Does a proposition about the future have to be true today? If so does this preclude contingency and is every proposition of the future necessary?

In connection with Professor Stairs' last two paragraphs, you might also read Question 997 and some of the further entries referred to there.

How long is forever? I know this question is ambiguous, but I have often tried to understand the heavy anchor of time and infinity, but I think it's really just too big to understand with the tools I've been given. I would really like to know someone's thoughts on the subject, and if the question is too ambiguous, is it because we don't have the 'brain power' to understand?

You might ask: "How long is this performance going to last?" And you might get the answer: "Two hours." You might also ask, more ambitiously, how long is this universe going to last?" And you might get the answer (from physicists presumably): "Forever." Now, those two answers seem similar; certainly they are grammatically similar responses to the two questions. And this might encourage you to think that "Forever" picks out a specific temporal duration, just as "two hours" does -- except that the first duration is a lot longer than the second. And then you might start to get a real headache trying to understand the nature of this duration "forever". But, that's not what "forever" means here. To say that the universe will last forever doesn't mean that there's some really big temporal interval, forever , during which it will be around; it means rather that there is no last temporal moment of the universe. So there is no really big temporal quantity of foreverness that you have to wrap...

Say we could speed up matter and go further into time. I went and I saw my future self, no interaction, and I noticed that I had a finger missing or some dramatic change in my body since my present self. Could I dedicate my life to keeping my finger safe, or will it happen anyway?

On one picture of time travel, you could dedicate your life to that task, but you will fail. If it's true now that you will lose a finger next year, then you will lose a finger next year and zipping into the future isn't going to change that. Just as, if it's true now that you did lose a finger last year, then you just did lose that finger last year , and no backwards time travel will reverse that loss. (See also Question 528 and further references there.)

A man has murdered someone and has been executed legally in the US. If I could go back in time and kill the killer before he committed his crime, thus saving the life of his intended victim, would this make me a murderer, or his executioner, as I would be killing him before he had committed his crime? This question is from Anthony Roddy-Burns in Rochdale, England.

One's tempted to say that if the man has indeed murdered someone in the past, then if you were to travel back in time you could not kill him before the murder. The past is past and, contrary to Hollywood lore, it cannot be changed. For more on this, see Question 242 .

What was before the beginning of time? Or perhaps I am asking the wrong question because "before" is a measurement of time, and what I want to know is what was there when there was no time. So I should be asking: What is time? Right?

Can't do much better here than to quote from St. Augustine: My answer to those who ask 'What was God doing before he made heaven and earth?' is not 'He was preparing Hell for people who pry into mysteries.' This frivolous retort has been made before now, so we are told in order to evade the point of the question. But it is one thing to make fun of the questioner and another to find the answer. * So I shall refrain from giving this reply. For in matters of which I am ignorant I would rather admit the fact than gain credit by giving the wrong answer and making a laughing-stock of a man who asks a serious question. ... A fickle-minded man, whose thoughts were all astray because of his conception of time past, might wonder why you, who are God almighty, Creator of all, Sustainer of all, and Maker of heaven and earth, should have been idle and allowed countless ages to elapse before you finally undertook the vast work of creation. My advice to such people is to shake off their dreams...

Is it true today what I will do tomorrow?

If on Tuesday you play chess, then if you had said on Monday "Tomorrow I will play chess" you would have said something true. It's easy to think that the truth of that future tense statement as uttered on Monday constrains what you can do on Tuesday; that is, it's easy to think that the claim's truth on Monday restricts your freedom . It seemed as if you had a choice about whether to play chess on Tuesday — but really you didn't, since it was already true the day before that you will play chess! Most philosophers reject this threat to our freedom. To many, it seems like a piece of verbal trickery. Yet there are disagreements amongst them about what precisely the trick is.