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(19,705 posts)
Sun Jun 16, 2013, 04:48 PM Jun 2013

No, Everything Does Not Happen for a Reason. Thank God for That.

"Everything happens for a reason" is my very least favorite thing for someone to say. It is bad philosophy, bad theology, bad thinking, and bad advice. It manages to combine the maximum of ignorance with the maximum of arrogance. Other forms of this include: "There is no such thing as coincidence," and: "It's all part of the great plan." They are all the intellectual offspring of Leibniz's ludicrous claim that "this is the best of all possible worlds."

Each form betrays the same enormous conceit and the same willful negligence.

I, personally, simply cannot imagine how it might be a good thing to tell myself, if I were to indulge in wish-thinking, that everything happens for a reason. The only conclusion is that whoever or whatever designs and plans those reasons is utterly cold, capricious, heartless and cruel. Leibniz made his famous claim about "the best of all possible worlds" in response to the so-called Problem of Evil.

The Problem of Evil begs an answer to the puzzle of how a world run by an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good God could contain evil. For: Would a god with those characteristics not, by definition, know about evil, be able to stop it, and want to stop it?

Leibniz's solution to this puzzle, needless to say, is not the most credible one.

8 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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No, Everything Does Not Happen for a Reason. Thank God for That. (Original Post) cleanhippie Jun 2013 OP
We live in an uncaring universe. Rod Walker Jun 2013 #1
But we live in a world that is full of caring intaglio Jun 2013 #2
I think you're overly optimistic. Rod Walker Jun 2013 #3
I think you're overly gloomy on this. Voice for Peace Jun 2013 #6
History is a narrative intaglio Jun 2013 #7
I think "impartial" is more accurate than "uncaring" Voice for Peace Jun 2013 #5
Anthropomorphism Chathamization Jun 2013 #4
I guess climate change is just random then. rug Jun 2013 #8

Rod Walker

(187 posts)
1. We live in an uncaring universe.
Sun Jun 16, 2013, 05:01 PM
Jun 2013

The only time that something happens for a "reason" is when a sentient being causes it to happen. Now that intelligence has evolved on Earth, things happen for a reason here; while there may be sentient life elsewhere, we have no evidence of it as yet. That being the case, the only part of the universe where things happen for a reason (as far as we know) is our Solar System....and even then, the vast majority of events occur without human intervention.


(8,170 posts)
2. But we live in a world that is full of caring
Sun Jun 16, 2013, 05:13 PM
Jun 2013

Bigots and haters are just a small noisy minority. Simple unthinking kindnesses happen every day.


Rod Walker

(187 posts)
3. I think you're overly optimistic.
Sun Jun 16, 2013, 05:17 PM
Jun 2013

The history of humanity is a history of violence and oppression towards one another. Just as an example, slavery being outlawed (not that this is the case everywhere even today) is a historical anomaly.


Voice for Peace

(13,141 posts)
6. I think you're overly gloomy on this.
Sun Jun 16, 2013, 06:02 PM
Jun 2013

There's an essential human nature which is
profoundly beautiful, and I believe it is universal.

We are evolving, still. We continue to evolve as
a species with every choice, every day. There is
a great deal of goodness, in us and around us.
Life itself. That's the main thing.


(8,170 posts)
7. History is a narrative
Sun Jun 16, 2013, 07:44 PM
Jun 2013

and narratives gain their power from emphasising conflict.

Check Check Gibbon's seminal "Decline and Fall," the concept made for a good book but the fall of the Roman Empire wasn't a fall.

Another example is WWII where we have tales of horror piled upon horror but many humans beneath that horror acted humanely. There were Capos amongst the enslaved in the concentration camps but many more who were not and those others, when they could, would offer aid and solace to others.

Soldiers acting heroically is the common coin, it is only the lucky few who are honoured and remembered. It needs no threat of hell to make people act well nor even a promise of heaven.

For every murderer there are 10,000 who do not kill. For every abusive husband there are 500 who are not abusive. The same comparison can be made for every cruelty no matter how banal.


Voice for Peace

(13,141 posts)
5. I think "impartial" is more accurate than "uncaring"
Sun Jun 16, 2013, 05:59 PM
Jun 2013

most everything, it seems, happens for a reason.

The reasons are usually fairly tangible if you look
for them and think about it. Nothing to do with
an overlord.. just natural laws doing their thing.

What we take from it is unique. I can learn
from stuff that happens. I am the one who
creates the meaning.


(1,638 posts)
4. Anthropomorphism
Sun Jun 16, 2013, 05:36 PM
Jun 2013

What we think of as reason comes from us being human - possibly stretching it towards other life forms very close to us. The same with evil. I'm not sure any of it is worth extending beyond ourselves anymore than it's worth asking if a stone appreciates the films of Ben Stiller.

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