For centuries, the idea of god and his relationship with human beings has been altered and adjusted according to the beliefs of different people. God has been molded to fit the beliefs of Christianity, Islam and redefined in Judaism. To some, God does not exist and to others, God is heaven and earth. To stoic philosophers like Epictetus, god is a playwright who assigns a role for each and every living thing, instilling himself as the rationality to all things like a conscience. To Christian, Judaism, and Islamic followers, God is an almighty divine being who is capable of both miracles and devastation, and one who must be obeyed, as seen in Genesis. These two Gods, who both hold the power to predetermine our lives, differ in the idea of free will and the practicality of it.
Epictetus’s god predetermines our lives, not unlike the monotheistic of God of Judaism and Christianity, while equipping us with the faculty of understand so that we may change how we feel about things that are not up to us because affairs such as our emotions, thoughts and opinions are within our control. This faculty of understanding helps us in life to fulfill our fate in life when curveballs are thrown at us, like the death of a close relative or the loss of one’s good reputation. Whichever way god predetermines our lives, be it a beggar, a king or a priest, we must “play this part skillfully” for he is the playwright and we are his actors (Handbook, 16). The misfortunes we might encounter are simply a result of overstepping boundaries or misinterpreting the role god has handed to us. For instance, there are things in life we cannot control but still attempt to such as avoiding death. Death is “nothing dreadful… but instead the judgment about death that it is dreadful—that is what is dreadful” (Handbook, 13). If we change the way we perceive death, then we have utilized our faculty of understanding well. To avoid such misfortunes, like the constant fear of death, Epictetus advises that...
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