One Fateful Day ...

October 10, 2010
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Thinking about this essay makes me want to violently beat my face against the desk until it is reduced to a dripping, gooey mass of flesh and blood. It’s not because I am dreading the actual process of writing; in fact, I look forward to it very much. It’s not because I fear a poor review from my peers; that, I expect, especially considering the harsh, abrasive quality of the upcoming paragraphs. The abomination that necessitates my self-mutilation is the very fact that there is not a homogenous viewpoint on this issue. To my secular, atheistic and irreligious mind, the fact that some people believe that they have no control over their actions is unfathomable. Beyond unfathomable; it’s infuriating. It is my personal belief that nothing, whatsoever, happens for a reason any more complex than the actions directly preceding it. Every action in the world is simply a reaction to another action or actions; any choice misinformed of another is mutually exclusive and totally independent.

It is time for the idea of fate to step forward onto the scaffold and place its loathsome neck upon the chopping block. A famous and popular example of fate is the chance meeting of two businesspeople in a city foreign to them both, resulting in their eventual marriage. Is that fate? Many would say that without a stroke of divine luck the event would never have transpired. The only truth to that argument is the luck – excepting the divine. The two people had no previous knowledge of each other, their trips or the places they would frequent. The whole event happened by chance. In a new city, one might expect to see thousands of new people every day. You have the potential to meet and marry any one of those people. Which person it turns out to be is a meaningless technicality.

One common argument is that a person does not choose the conditions unto which he or she is born. While this is true, it has nothing to do with their fate. Especially here in America, where the very idea was pioneered, a person’s childhood squalor may or may not affect the rest of their lives. Successful people make a conscious choice to either change their situation or take advantage of it. A rich man can throw away his fortune just as easily as a poor man can create it. It is not in the stars that a man’s life is decided: it is in his own mind. There are certain things, such as proficiency in music or ability in school, which may have more to do with genetics than hard work. But for each genetic disadvantage, there is an advantage to match it. It is whether or not a person decides to grasp his or her opportunity that matters more than the opportunity itself.

The idea of predestination by God is a particularly offensive one. There are so many flaws in it that it is easier to topple than a stack of Jenga blocks. Men developed the idea that God has a divine plan for all of us to have justification for their life’s failures. A life that, like yours or mine, could have been as successful as Ben Franklin’s (himself, at most, a deist). Why, if this phantasmagoric plan truly does exist, do we have choices? Why, if the world is as scripted as any television show, would God allow us to make choices that would destroy his image, like killing in his name? Specifically, why would God, who is so vain as to wish the death of his followers for worshiping a golden calf, allow me to deny his existence altogether? If God has a will that must be followed, why don’t we all stop working, stop thinking, stop providing for our families? If it is happening, it must be God’s will. Fate and predestination are nothing more than excuses for everything that goes wrong; safety nets for the weak.

People often confuse fate and chance. Sometimes a person will think that they believe in fate when really they are thinking of chance. I heard Kassrole say earlier today [by this point, it’s about a year ago], “Fate is basically chance,” after we had a heated discussion about the topic. That is a dangerous view. Fate is the inevitability of an event long before it happens; something that cannot be changed. Chance, or coincidence, however, is the random concurrence of two events that seem, after the fact, more inevitable than they actually were. If I were to walk out in the middle of the street and subsequently get struck by a car, would that be fate? It runs far closer to the lines of chance; or rather, something that could be avoided altogether if I had looked before I crossed. The loyalist to predestination will often, acknowledging inner defeat but refusing to show it outwardly, throw out a careless “Everything happens for a reason,” as if that were supposed to seal up his argument. People don’t get skin cancer for any other reason save excessive sun exposure. They do not get cancer to defrost their future or inspire them to do good works. Those are just things that often go along with acquiring the disease. Things that have nothing to do with a divine plan.

The further advanced our society gets, the more we shy away from ridiculous assumptions like the aforementioned predestination and fate. Already, we have dismissed the idea that our placement in heaven or hell is decided before we are born. We are in the process of debunking the myth that the universe was created in six days by an invisible yet omnipotent deity. Soon, hopefully, the entire onerous business of religion can be behind us. Much like give and take of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, religion and science work in basically the same way. As the Atlantic grows, the Pacific must shrink, just as when new discoveries are made, religion is forced to soften its stance. The religious will continue conceding more and more to the secular until there is nothing left of religion at all.





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kendrickmalley said...
Oct. 21, 2010 at 7:54 pm
Wow! great article, exactly what I was thinking but couldn't say. can't wait to hear more!
 
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