Do you believe "everything happens for a reason"?

This seems to be a core part of the majority of people’s world views. They feel that if something bad happens, it was there to teach them a lesson, or had some other purpose. I guess they might think that if something good happens, it’s a just reward for whatever positive things they think about themselves.

This belief seems utterly ridiculous to me, because it falls completely apart on the first attempt at scrutiny.

I suspect people hold the belief because they don’t have a high standard for actually examining their beliefs to see if they make sense. They just mentally gloss over this fundamentally important part of their world view, and just accept whatever will give them the warm fuzzies. It’s pretty hard to accept that the world is a cold, random place without meaning.

But the idea of holding a belief that makes no sense is alien to me. I can understand people holding a belief I feel is wrong for logical reasons, but I can’t understand people who don’t put the effort forth to even remotely consider the rationality of their views.

So I’m asking someone who holds this belief, or any sort of belief in fate, to explain it to me, in a logical fashion.

Who, or what entity, controls this fate? How does it decide by what reason to make things happen? Does it want to teach people lessons? Ultimately reward the good, and punish the bad? What is the goal?

By what mechanism does this actually work?

The actual mechanics of any sort of fate are mind boggling. Because everything affects everything else in infinite and subtle ways, the complexity required to subtly manipulate reality in order to make specific things happen is incomprehensible.

Let’s say a guy is fated to meet his future wife on vacation. A vacation he took because he had arrived to work a few minutes early and happened to look up information on scuba diving, which fueled an interest and a hobby. But let’s say that wouldn’t otherwise happen, because a traffic jam would’ve caused him to be late for work, taking away that time he would’ve used to become interested in that hobby. He never sees the scuba website, the thought passes, he never takes that vacation and meets his future wife.

So what does fate do? Force the other drivers involved in the traffic jam to leave earlier or later, thereby spreading around the traffic? Does fate step into all of their individual lives, and manipulate the way their day is going, in order to make that happen? What about the billion subtle effects that would have on their lives, possibly making them miss other situations in which they’re fated? What if one of the guys forced to go late to avoid making the traffic jam for the other guy gets a speeding ticket, putting him a bad mood that day, which causes him to piss off his boss, miss a promotion, and affect the rest of his life? Which in turn affects the way he lives his life and the way he affects other people, which in turn affects how those people affect other people, etc.

To make this one fated thing happen, you’d have to set a trillion other possibly fated things in motion. And this is just one guy, arriving at work early vs late. Just making one fated thing happen, involving one person, is complex beyond what the human mind can really comprehend. Throw in a few billion people, and the natural environment, all working towards their own individual fates, and you’re talking about an absolutely incomprehensible amount of complexity. How does this entity pull this off?

Does it manipulate the universe supernaturally? A person slips on some ice, and because they’re 20 seconds late to getting in their car, they avoid a car accident. Fate saved them. Yipee. Did it create the ice out of nothing, violating natural law?

If someone was fated to die, but somehow avoided death, does fate reroute the lives of many people, and the working of the natural world, to carry this out?

Does it manipulate people’s minds to take certain actions in order to facilitate something happening? What are the actual mechanics of going from the fate entity willing something, and actually making it happen?

So please, someone who holds a belief along these lines (and it seems like the vast majority of people), explain in a logical manner how this could possibly work.

I like to consider myself an intelligent, rational creature (“ha!” says the chorus that regularly encounters me on the board) and I am constantly questioning my surroundings and my thought process for emotions, actions, etc. and so forth.

That said, sometimes I feel like all I have is a little faith. When everything is crumbling around me, I can remind myself that if nothing else, all of the negative I’m presently experiencing will make me stronger in that I’ve experienced a new low and can have learned something from it. More importantly for me though is that I can remind myself that things most certainly will get better, because that’s how life works.

And yes, the above is my personal belief that “everything happens for a reason” and I believe that reason is to teach me or make me a stronger person. Is it some “god” controlling it or entirely random or even entirely in my head? I really don’t know and frankly, it doesn’t matter. I have my own personal way of getting myself through the hard times, as I’m sure you do. Whatever works for each individual is obviously the best for that person.

For what it’s worth, people that know me regularly mention how I’m disgustingly perky and never, ever get truly depressed. I know that for me personally, if I were to think that there was no real point to my suffering and that it was misery for the sake of misery, I’d definitely get really down about life. So, my little thought process- as ridiculous and useless as it may be- helps me be a happy, healthy person and for that I can’t say it’s a bad thing.

In the end, it’s just a matter of every person having their own coping mechanisms and if someone else is believing that some entity is controlling the good and bad in their life, so be it. If they aren’t using that belief system to hurt others, I don’t see what the big deal is. So what if Bob thinks it was fate that he missed his plane to Los Angeles and ended up meeting the love of his life in the airport bar? If it makes him happy and it isn’t hurting anyone, where’s the problem? If someone believes her husband was blown to bits in Iraq because it was all part of God’s plan and that helps her sleep at night, what’s the harm?

Have to say I agree. So no, can’t help you. If everything happened for a reason, the world would be even more depressing than it already is - it would mean someone or something WANTED it this way. What an asshole.

If he is fated to meet his future wife on this vacation, and in order for him to go on this vacation he has to get to work a little early and browse to a scuba site, then that’s what’ll happen. That’s how fate works.

Please, nothing personal, but for millions of people every day that is not how life works at all. Try telling a widow in Darfur with 5 starving children that all of this is just a way for her to get stronger, and that certainly things will get better.

I do truly believe that everything happens for a reason.
Only thing is, the reason is often “shit happens.”

I *cringe *every time I hear one of my friends say that. Must… resist… urge… to challenge… this… NONSENSE!!

