Wednesday, July 30, 2014


140. Fate versus Free Will. Part Seven.

 

 We were discussing the possible explanations of prophecies 

2. The predicted events were made to occur, when their time came, by some powerful living persons or spirits. Take the example of Mr Dickenson being told that one day his guru will give him a silver cup. Swami Vivekananda may not have seen the future; words may have been wrung out of his mouth by some unseen power, just as it happened to Sri Yogananda (blog 103):
 

“One day in my Ranchi school, a boy named Kashi, a brilliant youth of twelve, asked me “Sir, what will be my fate?”

‘You shall soon be dead’. An irresistible power forced the answer from me.

The boy died the same year. 

When Yogananda was walking in a street of Calcutta, an unseen power may have influenced his mind and made him buy a silver cup for Dickenson. Higher powers, when necessary, do influence our minds.

For instance, take the two incidents quoted in section 6 and 7 of blog 112, as Mufti Sahib’s prayers. In one instance some higher power influenced the mind of the wife of the landlord, and in the other case the mind of the person who gave Mufti Sahib money for the bus fare.
 

This argument can be invoked in some cases, but not all.  For instance, a fakir told my grandfather that he and one of his sons will be buried in one grave. To have it happen, a colossal event such as Partition of India had to take place, in which millions of people died or suffered. It could not have been done just to make the fakir right. Similarly Yogananda sister could not have attired herself in her bridal dress and later during the day kill herself to prove herself right.
 

3. The causes or signs of future start appearing in the present, from them the future can be predicted.

This argument was first made by St Augustine sixteen hundred years ago (1). For instance the sunrise from day-break. I quote:

 

‘I behold the day-break, I foreshow, that the sun, is about to rise. What I behold, is present; what I foresignify, to come; not the sun, which already is; but the sun-rising, which is not yet. And

Yet did I not in my mind imagine the sun-rising itself (as now while I speak of it), I could not foretell it. But neither is that daybreak which I discern in the sky, the sun-rising, although it goes

before it; ……… . Future things then are not yet: and if they be not yet, they are not: and if

they are not, they cannot be seen; yet foretold they may be from things present, which are already, and are seen.’

 

This argument is not valid in any of the 14 situations cited above, such as for Swami Vivekananda to see the event of the silver cup 43 years in advance

 

4. The people who prophesied had the ability to travel in the future. Travel in the future is the fodder of science fiction. Even famous physicists claim that theoretically it is possible (2). If some men of God have this ability they could go in the future for few minutes, like Chandi Das did in front of Paul Brunton, and then come back to the present, and report their findings (blog 91)

 

Let us examine what the scientists have to say:

 

‘If you want to advance through the years a little faster than the next person, you'll need to exploit space-time. Global positioning satellites pull this off every day, accruing an extra third-of-a-billionth of a second daily. Time passes faster in orbit, because satellites are farther away from the mass of the Earth. Down here on the surface, the planet's mass drags on time and slows it down in small measures. In the  super massive black hole Sagittarius A at the center of our galaxy, the mass of 4 million suns exists as a single, infinitely dense point, known as a singularity [source: NASA]. It must slow the time a lot over there.
 

We call this effect gravitational time dilation. (3) ’
 

If you were travelling on a space ship at 99.999% of the speed of light, one year on that space ship would have equaled 223 years on earth. When you came back after a year, all the people you knew before your journey would have died. One would have travelled 223 years in future.
 

The trouble about all these speculations is they do not help us one bit. Take the example of a traveler starting on his space trip in year 2014, at close to the speed of light. Let us say he has the magical ability to watch the events on earth. After a month he wants to notify all the events to somebody on the earth. Let us further suppose that he can send the message at the speed of light. The message will take another month to arrive on earth. Two months have passed since he started his journey. These two months are approximately equal to 37 years of earth time. Time travelled 223 times faster on the earth than on the space ship. It is 2051 on earth. The message cannot tell the earth inhabitants anything that they already don’t know. They have lived through it. It is their past. What the men of God supposedly do is to watch the future, which yet do not exist.

 

To be continued.

