Understanding God's Plan

If you are a Christian, you are extremely familiar with "God's plan." This is the way that Christians traditionally explain things like amputations, cancer, hurricanes and car accidents.

You can see how pervasive "God's plan" is by looking in Christian inspirational literature. For example, if we look in the book A Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, we find this remarkable paragraph in Chapter 2:

    Because God made you for a reason, he also decided when you would be born and how long you would live. He planned the days of your life in advance, choosing the exact time of your birth and death. The Bible says, "You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!" [Psalm 139:16]
There is also this:
    Regardless of the circumstances of your birth or who your parents are, God had a plan in creating you.
Under this view of the universe, God plans everything.

Take a moment and think about what Rick Warren said. Rick said, "He planned the days of your life in advance, choosing the exact time of your birth and death." Let's examine one simple implication of this statement. What this means is that God pre-planned every abortion that has taken place on our planet.

If you think about this implication for a few moments, you will begin to realize how impossible "God's plan" is. If the concept of "God's plan" is true, you can first of all see that God wants us to be aborting children. Every single abortion is planned by God, so God must be doing it for a reason. Second, you can see that both the mother who requests the abortion and the doctor who performs it are blameless. Since it is God who planned the abortion of the child (God chose the "exact time" of the death, according to Rick Warren), the mother and doctor are simply puppets who are fulfilling God's plan. You can also see that all the Christians who are fighting against abortion are missing the point. They are actually fighting against God's plan, and their fight is completely futile. God is the all-powerful ruler of the universe, and his plan is for more than a million children a year to die in the United States through abortion. [ref] Each one of those abortions was meticulously planned by God, so fighting against abortion is a totally wasted effort.

If you are a Christian, what you are thinking is, "God does not intend for us to perform abortions!" But if you believe what Rick is saying, then you are obviously incorrect. God is actually the direct cause of every abortion on earth. If you find that notion to be uncomfortable, I would agree with you. Unfortunately, that is the logical outcome of God's plan.

In order to better understand God's plan, let's look at one of the biggest global events that humans have ever witnessed: World War II. According to Encarta:

    The human cost [of WWII], not including between 5.6 million and 5.9 million Jews killed in the Holocaust who were indirect victims of the war, is estimated to have been 55 million deadó25 million of those military and 30 million civilian.
In addition, according to Encarta:
  • 61 countries participated in WWII
  • 1.7 billion people participated in WWII
  • 75% of all human beings alive at the time participated in WWII
World War II was obviously a major disaster -- perhaps the most horrific event the world has ever seen. It is safe to say that nearly every human being on planet Earth prayed to God that this war would end.

And don't forget Adolph Hitler. He was evil incarnate, and Hitler is well known for the atrocious things he did. It is interesting to look at Adolph Hitler in the context of prayer, and understand how Christians try to reconcile an all-loving, prayer-answering God with such a hateful man.

What I would like you to do right now is to consider this statement: "Hitler is part of God's Plan." Think about what Rick said:

    He planned the days of your life in advance, choosing the exact time of your birth and death. The Bible says, "You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!" [Psalm 139:16]
Rick also says:
    God never does anything accidentally, and he never makes mistakes. He has a reason for everything he creates. Every plant and every animal was planned by God, and every person was designed with a purpose in mind.
If God has a divine plan for each of us, then he had a divine plan for Hitler too. It is when you stop to think about it deeply that the contradictions hit you.

For example, simply think about what "God's plan" would actually mean. Since God is an all-powerful being, God's plan would, of necessity, need to be all-inclusive. Hitler and WWII would fit as one tiny piece in a supreme plan of massive proportions. Under an all-encompassing plan like this, the 60 million people who died in WWII all died for specific reasons -- each death had meaning -- and each death would have rippled through the world causing countless side-effects, also all part of God's plan. God's master plan would include everyone and everything, including Hitler and WWII.

Now let's imagine that you say a prayer in this sort of universe. What difference does it make? God has his plan, and that plan is running down its track like a freight train. If God has a plan, then everyone who died in the Holocaust died for a reason. They had to die, and each death had meaning. Therefore, Holocaust victims could pray all day, and they would still die. The idea of a "plan" makes the idea of a "prayer-answering relationship with God" ridiculous. Yet Christians attach themselves to both ideas, despite the irresolvable contradiction.

