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Precognition has often been defined as "knowing the future" is one of the most puzzling as well as one of the most common of psychic phenomena. It is so common that it is suspected that everybody has the experience, but does not always recognize it.

Precognition appears to consist of two things: telepathy and clairvoyance.

There is one way of knowing whether or not a person's precognition is correct: and that is to just wait and see. If the precognitive event was veridical (meaning that elements of truth were found in the event) then that episode was deemed to be true. If however the precognitive event never happened, then the precognitive event was seen as lacking any veridical value and ignored. This is also the same element of judgment that the Bible places upon prophecy! If a prophecy came about, then it was true. But if not, then it was deemed not to be true. In some sense, Biblical prophecy could be seen as a collection of precognitive events that helped to found not only a nation of people, but also a collection of stories about man.

Precognition occurs more often, but by no means exclusively, in dreams. It is thought to be sometimes the explanation of the sensation which many have at some time experienced of deja vu (the sensation of having been in a place before, or of having been in a situation before, often accompanied by the odd, but very brief, feeling, immediately justified of knowing what is going to happen next). The suggestion is that one has previewed the experience in a dream which one has forgotten, but the memory of which has been stored in the subconscious. When precognition occurs in a dream, it is by no means an exact forecast of the subsequent event, but near enough to be recognized. It would seem that, just as our dreams are often recognizable as containing jumbled recollections of the past, so they also contain jumbled anticipation of the future.

What does this ability to foretell the future signify? Does it indicate that everything is predetermined? It certainly lends force to the most extreme forms of Calvinism and to the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination.

The acceptance of predetermination does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that all events are predetermined. They may be; but it is logically possible to conceive of a Creator who determines some things and has the ability to ensure the fulfillment of his plans, but who, within the framework of what he has chosen to predetermine, leaves a range of choices to his creatures.

Ways to tell the differences between precognition and predetermination:
1) "...of a man standing on the top of a hill round the base of which runs a single railway-track. From his vantage point he sees two trains approaching one another. He can see them both: but the drivers of the trains (and the passengers) are hidden from each other by the curve of the hill. It does not require much acumen on the part of the observer on the hill top to foresee at least the probability of a collision. The collision is not, however, inevitable. The drivers may see each other in time to brake, or the observer himself may be able to intervene by giving some sort of warning, thus utilizing his foresight and by doing so, playing some part in shaping the future. In other words, someone possessed of sufficient relevant data can fortell the probable cause of future events, and even to shape them.

Another illustration is provided by the type of prophecy exhibited by the prophets of the Old Testament. By reason of their holiness they were better attuned than were their contemporaries to the will of God; they were more aware than their contemporaries of the extent to which the nation had departed form that will; and they saw more clearly the probable consequences of each departure. That is why so much of their prophecy takes the form of denunciation of the present as well as warning concerning the future.

All that is required to mark out the prophet from his less gifted contemporaries is that he should possess a more lively appreciation of the present situation and a better judgment as to the probable consequences.

2) The second way in which one can accept precognition as a fact and yet avoid the conclusion of predeterminism depends on a particular concept of the nature of time. ...time is part of God's Creation, and that, just as he stands outside the rest of his Creation, so also does he stand outside of time. Time so conceived is, as it were, a cage within which the rest of Creation (or, at least, of the material Creation) is imprisoned; or perhaps it should be likened, not to a cage, but to a shelter wherein the rest of the material Creation is protected. For God, time as we know it, does not exist, or rather, has no influence. All time is (as we are forced to say) going on at the same time. For God, the Creation, the Crucifixion and the Last Judgment are all present together in one eternal flash.

For us, however, time is something along which we flow, or which flows past us, and everything which is not the immediate present is either past or future.

Copyright © 2004, Albert R. Lane, All Rights Reserved