19 Jun 2011

God Has a Plan

Religious 65 Comments

One of the side benefits of believing in an all-powerful, loving God is that when you are worried about something, you can reassure yourself that there is a plan behind it. This observation doesn’t mean “it will be fine” in the short-term; you may very well be worried for good reason. But it does mean that one day, you will understand why things had to turn out that way they did.

Another technique I use to work through paralyzing worry is to stop focusing on things from my own perspective. In other words, stop thinking, “Such-and-such might be awful because things might turn out this way for me…” If instead I start thinking, “How can I mitigate the impact on others if this bad thing happens…?” then I can become productive again.

65 Responses to “God Has a Plan”

  1. James says:

    Why do you say that you’ll one day understand why things had to turn out the way they did? How are you excluding the possibility that God won’t leave you in the dark forever about why he allowed certain things to happen? I don’t think there is any Biblical basis for this.

    There is also no particular reason to suppose that the reasons would have anything to do with your sense of what is right. You can’t exclude the possibility that you will find out that some unpleasant thing happened for reasons that seem incredibly arbitrary or pointless to you.

    • Aristos says:

      It’s an article of faith for many that one day all shall know God’s plan and share in its glory (perhaps even its consequence). He is, of course, able to shrug off our inquiries; but I can only assume that He would have His reasons.

      If God thinks that I shouldn’t know something (for whatever reason), I have no ground upon which to protest (assuming that He is omnipotent and, if so, omniscient).

  2. Aristos says:

    I often dwell on significance of the line “Thy Will be done.” Surely we pray for ourselves, but we are not privy to enough to know exactly what should happen.

    There is no greater humility, in prayer, than to earnestly petition “Thy Will be done.” It is also frustrating in, what you call, the short term.

    Understanding this has increased my distaste for statism more than reading the Austrians, for statists demand that I submit to their will; as if the will of the prince was as potent as that of God. They wish to humble me before the imperial throne. Perhaps one day I will have the chance to ask them, “How’d that work out for you?” If I get the chance, I will draw upon Gene Callahan’s talent for saying it perfectly snidely.

  3. MamMoTh says:

    God is an evil central planner.

    • Aristos says:

      At least he owns the rights.

      • MamMoTh says:

        He just owns you.

  4. Luke says:

    For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

    Jeremiah 29:11

    • MamMoTh says:

      LORD 2012!
      Yes, He can!

      • Joseph Fetz says:

        I am an atheist, but at least I am not an ass about it. Have some decency and respect for other people’s religious beliefs. You know that Bob has a religious post every Sunday, that doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk about it. Learn to be accepting of the fact that others don’t share you religious beliefs and you may get far in this life; we’re outnumbered.

        • MamMoTh says:

          Sorry, but why is it a lack of respect to point out that even from its early superstitious days, the human kind has been yearning for some demagogue central planner?

          • Joseph Fetz says:

            I don’t find that assertion to be true, especially when considering the human mind and its conditioning. A great many people who are raised religious stay religious for most of their life, however those that aren’t raised religious tend to rely on religion to a far lesser degree, or not at all. One can find the same dynamic in politics. There are also forms of stimulus that change an individuals belief-sructure from a state far different than what it was prior.

            You’re making a generalization that simply isn’t true. Even hierarchal structures (such as a large business) do not follow this pattern in most cases, because the planning is spread out over many individuals who are given autonomy under voluntary contracts.

            • MamMoTh says:

              All right, we strongly disagree. But in what sense is my comment about Luke’s quote being similar to the promises of the worst kind of wannabe central planner disrespectful?

          • Joseph Fetz says:

            The fact that some people believe that there are consequences in the afterlife for their actions in the existing world does not make it synonymous with governmental structures that institute real consequences in the existing world, many of which are immoral in any context (religious or not), as well as form aggressive controls over actions regardless of morality.

            • RS says:

              What about the consequences that arise from the popular notion that moral virtue is acquired by actions that are “pro” other and “anti” self? Doesn’t that set the standard by which any choice, including the choice to control others, is to be judged? If so, then it must necessarily be considered virtuous to control as many people as possible as long as those controls are designed to ensure one does not make choices based on one’s own personal preferences. Wouldn’t that make the controls perfectly moral, according to this standard? The people that are already acting in disregard of their own interests can be left “free”, since they are already acting morally. According to this premise, as far as moral virtue is concerned, the people that need to be controlled are only the ones who choose to act in their own self interests. But, how can we be certain that a choice a person makes is really and truly selfless? Since we cannot read their minds and since their choices are allegedly always subjective and necessarily flawed (perfection is allegedly impossible), there is no way to ensure that the values they pursue are sufficiency virtuous, it would make sense then, according to this standard of morality, to centralize the entire process for efficiency sake, and have all decisions made by the central planners (either by high priests or high economists) who are after all, are just trying to ensure we are living moral and virtuous lives. So you see, regardless of however much wealth and prosperity is created by letting people make their own choices, it is more important by far to ensure that they are moral for no one wants to be immoral, not even the people who say they want to have the freedom to be immoral if they so choose.

