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



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