“Do you believe in fate, Neo?” “No.” “Why not?” “Because I don’t like the idea that I’m not in control of my life.”
Some say it is a contradiction to believe both in prophesy and simultaneously in free will –for they can’t really co-exist. Because if anything a time traveler does in the past might dramatically alter the present, then anything done in the present could also change the future into something no prophet or fortune-teller could foresee. We can examine events of the past because the past is set and cannot be changed. The only way we could ever see into the future would be if it too were set, and couldn’t be changed either.
“Everything is fixed, and you can’t change it.”
But some religions believe that everything that ever happens and everything we think we’ve decided to do –is controlled by the fates, as if we were merely characters in an old movie where someone already knows how it ends.
“I’ve never seen anything to make me believe there’s one all-powerful force
controlling everything. There’s no mystical energy field controls my destiny.”
Imagine you’ve misplaced your keys, and you’re running late for work trying to find them, the phone rings at a time when you would normally have been gone already. It happens to be a radio station running a promotional contest where you’ll win a prize if you can answer one obscure question. But oddly enough, the subject of that question happens to be something you learned all about from one of your friends just yesterday. So you win a dream vacation where you just happen to meet a wonderful person who just happens to fall in love you, and changes the course of the rest of your life. Maybe that was just a lucky break, something that could only happen once in a lifetime to one person in a million. But most theists would readily say that God wanted that to happen, and so he arranged for all these lesser events to lead up to that.
"Call it fate, call it luck, call it karma,
I believe that everything happens for a reason".
They’ll tell you that, if your brother struck out in baseball, and your daughter has an obsessive compulsive disorder, and your son suffers from a chronic and potentially deadly affliction, that’s all part of God’s unified plan. If young children lose their mother in a tragic accident which leaves others traumatized for life, then God wanted that to happen too. No matter what happens or how it happens, Goddidit, and only God knows why.
“It was like it was meant to be.”
“There are no accidents.”
Because “accident’ implies there’s nobody to blame.”
They never say how God arranges these things either. Such orchestration is impossible in our reality. That’s one of the many reasons why God and science are wholly separate topics which do not overlap. Yet creationists do say how God could not have done it. Creationists differ from mainstream Christians in that they impose limits on their God, insisting that the one element of nature which God cannot control is evolution. Their black or white perspective only permits one of two extremes: Either God cannot use natural processes creatively, or naturally-creative systems cannot be governed by God, and thus somehow count as evidence against God.
"What matters is that whatever happened,
happened for a reason".
"Creation is 100% scientific proof there was a creator.
You cannot have a creation without a creator".
They think that scientists believe simple elements just accidentally fell together in extremely complex working configurations.
“And it would be a leap of faith
far beyond belief in Jesus or Buddha or Allah
to think that it just ‘accidentally’ got that way.”
Creationists say evolution is random. But evolutionists do not say that regardless whether they believe in a god or not.
"Sometimes its hard for a human being to study the ear or study the eye and think that happened by accident." "I beg your pardon. Did you say ‘by accident?" "Yeah" "What do you mean, ‘by accident’?" "That the eye just formed by itself somehow." "Who says it did?" "Well, some evolutionists say it did". "Not a single one that I’ve ever met!" "Really?" "Really!"
Evolution does depend on mutations, and these do appear to be random. But each cumulative mutation may become significant factors for that organism once pitted against the dynamics of the environment in which they are introduced. Thus natural selection isn’t random; it’s deterministic. Many creationists will even admit this. And as some computer models have already shown, natural selection can actually even exceed the skills of human designers. In fact, natural selection can be so deterministic that it often leads to innovations which some perceive as evidence of intelligent design, and which even rationalists describe as though modified for intended benefit.
Whether it is deliberately guided or not, there is definitely a system of design. But there doesn’t actually have to be any apparent intent or intelligence involved. Because, while our normal intuition might be to imagine one governing body issuing authority from the top down, –a new field of science, the study of “emergent complexity” uses computers to trace numerous patterns in nature which are all “emergent” from the bottom up, being controlled or constructed by an intricate interrelated array of the lowest componants working together in unison, each according to a set of relatively simple rules.
“Based in a world that is built on rules.”
Emergence is a new study revealing many ways in which order can come from disorder, and how chaos can also achieve balance; illustrating how even the origin of life is as much chemical as it is mathematic.