 


 

1). Confessions by St. Augustine, chapter X1                                                                                            

(2).: How to build a time machine by STEPHEN HAWKING
(3) How Time Travel Works by Kevin Bonsor and Robert Lamb


 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


139. Fate versus free will. Part Six

 

What are the arguments against free will, or hypothesis two?

 Actually there is only one argument against it, and that is if the future does not yet exist (because it has yet to be made), then how come some men of God are able to tell it, sometimes in precise detail? In blog 135, I narrated how a man of God who foresaw the seven lottery numbers, one day in advance of their live drawing on TV. It is as if future existed somewhere.

 

Thus we arrive at a paradox:

 

1. Some persons can see future, therefore it exists somewhere

 

2. Future does not and cannot exist, because it has not been made yet.

These are two mutually contradictory, immovable statements. Only one of them can be right, or is there some way in which both are right?

Let us first examine the actual evidence of prophecies. I have chronicled 13 such events (excluding the one in blog 135) in blogs 102-3. A summary of them is in blog 114. Since many persons do not have access to computer, I will restate the summary here:

 

               How can anybody tell the future which has not been made yet? To have my grandfather buried in the same grave with his son, required a colossal event to happen, in which millions suffered. For Swami Vivekananda to see the event of the silver cup 43 years in advance, only a Divine power had to be involved. How did Swami Yukteswar know that the veterinarian will fall ill soon, recover, and die 6 months later? How did he know that Yogananda will be fed strawberries in America? And Kashi did die, as predicted.

               How can one explain the vision of the teacher putting a garland of flowers on the president’s neck and receiving a check; Baroda Babu’s telling Dilip Kumar Roy, 12 years in advance, that he will have to wait for Indra Devi to join him as his disciple for his real progress, and also telling him about what Sri Aurobindo advised him regarding his hernia.

               One does not have any explanation of Indra Devi’s vision of the pilot dying in crash one year in advance and then his spirit coming to Indra.

                Brother Lawrence predicted on Friday, that he will die on Monday (blog 15-7). That is how it happened.

                In blog 91, I have narrated the incident of Paul Brunton meeting Chandi Das. Chandi Das, reluctantly, narrated some incidents of Brunton’s future. Some of them came true, by the time book was published.

 

What are the possible explanations of prophecies?

 

1.  All these anecdotes of prophecies are false. They never happened.

2. The anecdotes are true, but the predicted events were made to occur, when their time came, by some powerful living persons or spirits.

3. The causes or signs of future start appearing in the present, from them the future can be predicted.

4. The people who predicted, had the ability to travel in the future

5.  There is a parallel world, which is a copy of our world, like the image in a mirror (or we are the image). It is ahead of us in time. Whatever will happen in future over here has already happened in the other world. Therefore access to that world enables us to know our future.

 

Now, let us examine these speculations in greater detail.

 

1.   All these anecdotes of prophecies are false. These episodes have been carefully selected by this mote. I heard the story of my grandfather and uncle, from the lips of my mother (blog 102). Mr Dickenson told the story of silver cup many times, and Sri Yogananda, being a man of God, would not have chronicled it in his autobiography, were it false. The source of other anecdotes (3-8, in blog 102) is also written by Sri Yogananda in his book. I, myself, talked to the teacher who put garland of flowers, around the president’s neck. He verified it. I, myself, talked to the seer who foresaw the seven lottery numbers. The other episodes are also taken from the books of men of God, like Paul Brunton, Brother Lawrence, and Dilip Kumar Roy. So all these episodes are authentic.

There is a valid criticism, that all of these episodes are hearsay or could have been fabricated by the authors, themselves. I have not mentioned a single episode, watched by me, or experienced by me. I have no answer to this argument. Maybe God will one day grant me such an episode. But it still will not answer the criticism, because how will the readers know that I am not making it up.

 

To be continued

 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


138. Fate versus Free Will. Part Five.

 

Hypothesis Two. Free Will. It states that Humans are masters of their own fate. They have free will. Future is not pre-ordained. It is not written in stars. It is not decreed by God. All events, without exception, happen by the interaction between free will, nature and chance (chance is actually one of the manifestations of nature)

The two tier system proposed by religion and mystics ( such as Ramakrishna ), according to which some events, such as birth, death and some other major events in one’s life, are decreed by God, while the rest are in the hands of the individual through his exercise of free will, is rejected by hypothesis two. Let us read what the great saint Sri Ramakrishna said (1):

 

“Is there anyone who has free will or anything like that? It is by God’s will alone that everything has always happened and shall happen……man understands it in the long run.

