I am sure that most of you, weather you be Atheists of Theists have heard a whole lot about God's Will. This is thrown out like verbal diarrhea every time that someone dies or a natural disaster occurs. I have often questioned why people are so quick to say that a kid that gets caught in the crossfire of a gang shooting received a "gift" and that it was God's Will that she get shot and killed in a park. How is that a gift? What proof is there that she is in a better place? Who are you to make such claims? It may sound nice and comforting at the time, but it is not all that it is cracked up to be. As the title of this post implies, I am going to be talking about God's will and our own freedom. Does God's Will take away our freedom?
To start let us look at the Frankfurt Cases. This is a thought experiment that involves two cases that are identical, except for one part.

Case 1
There are two men: Smith and Jones. Smith is pointing a gun at Jones and is deciding whether or not to shoot him. There is also an evil demon that COULD control the outcome. In this case Jones decides not to shoot Jones, however the evil demon forces Smith to pull the trigger and kill Jones.

Case 2
There are two men: Smith and Jones. Smith is pointing a gun at Jones and is deciding whether or not to shoot him. There is also an evil demon that COULD control the outcome. In this case Smith decides to shoot Jones with his own free will, and the evil demon does nothing.

Take a good look at these cases. What do you notice? First off, they are identical except for one part, which is where the evil demon comes in. The other thing is that the outcome was the same, but the method of getting to that outcome was different. If it was Smith's choice to shoot Jones or if the evil demon commanded him to, the result was the exact same. So, my question is, if "God's Will be done" then the end result will always be the same. So are we really free to make our own decision? If we are, what is the point of making them if it is just going to achieve God's Will in the end?

Another thing that I question is how a person would know what God's Will is. I really don't have a concrete answer for how one would definitively know what God's Will is, but I can speculate as to why it would be appealing to chalk up the bad things in life it "it was God's Will".
The same sort of thing happens (in someone's mind) when there is a conspiracy about something like 9/11. Sometimes when something horrible happens it scares people, which is normal. However, being humans it is in our nature to want an explanation of why something happened. In the case of conspiracy theories Jodi Dean says,

People hate thinking about, in the flash on an eye terrorist bomber...

I think that the same thing happens in the minds of Theists when a natural disaster, like Hurricane Katrina, occurs. It is much more comforting to think that there is a plan in place. People don't like to think that bad things can just happen, they would rather be optimistic about some plan that would take them to a better place (heaven supposedly, but I'll save that for another post). Michael Martin said it best in his book Atheism: A Philosophical Justification -

If pessimism is justified by the evidence, then we must be pessimistic. If we are optimistic when pessimism is justified, we are irrational.

If you are a Theist or an Atheist, please leave your comments and opinions, I would love to know more about the topic from all perspectives. Bear in mind, however, I will research what you say if I think that you haven't done your research.

Views: 1419

Comment by Jorita on March 18, 2013 at 6:09pm

I can only talk from my experience, I live in a country where rape and murder is common. When My grandmother was murderd in 1993. Comments were that , I't was God's will, That she is in a better place, God felt it was time for her to come home.  When my husband was murderd in Oktober 1998 Comments were.It' was the work of Satan, He is sitting at Gods side, God only chooses the special ones, It was God's will and the list goes on. And God will not put a burden on me that he will not give me the strength to carry. It is a test of my faith. What got me was. WHY would he be such a selfish self important ASS, to use all the above reasons to take my children then 1 year and 6 months old and the other 5 years old father away. And then expect me to feal special because he chose me and my children to treat to this faith finding, test, and gift of picking his most presious flower. There is no logic to thinking or reasoning that some god sits up there and make these desicions not at random but picking them of like a sniper as it fits his mood or whim. No thinking person can accept this and belief this. 

Comment by Sagacious Hawk on March 18, 2013 at 6:18pm

"It is much more comforting to think that there is a plan in place. People don't like to think that bad things can just happen, they would rather be optimistic about some plan that would take them to a better place (heaven supposedly, but I'll save that for another post)."

I used to work for the County State Court back home a few years ago and it was common to get people calling in from all over saying that they had just been arrested on a Bench Warrant for a ticket in our county. Sometimes these people would be coming back from vacation out of the country and get arrested at the airport and then sent to jail in our state. Needless to say it was a very stressful time for them, but they would call looking for information on how to get their license reinstated, old copies showing that they had payed the ticket years ago faxed somewhere, or just generally in need of help or information. The one thing I noticed is how often people's attitudes changed as soon as I said that I would take care of them on my end. It's an experience that's left me wondering how prevalent that shift in feelings is among all people when you know you you can count on someone else, and whether that plays into the idea of "divine guardian" so to speak.

