Freewill versus Destiny

You may have heard others say: “God has a plan for each of us”; “You must fulfill your destiny”; “He is destined to be great”; “I am willing to go through this, if this is God’s plan for me”; or “I need a sign that this is God’s plan for me”. In short, there seems to be a predetermined end.However, I understand that one of Gods gift to mankind is Freewill (is it?). A predetermined end appears to be inconsistent with Freewill, for the end ceases to be predetermined if we are free to accept or reject it. On the other hand, Freewill is hardly free if, no matter what choice we make, we still end up with the same thing.

“Kahit anong gawin mo, kung hindi para sa ‘yo, hindi talaga mapupunta sa ‘yo” (”No matter what you do, you can’t have something if it’s not meant for you”). We often hear this, especially in matters relating to the heart. Indeed, we all have this fantasy of a soulmate – someone destined for us, our better half. If he/she is your soulmate, then you are destined to be with him/her. Where’s the choice in that?

This is an issue that had been nagging me for years (I hope I am not violating the First Commandment here). I would like to believe that Destiny and Freewill are not inconsistent.

Atty. Cortes (Philippine Theo Law Gee) left a comment at the other site and noted that this issue is probably the mother of all theological controversies. It has been raging for thousands of years. He outlined 3 basic views:

1. The Calvinist view. According to this view God is like a novelist, and human beings are like the characters who live the pages of God’s novel. Within the pages of the novel the characters are genuinely free and freely make their choices. But beyond their freedom is the greater freedom of the novelist who exist in a sphere which is qualitatively (i.e., not merely quantitatively) greater than the sphere of the novel. The freedom of the novelist encompasses and determines the freedom of the novel’s characters. Nevertheless the freedom of the novel’s characters qua characters of and in a novel, remains genuine.

2. The Arminian view. Here human beings are like drivers on the ground, driving their cars and not knowing what is at the end of the road. God, on the other hand, is like the pilot of a plane. He does not interfere with our driving, but he is in a position to see what is at the end of the road. God exists outside of time. He does not interfere with history (at least most of the time!) but he does see both the beginning and the end of history, as well as its middle. He doesn’t determine your choices, but he already knows what you will choose.

3. The Neo-Arminian or Open Theist view. According to this view God has exhaustive knowledge of the past and the present. But he only has partial knowledge of the future; i.e., there’s a lot about the future that he doesn’t know about (especially that part of the future which involve free human choices). In this view, God is a God who takes “genuine” risks and the future is more or less “open” even to him. But he is confident that whatever turns up he is resourceful enough to deal with it.

Indeed, everyone has a concept of Freewill and Destiny. At first, I got to think that if He has a plan for each and everyone of us, then He seems a little unfair because some are born poor (or with broken families or in war-torn areas, etc), while others are born rich (or in paradise). If that’s the plan, then it’s certainly unfair. It’s easy to say that He has reasons that we human beings cannot fathom (which is true, but is hard to swallow for anyone who is searching for answers). Nevertheless, I guess I just have to console myself with the thought that the plan is salvation, and it doesn’t really matter what condition or circumstance one is born into.


  1. Hi, Atty:

    Interesting post!

    By the way, I’m Myke U. Obenieta, editor of the Cebu-based Sun.Star Weekend Magazine. We have a section called BLOG PLUG where we recommend to our readers a particular blog for the week for them to visit. May I seek your permission to print this post as a way of recommending your blog to our readers? This will come out in our November 4 issue. Best regards!


    PS: For purposes of acknowledging your byline, what’s your family name? Is it Pamaos? Thanks.

  2. Thanks, Myke. Please feel free to reproduce/print this post. It’s an honor. I know Sun.Star because I finished my undergrad at UP-Cebu. I also sent a query to your Nini Cabaero, regarding my post on e-libel. By the way, allow me to link to your site.

    More power and best regards.
    F. Pamaos

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