Just as, when a cow is tied to a post with long tether, it can go to a distance of one cubit, or it can go up to the full length of the tether according to its choice, so too is the free will of the man….God has given man some power and freedom to utilize it as he likes.

That is why the man feels himself free……

And mark this: if anyone prays to Him in all humility. He may remove him to another place and tie him there; or he may lengthen the tether or even remove it completely from the neck.”

 

We asked, “Does the man have no duty or responsibility?”

“………………..He does not give one more power, if the little that is given is not properly used. This is why individual effort and perseverance are necessary. Don’t you see, everyone has to make some effort? however small, before he gets God’s grace?”

 

But this mote rejects that. All events, since the creation of universe have been happening without the intervention of God. They have been the result of natural events, as explained in blogs 97-99.

 

Everything happens according to the law of cause and effect. Let me repeat what I had already written in blog 102:

According to the law of cause and effect, an action takes place because a preceding action caused it. The first action is called the cause, while the second action, which is the result of the first action, is the effect. For instance, a ball is climbing up the sky. It is climbing up because somebody threw it. Throwing the ball is the cause of the ball climbing up.

It is a fundamental law of nature that the cause precedes the effect. When we will discuss time travel, a well known paradox is mentioned, called the ‘grandfather paradox’. If it was possible to travel in the past, one could kill one’s grandfather before one’s father was born. But then one could not be born to kill the grandfather. The solution to the paradox is that his existence (the cause) has to precede the killing (the effect). So it cannot happen. Time travel in the past is not possible.

Sorry for this digress.

If that is true then nobody should be able to tell future, because it does not exist. It does not exist because it has not been made yet.

But I have narrated in previous blogs (blogs 102-3) thirteen prophecies. We will tackle this contradiction sometimes later.

When I talk of forecasting future, I mean the part of future which cannot be told by any scientific means. Weather is predicted fairly accurately by meteorologists. If somebody has boarded a nonstop train going to London, there are fairly good chances of him being in London sometimes later (barring some unforeseen event). Scientists can predict solar and lunar eclipses very accurately. Doctors are fairly accurate in predicting the approximate date or week of a baby’s birth. We know that Halley’s Comet last appeared in the inner Solar System in 1986 and will next appear in mid-2061.

 

What cannot be told are the seven numbers in exact sequence which would be the winning numbers in the live drawing of a lottery at some future date?
 
( mentioned above in blog 135)

 

Now, let us quote again the objections to hypothesis one (blog 135) and see if hypothesis two can explain them:

 

1. It does not explain evil

2. It does not explain injustice

3. Makes God, indifferent, cruel and unjust

4. Why is God hidden?

5. If everything is preordained by God, then what is the purpose of creation by God?

6. It flies against our daily experience of events happening due to free will.

7. Does not explain the cruelty of predator animals to prey.

8. All human effort is completely useless.

 

Objection 1-3 are regarding evil, injustice, and cruelty. Hypothesis two easily dismisses them, because they were not created by God. All these are man made. As regards to why God is hidden, is because God had to be hidden, for mankind to reach their full potential. If a Father figure of God was always hovering around, who mankind could consult, the growth of human race would be stunted, like that of a child who refuses to grow up.

Statements 5-6 do not apply in hypothesis two.

Predators and preys in animal kingdom are the result of the race for the survival of the fittest and other aspects of evolution, as explained in Blog 99. Statement 8 does not apply in hypothesis two.

 

To be continued

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­__________________________________________________________________________________

(1) Sri Ramakrishna, the great master, Volume one By Swami Saradananda, page 94

 

 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


137. Fate versus Free Will. Part Four

 

We were discussing the arguments against Fate.

 

8.  All human effort is completely useless. It seems to be a startling statement but it is true. As discussed in previous blog, in hypothesis one (Fate), God is like the writer, producer and director of a play. Just as the actors in a play have no independence; they say their lines and act, as directed, so in the drama of the world, nobody has any independence. We are like puppets, in the hands of the puppeteer.