Think about what God's plan means for you personally. If the plan happens to say that you will get hit by a bus tomorrow, or that terrorists will blow you up, or that you will be shot in the head four times, then that's what will happen. It would be the same with any disease. If you contract cancer this afternoon and die three months later, that is God's plan for you. Praying to cure the cancer is a waste. God plans for you to die, so you will die. He has pre-programmed the exact time of your death. There is nothing you can do to change the plan -- no amount of prayer will help -- because your death will have meaning and your death will cause side-effects that are also part of the plan.

Who will you marry? You actually have no choice in the matter. God has pre-planned your wedding in minute detail. Rick Warren says, "God knew that those two individuals [your parents] possessed exactly the right genetic makeup to create the custom 'you' that he had in mind. They had the DNA God wanted to make you." Therefore, your spouse was pre-chosen by God for you so that you would create the children who are a part of his plan. You also have no choice in the number of children you will have -- God has pre-planned their births.

In addition, this sort of universe means that Hitler is blameless. Hitler was not "evil," because Hitler had no free will at all. Hitler was simply an actor forced to play his role in God's plan. God planned for millions of people to die in the Holocaust -- he planned their deaths in exact detail according to Rick Warren. Hitler had to kill those people. Hitler was God's puppet in making that those millions of deaths happen right on schedule.

In the same way then, every murderer is blameless. Since God has planned each of our deaths in exact detail, murderers are actually essential to God's plan. Why do we punish them? We should be rewarding them for doing their God-planned duty. What if you get raped tomorrow and get pregnant? God did that because he planned the exact time of that child's birth and death. God actually pre-planned your rape, and the rapist was God's puppet. Rather than hating the rapist, we should celebrate God's plan.

Do you believe that murderers and rapists should be rewarded? Do you believe that Hitler was sent by God to kill millions of people in the Holocaust? Do you believe that God is the direct cause of every abortion on this planet? Do you believe that you have no choice in your spouse or the number of children you have? If you are a sane individual, then probably not. But that is what you are saying when you state that Hitler or cancer or anything else is part of "God's plan."

The statement "It is part of God's plan" is one of those meaningless palliatives that, when you sit down and think it through using your common sense, makes no sense.

Understanding the illusion of religion

If you are a Christian, you have probably believed in God's plan your whole life. There's a very good chance that you own a copy of Rick's book -- it has sold over 20 million copies. Chances are you read chapter 2 of Rick's book and nodded your head "Yes!" through the whole thing.

But now, if you are a normal, intelligent human being, you can see that what Rick proposes is impossible. If God has "planned the days of your life in advance, choosing the exact time of your birth and death", what that means is that you have absolutely no free will. Humans have no control over anything. We are simply puppets executing the plan. It also means that prayer is absolutely pointless.

So, on the one hand you have a religion that says, "God has planned the days of your life in advance." On the other hand that same religion says, "Pray to God and he will answer your prayers." One of those two statements must be false. In fact, both of them are wrong.

Understand the illusion simply by using your common sense. As soon as you think about it, you will begin to see what is actually going on.

What's next?

  • If you would like to start at the beginning with a gentle introduction, click here.

  • If you would like to explore the central question of this book - Why won't God heal amputees? - start here.

  • Did God really inspire the Bible, or is the Bible a collection of fictional stories written by primitive men? Start here.

  • Was Jesus God, or just a man? Start here.

  • Is Christianity a delusion, or not? Start here.

  • Are you a religious leader? Take the Challenge.

  • If you would like to browse the table of contents, start here.

by Marshall Brain

New York Times Coverage
discussed in a
New York Times piece
by N. D. Kristof.
For a counter-point to Mr. Kristof, please see
Chapter 26.

Recommendation by Sam Harris
Sam Harris recommends WWGHA in his book Letter to a Christian Nation.

Endorsement by Richard Dawkins
In a New York Times Letter, Richard Dawkins calls WWGHA a "splendid Web site."

Table of contents

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Section 1 - prayer Section 2 - The Bible Section 3 - Jesus What it means


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