Fate, Free-will and Religions
Shahid Saleem Butt
Fate has been the subject of interest for almost all religions of the world and we can find different commandments relating to fate, destiny and free-will in the scriptures of varying religions. Fate and freewill have varying meanings in different religions.
It has been a pretty hard puzzle for thinkers throughout the history of the world to think about reconciling ‘free will’ with fatality (or deterministic view). This dilemma of determinism has caught the attention of many people across the globe.
The problem of free-will and determinism has confused people believing in different theologies and they make the dominant part of the Earth.
You may study Buddhism, Hinduism, ancient civilizations, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism or any other religion to get the answers to the question. You may also study modern scientific knowledge of Quantum Physics, Physics, Genetics, Brain, Heart, Cosmos, etc., to explain various instances from real life to explain the issue.
Fate, in Greece, had a specific role not only in the lives of human beings but also in the lives of gods as we find the Delphic Oracle saying to inquirers, “no one, not even the god, can escape his appointed fate.”
Greek literature shows us people’s belief in fate, free-will and different chance happenings.
Religions call Fate and Destiny to be controlled by God. Ancient Greeks regarded fate unchangeable and controlled by the gods, Moirai and Zeus. The Gnostics had firm belief in unchangeable fate. Judaism and Christianity consider God as the master of fate with freewill occurring as per God’s desire.
Varying religions give importance to fatalism or determinism and freewill in different percentages.
The incident of the Fall of Man described in many religions including Judaism, Christianity and Islam tells us about the choice of obedience and disobedience that was given to Adam and Eve. Although some followers may argue about God’s pre-knowledge of the course of events, but still He gave them the choice to remain in paradise or to move to Earth. The result of their wrong choice was already told; they chose to disobey and brought sufferings not only for themselves but also for their progeny.
References from Taurah and Bible
“He who sows wickedness reaps trouble” (Proverbs 22:8a).
“All hard work brings a profit, / but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23).
“Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you” (Romans 13:3).
“This is the fate of those who trust in themselves” (Psalm 49:13).
“A man who commits adultery lacks judgment; / whoever does so destroys himself” (Proverbs 6:32).
“Each person was judged according to what he had done” (Revelation 20:13).
“A man’s own folly ruins his life, / yet his heart rages against the LORD” (Proverbs 19:3).
“Be not faithless, but believing” (John 20:27; see also Acts 16:31; 19:4).
God is all-powerful, sovereign and His Providence knows no bounds. He kept many matters in His Hands by writing them in the Loh-e-Mehfooz (Book of Decrees) and for some other matters produced choices for His followers. As human intellect is limited, He made it sure that the main course of events continue happening as per His plan whereas to pass human beings through tests, he gave them free-will to choose between the right and the wrong.