Fate vs. Decision Making

“There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.”― John Lennon

“It was written I should be loyal to the nightmare of my choice.”― Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”― Gautama Buddha, Sayings of Buddha

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”—William Shakespeare

Someone I know recently told me that her suffering in life, among which are multiple health problems and surgeries, resulted from God’s plan to help her learn, including her belief in God. What this individual told me brings us to whether you believe in fate or choice. 

The Oxford Dictionary defines fate as “something that happens outside of a person’s control, regarded as predetermined by a supernatural power.” This conceptualization of fate, referred to as fatalism, assumes that fate has the ultimate authority over individuals’ lives and renders personal actions irrelevant. The belief in fate is exemplified by quotations such as “everything happens for a reason” and “it was meant to be.” These quotations mean that our destiny is predetermined. 

The early Calvinists believed in Predestination. It is the belief that, before the beginning of time, God has chosen those souls who would be saved. Those selected to be saved were referred to as The Elect. The outward sign of being among the very few “elect” was great wealth and success. The rest of humanity would not be saved. In addition, there was nothing that an individual could do to change their fate.

Isaac Bashevis Singer once said, “We must believe in free will, we have no choice.” That is a good example of a paradox. Paradox refers to a situation or a statement that seems to contradict itself or appear absurd, but upon further examination, it may reveal a hidden truth. It can also refer to a situation where two opposing ideas or concepts simultaneously appear true. Literature, philosophy, and science often use paradoxes to challenge conventional thinking and offer new perspectives.

Other people believe we can shape our lives through our choices. 

It is our decision-making that leads us to certain outcomes. When deciding, we form opinions and choose actions via mental processes influenced by biases, reason, emotions, and memories. The simple act of deciding supports the notion that we have free will.

Free will refers to the ability of an individual to make choices and decisions freely without being influenced by external factors, such as fate or determinism. It is the belief that humans can control their actions and are not controlled by any predetermined destiny. Free will gives individuals the power to shape their lives according to their desires and goals. It is a fundamental aspect of human nature and is often associated with autonomy, agency, and responsibility.

The theme of fate versus decision-making is prevalent throughout the play in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. From the outset, the audience is told that the two lovers are “star-crossed,” suggesting that their paths are predetermined by fate. However, the choices made by Romeo and Juliet ultimately lead to their tragic end. Romeo’s decision to attend the Capulet’s ball despite being a Montague sets a chain of events that leads to his banishment and eventual death. Likewise, Juliet’s decision to fake her death to avoid marrying Paris leads to her and Romeo’s demise. While fate may have played a role in bringing the two together, it was the decisions they made that sealed their fate. The play is a cautionary tale about the importance of mindfulness and intentionality in decision-making.


Predestination is a theological doctrine that suggests that a higher power has predetermined or preordained all events, including the fate of individuals. It often arises in discussions surrounding God’s sovereignty and the extent of human free will. Some religious traditions, such as certain branches of Christianity, believe in Predestination as a core tenet of their faith.

Predetermination refers to the notion that events, including human actions, are determined by a combination of factors, such as genetics, environment, and causality. It does not invoke a higher power or divine intervention, focusing more on cause-and-effect processes.

It’s important to note that while science primarily focuses on explaining natural phenomena and can provide insights into human behavior and decision-making, it doesn’t directly address concepts such as Predestination or predetermination. These ideas fall within theology, philosophy, and sometimes metaphysics.

In summary, Predestination and predetermination are complex ideas often associated with theological and philosophical perspectives. While science can inform our understanding of various aspects of human behavior, it doesn’t offer specific explanations or conclusions regarding these abstract concepts.


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