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Monday, September 22, 2008

Everything happens for a reason

"Everything happens for a reason". I've heard that saying a lot. Whether it's from a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, a spiritual person or even a non-believer. It seems like some Memes are hard to shake.

Why I am bringing this up? Well I do not think everything happens for a reason and I think that religious people hold these types of bite size sayings in their minds as part of their religious thinking. The Bible is too big, confusing and boring to be a daily source of advice and council (unless you keep it handy as a reference guide) so people need little nuggets of philosophy to constantly hold close in their minds as a way to think through life's tough situations.

If you think scientifically you will understand that things that happen in the world/universe do not have a grand reason or purpose behind them. Things happen to you in your life as a matter of coincidence and reasoned decisions that other humans make that may effect you directly, indirectly or randomly. The laws of physics along with the uncountable variable of things that other people are doing in the world at any given moment set the environment for the things that will happen to you. There is no one or no god setting the stage for what will happen to you.

From anecdotal experience I feel like one of the major paradigm shifts in thinking someone needs to make when changing from a religious based thinker to a free thinker is to drop the notion that everything happens for a reason.

I feel there is a "spiritual" (in the emotional sense) awakening when one accepts that things do not happen for a reason. Because no one has declared a destiny for you; you are free to tunnel the path through life that you desire. Your situation in life or something tragic that happened to you or a loved one was not because a god does not like you or has cursed you. Whatever position and situation in life you currently find yourself in can be changed if you reflect on the power you have to shape and change who you are as a stream of thoughts and how you want to experience the rest of your life. Instead of dreams you can have goals. Instead of prayers you can have plans. It's a liberating feeling.

I think that atheists and philosophers should develop new bite sized memes to keep in our minds and to teach our children. These bite sized memes can serve as simple scientific answers to life's complicated questions that can help us feel more connected to our existence and the world around us. The responsibility to truthfully raise the next generation of people is on the shoulders of those who have seen Enlightenment and have not shied away from its bright glare!


Unknown said...

I just have a question regarding this post.
If I understand you correctly, we need scientific proof of things before we can state them as facts. Since you stated it as a fact that God does not exist, I was just wondering what your proof is.

Unknown said...

Concerning: "Everything happens for a reason".

Well, i liked this post in that you said we shape our lives; destiny, future, whatever. Yes this is true. However, i suggest you think a little deeper about what this "meme" really means. While what you are referring to as the "reason" being god, a force, fate, or spirits (or whatever the reason is to you), intelligent people could just as easily see our own thoughts, actions, and words as the reason. So don't throw out the "meme" completely. It has several layers of meaning. Just look deeper at things before giving advice to others. That's what a true "scientific person" does.

Thank you for providing me the opportunity to post a comment.

Tropical Pete said...

Hi delis,

There are certain events in life that have no reason. They were not caused by the thoughts, words or actions of any person. For example an Earth quake.

I am suggesting that for these events that have no reason outside of the laws of physics that we do not attribute a purposeful reason that was decided by a divine being.


Tropical Pete said...


My response to your request for proof is three-fold.

1) Do you have proof FOR Abraham's God? Do you know as a fact that Zeus does NOT exist?

2) The default scientific assumption is that there is no god because there is no evidence for god.

3) The Universe exists and the "objects" in that universe: atoms, molecules, stars, planets, galaxies, black holes, life, bacteria, plants, animals (including humans) do not have the characteristics of design. The positioning and movement of these objects does not require god and there is no evidence or traces of an intelligent agency. This is my proof.


Andy said...

Pete - not to nit-pick, but lack of proof for the existence of a "god being" is very different than proof against such a being. Your three reasons very clearly show why a god being probably does not exist in the universe , but I would hardly call those reasons proof. I could give you three reasons why I don't believe in flying elephants (which we all know are real) lol, but I can't show evidence to disprove them either. . . To marc, I think you would benefit greatly from reading a survey text about the history of religion and then a history of the big three. In a historical context it is much easier to put into perspective. I wouldn't tell you what conclusion to make, but I think if you do your research well, you'll come up with an accurate one.

Unknown said...

