is pay their respects to Princess Fleur. She was happy to see them and had someone show them to their rooms where they could refresh themselves. After that they were invited to dinner. Newton was seated next to Romulus, so by the time they got to desert, he decided to ask him his question.
“That is an interesting question”, replied Newton. “Reconciling science and religion, was always a difficult task for your churches. Still in the 21st century there will be a pope who is more open-minded than any other before him. Anyway, we could start with a scientist named Niels Bohr who will live in the 20th century. He will be one of the founders of the quantum theory which could actually have an answer to your question. He once said that: ‘The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.’ Which means that somehow, both free-will and determinism could co-exist. It is not something that can be understood outside of high mathematics. So the easy answer that Father Ignatius could have given you was that God works in mysterious ways and most of the time it is not given to humans to understand those. The quantum theory that I mentioned actually does have the answer to your question. A time travel instance creates a new universe in which the events follow from whatever happened during that time travel”.
“I’m not sure I understand. Can you please give me an example?” asked Romulus.
“OK, so when you crossed the Vallonia border with your crusaders, it was one universe. When I froze all of you in time, I actually created a new Universe. Sadly, there is an old universe in which you actually attacked the elves. Not good for you, but I do not know what happened there. Also, when our border shield sent you and the Wanderers away, another universe was created – and so on. So, every time we time travel, a new universe split gets created”.
“I think I got it but it’s sad to think about all the universes we have left behind”, said Romulus.
“That’s true, but there are points where they eventually merge back”, replied Newton.
“It’s good to know, but I think I’ve had enough of explanations for now. I thank very much”.
“You are quite welcome”.
Algoma got her turn on the next morning. It was not too complicated for Newton and he explained to her very simply.
“Everything that requires some kind of motion, needs a kind of energy to move it. For example, if you walk from here to the garden, you expend energy. When you throw a rock into a pond, you expend energy. When the clouds move across the sky, it is because of the energy of the wind. Energy is also created in nature and it exists everywhere. Now, the little Surface that you brought with you is powered by the energy of a battery. The battery, runs of energy after a while, so in the 21st century they plug it into a socket that gets energy from somewhere. Are you getting any of this?” asked Newton.
“I think so, but how will this help?” answered Algoma.
“Well, I just wanted you to understand, but It is not necessary. I will replace the battery with one that will gather energy from the cosmic rays that bombard the Earth constantly. It will be ready after lunch”.
“That was pretty good”, said Petunia. “I actually found it quite interesting, though I am not sure that our readers will. Tell you what, your mom did a great job editing our first book. So, we will leave it in here for now and wait to see what she’s going to say”.