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God Has a Plan

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In continuation of my previous post on survivorship bias, I encourage you to read it if you haven't already. The post delves into how our inclination to focus on success stories can skew our perspective, leading to flawed conclusions. In this blog, we shift our focus to the opposite end of the spectrum: the rationalization of negative situations.


The Ubiquity of a Familiar Phrase

We've all encountered the phrase – one that is not reserved solely for positive situations but often finds its way into the discourse surrounding adversity. Whether rooted in religious beliefs or as a general human tendency, we've all at some point uttered the words, "God has a plan" or "it happens for a reason." It's a natural inclination as we grapple with the complexities of our world.


While using such phrases as coping mechanisms is understandable, a complication arises when we weaponize them to justify or pacify dire circumstances. The complexity intensifies when these expressions are intertwined with the concept of God's intelligent design – the assumption that flaws are incompatible with a divine plan.



Personal Reflections: God of the Gaps

Reflecting on family road trips to the mountains, the awe and marvel at what seemed too grand to be anything but God's creation were commonplace. This attribution often stems from the God of the gaps fallacy, a human tendency to ascribe divine influence to phenomena beyond our complete comprehension.


Critically examining the phrase "God has a plan," it becomes evident that its implications extend beyond individual belief systems. In a world rife with systemic issues affecting us all, adopting such an outlook can inadvertently strip us of agency and a sense of control. This loss becomes particularly consequential as we grapple with problems that demand collective solutions.


Socioeconomic Intersection

Beyond personal beliefs, the issue connects with class dynamics, especially among the lower class. Individuals with less control may tend to lean towards personal devotionalism and doctrinal beliefs. While not inherently negative—studies show positive outcomes for religious individuals—it prompts scrutiny of how class and religiosity intersect.



Mobilizing for Change: Overcoming Fatalism

Lower-class individuals, more inclined to see systemic issues as part of God's plan, may struggle to engage in social change. Community development relies on collective action, and fatalistic beliefs hinder activism. Overcoming this fatalism is crucial for fostering empowerment and cooperation within communities.


Examining the use of God's intelligent design to justify suffering is crucial. It influences individual perspectives and impacts how we interact with friends, family, and clients. Disassembling this belief system is vital when people attribute their setbacks to systemic issues, offering a more precise analysis of structural challenges.



Climate Change and Religion: Impact on Environmental Views

This global issue, including climate change, is influenced by religious perspectives, notably among Protestant Christians. While it's important not to generalize, the belief in God's intelligent design can shape attitudes towards man-made climate change.


Conservative Christians may resist the idea of human-induced climate change, citing insignificance in altering the weather. The belief is rooted in the conviction that only God has control over the Earth and its climate, making any human impact an affront to divine power.


This perspective, wielded by the religious right, can lead to political inaction and resistance against environmental regulations. Recognizing the potential risks of this stance is crucial, as it may hinder collective efforts to address climate change.


In contrast, atheists and agnostics often express heightened concerns about climate change. Absent religious reasoning, they tend to adopt a more proactive approach to environmental issues. Recognizing these diverse attitudes is essential for fostering inclusive dialogue that merges religious perspectives with the pressing need for environmental stewardship.



Culture Wars

We are currently engaged in a full-blown culture war, and its tangible consequences are evident as states/provinces increasingly embrace stricter conservative perspectives on gender and sexuality. While we may not have complete certainty about the religious beliefs of the students involved in the fatal beating of the non-binary teen, one thing is clear: justifying the student's death as part of God's plan is not acceptable.


The concept of God’s intelligent design poses a threat to children who grow up with a gender identity or sexuality different from their parents' expectations. Their innate identity is misconstrued as a choice, leading to religious parents subjecting them to coerced therapy, bullying, and abuse.


While our country allows the freedom to practice any religion, the moment it causes harm, we have a duty to intervene and protect. To those who argue that progressive ideologies are detrimental to children, it is crucial to recognize that conservative ideology has inflicted significant harm on scientific progress and basic human rights through neoliberal policies.

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