Thank you for your response. Much appreciated.
I guess your answer still leaves me a bit confused. As far as I can tell, the reasons you listed in number 2 (all of the objects in the universe) can just as easily point one person to a Creator as point another away from a Creator. Their intricate design, complexity, order, and beauty, to name a few, may suggest that they did not just randomly happen.
It just seems you are being subjective, not scientific, and that if you take an honest look at yourself, you are using a tremendous amount of faith to substantiate your belief. Not that faith is a bad thing, but let's call a spade a spade. No sense clothing a faith claim with scientific terminology.

randy said...

yes,I believe that most of things happen simply because they happen,nothing less nor more. Nevertheless the infamous catchphrase "everything happens for a reason" was likely to come from a mind that accepts,as a consolation for the impact of events,either it was light or severe.That thought certainly has helped them and many others who was accepted this believe,to accept and move on,and they are given power to do so by merely believing this catchphrase.Isn't it wonderful?Although I am in the same page with you,I don't believe on this catchphrase,but sometimes I wish I do.Because we don't know which is right or wrong,like whether this catchphrase is right or wrong.But then again,is it important?

Unknown said...

There is a reason why earthquakes happen, by the way. According to Widipedia, "Earthquakes are caused mostly by rupture of geological faults, huge amounts of gas migration, mainly methane deep within the earth, but also by volcanic activity, landslides, mine blasts, and nuclear experiments."
Even earthquakes have a reason for happening.

Andy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tropical Pete said...


I know about tectonic plate theory. That's why I said there are no reason for earthquakes outside of the laws of physics (chemistry and biology are now technically branches of physics since the three disciplines have been unified).

My point was that people attribute events like earthquakes to god when the reason they happened is the laws of physics not god. I mentioned this in the original post.

Unknown said...

Ok. So, what you are saying (if I may interpret) is that there IS a reason for everything that happens, but that we should not attribute a higher purpose for everything that happens.
Thus, the term ("everything happens for a reason") itself is accurate, but the connotation that religious people having given to it (i.e. "God has a reason for everything that happens")is problematic.

Tropical Pete said...


I think we could shed some light on our disagreement by both having a better understanding of "design". I need to do some Googling to find stuff I've read in the past.

For instance, complexity and beauty are not aspects of design.
Salt crystals are complex, life is complex and neither have a designer.

Also, there does not appear to be an order to the location of stars and galaxies in the universe.

Beauty is a subjective aspect of our mind and it's characteristics make no statement on whether an object is designed.

My position requires NO faith because I do not believe IN anything that has NO evidence. (see my default assumption above).

Tropical Pete said...


Your comment at 1:05PM is a fair interpretation.


Tropical Pete said...


I think it's important in the sense that people can shift blame to a "higher power" instead of realizing that their life is in their own hands and they need to make decisions to improve their lives.

People who believe there are divine reasons for why things happen may fail to take the appropriate action to better their life or situation.

There is a bumper sticker I've seen which sends chills down my spine:
"God is my pilot".

Should we really leave driving to god?

Jason said...

In response to the actual topic at hand - I wanted to suggest a new meme. "While you can't control what happens to you, you can control your response and thus shape how the event affects you". The idea is that different responses to an event can lead to wildly different outcomes and it would be prudent to respond in a way that most benefits you.

Tropical Pete said...


I like your meme.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jason/Pete,

I beg to differ. I think the meme should say "while you can't control EVERYTHING that happens to you..." because I think there are steps you can take to lessen the risk of something bad happening, so to me, there is some level of control. For example, if you decide to sky dive, there is a known associated risk with that, but ultimately you are controlling the situation because you are making that decision to jump out of the plane.

Ed Zwart said...

Hi Pete, great to discover your blog today. I'm high on having discovered Kiva recently too. And you're a developer! Awesome. Me too.

Everything happens for a

Wait. Philosophers and atheists already HAVE invented the meme you desire. It's...

Shit Happens.


Ed Zwart

Tropical Pete said...

Hi Ed,

Thanks for the comments. I read your blog, it's a fun read. Added it to my RSS reader.


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