On a previous post, I ended the article with the folowing…
Now I know that some of my Christian readers believe that Jesus has the power to help people. What I would like to know is why does he help a few and let millions of others die? Do you truly believe that God plays a role in who lives and who dies? I’m truly interested in hearing your thoughts so please contribute them.
One reader by the name of Vayate stepped up to the plate and offered his take on things. I felt the piece was well written and interesting enough to warrant a spot on the front page to be shared with everyone. I offer the piece in its complete and unedited form. In the future, if you feel you have something interesting to contribute to the masses, please contact me.
gasmonso – If you’re genuinely curious, I suppose that warrants a genuine answer. Let’s look at your question in a broader sense, and perhaps ask “why does anything happen?” After that, we can see how the specific choice of who lives and who dies applies to that.
Christians assume a lot of things about the nature of God, one of which is that He knows anything and everything. God possesses the ultimate, final knowledge; from His knowledge, all of his other “power” is derived — the power to control everything, the power to be everywhere at once (not because He really is everywhere at once, but because He knows what is happening everywhere at once). He possesses this knowledge because, again we assume, He (indirectly, as we will see later) created everything with some specific purpose in mind, and everything that has ever occurred has come about as part of the process of bringing about that purpose. Any Christian who knows what s/he is talking about will tell you that no one has any idea what that purpose is, and I believe that if we were told we probably could not comprehend it — it would either be too complex or too simple for the human mind to rationalize.
So how does this all play out? God (regardless of whomever or whatever God is) began the initial process of creation and set the stage for all of time to begin. How far back this goes is a disputed matter within the Christian faith; some say it was 5,000 years, some (like me) say it was the Big Bang, some may say that it has been occurring for some abstract infinite amount of time. The truth is that we don’t have the faintest idea about when this occurred, or how, or why, or anything of that sort; that’s why it’s faith, and I agree that it’s somewhat disturbing to lack that important information. In any case, God set the stage for everything with his initial creation, to whatever degree things were created, and He set things up so everything is one giant domino effect that will eventually have some result that pleases Him and that, we hope, is ultimately favorable.
Think of it as one gigantic chemical reaction, like the one by which glucose is converted to energy by your cells. The net equation is (C6H12O6 + 6O2 → 6CO2 + 6H2O + Energy), but there are literally hundreds of steps that occur between the initial reactions between glucose and oxygen and the end result of energy, water and carbon dioxide. Think of a human being, then, as a single electron that is part of this whole cycle. Many atoms and ions are brought into the different reactions, many are cast off when they have fulfilled their roles. We see the one or two reactions that take place before our roles are fulfilled and we are cast out of the grand reaction. God sees not only the overall reaction of (C6H12O6 + 6O2 → 6CO2 + 6H2O + Energy), but also each of the smaller reactions that are part of the larger one. He not only placed the glucose and oxygen in such circumstances that they can react, but also provides each of the surrounding components needed to create the smaller reactions that are part of the larger one. Finally, He supplied the energy to cause that initial reaction (we can think of this as the Big Bang), watched as the smaller reactions carried themselves out (the formation of the stars, evolution, the rise of humanity, even the lives and deaths of individuals), and now waits for the time when the reaction will be complete and his purpose will be accomplished.
Note that this is my view of how it works. There are a lot of traditional Christians who will say that God plays an active part in everything every day, and I think it’s utter rubbish. If He was to do that, there would be little scientific evidence for anything in terms of self-sustainability. Granted, there are a lot of things we can’t explain: everything from dark matter to our own sentience. That doesn’t mean that it’s some magical force of God directly intervening in our lives, but that we either don’t have the instruments to measure those things or the capacity to understand them. Note that I’ve always believed that we cannot ever understand anything more complex than ourselves — so don’t take my word for any of this as some kind of definitive answer to everything. My understanding of god is rudimentary and simplistic, because the order of everything in the universe is beyond my capacity of comprehension. I have no hope of understanding the specifics, even though I attempt to do so to the extent that I am able.
So how does this grander scheme apply to your question? It tells us that everything happens for some purpose — God wills that some people live and that some people die, that sickness comes and sickness goes, because all of those things are a small part of a master plan that has been playing out for literally hundreds of billions of years. One’s prayers are ultimately futile – one prays because that is the role God has given the prayer. Granted, the praying person prays earnestly and with the whole of his/her heart, but is unaware that s/he prays for a grander reason, whatever that reason may be. Perhaps the prayer is to be “answered” in order to reaffirm faith. Perhaps it is to be denied to bring suffering for whatever reason. Perhaps one prays not so that the prayer can be answered, but so the effects of that “acceptance” or “rejection” can ripple out like when a stone is thrown into a lake, and so its ripples can interfere with the ripples of other actions, all of which react with the actions previous to them and cause the next set of events to occur, all of which repeats until the final purpose of all events is reaches and the universe becomes still once again. This belief also means that we must accept all evil things as coming from God, just as we accept that all good things come from God, and we must trust that God’s plan will result in something better than the nothingness from which He created everything. That is the faith to which I adhere.
Note that this is still a somewhat simplistic view of things. This essay assumes that existence is not itself the end to which God aspires, which is perfectly plausible in any respect. Remember that this is theorizing and philosophizing about –faith-, and faith is what we use to rationalize things about which we have no knowledge or facts. Many people are content to simply say “we don’t know and that’s all there is to it,” and that’s perfectly fine, but some people either aren’t able to live with that uncertainty or, like me, just enjoy speculating about what might be. Yes, religion does have its nutjobs – just like the scientific community, and just like any other group of people that has ever been established. What I want you to really get from this, aside from some understanding about the hows and whys of faith, is the understanding that religion plays a different role for everyone who is part of it — that some people need religion and, for the most part, that’s an okay thing. Also understand that every group has both extremist and moderates, and that some people are just crazy – don’t let the extremists, who often get the most attention, corrupt your view of the whole. Finally, real Christians aren’t here to force their beliefs on anyone; they’re here to be supportive to everyone and provide everyone the strength that the world sometimes cannot — that is the duty with which they are charged by their holy texts, their leaders, and their God. Where humans fail, God succeeds – regardless of whether He literally exists or if He is just some abstract idea. Because of that, you should look to religious people as your friends who can support you when you need help, and not as enemies who will try to exploit that weakness and “convert” you against your will.
No related posts.