Is There Such a Thing as Destiny?


wiseGEEK Writing Contest

Irrespective of what some philosophers may think, both destiny and free choice are real, and are not mutually exclusive.

To die one day is my destiny. To do good or bad while I am alive is my free choice. Any contradiction here?

The dual aspect of destiny/free choice can be explored on three fronts: spiritual, material and semantic.

Let us begin with the semantic approach.

The Webster's Dictionary defines destiny as "the power of fate" or "one's preordained lot". The same dictionary defines fate as the future of a person or persons. To illustrate this meaning, the dictionary quotes the following sentence: "It took the jury five minutes to settle his fate." In other words, fate is something that can be consciously dispensed with. And fate is destiny. Then destiny and free choice are not mutually exclusive. My point.

Coming to the material world, if everything is preordained then why put someone in jail for stealing? And if everything is free choice, then why can't that incarcerated person simply walk out of jail any time he or she wants?

Looking at it from a spiritual perspective, it is clear that every major religion of the world (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) accepts the co-existence of destiny and free choice. All theologies believe that human beings are destined for greatness. That is why they extol virtue and abhor immorality. All theologies also believe in free choice, else the concepts of reward and punishment, comeuppance and recompense, heaven, hell, all become meaningless.

One day, a friend of mine took me to a fortune-teller. After having his fortune read from his palms, my friend then turned to me and asked if I wanted my fortune told too. I refused, saying: "A man's destiny may be written in the lines of his hands but I believe that a man can change even the lines of his hands." The fortune teller looked at me and said: "If you can walk on fire then you can change the lines of your hand." I almost laughed. In the Islamic month of Muharram the Shiite Muslims mourn the martyrdom of Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet of Islam. This mourning takes different forms and one of them is that people walk on fire saying "O Hussain! O Hussain." I have seen children and adults voluntarily walk on fire bare-footed and I have later examined the soles of their feet and found them to be totally unharmed. So what does that mean? Destiny is not immutable and can be changed by faith? Possible.

In conclusion, destiny and free choice both co-exist in this world without any friction between them. However these concepts have been sheared, stressed, distorted and reshaped into tools of mischief by some.

Destiny provides a good excuse for bad behavior. Whenever conscience bothers any one who has done something wrong, destiny is the cushion he or she falls on. "What could I do? It was preordained that I steal this diamond brooch." Get the idea?

On the other hand, "free choice" is the crutch of those who advocate anarchy in every path of life. "Who the hell are you tell me pornography is bad? I am an adult and I have a free choice." Get the idea?

submitted by Ahmed Mir