Do you use the Machine?
Here’s my guess at what you might see if you used the Machine: some of the decisions you have agonized the most about, some of the mistakes you have mourned the most over the years, might be shown to be not that bad. Meanwhile, some of the errors you consider minor or harmless might turn out to be of dramatic consequence. You might even be surprised to learn that a number of your prized decisions were completely wrong. In other words, I suspect we are really bad at analyzing our own actions, both in terms of assessing the magnitude of their impact as well as in even detecting whether or not a choice was wrong at all.
Another thing that might happen if you used the Machine: you might become obsessed with the past, obsessed with an unobtainable alternate present. Why, it would be like Harry Potter’s Mirror of Erised! Would you waste away using the Machine, endlessly thinking about the could-have-been that you now KNOW would-have-been? While that would probably happen to some, my gut tells me that this is less likely of a scenario than it might appear, because we already do this to ourselves. Those prone to obsess over their mistakes would continue to do so, only now it might be a more efficient process as the ‘wondering’ element has been removed from the equation. Those who don’t worry about the past might use the Machine as a recreational tool.
What’s the difference between the Machine and LDS notions of judgment? I’ve heard it said that the real weight of judgment is to see what you could have become without the errors of sin, that the true horror of damnation comes from perceiving the potential that you’ve lost. The Machine would show you exactly where you’ve gone wrong and what you could have been. Is this complete retrospection the essence of divine judgment, or is there something more?
Would you use the Machine? My bet is that most people would say no, but really couldn’t resist if presented the opportunity.