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Fate & Destiny... Or Free Will?

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Antiquitie's Friend
Destiny is what you are supposed to do in life.
Fate is what kicks you in the ass to do it.
- Henry Miller

Here's a question for you:

Do you believe in Free Will
That we are in control of many of our choices
That we are free to think and decide which path to follow
That when we are aware of our ability to make that choice and accept the consequence, only then we can claim responsibility for our actions.


Do you believe in Fate and Destiny
The theory which says that all events are pre-destined
That your thoughts and actions are pre-destined
That each event that has happened is a result of a past event, only to pave a way for one in the future.

For me, I believe that destiny is a direction of movement and life is just a path that leads to it. It may seem that we have free will because the nature of our destination depends on which forks in the road we choose to follow, but ultimately in the end, it's already pre-determined what the outcome is.
I believe that we are born with a pre-destined path to follow, that everyone has a purpose for being here. It's like they say, "things happen for a reason"... we just don't know it at the time, but it was already destined as to why it happened. Make any sense?

Let me give you an example as to what I mean...

My husband I were together for 11yrs. I had been struggling with severe depression and suicidal thoughts. Well I lost it one night, packed me and the kids up and went out of town. This was 1 1/2yrs ago. When he hadn't heard from me in a while (I would call to let him know I was ok), he called the child protective services to do a welfare check. They came, did the usual interview... next thing I know, they're taking my kids. They said I was nmentally unfit to care for them (I wasn't taking meds at the time) and blamed my husband for leaving them in my care.

To make a VERY long story short, we lost the kids (this was in Aug). I came back home, feeling even worse than when I left. This was only 2 months ago. He became ill earlier this month, and eventually passed away from it. At the time, I had no idea as to why things were happening the way they were, I just thought it was unfair. But in my heart, I believed that it was pre-destined for it happen this way. The chain of events were starting to fall into place and make sense. Kinda f***ed up how it happened, but it was for the best (believe it or not). I know the kids are happy and are being well taken care of (which I wouldn't have been able to do, with 3 kids alone). I also know that their daddy is up above and watching over them, to protect them, and smiling down at them.

I know I rambled on, probably not making too much sense... but I do believe everyone has a destination in life. You may not think so, or believe it... but eventually you'll see it in the big picture, some day. :unsure:


Antiquitie's Friend
Have you sat by a window and watched it as it rains.
The first few drops of rain can take any path they like, you can't predict it.
The more it rains the more the paths become predictable.
A drop merely follows the path laid down before it.
Such is life.


Antiquitie's Friend
First of all apologies to SilentCry 'cos it looks like I'm ignoring her post and going off at a tangent here. It's just that I'm not very good at relating to people but think about Fate and Freewill a lot in a kind of abstract way, which may be helpful or just a load of nonsense. I've no idea. Anyway here are my latest nonsensical ramblings...

Ok, I imagine that the choices in my life can be represented as a large circle and I'm standing in the middle of it. Initially I'm free to move around as much as I like, but as bad things happen to me the circle gets smaller and smaller, and I have less freedom and less choice. Eventually I realise the circle will get so small that I can't move at all, I'll have no control over my life and so I'll simply decide to end it all, after all that is fate and it is inescapable.

However, I'm beginning to think that life is more like an hourglass. I think I've dropped down through the top bulb of 'fate', am going through the tiny tube in the middle and am starting to see the next bulb. However this bulb isn't fate, it's freewill. I realise now there's a lot of options available to me, a lot of directions I can go in and a lot of paths that I can follow.

I guess my life has never been one of 'fate' but of 'freewill', it just that freewill can involve tough choices and in the past I was just too young, too confused or too scared to be able to make those choices, so I stopped seeing them as freewill and merely called them fate. However, I guess I'm older now, and can make sense of life better, especially once I start to accept that I have people I can turn to for help and advice whenever I get confused. And erm... that's it really. God I can't believe I talk/think like this, no-one else seems to, maybe it's a bit fucked up.

Anyway, back to reality, whether it be freewill or fate I'm glad you feel things worked out for you silentcry. I guess life is what it is and it's up to us to make sense of it and realise that there is good and bad in most situations.
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Well-Known Member
Life is free will. There is no "destiny" that is pre-planned for everyone. Or, at least, thats what I believe. :wink:

getting more indepth, I can see both sides of free will and destiny. for example, when someone saw Barry Sanders play football in highschool, they could've easily assumed, "He's destined for the pros." Let's say, hypothetically, that Barry Sanders drinks way too much alcahol one night(in highschool), and he decides to drive. And on that night, he gets a career ending leg injury; all because of HIS actions. Free will vs. destiny... you decide.
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Well-Known Member
However, I'm beginning to think that life is more like an hourglass. I think I've dropped down through the top bulb of 'fate', am going through the tiny tube in the middle and am starting to see the next bulb. However this bulb isn't fate, it's freewill. I realise now there's a lot of options available to me, a lot of directions I can go in and a lot of paths that I can follow.
I think what you may of meant by that, or at least what I interpreted from it, was that people could've made a lot of predictions about you when you were a child or a teen, but now, as you're reaching adulthood, things narrow down into your own hands via free will.. Very creative idea.


