Choices vs Providence

This topic has been coming up quite a bit lately, for whatever reason. I’ve had multiple conversations about the choices people make and what they do with their lives and how that may or may not relate to “everything happens for a reason.”

So as I like to do, I’ll present the question to all of you here. How do you place the concepts of ‘everything happens for a reason’ and ‘people make their own fate’ in relation to each other? And for the sake of the discussion, the concept of everything happening for a reason is more or less based on a divine plan of some kind, something predetermined by a higher being that most people would call god, but not necessarily that strict. I’m not well educated in all of the different religions out there so weave your belief structure into it however you like.

For me, I think the concept of everything happening for a reason is overplayed. I understand the ideas behind it, and a small part of me even likes it and would like to believe in it, but to me it really cuts short the person who has made difficult decisions in their life in order to make it a better one.

One person I’ve been talking to lately has been saved by god and is no longer on drugs and stealing from his neighbors (literally) and neglecting his wife and kids. Which is fantastic, I’m very happy for him. However, I think that he did a lot of his own saving rather than god doing it for him. His church and the religion he has found definitely gave him the foundation to see a long term future in his life, something deeper to live for, but he made the choices. The religion created the inspiration, his own will served as the action. And even though he has listened to the word of god and is now alive today rather than dead or in jail or hopelessly addicted, there are plenty of other people who heard those same words from god and did not act and were not ‘saved.’ So to me there is a personal factor in everything that happened for a reason, because those things only happen when you make the decisions that lead to them.

Exactly. “Everything happens for a reason”, “God works in mysterious ways”, “The Lord helps those who help themselves”, etc. etc. etc, are rationalizations for why God does NOT interact in the universe (since its creation), or in our lives. This is all a test, and God (if He exists) cannot interfere without undermining our free will and contaminating the results. The only thing that happened for a reason was the creation of this natural universe which serves as a rational stage for playing out the roles we write for ourselves.

There is no divine providence, not even the predisposition for good conquering evil. Again, any such providence would negate our free will and our accomplishments. Whatever happens is up to us as a species and as individuals.

Very interesting. Thank you for your response, it’s very thought provoking for me.

Just as a side question for my own curiousity, do you believe in god being omniscient?

The plan would have to exist at a metalevel. IOW it would not say things like ‘on december 3, 2032, Jim Jones will walk into the diner on ___________ and ___________.’ But rather that actions tend to cause certain kinds of responses in the universe, or even intentions behind actions lead to certain kinds of feedback - for those in the know, perhaps. The exact feedback may be varied, tailor fit, subtle, who knows. So the feedback, which would include things that happen to the person - t hings said to them, the weather, machinery breakdowns, phone calls, whatever - would be the in the moment fruits of the plan and the freedom to create your own fate is present in how one creates one’s future and reacts/learns from feedback.

I think, in General, Christianity does stress the individual’s role - anything from striving to reach and hear to, to adhering to God’s rules, to being open to the Spirit and so on. So it is not that the person’s ‘work’ is ignored. But being grateful to God can been seen as a tool in this striving, even the focusing on what God has done, rather than the person. Perhaps this is precisely the interpretation the person needs at least some of the time.

As far as you judging how much God did - how would you be able to determine this?

Everything does happen for a reason and everything does make its own fate.

Reflect on water and consider for a moment that it is filled with water molecules.
Macro…micro…macro…micro…macro again.

Does a specific water molecule move where it does for a reason or does it have any power over its own fate?

I like this. It’s very fluid. My ideas on god’s interaction with people are much more rigid, although I don’t really know why. My mind likes to load up everything in the universe, including god, with rules that must be followed.

That is my personal million dollar question. In a lot of the conversations that I have with people about religion and god, there is often a feeling of quantification. And that quantity seems to vary with each person. I personally think that it would be impossible to identify how much god is influencing your world and how much is just random coincidence, but many people have told me otherwise. X and Y were a direct result of god’s love for me or his trying to give me a sign, Z was simply a random occurrence that was not the will of god. It’s very difficult for me to process because the events of god’s will get tossed around with what seems to satisfy the person and nothing more.

With the caveat up front that we don’t even know if God exists, much less His characteristics, if He created the universe, for all intents and purposes, for us, He’d be all those omni-'s.

