Monday, September 3, 2012

SHOULD YOU VOTE? FATE.....OR FATALISM? An Error in Logic

One common belief that made the rounds after the election of George W. Bush was that whoever won the election was "God's choice". Bush  "won"; therefore, it was meant to be. God had spoken, and He chose Bush. Strangely, I haven't heard the same belief expressed by the so-called "Christian Right" (which is neither Christian nor right) about Obama's election. I've, however,  heard a similar belief from conservatives, as well as fatalistic liberals; many of them mistakenly believe that whatever happens must be the will of God. As the bumper sticker reads, "Relax, God is in control". They feel that God will somehow override the political process and cause his favorite to win.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are those who believe that all political activity, including even casting a ballot, is somehow "sinful". Traditionally, amish and mennonites adhered to this belief, but now we see disaffected voters who boycott the elections. "It doesn't matter who you vote for," they whine at the sidelines. Others refuse to vote their conscience, picking instead the "lesser of two evils".  "Otherwise, you are throwing away your vote," they reason.

However, a political election can hardly be seen as a reflection of the will of God. In a Democracy, all citizens can vote, if eligible-  not just Christians. Does God use the votes of atheists and Satanists? What about the votes of "false" religions and cults, like the Moonies?

According to Medieval belief, the Kings were divinely appointed by God. This was known as the "divine right of Kings". The belief in the “divine right of kings” is, of course,  undemocratic, as it implies that  disobedience to the king is actually disobedience to God. This is what some Christians would have you believe, though, especially when "their" favorite candidate wins!

In order to believe that the election was somehow a reflection of the will of God, we also have to believe that God's will is made manifest in the lives of those who don't believe in Him. If everything that happens is the will of God, then we must accept that every child who dies of cancer has died due to God's will. We also must believe that horrible events in human history, such as the Holocaust, were direct manifestations of the will of God. This is a very severe view of human history, as well as a harsh view of God. I don't think that I would want to worship such a God.

Fate versus Free Will

This begs the question: If everything that occurs is fated by God, then what is "sin"? If everything that happens in the world is the will of God, then there can't be such a thing as sin, can there? If you take this idea to the extreme, then why bother to be a Christian? God's will will be done, whether I am a Christian or not. Maybe I wasn't "fated" to be a Christian. In Christian theology, this idea is known as "Predeterminism"- some were "fated" to be "saved", and some weren't, and there's nothing you can do about it.

So if everything that occurs was meant to be, isn't it cruel for God to punish people for doing "wrong", if it was His will for me to do wrong in the first place? If you apply this attitude to the Presidential Elections, then God will decide who will become president- so why bother voting? Many voters simply stayed home and didn't bother to vote in the German elections for Chancellor in 1932, reasoning that there votes wouldn't make much a difference, anyway. Hindenburg won by a very slim margin, then Hitler was made Chancellor. Was that God's will? Did God divinely "choose" Hitler to be the leader of the German people?

Fatalism vs. the cross

The word "fatalism" is of Latin origins, deriving from the names of the Roman pagan dieties, the "Fatas".
Here is some info, taken from the website takeourword.com, regarding this word's etymology:

"Surprisingly, it is derived from the Latin fata "fates" (plural of fatum "fate").  The literal meaning of fatum is "that which has been spoken" (from the verb fari "to speak") and implies a destiny which has been pronounced by the gods.  In Roman mythology, the Fata were the three terrifying sisters Nona, Decima and Parcae, who determined the length and quality of each person's life. "

This belief is not a Judeo- Christian belief, but one whose fruits are the basest form of nihilism, decadence and cruelty. Roman society was renowned for its cruelty, bestiality, violence and bloodshed. It's interesting, then,  that some Christians have adopted paganistic beliefs into their theology.

Thank God, the Bible does not teach fatalism; we don't believe in an angry, harsh taskmaster who sets us up to sin, then condemns us for all of eternity at his own whims. That's not our God-  that's more like the god of the Romans, Zeus, who favored whomever he pleased, and lashed out in jealousy at anyone who displeased him.

The Bible teaches that the cosmos comes from God, and that its beauty and intricacy are a reflection of His will. However, all of creation also was given free will- and thus, the capacity to do His will, as well as to do what is contrary to His will. Seen this way, world events can be the will of God, at times, since God reserves the right to intervene when we ask Him to. However, not all world events are God's will.

In the book of Exodus, chapter two, we read the story of the birth of Moses. Pharoah commanded the deaths of all of the Hebrew infants-  an evil action. Pharoah's daughter disobeyed the will of her father, and had pity on the baby she found in the water. Unlike today's "fatalistic" Christians, Pharoah's daughter did what she knew in her heart was right, and didn't meekly accept the rule of Pharoah to be the will of the gods.

Here we see the will of those who do evil juxtaposed with God's intervention, and His will made manifest despite Pharoah's actions. God would certainly prefer it that we would all do His will, but He only will directly intervene in human affairs to the extent that we allow Him to.

The cross represents the will of God meeting the human condition-  the vertical line reaching up to heaven, and the horizontal representing the earth's horizon. On the cross, God made the ultimate intervention, and the most radical sacrifice ever made. Jesus, who could raise men from the grave, who could turn water into wine, and whose oratory powers could astound and bewilder the greatest teachers of His day, certainly could have prevented his execution.

Instead, He refused to speak in His own defense. What would impel Him to do such a thing? Two things- firstly, His substitutionary death on the cross was foretold by the Prophets, and was the will of God. Secondly, He gave us Himself as an example of radical nonviolence.

Which brings us to the topic of Prophecy-  if God gave us free will, and everyone has the right to choose what to do, then how can prophecy operate? How can God know what will happen beforehand?

This is a divine paradox-  God is omnipotent, meaning He is all-powerful. However, He has limited His power over us, so that we can exercise our free will. The paradox goes further-  if He is all-powerful, then He also must know all things- otherwise, knowledge would be greater than God, and, therefore, God would not be omnipotent. Therefore, God knows what our choices will be before we make them.

Christians have a responsibility to make wise choices, therefore. We will be held accountable for our choices. We can't just make lousy choices, then claim that whatever God wanted was fated to be. So go out and vote, but vote for a candidate who truly reflects your moral and ethical belief system, not just the "lesser of two evils".

So what about the two choices before us? The two-party system is similar in many ways to the choices you see at a fast-food strip featuring KFC and taco bell- two different "tastes" owned by the same company. While the parties differ in "lifestyle" issues such as abortion and gay rights, they are essentially the same on the real "meat and potatoes" issues-  jobs, health care, education and war. Both parties are in favor of cutting social programs in order to benefit big banking, the military and the prison-industrial complex. It's ironic that a guy who grew up nominally Muslim and a Mormon are the only two choices for a nation that used to be devoted to the Judeo-Christian tradition.

And why shouldn't they have more or less the same platform? They are both beholden to the same big business and banking interests who pour millions of dollars into their campaigns. So long as the corporate candidates hold all of the power, nothing in the US will change.

Even worse, while Jesus upheld the sanctity of all life, even refusing to participate in an execution by stoning (which was unthought of in his day), both parties support the extinction of human life, while upholding the bizarre doctrine that a corporation is a person. Is there a real difference? The democrats believe you are a person AFTER you are born, but have no rights even one hour before birth. The republicans believe you have rights BEFORE you were born (and wouldn't even allow a raped woman to abort), but AFTER birth, you lose the right to healthcare, housing and education.

My suggestion? There are tons of small independent parties. Sure, you could be "throwing away your vote", but it is preferable to throwing away your soul or  conscience voting for the devil.


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