Thursday, 10 June 2010

Day 161, on which John writes about fate... but only because the Universe wanted it to happen [10.6.10]

Dag hundrede énogtres. Since it's the start of a new 20-day period of the year, I have a new challenge to keep topics fresh. So, the general idea for the next 20 days is to write blog posts about philosophy - any philosophical question or concept. I've been waiting ages to do this topic, so hopefully it will last longer than the internet one. Unfortunately I've already covered religion (twice), and I've covered several aspects of reality and dimensions on Dimensionality, so I have a short list of topics to do at the moment. If you have any philosophical questions, please please please comment on this post with them - I need more stuff to talk about!

Intro ps. If the worst comes to the worst, I'll attempt the hardest topic of them all; love. My God that post will be a mess.

Oooh, by the way, some new stuff:

  • New colours and graphics for the JOHNSPACE search filter
  • New disclaimer at the bottom of the sidebar
  • I have Safari 5! Woot for better loading bars!
  • Check out my desktop, with a frame from 2001: A Space Odyssey:
With DateLine, BowTie and Tweetie on the desktop, Gmail, Caffeine and Ink on the homebar
So, fate.

Usually with fate there are two opinions: the belief in free will, and the belief in fate. Like the tolerant guy I am, I'll explain the other argument before my own.

The idea of fate is understood in so many different ways by different people that it's hard to quantify for a short paragraph. The general gist is that life, God or the Universe has some plan for us humans, and so we follow a preset path. Lots of events are meant to happen, and whilst some are free for us to choose, for the most part what we do is already decided.

But how can this be right? Well, lots of Christians think that God decides what happens to us. Hence, when something good happens they thank God for getting them there. Whilst God doesn't have things necessarily planned, He guides us through life and gives us opportunities. He chooses our path as we live it, or maybe beforehand. It's all open to interpretation. I doubt there's any quote in the Bible about God planning our lives beforehand, so the whole God-creating-fate thang is most likely a result of his omnipotency (all-powerfulness).

But what about scientific explanations for fate? Well, there's always the whole separate-Universes thing. This says that when you make a decision, you create another universe into which you (and perhaps the rest of your Universe) travel, leaving the other universe where you took a different decision.

Problems with this:
  • Hypothetically, there are infinite possibilities when a choice occurs. When asked for a cup of tea, you may say yes or no, but there's also a minute chance of you slapping the person in the face and jumping out a window. Therefore, there could be an infinite amount of alternate universes.
  • When you travel through the choice to another universe, what happens to the rest of your original universe? How much of it travels with you? It can't all travel, because then the other universe would have a whole universe inside it. Perhaps universes travel along paths - roads, like on a highway, with junctions. In that case, we have to rethink a lot.
  • How much is different in the alternate universes? What if a difference in the universe you travel in when making a choice affects someone else's choice, or someone else's existence?
  • What happens to the universe you left behind? You've got a conscience back there; a clone of you! Who knows what it could be doing. We'd expect it to act like us, but we have no idea how much a difference decision can make on our characters (what if the choice was beating someone up or not? The good you will travel on, but the bad you will cause havoc)
  • Which conscience do you stay with? As in, you. Your 'soul' (I'm no believer in souls), and your thinking? Do you exist in both? Or do you follow one? If you follow a path, is this fate? Or the 'right' path?
So what about the free will argument? I much prefer this - with fate, there's always a feeling of claustrophobia; a feeling that you can't break out of a pattern, no matter how much you try. Because, if you think you're doing something totally out of the blue, you're not; that's fate too. Bummer.

So free will asserts that you have full control over your life. And what's better than that? What better human right could you ask for but the flexibility over your future? I'd much rather have no control over my future (which is what happens without fate) than someone else having control over it.

But what about inevitable events? Is it fate that I'm going to die someday? I most definitely will, but is that fate? You may object that fate only applies to life decisions, but then what about my hair going grey? Or it falling out? Or my getting a job? They're all inevitable (probably), so are they fate? The problem is (with the exception of the last one), none are my choices. 

Perhaps fate's all about choice, and I can't choose to not have my hair fall out. But what about more vague events? What about the whole 'finding "the one" ' event? Is that fate? Clearly not, since it doesn't happen to everyone - but is it inevitable to happen to me? 

What about you - what is inevitable for you? Are you OK with knowing these things are going to happen, that there's no stopping them? There's nothing more frustrating than knowing something is going to happen that you can't stop, and you can't even attempt to try to stop the 'will of the Universe'.

I think I'll have to continue this fate thing to tomorrow. Comment with your personal beliefs on fate, and any other philosophical topics (see intro). Thanks for reading!


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