People say things like, “there’s nothing you can do when your number comes up.” The “number” they are referring to represents our pre-determined time and manner of death, of course.
I believe in that pre-determination to some extent, but I don’t think it’s advisable to go out and walk down the freeway into oncoming traffic, for instance, in order to test the theory (but then again, if you’re stupid enough to try it, maybe your number should be up). But anyway…
We tend to think of this lottery-of-death system in terms of someone standing on a subway platform, for example, when a series of coincidental occurences leads to that person losing his balance and falling onto the tracks thus being crushed by the train. If something like that happened, people might say, “Man, I guess his number was up.” But that’s just one person.
But what happens when a group of people are caught in the same situation that ends in each person in the group dying? I’m talking about a pile-up on the highway, a train wreck, a plane crash, the World Trade Center disaster, etc. How come people don’t say, “Wow, I guess 20 (or 50 or 200 or 3000) numbers must’ve come up?”
What are the odds that, in a plane crash, for example, 150 or so people were all gathered in the same place at the same time so that all their “numbers” would come up?
It reminds me of something I’ve heard people say: “I’m not worried about my number coming up; I just hope it doesn’t come up for the guy sitting next to me on the plane.”
I am curious to read others’ ideas and opinions on this matter of “cosmic pre-determination.”
Yeah, that Cosmos guy is a real sick bastard. Lining us all up and then knocking us down like so many dominoes. So do you think he picks our numbers out of a hat? Does he do eeny-meeny-miny-mo?
Or maybe he’s got one of those Bingo-type roll cages!
Tangent: “Hey, that’s me! Do I win something? Oh, wait! Oh, shit.”
Or what if you were supposed to be on the plane that crashes, but you got off the plane just before it departed? Maybe Cosmic Death guy will keep following you, trying to arrange some freak accident to kill you and restore the natural order. And no matter how many times you evade him, he will eventually succeed in sending you to your final destination.
Plus if you want to take it to extremes imagine something like WWII. It would take an extremeley organised Cosmos to ensure that just the right millions get wiped out whilst leaving safe those whose ‘numbers’ are not up.
Personally I have a lot of problems subscribing to the pre-destination school of thought.
That’s something I hadn’t considered. Of course, you could assume that forces led you to miss the plane (or take a different route or whatever) because your number was not up. That is, if you believe that nothing is coincidental and everything’s planned.
What are some reasons you have trouble with the theory–idea, rather–besides the incredibility of the “number’s up” lottery system?
What about the saccharine romantic impression that some have that there is only one person meant for each person. What about the general “everything happens for a reason?” Is it that everything does happen for a reason, or is it that we have to find reasons for things that have happened so we can make sense of the world around us?
Does pre-destination go hand-in-hand with theistic beliefs? Are there atheists out there that subscribe to pre-destination or do they tend to think that those who do are wackos? (no offense intended to any wackos out there)
The reason I don’t like the idea of pre-destination is that it takes away personal responsibility. Obvious example - Hitler. If you subscribe to pre-destination you can’t criticize the evil he committed as he was ‘destined’ to do it. The other thing I don’t like about it is it takes away self-motivation. Why work hard when it doesn’t make a difference? You can’t change what’s going to happen to you - it’s destined to happen.
**Does pre-destination go hand-in-hand with theistic beliefs? **
There are a lot of religions out there that I can’t comment on because I don’t know anything about them, but in Christianity didn’t God give everyone free will? That goes against pre-destination doesn’t it?
On your other points I also do not subscribe to the ‘only one person’ thing. It’s similar to the pre-destination thing.
And of course everything does happen for a reason. If I were to have a heart attack right now the reason would be too much fatty food and not enough exercise. The reasons things happen for are prosaic on the whole.
No; the flipside of fatalism is safety apathy; if you’re gonna die when you’re gonna die (i.e. when your ‘number is up’), then what point is there in looking both ways before you cross the road? - You’re gonna die when your number is up and not before, so why waste time watchng traffic?
Or to put it the other way around, if there’s any point in looking both ways before you cross the road, then you have a certain amount of control over your own destiny.
I am not exactly an atheist (though close), but I can think of a way in which pre-destination can exist without any deity or guiding supernatural idea being necessary.
Part of the theory of quantum time holds the idea that the universe exists the way it does because it is the ‘most probable’ way for it to exist. The future and the past then spread from this point in space time, into infinite probabilities. However, if the ‘present’ exists this way, then there are also a past and future that are most probable matches for the present. Because they are most probable, they become the default (unless an attempt to observe them is made, which can change their states). Because of this, your future and past become pre-determined by your present simply because of probability.
I tend to subscribe to something similar to this theory of time.
One problem I see with that idea is that the most probable outcome does not occur all the time.
Imagine that in a particular city, there is a one-in-fifty-million chance that any one person will be struck and killed by a car when crossing a street a single time. Even over a lifetime of street-crossing, it would be extremely unlikely that a particular person would be struck and killed by a car. Thus you could say that no person is pre-destined to be struck and killed by a car.
However, if this city contains one million people, each of whom crosses streets an average of five times a day, then we would expect someone to be killed by a car when crossing the street about once every ten days. Thus it would be a reasonably commonplace occurrence that someone in this city dies in a way they were “predestined” not to die.
I made up all these numbers, but my point is that a concept of predestination based only on probability isn’t very meaningful.