The Randomness Of Life

“We all want to convince ourselves that it is about hard work and education and perseverance, but the truth is, life is much more about the fickle and the random. We don’t want to admit it, but we are controlled by luck, by timing, by fate.”
Harlan Coben

I don’t want to believe this. It goes against my faith, my Christian upbringing and what we try to relay to and teach our children. But sometimes…..

When I was a teenager, I used to have conversations with priests about predestination and free will. I went to Catholic grammar school, was an altar boy and attended Catholic high school and so I was “indoctrinated” into a certain set of beliefs. (Of course they didn’t include current lawsuits and settlements, but that’s another story)
I never logically understood how predestination and free will come together and quite honestly, no one ever had an answer for me. So the people I spoke with fell back on the only answer that ended all conversation.

Faith.

And I understand that. I accept that there are things that will never be clear to me and that faith is something I need to have as a Christian. But I’ve never been convinced that predestination and free will are a matter of faith. Other aspects of beliefs, yes but this one never settled in with me.
And as I was reading a Coben book and came across these words, the whole issue came back to  me again. Because I’ve also always believed that so much of life is controlled by place and time.

A woman is walking a child in a stroller on a perfectly calm and sunny day in the park when a tree limb falls on them and kills the child.

Five young people get into a car accident and three survive, telling me that the seat you chose determined if you lived.

You move when you were a teenager to the other side of the country and ten years later you find and marry the love of your life in the town you moved to. What if you didn’t move? Would you still find the one your love and live happily ever after?

You happen to run into someone you haven’t seen in years by chance in a random setting. You talk and the conversation changes the trajectory of your entire professional life.

You get my point. The list is endless. The randomness of life, the paths we choose, the decisions we make, the people we meet, the timing of conversations, is pretty crazy when you step back and think about the possibilities

There are good, well educated, God fearing people who are dealt a bad hand and bad people who live long, privileged lives. I often wonder, when traced back, what turned their lives around.
I’ve always believed in hard work and perseverance but there are many hard working people who have persevered their entire lives and continue to struggle. Conversely, the opposite is true. A chance meeting at the right time, a phone call, an introduction, a decision, an opportunity taken, may change not only your life, but those you love.

I like to believe that everything happens for a reason. At times, it makes life easier to deal with; easier to accept certain things that happen in your life. But I still struggle with whether or not God knew things were going to happen, and if He knew it was going to happen then I really had no choice but to follow His plan. And if that’s the case, then how can I have free will.

I know I’ll never understand it and though I’d like to find a way, I’ll never logically accept it. Maybe that’s okay. Maybe I should just accept and not try to find logic in the illogical. Maybe faith is the only answer when it comes to this particular topic.

Then again………

 

79 thoughts on “The Randomness Of Life

  1. John W. Howell

    The problem with free-thinking humans is we just are not satisfied with the bromide, faith. No, we gotta dig deeper to find the “true” answer. In the end, the acceptance of the bromide might be the wiser choice….but then again. Nice one George.

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  2. LA

    I’m always looking for the logical…something that can be proven by math…it’s just how some people think…I’m always a prep for the worst kind of person…I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but I’ve just had to accept this about myself

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      1. LA

        Let’s put it like this. From what I’ve read, 6 out of 10 people worldwide will be affected by corona, so I assume I’m going to get it. So I’m trying to be as healthy as possible to keep my immune system up.sleep, exercise, eat right, wash my hands. If I get a cold, I’m going to rest and recuperate instead of pushing myself. This way I’m not adding stress or anxiety…prepping for worst, hoping for best

