The ever-inexorable fate.

In the three Theban plays by Sophocles, the Greek tragic hero Oedipus is forced to come to terms with fate. Having killed his father, married his mother, and sired his sister, Oedipus’ story is about far more than accidental incest; it details the psychological and emotional trauma we humans face once we’ve truly understood the severe limitations on our free will.

Throughout the first of the plays, Oedipus Rex, Oedipus’ mother/wife, Jocasta, attempts to convince the titular character to cease probing into the very events that have caused the plague ravaging Thebes. She, like the audience, is well aware that the end result of Oedipus’ incessant questioning will only lead to his ruin and downfall. Yet, despite her repeated attempts, Oedipus continues to probe until that fateful moment when he comes to the realization of the singular, immutable truth: that fate had commanded his affairs.

Oedipus’ story teaches us that man is bound to fate. He may attempt to escape it, but his attempts are merely illusions. Had Oedipus not questioned the citizens of Thebes, the blind prophet Tiresias, or the old shepherd, he—and his wife/mother Jocasta—would have been content with the belief that they had escaped fate. Yet, the audience of the Theban plays, much like the Chorus, is well aware of the ultimate reality of Oedipus’ case.

Much as we may, none of us can impart our sentiment (i.e. our “feelings” or dispositions) to reality. We may wish a thing to be. Perhaps even hopelessly long for it. But our sentiments have no effect on whether or not something exists, doesn’t exist, or the manner by which it exists or does not exist.

To say of God that “I cannot worship a God that is like X” is as fallacious as saying “I cannot accept a light that travels.” The basic concepts of “God” and “Light” have inherent properties that deny each of us the ability to impart judgment on to them. We can neither make the omnipotent being or the electromagnetic radiation in our image. If they exist, they exist with the foundational definitions. Stating anything else is not only self-worship (in the case of God) or delusively contrarian (in the case of light), but at the core, irrational. You cannot escape these realities, much like Oedipus could not escape fate. You can only blind yourself like he did.

Such was the prophet’s horoscope. O king, Regard it not. Whate’er the god deems fit 
To search, himself unaided will reveal.”
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