Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fate, or No Fate? That is the Question...

I saw Gnomeo and Juliet earlier today at work, and so the title was inspired by Shakespeare. Now, for the real post:

My husband loves Star Trek. He loves Star Trek the same way I love Star Wars. We enjoy learning the details and histories of characters. He enjoys learning more about the ships than the characters though. Which is why I don't hold it against him that he is a trekkie. :-)

So, when he finished the Star Trek:Enterprise series via instant streaming on Netflix, he decided he wanted to watch the new movie again. We hadn't seen it in a while, and I enjoy that I don't have to know much about Star Trek in order to enjoy the movie or storyline. Although I do admit, there are many jokes in there that I would not have caught had I not seen some of the older series. For instance, when Scotty talks about testing his theory on Archer's prize beagle...

What caught me off guard though, was when Spock Prime (the original one, played by Leonard Nimoy) talked about his destiny. Kirk turns to him and shoots back saying that because of the time travel, everyone's destiny has changed. No one is living the life they would have lived had things progressed along the normal timeline. Yet, this obviously isn't true, as we see all the characters of the original Star Trek coming together through out the movie to form the crew of the Enterprise.

Often, talk of fate is pretty common. It's the idea that we have a destiny. That there is an end point that we will reach. That certain things will always happen to us no matter what choices we make in life. In the case of James Tiberius Kirk, he was destined to become captain of the Starship Enterprise. In the original series, it was his father and the example that was set before him that prompted him to join Starfleet, which lead to him becoming captain of the vessel. In the new movie, he never knew his father. Instead of being born in a small town in Iowa, Kirk was born in space after his mother went into labor early due to the trauma of the starship they were aboard being unexpectedly attacked by a Romulan mining vessel from the future. His father died as the acting captain of that starship. His entire life changed from the moment the Romulans traveled back in time and attacked the Starship Kevlin. Yet, he still manages to become captain of the Starship Enterprise. He still signs up for Starfleet. Though in a rather unorthodox fashion, he still becomes captain of the Enterprise. He still becomes friends with Spock. All the other crew members, Scotty, Bones, U'hura, Chekhov, etc. all end up aboard enterprise. Yet, they say the destinies they once had no longer apply?

I think of other movies that deal with some sort of space time continuum. Back to the Future is really the only one that discusses the issues of time travel and how it can mess with the future, and how the future can mess with the past. It all gets rather complex, and honestly, I think that the BTTF series leaves much to be desired in how they change things without other things being changed as well. Sure, a few things do change. His parents have more money because his dad ended up standing up to Biff in the in the first movie. But many things that happen in the third movie completely go against the previously stated issues of messing with the space time continuum.

Then we bring in the Terminator movies. They are another set of films that believe in a set future, despite the popular quote that Sarah Connor frequently tells her son John:

The future's not set. There's no fate but what we make for ourselves.
Yet despite this idea being said in the first movie, when Kyle Reese first says it to Sarah Connor, and again in the second movie when Sarah decides to go after the creator of Skynet, we find out in the third installment, that the ultimate future is always set. It may happen a little later, but Skynet will indeed take over. Sure, the original judgment day came and passed without incident, but we find out that Sarah herself didn't believe that herself, and actually had a coffin filled with ammunition and buried in a mausoleum so that on the day that judgment actually took place, her son would be prepared, though he only knows of its existence because of the terminator his future wife sent back in time to save them both. Once, again, we see time travel is confusing and brings about more headaches than it solves problems. SkyNet DOES take over. John Connor DOES become a warrior, and while HOW it happened changed (they discuss this in the third movie),it still happened!

So then I started thinking about free will. As a Christian, I have been taught that we have free will, but I've also been taught that God knows everything. If he knows everything, then doesn't he already know what decision we will make in the end? After all, in Matthew 6, we are taught the Lord's Prayer. When Jesus tells us how to pray, in addition to doing so quietly, without fanfare, or pomp, we are told this one thing:

"...for your Father knows what you need before you ask him," Matthew 6:8 (NIV)
So, if God knows what I need, how does He NOT know what I am going to do? He knows what is best for me. He WANTS what is best for me. Maybe I'm missing something there. Maybe I am misinterpreting the scripture, and it does not imply that God knows all?

Then I think about how often we talk about something being God's Will. We say things like "even if you are on birth control, or using birth control, if God decides to give you a child, you WILL get pregnant." Okay, so maybe not as brashly, but when discussing whether or not to use birth control with many people, this was often a response I got (although I am sort of paraphrasing). The general consensus of people I met was that if God has a plan for you, it will be done.

Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."(Proverbs 19:21, NIV)
Maybe I'm also misunderstanding this scripture as well, but I remember hearing it, and peace flooding through me as I realized that something in me told me that when it came to what happened in my life, nothing was happening by accident, and God was guiding me through life. Everytime something bad could have happened, I have always found that it was followed by finding out that things could have been a lot worse. People have always entered my life at the perfect time, and I have seen this not just in recent years, but through out my whole life. Things always work out to get us to where God wants us to be, and if it's not part of God's plan, I find that things happen to stop my own plans, or at least make them VERY difficult to continue.

So is that the same as fate? I don't know. I think I could stand to get more research done on this issue. I'm thinking it might be an interesting topic to explore.

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