Que Sera ,Sera. Whatever will be, will be. ~~[ Ray Evans ]
Fate or destiny refers to a predetermined sequence of events or outcomes.
Belief in fate implies that there is a higher force or being that defines these outcomes for its own mysterious purpose. It could be the God of a religion, some cosmic entity that we have yet to meet, or the consciousness of the universe itself.
Why do we believe in fate?
Many of us believe in fate because it offers us comfort and security. When bad events occur, fate tells us that this is all part of a greater plan. This gives our tragedies meaning.
On the other hand, if all outcomes are written in stone, then we have no control of our own destinies. As a result, lack of free will may cause feelings of helplessness, and worthlessness, which can lead to depression. If we cannot change anything, then there is no point in trying, and no ownership of action.
What Fate gives, can be taken away just as quickly.
Fate and Free Will
A literal belief in fate usually precludes free-will. However, there are various non-literal interpretations that allow fate to coexist with independent action.
Here are 4 common interpretations of fate –
- Some believe that there are a predetermined finite set of outcomes. Our actions may allow us to change paths, but all the possible outcomes are fated.
- Some believe that what we choose is predetermined. In essence, all the choices that we make are already written in cosmic dust, and part of a larger plan. Although it may seem that we have free-will, our choices are simply an illusion.
- Some believe that fate refers to our inexorable drive to survive. This most basic instinct compels us to act in certain predetermined ways, which may be seen as a type of fate. More generally, our genetic code affects much of our future actions and decisions, and thus our fate.
- Some believe that the entire universe is deterministic, thus everything within it is deterministic as well (i.e., governed by a fixed set of physical laws). Given a set of initial conditions, we can accurately determine the outcomes based on these physical laws. This suggests that all of our fates were set at the start of the universe.
When considering fate and free will, it all comes down to level of detail.
If we believe that all our individual choices are predetermined by a deity, then there is only the illusion of free will. If we believe that fate exists at a higher level of granularity, for example through our genetic code or the physical laws of the universe, then there is wiggle room for personal freedom and achievement.
Even if the universe is deterministic, there is randomness at the individual level.
According to several standard interpretations of quantum mechanics, microscopic phenomena are objectively random. That is, in an experiment where all causally relevant parameters are controlled, there will still be some aspects of the outcome which vary randomly.
Individual events that are random may still be precisely described en masse, usually in terms of probability or expected value. … More simply, although a single toss of a fair coin cannot be predicted, its general behavior can be described by saying that if a large number of tosses are made, roughly half of them will show up heads.
~~[ Wikipedia ]
Most of us live short lives when compared to the age and movement of the universe, thus our lives exist in the brief random moments that the universe takes towards its fated end.
The Two Sides of Fate
There are two sides to fate.
On the one hand it gives meaning to our tragedies. On the other hand, it takes meaning away from our accomplishments.
On the one hand it allows us not to take responsibility for our crimes. On the other hand, it takes away our motivation to act, and take control of our own life.
I believe that the universe is governed by a fixed set of physical laws and is deterministic. In this way, fate exists. However, I also believe that there is randomness between the start and end states of a complex system, which allows for free will.
We all know that our life on Earth will end, but it is all the steps in between that matter.