 

Religious scholars have tried to get around this notion, by ascribing a two-tier system. A part determined by God, which is unchangeable, and a part carved by humans, themselves, through the agency of free will. Since it involves free will it does not belong here in hypothesis one. It won’t be discussed here anymore.

 

One wonders if the evidence against Fate is so overwhelming, why some people still cling to it.

Three reasons:

1 It has gone into human psyche, after thousands of years of belief

2. If you don’t want to act, it supports inaction.

3. It is a consoling factor.

 

  1. For thousands of years (before Darwin) everyone agreed that everything was created by God and God was omnipotent. So it was natural to ascribe most events to God. Palmistry and Astronomy also supported the existence of fate or destiny. Since Copernicus and Darwin, at least in the West, pendulum has swung in the other direction, and Free will is held paramount, but still it is in our genes.

2. It supports inaction. A scene in the epic movie ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ illustrated this point:

 

“They cross the Nefud Desert, considered impassable even by the Bedouins, travelling day and night on the last stage to reach water. A soldier accidently falls off his camel unnoticed during the night. He is lost. The Arabs don’t think it is prudent, or even possible, to go back and get the soldier. But Lawrence wants to go back. That means everybody will have to wait for Lawrence for hours; a foolhardy and impractical notion. His allies insist that the man’s death has already been written from heat, thirst and exhaustion.

Lawrence goes back in the desert and retrieves the man. On return, he pointedly says to Omar Sharif; “Nothing is written”(bold letters are mine )

A great saint like Swami Ramdas also advocated inaction (1). His ex-wife was telling him that their daughter needs to be married, while she (the ex-wife) did not have a penny. I quote:

 

He listened to her with a cool indifference and said

               “Why do you worry over the matter? God’s will is supreme. All things happen as He wills and at the time determined by Him”

               “How can you say so? Do you mean to say that human effort has no value”? She retorted.

               “Human effort” he replied “is necessary only to learn that human effort as such is useless and God’s will alone is the real power that controls and brings about all events ( italics are mine ). When you realize this truth, human effort ceases and divine will starts its work in you, and then you do all things in the soul, liberated from care, fear and sorrow. This is the real life to be attained. So leave all things to the Lord by complete surrender to Him”

3.  If life has been especially harsh to you. If you have been dealt a bad hand, if sorrow and misery has eaten your soul, if despite your best effort you have been unsuccessful in achieving your heart-felt desire, your single greatest aim in life, then you may console yourself that it was written in the stars. It was in your fate, destiny or kismet.

___________________________________________________________________________________

(1). In the vision of God. Volume 1, by Swami Ramdas

 

 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


 136. Fate versus Free Will. Part Three

 

We were discussing the arguments against Fate.

 

3. It makes God, indifferent, cruel and unjust. There is cruelty, injustice, hunger, poverty, disease, and natural calamities, like earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, droughts, tornadoes and hurricanes. If everything is decreed by God, then is it not logical to hold God responsible for all of the above? If you believe in the hypothesis of Fate, then the best you can say in God’s defense is that he is indifferent, or He does not know, or He died. If He died then the universe and the earth are running on its own. The inhabitants of earth are responsible for their affairs. But that is hypothesis two (Free will). Same would be true if God did not know, because the mankind must be managing their affairs on their own.

 

If God was indifferent, then we have to imagine a scenario in which we envision God responsible for all the miseries that have been mentioned above and not caring about them. It would be like us, killing millions of animals every day for food, and billions of insects and microbes to make our life better. I have seen the kindest hearted persons devouring meat and killing mosquitoes and flies. How is it that we don’t think about it? Because we get desensitized to it. Maybe God has become desensitized too. At least, in our case we are compelled to do so because we need food and are protecting ourselves from disease and discomfort. There is no such justification for God. He need not worry about food or discomfort. And moreover he created the insects and microbes.

