Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Purpose to Life: Divine Plans and Free Will

I am writing a serious on purpose and meaning in life, addressing the question:

Would you rather it were true that you were created with a divine purpose in life or that you are just a product of random chance?

In Post 1 I answered, "No." What matters is the quality of a purpose, not its origin.

In Post 2 I said that, since there is no God, what people take as a “divine purpose” is their own interests and desires. People create gods in their own image. So, while a kind and peace-loving person will create a kind and peace-loving God, a hateful and vindictive person will invent a hateful and vindictive God. Each will see “divine purpose” in what is, in fact, merely their own preferences.

In Post 3 I wrote that certain religious leaders find it useful to promote a desire to have been created with a divine purpose. They will then tell you what that divine purpose is, which is really their own purpose, which is typically that you give them (the religious leader) political power, money, and obedience.

I drew this question from an article in the Philadelphia Examiner in which Staks Rosch wrote:

If we were to really believe that we were all born with a divine plan and a divine purpose, than we would basically be slaves.

(See: Atheistm 101: The Purpose of Life)

However, this actually is not necessarily true.

I created an example in the first posting in this series in which a bored God created a planet, populated it with people that he designed, told different groups, “You are God’s chosen people and it is your right and duty in the name of me, God, to spread my word around the globe,” and sat back to be entertained by wars and conflicts that result.

This is an example of creating humans with a divine purpose – to split into tribes that war with each other for dominance in the name of God so that God can tune in each day to a never-ending display of interpersonal conflict and drama.

"Survivor Earth."

We would still have "free will" on this model. We get to choose how we contribute to this drama, and even have the option not to participate at all. Yet, according to the ‘divine purpose’ theory the only option that would be a valuable choice would be to contribute to whatever type of conflict and drama best serves this ‘divine purpose’. We have the option not to choose what has value.

We would have the option to choose peace and kindness. My decision to do so would not threaten the divine plan for others. They are still free to choose to entertain God by generating conflict and drama. It is simply not true that a divine plan requires the absence of free will.

It is only if one assumes that the plan has been worked out in every detail where it is the case that the presence of such a plan implies the absence of free will. However, only a percentage of religions that preach the value of a divine plan also preach a plan worked out in minute detail.

There are religions that suggest that a divine plan has been worked out in detail. However, they also tend to be religions that preach the absence of free will. So, the criticism would not apply to thm

So Rosch’s original criticism of a divine purpose is not valid. Yet, this does not imply that thre is no

1 comment:

Mark C. said...

Just to let you know, this post of yours was cut off mid-sentence.