Do You Believe In Fate?

In The Matrix, Thomas A. Anderson (Neo) answers “No” to the title question with the qualification that he does not like the idea that he is not in control of his life. But there is another Thomas A. (Aquinas, that is) that answers this question differently:

I answer that, In this world some things seem to happen by luck or chance. Now it happens sometimes that something is lucky or chance-like, as compared to inferior causes, which, if compared to some higher cause, is directly intended. For instance, if two servants are sent by their master to the same place; the meeting of the two servants in regard to themselves is by chance; but as compared to the master, who had ordered it, it is directly intended.

Further, Augustine says that fate is something real, as referred to the Divine will and power. But the Divine will is cause of all things that happen, as Augustine says. Therefore all things are subject to fate.

We must therefore say that fate, considered in regard to second causes, is changeable; but as subject to Divine Providence, it derives a certain unchangeableness, not of absolute but of conditional necessity. In this sense we say that this conditional is true and necessary: If God foreknew that this would happen, it will happen. Wherefore Boethius, having said that the chain of fate is fickle, shortly afterwards adds, which, since it is derived from an unchangeable Providence, must also itself be unchangeable.

Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica


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