Can God be indifferent? The closest example is that of a writer of a play. Suppose the writer is also the producer, and director of the play. Whatever, the actors will do or say on stage, how the plot proceeds, how the drama ends, is what the writer has willed them to do. Can such a writer (and in this case also the producer and director) who wrote the minutest detail of the play be indifferent? No it is not possible. An indifferent writer would be an oxymoron, like hot ice. Let me quote Darwin again: “To this day, if I hear a distant scream, it recalls with painful vividness my feelings, when passing a house near Pernambuco, I heard the most pitiable moans, and could not but suspect that some poor slave was being tortured”

 

God created those pitiable moans. God spilled the milk (see blog 134), in Maugham’s novel; ….. because all the forces of the universe were bent on spilling it.”

 

Therefore, God is neither dead, nor indifferent. He is not responsible for all the miseries. We and a blind nature are responsible. And we have free will

 

4. Why is God hidden? His being hidden from us would only make sense, if he wanted us to live on our own, without the interference of any higher power. As if either there was no God, or if there was a God, He set everything in motion 13.8 billion years ago (see blogs 100-101).  The experiment, in our world, and billions of other planets with life, may proceed for other billions of years. We will discuss it in more detail when we discuss the hypothesis number two of Free Will

 

5. If everything is preordained by God, then what is the purpose of creation by God? Our job is not to find the purpose of creation by God, because with our limited intelligence we may never find it. Our purpose, now, is to determine, if a meaningful purpose can be ascribed to God, in hypothesis number one (Fate). According to this hypothesis God is like a play writer who is also producer and director. The outcome of the play is known to the writer. There is no suspense, unlike it is for a scientist who is setting up an extremely long and complicated experiment, for the first time, and does not know what the outcome would be. Whole drama (written by the play writer) becomes useless and rather silly.

 

Furthermore, this hypothesis will make God (the writer of the play) cruel, unjust and sadist. We will then sympathize with Swedenborg, the Swede, who said: “if I could only find that arch-tyrant God, who created so much misery in the world, I would strangle him to death”

 

6. It flies against our daily experience of events happening due to free will. This point has already been discussed. There is no evidence to support hypothesis one, except prophecies. Prophecies will be discussed again in Free will hypothesis.

 

7. Does not explain the cruelty of predator animals to prey. There is cruelty in animal kingdom. I think it was Darwin who remarked “Every living organism eats other organisms or is being eaten by it”

Now it is completely normal in nature. Predators have to kill other animals to survive. But all the animals that become prey, suffer, even if it is for few minutes. Ask yourself, would you like to be a deer being chased by couple of panthers. You run and run, but are caught by the predators and thrown on the jungle floor. They may start eating you while you are still alive. Or, how would you like to be a bird being carried away in the talons, which are digging in your body like iron nails, of the predator. Have you seen a cat playing with a bird for hours (I once saw our two household cats playing with a live mouse, like a soccer ball)? Bird predators have been known to throw fish in the sea from a height, and swooping in the water, catching the fish, and throwing it again and again, for sport.

Now, what if you are the author of this cruelty?

If you were the creator, you could easily have created a world, without carnivorous animal. Every animal could have an aversion to meat, like a cow or a horse. World would have been a peaceful place.

There is no excuse, whatsoever, in hypothesis one (Fate), for creation of carnivorous animals.

 

All living things arose by themselves, through the process of evolution, as I have explained in blog 99.

 

To be continued

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


135. Fate Versus Free Will. Part two

 

We were discussing the two causes of belief in fate

Prophecy or prediction of future events is a strong argument in destiny, and also God, as I have discussed in great detail in blog 102. If the future exists somewhere, then somebody wrote it, and that somebody can only be God. Nobody else is so powerful. How could Swami Vivekananda predict 43 years in advance that Mr Dickenson will receive a silver cup from his guru (blogs 79-81)? I have described 13 such prophecies in blogs 102-3. Events happened just as they were predicted years in advance. The ability of Chandi Das to go blank for few minutes and then tell Paul Brunton (blog 91) what was going to happen to him, strongly supports the notion that a scene of future was brought to the inner eye of Chandi Das, just as the scene of Sri Yogananda eating strawberries in America, years later, was brought to the mind’s eye of Sri Yukteswar.

One may say, that it would really add to our knowledge, if instead of guessing what transpires, we would know for certain what happens. In other words the person who has the ability to see future, shares it with others. This mote has the privilege of having this knowledge, because the seer shared it with me.

