Can You Delay the Inevitable?

I usually end all of my e-mails with a quote: you can only delay the inevitable. My quotation is simply saying that the inevitable will occur, but one can postpone it.

One of my friends has constantly debated me on the issue. He said that if you could delay what was inevitable, then the inevitability mentioned wasn’t really inevitable.

Definition of Inevitable

According to, the inevitable is something that cannot be avoided, evaded, or escaped. It is also something that will happen and is unalterable.

In context, the inevitable is what one could consider an “end.” How someone gets to that end is another issue.

Delay the Inevitable?

If the inevitable is unavoidable, can’t one at least delay or postpone it? If the inevitable is death, couldn’t someone try to live their life so that their life was prolonged, thus delaying death?

Ah, that might be the case unless a bus broadsides you at high speed destroying your plan.

My friend would argue that the inevitable is something that you have no control over, so how can one delay what he has no control over?

My Stance on Delaying the Inevitable

I think there are two forms of inevitability: the inevitable that we as humans control, and the inevitable that God controls.

An example of inevitability for humans would be changing out a car. I will inevitably buy a new car, but the longer I drive my current one only delays the inevitable.

An example of inevitability for God would be: allowing a storm to flood my car, thus speeding my search for a new car. In this case, God’s inevitability overruled my delay.

So in the context of the world, I believe humans can control what is inevitable, but God can (and will) take the reins at any moment.


Any thoughts on delaying the inevitable?

10 thoughts on “Can You Delay the Inevitable?”

  1. I think the entire saying "you can only delay the inevitable" overall sounds paradoxical.
    Does that mean that we can only delay the inevitable but we cannot delay anything else?
    Does that mean that we can only delay the inevitable but we cannot rush it?

    But then what kind of things can be categorized as inevitable? Different things… and often those things are relative to smth else.
    My baby daughter will inevitably grow up – can I delay that – no, but I can certainly enjoy and get the most out of her childhood, and make her childhood as happy as I can.

    Many celebrities though are trying their best to delay the inevitable – aging, and going after some extreme measures to preserve their youth and delay the aging.

    So in that respect sometimes people can indeed delay the inevitable.

  2. It would be possible to say that it is inevitable that at 3pm you will be eating peas; however, I think that when we use the word inevitable we don't really mean it that way.

    I think there is usually an implicit understanding in the use of the term that there is some potential for delay; for example, "stop messing about and sort it, you know it is inevitable."

    As a devout atheist I can't agree with God's will, but rephrased as an incident of nature or physics I certainly agree with you on that; although, things that now seem inevitable may prove not to be so in future.

  3. Well, when you say "…inevitable that we as humans control…", that situation is no longer inevitable, by definition (as you noted, and as we have discussed).

    I would say it is inevitable that we have the debate until one of us kicks the bucket. 🙂


  4. In your example with the flooded car, I would say that you still can delay the inevitable by using public transportation or cabs for a while. Or you can decide to get yourself a bicycle, thus making the inevitable never happen. Which means it was not so inevitable, after all. So, when do you know something is inevitable? Most of the times, you know it after it occurs. I believe that except for death, there is no real inevitable. It all depends on our actions and on changing our mindset when we foresee an "inevitable" that we don't like.

  5. cetroyer,

    So the longer we live, the longer we prolong the inevitable?


    That is a good point. I could ride a cab or a bus and never buy another car and shake my fists in the air.

  6. No, if you live longer, it just means that you haven't reached that inevitable point which is death.

    Way to do a Red Herring, though, seeing as the point of being inevitable was our having the argument, not our respective times of death. 🙂

    You know the only way the debate will end is if you come over to my way of thinking. Mwahahaha. 😆


  7. Without some concept of time, inevitability means nothing.

    Just because you don't die today, doesn't mean you've avoided the inevitable. Since you don't know for sure when death will occur, how can you say you've delayed it?

    "I will inevitably buy a new car, but the longer I drive my current one only delays the inevitable." … if you die before your car does, does that mean you've avoided the inevitable? 😉

  8. Mubashar Iqbal,

    Good point on the avoiding part. Doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The inevitable is unavoidable.

    However, what about sleep? I plan on going to sleep sometime this evening. Is it inevitable that I will fall asleep? By staying awake, am I delaying the inevitable?

    Now say that someone comes up behind me and knocks me unconscious. Is that the point of inevitability regarding sleep?

    This is a nice headache-inducing topic 🙂

  9. Inevitable knows no time. That is why they say “sooner or later.”
    Of course the events that lead up to the inevitable can be slowed, but the inevitable can not be associated with the time.

    In my opinion of course.

  10. Yes now it is actually possible for people to delay death, thanks to the advancements made in medical technology in the past few decades. But not sure about inevitable 🙂

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