A common thing that is mentioned among the religious sort is that when an undesirable event happens, they claim it is “God’s will” or “It’s fate” as a way to justify things. Fate is also used to explain improbable occurrences. During the course of this post I will be attempting to debunk the myth of fate. Before we disprove fate we must understand it. Princeton.edu defines fate as “the ultimate agency regarded as predetermining the course of events”1 In short this means that the course of events that one will take is already laid out in an X, Y, and Z fashion. But the problem with this is that if fate were existent wouldn’t it stand to reason that we could not change it? If X set of events in our life is already planed out (usually by a God) then we, as measly humans, should not be able to change it. But this is just not the case. One characteristic of all humans proves that fate, according to this as well as most if not all other definitions, cannot exist. That characteristic is the ability to change our mind. If it was fated that I would write this piece then the set of events regarding writing this are set in stone. I cannot change them simply by taking my hands off the keyboard and hitting the power button. This simple quality of all humans clearly shows that since we can change our fate makes it so it is not predetermined and thus is not fate. Here one could make the argument that if I changed my mind about writing this that that too was fated to happen yet this leads to an infinite regression of “What if X was fated” and it proves nothing. We could just continue this line of reasoning ad nauseam without showing anything.
But now we come to the next part of the fatists argument. The argument of improbability. Let me tell you a tale of Kid X and Kid Y. Kid X and Kid Y both go to the same school of 500 people. This school is in session for 6hrs and has 10 hallways. One day Kid X and Kid Y both leave their respective classes (both far apart) and they begin walking (not together mind you, separately) yet after a few minutes they accidentally bump into each other. After this freak encounter they happen to be the best of friends and eventually get married. One could argue that it is so statistically improbable that it could not have happened by chance. But let us look at this another way. Through the anthropic principle. The anthropic principle is mainly used, as was devised, as a way to rationalize the amazing configuration of the physical constants in our universe (I discuss this in depth in a previous post) but it can also be applied to the scenario of Kid X and Kid Y. Let’s let our imaginations run wild for a moment. What would we see or think if Kid X and Kid Y had never bumped into each other? We would think nothing of it simply because it would not have happened. For us to even argue that their meeting was fated, it must have happened thus meaning that the statistical improbability must have been overcome at least once for the event to occur thus crushing the claim that it is too improbable to happen. Let me put it another way in the form of an equation.
F=Us pondering what E means
E=Event where Kid X and Kid Y meet
In order for F to occur E must occur first thus showing that E can happen regardless of the improbability. Thus we see that a perfectly natural explanation for fate arises and there is no need for any sort of fater.