Sample text for: Fear Faith Fact Fantasy
FREE WILL OR FATE
The concepts of free will and fate have been of interest to philosophers and theologians for generations. Free will is the ability to choose between alternatives on our own accord. Fate is the inevitability of a course of events beyond our control. As we ponder on free will and fate, we realize that it is an issue that cannot be solved with our present knowledge. We are the result of our genes, our environment, our education, and our experiences in life. But how much free will we have and how much we are constrained by the above factors is impossible to determine. As someone has said, life is like a boat In a great river with a strong current. You can sometimes steer your boat around the snags and shoals but the current will carry you where it will.
What is random and unpredictable and what is purposeful in nature cannot be determined; we do not know the cause or the purpose of the universe; we cannot even know if there is a cause or purpose for the universe.
It is impossible to determine the true extent of our free will. No one prepared a map for us and no one has given us a destination. We choose our own path and give meaning to our own lives. The meaning of our life is what we make of it and that meaning comes from within, not from an outside source.
The concept of fate enters into this discussion, as one has no control over fate, luck, karma, or destiny. We sorely need the serenity prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” One may have the free will to buy a lottery ticket but it is the luck of the draw that lets one win. It Is fate that you were born of parents in a specific place and at a specific time. We must accept many things that occur in our lives on fate. Our birth, genes, surroundings, and IQ are all matters of fate. Freedom of the will may be more limited than we like to think and the luck of the draw may play a larger role than we care to admit.
It is obvious that all of us are the result of our genes and our environment. It is impossible to know what the mix is. The frightening thing about parenthood is that we as parents are responsible for both the genes and the environment of our children.
Those who are blessed with good genes, good parents. and encouraged to read and study, should have empathy for those who are not so fortunate. Choices are limited without those lucky circumstances over which we had little or no control. Individuals with mental deficiencies, psychiatric illnesses, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes or other diseases, do not have the freedom of those without such handicaps. Those who were born in a society where food is scarce, poverty is rampant. And opportunities are limited, do not have the freedoms of those born in a free and prosperous society. Those who were taught to think dogmatically in childhood have limited freedom to think rationally in adulthood compared to those who were raised in an atmosphere of openness and allowed, even encouraged, to think for themselves.
Life is a multivariate system; we can control some variables but not all. We may be able to anticipate some events based upon our knowledge of how these variables interact, but not all of them. We know that when we leave for work in the morning we have a reasonable chance of arriving at our office; but we cannot predict and can never know when a drunk driver will crash into us. We can never know or predict an automobile accident nor can we predict many of the other calamities of life. We are reasonably sure that we will have a good time when we go to a concert but we cannot predict an accidental fire in the concert hail. There are many times when our free will is constrained as it meets with the free will of others or meets the unexpected consequences of the natural world.
The fact that we are victims of fate or of unexpected events as noted above, does not allow us to blame others for our actions. It is easy to blame parents, teachers, employers, or others, but we must finally accept responsibility for ourselves. We gain maturity when we learn the limitations of our free will and the role of random events in our lives. When we learn that, we can stop blaming others and learn to assume responsibility for the actions that are under our control. The sooner we learn that our actions have consequences, the better off we will be. Man’s first commandment should be emphasized:
YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN ACTIONS
This commandment is absolutely necessary for our mental well being as well as for social order. You frequently hear, “It’s in god’s hands now,” as people realize they have done all they can to solve a problem. Some believe in a god who controls and micromanages their life but most realize that they have done everything they could to solve the problem and beyond that there is nothing to gain by worrying about it. They simply accept their fate, which they cannot control.
We may not like the fact that random and accidental events determine our lives but that does not alter the reality of it. As we observe the unpredictability of life, we should realize that an intelligent, all-powerful, divine being does not control it.
To deny the freedom of the will is to make morality impossible.J.A. Froude