Antiquitie's Friend
It's more about predictions I made about my life. I'm nearly 40 now, I've always spent my life on my own, don't like being close to people or even talking about myself (which is why I talk about rain and circles a lot). On reflection it's quite obvious why this is.

The first time I fell in 'love' was when I was about 14 (ahhh!), unfortunately my mother was a manic depressive, started screaming a lot, got put in a hospital and my dad left us. That relationship didn't work out.

The next time I fell in love was also not a good time. My best mate who turned out was a schizophrenic was being attacked my demons and killed himself. I was a bit too fucked up for that relationship to work either.

However undeterred in my quest for love, I did go out with someone for a bit. However as she had a tendancy to jump off bridges and set fire to herself I should have guessed that one would have been short lived also.

It doesn't upset me too much now, it was all such a long time ago, as someone on this site so elegantly put it, it's like being left with a scar once the wound has healed.

Anyway I came to this site thinking well I'm destined to be alone forever, and that's fate and I'll die alone and sad, and these events have shaped me so much there's not much I can do about it. Things are just gonna get worse. But having been here and read what people have to say, I now think that's crap. It's up to me to make decisions about how I spend the rest of my life. I may spend the rest of my life on my own but it'll be my choice to make.

What's done is done, so now let's say I live to 80, the first bulb of 'fate' is the first half of my life, 40 years, but I'm at the midway point where I see that I have another 40 years of 'freewill' ahead of me. And it's not going to be easy, and I may need some help, but there are an infinite number of choices and options open to me, and I guess in some way although life may be tough at least it's in my hands to do with it what I will.

God I really do hate talking about myself 'cos I don't want people to talk about my life, and say things like this is what you should do or everything will work out, you'll meet someone eventually etc. I just want to know what people think about life in a kind of abstract way. Then maybe something I say may mean something to you and something you say may mean something to me, but not in the way either of us intended. It's just a truth we accidentally found for ourselves. Which I think is kind of nice.
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Once you are old enough to know what free will is your life is governed by it. Every choice you make leads you to make other choices whether they be right or wrong. Destiny is what you make it.
When I was younger I used to think life was sort of a mix of both. Like there were signs but you chose to either follow them or not to follow them.

Now I pretty much just believe in free will.


Fate would imply that there is some greater plan to the universe, that every action we have has been preordained. If this is true then we are not truly alive are we? If I have no ability to choose my actions then what’s the point? If we are destined, then someone has planned out my life and I am no more then a program running it’s coarse. On the other hand we have free will then we are 100% responsible for our actions, we can blame no one but ourselves for our shortcomings, this is the way that I like to look at life.

Also I tend to look at the world as simply that in the end everyone we have done will be rendered absolutely meaningless. I like to think that the only reason we ever find to live and continue on with life we must find and make for ourselves. Its kind of grim to think that everything you say or do will amount to nothing, and in the end no matter how true you hold the values you base your life on they mean truly nothing. However if everything was decided already then my life would truly be without meaning our merit, I would be unable to choose what I want to live for. I guess I am trying to say this, with the freedom of choice we are able to find a way to live (thought some of use may choose not to continue with this life) at least it is our choice, without it we are simply machines.

question..if "That your thoughts and actions are pre-destined" is true..then how will we know if its destiny or free will..if what we think is free will maybe isnt..hmm :blink:
"That each event that has happened is a result of a past event, only to pave a way for one in the future."...thats true i think..i dunno maybe itsnot all destiny/fate and its just a whole lot harder to stand up and go the other way and not follow your pre-destined path. or maybe there isnt one :dry: hmm interesting debate but we'll never know cos if we dont know what our destiny is/was then we'll never know if thats what it was or if we chose our path. im not saying people neccessarily want to be in whatever situation theyre in..but with free will, everyone makes mistakes...ok. time to stop rambling, im getting confused. :unsure:
Ah, the old determinism vs. free-will debate.

