The Problem With Fate

A Common Belief

There are many people in the world who believe in the idea of fate. They find comfort in the idea that there is some degree of purpose or meaning for one’s everyday life. Because of such belief in fate or destiny, the realms of modern mysticism such as astrology have a steady following. The irony of such a desire is found in that many of these people who desire for some form of destiny caused by eternal forces will deny the existence of God.

A Brief History

However, it is impossible to separate the concepts of fate and destiny from the supernatural (how else is one’s destiny determined?). Historically, these concepts have roots in polytheistic idolatry. For instance, the Greeks believed in three sisters Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos( the Moirae) who are more commonly referred to as “the Fates”. These sisters were very much a part of the affairs of the lives of man, determining their time of birth, length of life, and chooser of the manner of man’s death respectively. Such a belief system was adopted also by the Romans (the Parcae) and the Germanic tribes (the Norns).

New Spin, Old Ideas

While most modern thinkers would dismiss such mysticism as having its place in the past (correctly), they seek some determiner of their destiny beyond this life (incorrectly). The real danger is when such an attitude is mixed with the truths about one’s own determination as a child of God.

It is true that there is a greater power than man in God and that He has power over all that exists. It is also true that God exerts some form of supernatural influence in order to shape the events of man (providence). What is unclear (and purposefully so) is how such influence is exerted or the shape it will take in the moment. It is very possible to see events that shaped one’s life for the better through God’s hand in the past, but the present remains decidedly unclear. Why is this the case? It is because providence is different than fate.

The Greatest Problem

The greatest problem with the concept of fate is a lack of free will. The Greeks believed in true fatalism that all events were merely “shaped by the gods”. These three cruel sisters made sport of poor mortal man. There is a temptation by some, however, to employ a similar belief to God: to believe that the events which surround His children are shaped solely by His whim. If this were true, the world would be a much better place. Instead, God has allowed His creation the ability to make choices in every instance, including whether to follow or even to believe in Him.

It is because of this reality of life that the Christian must take great care to avoid fatalism. While we are not the ultimate shapers of our existence, we control all the choices in our lives. Our choices have meaning, for good or for bad. We cannot blame fate for our troubles. Nor can we blame God.

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