        Liked by 1 person

  3. colinandray

    Hi George – What a great thought provoking Post. Here’s my take on the subject:
    Life is not preordained/pre-determined by any higher power. If our lives were planned out, no purpose would be served by us making any decisions. What would be the point? Our lives are preordained!
    As for a higher power (let’s call it God) allowing bad things to happen? There is no doubt in my mind that we were provided with the tools to make decisions that would impact our life i.e. a rather intricate and impressive brain. There is no doubt in my mind that we have the freedom to make whatever decisions we want, regardless of whether good or bad. To paraphrase that with a God perspective. He gave us the freedom to do whatever we want, but of course we must take the consequences of such decisions. Biblical teachings (with parallel literature from other religions) all provide rules too live by. If we want to live a productive, rewarding and perhaps memorable life, then we have the tool to do that.
    As for seemingly random events changing our life direction? I refute that rationale. Random events had nothing to do with my life journey, but rather circumstances which dictated I make a decision. Each decision had consequences, some of which were life changing. So perhaps the “circumstances” were random? Absolutely not! Circumstances that impacted me, were simply the results of decisions made by others.
    Rather than dwell on the inconsistencies of a belief presented by so many others, I prefer to accept that I am totally responsible for my own life. When I reach the “end”, I am expecting to be able to look back and smile to myself, knowing that I had a good time; that I will be remembered favourably, and that I impacted a few people positively. Belief in a pre-determined life simply lays blame on some intangible entity for our own failings. That’s my take on the subject! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

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    1. George Post author

      Thanks so much for your response, Colin. This is probably a conversation that can go on for some time, which is the type of topic I like…:) You make some interesting points about our decisions being preordained, which is the whole topic of predestination that I’ve always struggled with. I guess I’ve always been on the fence about that but have leaned more toward your explanation because, as you say, what’s the point otherwise? I don’t know that He would put us here without free will. But if one believes, as I do, in an all knowing God, then there is a subtle but definitive difference between predetermining how you will live your life and knowing what you will do next. In my mind, that’s very different and how I settle on it.
      As far as randomizes events or decisions changing our lives, I do believe time and place factor into how our lives unfold at times. Not every decision, of course, and maybe only once or twice in our lifetime but it does happen. You mention that random events had nothing to do with your life journey but circumstances may have dictated a decision you made. I think, some ways, we might be saying the same thing, If circumstances were different, based on other circumstances or decisions, then you decision might be different, which might affect something or someone else. It’s like a domino effect.
      Some years ago I watched a movie called Sliding Doors. A woman was let go from her job and arrived home early to find her husband in bed with another woman. In another scenario, she just missed her train and arrived after the woman had already gone. In the first instance, she left her husband and found happiness with another man years later. In the second, she was always suspicious and never happy in her marriage. I think that’s my point. A random event sometimes ends to another, which may change everything.
      Thanks again.

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  4. Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged.com

    I think life is made up of a bunch of both random occurrences (but we can choose how we react to them) and outcomes that we have some control over. I do not believe in predestination or that things “are meant to be.” My logical and analytical brain doesn’t have room for faith, but sometimes I envy people who believe.

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  5. pocketoflife

    Good thinking. In my opinion, humans have a fated destiny. We dont choose how our life is going to be. Because its predestined. But in our life, we have “free will” to make a choice. We have options. Although if we make the wrong choice (opposite from what God wants) then he might redirect us. Its like taking a wrong turn in a highway; you will get to your destination but takes longer time. Maybe God is like that too. He lets us choose and learn from the mistakes we’ve made. All for a reason.

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    1. George Post author

      Thank you for your thoughts. I guess my problem regarding your definition of free will is the fact that God may redirect us if we make the wrong choice. Using that train of thought, why weren’t those individuals who chose to do harmful, hateful and permanently damaging things to innocent people redirected by God before it happened? Why should God allow the mistakes of others to affect our lives?

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  6. Book Club Mom

    It’s a lot to think about and impossible to solve – in my opinion. I do believe that if we had all the answers we would live our lives differently, and less well. So I think it’s deliberate that we don’t know. And I guess that’s where the faith comes in.

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    1. George Post author

      I agree that we would live our lives very different if we had all the answers, if we even really lived our lives at all. If we had all the answers, what would be the point? You’re right, faith moves in when logic has no real explanation.

