8 pages/≈2200 words
Religion & Theology
The Christian View Of Fatalism And The Philosophical View Have A Supernatural Force At The Core (Research Paper Sample)
the task was to show the close relationship between the christian and philosophical view of fatalism.
This sample is to demonstarte my abilities to conduct intensive and extensive research in writing a publishable paper.
THE CHRISTIAN VIEW OF FATALISM AND THE PHILOSOPHICAL VIEW HAVE A SUPERNATURAL FORCE AT THE CORE
The purpose of this paper is to compare the philosophical or worldview of fatalism and the Christian view of fatalism. The author analyses the arguments put forth by different philosophers such as Origen, Cicero, William Ockham and Spinoza and compares their views to what the Bible and the Christian Theology teaches about fatalism. For example, Origen and Spinoza put forth the most famous argument in support of fatalism known as the Idle Argument. The Idle Argument suggests that one need not visit a doctor when they fall sick because at the very end fate will prevail over their actions. On the other hand, Christians believe in God's gift of free will to man and that man has the freedom to choose his action. This belief however is subject to God's omnipotence that makes Him the controller of the universe and human actions. Such a belief gives some similarity between the Philosophical view of fatalism and the Christian view in that both recognize the presence of a supernatural power that controls the universe. The author of the paper explores the differences in between the views and how both views have a supernatural power at the center of their arguments.
Keywords: Fatalism, freewill, supernatural, control, pre-determine
The Christian View of Fatalism and the Philosophical View have a Supernatural Force at the Core
Fatalism is a Philosophical term which argues that humans are subject to the fate that the universe directs to them and that they have no power whatsoever to change such fate (Fischer and Todd 2015). Fatalism presents individuals as powerless with no power to influence their own actions to change fate. Philosophers have argued for and against fatalism for several centuries now. Initially, it was a debate mostly perpetuated by pagans and the ancient Philosophers. With the rise of religion and specifically Christianity however, the idea of Fatalism has been redefined to fit into the Christian religious beliefs. One thing that is common to both the Christian view and the Philosophical view of Fatalism is that both involve a supernatural power that controls the universe. Whereas the Philosophical view believes entirely on fate, Christians believe in the providence of God and hope (Goldsmith, Joel and Lorraine 2013). They believe in a just God who gives humans the gift of free will to choose their actions, though the final judgment about any act rests on Him. This paper discusses both the Philosophical view of Fatalism and the Christian view to show that even with varying arguments, they both lay back on a supernatural power that controls the universe and consequently human action.
Philosophical View of Fatalism
One of the famous arguments in support of Fatalism, The Idle Argument, was put forth by Origen and Cicero (Buller 1995). The two used the example of sickness in their argument. They argued that regardless of whether one visited the doctor or not, their fate was already sealed whether to recover or not. Their argument was that if one was fated to recover, they would certainly recover even without calling the doctor. If one was already fated not to recover, they would still not recover even if they called the doctor. According to Origen and Cicero, therefore, it was futile to call the doctor in any way. The question that arises from this is the importance of doctors. If calling a doctor was futile either way, it would mean the profession was of no use to humans. Humans would then not need to put any effort to change the course of action but rather resign to fate and let things be. Actually, well-known fatalists such as Thomas Hardy, David Foster, and William Ockham argue that despite the freedom of choice that humans have, they should resign to fate to avoid Psychological stress (Fischer and Todd 2015). Their argument is that even if one wanted to choose a different course of action from that which they are fated, they would not succeed because at the very end fate will triumph over them.
In the ancient days, fate was quite a great force. In some societies, it was viewed as even being able to overrule the will of the gods (Woolf and Pietro 2015). It was therefore treated as a god in itself before Christianity came and taught that only God was all-powerful and that everything had its origin and end with him (Goldsmith, Joel and Lorraine 2013). In the Greek society, fate was regarded as following an individual all the way back from their ancestors. In such cases, fate was either as a form of punishment for some wrongs done back then or as compensation for some good things that one's ancestors had done back in the days. With the rise of Christianity however, the Jewish God was given all extreme qualities and abilities as being the sole creator and controller of the universe (Goldsmith, Joel and Lorraine 2013). In the two contexts, however, the base is that human destiny was already pre-determined whether by the gods of the old society or by the Jewish God. In both instances, human effort is futile in trying to change their own destiny.