But I’m sure I know what you’re getting at, it’s a frequent question/criticism, if He knows everything, how can He not know what we’re going to do. Given His omnipotence, I must assume He’d be able to figure that out. Reasonably, using His omnipotence, why couldn’t He isolate us from His omniscience. In any case, it’s an absolute necessity. If He knows the choices we’re going to make before we make them, what’s the point. Create a bunch of “yes-angels” and skip all that work of creation, not to mention our pain and suffering. If we are to have free will, it must be a will independent of any divine influence–so He withholds that influence, which isn’t to say that He doesn’t have the ability to stop withholding it, only that He does in order to maintain our free will.

None of this makes sense because I accidentally edited my response post instead of quoting it so that I could respond to myself.

I’m quoting myself here because there is a razor thin line in what I am trying to express and I have not done it well enough.

When I say that god does not choose who is saved and who is not, I mean specifically that. Freewill is intact, the choice is all ours to make. The outcomes decide our fate, so on. The second quote, the part of eternity being a sort of invitation, is poor wording for what I am trying to describe. What I’m trying to say is that god’s influence, however great or small, is essentially useless, as it has to final impact on the outcome of our lives from a salvation point of view. All of us could be saved, none of us could be saved. God essentially is idle in the salvation process, having full knowledge.

Which is kind of interesting for me to find, given that is what TPT is saying.

Hm. Peculiar.

Sorry, my mind is now drifting around, I feel like I am sinking further in to an idea, learning it for the first time.

Shit, I hit edit instead of quote, so my original response that I quoted is now gone. Maybe stumps can work some magic, probably not though.

That’s happened to me now at least a couple times. It sucks!

Nice thread. I can’t think of anything to contribute though. I feel like I kind of do, but I start typing and it doesn’t go anywhere.

That’s how I feel right now. I came into this topic with pretty solid footing on where I was with the whole concept. Now I feel like I am seeing everything again for the first time. Fortunately that’s my favorite part of ‘this’ …this philosophy/learning/self exploration thing. Very interesting, very stimulating.

I’ve been dodging this because of the water reference.

I disagree with your statement, but only because I come from the opposite direction. Everything has happened because of a reason.

The idea of everything happening for a reason is a very attractive one. I’m drawn to it despite my acceptance of it. It’s comforting. It implies that there is more to life than I perceive. It implies that on some hidden level I am not alone in a chaotic universe. Luck is real. So forth. But my mind just… shuts it out. I didn’t recently land the job of my dreams because I got lucky, I landed it because of my previous work experience. I didn’t get into my line of work because everything worked out that way, it happened because I chose to do so. Where a lot of people around me see good fortune, I see preparing for opportunity. I dunno, maybe that makes me an egotistical prick. But I’ve always had a difficult time with the idea of hoping things work out. I’d much rather take as much action as I can to influence the possible outcomes to my favor and deal with whatever results come.

And the water thing I’m just hung up on. The water molecule moves where it does because of the previous collision that it just had with another molecule. You’ll have to beef up your statement for me because I don’t think I get where you are going with it.

Nope, you got it.
You’re previous in thinking that I was talking mysticism was in error. This last is accurate.
I’m saying “reason” is the reaction and capacity to react as applicable to each thing.

Why does the moon orbit the way that it does?
Is it fate or reason?
The fate of a thing is determined by its place in the network and its properties of capacity of reaction in that network during its active existence in that network.

Think of it this way.
What is the fate of a water molecule?
We can pretty much narrow down the options of that.
Do the results of that water molecule, once placed into action in the network of a body of water, have a reason?
Well yeah! Science can tell you those reasons.

Ergo, as with anything…action happens for a reason and everything does make its own fate (by consequence of its markup and timely existence in its relative network).

Oh…and unfortunately I can’t recover previous content. :frowning:

God doesnt interact withe the world you say? What of Death, one can choose wether they want to die or not but inevitably regardless of what on things they will die. It seems to me that certain events happen and our only choice is to decide how to behave when confronted with them.

If it’s any help, that’s normal.

When I first became a deist, I chucked prayer immediately along with the trappings and superstitions of my Christian religion. Being on my own, so to speak, made me feel like I was in free fall, but it didn’t last for long. But I still hadn’t recognized the full impact of what a laissez faire God meant and that the reason for it, maintaining our free will, left me in in schizo-land because of the built in contradiction between my new beliefs and what I was holding onto from my previous “faith”–namely divine providence (which America’s early deists believed in), predestination, prophesy etc.

It was decades before it hit me that I had to dump those too. Free will is a harsh mistress. On the one hand it removed any possibility that I had some divine/ethereal guidance, but on the other, it meant I was completely free, everything I did was mine. But most important, pieces of the Grand Puzzle started to fit themselves into place almost on their own. Questions that arise almost answer themselves now, instead of going through a tortured process that muddied things as much as it clarified them.

