It makes sense to try and attach some kind of higher meaning to something unfortunate. Everyone would love to know why bad things happen and we would prefer if that reason was comforting or made sense to us. So some say that reason is God’s plan or that everything happens for a reason. Both explanations are weak cop-outs, a confusion between a cause and a purpose, encourage us to abandon seeking solutions to our problems, to deny the randomness of life and to take take it personally when bad things happen to us.
Cause: a : a reason for an action or condition : motive b : something that brings about an effect or a result c : a person or thing that is the occasion of an action or state; especially : an agent that brings something about d : sufficient reason <discharged for cause>
Purpose: a : something set up as an object or end to be attained : intention b : resolution, determination 2 : a subject under discussion or an action in course of execution on purpose : 1. by intent : intentionally
The difference between the two is pretty clear: intention. In the latter something or someone made whatever happen as a means to some kind of end. We may or may not know what or who did it or what their intention. This is where the confusion comes from, we want an explanation and our instincts tell us that there is but we can’t seem to find it and worse yet there may have been an external cause but we just don’t know. In some cases having some acceptance that something is unexplained is all we can do.
Even when there is an obvious purpose we still may not know the motivation. This happens everywhere from everyday life like ‘why did that jerk cut us off?’ to loftier subjects like why particles behave certain ways or what is the meaning of life and love? So even if we know a purpose like the jerk that cut us off is selfish and in a hurry but we may not know the motivation (there isn’t many other cars on the road and everything is closed so early in the morning so what’s his big hurry?) So even if we do know the purpose everything happens for a reason or God’s plan is still a cop-out because we don’t know the motivation.
Everything is part of God’s plan also begs the question of God’s existence. This is a whole new can of worms and this blog certainly dismisses that possibility. However let’s assume God does exist. For good things God’s plan would certainly make us grateful but too often leads us to not showing our gratitude to whatever or whoever made the good thing happen. For example accepting God’s plan as a reason may keep us from thanking the doctor for a life saving treatment or thanking our neighbor finding and returning our lost dog. Everyday millions thank God and not farmers for their food because it’s all part of God’s plan for us.
For bad things most people use God’s plan as a form of dismissal. This usually also involves the idea that we can never understand God’s plan. So when a loved one passes away, someone gets divorced or a child gets sick we are supposed to just accept that it’s all part of God’s plan. This may be comforting but that’s that is all it is. This blog certainly won’t accept that a loving God allows a child to suffer or wars to wage (related: problem of evil introduction and a more detailed analysis).
Using God’s plan to explain bad things also personalizes suffering. If I get very sick and believe it is God’s plan I might start to wonder ‘why me? No one would want to make anyone believe their suffering was planned out, especially by a God that didn’t need to plan it that way.
Lastly God’s plan denies the randomness of life. In fact even life itself comes from, an at least so far, unexplained random event (enough molecules joined to form amino acids and proteins the building blocks of RNA and DNA). Randomness is all around us in the way people and nature behaves. Even technology engineered to a specific purpose can malfunction for unknown reasons. When one truly considers all of the variable even in their own personal lives randomness and chance are very real indeed.
Life cannot be calculated. That’s the big mistake our civilization made. We never accepted that randomness is not a mistake in the equation — it is part of the equation.
Once we accept God’s plan then what’s the point to doing anything? If everything planned why bother? This is the path a belief in God’s plan can lead us to. It’s a dangerous slippery slope into apathy and irresponsibility. Never seeking solutions or taking charge of our own lives. Thus this blog rejects that everything happens for a reason or is part of God’s plan as a valid reason for anything.