You might be interested to hear that I believe in both. Yes, as unusual as it seems, I see free-will as a part of determinism. You won't be sitting around feeling lazy and helpless if you're a determinist, don't worry. :wink:

A common concept we can appreciate when thinking about determinism is Aristotle's unmoved mover idea. The unmoved mover is the source of all events. It can't be moved, yet it is able to move other things. Not necessarily an intelligent life form, just something which is responsible for presumably exerting the energy that caused the first event on a timeline. Think of it like a domino effect or chain reaction, the unmoved mover caused the first event, which led to the next, and so on. Everything is related. Every action has a reaction, there is a reason for every event which can be traced back by following the strings of time to the sources. Unmoved mover is just one theory, implying that there is something greater - beyond logic and human comprehension (we're only defining the tip of the iceburg, so to speak) which is responsible for the universe, time, and everything else within our sphere of understanding. (therefore, some define unmoved mover as god)

Now, about free-will. Humans are aware of their existence within these chains of events, and our acknowledgement of our role within these branches of time is in fact the basis of free-will itself. We recognize cause and effect, and can control the outcome of events based on our decisions. However, I think of free-will as a control within a greater control. For example, I'm aware that eating food will satiate my hunger, but all the events which led to my understanding of hunger would be traced back to my birth, and my birth was not something I chose myself.

Furthermore, every thought I'll ever have and every decision I'll ever make is spawned forth from inspirations within my environment, prior events have led me precisely to each moment when I make a decision, therefore my 'control' is part of a greater control that can be traced back to trillions of previous branches, all of which stem out from the base (trunk of the 'time tree') that grew forth from the 'seed' (unmoved mover). So it can be said that free-will coexists with determinism because it is part of the chain of events itself. To say that free-will exists separately from this chain is to say that each human gives birth to a new 'reality' or dimension separate from the rest of our existence each time we make a decision. Personally, I don't think humans are that god-like.. but just my opinion. ;P If I didn't explain this clearly enough, let me know and I'll try to address any gray area that I missed. Determinism is basically the same as fate, meaning that all events past, present, future, are indeed pre-determined. Some people like unmoved mover, others see time as an infinite loop. (Infinite loop of time is usually associated more with deterministic beliefs) Either way, it's easy to understand the mathematical logic and significance of determinism, which is why it's such a widely accepted concept.


Antiquitie's Friend
What about the idea of "free-won't"?

For example I knew someone who claimed that when a thought came to her she had no choice but to do it (eg. go for a walk through some really rough parts of town in the early hours of the morning) and she'd explain that she'd done it because once the thought had occurred to her she had no choice but to do it, hence her 'freewill' couldn't override her 'determined' thought whereas I often have thoughts like this and sometimes chose to do them and sometimes not because I have more "free won't".

When you say "every thought I'll ever have and every decision I'll ever make is spawned forth from inspirations within my environment" could it not be the case that you have a set number of 'determined' thoughts mostly sub-conscious, one of which is then selected by your 'freewill'? For example if it's a hot sunny day do you choose to have an ice cream without your subconscious mind suggesting to you that you have one? So if you weigh up the number of your determined thoughts, with the ability you have to act on them you end up with a strange mixture of fate/freewill which exist hand in hand?

I could be talking garbage, and I may not understand any answers (or even my question...) as I'm not really that good at this philosophy stuff but I'm trying! Oh I'd just like to add there really is a point to all this, although I'm getting there so slowly I think I'll actually end up forgetting the original question I wanted to ask when I joined this site!
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It does get confusing to think about at times, because it's hard to focus on certain aspects of the existence we're so used to living in without being biased. Who knows, maybe in the end a lot of it is nonsense, but it's just fun to think about. It's also hard to communicate everything in words, our language has it's limitations.

I think I see what you're saying about the idea of free-will being the process of filtering subconscious, and the 'filtered thoughts' that we're aware of in our conscious minds then influences decisions we make and such. I believe something like that takes place.. we're taking in more information than we're aware of, the subconscious imagery can't be communicated in words, and it must be broken down. Some of the original meaning is lost, but the filtered down thoughts can be reflected on and expressed in words, unlike the prime information from subconscious.

