A Conversation With Christianity

Abject prayer...

Abject prayer...

I need to first preface what I’m going to write here by saying that while I am no longer a Christian, a practioner of Christianity, a Christian spiritualist, or bound by any Christian standards of morality, I recognize that following the dominant themes of Christianity, as is true of most religions, will cause one to lead an “upright” life.  That said, my intention here is not to debunk Christianity at all.  Be careful to note that I do not offer my beliefs on the subject here, but I want to pose a question that was spurred by a slew of conversations I’ve had with Christians.

Is there truly a such thing as free will?  

Without getting too metaphysical here, I want to give you the whole.  So, according to Christianity, god has ordained all that we see and don’t see.  That means that in a very practical way, all that has happened has been planned.  That I type this post right now is a part of god’s plan.  In a very real way, god has made this happen.  This moment has been planned, created, manufactured, and appointed by god in the beginning of the beginning.  Now, a typical complaint of atheists (of which I am not) and agnostics (I’m not this either) and non-Christians (this is me) is that Christians attribute all the world’s good to god and all the bad to the devil.  There is a disconnect there because, again, god has ordained these things to be so.  The Afrikan (yes with a “k”) holocaust, the genocide in Darfur, Rwanda, and in Eastern European countries, the HIV/AIDS epidemic throughout Afrika, your child dying of SIDS–all of these things and more are ordained by god according to Christianity.  You were fired–ordained by god.  The Cavs swept the first round of the playoffs–ordained by god.  Literally, all that has happened and will happen is a part of god’s plan regardless of whether we understand it.

But.  If all things have been ordained by god, if god has set all things in motion and animated all things according to his will, do I really have free will?  What choices do I have here?  Am I really ever making a choice, or am I simply living according to god’s plan?  For example, I planned for my son and I to see the new X-men movie yesterday.  I knew he wanted to see it, and so did I.  Nothing he said or did was going to influence my plan one way or another.  He could’ve begged me to go for hours (a form of prayer perhaps), or he could’ve expressed that didn’t want to go at all.  Either way he was going because–in a practical way–I ordained it to be so.  He often asks me where we are going when driving to and from places.  I almost never tell him because really, it doesn’t matter if he knows because we are traveling according to my will.  The choices he made are irrelevant.  While this example is very simple (as it should be), I expect that you get the point.  If the parameters for life’s possibilities have been set before you even begin, and all that you do or don’t do are happening exactly according to god’s will, wherein lies your choice?  Say I set a rat on a track that meanders but nevertheless always progresses forward.  There is no deviating from this track, and there is no going back for the rat because there are trapdoors that close behind the rat as the rat makes progress through the track.  Along the trap I have laid cheese and other goodies, and at other points, I have laid Siafu (look it up) other stumbling blocks or instances of baddies.  The rat has not chosen any of what happened to it.  I have ordained the rat’s track through life in a certain way.  That rat could pray to me and beg and plead, but there is no deviating from the course.  In the end, I have set up a super strong rat trap, and there is no escaping that either.

Do you see where things fall apart for me?  How can it be that god has planned for certain things for me AND I have the choice to do what I want?  Does that mean that I can change god’s plan?  What then is the use of prayer?  If god has already decided whether I will get what I’m praying for, why do I need to pray for it?  A mantra in Christiandom is that we ought to allow god to have his way–that we should live our lives according to god’s plan.  Why, then, should any of us pray for certain things?  This same god already knows the desires of my heart, so who am I fooling by asking for certain things?

…a little help down here

3 thoughts on “A Conversation With Christianity

  1. 1. If there is a god, and it cares enough to play a role in our lives, I think he only makes the BIG choices. Take Moses (yeah, I’m starting off with Christianity). Moses probably worshipped the Egyptian gods, because he thought he was Egyptian (which means he shared the same skin tone as the Egyptians, but WHATEVER!!) God didn’t intervene in his life UNTIL it was time to free the Jews from captivity. And now my point (actually, I have 2): If God exists, no matter how personal, I don’t think he’s there for every little thing. He didn’t mind Moses worshipping Egyptian gods, because at the time it didn’t interfere with his big plans. He only spoke up when it was time to change the course of history. So QUIT INTERPRETING EVERY LITTLE MUNDANE OCCURRENCE AS A SIGN FROM GOD!!! You twisted your ankle cuz you were in a rush. NOT because God didn’t want you to go to the party!!

    My second point: God actually SPOKE to people in the bible. There was no chance of error or misinterpretation. These days, he doesn’t (and as far as I’m concerned, that’s because he NEVER DID), and so people are left to interpret “signs” for themselves. Problem is, their interpretations are as limited as their brains. So give that some thought the next time you think God is “speaking to you”….NUT CASE!!!

    2. God didn’t EXACTLY give us free will, again, for 2 reasons. First off, like you essentially proposed, he knew what we were going to do even before we were born. That means that we are on a predetermined course. Which ALSO means, that he creates people who are destined for Hell!!…Why create me when you KNOW that I’m damned at birth??

    And second, and much more profound, God created us with different TEMPERAMENTS. So if you’re a SHEEP, OF COURSE you’re going to follow. And if you’re born in the U.S., you’re prob christian. In India, you’re Hindu or Muslim. What, are you damned/saved based on birth? Is god so biased towards his own “children??”…that’s counter-intuitive, cuz you’d think he’d just make ONLY children he cared about, so they could all go to heaven. And, if you actually have a critical mind, I don’t think he would punish you for that. In fact, I almost considered myself a humanist once. Humanists believe that God created us, and gave us the power to create, and the best way we can pay homage to him is through our creations: Art, music, science, philosophy, architecture, etc. This philosophy praised us for progress (or so I felt at the time); whereas religion condemned those who would create as full of hubris. Which is why, when added to “faith” (which boils down to either accepting things that lack evidence; or accepting things in spite of contradictory evidence), religion has been seen as anti-intellectual….that, and all the book burnings and witch trials! HOLLA!!!

    • I hadn’t considered that god might have sort of set things in motion to intervene only when he (presumably) feels that things aren’t going right.

      I have to absolutely agree with you about birthright. I have heard that the explanation for this is that before death, all of humanity will have had the opportunity to “come into the knowledge of god.” Now, cultural anthropology as a field of study stands in contrast to this notion. It’s difficult to accept that we are somehow better or blessed of god because we were enslaved and given Christianity. Christianity isn’t even the dominant religion in the world. Are all those who are living good and moral lives going to hell because they were born in a city dominated by Hinduism?

      You raise a good point about god creating children that he cared about. “For god so loved the world…” Yet, we suffer unspeakable atrocities on a regular basis, and the only reason I can find for this is that some humans are just born in shitty circumstances. I have a son, and there is no joy that I would deny him. There is no harm that I would allow him to suffer just because he didn’t worship me as his father. I know better. He doesn’t know what he’s doing all the time, and so I have to make better decisions on his behalf. How is that I love my son more than god loves the average South African or Indian or Sudanese or poor White trash in Nashville? How can that be?

  2. Sun wrote:
    “How can it be that god has planned for certain things for me AND I have the choice to do what I want? Does that mean that I can change god’s plan?”

    Ear responds:

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