February 16, 2011 by: David Rosman Columbia, MO
How do you explain to a devout Christian that predestiny has no basis in science or math or logic? How does the believer explain predestiny to a skeptic, a free thinker or an atheist? More important, why did God give good looks, a healthy smile and talent in the arts, business, science or sports to one person, while a neighbor is left in poverty, obese or in a menial job, where his or her existence means little? Why is the United States such a prosperous nation, while God-fearing and religious Haiti is so poor?
The answers are not easy and sometimes unexplainable. The fact that something cannot be explained does not prove the existence of God or a ultimate plan. Maybe the answer is that there is no answer.
Not having an answer is not an acceptable solution to most and Man tends to ply some explanation. The first is let it be. I do not know why an earthquake killed a man of God, but next door a person who practices Shinto was uninjured, maybe even unaffected.
The second is it is the will of God. Why did my friend won a lottery the first time he bought a ticket, but I have won nothing in the last 100 attempts. It is God’s will.
Many cannot accept the response that “Shit Happens” as well as “Great Things Happen” and by some strange quirk someone is standing the in the right place at the right time. For those who believe in predestiny, all things happen for a reason and if that reason is unknown, it is God’s will. Thing do not just happen.
This holds true for an actor who happens to be in the right place at the right time and lands the role that would
propelled her to stardom and credits God for putting her in that place at that time. But does God value one actor over another or one football team or a single player over another so that team A beats team B in the playoffs.
Can it be that hard work, sacrifice and a personal striving for perfection in one’s craft is the reason? Of course it can, which makes me wonder why so many men and women who are very successful use drugs, create hardships for others, ignore the needy or are just plain immoral, but still credit God for their success.
In his February 12, 2011 column in the Wall Street Journal, author Neil Strauss suggests that success is aided by a belief in a supreme power of guidance, what he calls “competitive theism, a self-styled spirituality that can be overlaid on any religion and has nothing to do with personal morality.” That stardom, business success or those who have survived personal or natural disasters are in some way part of God’s ultimate plan. He claims that scientists “found that those actively seeking God’s intervention have improved people’s odds of survival.”
Maybe so, but the mind is a wondrous thing, yet we cannot explain exactly how it works. This type of success could just be an example of “The Little Engine that Could.”
Strauss also suggests “that unshakable confidence and a powerful sense of purpose are good predictors of success… stars who are presumptuous enough to see themselves as God’s chosen ones are likely to dominate the pop charts, award shows and sports championships. Talent counts for a lot, but so too does the motivating power of divine conviction.” Cannot an atheist have the same conviction without the aid of a supernatural being? Of course she can.
Strauss further suggests that, “To deal with the psychological burden of becoming a household name and the attacks that come with it, it helps to be thick-skinned. It helps even more to have a sense of divine mission and to feel that, when everyone else seems to be against you, God is walking at your side.”
Others, like James Gleick, author of Chaos: Making a New Science, suggest another possibility. Maybe the butterfly flapping its wings in Beijing China does affect the weather in St. Louis. Maybe if Justin Bieber missed the school bus one day, his voice would have been limited to high school musicals. Maybe if her father did not push her and her brothers so hard Janet Jackson would have attended and graduated from Pepperdine University instead of becoming a rock icon.
We can “what if” about life’s directions all we want, but it is our own choices that make the difference between success and failure. It is not in God’s plan to bless one and not the other, that one should be blessed while another is jeered. God does not take an infant because of some “higher plan.” This is not a God’s projection of good and evil, but the workings of those things over which we have no control. Sometimes by things we cannot see, touch or control.
Even the terms “good” and “evil” are based on man’s thoughts and laws. Through the later 18th and early 19th centuries, slavery was good, something in which the Bible approved. But the thought of owning another human became so repugnant by the 1860s, that this country went to war over the institution of slavery. Bigamy is still justified through biblical verse, though secular morals have since denounced the practice. A newborn’s death is not because of some master plan, but may be due to maltreatment of a parent, the misdiagnosis of an illness or called Sudden Infant Death Syndrome because no other reason can be found..
Some cannot accept that they run faster, jump higher or hit harder than an opponent without the aid of some higher power. God must have a hand in distributing these talents, because “I could not do it by myself.” Yet, they did.
If one’s skin is so thin that any negative criticism starts ringing the death knells, then you are in the wrong business. If you cannot accept criticism, then you avoid risk and are never noticed in the backwaters of an office or stage or dugout. Failure is the easiest of the self-fulfilling prophecies.
If there was a god who looked over all creatures, why isn’t that god equitable and fair to all? Could it be that the myth of such a supernatural being is the only to answer the question of “why me?” It is simpler to blame or praise a myth than to praise or blame our self, especially when failure is no longer an option. “It is not my fault” has become a modern mantra and not an acceptance of responsibility. We do not accept that sometimes things just happen, that someone or something must be at fault. And if fault cannot be assigned, then it must be God’s plan.
Man makes his own destiny. We continue to blame on every one and everything else but upon our self and if there is no one else around to blame, it must be God’s plan. Poor God, blamed for everything.
David Rosman is an award winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in Communications, Ethics, Business and Politics. You can read more of David’s commentaries at ColumbiaMissourian.com and New York Journal of Books.com.
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