“Your life is the sum of the remainder of an unbalanced
equation inherant to the programming of the matrix.”
Regardless what field or subject we’re talking about, anything that is regularly analyzed or revised naturally tends to become more complex as those processes wear on, and we know that environmental pressures on population genetics is no exception. Even before computers existed, we already knew that natural selection can, -and often will- produce results which look like trial-and-error experiments, including elements of seemingly-intentional fine tuning.
But for all the implications of apparent design, there is never any indication of any intended goal or final product, nor any hint of infallibility on the part of the designer. In fact, so many errors of so many types are known that even if there was an unnatural architect using miraculous means instead of natural ones, then it seems that entity must either be blind and barely competent, or there are whole teams of designers working on separate lines competing against each other.
Natural selection even mimics the experiments of human designers when new technologies emerge. For example, when men first achieved powered flight, there were myriad marvelously imaginative contraptions all at once collectively trying to set the standard for what airplanes should be. Eventually, they followed a more standardized pattern as many of the fancier designs were discontinued and more functional tried-and-true contrivances remained. Significant improvements occasionally appear, but there are no more wildly diverse variants like the pioneer planes built when aviation was new and less understood.
The same sort of thing occurred when life moved up to the multicellular level in the late Vendian era, some 600 million years ago. Contrary to the claims of creationists, we do have evidence both in trace fossils and in the genome, as well as complete fossils of Pre-Cambrian precursors of later orders. The first multicellular animals had no skeletons or organs or sensory systems of any kind. Once primitive drafts of these began to develop, then over the course of the next 160 million years, the oceans went from being basically a sea of sponges and plankton to a virtual “explosion” of new forms even more dramatic than when they began to move onto land some 70 million years or so later. There were also more phyla to emerge in that era than we have left today. Many of the earlier ones were so bizarre that we can’t even make sense of them; they’re so alien to anything still around. Then, as with early designs of airplanes and automobiles, once other possibilities were explored, the more functional lines continued to diversify and less practical derivations of the early days thinned into extinction.
In any environmental niche, there is a “perfect shape”, one especially efficient form which, once obtained, need not be substantially modified until the environment changes or the animal moves on to new circumstances. For example, the shape and job of the crocodile has been used by several extinct predecessors including ancient amphibians and the precursors of whales. The shark shape has also been employed by bony fish as well as ichthyosaurs and by dolphins, and even by a Mesozoic crocodile who moved on to the open ocean. And the role of ‘lion” has been played by everything from fossil marsupials to dinosaurs and giant half-mammalian “reptiles” who lived before the dinosaurs. So some styles can be preferred by conditions which allow them to become classic motifs.
"Life uh, finds a way".
"I suddenly had this feeling that everything was connected".
Anything or everything could seem like the result of an undirected and incidental string of random chance accidents, right? Or is it?
"We have not come here by chance.
I do not believe in chance".
Theistic evolutionists understand that many drugs and medicines are being discovered or derived according to our growing understanding of the effects of evolutionary principles in biology. Yet, in any life-saving operation, even when they know the natural explanation is the right one, believers still credit God over the skilled surgeons using state-of-the-art equipment and the advantages of cutting edge medical breakthroughs. So it doesn’t matter how seemingly disconnected or coincidental any series of occurrences may be; those who believe in destiny will still suggest otherwise:
“I do not see coincidence;
I see providence.”
“There are no coincidences, Delia...
only the illusion of coincidence.”
Most Christians would say that evolution is one of God’s creative methods. But creationists reject that possibility outright, because the issue for them is not whether their God is true; but whether their dogma is true. It can’t be in any case. Even if current concepts of evolution were proven wrong tomorrow, Biblical creationism still couldn’t be true either, because it has already been disproved many times, many ways, and collapses on its own lack of merit. But of course believers can never admit that.
“Denial is the most predictable of all human responses.”
Many people, –not just creationists, but most people in fact- feel that if reality is not manipulated “in mysterious ways” for our benefit, then life is without purpose; and since creationists think evolution most directly disproves the purpose they choose to believe in, then they say that evolution must be without design by design simply because it is natural. Of course, if there is such a thing as supernatural providence, then all these seemingly undirected evolutionary advances were obviously destined to happen.
“I believe it is our fate to be here. It is our destiny.”