This week’s webinar was all about choice, and what informs choice. I chose to wait until now to write this post, and as a result, all of my wonderful insights, my cogent logical arguments and deductions have escaped me.
Well, off the cuff, here goes:
Life is indeed about choice, and where we are now is where we have chosen to be – right now. I don’t believe that we’re entirely products of our choices, but a significant portion of the current state of life is related to choice. A fairly sizable, and perhaps much more significant portion is also related to opportunity, chance, luck, so-called fate, etc. While choice may be partially responsible for determining one’s position, choice does not account for the lack of control over one’s own life most people have. If people don’t have intimate control, then how can it be said that their position or lot in life is strictly due to their choice?
Within the same webinar where one individual made the statement that where a person is now is where they’ve chosen to be, another also stated that decision making is genetic. That would seem to indicate that any semblance of choice was abrogated by birthright. We choose how we are programmed to choose, so therefore once again we have no control over our position.
So which is it? Are we where we’re at because of our choices, or because we had no choice about which way we’re programmed to choose? Were we in fact predestined to be at the very spot we are now? If so, that does seem to indicate the possibility that an omniscience could know exactly our reaction to every infinitesimal prodding, each stimulus along our path. The odds against that however are staggering. Imagine the sheer computing power that would be required to track every neuron, every impulse, every situation and accurately predict the response of every involved individual in order such that we end up exactly where we are. Then extend that concept out to encompass what most religions believe, which is that everything was planned – designed – by the creator, or the universal intelligence. That takes it beyond prediction into causation. To conceive of any God or universal intelligence that is capable of such a feat boggles the mind, and those who think they can define it or him are merely guessing. That is the most rational argument against the existence of such a being or intelligence that I’ve heard yet. Even now though, in the face of those odds and that logic, I can’t state categorically that there isn’t such an intelligence or higher being. I have just as much of an issue with an atheist telling me there is no God, as I have with a devout Christian telling me my only path to salvation is through Christ. The atheists have their Flying Spaghetti Monster thought experiment and when they bring it up, they’re just so smug, so sure of their rightness. To claim they know definitively is the height of arrogance. Is there no happy medium between the two positions? So far, I find that the answer is ‘No’. The squishy medium of Agnosticism is straddling two equally unappealing options. Then too, if we’re completely programmed in our responses, how can it be true that we have free will? And then, by extension, if our choices are not our own, whose are they? Is there a puppet master? Honestly, I could give myself fits if I contemplate this further.
Today being Chinese New Year, it seems almost fitting to include a blurb of eastern philosophy, since I’m currently a bit burned out on the Haanel New Thought philosophy I’ve been reading. This is from Wikipedia, so it might be good to cross reference the info. I was born in the year of the Pig, in the Metal Pig elemental cycle. Here’s what the Wikipedia article says about my particular Chinese Zodiac elemental sign:
“Metal, being the hardest of the elements give the Pig an air of firmness, rigidity, persistence, strength and determination. The Metal Pig can be controlling, ambitious, forceful and set in their ways. They are often more self-reliant and prefer to handle their problems alone.”
Those that know me might say that fits me to a ‘T’. I identify with quite a bit of that statement. There are some very good qualities in there. Even the down-side of that statement in my mind is still more of a positive than a negative. Having read it however, I would maintain that it is probably a perfect example of confirmation bias. We tend to see ourselves in everything we read. I believe someone mentioned that in the webinar as well. It’s the reason that medical students often become hypochondriacs during the second year of their medical education. It’s also a very general statement. I could probably find things I see in myself and others in every elemental cycle of every year of the Chinese Zodiac. Haanel does not have a monopoly on unprovable generalities.
I want to believe that I have control of my current life and that all my decisions led me to this point, but at the same time, isn’t that just my own ego attempting to tell me that I have a semblance of control? I think I have a choice, therefore I accept my current situation as being under my control. It’s also possible that since I am such a stubborn person that I’m willfully pretending not to know something critical. When asked, what am I pretending not to know, I honestly have no idea, since in my world view, I obviously already know everything I need to know. To quote G.K. Chesterton:
“Merely having an open mind is nothing. The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.”
In the matter of faith, once I find something solid to close my mind on, I will. Some things however are already very solid.
One thing I do choose…
I choose to continue asking questions and genuinely thinking about the answer my genetically programmed or properly nurtured brain provides. Perhaps once I have the answers to these questions, I’ll be able accept and move on to modification of my pre-programmed autonomic responses. I’d also like to go back and watch the webinar again now that I’ve had some time to ponder this post. I suspect however that I will once again prioritize other things over spending an additional 2 hours in nonconstructive, non income producing activity.