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    1. George Post author

      Oh I believe in a higher power, which has gotten me through some very difficult times. And like you I always mix a little timing and luck into the cocktail..:)

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  7. murisopsis

    A perfect illustration of the East vs West approach to God. The East is all about heart and the West is fixated on mind. The Eastern approach is to accept all in faith and the Western view is that there must be a logical and factual explanation for God. I believe it is the middle ground where we must stand – accepting that there are facts to back up doctrine and there is mystery that must be accepted on faith.

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  8. Al

    There is undoubtedly a force in the universe. (Obi-Wan Kenobi was definitely on to something.) Early humans gave it a name, God, to pick just one. A quasi personality was also ascribed this God which included omnipotence. This helped them explain the marvels they saw and the disasters that befell them. Since those early times, religion, based on this perceived omniscience, has been created and perverted in many, many forms.

    As a recovering Presbyterian who served in many church offices, but with much doubt, I finally found the freedom of becoming a free thinker. I opened up to people about my doubts and threw off the constraints of dogma. No, I don’t have the answers to why some people have easy lives and others constant suffering. Nor do I have a clue why some die young.

    One thing I do know though, is if you live a good life, give of yourself and treat others as you would like to be treated, that is the most estimable “religion” and your time on earth will have left much reward for those whom you touched.

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    1. colinandray

      Love your last paragraph. It is not new, and not original … but if we repeat it often enough, it might just trigger some changes … and such changes are so badly needed in our self-focused, profit-driven culture. If we would only treat others the way we would like to be treated. I wonder why that is a tough concept to grasp?

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      1. colinandray

        I think it is difficult because the concept gets buried under the debris of poor self esteem, which is fed by our highly commercialized culture where they sell inferiority if you don’t buy their product. Within self-esteem issues may well be the desire to display their right to say/do whatever they want, which is probably just pandering to the frustrations of an unfulfilling life. Then of course there are those who have never thought about how they would like to be treated, and therefore have no concept of reciprocation.

        George – I think you could disect your Post into quite a number of individual Posts given the depth of the initial subject matter. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    2. George Post author

      I love this explanation and approach, Al. I have found the constraints of organized religion difficult to accept these days, especially being a Catholic. I believe your last paragraph says it all, living a good moral life will leave you and those you love in the best possible place.
      Oh..and I love the recovering Presbyterian line..:) I think more and more people are taking that same approach. After all, it’s all about faith and belief.

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      1. colinandray

        Faith undoubtedly has incredible power, as evidenced in my own history, but I am not sure whether it is the faith in myself … or the faith that things will simply sort themselves out … or the faith that there is a God overseeing things. From my perspective, having faith is the criteria to live by, and my faith is split between the assurance that I can resolve whatever is challenging me, together with the faith that there is a God who has the ability to step-in as necessary.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. George Post author

        I think that’s a very reasonable position. After all, we are responsible for ourselves and some have faith that God will help us as needed. At least that’s the plan.🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  9. Ann Coleman

    Wow, you covered a lot of ground in this post, George! Personally, I believe that how successful we are in life is a combination of hard work and luck. In other words, we can’t control the hand we’re dealt, but we do control how well we play that hand. That’s one of the reasons why I don’t think we should be too proud of our success or too ashamed of our failures, because it isn’t all a result of our effort or intelligence. Luck plays a role. Not the only role, but a role.
    As for predestination, I’ll admit I don’t believe in it. I do believe in free will, but I don’t believe everything happens for a reason. Sometimes bad stuff just happens, and I don’t believe in a God who would intentionally inflict the kind of pain and suffering I’ve seen good people go through. I do believe in a God who is spiritual though, who wants the best for us and who is always there with us in our suffering. I don’t think God sends the suffering, or the cure, simply that God is there with us, always. But I know that most people don’t look at it that way, and some would even say I’m not a Christian because of that belief. Still, I believe I’m a Christian…I think there’s plenty of room for different ways of looking at things for those who believe and have faith. Just my opinion, and I’m sure not telling anyone else what they have to believe! Thanks for such an interesting post, George…you always make me think!

