Student Selection: Are we on manual instructions?

(Illustration by Kent Willmeth | The Collegian)

At this very moment, I’m writing an article on free will (and the lack of it) and at this new moment, you are reading it. Do you think you’ll end up reading to the end of this piece or will you, for whatever reason, stop halfway? Do you think you have anything to do with that, or is it just you following someone’s instructions?

Must it sound absurd that you’re following someone’s instructions to read this essay? Perhaps some of us cherish the belief that our actions are solely controlled, acted out by ourselves and no one else has a hand in that. And some of us might even believe in being the proverbial puppet, dare I say, on the strings of fate. Could we be free molecules of lawlessness, free to run around as our own wishes dictate or are our wishes themselves dictated by higher, cosmic, divine forces not meant for us to perceive?

On the one hand, we could be chaotic all on our own, our lives a reflection and result of only our transgressions, and of our surroundings perhaps. The good and the bad things that happen to us are only a result of which molecule of action or train of thought hits us in the face, accidentally and unintentionally. Every bit of life is therefore innocent and un-taught. We simply are.

Yet again, we could be pre-programmed entities, just living out what someone’s coded us to function like. We are but actors in a movie, scripted all the way through, except that we consciously don’t know that we are a character acting out someone else’s story. Whatever’s in store for us (or not) has already been decided, we like to call it “by fate,” and there’s no deviating away from that.

And then there is the darned middle ground: some aspects in our own control, some in fate. Are we responsible for our own thoughts and actions, but things that happen to us purely a work of storytelling? Does anything really happen “by chance” or is it a path to a different direction?

Is this an essay, or a load of questions? Honestly, I don’t know the answers to those questions. Simply because I am of the opinion that there are none. Beliefs transcends facts, evidence and hard work. Trust and faith take a person beyond science and laws. If a person chooses to believe he is on his own without any outside control, whether he’s right or wrong is irrelevant to him because you cannot convince a true believer otherwise. To a scientist, a “yes” or a “no” is everything, but perhaps science isn’t everything. Perhaps reason and logic are just overrated and incorrectly throned on the top of the human evolution.

Belief and faith are equally, if not more, strong, and can displace reason simply because it exists without it. You can explain how gravity works, but not why. Of course, if a person believes that his life is in the hands of fate, you can’t shake that off him no matter how many counter-reasons you cook up in the lab. And that’s just it: a lab constructs reason, a human constructs faith. Perhaps even, there is no ultimate answer. Maybe, the answer is your faith.

But one thing is for sure: if you don’t have faith or believe in something, peace is unattainable. You can be happy believing (or not believing) in one thing, but if you are iffy about your choice and choose not to trust, then the world becomes uneasy, anxious, hopeless. Absoluteness, they say, does not exist. But in the world of trust it does.

What do you think now? Are you finishing this article due to external programming scripted on your DNA or did you do it of your own free will? You are welcome to tell me in the comment box, but for my part, I like to think I wrote this on my own, with a little help from someone out there (and The Collegian) to get this to you.