“You think the rules don't apply to you,” Pike tells Kirk in the beginning of the story. “There's greatness in you, but there's not an ounce of humility. You think that you can't make mistakes, but there's going to come a moment when you realize you're wrong about that, and you're going to get yourself and everyone under your command killed.”
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“The traditional view of time is linear, like a river, flowing from the past towards the future.” When another character asks if you change the course of the river, she replies: “Introduce a significant enough event at any point in this river and you create a new branch, still flowing toward the future, but along a different route. Changed.” In other words, an alternate timeline.
But another character suggests something different, that the river of time “is the Mississippi” and any changes we make are the equivalent of “lobbing what amounts to a pebble into it.” He concludes, “That's a very few tiny ripples in a kind of big body of water, don't you think.”
If Scripture is right, we know how the larger framework of the Story ends, this river of ours moving towards a sea of endless boundary. Though evil and darkness throw pebbles, stones and even drop boulders into that flow, the waters of time—permeated with God’s love, goodness, just-ness and right-ness—flow around it towards redemption, renewal and life. There is an abundance of free will within that flow, but nothing will change where that Story is going.