The unsolved mystery: fate or freewill?

Tristan Hughes ’19, Business/Ad Manager

Fate and freewill are two concepts that in definition are mutually exclusive. On one hand, is the idea that everything is predetermined and that our life path is set in stone with no opportunities to make independent choices. On the other hand is the concept that humans are free to choose our own path. If one of these philosophies has to be true, which one is it?

Hard determinism, the main concept of fate, is described by Kevin Madigan, the Harvard professor of ecclesiastical (Christian church and clergy) history as, “the viewpoint that all choices and occurrences are predetermined by previous and past events.” Hard determinism is often paired with the concept of reductionism which is the idea that every event can be traced back to one single event. If this was true, and hard determinism was proved to be a fact, it would mean that humans do not have free will.

On the contrary, the main concept behind free will is libertarian free will. This is the idea that every person has the ability to make their own choices with no outside interference. People who believe in free will often cite that as long as we feel free we might as well be meaning that we as humans do in fact have free will.

Many people who are religious often claim that their life is predetermined by God and thus they do not have freewill. However, many agnostic or atheistic people believe that they have complete control over their actions. Junior Lucas Ponsock, after long contemplation, said, “I would like to believe that I have control over my actions, but it just might not be true.” Ponsock then brought up the point that all of our actions are determined by chemical reactions in our brains and past events in our memories thus we technically are not acting freely. But, then again, if we feel like we can make our own choices, who is to say we can’t?

Although it is impossible for these two concepts to be acting at the same time, it is also impossible to prove either side as false. As long as humans continue to feel free in their actions, then the concept of free will will last forever. In the same way, as long as humans continue to believe in religion or a higher power, the idea of fate will live on for generations.

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