Do we have free will or is everything predetermined by destiny?

Many people decide to accept one or the other, we have free will or we don’t have free will, which means everything is predetermined. In my opinion free will and determinism, which I call it destiny, are in fact two different things not connected to one another and so they do not exclude each other. Let me explain this with one simple example. Destiny is like a wall standing right there, and it just is. I am free to run toward that wall and crash or just run and then stop before getting hurt. I possess my own free will. Free will is in me and is my own decision. It is not related in any way with the existence of that wall. That wall doesn’t make my free will to go away and doesn’t cause free will either. However, the coexistence of both free will and destiny will moderate my actions.

We all have free will. Starting from the simplest things in life. Even a baby has free will at the moment he realizes that if he decides to raise his arm to grab the toy, he can do it. As we grow, things get more and more complicated when we have to decide which direction (path) to follow in life, to become a writer or to become a scientist, or a teacher. Should we marry and have kids or should we work toward our carrier first? These are all decisions that we make and which we have complete freedom over. Yet, life has proven that in many cases we come to a point that we have no choice but to follow a certain path in life, become a teacher instead of a scientist even though we willed to do differently. We get married and have kids even though we would have preferred the other way. So, circumstances in many cases work against us and seems like we had no choice. I believe that things happen for a reason. This reason is never so clear to us. After some time passes we may or may not become aware of why things happen that way. So my conclusion is that we have free will within confines of destiny, and that’s how life happens.

Applying our free will within confines of destiny is like a little child that first learns to walk. Parents create a fenced area for the child to keep him safe. This child believes that he has a lot of freedom and free will. This little world, inside the squared fence full of toys, keeps him busy and is his kingdom. And the child is happy and engaged in different activities for a while, but then when the child becomes aware of other things, very compelling, outside the fence, the child starts demanding to reach those new things. In that moment the child realizes that he doesn’t have as much freedom as he previously thought to have. This makes the child angry and causes him to complain, demanding to have more freedom. So, after a while when the parent is convinced that the child has grown enough, and knows how to stay away from dangerous things that could cause injuries, then the parent takes the fence down. The more our children grow the more we give them freedom so they can make their own decisions.

In comparing to the above example, life as adults is not much different. We do have freedom, but destiny decides the territory where this free will applies. However, the fenced area is not so obvious and with our own free will we could decide to break the fence or obstacles that prevent us to fulfill our plans/goals. Yes we could break those fences, but why were these boundaries put there in the first place? Are we ready to understand the world outside that fence? Are we ready to act responsibly even though our knowledge about the outside area is limited? Will fear and lack of knowledge cause us to make the wrong decisions using our own free will and really hurt ourselves and others?

So, there is a determinism in place. We see it every time when things don’t go according to our plans. Instead of pushing against the obstacles we must think, “why was I stopped?” before jumping into conclusions. Life is no mystery. In life we can clearly see where these boundaries reside if we decide to acknowledge them. The moment we face obstacles is the moment we must realize that our free has reached a limit, and that limit must be there for a reason. The only problem is that at this moment, when we become aware of boundaries of free will, many people jump into two extreme conclusions. The first group, for lack of knowledge will decide to call the boundary by a name which seems more obvious to them, “obstacle.” By calling the boundary obstacle they give more power to free will and allow themselves to make decision like “let’s conquer that obstacle, I take no “no” for an answer” etc etc. The result? They may get hurt, other people get hurt too. When other people try to correct him and tell him, he might be wrong, the fear of being seen as a failure motivates this person to continue the argument and protect his point of view. The more the fear increases the more the argument turns violent. The second group, again for lack of knowledge, will decide to call the boundary by a name that seems more obvious to them, “The hand of God.” They would believe that there is nothing they can do, because “The Hand of God” has stopped them, well in fact it’s just a fence to keep them safe until they are ready to expand that area.

The conclusion we can derive from the above discussion is that none of the extreme views is correct. The correct point of view is the middle path between these two extreme behaviours that is “determinism exists and free will also exists, they are compatible.” When we become aware of the boundaries of our freedom we must prepare ourselves for the “outside world” first before we jump the fence.


end of chapter

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