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”