Philosophy and Psychology29 Nov 2012 05:57 pm

We humans seem to be fond of engaging in half thoughts which due to their nature are blind to their implications and ramifications. While entertaining incomplete ideas is both convenient and somewhat inevitable the crazy part is we often choose these partial thoughts to form the cornerstone and bedrock of how we define and view life.

Due to our dependence on these beliefs and incomplete thoughts we often adopt fundamental ideas on the essence of human existence which are inherently contradictory if not mutually exclusive to each other or to our expereince of life.

Our ideas regarding capital “T” Truth is one example. While science and religion may argue who is the actual custodian of the Truth, they both seem to share the same basic idea on Truth. Truth, in both realms deals explicitly or implicitly with certainty. In most cases this uncontestable certainty is professed to be eternal. Many believe that something can only claim to be True if it is an expression of universal law. Truth founded on universal law can pertain to both physical and moral matters. Truth based in eternal law is the very definition of certainty.

One of the fundamental Truth’s of both science and religion is in the fact that every action has an opposite and equal reaction. In religion it shows up in phrases such “as you sow so shall your reap”and in the concept of Karma, while in science it is the essence of not only the theory of relativity but is found in Isaac Newtons laws of motion. Viewing the universe as one big  predetermined and self-functioning machine has been a rather persistent Truth for much of man’s history.

In religion you don’t have to believe in reincarnation to be a proponent of predestination. Most monotheistic religions or those involving a creator have a tendency to make the creator perfect and infalliable. The creation itself has an inner design and purpose which must be played out and fulfilled.

A perfect god can only create a perfect world and there can be no room for surprises in the execution of his infinite wisdom and knowledge. The monotheistic god is a perfect and absolute god, and therefore, by definition, a compete and total god lacking nothing.

The world formed by an absolute prefect creator has little room for chance or free will. Likewise, a universe based on cause and effect has no room for accidents. In both cases life is fated and predetermined. If all is cause and effect than all is fated and predetermined. In the mechanical world of universal law of Einstein or Newton all action is fated by the execution of the laws that apply to every action. In such a mechanical world of certainty and Truth is there room for inventive action or free thought?

In the world of religion and science, of certainty and truth, all life is just on giant script that plays out ad infinitum. If every action has an opposite and equal reaction, then what choice do I have than to respond to every stimuli in the way that has been planned out?

The contradictory role of free will is demonstrated in the creation stories such as Adam and Eve, Gilgamesh and many others. These stories all feature the fall of man to explain man’s misfortune as he destroys the perfect Eden in which he was cast. Yet, how else could man exhibit his free will but to disobey or disregard the laws of the creator? If he followed the script without fail he would never assert his identity. Only by an ad lib could man distinguish and separate himself from god. Yet, if god is perfect, than any deviation from his will is impossible or a sin.

So, in the world of Truth and certainty there is no room for free will and choice. In the world of cause and effect and universal law, all is predestined and any feeling of choice or free will is an illusion.

How does one rectify the concept of an expanding universe with the status quo of relativity? How does one find a logical basis for human creativity, error, problem solving or choice? How does one even explain how a human created from a perfect god could even entertain the idea of thinking and deciding on his own? The answer to these questions seems to be that they don’t. There is no explanation since these implications and ramifications of the original half thoughts are never explored.

Yet, despite this logical conclusion both science and religion seem to claim that humans have a free will and can and do make choices. In the world of half thoughts all is possible even when it is logically impossible and inconsistent. The goal of these half thoughts was to create a world of certainty and Truth. Additional thoughts are judged and valued by their ability to support and prove certainty and Truth. Inconsistencies are glossed over in the case of religion by mystery, and belief. In science inconsistencies are avoided by collecting data, devising theories and engaging in experiments which support one horn of the dilemma at a time.

The real irony is that while cerrtainty and Truth were devised to provide life with meaning, they (when fully explored and thought through) actually strip and deprive life of meaning. While concepts such as purpose and responsibility are akin to certainty and Truth, meaning is more suited to a flawed and finite human existence.

In a world of certainty and Truth there are expectations, in a world of meaning there is growth, development and progress. When one discovers the Truth one’s journey is over, if one finds the answer to life there are no more questions. Yet, human life derives its joy and meaning from a journey never complete, from never ending layers and perspectives to uncover and explore.

In my book, Exploring Intimacy, which you can read on this site, I explore the rich and inexhaustible process of becoming increasingly familiar with life, knowledge, yourself and others. Becoming intimate with something is not a one way street of getting physically closer to, but an endless array of perspectives both telescopic and microscopic of isolated and in context. Life could be lived for centuries and not be exhausted. Purpose, certainty and Truth are fairly one dimensional while meaning is onmideminsional and indefatigable.

The fear which seems to motivate the need for Truth is that without certainty life would become meaningless and chaotic. A universe without law is considered random and unliveable. Yet, in reality the choice is not binary, It is isn’t a case of either or.

The space between certainty and chaos is not empty ether, but rather one teeming with real life. It isn’t the conceptual ideal world of Truth or Platonic Ideals, rather the real lived world of flesh, feeling and thought. Between certainty and chaos lies the enire world of probability, pattern, chance, intimacy, growth, creativity and opportunity.

The following chart is my attempt at making a clearer distinction between certainty/truth and meaning/intimacy. As you can see I started with contrasting purpose and meaning, but many of the other terms listed below could have headed each column. The words in each column are not a point by point contrast with the words in the other column. Yet, I do feel it gives you a pretty good feeling for the two basic ways of being and living in the world.

Please read each column and see which one feels more like the world you would want to live. Which one promises the most joy and satisfacrtion?

Yet, for me the beauty is in the fact that at each moment we are able to choose which way we are framing and coloring our experience. In my life, I have found the right hand column more to my liking.


Purpose                                                                           Meaning

Fulfillment of role/function                                    Significance

Pre-ordained design                                                  Discovery

Fate                                                                           Free Will

Knowledge                                                                    Wisdom

Certainty                                                                 Probability/Permutations

Truth                                                                       Functioning Premises

Karma                                                                        Variability

Destiny                                                                      Creativity

Absolute                                                                      Relative

Eternal/fixed                                                                 Historical/malleable

Metaphysics                                                                   Process

Positivism                                                                       Phenomenology

Interpret/analyze experience                                    Describe experience

transcend humanity (overcome, transmute)         Embrace, unfold,  humanity

Perfection                                                                       Self-actualization

enlightenment                                                              longevity and joy

Assume/believe                                                          deduce/construct

universal law                                                               patterns and cycles

goal                                                                                 intention



Jim Guido



4 Responses to “Fate and Free Will”

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  2. on 01 Dec 2012 at 8:51 am Guido

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  3. on 03 Dec 2012 at 9:51 am vivahaparichayavedika

    Thank you for the great information. Your work is great.

  4. on 06 Feb 2013 at 4:43 pm Willa Sears

    Synonyms: certainty, certitude, assurance, conviction These nouns mean freedom from doubt. Certainty implies a thorough consideration of evidence: “the emphasis of a certainty that is not impaired by any shade of doubt” (Mark Twain). Certitude is based more on personal belief than on objective facts: “Certitude is not the test of certainty” (Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.) Assurance is a feeling of confidence resulting from subjective experience: “There is no such thing as absolute certainty, but there is assurance sufficient for the purposes of human life” (John Stuart Mill). Conviction arises from the vanquishing of doubt: “His religion . . . was substantial and concrete, made up of good, hard convictions and opinions. (Willa Cather).

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