What is in Control? Fate or Freewill?


For the longest time, people have debated the concepts of fate and free will. If we believe in fate, does this mean we never had free will? I’m not sure this is the case, and here’s why. We as people have free will, but this is not to be confused with being able to control our outcomes.

What do I mean by this? I am free to go into a bank and apply for a 1.2 million dollar loan, or ask someone out on date, but I can not control whether or not I receive this loan, or the date. Under the theoretical rules of Quantum Mechanics and String Theory, there is a reality that exists where I do get this loan – also explained by Schrodinger’s Cat.

I point to Chaos Theory and the Butterfly Effect; the philosophical argument that everything in the universe is interconnected and small events can ripple into extraordinary outcomes. For example, something as small as the force of wind generated from a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil, can eventually build up and snow ball into a force causing a Typhoon in Japan – everything starts from somewhere.

With this philosophical argument in mind, lets perform a thought experiment:

You are walking down the crowded streets of New York City drinking your morning coffee. By accident someone bumps into you and this causes you to spill your hot coffee onto a stranger standing to your left. You apologize, but this man has become extremely angry. As you walk away, this man gets a call from his girlfriend, but because he is upset, this causes the two to get into a phone fight, ultimately leading to their breakup.

After their breakup, the man moves out of his apartment back home, the girlfriend moves to California.  Just think for a moment: The small act of someone bumping into you on the street, has snowballed into life changing actions and consequences for complete strangers you do not even know.

Now, did these people exercise their free will, or were their actions decided by forces beyond their control? You could not control getting bumped into by a stranger, the man could not control you would spill coffee on him, and the girlfriend could not control her boyfriend’s emotions. Yet, everyone’s actions here are dictated by these occurrences.

I argue we all still have free will. You did not have to walk down that side of the street, but you choose to; you did not have to get a coffee that morning, but you wanted one; the man did not have to act angry with you, but he choose to let this emotion control him. He did not have to get upset with his girlfriend, but he did. The girlfriend did not have to break up and move away, but she choose to – so on and so forth.

Though everything in the Universe is more interconnected than perhaps anyone might realize, if nothing else, in life we are responsible for controlling our own self. I, for one, believe we are always given a choice, we do indeed have free will.

But this also does not negate the concept of Fate either. I believe in fate because everything that has happened to me, to this literal point in time, to typing out this article, was meant to happen to me. How can I be certain of this?

Because everything that has occurred in my life has occurred no other way. It is pointless to question “what if” or how things could have happened differently – they literally did not.  Nothing will ever be able to change my past, or the events that have taken place. My life has been my fate.

Sources: Live Science, Science Alert, Fractal Foundation, Scientific American

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  1. if you live ‘now’, there is no debate. ‘fate’ is cycles initiated in the past, which bring us to right here, right now…..’free will’ has been granted, precisely in the moment, to decide which fates our future will see


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