So much of political thought boils down to a very ancient question, one that was never satisfactorily resolved: does man possess free will? Does fate exist? And if it exists, can it be altered?

We talk of concepts like the inevitable progression of history, and the primacy of the poll numbers, and changing demographics, as if such things are fate. “The numbers don’t lie,” we say.

But do they? Can they?

There is a quote from the movie Gattaca (an excellent film, by the way), that touches on this.

“No one exceeds their potential, it simply means that we didn’t accurately gauge their potential in the first place.”

Is human potential measurable in any real sense to begin with? Can we quantify it? And if not, why can’t we?

One of the appeals of religion is that it tries to answer this question, where the numbers fail to explain it. Most religions look at the soul as a piece of the divine, as something supernatural, tied to this world, perhaps, through the human form, but not of this world, and thus not bound by its rules. Not measurable. The numbers cannot comment on the divine.

And in that, they create an out. An exit, as it were, from the idea that everything is fate, that everything was meant to happen according to natural laws of the universe. A part of man is not part of this universe, and thus not bound by its rules. And it is precisely this part that can defy fate.

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