ation vs. Chance die. Admittedly in a somewhat vague sense of the word whatever the internet might have you believe, no website can belch out the death dates of every member of the human race - but predetermined all the same. And yet there are those who subscribe to a far more definite idea of predetermination, those who believe that everyone has a preordained path, that life is a series of inevitabilities; inevitable because they have been decided by some higher power, prodded into realisation by Fate’s hand. “Everything happens for a reason.” “It was meant to be.” “Que sera, sera,” for the sophisticates; simply, “it’s Fate,” for economists of language. These statements
have been rendered trite by dint of common usage but their embedded position in our language indicates the existence of a latent belief system in our increasingly secular society: belief in an undefined higher power, affiliated to no particular religion, who dictates the individual fates of each of his earthly minions. Some dispel Fate as nonsense and this belief system has its own similarly trite tenets: ‘Life is what you make of it’; ‘Choose your own path.’ Etcetera. But the mere existence of an antiFate argument reeks of the attack that is the best form of defence: Fate is a human preoccupation, something that needs to be argued away
because it shakes our certainty in ourselves. If fate exists, it is something we cannot control, something much bigger than we can comprehend and that is ineffably frightening. The idea that there is such a thing as inevitability is terrifying because it places life intangibly out of reach; and when something bad happens, when the Fates aren’t kind, you find yourself pitted against an inexorable enemy whom you cannot defeat. There is safety in the inevitability of life’s passage; its provision of accepted truths we cannot deny. But there is also an unutterable terror in believing that we are subject to an inevitable order. There is safety in simplicity. But finding simplicity beggars possibility.
dramatically. On a quantum level, nothing is certain. We are told that the addition of an observer changes the phenomenon being observed. We are told that the more certain we become about one physical value, the less sure we become of another. It’s been said that these discoveries do not just show the world to be stranger than we think, but stranger than we can think. The deterministic universe described by Newton becomes a blur of probabilities. Regardless about how things are on a quantum or microscopic level, the macroscopic still can, and does, appear to be random. But the human mind has a remarkable capacity to read meaning into apparently random events. We see faces
in cloud forms, we think there’s something behind the coincidental meeting, that fate somehow brought you together. People believe in a contradictory God, to
developed the capacity to see more than there is. The mind projects itself onto the surrounding environment. But our society is different. What was originally a survival trait can hamper us today. We forget that the way the world appears to us is a projection. We worry about every little detail, draw conclusions from the smallest of gestures etc. Even if we had the computing power needed to reduce the macro, to the apparently deterministic microscopic, the introduction of quantum mechanics still blurs certainties. The world, as it appears to the naked eye is, and will be, inevitably random. Instead of reading meaning into it, it would be nice if we could just roll with it every once in a while.
TO TRY AND GIVE MEANING TO THE MEANINGLESS. The mind try and explain this,
cannot fathom the extent of the randomness we are bombarded with every day; so we try not to, we attempt to explain it away. There is an evolutionary explanation to this, for prehistoric man, mistaking a piece of shadow for a snake meant little. But to step on a snake meant either pain or death. Whilst some animals evolved camouflage patterns, to hide in their surroundings, humans simultaneously
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