Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Meant To Be (or God Wants You To Be a Lazy Bastard)

"Everything that doesn’t go right, goes wrong for all the right reasons."

This was a friend's FaceBook update recently and I have to say this is a mindset I've never understood. It obviously speaks to the outlook that God has a plan and everything happens as it is intended, but there's a major problem with that.

People, pretty much all people, believe in free will.

If you don't think we get to make our own decisions then there's no point to anything. We're just pistons in a great big God machine. Not only does that not fit with our experiences, but also doesn't fit with our actions. Why lock up murders, rapists, bankers, and clowns if they have no control over their actions. That would make them as sublimely innocent (all of us in fact) as dandelion seeds.

From a Christian perspective, freewill is an essential part of faith, because only in choosing belief can one be saved.


People also seem to want to insist that God has an infallible plan too. That he is all knowing and everything that happens is a result of a certain timetable and divine plan.

Well let me plainly say that if everything that happens to people is a direct result of God's manipulation of us, then at best the dude's a scientist using us as lab rats, and at worst he's a mean motherfucker making life difficult and painful just because he can.

Don't get pissed off at me, I'm just pointing out the inconsistencies in a certain perspective. I actually think that God, in whatever form you worship divinity, is a hell of a lot cooler than that.

This is the point where many will say "God works in mysterious ways". There is some merit to this statement. A chess master can see an entire game in their head, while I can barely see two moves in the future. So the master might sacrifice a rook for no apparent reason to a novice such as myself, but in fact is using it as an essential part of the end game.

But let's not get too happy about that statement. In the Chess analogy there is an opponent. And God, as typically conceived, has no opponent. Mankind may be in a struggle with Satan, but it's no problem for God to put that sucker in his place. So if there's no opponent, then God is playing both sides of the board, which means any moves made are for his own edification and amusement, not in the pursuit of any meaningful victory.

In other words, there is no specific reason why anything needs to be any certain way.

So no doubt God can see consequences far beyond mortal comprehension, but that doesn't explain away the reason behind bad things happening if indeed he is an all powerful, all knowing, all controlling being.

Unless, of course, you think He's just plain mean.

All evidence would seem to point to God being aware of all possibilities, even knowing what choices we can/will make and how they will effect humanity through all their iterations. But not changing things. Not controlling us. Not altering the consequences of our choices.

So when things happen, good, bad or indifferent, they just happen. If thinking they happen for a reason helps you out of a rough spot then do what you need to do, but it takes away the beauty of the human experience.

After all, the logical extension of "Everything happens for a reason" is that we should just stop doing whatever we're doing, stay where we are and see what happens. If something is required of us, it'll happen. If not, then staying put must be what is supposed to happen.

Yes it sounds like a ridiculous conclusion, but it's not my theory.

What I prefer to believe in is the ingenuity and grit of people. When something unfortunate happens we are hurt, we grieve, we feel anger, but we also discover new pathways because we are forced to consider new circumstances. In trial we may find a strength we never knew we had, a choice we could not have previously conceived, or a perspective we hadn't considered.

So on balance I'd say no, I don't believe everything happens for a reason, and I don't think most intelligent people really deeply hold to that either. Not in a preordained plan finding it's way to fruition sort of way.


Everything that happens does let us grow and change, so if you consider that a positive for people both individually and as a species, which I do, then I suppose that could be the reason things happen. So that we can be given opportunities to discover greatness within ourselves.

And if that's the plan of the deity you dig, then it's a damn good one.


  1. LOL I read this twice to be sure that we agree. And it does all come down to your second to last paragraph, which was also my intention. I was referring to a specific incident that I don't totally understand the dynamics of why things turned out crappy, but they did and I move on and learn from it.

  2. Your status just sparked an idea. I didn't respond directly to you on FB because I know you're smart enough to mean it in a reasonable way. But the sentiment as generally used has always rubbed me the wrong way.

  3. I hear ya...and besides what is right and wrong anyway? It's all a matter of perception. I'm pretty sure that between the two of us, we could argue in favor or against any manner of subjects regardless of our opinion, just to fuck with someone.

  4. You've pretty much detailed the way I feel about this. So, I have to ask about something I can't figure out. Where does prayer play in this? If we believe that god doesn't get involved (because believing that means a god that is cruel) then what good is prayer? Normally that wouldn't bother me at all, but I find that when things are exceptionally rough I turn to prayer even though I don't believe in a god that would respond to prayer. I can't reconcile it.

  5. An interesting question Jen, and one I might explore at length in a future blog because I haven't given it specific thought before. My first blush thought is that God (as Christians conceive Him) has equipped people with the tools they need to survive and thrive in this world. But day to day issues can make people feel separate from those gifts. So prayer is a form of reconnection that allows someone to remember their own best self as provided by God. Not so much magic problem solving, but more getting the cheapest, most powerful counsel in the known universe.

    But again, hadn't thought about that issue before, so I'll need to mull it over more before I could state with any certainty my theory on it.

  6. T - Certainly could, although I find it much more satisfying now to stick with figuring out what I really think about things rather than messing with other people's belief systems just because I can.

    When I was younger however *evil chuckle*