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Acceptance of Life

I see two kinds of acceptance of life. One is based on religious faith, the other on a rational world view.

One type of acceptance is based on the belief that everything is controlled by the unseen hand of God. Everything happens according to His master plan. Everything that is good or bad happens at his whim. Everything that we do or that happens to us is under God's direction. In this acceptance, our free will is not free but we are just doing what God intended for us to do. 

Such a believer must seek a sign from the unseen God in an attempt to determine the correct action in a situation. A sign might also be required to understand God's actions, such as when people are killed or their lives ruined in a natural disaster, like a hurricane or earthquake or even a plane crash. There can be a tendency by this believer to thank God for good fortune and to blame God for misfortune (or to blame oneself that one's faith did not convince God to prevent that misfortune - which is the same as blaming God for His inaction).

The other type of acceptance is based on the recognition that everything happens within the flow of nature. The Sun rises. Clouds form. Rain falls. Plants grow. People are born. People die. What we do within this flow is not preordained. Our actions affect the flow just as we are affected by the flow.

This acceptance also recognizes that we do not understand everything that happens within the flow of nature. Many years ago, a tornado or earthquake was considered an 'act of God' because it was a disaster of such magnitude. However, our understanding of natural processes continues to grow through scientific investigation. Hurricanes are now monitored with satellites. Meteorologists are getting better at determining when the conditions are right for the formation of tornado, enabling the people in its path to prepare for the natural event. The tornado is not the wrath of an unseen God but is part of a natural process. 

Our American culture is approaching a conflict between the two views. The ascendance of evangelicals in 2004, through their influencing voters on behalf of Bush, has given some the ambition to push their world view, one based on the first description above. The inherent danger of that world view is the necessary interpretation of God's master plan. God is a supernatural entity in these Christian religions so he does not take a human form, nor does he speak in a human voice. To obtain an interpretation of this master plan, a person must somehow look for signs of its revelation, a difficult if not impossible task. The alternative resource, the one relied on by most of the adherents to this world view, is a religious leader who speaks with the conviction that he or she somehow 'knows' this plan.

Much is said and done in the name of God. That is at the heart of many of the world's social problems.

created - Nov. 2004
last change - 11/21/2004
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