Are you a fatalist? Does it matter if Fatalism is true? Take a stand. Argue.
Since the time of ancient civilization, people have been obsessed with fate. From the Chinese and the Mayans who looked to the stars in search of information about future events, to the horoscopes of the West in explaining personality and predicting fate, humans have tried out all sorts of ways to figure out where time would take them.
Although we use the terms fate and destiny interchangeably, the two have quite different approaches in examining how life unfolds. Fate is often regarded as something that is given or assigned by a higher power, with it being something humans having no control over. Destiny, or rather how the destination of events is determined is a matter of logical causality rather than an influence of a higher power. This is known as determinism. Determinism looks more towards the nature of how events play out; just like how one domino pushes another, everything that happens is caused or determined by things that have already happened. In a sense, this would mean that it’s possible for every event in the future to be predicted and worked out.
The significance of the fatalism/determinism debate seems to lie in whether we actually have any hand at all to play in writing the story of our lives – can we truly be held responsible for whatever we do? Has our future already been written in stone by some kind of higher power, or are we just mere dominos playing out a sequence of events from an initial push, falling into place? In this essay I will focus on discussing why I believe it is still possible to be held responsible for our actions in spite of the possibility of a higher power pulling the strings of fate, and also despite the influence of past events.
Suppose that an omnipotent God was real, transcending time and space, with the ability to know of and control anything, would humanity have any choice at all in influencing their fate? I believe that the answer lies in knowing the nature and intentions of this God. Some argue that it would be contradictory to call God omnipotent, and yet believe that humans have the power to control their own fates; if God was all powerful, nothing would be out of his control, including that of the will of humans, and if nothing was out of his control, then everything must be under his control. However I believe this argument to be invalid. Complete power does not have to equate to complete control. Although the fate of humanity may eventually be in the hands of God, it is also perfectly logical to say that an omnipotent God could allow space for humans to make decisions of their own that he simply chooses not to control. God can still be omnipotent as he can still be in control of an ultimate destination despite the choices that humans may make. For example, at a fork in a road, humans have the power to decide whether to turn left or right, however, God decides where each road would lead eventually. I believe this interplay between the free will of humans and the will of God exists in this nature, and as such, that humans can still be held responsible for their individual choices despite that of a higher power possibly being in control of fate.
Now onto the matter of determinism. One might argue that every choice and action taken by a person can be traced back by some logical causality right down to the beginning of the universe, and as a result, maintain that one’s choices are simply an illusion. Everything has to be caused by an antecedent event in order for it to have happened, just like how every domino in a domino chain would move only because the previous domino had fallen on it in the first place. It sounds ridiculous to say that the domino chose to fall on its own free will, because it is obvious that something else had caused it to fall. In the same way, humans have no real choice, and are simply acting according to a ripple effect that started since the beginning of time.
I believe that determinism should not be limited to the view of humans having any no ability at all to ‘choose’. Every effect has a cause, and in a deterministic universe, humans can play a part in eliciting a causal chain of events as well. Although I believe that the universe operates in a cause-effect way similar to how dominos can influence one another, I also believe that it is not just a single domino chain of events. Rather, the universe is a complex system of an almost infinite number of domino chains, and not all domino chains fall at the same time across the history of the universe. Our lives are made up of many chains all at once, some chains are caused by events happening way before our time, whereas other chains have not started yet and are sitting still, ready for our push. Some chains will never fall because we never choose to push them, whereas other chains will be pushed regardless of whether we want them to or not because it is a chain that had already been pushed before, possibly by someone else.
This is my theory on how the existence of fate, the deterministic nature of how the universe operates, and also the power of human choices work together in the unfolding of the universe.