    Liked by 3 people

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    1. colinandray

      Hi Ann. I am pleased to say that I agree with most of what you wrote … except for your position on luck. I don’t believe in luck simply because it is so easy to blame “luck” on events (much like “fate”), and so many people use the “blame game” to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. So how do I explain being in the proverbial “right place at the right time”?

      Circumstances, which are the result of somebody else’s decisions. It was not luck that allowed us to come to Canada. We simply met a minimum points criteria. It was not luck that brought Ray into our lives, but rather his time in the adoption area matched our time when we were there looking.

      The proverbial “bad luck” can be explained in much the same way. Was it bad luck that took my older sister so early in her life? Absolutely not. It was an unfortunate medical condition. Could that medical condition be argued as “bad luck”? Not really because genetics comes into the equation, along with life-styling and no doubt many other factors.

      I find it very difficult to accept “luck” or “fate” or “karma” etc. etc. as a tangible explanation for good/bad events.

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      1. Ann Coleman

        I think it just depends on how we define “luck,” Colin. I don’t think of luck as an actual force. I think of it as the result of the randomness of the universe. Like whether you happen to be standing in a certain place when a tree limb drops from a tree. As for medical stuff, then I totally agree that genetics and lifestyle play into it.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. George Post author

      Thanks, Ann. I’m like you and I know I’m in the minority in terms of predestination and free will as it may apply to being a Christian. I’ve always heard the term “It’s God’s will” and believed it for a long time. But then I walked through the pediatric cancer floor when my grandson was going through treatment a few years back and I knew in that moment that God doesn’t will this. This is a matter of genetics or as the doctor’s said, just bad luck. A loving God doesn’t will these types of illnesses or other suffering or loss that takes place. So when I pray to God, I pray for strength for myself or those affected, to help them get through these difficult times. The choices we, or others make, may affect our lives but I believe God’s will is for us to make our own choices and live our best lives.
      Thanks again.

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    1. George Post author

      Yes, it was an experience but I stopped a couple of years ago. I did it for a few years and enjoyed it but it was time..:) How are you and your husband doing? Still baking somewhere?🙂

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  10. JT Twissel

    The best things that have happened to me in life are not getting what I thought I once wanted. However, I can’t believe everything happens for a reason or is a part of a plan. No one can ever tell me God wants a child to get cancer or that it’s part of a plan. But I have many friends who find comfort in that belief. So that’s fine. Whatever gets you through the night.

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    1. George Post author

      You’re so right about the best things that may have happened is not getting what you wanted. (Garth Brooks song, Unanswered Prayers) And I absolutely agree that it’s not God will that bad things happen, including childhood illnesses. Genetics, bad luck, however you want to label it, but not God’s will.

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  11. DailyMusings

    Looking back from where I am now I believe that so much of my life was meeting the right people, being in the right place, both orchestrated from a higher being and then through my choice, As someone who believes in God, I do believe that there is higher power running the show, setting things up, but then it is the choice we make with situations that are presented to us as to how things will turn out. I do believe there was “guiding force” throughout my life that led to events that took place. When bad things happen, we don;t understand why, and for me it is about accepting it, even if I don;t understand it. That is what faith is I think.

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    1. George Post author

      Like you, I have a strong faith in God and I believe he helps us along in our journey. My mind can’t fathom him predetermining our lives. What would be the point? But you’re right, looking back, there are probably so many instances where one decision may have changed so much.
      Faith, however each of us may define it, really does get us through difficulties.

