On Human Life, Destiny and the Place of Free Will

Rob Wanders: Puppet on a String I had a discussion with a woman recently that got me thinking. The discussion revolved around marriage and having children. I was (and still am) of the opinion that marriage and childbirth is a part of a woman’s life and not the entire reason for her existence. I believe that I am complete whether I decide to marry and have children or not. The woman however was of the opinion that we are destined to be wives and mothers (or husbands and fathers). In her view, God may want to teach us patience and understanding via a mate and children. I said patience and understanding can easily be learned at the work place as it could at home. The argument went back and forth until I said that patience and understanding can also be learned from adopted children. She went into a fit at that point. She made a bold proclamation that adopted children can never be the same as biological children; that one could never love an adopted child as much as they loved a biological child. I was shocked at the statement. I know families where, unless you are told, you wouldn’t know that there is an adopted child in the house. But I digress. When she made the statement, I shut down my mind to her. She went on talking for a bit and it wasn’t until she made one statement that I returned to the present. ‘God may have, for example, destined you to have two children, who may in turn have three children each. If you refuse to do your bit, what do you think will happen?’ The word ‘destined’ stayed with me even after I left the woman. It is that word that set me mulling over some things I will like to share with you now. First off, a quick look at the meaning of the word. Destiny (noun); “the things that will happen in the future.” The destiny of our nation depends on this vote; “the force that some people think controls what happens in the future, and is outside human control.” You cannot fight destiny Culled from Cambridge Dictionary. I believe the woman was referring to the second definition above. So here is why I got rattled. Most religions preach of a deity who created and rules the world. They preach of a God or a couple of gods who created the universe and control all life on it. This is such that universally, being good means your God rewards you and being bad means you are punished. Religion has thus, kept man in check with the promises of an afterlife that is a consequence of our present lives. Some religions even preach that God controls everything that happens to each individual; from the time of our birth until we are returned to the ground. So the question is, ‘Are our lives pre-destined by God’? If yes, I have some follow up questions. If our lives are pre-destined by God, why does He hold us accountable for our actions? Has He predestined those who will get to heaven/paradise (depending on what you believe)? Does that also mean that He has destined those who would go to hell/lake of fire? If He plans our lives, why do I have to be faithful or moral or right? Why shouldn’t we be allowed to roam and kill and pillage? What will be the point of toeing the straight and narrow if there is no guarantee where we will end? Or if we have no choice in the matter? The next question is, ‘If our lives are pre-destined, why are we given the ability to make choices?’ Why do we have freewill? Shouldn’t we just be programmed to function a certain way and be placed on the earth to do just that? Can we refuse our destinies? If that is the case, is our refusal then our destiny? This is what I mean; If God ‘pre-destined’ me to be a doctor and I chose to be a media person, does that mean that I was really destined to be a media person after all? That my refusal was part of my destiny? That I really was acting out a script? Does God pre-destine that the African people be poor and others races rich? If so, when certain Africans break that jinx, does that mean they are refusing their destiny? Or does that mean that they are acceptingtheir destiny? Hmm……this destiny thing is becoming more confusing the more I ponder on it. Are you equally confused? Does God pre-destine that a 10 year old girl be married? That a woman is raped? That a boy is shot? Does God destine that people have and die of cancer? Of the common cold? Of Malaria? Of extreme poverty and hunger? Does God destine that some people are given birth to malformed children and others ‘normal’? Does God destine that a woman be in an abusive marriage? Does God destine that teen or that old man to commit suicide? Does God destine the murderer to kill, the rapist to rape, the abuser to hit and hit until the shattering of bones brings him back to his senses? Is it destiny that some women are prostitutes and some are forced into bestiality? Is it destiny for a person to have Down syndrome, dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, lunacy and whatever other ailment there is? And finally, does God destine some to be heterosexuals and others homosexuals yet…condemning homosexuality? If that then is the case, is God fair? This is the biggest question of them all. Personally, I don’t believe each life is destined as the second definition says. I believe that destiny is the sum total of all our choices made before death. I believe we are a product of the choices we make and not some grand script written about us. I believe that doing good may not always bode me well and doing bad

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