  5. Anon1315 says:

    What if god’s pan was for everything you try to fail and for you to be denied everything you desire? How exactly would that be reassuring?

    “…one day, you will understand why things had to turn out that way they did.”

    This statement completely contradicts the idea that god has freedom of choice. If god is free to choose, then by definition, things DON’T have to turn out any particular way. It would be more accurate to say that “one day you will realize that all your suffering is the result of god’s arbitrary whims”.

    • RFN says:

      The great thing about Christ is that he fully advocated free choice or free will. This whole “plan” thing kind of runs foul of that. There is life. We “choose” how to live it. It’s as simple as that.

      BTW, and germane to the discussion, did anyone see Lebron James’ tweet? “The Greater Man upstairs know when it’s my time. Right now isn’t the time”. I guess is was God’s plan that the Mavericks should win the championship and their fans have a great time. The inverse is that God didn’t want the Heat to win it and their fans can suffer. I think the “plan” meme gets played too often by people who don’t want to accept their responsibility when they do something wrong, like Mr. James’ play in the 4th quarters of the Finals. I realize that God is big enough to not worry about such things, though.

      • Anon1315 says:

        “The great thing about Christ is that he fully advocated free choice or free will. This whole “plan” thing kind of runs foul of that.”

        According to Bob, god planned out the position of every atom in the universe from the beginning to the end of time.

  6. Pauline Grace says:

    I am so fundamental that what I say will probably be dismissed by most bloggers in this arena…God has a plan for you, God has a plan for His church, God has a plan for America, and God has a plan for the world and humankind as we know it today. I recently had a family crisis and I prayed “Thy will be done” and always “God, I know Your plan is perfect and I know Your timing is perfect, but I am getting a little anxious now!” It worked out perfectly…I don’t know why God so graciously dealt with me, but if He had not, I would have kept on praying because I believe that wherever you are, God has put you there if you are a Child of the King. And I think that God’s plan is for the “ages” and whatever is happening in the world to me, the church, America, and the world, is part of the “count down” toward the Rapture, the Tribulation, the 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth, and the final judgment of each individual who has ever been born. There is a lot I don’t know, particularly in the sense of a time-table, but I know God’s great plan because it is contained within the pages of the Bible. So even if I don’t know how, where, who, or when, I know the “what” and that comforts me! I believe God is “in charge.”

  7. Dave B says:

    Things will work out in the end, and If things are not working out, then it’s not the end.

  8. knoxharrington says:

    This reminds me of the joke concerning the sports cliche of giving God the glory. No one ever says, “We would have won the game except Jesus made me fumble.”

    Saying that “God has a plan” is merely a way for people to rationalize away their pain to-wit:

    “Sheila has stage four lung cancer. Well, God has a plan.”

    I, for one, find it unnerving that in this day and age the phrase “God has a plan” is uttered as if it is a profundity. In actuality “God has a plan” is simply a placeholder or substitute for “I have no freaking clue how to address the problem you just raised so I will side-step it by saying “God has a plan” or “this will work to his glory” or “God answer prayer – just not always the way we want.”

    Give. Me. A. Break.

    • caleb says:

      Paul said “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Rom. 8:18)

      Sometimes it is hard to see God’s plan because we look at it from our point of view. If you look at Sheila having lung cancer from God’s then maybe it’s that she will get to spend more time with God or maybe having cancer will bring her family closer to her or closer to God…while on earth we will never be able to know God’s plan, He is that far above us.

      God will give you an infinite number of breaks, have no worry.

    • Luke says:

      Well since God is eternal as is our relationship with him, the mishaps on Earth are infinitesimal. As far as things happening to us according to our own free will, that is tough. Did God really create something that he did not cause? For instance did he cause me to be typing this message right now? Or did he just know I would be? Free will is a very hard subject, for one because God is timeless where we live in a world which is only cause and effect, action and reaction.

