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  • Free Will, Fate & Destiny: part 1 | part 2 | An Amazing Encounter | Nexus of Probability
    Destiny by P. Phillips
    Destiny, by P. Phillips

    Free Will, Fate and Destiny
    Sides of the Same Coin?

    Is Fate the agent of our Destiny? It's a matter of deep concern to all those who have given the matter any thought, as we have seen in the recent discussion on this website. Astrologer and philosopher Steven Birchfield now considers the concepts of Free Will, Fate and Destiny in the light of various religious and philosophical teachers, while giving the issue some clarity under the light of astrology, ancient and modern.

    I can’t think of a topic (other than the weather) which has most likely been discussed, argued and pontified by more philosophers, theologians, and common men alike! And quite honestly, I was at first reluctant to jump into this at all! The subject of "fate" has been philosophised and agonised over, for millenia.

    Probably one of the great highlights of this ever ongoing debate was during the 16th century when Martin Luther published his work on "predestination" thus enciting the verbal wrath of Desiderius Erasmus’ who countered with his book on "free will" who in turn encured the verbal wrath of his critics and so on and so forth. I almost have to agree with the dear apostle Paul when he wrote:

    "Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?" (1)

    A brief overview of the concept of fate reveals that there are in principal, two camps of thought. In one camp are those that hold to the ideas that fate is pre-determined, whether by divine or natural laws, and that mankind finds himself relegated simply to the role of living out that which is already determined.

    In the other camp is the thought that "fate" is "bound" to our own actions and free will. And that our choices whether conscious or unconscious, determine our fate.

    "In the right hand corner!"

    The early Greeks called it Moira, the cosmic principle of binding apportionment. Robert Schmidt explains to us:

    "Moira is a principle of apportionment in that it counts out, divides, or distributes. From all the possible events that can befall human beings, Moira selects and distributes to each individual his or her "due portion." [2]

    The idea of fate among orthodox Mohammedans is founded on the doctrine of God's absolute decree, and of predestination both for good and for evil. Therefore the followers were encouraged to fight without fear, and even with desperation, because of the assurance that no timidity or caution could save their lives in battle or avert their inevitable destiny.

    In the theory of those who provide a purely materialistic explanation of the universe and maintain that the human will is just as much subject to unchanging and necessary laws as are all other phenomena, the universal sovereignty of fate is implied in the absolute reign of physical law.

    According to Catholic teaching, God, who is the Author of the universe, has made it subject to fixed and necessary laws, to wit, we are able to predict physical events with certainty. St. Thomas distinguishes fate from Providence, and calls it the order or disposition of secondary causes according to which they act in obedience to the First Cause or "Divine Providence".

    John Calvin argued that we were saved or damned from birth due to God's omniscience and omnipotence. In other words, God, having foreknowledge of how we would choose, can 'harden Pharaoh's heart' so to speak.

    All rather apparently bleak outlooks which is often reflected in the astrology of those times, that is to say Hellenistic, Arabic and Medieval/Renaissance Astrology.

    "In the left corner of the ring, the challenger. . . . . !"

    On the other side of the fence "Fate", in its popular meaning, is something opposed to chance, in so far as "chance" implies a cause acting according to fixed laws.

    Vedic and Buddhism share similar definitions of the word, in that both hold to a viewpoint that fate is the reaction to our previous exercise of free will. The reaction can be immediate or follow you through several thousand lifetimes.

    Karmic/New Age Astrology closely resembles her source of inspiration in Vedic/Buddhism, in that, while Fate is a fixed decree by which the order of things is prescribed, an immutable or inevitable law of the universe, you can certainly change the outcome of your fate through the exercise of free will.

    Modern popular Archetype Astrology is based on certain underlying principles as outlined by it's "founder" Carl Jung. In the words of Anthony Peņa he states thusly:

    "I believe that birth chart configurations, as well as, progressions, solar arcs, transits, etc. mirror the natural unfolding and building of soul and "psychological states" that can definitely result in fate, fated behaviors, and fated events. In our day-to-day lives we end up making choices and acting in ways that leave us stuck in mud-filled ruts, traveling down dead-end roads, and continually repeating destructive patterns of behavior that aren't 'working for us'. This is experienced as fate and fated behavior." [3]

    In other words, it is the reaping of ones own actions. It is by the majesty of choice that a man willfully chooses and signs his fate, either consciously or unconsciously. And where choice is a "conditioned" reflex as reflected by archetypal patterns.

    As one can see, there are a multitude of opinions in what man can adhere to. And I’d speculate that the majority of main stream astrologers fall into one of the two categories, including myself. . . . . . up until now!

    Read part two of Free Will, Fate and Destiny

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    Free Will, Fate & Destiny: part 1 | part 2 | An Amazing Encounter | Nexus of Probability

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