Ed Friedlander MD
Long before we "got civilized", ancient Europeans (Greeks, Vikings, others) were already talking about "predestination". If something was going to happen, it would happen and there was nothing you could do about it.
Why would anybody talk like this?
1. Ancient people may have been impressed (or wanted to be impressed) by the fulfillment of prophecies. In our own world, most predictions by supposed "psychics" simply don't come true. But people want to believe in the supernatural, and people like to tell each other about the rare occasions when something happens that a psychic said would happen. So money-making "psychics" make lots of predictions and keep them vague.
People have such a strong desire to believe in the power of supernatural prediction that they even invent stories of psychic predictions being fulfilled. The most famous example (Nostradamus and the gray monk in Varennes woods) continues to be told, even though the tale of Louis XVI being disguised as a monk when he was captured there is just a lie.
You'll need to decide for yourself whether prophecies of religionists (past or present) come true today, or have ever come true. Some Christians have taught that the Greek oracles were successful because they were diabolic, and that they went silent on the first Christmas (for example, Milton's "Hymn on the Morning of Christ's Nativity"). People want to believe in oracles.
2. Believing in predestination frees people from worry. Talking about unalterable destiny is extremely popular among soldiers going into battle -- a powerful antidote to obessive fear that would slow or distract a warrior. Soldiers tell each other, "If the bullet has your name on it, you will die." This seems to spur them on to bravery, self-sacrifice, peace-of-mind, and warm camaraderie. Talk about "fate", "predestination", and so... [continues]
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