Does ‘Everything Happen for a Reason’?
It’s amazing to me how many people subscribe to the belief that “everything happens for a reason”. In other words, that there’s a design or hidden intent in the most seemingly random accidents that occur every moment on this planet. To adherents of this view, coincidence simply doesn’t exist. Of course, religion is the main reason that this idea has taken hold. God’s plan accounts for every stubbed toe, every fender-bender, every unwanted pregnancy. Here’s Sarah Palin, for instance, espousing this philosophy to an Indiana pro-life group:
“Every innocent life does have purpose, and there is no accident. I’m going to choose the creator’s idea of perfection over our society’s definition of perfection any day.”
Never mind that many societies make conflicting claims about the creator’s views on perfection (and whether we can know them at all), the assertion is that our fate is sealed.
Of course, not every person of faith believes in a predestined script. Belief in a higher power does not preclude the idea that, hey, accidents happen. But our desire to cobble together meaning out of chance is itself what distinguishes us from other species, and may well be the thing that gave rise to religion in the first place.
Isn’t there something terribly vain in the claim that every one of the events in our life has an unexplained meaning? Is this not why we flock to psychologists, fortune tellers, churches and the rest? There may be comfort in knowing that there’s a secret plan in place, even if we can’t have access to it. But faith in such a thing strikes me as awfully misplaced. Moreover, people often use the idea that we’re following a script that has already been written to absolve themselves of any serious engagement with what is a very confusing world. In fact, if everything is predestined, then our ability to label events in the world as good and bad takes a serious hit. After all, how can we question events like war, or rape, or child abuse when these, too, are part of a more important plan?