 

A seer wanted to test whether he can see the future in advance. There was a lottery which had live drawing of the numbers, on TV, next day. He used some spiritual procedure, after following its stipulations. After some time, like a flash, one number came. He wrote it down. He concentrated again, and the next number came, in a similar flash. The lottery had seven numbers. One by one, he got all the seven numbers. Next day he watched the live drawing on TV. His seven numbers were correct. He never repeated it, due to the following reasons:

               a. He became quite sick. These practices take a lot out of a person.

               b. He was strongly warned by higher powers, never to do it again. God’s laws, such as hiding the future, are for important reasons. To look into future, without God’s permission, is against God’s plans

 

You may argue that these prophecies do not necessarily prove that God willed all events to happen as they actually happened; he just knows them in advance. In other words, due to his infinite mind, he has foreknowledge of everything, but he does not make it happen. Events happen by free will and chance.

 

This is a valid point; we will discuss it when we discuss free will.

 

Now, let us discuss the arguments against fate:

 

1. It does not explain evil

2. It does not explain injustice

3. Makes God, indifferent, cruel and unjust

4. Why is God hidden?

5. If everything is preordained by God, then what is the purpose of creation by God?

6. It flies against our daily experience of events happening due to free will.

7. Does not explain the cruelty of predator animals to prey.

8. All human effort is completely useless.

 

Let us discuss each point.

1.It does not explain evil in this world. Everybody has heard of Holocaust. There is no greater example of pure evil, on a large scale, in modern human history. If God is responsible for all events then He is responsible for Holocaust. This mote has never in all his life, for even a moment, thought that my beloved God is responsible for any evil. We ourselves ( Nazi Germans in the case of Holocaust) and an indifferent, neutral Nature is responsible. However, my sentiments are not a substitute of argument. The argument is that God could not have created Holocaust because an infinite, limitlessly powerful mind would neither have the need nor derive any pleasure from the slow sufferings of millions of persons. It has to be the system which created such evil philosophy. Since human beings ( Hitler ) created that philosophy, so human beings are responsible. If humans are responsible then they acted by their free will. If that is the case then hypothesis one ( Fate ) is wrong and hypothesis two ( Free will ) is right, as we will discuss later when we examine hypothesis two.

2. It does not explain injustice in this world. We all have seen examples of injustice. Powerful, cruel, and selfish people thrive, while weak and righteous suffer. One sees hordes of professional beggars in India and Pakistan, their bodies distorted from poverty and disease. Some are born blind or crippled and their whole life passes in grief. Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Khan led lives of power and comfort. All of them died without suffering. Beating and cruelty to slaves was common in the past. I quote Darwin (1):

 

I feel glad that this happened in the land of the Brazilians, for I bear them no good will - a land also of slavery, and therefore of moral debasement...On the 19th of August we finally left the shores of Brazil, I thank God, I shall never again visit a slave-country. To this day, if I hear a distant scream, it recalls with painful vividness my feelings, when passing a house near Pernambuco, I heard the most pitiable moans, and could not but suspect that some poor slave was being tortured, yet knew that I was as powerless as a child even to remonstrate. I suspected that these moans were from a tortured slave, for I was told that this was the case in another instance. Near Rio de Janeiro I lived opposite to an old lady, who kept screws to crush the fingers of her female slaves. I have stayed in a house where a young household mulatto, daily and hourly, was reviled, beaten, and persecuted enough to break the spirit of the lowest animal. I have seen a little boy, six or seven years old, struck thrice with a horse-whip (before I could interfere) on his naked head, for having handed me a glass of water not quite clean; I saw his father tremble at a mere glance from his master's eye. These latter cruelties were witnessed by me in a Spanish colony, in which it has always been said, that slaves are better treated than by the Portuguese, English, or other European nations. I have seen at Rio de Janeiro a powerful negro afraid to ward off a blow directed, as he thought, at his face. I was present when a kind-hearted man was on the point of separating forever the men, women, and little children of a large number of families who had long lived together

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________(1) Voyage of the beagle by Charles Darwin (1839), chapter V

 

To be continued

 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


134. Fate Versus Free Will . Part one

 

This is one of the knottiest problems of all times.