Cicero wrote extensively on the divinity of the future. He argued that if indeed there were gods who pre-determined human action, then these gods must be powerful enough to foresee the future (Woolf and Pietro 2015). If that was the case with the gods, then the future that they foresaw must be certain and if certain necessary to humans. In the event that all that was true about the gods, then human fate was certainly sealed by these gods and humans were completely powerless in changing their destiny. Cicero, however, faced criticism from the proponents of humans having free will to determine their actions. The people in this camp argued that were Cicero's arguments true, then, there would be no need for prayers and sacrifices to the gods (Woolf and Pietro 2015). They argued if the gods determined the future of man with certainty and made it necessary to be faced, prayers and sacrifices to change the course of action would be futile. In response, however, Cicero argued that such prayers and sacrifices were also foreseen by the gods.
Due to the conflict between the Christian and the Philosophical view of fatalism, modern forms of fatalism have been developed. They include Spinoza's Necessarianism (Allen and Stoneham 2011) which is a modification of the pagan fatalism and Modern Materialistic Fatalism which was developed by Clifford and Huxley (Feinberg and Shafer-Landau 2013). The theory of Necessarianism argues that there is neither free will from God nor man and that human decisions flow from necessity (Allen and Stoneham 2011). It, therefore, follows that nothing is pre-determined by God or man and that neither God nor man shapes the future. Every action comes about as a result of the current need which determines the course of action at that particular moment. The critics of Spinoza's view of fatalism, however, argued that were that the case, man would not be responsible for his own actions because he did not choose to engage in them but his actions were rather determined by necessity. There would then be no one responsible for crimes committed. In response, however, Spinoza argued that evil was only a limitation of human action and hence not real. He was of the view that whatever was real could only be good.
Clifford and Huxley on the other hand in their Materialistic fatalism argue that humans are consciously autonomous and that their thoughts and actions do not move material objects in the real world. They give the reason for man being unable to influence objects in the universe as; man's mental process was originally bound as a result of being pre-determined during its actual formation by the same universe. With this kind of pre-determination of the mental process of man, man can therefore not act in any way to change his fate which is already determined by the universe. Critics of this argument argue that were all action pre-determined, man would not be responsible for his actions and hence no base for punishment or reward (Feinberg and Shafer-Landau 2013). The critics especially the Christians argue that were such the case, whereby all action was pre-determined, then that made God the origin of sin and evil.
In an effort to harmonize the various forms of fatalism, Mill summarized them into two categories namely pure/oriental fatalism and modified fatalism (Mill, cited in Somay 2014). In pure fatalism, human actions are not dependent on their desires but are influenced by a supernatural power. In modified fatalism, Mill is of the view that human actions are determined by human will. The human will is in turn determined by character and the motives that act upon this character. The character, on the other hand, has been given to humans by the supernatural force acting upon the universe.
Christian View of Fatalism
Several religious Philosophers and Theologians have tried to modify Fatalism to fit into the Christian belief. They have tried to distinguish between the Philosophical and pagan view of Fatalism. One of these believers is John Calvin who was a Theologian. He adapted Fatalism into his Theological doctrine of Predestination (Wright 2011). In this doctrine, Calvin argued that from the very beginning, God had determined every event in an individual's life. As such, a man's actions are not out of himself but already pre-determined by God. Even for a vital Christian teaching such as salvation, Calvin is of the opinion that whether one gets saved or not has nothing to do with their actions because such actions were already pre-determined even before their actual occurrence. His argument can be supported by scripture from the Bible in Romans 8:20-38 which talks about God having predestined those that He had called to...
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