Summary Against Modern Thought: What Fate Is

Summary Against Modern Thought: What Fate Is

Previous post.

About the difference between fate and superstitious versions of astrology, see the last argument. It is best not to speak of fate.


1 It is evident from the points set forth above what view we should take regarding fate.

2 Indeed, men observe that many things happen by accident in this world if their particular causes be considered, and some men have maintained that they are not even ordered by higher causes. To these people it has appeared that there is no fate at all.

3 But others have attempted to reduce these events to certain higher causes from which they result in an orderly way, in accord with a definite plan. These people have asserted that there is fate in the sense that things observed to happen by chance are “pre-fated,” that is, foretold and pre-ordained to happen.

4 Some of these people, then, have tried to reduce all contingent events which occur by chance, here below, to causes among the celestial bodies, and even human acts of choice to the controlling power of the stars; to which power all things are subject, they claimed, with a certain necessity which they called fate. Of course, this theory is impossible and foreign to the faith, as is clear from our preceding considerations.

5 On the other hand, some men have desired to reduce to the control of divine providence all things whatsoever that appear to happen by chance in these lower beings. Hence, they said that all things are done by fate, meaning by fate the ordering which is found in things as a result of divine providence. Thus, Boethius says [De consol. phil. IV, 6]: “fate is a disposition inherent in mutable things, whereby providence connects each thing with His orders.”

In this description of fate, “disposition” is used for ordering; while the phrase “inherent in things” is used to distinguish fate from providence; since the ordering, as present in the divine mind and not yet impressed on things, is providence, but, as already unfolded in things, it is called fate. Moreover, he speaks of “mutable things” to show that the order of providence does not take away contingency and mobility from things, as some men have claimed.

6 So, according to this meaning, to deny fate is to deny providence. But, since we should not even have names in common with unbelievers, lest occasion for error could be taken from the association of names, the name fate is not to be used by the faithful lest we appear to agree with those who have held a wrong opinion about fate, by subjecting all things to the necessitation of the stars.

Consequently, Augustine says, in Book V of the City of God: “If any man calls the will, or power, of God by the name, fate, let him hold his view, but correct his way of speaking.” And also Gregory, in accord with the same understanding of it, says: “Far be it from the minds of the faithful to say that there is any fate.”


  1. Wild willie

    So maybe more basically we have to learn how to speak with more intention. Know about words, care about words, not lazily misuse words.
    Abuse of Language Abuse of Power
    by Josef Pieper

    “. Man speaks so that through naming things, what is real may become intelligible. This mediating character of language, however, is being increasingly corrupted. Tyranny, propaganda, mass-media destroy and distort words. They offer us apparent realities whose fictive character threatens to become opaque. Josef Pieper shows with energetic zeal, but also with ascetical restraint, the path out of this dangerous situation. We are constrained to see things again as they are and from the truth thus grasped, to live and to work.”

  2. DG

    “There’s no fate but what we make for ourselves “! Another movie quote for you Briggs from the Terminator series! Yeah no such thing as fate- at least in the sense that individuals lack freedom of will.

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