Mankind has thought about it for centuries. I have no intention of stating what philosophers, scientists, rationalists and religious scholars have said about it. I will discuss this problem in an entirely different light; the insight of mysticism. Right at the outset, I want to state that, despite years of thought, I have not arrived at any solution. I think it is an insoluble problem. It ends in a paradox, which I will state somewhere. Let this mote start with stating the two theories. Then the pros and cons of each hypothesis will be examined.  We will see if one or both hypothesis can be rejected

 

Hypothesis. Fate. According to this hypothesis, in its pure and extreme form, everything is predetermined. What a person will do during his life has been determined before his birth, by God (1-2). I quote from al-Ashqar:

 

               The central knowledge of Allah, by which He ruled that He would create whatever He wanted to exist, and……………….. He wrote down all of that in Al-Lau hal-Mahfooz ‘the preserved tablet’ in His words. So the heavens and the earth…….and everything in between them and in them___ all of that is preserved in the Al-Lauh al-Mahfooz.

               The creation of whatever Allah, the Almighty, has decreed should exist, according to His prior knowledge and what was written by His pen; whatever happens in reality is identical to that prior, written knowledge.

In other words, God has decreed all things as they will be.

 

To a modern man it is a preposterous notion. Nobody infringes on his independence. If this hypothesis was true then he was a mere puppet. He does not for a moment thinks that he is a puppet. Moreover it flies against one’s own daily experience. Let us say I want to move my arm. I think about it and will my arm to move, and it moves. I do not have to get permission from anybody. All our actions are our own. We usually have multiple choices; we choose one of them, for whatever reasons

 

But others, who have thought about free will a little more deeply, have come to a different conclusion. They think that free will is an illusion. In other words we think that we have free will but in reality we do not. It is a mere illusion. This passage from Somerset Maugham’s novel ‘of human bondage’ illustrates this point:

At last Philip said: “Well, I can’t say anything about other people. I can only speak for myself. The illusion of free will is so strong in my mind that I can’t get away from it, but I believe it is only an illusion. But it is an illusion which is one of the  strongest motives of my actions. Before I do anything I feel that I have choice, and that influences what I do; but afterwards, when the thing is done, I believe that it was inevitable from all eternity.”

“What do you deduce from that?” asked Hayward.

“Why, merely the futility of regret. It’s no good crying over spilt milk, because all the forces of the universe were bent on spilling it.”

I had read these passage decades ago, and at that time was struck by its novelty. Why do Philip and others arrive at that conclusion? I believe for two reasons:

First, they think it was determined as such. It was in their destiny. It was written in the stars. If there were two choices to a possible action, and they took option number one, they were destined to choose option number one. Had they taken option number two, they were, since all eternity, chosen to take option number two.

The other reason is that one is a product of nature and nurture. Our nature is made by the genes that we inherit; half the genes from one’s father and the other half from one’s mother. We are nurtured by where we are born and where we are raised. Our parents, our teachers, our peers, the environment surrounding us, are the predominant forces that mould our character____all during childhood. We have absolutely no independence during nature or nurture. Nobody asks us where you want to be born? Where you want to be raised? Who should be your parents?

Therefore, although it appears that we perform actions according to our own free will, how much of that free will was made by the twin forces of nature and nurture_____both, as we have determined, were beyond our control. That is why the character of Philip said that the free will is an illusion.

Now, let us examine the evidence and the arguments in support of fate

1. The hypothesis of fate has been handed down to us through religious books and scriptures. John Calvin in Christianity, Ibn Tamiyah in Islam, Swami Vivekananda in Hinduism(3), believed in it and their beliefs were derived from their scriptures. Partial support is also found in Judaism.

However, since this mote does not regard scriptures as evidence or argument, he is going to completely disregard it.

2. Some persons have been able to tell future events. That means future exists somewhere, which these persons have the ability to read (or see )

To be continued


 

(1)  “Divine will and predestination” by Umar S. al-Ashqar

(2) Majmoo’ al-Fattawa by Ibn Taymiyah

(3) Swami Vivekananda (1907) "Sayings and utterances".. “Therefore we see at once that there cannot be any such thing as free-will; the very words are a contradiction, because will is what we know, and everything that we know is within our universe, and everything within our universe is molded by conditions of time, space and causality. ... To acquire freedom we have to get beyond the limitations of this universe; it cannot be found here”