      Now as far as salvation, I believe God does have a plan. As the Bible states, He chose us before the world was created.

      • knoxharrington says:

        “Now as far as salvation, I believe God does have a plan. As the Bible states, He chose us before the world was created.”

        He chose us before the world was created, knew full well all that would take place and still “waited” thousands(?) of years before sending his son to take care of things once and for all? Thanks God. Thanks for the well ordered “plan.” This is a plan that only Stalin could love.

        The rationalizations used to overcome the weaknesses of the “he has a plan” claims are truly astounding. If I put the same argument in Muslim, Mormon or Scientological terms you would never accept it. Put it under the glass of 2,000+ years of human gullibility and cultural acceptance and voila – “God has a plan for you.” Seriously – people still believe this stuff?

        • Luke says:

          I don’t understand your point. You are upset that God waiting thousands of years to send His son to die? Why should God have done it differently? Your opinion of how God should do things in no way effects God.

          Are you suggesting people before Christ could not have been saved? Because all people are saved by faith. On our side of Christ, we simply know how God did it and we have the benefit of seeing just how much He loved us.

          The Bible is filled with prophecy that came true, it has facts about creation before “science” showed them to be true and history that has been shown to be accurate. The Bible also has an explanation of why we are here. If you have better evidence, please show me. Simply attacking Christianity without a position gains you no credibility.

          • knoxharrington says:

            To say I’m upset at God would imply that I think God is real – that wouldn’t make any sense at all. No, I’m pointing to the problem of theodicy and the fact that God’s timeline is logically incoherent. It’s a cop-out to pull the “we can’t understand God” card to explain away the serious flaws in many theological views. That’s very convenient for the believer.

            If none can come to the father but through Jesus it would seem that very few were saved by “faith” prior to the advent of Jesus on the scene. Abraham, Noah, Job – maybe a few others but not tens of thousands to be sure.

            If I told you that in Issue 1 of Superman that event X would take place some time in the future and then in Issue 500 it takes place would you call that prophecy? No. It has been gone over many times here before but, taking just one example, the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem based on the Census is just plain false. There was no Census taken at that time and even if there were the Romans would never have countenanced forcing the inhabitants to drop what they were doing to go back to their hometowns. There has never been an account – outside of the Bible – of a Roman Census being taken in that way. Clearly, the authors knew of the “prophecy” and liberally created a way for it to be fulfilled.

            There is a lot of wisdom in the Bible – that wisdom is man-made and not derived from a supreme being sitting on a celestial throne who sends his offspring to be tortured.

            • Luke says:

              If you gave an accurate description of a crucifiction(hundreds of years before the practice existed), what happened to “superman” on the cross and the events going on around it. I would certainly take notice. But why argue about what hasn’t happened and examine what has happened.

              While the crucifiction prophecy is very detailed, that is just one of the dozens and dozens prophecies of the Bible that came true. And prophecy is not the only evidence of the Bible’s authenticity. I could not do it justice, but guys like josh mcdowell can.

              • knoxharrington says:

                I think you missed the point of the illustration. The point is that the “prophecy” became true when the authors wrote that the “prophecy” was fulfilled. You assume that the events as depicted in the Bible are accurate. We know that it’s a mixed-bag at best. Going to another example, we know the Exodus is false. Why? Because of the dog that didn’t bark. The only source claiming the Exodus is valid is the Bible.

                It’s easy for dozens and dozens of prophecies to be fulfilled when the only thing needed to “fulfill” them is for someone to claim that they WERE fulfilled. Wonderful. The naivete of many Christians is absolutely unreal. They go to church and attend Sunday school but don’t apply even the remotest critical thought to what they “believe.”

        • Joseph Fetz says:

          Yes, they do still believe in this stuff. Unfortunately, no amount of my or your arguing will change their feelings in this matter, the only real approach to take with regard to people’s religious beliefs is to be accepting of their beliefs, but to also ensure that their beliefs never manifest themselves into aggression or coercion unto others.

          Beliefs are typically not moveable with logic or reason, rather they fall into a small and distinct area of metaphysics. However, this does not mean that one cannot use ethics or logic in order to deal with existent and conscious life in the here and now, or in the future, it only means that you will not be able to change a person’s views of the “afterlife”.

          I have had more religious debates than I wish to ever remember, and as an atheist I have had many. But, one thing that I have learned to do is to not question a person’s belief of the unknown, but rather to focus on the known, or the logical deductions of our reason and ethics in the here and the now (reality). While you would certainly get nowhere with a fundamentalist religious radical, who people make up a minuscule minority of religious peoples, the great preponderance of religious peoples do understand (at some basic level) ethics, etymology, logic, etc, and they are able to distinguish between current reality and spiritual belief.