And you know, I never once said my belief was universal or even vaguely true. All I’m saying (and as I said repeatedly) is that it works for me and that each individual has to find what works for them. I’m sure that widow in Darfur has her own coping mechanism to deal with an experience so horrific that none of us can even fathom- but she still goes on every day, so she must have a way of coping. It might not be my way and it might not be your way, but she must have a way.

I replied in defense of my own personal belief, but never once said that what I said is a truism for anyone but myself. I just explained why it works for me.

When something horrific happens, such as Katrina or the tsunami in India, I inevitably hear someone saying it happened for a reason. That attitude frankly disgusts me. Whatever good things may be extracted from such a disaster, the fact remains that a whole lot of people died. I don’t see how it’s more comforting to believe that a deity allowed people to die for some hidden purpose, as opposed to random chance.

Given the amount of apparent random nastiness in the world, I serious hope that as much as possible of it is unmeant ! Such things as cancer and AIDS and hurricanes and birth defects are bad enough without postulating some demon-god inflicting them on us. And if they are not meant, then we have a chance to overcome them without them just being replaced.

If, say, AIDS is just another disease, then we can at least hope to wipe it out without whatever being or force that inflicted it on us just replacing it. If hurricanes are just the workings of nature we can try to build stronger buildings, without the force behind them upping their strength to overcome the reinforcements or sending something else.

The idea that our misfortunes have a purpose behind them may be comforting for some people, but that’s just because they don’t think about the implications.

Like DiosaBellisima, I believe that everything I go for can either serve to make me a more bitter and miserable human being OR it can teach me valuable lessons about myself, life the universe and everything. And everything I learn makes the next challenge more…do-able.

No supernatural guiding force needed. “Everything happens for a reason.” That reason is to shape me and challenge me and make me become the kind of person I want to be. Or not. My choice.

Kumbaya, dude. :stuck_out_tongue:

I’ve certainly never been in a situation even remotely like the people who suffered with the tsumani or Katrina have, sturmhauke, but I can hazard to guess why they may want to believe that it happened for a reason.

I suppose it seems to me that most humans are quizzical creatures and we are perpetually asking why. When someone is asking, “Why was my family killed and my entire life destroyed by this hurricane?” sure, you could say: “Well, you see, the weather pattern is such and such and it just happened. Sorry. Dumb luck, really.” But I think for the average person that answer- while being perfectly reasonable- doesn’t really answer the big question for them. And so thinking perhaps that everything being so horrible is part of a greater plan for their life (to make them stronger, better, or whatever) and that maybe eventually they will be reunited with their loved ones is an easy and maybe even silly, but effective way of calming their nerves. Is it right? Probably not, but it works, so it isn’t really wrong either.

And WhyNot, for our little bon fire-sing-along, are you bringing the smores or am I? :wink:

Same here, and what comes out of my mouth often sounds something like, “<religion here> and its childish system of rewards and punishments.” Needless to say, I try my hardest to keep my mouth shut about it.

Why is this on the Pit?

At any rate. I do believe that “things are fated” in that we live in a deterministic universe spawned by a single creation event that determines the time when a hair of my head falls.

How is this pretty or fair, I do not know. I can take a couple of guesses, though.

Imagine this mentioned widow in Darfur. Could it be that she is such a noble person that she chose to live that life in order to make the universe what it is? That she was given the choice to live that life or leave it to someone else and she chose to spare someone else? That she knew that her choice is somehow necessary to raise the price of cassava that thousandth of a penny, which made a farmer go out of business, which left that field empty, which lowered the temperature of the ocean by that thousandth of a degree, which made the ice patch where the guy slid and didn’t have the car accident?

Could it be that she is witness to something else so grand that she is ok with taking whatever crap mortal life she gets?

Could it be that she has no soul and it is not different from a cockroach? That only a handful of people on Earth matter and the rest are fillers?

That her soul has that life and also runs the life of someone incredibly rich but miserable, and a modest but very generous person, and a kid in school in Japan, and a 17th century pirate? And that all those average out as something acceptable?

As for how any of these ridiculously complicated scenarios are run by an entity, well, that what makes a god godly. That we cannot understand it is almost required.

I came here to post exactly the same thing, Swampwolf. There’s no reason for anything. As much as “My Name Is Earl” can give some the warm fuzzies, there’s no karma. What goes around doesn’t come around. Caca pasa, and many of us just happen to live in the valley.

Well I am, of course! I figured out they’re only 3 Weight Watchers Points! You bring the mead and two charming Vikings, mmm’kay?

(Oh, wait. I always forget other people’s bonfires are not like my bonfires. Where will **Diosa **get Vikings in California?)

I’ll bring the Vikings, you bring the s’mores! :smiley:

When I hear from someone, it happened for a reason, I usually say that the reason (using sturmhauke’s examples) for the tsunami is that there was an earthquake under the ocean floor, which was caused by a slip of tectonic plates which was driven by the inner core heat of the Earth. I will usually get a quizzical look from the other party, and then state, “Ok, ok, the REAL reason is that God hates fags.” :rolleyes:

Ok, ok…it’s really about most people who are so self-centered in such a way, that they think that stuff happens only because they believe it was meant for themselves, and it is not viewed as random acts of nature…(human or not).

Why did this thread happen?


I think things happen because they were going to happen anyway, and that “reason” is just a way of comforting the mind, sheltering it away from the other possibility.

Well, I think your primary problem is that you’re hanging out with Fred Phelps. If I was around that guy every day, I’d probably lose my faith in God, too :stuck_out_tongue: .

I guess everything does happen for a reason. No idea what reason that would be, but I’m telling you, if you see something happening that’s bad, and you can change it, fucking do it. All it takes is one thing to make a change. Could be something big, like a wad of dough or a harsh or gentle word spoken to someone who needs to hear it. Fuckin’ do it. Just do it.