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      1. colinandray

        Is it? Really? I believe that if the huge $$$$$$ collected for cancer treatment research, was re-directed into cancer cause research, we may get a different view on things. Sadly, there are huge profits to be made out of cancer treatment … so why kill the goose that’s laying the golden eggs. It was not that long ago when there was no general acceptance that smoking had anything to do with lung issues. The manufacturers knew the risks associated with smoking, but chose to keep quiet. On a totally unconnected theme, but still on topic, VW were recently hit with a multi-million$$$$ suit because they “fudged” the data on their vehicles in order pass the clean-environment requirements. Behind every bit of bad luck (at least to me) is the consequence of someone else’s actions.

        The only flaw in my position (and I am dwelling on it) was a reader who commented about standing under a tree and getting hit by a falling branch! I may have to use my “Act of God” card. 🙂

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      2. George Post author

        Lol…you may need to pull that card one day.
        I won’t disagree about cancer cause research. And as someone whose family has seen more than enough of that, I would welcome that type of research. I was speaking with someone who works for a drug company at a wake not long ago (ironic) and he said the same thing. That there is a segment of the industry that wants to focus and spend money on cause and they’re getting push back for the reasons you mention.
        But in some ways the increase in several forms of cancer can probably be traced to our diet and environment and I don’t know how you change that. People are just not listening and we both know the industries that control both are not going to change the way they do business. VW is a perfect example. Their fine did not outweigh the profits they generated by being dishonest. And the cycle will continue. Greed will always trump what’s best for the general population. Our government has proven that for generations.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. H.Faust

    I often think about a what it scenario, where a Sligh thing was changed in my life.. How would that ripple and how my life turns out to be then, It’s interesting to think about.. Nonetheless, i loved your ideas, but I don’t think that life is that random..

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    1. George Post author

      I think sometimes the idea of randomness doesn’t sit well with us. I know I have problems with it at times. But it is interesting to think about ones life and what would have happened if….

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  13. Lynn

    What an interesting post George, one that clearly has sparked some conversation!

    Religion has not been a big part of my life but that is not to say I don’t believe in spirituality, a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves.

    Whether one believes in God, the universe or nothing at all, it can been so difficult to understand why life throws us both the gifts we receive & the challenges we face. Questions we will ask til the end of time.

    Is it randomness or fate that puts us in a time or a place that sends us on a trajectory we would otherwise not have experienced? Don’t know!

    More & more, when I find myself in a place or experience, I find myself pondering what it is I am learning from that experience as I move forward in life. For me personally, I am trying to embrace it all a little more, listening to those little nudges in whatever form they happen to come. Perhaps that’s just called ageing!😂

    Such a great post George!

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    1. George Post author

      Lol…it could be aging but listening to those nudges is an interesting way to approach things. I suppose it’s fun to just imagine and have these types of conversations and hear different perspectives. Like yours, all very interesting. Thanks, Lynn.

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  14. Pingback: The Randomness Of Life – Independent writer

  15. genuinegemjourneys

    A thought provoking post. I believe everything happens for a reason and happens for the best. I believe that is our free will that allows us to respond and seek opportunities based on our life’s happenings. If we are connected with divinity then an argument could be made that our reactions /responses are directed by the divine. Thank you for your post.

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    1. George Post author

      Thank you for your response. It’s a very interesting thought, especially if everything happens for the best. We don’t always see the reasons why in our time but, in time, we usually understand.

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  16. Noor

    I was a staunch believer that everything has a reason and the concept of faith is absolutely false. All of it changed until I read this book called Many masters, Many lives. It is slightly different from the topic you have talked about, but I believe everything is interconnected. So going through that book which speaks volumes and has millions of contradictions, will either clear somethings a bit or maybe boggle you about what life really is.

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  17. Shruti pandey

    This gave me immense food for thought. Something to really think about. I do believe faith is the answer to everything though but what you said is equally important. Now it’s confusing me even more. Good one though👍
    Oh and btw , it’d be really helpful to me if you went through my blog once. I’m new here and would like to know someone’s honest opinion on it. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

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