          I will never question one’s spiritual/religious beliefs, because I know that you cannot get to the bottom of it no matter how much you will try. That is why I often have a great admiration for the Scholastics, because they were able to form philosophy from a religious perspective, but they were also able to use their own reason to form philosophy that was entirely independent from religious belief.

          While I am myself certain that there is no god, and that I have my own theories as to what existence and reality actually IS (and, I “believe” in them fully), I cannot prove my case any stronger than a religious person no matter how much I may feel his views are ridiculous.

          No matter what, there is not a single person on the Earth today that can prove, or disprove, their own position with regard to the creation of all that is. In the end all we have are “beliefs”. Atheism, religiousness, and agnosticism are all profound in their own rights, and many are firm in their positions and pronouncements, but in the end they are nothing more than different sets of beliefs; none of us has the definitive and conclusive answer, none of us can prove the other wrong beyond a shadow of a doubt. So, we even try?

          • RS says:

            “but in the end they are nothing more than different sets of beliefs; none of us has the definitive and conclusive answer, none of us can prove the other wrong beyond a shadow of a doubt”

            should I take the above statement seriously, as a “difinitive and conclusive answer” that no one can really know anything? but then how do you know this? are you the exception to your own rule? isnt that just another form of dogmatic skepticism cloaked in rational sounding words?

            • Joseph Fetz says:

              No, I am just saying that it is not a provable thing at this time. Maybe with further knowledge we may come to a definitive answer, but we have not yet reached that point, and I personally don’t think that the human race will ever find the answer before they disappear from existence. I am an atheist based upon my own reason, not any objective criteria of which does not currently exist.

  9. K Sralla says:

    In actuality “God has a plan” is simply a placeholder or substitute for “I have no freaking clue how to address the problem you just raised so I will side-step it by saying “God has a plan” or “this will work to his glory” or “God answers prayer – just not always the way we want.”

    You know Knox, you are exactly right. However, for a free-market enthusist, I guess I don’t see why you would be troubled by such an attitude.

    Let’s consider for a moment the spontaneous order that we call the market. It is an institution that sometimes leaves certain individuals tattered and torn for reasons that are often difficult if not imposssible to deconstruct rationally. In the game of the market, it often seems like it is better for a particular individual to be lucky rather than smart or particularly talented. But yet, my suspicion is that you are not disgusted by those who try to give an apologetic for the free market process by saying that the “unseen hand” is a normative societal good.

    You see, the “ordering principle” of the market has many of the same metaphysical properties as the God of providence. In a takeoff on Weber, it is my thesis that Reformed Protestants of 17th century Scotland, England, Holland, and America had a much easier time with the “spontaneous order” of the increasingly free market since they had already come to grips with the “unseen hand” in their Calvinist theology, namely God’s providential workings. It is no accident that even in a Puritan society, capitalism was naturally viewed as highly compatible with Christian life, and flourished despite a civil ethic that was often repressive by today’s standards.

    Now I want to try and put together something for you that I think is often missed: A spontaneous market divorced from the good plans of God is scary and disturbing for most people. No good or bad, just ones that die with stuff and those that die without stuff. The unpredictability (on any given individual basis) of the dynamic evolution of a spontaneous order often leaves many members of society clamouring for an intelligent and charismatic human mind to direct the impersonal forces of the market toward a planned reality of predictibility, safety and equality for all. Forget liberty, history has shown that most people will trade freedom in a heartbeat for a loaf of bread.

    However, to those who see the goodness of God directing the “unseen hand”, there is confidence to face the unknown even when one does not understand it. It provides the power to throw off the shackles of the stongman, and live in true liberty despite the palpable fear of the unknown. In this worldview, the worst that can happen is that Christians lose their lives, which is the best thing that can happen. Now that’s freedom.

    • Luke says:

      If atheists actually lived a life where there is no true good or bad and one where things like love are not valued and seen as an illusion, then their position would warrant more respect. They live a life that would suggest there is a higher law or something universal in regards to life/love/morals etc, but then say we are just atoms put together by accident and that I don’t have the right to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do.

      Christians say their authority of what is right and wrong comes from God(as said before, if you have better evidence than the Bible, please show me). Atheists who want to put their morals on you can’t say where their’s come from.