I guess the one thing I should be clear on though, is that I don't think that free-will (decision making process) that allows us our freedom of thought is truly separate from pre-determined events. I'm basically saying that it seems we have true control/ freedom because we're aware of our power and influence, but unaware of what influences our free-will itself. So it's an illusion, probably a defense mechanism that helps humankind survive. I mean, if we feel in control, and believe we can do anything we want, it keeps us motivated to continue. Humans thrive on freedom, after all. There is no chance of 'un-learning' that human perspective though. It's one thing to be intellectually aware of a defense mechanism, though in reality it's not possible to detach one's self from something coded into our genetics. Hey, I may realize that my decisions are limited and that I don't have true freedom of thought in that context, but it's not any less enjoyable to me, because I still feel free and in control, and that's all that matters. :)

Okay, I'll attempt one last example to illustrate my view for now. Maybe it will be an appropriate analogy, and maybe not. If some people reading this see what I'm saying, I'll be happy. If not, oh well at least I tried. :)

Suppose I'm taking a multiple choice test. (it could be one of those subjective personality or political quizzes with multiple choice answers.) So for each question I have to choose one of the answers. Some of them might be very difficult, and I have to think hard to make my choices, but in the end (if I finish the test) I had to break down and select an answer to each question. Something made me narrow my choices down, but what? Well, if I'm choosing two favorite colors and select black & green, in that example I may be consciously aware that it's because I like black hair and green eyes. However, if I listen to four unlabeled classical music tracks (I know, weird test) and select one of them as my favorite, I may not understand completely why I've chosen the last one over the other three.

Now to put this into real-life situations. I wake up, and have to decide whether to get out of bed or not. What makes me get out of bed, even if I feel like crap? Then, should I eat breakfast and risk being late to work, or skip breakfast and drive directly to work, and why? There's a car accident that happens in front of me, do I get out and help the victim, or ignore the crash and keep driving? These are all split-second decisions, unlike those in the test, so I'm not necessarily consciously aware of what I'm doing. I'm just 'trusting my instinct' as they say.

Is our instinct something that's pre-determined? I think so, in fact I truly believe everything is, even our most conscious thoughts have to be pre-determined too, because our conscious minds and personalities develop from a young age according to our experiences. If I grow up in a bad neighborhood, I may become aggressive and violent, and could exhibit criminal behavior throughout my life. I may think and claim that my decisions to act in crimes is my own choice and free-will, but is it not just a direct result of what I learned during my childhood experiences? I can claim I have free-will to study any academic subject I'm interested in (which I do) but surely there are reasons why I love literature more than physics, and reasons why I'm attracted to some girls but not others, or why I'm posting this message on this forum right now instead of watching a football game with some friends.

Everything, even free-will is pre-determined. Even free-won't, or free-might, free-should've, or freeways, or free beer, or free falling, or not-so-free-will, or expensive-will, or tax-deductible-will, or .. hey, my middle name is will! actually it's william, but it could be will for short. Even my middle name is pre-determined! So I guess, for whatever reason.. people hear about determinism, are appalled at the idea that they have no absolute freedom of thought, and take it to mean that we're just mindless animals who are slaves to circumstance. Of course those people are stretching the definition with rhetoric and being cynical. =P I'm perfectly happy admitting I'm just another cog in the wheel of life, and I think those who cling so tightly to an 'idealistic' concept of free-will are in some kind of denial. Oh well, in the end - I don't find myself caring what people choose to believe in. Believe whatever you want friends, just have fun! :biggrin:
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I my self only believe in free will.. to an extent.. I do not believe in fate or destiny.. we meet by chance but we stay friends by choice.. the only time that we do not have freewill is from extrenuating circumstances, like someone hurting you on a specific occasion or a car accident, or tripping, etc etc
For those of you interested in some theories on determinism, check out http://www.egodeath.com (Michael Hoffman) I'm not necessarily supporting the views given here, but some of you might enjoy reading. (even if you aren't a psychonaut) Feel free to leave any feedback in this thread.


Well-Known Member
I can't give you a simple answer to this. It seems like we have free will. We can stay inside or go to the movies, workout or watch TV, study for a test or not study and do poorly. But all these decisions are fairly unimportant.

In the grand scheme of things, our lives are paved out even before birth. I don't believe in fate per se (at least not in the metaphyscial sense), but I do believe we are molded by the life circumstances we're born into, whether good or bad. Think about it. No one chooses their race, no one chooses their class, no one chooses their parents, no one chooses their looks, no one chooses their level of intelligence, no one chooses their physical abilities, no one chooses their height, no one chooses who they're attracted to, no one chooses disease, no one chooses mortality, heck no one even chooses to be born.

So really, we do have free will, but much less than most of us would like to believe. Depressing, isn't it?
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Well-Known Member
Have you sat by a window and watched it as it rains.
The first few drops of rain can take any path they like, you can't predict it.
The more it rains the more the paths become predictable.
A drop merely follows the path laid down before it.
Such is life.
I've never thought of it that way, Ziggy. I think you may be on to something.
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