A Future Without Destiny 6 comments

endless destiny

Over the past several years I’ve had a recurring conversation with family and friends and, in each instance, it’s been met with incredulity. Here’s a quick paraphrase of the conversation:

Friend/family member: “I’m so happy/sad/frustrated with [insert event here], it seems I’m destined for this.”

Me: “I don’t believe in destiny.”

Friend/family member: “Whaaaaaat?”

It happened again today. I realize for some the concept of destiny is romantic or comforting. For me, however, the belief in destiny absolves individuals of personal responsibility. Why take responsibility for your actions or for the condition of your life when you can simply chalk it up to destiny? According to that logic, you can’t be held responsible because you were already pre-ordained to do it. Sure, it’s great to believe winning the lottery or finding that perfect someone was destiny, but it doesn’t work so well when it comes to situations where you cheat on your significant other or hit and kill someone with your car.

Given the way Destiny’s book works, if I don’t believe in “him”, does that mean that he dissolves into the ether with his book of future events? Am I unwittingly dooming the future of all?

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6 thoughts on “A Future Without Destiny

  • Margie Calderone

    We were all given free will, therefore, our lives are in our own hands. Others may influence us, but in the end, it’s up to us to choose which path we take.

  • Randy

    I agree. Free will means our path is not pre determined. That’s why Eve ate the forbidden fruit. That’s why there is evil in the world. People choose their own path, and generally do a poor job at it.

  • TōB

    Free Will isn’t a guarantee. It’s comfortable and seems intuitive that we have agency, but at the moment the evidence is stacked against it. Studies show with brain scans that the mind makes decisions before the consciousness is aware of it (http://www.wired.com/2008/04/mind-decision/). You can make a strong case that instead of Free Will, our consciousness is just along for the ride and the illusion of agency is a post-hoc rationalization. There are lots of examples of absolutely bizarre rationalizations made to explain decisions made by broken brains (http://www.amazon.com/The-Tale-Dueling-Neurosurgeons-Revealed-ebook/dp/B00GG0GIXQ).

    While I don’t believe in Destiny any more than Pete, I’m also ambivalent about Free Will. For now I’m content to operate as though I have free will anyway, but with a reservation that keeps me up at night — that even that is not my decision to make.

    Nevertheless, I endeavor to do as I Will.


    • pcalderone

      An interesting follow-up to the Wired article is this one from livescience that revealed:

      Though the study is widely viewed as evidence against free will, Mele pointed out that the study participants’ brain activity accurately predicted their eventual decision only 60 percent of the time. In his view, this suggests people can consciously choose to override their brains’ predispositions.

      I’m still searching for some credible discussion more recent than 2012.

  • K

    “There are lots of examples of absolutely bizarre rationalizations made to explain decisions made by broken brains . . .”

    This Is The Story of My Life