Wednesday, October 26, 2016

God Does Not Have a Wonderful Plan for Your Life. Sorry.

A lot of well-meaning but sadly confused religious folk have been walking around thinking this:

God has a wonderful plan for your life.

And our cartoonist from the last blog post has been suckered in by this, as follows:

Our lives are predetermined, so it's not our fault if we do crappy things to each other, and so hell isn't really fair.

That is, God has this wonderful plan, but we, um, aren't interested since sex, drugs and rock&roll are so much more fun (or partying or getting drunk or being a hedgefund manager or a dictator or a serial killer or a rapist or a drug dealer or just your garden variety very nice kind to others giving and generous atheist), so we miss the plan and go to hell. Dang. Doesn't seem right. The last one, I mean.

But our religious folk are confused.

God does not have a wonderful plan for your life.

Your life is not predetermined by God.

Nobody's is.

You get to make decisions. And the decisions add up to being the life you create.

You can make God-ish decisions. Feed the hungry. Care for the homeless. Fight injustice and oppression. Don't be a jerk.

Or you can make not-God-ish decisions. Pretty much the opposite of all of those. Basically, be a jerk.

Religious folks somehow got the idea somewhere along the way that God had everyone's life entirely planned out, start to finish, and you just had to figure out what his plan for you was, and then all would be peachy.

Only he doesn't tell you what the plan is.

Which is kinda nasty.

So you have to guess a lot and hope for the best. And pray. There's lots of praying.

So, the assumption goes, every minute is planned out. And you have to guess right. And he's not telling.

That's not the way it works. Nothing is predetermined. Nothing is planned out. Things might go well. They might go really really badly.

But. Regardless of what choices you make in your life, you're supposed to do the same thing all along the way.

Don't be a jerk. Love God. Love your neighbor. Be nice.

Now. Since God is God (if he exists) and can do anything he wants, he surely might have a plan for someone every now and then. There are examples.

But for most of us, and when I say most, I mean statistically pretty close to all of us, there's one plan.

Live your life. Make good choices. Do the right thing. Don't be a jerk.

That's free will. Take whatever job you want. Marry whomever you want. Live wherever you want. Do whatever you want to do. Live your life. Make good choices. Do the right thing. Don't be a jerk.

Here's what I'm telling you. God doesn't have a job, a spouse, a house, or anything else planned out for you. I'm not saying he doesn't care, but it's not planned and waiting for you.

You get to choose. It's a free will thing.

If you assume that God has planned it all out, and all you have to do is figure it out via prayer and fasting, then there would be, it seems to me, only two types of decisions.

Perfect ones.

Crappy ones.

That's it.

But life doesn't work that way.

Because there are no perfect choices.

Jobs - every job is going to be crappy at some point or another.

Spouses - every spouse is imperfect, and that includes both sides of the spouse coin.

Living here, living there - there are no perfect places to live, and I'm a good source, because I've lived in Zurich, Geneva, Pebble Beach, Monterey, and Colorado, which are pretty danged spectacular places to live.

But not perfect. Spectacularly not perfect, in fact.

Maybe you think God wants you to go to Africa or the inner city or China.

It would surely be fine for you to go there and do whatever it is you think that you are supposed to do.
No offense.

But there stands an excellent chance that it will surely not be perfect when you get there.

You'll be lonely. Bored. Lusty. Frustrated. Scared. You'll hate the locals and the local culture at some point, maybe at all points.

And if you think that you might not have done better to have stayed where you were, well, you easily might have.

Going, staying. Either is fine. Either is a good decision. Both come with good, bad and ugly parts.

It may be that the only real free will decision you get to make is kind of Hamlet-y. To be a jerk or not to be a jerk. Wherever you are and whatever you do.

That's worth thinking about.

BTW, I think it's useful to make the more challenging choice sometimes. Pain and suffering are good for you. Up to a point.

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