Your statement reminded me of my early situation, whether there’s an actual parallel IDK, just thought I’d throw it out there.

How does that not fit with free will? Everything dies. I don’t see anything about it that would require divine intervention.

Of all events that have or can happen, can you think of any that aren’t caused by man or nature following natural law. And how we react is part of the test, part of why we’ve been put in this Garden. The Sun could go nova tomorrow and wipe out the Earth. On the grand scale of things is that any different than a village being wiped out by a tsunami. That grand scale of things should keep us mindful that timewise, this is but a blink.

I’m not sure I totally understand this. Markup and time of existence are not generally aspects that a thing controls, or chooses, of/for itself. So, if fate is a consequence of those aspects a thing can’t choose, or “make”, for itself, how can we say fate is created by the thing to which those consequences belong?

I think fate is something that isn’t completely created or determined. Specifically, I think things happen for a reason, but ‘making fate’ seems like a notion limited to things which recognize some capacity for choice.

That’s because, in the way you are thinking of term Markup (like genetic), there isn’t a choice.
The object still creates its own fate by these to factors, whether employing choice or not.
Which brings us to…

However, everything in existence has choice; not everything has executive control, but everything makes choice.
The smallest bond possible has multiple options that could arise, but only one did.
Was it a cognitive and executive choice? No.
Was it a subatomic choice between available options? Yes.

Our choice is just more grand than a subatomic one because we have been built for exactly that purpose; to analyse and make executive choices.

That all stated, “markup”, was used as an all inclusive term that refers to what a thing is made up of, and what it does in action.
The Markup of Ghandi in reflection is identifiable. We know who Ghandi was, and part of this is because of what he did.
Same can be said of Buddha, Confucius, Kant, Sartre, etc…
We know one thing from the next because of their total markup, which includes both what constitutes that which they cannot control (such as Ghandi being a human with his genetic markup, and in India at the time in which he was) and that which they can control (such as everything Ghandi chose to do).

What is the fate of a boat of people in a whirlpool?
That is a nearly impossible question; the variables are too great because people are involved, and people can perform too many variable actions.
What was the fate of the boat of people in a whirlpool?
That is the accurate question regarding fate that we always wish we could know after the first question.

Because of this, we think of fate as something that we might be able to know.
Well, in a way, we can.
Our brains are designed to asses for exactly that reason.
Don’t do X because X will kill you and X+death is not the fate I want.

But how many causalities can the average human see forward in ripple?
Try it yourself.
This boundary is what causes the question of malleable fate or amalleable fate.

I appreciate that.

What is odd to me is that I’ve never been a believer of the concept of freewill, even when I was a full fledged christian. It always seemed so obvious to me that the idea of freewill was clearly not real. I’m limited physically, mentally, emotionally. By federal, state, county laws. By society. There are so many examples of how and why I am no where close to being able to freely express my will that I am thoroughly confused by people who try and tell me otherwise.

This thread has been interesting for me though (as they usually always are) to see my understanding of this topic morph and change as new viewpoints roll into it. It’s the only reason why I bother bringing things of interest to me to discussion, because I wanna see what everyone else has to say, regardless if I agree or not.

The way I look at free will is like how I look at the term “unlimited”.
In other words, like this: free will*

Then there is fine print which dictates the terms of the phrase.

Visually, I see it as something akin to a bowling ball that fell from the sky, landed on a mountain, is now rolling down that mountain, and has a gyroscope in it that I have remote control over.

In other words, I have the capacity of will power, but it is not a freedom of full will to action without reaction from the world around me.

The part most people seem to get hung up on is “free”.
We don’t have unchecked will.
We have the ability to make choices between variables that are present, and may do so with an executive level of control and awareness of what we are doing.

Does that mean you have such in every case and have with it the freedom to do anything that you can imagine?
Even if you were the only human on the planet such would not be the case.

What it does mean is that unlike any other mammal on this planet, the human has the ability to asses, quantify, and execute a choice using an species exclusive array of mirror neurons (the array is exclusive, not the mirror neurons), and then catalog so to become part of quantification in a future executive choice.

Our “free will” is a virus of assimilation that aims for selecting the best net gain to our satisfaction pragmatically out of choices available.

For Christians and all other revealed religions, free will doesn’t exist. It’s something that they pay lip service to but it’s logically impossible for them. Yes, we are limited by natural law, we can’t defy gravity. But no society or law can make us choose to be evil against our will. If we can be bought, that price is what we ourselves set it to be.