      • Joseph Fetz says:

        No, that is not what all atheists say, that is what some atheists say. If you read my statements above you may get an idea that I do not want to argue about spirituality or the purpose of life, but rather wish to discuss the use of our own reason in the life that currently exists here on Earth.

        Do I have my convictions about existence and all that is around us? Of course I do. But, that does not mean that I can prove my side to you, or you your side to me; it means that we believe in something, whatever it is.

        Aquinas was very good at separating his own “faith” from human reason, as were many other religious men. He understood that no matter what “gods plan” was, that we live here on Earth, and that the only thing to make any real sense of our surroundings was our own reason.

        Stop putting Straw Men up, and stop being of a collectivist mindset. Last I checked, we are all still alive and flying around the Sun on the planet Earth. You can believe in and practice your religion as much as you choose to do, but you must always be cognizant that not everybody agrees with you, and that your beliefs cannot impose on the lives of others (esp. those that disagree). That is where individualism, natural rights, common law, and non-agression come into play; these are the functions of human reason.

        • Luke says:

          Sorry, it is not a straw man. You reason that natural law and non-aggression come into play because you believe there is some purpose to life(which plays into Romans 1:20, all men are without excuse). If I thought my purpose was to kill others because I find it enjoyable, you would try to stop me sure, but you would have no basis to say I am wrong. Atheists say what the Nazi’s did was wrong, but why? Because it caused suffering? Why is suffering wrong?

          • Joseph Fetz says:

            Yes, it was a straw man, because you collectivized the “atheist”.

            You are now going into further territory than you really must, because you are coming from the basic assumption that the words written in religious texts came from god, rather than from man himself. I see religious texts as written from man. While we do know that the books were written by man (he did the scribbling), that the current canon was chosen by man (an assembly); the only outlier is whether it was god who told man to write those words or to choose the canon; something that cannot be proven because there is no objective proof either way. This is fast becoming an exercise in futility, which (as I said) was the predetermined path that is inevitable in any debate upon belief.

            So, as I stated, there is no conclusion to the debate, thus there is no reasoning to continue it. From whence the consciousness of this reasoning of morality came is not something that can be proved nor debated to finality, but people can indeed use their reason to further elaborate upon it.

            If you deny the reason of man, then you deny what separates man from beast.

            • Luke says:

              Well the world had to start somewhere. That had to be an uncaused cause. So I believe that was God. As evidence of God we have the Bible. And as I stated before, The Bible is filled with prophecy that came true, it has facts about creation before “science” showed them to be true and history that has been shown to be accurate. If you have better evidence of why/how we exist and are conscience, I would love to hear it.

              • Joseph Fetz says:

                “The Bible is filled with prophecy that came true, it has facts about creation before “science” showed them to be true and history that has been shown to be accurate”

                How so, when, and where?

          • Joseph Fetz says:

            Here’s a Mises quote:
            “Metaphysics and theology are not, as the positivists pretend, products of an activity unworthy of Homo sapiens, remnants of mankinds primitive age that civilized people ought to discard. They are a manifestation of mans unappeasable craving for knowledge.”

            Not all atheists believe that there is no continuance of life after death, many like myself see energy and mass as continuous and inseparable. While I do not believe that there is a single creator in the religious sense, I do believe that everything did come from a source, and that the creations of that source are eternal, or at least cyclical.

            Do I believe that there is some being up there that created everything, overseas everything, and has created a plan? Absolutely not. But, I do believe that every single particle in the universe is part of the whole, that it is something far greater than ourselves, or anything that our mind can imagine. That within chaos there is an order, but that it is not something that we can understand today, and we may never understand it. The Mendelbrot set shown on Murphy’s header is only a small fraction of this understanding in the human mind, and is only a piece of that knowledge.

            However, when I look at life on the planet Earth, I do realize that man is the most advanced species, and that he is the only one that is fully conscious in my understanding of the word. That the world that we create is a product of our own reason, that the ethics and reasoning that we create are our own, and that they are increased by our own knowledge.

            We are those that form the world as we know it here on Earth, through our knowledge and through our reason. The past and the future do not exist but in our own understanding of the present, that we are always and forever inextricable from the present, and that everything that we study from the past was merely the “present” for another in another time.

            • Luke says:

              Just like me and everyone else, you are free to believe whatever you want. I feel the evidence in the Bible is too strong to simply push away because you don’t understand all aspects of it or the God it presents. Gad gave us the ability to reason for the purpose of using it. God did not grant us omniscience.

