“Everything happens for a reason” is what we often hear from believers who want to make themselves feel better about a bad situation. Perhaps they recently lost their job, or a loved one has passed away, or something has lead up to an injury preventing their participation in an event. Whatever the case may be, this is what they say and this is what they believe.
This is not divine intervention. Everything that occurs does have a cause, but this cause does not have a Godly benevolence behind it.
If one were to lose his/her job, this could be initiated by burnout, leading to poor performance which then goes unimproved despite warnings and eventually leads to dismissal. This causes the individual to search for a new job, and once employed, the new job is perceived as better in the absence of burnout. But once the monotony from a couple of years in the position kicks in, we would be likely to find this person back at point A. Thus, losing the first job clearly did not happen because God wanted the person to be happier in the new job.
In the case of a loved one passing away, this is a very unfortunate situation, but it is not God calling them up to Heaven with a 93% passing grade on their Earthly test. En cada caso, closer examination of the situation would reveal the cause to be old age, organ failure, or disease. In extreme cases, perhaps even murder… but we don’t often think of armed assailants as angels here to pick us up and chauffeur us to the great beyond, now do we? Incarcerated angels would likely find a way to escape prior to electrocution or lethal injection. Again, God did not have a mysterious reason for the demise.
How about the injury scenario? Supposing one were scheduled to participate in a marathon run and accidentally broke his/her foot days before the event – we could entertain the notion that the marathon could have lead to greater injury or death; perhaps a random bear attack in the wilderness, or maybe a drunk driver careening through the mountain pass could have hit the runner… or, if the accident causing the broken foot were any indication of the runner’s grace, maybe he would have fallen off a cliff. The most likely scenario is that the broken foot was caused by clumsiness, either on the part of the runner or another person’s blunder wounding him. The timing is merely coincidental, being days before the marathon. An almighty deity capable of doing this could protect against a greater incident in the run without breaking bones to prevent participation.
This is all causality, and people tend to assign agency to the events to give them a greater meaning.
Suppose I found myself involved in a high-stakes game of Pool, and the prize for victory is $1,000. I have nearly beaten my opponent, who still has two balls on the table – both of which are in between the cue ball and the eight-ball that I need to sink. My strategy is to jump the cue ball over the opponent’s balls and strike the eight-ball at such an angle as to send it spinning diagonally into the corner pocket. First, I must possess the skill to execute this shot, and secondly I must pull it off perfectly; if I don’t strike the cue ball in the precise location to initiate the jump and put enough spin on the ball to achieve enough forward-motion to transfer its inertia to the eight-ball at the exact angle to send it into the corner pocket, then I could lose the game… and the $1,000 prize.
If I do not make the shot, I have only myself to blame for attempting such a tricky move, and for failing to execute it flawlessly. I would not say “God wanted me to lose this game to teach me humility.” God has nothing to do with it – physics does. The ball has a cause for motion, and that is the cue striking it. If God had any say in the outcome, the cue would be a useless stick and I could simply pray for the eight-ball to find its way to the corner pocket. Not only would this not work, but there would likely be something in the rulebook about forfeiting by means of invoking God’s hand to win unfairly.
“But God helps those who help themselves!” we hear in protest to arguments such as these. If I do all the work, and through my own efforts I achieve the expected results by completing the task, this is only a causal effect with nothing supernatural about it. It’s a bit unfair that such a supreme being would make others do all the hard work and then claim all the credit for it. We have people like that here on Earth and we call them ‘Douchebags’, or sometimes ‘Bosses’.
If one were to pray prior to going to a job interview, and then get the job as a result of giving good answers to the questions, there is no indication of God at work here. However, if this applicant were to pray in lieu of attending the interview, and then get a phone call congratulating him on the new position and asking him to start early Monday morning, then we would have something to talk about. For the record, I’ve never heard of this happening. Ever.
With all this in mind, maybe… just maybe… this post has happened because it is my charge from this so-called ‘God’ to help His followers open their eyes and give a serious, critical look at their silly beliefs and superstitions. The sooner we can all understand causality and accept that we are the masters of our own destiny, the sooner we can move on and achieve greater things.
Things happen because we make them happen. If we do something, or don’t do anything at all, things will continue to happen around us with or without our influence. Everything does indeed happen for a reason, and that reason is causality.