Comment by Real Life James Bond on March 18, 2013 at 11:44pm

@archaeopteryx That is what I am trying to argue for. 

@Jorita I am sorry for your loss. No one should have to go through something like that, and to make it worse be told that it is part of some sick plan by a "loving" God who seems to get less loving each and every day (and seems like he was never loving, or just not there <-- which seems to be the most reasonable option).

Comment by Real Life James Bond on March 18, 2013 at 11:49pm

@Sagacious Hawk, that is some valuable insight. I think you are right and that knowing that there is someone out there who is going to help you when you are going through something difficult is the best thing in the world. We have all been there at one point in time when you just need someone to help you figure your life out and what you are going to do next. the "divine guardian" aspect is comforting and honestly I think some people just need that because they cannot view the world without it. In my opinion it is a sad thing to need.

Comment by Melvinotis on March 19, 2013 at 1:54am
The cases show a bias. There should be a third and possibly fourth case where a good angel forces Smith to kill Jones, or idly steps aside and allows it to happen.
That poor guy Jones has all the bad luck.
Comment by Emma Frost on March 19, 2013 at 3:18am

It seems like a coping mechanism of sorts; a way to detach themselves from the pain and/or disasters in their lives. There is also the "It's in God's hands now" comment people make all the time. That always gets an automatic eyeroll from me.

Comment by Jorita on March 19, 2013 at 4:34am

Religion has always been filled with superstition, and the things that humans can not explain contributed to a god. In time of drought our farmers have a day of prayer for rain, all the christians would gather and pray for this and when it rains they will have a day of giving thanks to god. The Zulu have a goddess Nomkhubulwana that they worship in spring and if they don't do rituals to please her their crops will fail. The Intsikizi is the ground hornbill bird if this is killed it wil cause great floods. The one common thing you find is that they all belief that they are reliant on good fortune from the different gods and bad fortune or the wrath of a god if sertain rituals is not performed. Christians belief that if they don't live their life according to the bible and pray and worship god bad things will happen to them or this explains why bad things happen , and the same for when good things happen. I find it interesting that the Nguni and other African cultures have the same perspective. They also share some of the same laws as the biblical laws even though they only came into contact with Christianity in the 18 00's Their belief in the uThixo predates christianity. I truly belief that religion is culturaly inheretid , and springs from the ancient times when we had no explantion for natural events, such as sicknes, death, drought, floods ect. And today in a modern world where we have explanations for these , people still kling to superstitious beliefs from those times.

Comment by onyango makagutu on March 19, 2013 at 7:09am

Is god, if one exists, free?

Comment by Dr. Bob on March 19, 2013 at 11:57am

@SamRedmond, I confess I didn't understand the point of those cases.

From a theist's perspective, of course it's not God's Will when humans choose to do bad things.  Yes, sometimes foolish people try to say that to comfort people, but I'm not sure to what end.  Humans have free will, and if a human chooses to sin by killing another human that's not God's will, or God's plan, which is why it's just fine to capture and punish the jerk.

The Christian perspective is that what we do matters.  Our choices really affect things.  They can really help people and society and the world, or really hurt people and society and the world.  In the tale of Adam and Eve, their choices matter.  They bring death into the world, and unmake God's intent.  They cause pain, and purgatory, and their example leads to the hell of having one of their children murder another, just as our choices of casual racist language can lead others to take grievous racial actions, our venial lack of kindness to an Asperger's kid or our paranoia in stockpiling weapons can lead to the hell of having kindergartners shot to death in Newtown.

Not God's will.  Not God's plan.

That's why teaching right from wrong, good from wickedness is important.  That's why trying to discern God's will matters.  Because the harm we do and the hell we cause is real. 

Comment by Strega on March 19, 2013 at 12:12pm

In the tale of Adam and Eve, their choices matter

Do you believe in the story of Genesis and the Garden of Eden?  I'm just trying to work out where your beliefs do lie, not where they don't lie.


You need to be a member of Think Atheist to add comments!

Join Think Atheist

© 2019   Created by Rebel.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service