              You might believe life or consciousness continues on and that we are all connected, but I feel that is more of a story line you created for yourself(or took from someone else) for whatever reason. Other than pointing to something like newton’s laws, is there real evidence for your position?

              • Joseph Fetz says:

                Is there any evidence for yours or mine? That is the point that I have been trying to make all along. There is none. That is why it is called belief. Also, the “storyline” that you describe is created by our very questioning of existence and our want for knowledge to understand it. You say that I may have gotten it from someone else, but then seem to deny that you did the same.

                Religion, belief, and/or disbelief is an entirely individual choice, you or I cannot prove that one is greater than the other, which is the primary point, and why I hate to get into discussions on theology. You ask for evidence or proof, when neither of us have objective proof of either’s position; that is my point, it is belief.

                As I have stated earlier, I can care less what you or your neighbors beliefs are, just so long as those beliefs do not impose their rules and proclamations upon me. If I was so closed-minded as to disregard other’s beliefs, then I would not even frequent this blog. But, I am accepting of other people’s beliefs, just so long as they understand that their beliefs are between themselves and their god and that they are tolerant of the fact that others disagree.

                One cannot prove the existence of god, or the non-existence of god, but we all must still deal and live with each other in the here and now.

      • RS says:

        “Atheists who want to put their morals on you can’t say where their’s come from”

        That’s not true. There are other moral theories that posit that social norms come from various types of group collectives (e.g. nations, race, sex, etc.). in that respect they share a common characteristic with religion in that they derive the source of moral values from the “other”, they just simply replace “god” in favor of “the group”, both are forms of intrinsicism, the only essential difference is in which “entity” (god or society) is responsible for determining what actions are considered good and which are evil. Both are a form of subjective whim worship since both ultimately boil down to faith in ones feelings and not on any reliance on facts or reason.

        • Luke says:

          Sure, there are theories as to why morals exist, such as those who helped others, worked together and more easily survived. Even though I feel that theory has been shown to be bunk, it still does not give a basis as to why those particular morals are right.

          • RS says:

            that would depend on what do you mean by “basis”? a person who “bases” their knowledge on reason derives knowledge from the logical inferences of the mathematical relationships between facts (i.e. concepts), a person who bases their knowledge on faith derives their knowledge on the random emotional responses to external stimuli irrespective of any facts and attempts to conceptualize the unconceptualizable (i.e. god).

            • Luke says:

              Did I use the wrong “basis”? I am terrible at English(and it’s my only language!)

              I don’t understand your question. You are pointing out the difference between faith and math. Using reason/math/science to establish morals is bias because you must start out by assuming something (usually that life/liberty etc is important). If I believe life is important because it was created by God for a purpose, then there is a reason to protect it.

              On what ground can you claim it is wrong to kill or steal? If there is nothing greater than this world, then there is nothing to judge it’s actions by.

              • RS says:

                “If there is nothing greater than this world, then there is nothing to judge it’s actions by.”

                This is a non-sequitur. The identification of a standard by which to judge the actions that are open to men’s choice does not depend upon a zero, a non-entity, or that which is outside of existence (i.e. this world). All knowledge, including the knowledge of facts such as standards, choices, men, worlds, value judgments etc. come from the conceptual integrations provided by man’s senses, integrated though a process of reason and validated by logic. Such a process is not automatic and not infallible. It requires both an act of choice and the application of mental effort and because the cognitive output is not guaranteed to be correct it requires that one take a personal interest in the method of cognition and accepts personal responsibility for the consequences.

                Simply inventing a standard, like god, is an escape from that requirement and an abdication of that responsibility.

                If one decides to take on that responsibility then one has implicitly recognized the fact that the correct identification of knowledge and truth are essential to ones long term survival and so long as that is your goal then the purpose of your actions will follow accordingly.

                Now, as to the question as to should ones long term survival be one’s ultimate goal, I can point you to the fact that life, as such, is its own goal. Life is the process of self-sustaining and self-generating action. All living organisms require that they take the actions necessary to sustain their own life. Life is what makes possible the attainment of all values. Getting from here to “thou shalt not steal” will require a bit more writing but this should give you the gist of it.

    • knoxharrington says:

      Are you saying that we need the “placebo effect” of religion in order to pacify the masses into accepting markets?

      Of course, we have religion and planning. I would like to see both go away. Whether the planning is the religious trying to tell me how I should “plan” my life – temporal and eternal – or from the irreligious attempting to “plan” social justice from above – whatever that term may mean.

