“Everything happens for a reason.” How many times have we heard that? And how many smart people have we heard make that comment? The statement is usually made in the context of spirituality or religion – seldom in the context of science. But the statement is only true in the context of science. And the predestination ideal can cause real problems.
When something terrible happens we sometimes hear people exclaim, “I don’t understand. Everything happens for a reason but I can not understand why this happened.” To support the ideal of ‘everything happens for a reason,’ the response is simply – “God works in mysterious ways.” Everyone nods in agreement at the wisdom.
Whoooeee – we are talking total superstition as a legitimate life compass.
When the space shuttle Challenger blew to smithereens in 1985 there were many who tried to interpret the event in religious terms. After all, everything happens for a reason. The implication is that God stuck his finger in the pie to affect the desired outcome. When we allow superstition to rule then we can come to a multitude of erroneous conclusions. ‘God does not want us to fly into the heavens.’ But this example seems harmless enough. So what – if people want to stick their head into the sand that is their right.
The predestination argument causes huge problems in two fundamental areas of life.
As individuals we will experience horrendous grief. For instance, a child might be killed in an accident. The horror is so dumbfounding that we cannot make sense of the tragedy. People stumble in their grief, asking, “What did we do to deserve this?” With predestination as the dominant ideal we can only conclude that God injected this horror into our life for a reason. We are supposed to either learn about grief or we are being punished for unknown past crimes against God. We must own the tragedy – heaping guilt on top of grief.
As a society we can be lead into big trouble with the religious axiom of predestination. When the terrorists crashed airplanes into our buildings in 2001 the religious wackos came out of their hiding places in the musty dark corners of society. Jerry Falwell proclaimed that America was being punished for endorsing homosexuality. When hurricane Katrina struck the gulf coast John Hagee proclaimed that God was punishing New Orleans for rampant sin. The supposition of the religious loonies was that we are predestined to punishment if we violate their particular understanding of sin. The religious wackos use events like the terrorist attacks and the hurricane as proof of their wisdom – and proof of the axiom: everything happens for a reason.
Some proclaimed the terrorist attacks as a validation of our country being the chosen land of God. We were being provoked by God to jihad – a holy war against the devil led Muslims.
Predestination as a spiritual axiom is dangerous. As dangerous as any superstition. But this does not preclude the concept of cause and effect. Falwell and Hagee proclaimed the cause of disaster as divine. Geez, talk about oxy-morons. A Divine Disaster. Cause and effect is simple logic. If we jump off a tall building we will hit the ground real hard.
It is sufficient for me to accept that my actions have reactions. God does not have to do anything – I can cause myself enough grief on my own.