50 Answers

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50 Answers,” a new book by Glory White, explores 50 distinct answers a wide variety of religions provide for our biggest, most compelling questions. The following excerpt provides an exclusive sneak peek into how religions tackle the all-important subject of fate.

Where do we come from? What happens after we die? Religions have been answering these questions – and many more – for millennia. But while most of us are familiar with the answers of major world religions, answers from lesser-known or historical religions are often overlooked. An insightful new book sheds light on how a rich tapestry of religions answer life’s biggest questions.

Fathoming Fate and Faith

The word ‘fate’ is derived from the Latin ‘fatum’, or “has been spoken”, suggesting that fate is predetermined. But what exactly is fate? For the ancients, fate was personified. In fact, many ancient mythologies featured 3-9 goddesses tasked with controlling human destiny. The most famous of these are undoubtedly the Greek Fates, or Moirai, a triad of elderly sisters venerated in at least three temples throughout ancient Greece. The Fates’ ability to enforce fate was so powerful, it was thought to trump the will of the Olympians themselves. To ascertain that every human and deity lived out his or her predetermined destiny, the first sister, Clotho, spun the thread of fate, while the second sister, Lachesis, allotted it to each individual, thus dispensing misery and suffering unequally among humans. The third sister, Atropos, then cut the thread with a pair of scissors, and in doing so determined one’s inescapable moment and manner of death.

What exactly is fate? For the ancients, fate was personified. 

As the years went by, fate evolved into a virtually unrecognizable abstract idea, which was increasingly applied to milder, non-lethal events. Its predetermined nature was gradually stripped away, freeing humans to take control of their fate. “I am the master of my fate,” wrote the Victorian poet William Ernest Henley, reflecting the modern concept of a malleable fate wrested from the hands of invisible entities. Capitalism, too, played a part in how fate came to be viewed by encouraging individuals to work hard to shape the course of their mortal destinies. But while the option to actively improve our lives is reassuring, what of the afterlife and our posthumous fate? Is it also possible to control that kind of fate? Capitalism, laser focused as it is on the here and now, is admittedly ill-equipped to answer such questions. Fortunately, religions have been providing answers to our most compelling questions since time immemorial, solving conundrums in unexpected and often insightful ways. So do we control our fate? Let us explore the fascinating, yet somewhat contradictory, answers provided by three religions.

The Calvinist Answer

Calvinism is a branch of Protestant Christianity …

Originally appeared on Daily Philosophy Read More

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