      • Luke says:

        No, I am saying we need to have a reason to live, which atheists have. In no way am I saying atheists can’t be moral, because I know they can.

        • Luke says:

          And let me clarify that my point is if there is no God or higher power as Atheists believe, they should have no problem if I thought my reason to live involved hurting or killing others, just like animals in the wild, or rather they shouldn’t say I am wrong. My point is, in my experience, atheists do believe there is more to life and simply surviving and satisfying one’s own desires.

          If one says the point if life was to work together to survive in greater numbers, then that is begging the question.

          If one says the point of life is to be happy, then who establishes what I am allowed to do in order to gain this happiness?

          • RS says:

            “they should have no problem if I thought my reason to live involved hurting or killing others, just like animals in the wild, or rather they shouldn’t say I am wrong. ”

            Really? Do you consider man, irrespective of religion, equivalent to an animal in the wild? Is religion the essential element that separates man from the beast? You have said that atheists can be moral but if they don’t have religion then how can they be moral, since they must be amoral beasts? Clearly there is more to morality and to man than just the belief in the supernatural.

            • Luke says:

              No, when did I say that? God creating us in His image is what separates us from the animals. If there is no God, then there is no difference between us and animals except that we have a bigger brain.

              I believe atheists are morals because they know there is something more to life and fulfilling ones own needs and desires. I also believe deep down they know God exists.

              • MamMoTh says:

                Whales have bigger brains. And they also believe they were created to Her image.

              • RS says:

                “I also believe deep down they know God exists.”

                That’s very presumptuous of you. As an atheists I can tell you first hand that, deep down, I know NO god exists however, because of your faith, I know that presenting you with that fact will not have any effect on your belief that I don’t know what I believe.

                Furthermore, I find it hypocritical of you that you deem to rely on your own beliefs but discount out of hand the beliefs of others when they are clearly presented to you. How are you so special to reserve for yourself the knowledge of what other people believe but would deny that same right to others? Suppose I were to say that deep down you have no faith and really don’t believe in god and are just faking it all for the superficial emotions it gives you. How come my estimation of your mental state is rejected but your estimation of my mental state is gospel, even after it is presented to you as otherwise?

                “If there is no God, then there is no difference between us and animals”

                Like I stated above, the basis for this definition of man is based on faith and not on fact. If you see no difference between man and animal except for the element of faith and god then it follows that any man who rejects god rejects humanity and is no better than an animal, to be treated as such until he “corrects” his ways. Such has been the basis for the justification for all of the horrors religion has brought to humanity since time immemorial, although that “fact” too will not have any effect on your belief any more than an atheist telling you straight out that they don’t believe in god would.

                Consider this, if the difference between man and animal is faith and god, then cooperation between men depends upon who’s faith and who’s god is dominant, those who disagree with the dogma of the religious authority must be forcefully subjugated, controlled, since they are just ignorant animals who need to be guided (i.e. forced) to their “humanity”, found only in the gospel of those in power, lest they become a threat to the more “civilized” in the society. This was the predominant cultural/political view of the dark and Middle Ages and they were “dark” for this very reason.

                If the difference between man and animal is reason, then cooperation between men depends upon ideas, discussion, persuasion, trade, of mutual exchange to mutual benefit. Peace, prosperity, science and knowledge naturally follow, it’s no accident that the period that ended that “dark” ages was called “the enlightenment”, it was not knowledge of god that people found illuminating, it was knowledge that man was a rational being that allowed them to discover everything else.

                The history of the entire western civilization stands as a testament to this fact, even if your faith prevents you from seeing it.

  10. Mattheus von Guttenberg says:

    If all things are planned by God and his will, how does that leave anything to our choice? How can we choose to be lazy or productive, studious or ignorant, open-minded or shill – when all these decisions have already been made and understood beforehand?

    • Brian Shelley says:

      There is a rather heated debate within Christianity on this topic. The Calvinists tend to believe in a paradox where free will and determinism coexist. Most, however, find this unpalatable, like yourself, and believe in free will. Many Christians, though, jump through hoops to make this true given scripture.

      I believe in some of the concepts of Open Theism, which you can wiki. God is in control of Macro events because he is so active in our lives and the lives of so many people, but he leaves individual decisions to our free will. An example might be: It doesn’t matter if I vote against Obama if God’s plan is to overthrow Qaddafi. He’s exhorting millions of people at the same time to accompilsh his ends.

  11. Brian Shelley says:


    This is a concept that I often hear, but it’s a concept that doesn’t do anything for me. I don’t struggle to make sense of events. I usually just take them as they are and go from there. Could you go into any more detail to what this does for you?

