Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Lighter Question: Any Theological Reflections on Deja Vu?

I get deja vu all the time. Just last week, I absolutely know that I perceived in my mind (either in a dream or something) a visit my wife and I had to the doctor's office. I remembered the doctor, her name, and the conversation we were having with her. How is this possible in God's universe?

I know it is tempting to say that moments of deja vu are simply errors in our perception and that we are mistaking a moment for a memory, but it seems that these memories are too clear and obvious to simply be dismissed. Not to say, from an epistemological perspective that I couldn't be wrong - nor could anyone else, of course.

I don't have an explanation for deja vu, but I do want to set forth an argument against a certain form of Open Theism [OT] using the phenomena of deja vu, assuming it's a real phenomenon, of course, and not simply a psychological error of perception. Let me offer this caviat first: scripture is the best and most effective way of arguing against theological errors, and I think it's quite easy to do with Open Theism; however, there is nothing wrong with using lesser arguments if they do the job (or at least part of the job). In some forms of Open Theism, the reason God doesn't know the future is because the future doesn't exist yet. If our deja vu is a true perception of future events (even if we don't infallibly know that it is accurate) it would seem to fly in the face of this idea that the future simply doesn't exist. It would, rather, seem to indicate that the future is real and we can know it - albeit in a fallible, limited, muddy sense.

There is no precision here, but I am sure of this much: I have deja vu all the time, and for years I just told myself, "You just think you remember deja vu-ing this moment." That could still be correct, but I don't really think so anymore. Its clarity and frequency seems to indicate otherwise.

So what do you all think about deja vu? Seriously.

Alright; well, now you all think I'm crazy. Great.


  1. Not so much. I have had distinct memories about things that have come to pass. It's always something small, but indeed something very memorable. Enough for when it happens, it is exactly as I had remembered. However, I'm guessing the idea is how could we dream of the future, if it doesn't exist? I think it's a good place to begin.

  2. I have heard/read of some rather reasonable, "natural" explanations for what we call deja vu:

    Our minds process experiential data via a series a electric pulses transmitted via the superstructure of our nervous system. When these electronic impulses are communicated to our memories it transmits or fires the impulses like a spark-plug.

    What can happen is that our system can misfire across our spark-plug-like link from our nervous system to our memory. When it misfires it sends one impulse or spark across the channel and then fires another, identical impulse immediately following the first impulse. Thus, the first impulse communicates to our minds the experiential data we have perceived . The second, identical impulse then communicates the exact same data again, making us think we have experienced the moment before.

    Anyway, this COULD BE one possible natural explanation for deja vu.

  3. I thought deja vu was when the people running the computers changed something and were about to lock you into a building with no way out so they could all come in and kill you.

    No really, that is what it is.



  4. I'm gonna go with Steve's glitch in the Matrix idea.


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