On regret

Your correspondent remembers once skeptically hearing of predetermination. Now he believes in it:

I remember, in middle school, hearing in history classes about the Franco-Swiss theologian John Calvin and his crazy doctrine of predetermination, according to which, from the start the end is planned out. I was very dismissive, and immediately said I would slice the air with my hand  hands as proof that I could control the future.  And then I did it.

The entire philosophy seemed very unfounded in fact. Nowhere around me did I see any proof that I lacked any control over what I did, and over where I would end up. In this sense, the oft-repeated mantra about hard work and fair play rang true. So, for a number of years, I stopped giving thought to the idea of predetermination and went on with my life, controlling what actions I made in the intervening time.

Then, one day, through a conversation with a friend, it occurred to me that the proof lies not in whether I can make something predetermined, but in whether I cannot. The topic of regret was brought up, and I realized that there is no valid reason to express the slightest regret.

4.54 billion years ago, when tomorrow’s events were scheduled, you lost all valid reason to express regret. This fact, it seems, is strictly scientific. Now and at the dawn of our universe, one movement in the physics of our planet effects an outcome. For example, the creation of water, by nature of physics, will create a wave, which will then involuntarily subside.

By extending this logic, it becomes apparent that the very earliest action, say the appearance of the first speck of matter, has, through very rigid laws, resulted in outcomes that involuntarily continue the growth of our universe.

This chain of progress led to the creation of apes. The apes were raised, learning from genetics and their experiences, acting precisely on those two factors and nothing else. Species evolved. Then came Australopithecus. Then Neanderthal. Eventually, our own species.

The sum of our decisions amounts to nothing more than that of our experience and genetics. From the twilight of our lives, we’ve formed our decisions based on nothing besides our genetics and experiences, and everything we’ve done wouldn’t have changed, no matter how many times we reconsider it. The soon-to-be bride may have taken time in answering the big question, but, if she had to go back to that moment, the answer would always remain the same.

In other words, our lives are predetermined.