  12. Luke says:

    Every time I see a response I feel the need to reply and with three people responding this is time consuming, so I am just going to leave it where it is. Take care guys.

    • knoxharrington says:

      Ok. Take care.

    • Joseph Fetz says:

      Take care of yourself, Luke.

  13. Major_Freedom says:

    One of the side benefits of believing in an all-powerful, loving God is that when you are worried about something, you can reassure yourself that there is a plan behind it. This observation doesn’t mean “it will be fine” in the short-term; you may very well be worried for good reason. But it does mean that one day, you will understand why things had to turn out that way they did.

    How can God be loving when he is purposefully designing humans to be atheists and then sending them to an eternity of torture? Sounds sadistic and very UN-loving to me.

    Another technique I use to work through paralyzing worry is to stop focusing on things from my own perspective. In other words, stop thinking, “Such-and-such might be awful because things might turn out this way for me…” If instead I start thinking, “How can I mitigate the impact on others if this bad thing happens…?” then I can become productive again.

    You can’t mitigate any negative impact on others unless you know what they subjectively value to be negative for themselves. For example, insofar as you are a theist and you try to “mitigate the negative impact” on me, then I will correctly judge your “help” to be an affront, and in fact destructive, not constructive. And no, you don’t know what’s better for me than I know myself. Only I can decide what’s better and worse for me. Rothbard’s demonstrated preference thank you very much.

  14. K Sralla says:

    “Are you saying that we need the “placebo effect” of religion in order to pacify the masses into accepting markets?”

    Yes. I don’t like your terminology, but in effect, yes, many folks apparently need to be conforted with a higher purpose that transcends the market. Children are scared of the dark, and so are grown ups.

    Statism arises where humans cower in fear.

    I firmly believe in a personal God, but you who do not should consider that there is no precedent for a large and long-lived free society apart from religious institutions that engender an idea of a soverign God who works through the unseen hand of the market. Why did free-markets and free(er) political institutions grow up in the cradle of Calvinism, where in Germany or France, they did not flourish to the same extent?

    Based only on Hayekian thought, many of you young and restless libertarians need to be extremely careful which spontaneous institutions and rules you actively evangelize against. Do you also want to through out private property? Why is this institution more critical to a free society than religion? How do you know? Can you put your answer into a formula or apriori proof and convince me?

    • Tel says:

      There’s a very simple proof of the benefit of private property: it provides one way to solve the “Tragedy of the Commons” and gives people incentive to invest and maintain infrastructure. To date, it also has demonstrated a lot of success in historic societies, and territorial behaviour (i.e. a claim to ownership of land) is common at many levels of the animal kingdom as well.

      I don’t see anywhere near as much evidence for an actively intervening God who can demonstrate a planned approach. If God does intervene, then the effect must be very subtle, because scientists can’t measure it. Let’s presume that every miracle the Catholics have documented is completely true, at that rate the actual change to suffering in the world is so close to zero it isn’t worth considering.

      Now the placebo effect of religion must be worth something. As a believer in evolution myself, I have to respect the observation that religious people do appear to have managed to dominate the Earth. Since the only criteria for success that evolution offers is survival, religious people come out looking pretty good from an evolutionary standpoint.

      It may well be that humans have an inbuilt need to feel the protection of an authority figure ruling over them. Statists go in search of a strong government to fill this need, but a placebo God also fills the psychological need without all the interference, greed, corruption, and political favours that we see in a government.

      Then again, if all we need is a placebo effect, we could have a fat contented king doing the job, or a giant computer, or a crystal on a stick for that matter. Trouble is, the priests of whatever religion you care to name will attempt to divert some of the authority to themselves.

  15. K Sralla says:

    “Only I can decide what’s better and worse for me.”

    You’re not serious.

    • Major_Freedom says:

      Yeah, I really am.

  16. K Sralla says:


    Thanks for helping me make my point. Fences without neighbors are pretty darn worthless.

    Now soak in the lesson, and try going easy on the majority of folks who seem to believe in God. Otherwise you and other liberty-loving folks who do not believe may be unwittingly shooting yourselves in the foot, as I think you have conceded in your comments.

    P.S. The Lutherans and Reformed Protestants I mentioned had a little doctrine they called the “priesthood of the believer”. No fat contented king, computers or crystals necessary.

  17. Taylor says:

    That’s The Way God Planned It – Billy Preston with George Harrison